THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
The Rotary Club welcomed vocational speaker, Ron Lawson (center) and guest speaker Pastor Cullen Clark (right). Joining the two during the recent meeting is Amy Thibodeaux, president.
Pastor gives Rotary a history lesson
The Rotary Club of Crowley recently welcomed Dr. Cullen Clark, pastor of First Baptist Church of Crowley, who delivered an extremely enlightening program on the historical context of the nativity.
He discussed the historical events which took place leading up to the Biblical nativity — better known as the time of Jesus’ birth.
Clark began the program referencing “War Requiem,” composed by Benjamin Britten in 1942.
Britten wrote the masterpiece while sailing from New York to England in 1942 while the world was in utter chaos due to World War II. The composer specifically chose to make the song utter chaos until the very end when all the notes, bells and signs align in divine fashion.
Clark referenced the composition to symbolically show the chaos on earth before Christ was born, and the resolution that took place after His death.
He went on to explain the historical events leading up to the birth of Jesus, which were:
• 597 B.C. - Jerusalem is sieged in a military campaign carried out by Nebuchadnezzar II. Jews are made to move to Babylon or left to waste. The temple is destroyed during the siege.
• 539 B.C. - Cyrus the Great conquers the Babylonian Empire and allows Jews to move home and rebuild their temple. (The reconstruction of the temple is vital because the Jewish temple is the center of their connection with God. The temple takes 22 years to reconstruct.)
• 332 B.C. - Alexander the Great travels to Egypt and Judeans are under his rule.
• 232 B.C. - Alexander the Great dies. His kingdom is split into sections and ruled by his generals who implement Hellenization — the implementation of one language and one religion. The Jews refused to conform.
• 175-164 B.C. - Syrian’s conquer and Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Jews. Epiphanes was known as a persecutor of the Jews and to have sacrificed an unclean animal (pig) in the temple.
• December 25, 164 B.C. - Hanukkah commemorated the cleansing of the temple under Judas Maccabeus.
• 63 B.C. - The siege of Jerusalem by Pompey the Great. Pompey was asked to intervene in a dispute between an inherited throne; with his conquest of Jerusalem it became a client kingdom for the Roman Empire.
• 47 B.C. - Herod the Great was the Roman client king of Judea. Herad is known for having killed all his rivals including his own sons. Besides the history books, Herod also appears in the Bible. The Christian Gospel of Matthew designates Herod as the ruler of Judea who orders the massacre of the Innocents around the time of Jesus’ birth.
This is the point in which the history books and Biblical references cross paths. This is the world in which Jesus was born into, Clark explained.
Caesar Augustus (great nephew of Julius Caesar who was adopted by him and named his heir) was in charge of the Roman Empire and described himself as divine, the son of God and benefactor and savior to the whole world.
“The parallelism between the Christian beliefs that Jesus is divine — the Son of God and savior of the world — is uncanny,” Clark said.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, 90 percent of the population lived in poverty and were oppressed. Some believed that Jesus was the prophet sent to the Jews.
Jesus and his earliest followers were born and lived Jewish. Christianity emerged as a separate religion following the death of Jesus.
Clark received a Ph.D. in Intellectual History from the University of Stirling in Scotland. He explained that his doctoral degree can be described as “Modern Religious History,” which is described as the history of ideas.
Clark has also earned master’s degrees in divinity, theology and historical research.