The Two Books of Faith – Nature and Revelatory (Edited)

“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have SEEN the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can CLEARLY SEE His invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:19-20)

The Bible is indispensable to the Christian walk and faith. How do we know it’s the Word of God though? For instance, I know the Bible is God’s Word because of two “books.” The “Book of Nature” and His “Book of Revelation.” Often times people view this “Book of Revelation” as just the Bible, which is surely a major part of the equation. But this revealed truth and revelation comes by way of us interacting with the Holy Spirit – who is the revealer of revelatory truth.

Evangelical theology holds that Revelation can be found in two spheres: 1) Nature and 2) Scripture. Romans 1:19-20 speaks of the former:

  • Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 speaks of the later saying:

  • All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Romans 1:19-20 speaks of what is theologically called general revelation and 2 Tim. 3:16-17 speaks of special revelation. Hu­man reasoning can show that general revelation is possible since it can demonstrate the existence and nature of God, finite beings that can receive and understand it, and the possibility of objective meaning and truth. However, it is special revelation found only in the canonical books of Scripture that actually manifest the reality of God’s specific message, in human language, to human beings. It is only here that we learn God is a Trinity (Tri—unity), the plan of redemption, and the savior Jesus Christ. General revelation is to all humans, but special revelation is specifically for believ­ers. General revelation contains truth and morality available to all humankind, but special revelation contains truth and morality specifically to God’s people. General revelation is sufficient to con­demn humans, but only special revelation contains the message and means of salvation.revelation-bible-worldviews-nature

Special revelation consists of the sixty-six books recognized as Scripture. What identifies these books as Scripture concerns the rule, standard or canon applied to discover what books constitute special revelation. Norman Geisler’s General Introduction to the Bible lists and applies the following general principles in discover­ing the canon of Scripture.

1.  Written by a prophet of God (Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
2.  Confirmed by an act of God (Heb. 2:3-4; John 3:2; Acts 2:22)
3.  Tell the truth about God (Deut. 6:22f.; Gal. 1:8)
4.  Has the power of God (Heb. 4:12)
5.  Accepted by the people of God (1 Thess. 2:13; Dan. 9:2; 2 Pet. 3:15)

Norman L. Geisler and Douglas E. Potter, A Prolegomena to Evangelical Theology (Indian Trail, NC: Norm Geisler International Ministires, 2016), 113-115.

The “Book of Nature” can reveal truth about my Creator and this revelation goes a long way to show me a lot about God and build my trust in Who He says He is and His Word.

Nature as a Book

The metaphor of referring to nature as a revelatory book is deeply rooted in Christian church history. “Book of Nature” references are found even in the patristic writings. For example, Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430), made the following statement in his classic work the Confessions: “In your great wisdom you, who are our God, speak to us of these things in your Book, the firmament made by you.”1

Protestant reformers continued the Christian practice of speaking of nature as a revelatory book. The Reformed (or Calvinistic) theological tradition in particular articulated the “two books” revelatory perspective. The fullest expression is found in the Belgic Confession, Article 2, written in 1561:

  • We know him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God…

Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.

Later, during the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the Christian forefathers of science readily referenced the “two books” of revelation idea. For example, Francis Bacon (1561–1626) famously spoke of “the book of God’s works” and “the book of God’s word” in his work Advancement of Learning in 1605.

(Reasons to Believe)

So to speak about this book of nature in relation to God and how Romans describes this book… I can agree with Dr. Moreland when he says that he KNOWS God exists from natures evidence:

I, like Dr. Moreland, have a “belief/faith” similar to this:

  • “I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.” Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.
  • Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him. (William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010], 38.)

(See more)

Also others from Dr. Craig, who, really makes a cumalative argument as well:

This side of faith is one that includes but is not limited to just these (thank you Dr. Kreeft!):

Here are other great .evidences, Two Dozen (Or So) Theistic Arguments, leading towards belief in God (thank you Dr. Plantinga!):

I. Half a Dozen (or so) ontological (or metaphysical) arguments

(A) The Argument from Intentionality (or Aboutness)
(B) The argument from collections.
(C) The argument From (Natural) numbers
(D) The Argument From Counterfactuals
(E) The Argument from physical constants
(F) The Naive Teleological Argument
(G) Tony Kenny’s style of teleological argument
(h) The ontological argument

I. Another argument thrown in for good measure.

II. Half a dozen Epistemological Arguments

(J) The argument from positive epistemic status
(K) The Argument from the confluence of proper function and reliability
(L) The Argument from Simplicity
(M) The Argument from induction
(N) The Putnamian Argument (the Argument from the Rejection of Global
Skepticism)
(O) The Argument from Reference
(P) The Kripke-Wittgenstein Argument From Plus and Quus (See Supplementary
Handout)
(Q) The General Argument from Intuition

III. Moral arguments

(R) moral arguments (actually R1 to Rn)
(R*) The argument from evil.

