September 1, 2014


Passion week, 3 sites now complete
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) -- Long before smartphones, before technology had literally reshaped modern society, Dan Warner had an idea for teaching the history and geography of biblical lands -- a virtual tour of the Holy Land. The idea was innovative, and years ahead of its time.

Warner teaches biblical backgrounds on a daily basis in his positions as associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's Orlando Hub and an adjunct faculty member at the Baptist College of Florida and Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Warner wants to help people see how geography influenced the biblical text, using interactive visuals rather than textbooks.

The Miami native and member of First Baptist Church in Orlando birthed the idea for a virtual Bible tour more than a decade ago during one of his frequent trips to Israel. He knew from his own experience that seeing the land leads to richer understanding of the Bible. But it is unrealistic, Warner believes, for most church members and lay ministers to visit the Holy Land, given the travel costs and time. Instead, his virtual tour project known as The Virtual Bible allows an affordable view of the land.

Warner launched The Virtual Bible Project in 1999 with James Strange, longtime professor of archaeology at the University of South Florida and excavator of ancient Sepphoris in Galilee. Warner and Strange presented their idea to a major Christian publisher shortly after they created the company. While the meeting went well, the publisher failed to see the potential and passed on the opportunity.

In spite of the setback, Warner refused to give up. He found a group of private investors and began working on the virtual reconstructions. To date, Warner and Strange have not taken a salary from their company. Instead, all of the profits have been invested in its development.

Warner and his team have completed four virtual reconstruction projects, including a detailed reconstruction of the events surrounding the passion week. A virtual tour of Bronze Age Megiddo was completed first, a natural choice because of the years Warner spent excavating the site. Next came reconstructions of Capernaum and Herod's Jerusalem. A preview of Warner's work is available on YouTube.

Each virtual reconstruction takes months to complete, but finances remain the biggest barrier to success for the Virtual Bible Project. Development is expensive, advertising is beyond the company's small budget, and getting the finished product in front of potential consumers is a real challenge, Warner said. However, a distribution agreement with the publisher of Logos Bible Software will enable Warner to focus on additional reconstructions.

"Our goal is to create the whole ancient world," Warner said. "We've just barely scratched the surface."

Warner is well-suited for a project of this magnitude. As the son of a Baptist pastor, he was exposed to the Bible at an early age and developed a love for biblical geography and archaeology during his studies at Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana. Read More

Jim Bob, Michelle Duggar & 18 of their 19 kids featured in seminary's chapel
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- A seminary chapel service turned into a family affair as Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and 18 of their 19 children spread across the stage to share Scripture, play instruments and sing hymns.
In addition to the musical performances, Jim Bob and Michelle recounted their life stories and how their family was selected for the hit cable television show "19 Kids & Counting," which airs on TLC. Read More
Carl F.H. Henry: 'indispensable evangelical'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Few people are indispensable, but theologian Carl F.H. Henry and his role in the evangelical movement can be described as just that, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said during a celebration of Henry at the Louisville, Ky., campus. Read More
Eritrean Christian dies in prison
ERITREA (BP) -- A Christian woman perished from pneumonia in an Eritrean prison after facing harsh conditions and denial of medical treatment -- all because she would not renounce her faith. Read More
Calif. Baptists increase CP percentage
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Messengers to the California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approved all Executive Board recommendations related to the Focus 21 Task Force, adopted a $13 million budget with an increased Cooperative Program percentage for worldwide missions, and they elected officers. Read More
N.M. Baptists commit to 'Pressing On'
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP) -- With the theme "Pressing On," New Mexico Baptists approved marriage and pro-life resolutions, various recommendations and a $4.8 million budget during their annual meeting. Read More
2nd VIEW: Hobby Lobby abortion appeal gains ERLC, others' support
WASHINGTON (BP)-The Southern Baptist Convention's religious freedom entity has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower rulings on the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate for the purpose of striking down the controversial rule. Read More

First Person
Rob Phillips
FIRST-PERSON: Should you believe in ghosts?
Fascination with ghosts prompts Rob Phillips, Missouri Baptists' director of communications, to ponder what the Bible teaches about the popular phenomenon.
Phil Boatwright
FIRST-PERSON: Are horror movies for Christians?
In the lead-up to Halloween, cable networks run classic fright flicks, "Halloween" rip-offs or new made-for-TV offerings in the macabre and grotesque. "Should we Christians put this stuff in our heads?" movie reviewer Phil Boatwright asks.



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