“It doesn’t matter about the science”

John the BaptistIdolatry lives. But it’s in a good cause: adding “Christian” tourists to Bulgaria (unofficial slogan: “Not just Russia’s hired killers anymore!”). I put Christian in quotation marks, since, as a Baptist, I find the entire notion of reliquary worship to be nothing short of idolatry.

Now surfaces a claim from Bulgaria to have unearthed some bones that belonged to John the Baptist (WSJ story here). John, the wild-man prophet of the New Testament (bugs and honey, yum), is a key figure in Christian theology. Hey, I’m named after this guy; I stand in awe over what he did in “making straight a path for the Lord.” Would that I could live up to John’s faith and courage.

But his bones? As holy relics? Hmmm. As for the bones’ authenticity,

Bulgaria’s Orthodox church hierarchy has declared that the bones are authentic. “This is a holy find. It doesn’t matter about the science,” says Metropolitan Bishop Joanikii of Sliven, who oversees church affairs in Sozopol. “The holy relics of St. John radiate miraculous force. I cannot explain it by using words.”

Indeed; words fail. The Roman hierarchy is taking a more cautious approach, saying (via WSJ)

…the matter requires more study. The Vatican’s Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology said tests to gauge the age of the bones and other factors would have to be weighed before it could judge their provenance.

If these are John the Baptist’s bones, marvelous find, though how anyone can determine anything other than the bones’ age is problematical. It’s not as if we have sufficient medical knowledge of John when he was alive, and his dentist sadly died before he could provide us with X-rays of John’s teeth.

The whole thing just reeks of primitives seeking wisdom from chicken entrails. Pray to God, directly. Know his Son, Jesus, through scripture and prayer and community with other believers. But if you think that unverified bones (or verified bones, for that matter) can “radiate miraculous force,” I’ve got a piece of the One True Cross to sell you. Just send $9,999 (just under the flagging limit for RICO transactions) via cash or money order to…

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