IV. Other Arguments

(S) The Argument from Colors and Flavors (Adams and Swinburne)
(T) The argument from Love
(U) The Mozart Argument
(V) The Argument from Play and enjoyment
(W) Arguments from providence and from miracles
(X) C.S. Lewis’s Argument from Nostalgia
(Y) The argument from the meaning of life
(Z) The Argument from (a) to (Y)

Here is a list via WINTERY KNIGHT:

All the above AND MORE can be found here:

➤ The Two Books of Faith – Nature and Revelatory (this post);
RNA/DNA = Information | Or, What “Is” Information?
Scientific and Anecdotal Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe
The Argument from Reason ~ David Wood

Naturalism is Self-Refuting:

Determinism Quotes
Evolution Cannot Account for: Logic, Reasoning, Love, Truth, or Justice

(See also this long list of responses to many skeptical issues.)

Again, this is a faith from the natural side of man and his environment. The “revelatory” side of faith is a miraculous type of faith. Albeit reasoning powers and truth still play a significant role in the Revelatory side of the equation as well, our “reasoning” is guided by the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come” (John 16:3, HCSB).

This faith is more akin to what Dr. Craig speaks about in his excellent book, Reasonable Faith:

….fundamentally, the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. Now what do I mean by that? I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premise in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am condemned by God,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth; that such an experience Provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully to it.

William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 43 (More at the bottom of the page)

These Christian positions I emphasize above are believed by myself with 100% certitude. This “belief” is both a combination of the book of nature (showing me evidences that support reasons to trust my Creator) AS WELL AS the revealed truth of the Holy Spirit, of which the Bible plays a huge role in.

In other words, I can have a firm basis for my belief just like a jury hearing the testimony of two eyewitnesses that saw a crime happen… but this is not a 100% belief, just like a jury’s is not a hundred-percent. The addition to the Christians certitude about God’s existence and the trusting of His character would be analogous to transporting the jury to the crime for them to have an inner witness of this past event.

This is what the Christian believes, and is what Nicodemus struggled with:

There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.

“Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. “I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

“This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

How can these things be… exactly.

There is still a supernatural side to our faith. And one cannot even see the kingdom of God” unless one is born again. And so the “miraculouse” portion needed to bring certitute that the skeptic is asking for is kept from him-or-her until this regeneration, otherwise the mind is at a state of war with God (Romans 8:6-9).

But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. (Galatians 1:15-16, HCSB)

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9, HCSB)

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.  (Romans 12:3, HCSB)

How do I know the Bible is God’s Word then? Tentatively by the Book of Nature. Assuredly by the witness of Holy Spirit.

Again, there are many streams that combine into this trust of the Bible. I know God exists by the preponderance of the evidence and through the witness of the Holy Spirit… but I bring this dichotomy to the Bible as well.

Having read many of the holy books of the world religions (in part or in full), I am familiar with the structure of these religious scriptures as well as Holy Scripture. These differences are stark! Likewise are the claims in these scriptures that separate the Bible from other works. For instance, “[t]he writings from the Far East, the teachings of Confucius, Buddhism and Hinduism do not even make a claim to be God’s word,” continuing:

They present to their followers a path to a simpler, more satisfactory life. The Muslim Koran makes no claims to being words from Allah. Rather it is the writing of Mohammed, a religious leader, his record of history as well as his desire for the future. But has any prophecy in the Koran come to pass? Only the Christian Bible claims to be God’s very word to man and only the Bible contains the verifiable track record of prophetic fulfillment as evidence of its claims. Biblical prophecies are batting 1000. No other religious group or religious writings can make the same claim.

(CBN)

Similarly, we are called to examine the Scriptures, and this book, unlike any other religious book, has the means to do so… one of the most important arguments that is pivotal to the Christian faith can be found at a post on the Resurrection, entitled: “Christianity Is the Only Falsifiable Religious Worldview.” Other posts that compliment this are:

To wit…

This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.

Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

This is what it looks like:

So far we have demonstrated the fact that the world’s great religious books cannot all be right. In fact, if any of them is correct in its teachings regarding the supernatural and eternal, the others are by definition wrong. So, how do we decide which documents to trust?

