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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 31 2019

Can you spot a counterfeit?

In 2015 the art world was rocked by a series of counterfeit paintings. It took a dedicated expert to expose the fraudulent artworks that were overlooked by others. How committed are we to faithfully studying our Bibles in order to become aware of deceptive, counterfeit ideas invading the teachings of mainstream Christianity?

Have you ever seen something that was a counterfeit of the original?

A counterfeit is produced with the intent to profit from the great value of the original. Paintings have been sold at great price that later were determined to have not been done by the master that did the original. Money has been copied in such great detail that the average consumer does not know how to spot it.

In the winter of 2015 the art world was rocked by a series of counterfeit paintings. Into this scene walked a different kind of hero—an art expert. James Martin is a tall man with a very quiet voice.

From The Guardian: “He is a consummate nerd; find someone who looks at you the way Martin looks at his Fourier-transform infrared microscope. He trained as a conservator of paintings, but now he assays them: picks out their chemical constituents, inspects pigments and binders, peers under their washes of colour. From a painting’s materials, he can extract the vital detail of when it could, or could not, have been created.

“The field of scientific art conservation is not a crowded one; Martin, who set up the first for-profit art lab in the US, has been consulted in nearly every major fraud case in the past 25 years, often working alongside the FBI or other investigators.

“When he is described as the premier forensic detective working in art today, the accolade comes not only from people such as John Cahill, a New York lawyer who has managed dozens of art transactions, and who called Martin ‘hands-down the best in the business,’ but also from those on the other side of the fence, so to speak. Beltracchi, the German forger, told me that, after his arrest, he had seen an assortment of technical studies collected by the police and the prosecution. He remembered Martin’s well. ‘His reports contained the most accurate results. His reports were factually neutral and without unrealistic guesses.’

“By folding Martin into its staff, Sotheby’s has given itself a muscular chance to stamp out problems of attribution before they flare into spectacular, expensive affairs. But it’s hard not to feel, at the same time, that it has cornered a precious resource, at a moment when the art world needs him most” (“How to spot a perfect fake: the world’s top art forgery detective,” The Guardian).

Martin did not become an expert overnight. He spent years perfecting his skills. In one case he found phthalocyanine green, a pigment first synthesized four centuries after the purported artist died. This painting had passed the inspection of many very familiar with the way the famous artist did his works.

Can you spot counterfeit religion?

There is a religion that mimics true Christianity that is so compelling, few are able to get past the counterfeit and find the true one.

As Christians, we must determine what is real and what is counterfeit. Our eternal life depends on it! We have to dig into the details and hold them up to the microscopic inspection of what is the original and what is the fake.

The forensics of true religion lies in the pages of the Holy Bible.

The entrapments of the counterfeit can blind you to their true origin if you are not willing to put them to the test. Where in the Bible do you find a description of a celebration involving hunting eggs to put in a basket and a bunny that lays eggs? Where do you find setting up a tree in your house, covering it with shiny glitz and wrapping presents to go under it?

These things are so ingrained in our society that I have known people to turn their backs on the original religion of the Bible in order to embrace the counterfeit.

The counterfeit religion has its roots in the ancient Babylonian religion, with such deep roots it has continued from generation to generation for thousands of years. It is what feels old and familiar and comfortable. People who are willing to abandon religion entirely are still caught up in these celebrations that tie back to a superstitious time of controlling the peasantry with made up stories of gods and goddesses that never truly existed.

What about you? Are you brave enough and hero enough to put the God of the Bible ahead of beloved celebrations that are not in the Holy Book?

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

How much are you willing to forfeit in the search for truth?

May we all be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).