Examine the evidence for their truth claims. Hindu documents, for instance, posit an afterlife filled with reincarnations. Is there any historical support or objective evidence for such a position? Does objective, independent evidence exist to document the Buddha’s enlightenment, or Mohammad’s experiences with Allah? A number of cities, inscriptions, and places are described only in the Book of Mormon; to date, none have been found by archaeologists.

Conversely, independent evidence for the existence and deity of Jesus Christ is remarkable. Manuscript evidence documenting the trustworthy nature of the biblical materials is overwhelming. There are excellent reasons to believe the Bible is what it claims to be: the word of God.

…read it all…

(Much of the following can be found on my post here: A Short Study Defining “Inerrancy”)

So in looking at the Bible I look to it’s INTERNAL TESTS (it’s consistency, it’s claims, the claims of Christ, etc.):

Internal Evidence, of which John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.”  therefore, one must listen to the claims of the document  under analysis, and do not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.  As Dr. Horn continues:

  • “Think for a moment about what needs to be demonstrated concerning a ‘difficulty’ in order to transfer it into the category of a valid argument against doctrine.  Certainly much more is required than the mere appearance of a contradiction.  First, we must be certain that we have correctly understood the passage, the sense in which it uses words or numbers.  Second, that we possess all available knowledge in this matter.  Third, that no further light can possibly be thrown on it by advancing knowledge, textual research, archaeology, etc….  Difficulties do not constitute objections.  Unresolved problems are not of necessity errors.  This is not to minimize the area of difficulty; it is to see it in perspective.  Difficulties are to be grappled with and problems are to drive us to seek clearer light; but until such time as we have total and final light on any issue we are in no position to affirm, ‘Here is a proven error, an unquestionable objection to an infallible Bible.’  It is common knowledge that countless ‘objections’ have fully been resolved since this century began.”

The BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST is important for the trust of the Bible’s claims as well. The bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us. In other words, since we do not have the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have in regard to the number of manuscripts. I compare, for instance,  Buddhist scripture to the record of the manuscript evidence to the Bible in a very long post, but here is one graphic from that post:

There are other evidences that get to within a couple of years of the Messiah’s death that no other religious Scripture can. Here again is a comparison between Christian Scriptures and Buddhist Scripture via Dr. Habermas:

So the above video is a mix of the Bibliographical Test as well as the EXTERNAL TEST. Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves?  In other words, what sources are there – apart from the literature under analysis – that substantiate its accuracy, reliability, and authenticity? Here are a couple examples from differing categories found in my post entitled: Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Updated w/ Bill Maher)

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Witnesses

Thallus (52AD)

Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we would see that every aspect of Jesus’ life could be verified with a non-biblical source. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, he was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)

Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:

“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

This EARLY description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed that Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers et regularly to worship Jesus.

Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses

Josephus (37-101AD)

In more detail than any other non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in his “the Antiquities of the Jews” in 93AD. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at age thirteen, was a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. Now there is much controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians, who are accused of making additions to the text. So to be fair, let’s take a look at a scholarly reconstruction that has removed all the possible Christian influence from the text related to Jesus:

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” (This neutral reconstruction follows closely the one proposed in the latest treatment by John Meier, Marginal Jew 1:61)

Now there are many other ancient versions of Josephus’ writing which are even more explicit about the nature of his miracles, his life and his status as the Christ, but let’s take this conservative version and see what we can learn. From this text, we can conclude that Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused buy the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians!

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)

While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray” (b. Sanhedrin 43a; cf. t. Shabbat 11.15; b. Shabbat 104b)

“Rabbi Hisda (d. 309) said that Rabbi Jeremiah bar Abba said, ‘What is that which is written, ‘No evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your house’? (Psalm 91:10)… ‘No evil will befall you’ (means) that evil dreams and evil thoughts will not tempt you; ‘nor shall any plague come near your house’ (means) that you will not have a son or a disciple who burns his food like Jesus of Nazareth.” (b. Sanhedrin 103a; cf. b. Berakhot 17b)

“Our rabbis have taught that Jesus had five disciples: Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. They brought Matthai to (to trial). He said, ‘Must Matthai be killed? For it is written, ‘When (mathai) shall I come and appear before God?’” (Psalm 92:2) They said to him, “Yes Matthai must be killed, for it is written, ‘When (mathai) he dies his name will perish’” (Psalm 41:5). They brought Nakai. He said to them, “Must Nakai be killed? For it is written, “The innocent (naqi) and the righteous will not slay’” (Exodus 23:7). They said to him, “Yes, Nakai must be kille, for it is written, ‘In secret places he slays the innocent (naqi)’” (Psalm 10:8). (b. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah)

And this, perhaps the most famous of Talmudic passages about Jesus:

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favor, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

From just these passages that mention Jesus by name, we can conclude that Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith (one of whom was named Matthai), and was executed on the day before the Passover.

The many avenues of evidence for the Bible as unique — some discussed here and many not — bring me to a preponderance of evidence that the Bible is the unique Word of the Living God whom I already have natural and revelatory evidence of His Being. And not only does the Bible claim to be the actual Word of God in contradistinction to other “holy” scriptures, so to does Jesus claim to be God whereas Mohammed never claimed to be God, Confucius never claimed to be God, Zoroaster never claimed to be God, Buddha never claimed to be God, Joseph Smith never said he was God….

…on-and-on.

We have both eyewitness and corroborative witnesses to these events and to the character and person of Jesus. In fact… that is how we attain most of our information about reality and history. History, by-the-by, would be in the category of the Book of Nature:

✦ “What are the distinctive sources for our beliefs about the past? Most of the beliefs we have about the past come to us by the testimony of other people. I wasn’t present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I didn’t see my father fight in the [S]econd [W]orld [W]ar. I have been told about these events by sources that I take to be reliable. The testimony of others is generally the main source of our beliefs about the past…. So all our beliefs about the past depend on testimony, or memory, or both.” ~ Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (Foster City, CA: IDG Books; 1999), 57-58.

✦  “In advanced societies specialization in the gathering and production of knowledge and its wider dissemination through spoken and written testimony is a fundamental socio-epistemic fact, and a very large part of each persons body of knowledge and belief stems from testimony.” ~ Robert Audi, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd edition (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 1999), 909.

✦  “But it is clear that most of what any given individual knows comes from others; palpably with knowledge of history, geography, or science, more subtly with knowledge about every day facts such as when we were born..” ~ Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), 869.

How does the “character” of as well as the teachings of Jesus stand up to the other founders of the major religions of the world? Let’s see:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.

All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.

Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

Jesus did say He was God.

His character and actions proved it.

All the other world religious leaders/founders still lie in their graves and had characters that were not Godly ~ Jesus rose to prove His point.

BUT, I also have a confirmation by the living God through the miraculous intervention and witness of the Holy Spirit that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, making my best inference more than that… making it a certitude that no other worldview offers their adherents.


APPENDIX


Christian Truth

The study of God and delight in knowing God requires a mode of understanding that transcends simply empirical data gathering, logical deduction, or the dutiful organization of scriptural or traditional texts into a coherent sequence. The Christian study of God intrinsically involves a mode of knowing from the heart that hopes to make the knower “wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15, KJV, i.e., a knowing grounded in the “sacred writings which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation,” NEB), to save the soul, to teach the sinner all that is needed to attain saving knowledge of God (Clement of Alex., Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? pp. 591-604; Catherine of Siena, Prayers 7, pp. 58-61; Baxter, PW II, pp. 23-25; Wesley, WJW VIII, pp. 20 ff., 290 ff.).

Faith’s knowing is distinguishable from objective, testable, scientific knowledge, although not necessarily inimical to it. It is a form of knowing that embraces the practical question of how we choose to live in the presence of this Source and End of all (Clement of Alex., Exhort. to the Heathen IX, ANF II, pp. 195-97; Teresa of Avila, CWST, III, pp. 219-22; Calvin, Inst. 1.11-13).[2]

  • Thomas C. Oden, Systematic Theology, Volume One: The Living God (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 2006), 9-10.

Sola Scriptura

The assurance that God has spoken to them directly through his holy Scriptures gave the Reformers their unique boldness. The formation of that truth theologically was the fundamentally new element in the Reformation. The Reformation battle cry was sola Scriptura, “Scripture alone.” But sola Scriptura meant more to the Reformers than that God has revealed himself in the propositions of the Bible. The new element was not that the Bible, being given by God, speaks with God’s authority. The Roman Church held to that as well as the Reformers. The new element, as Packer points out,

  • was the belief, borne in upon the Reformers by their own experience of Bible study, that Scripture can and does interpret itself to the faithful from within—Scripture is its own interpreter, Scriptura sui ipsius interpres, as Luther puts it—so that not only does it not need Popes or Councils to tell us, as from God, what it means; it can actually challenge Papal and conciliar pronouncements, convince them of being ungodly and untrue, and require the faithful to part company with them. . . . As Scripture was the only source from which sinners might gain true knowledge of God and godliness, so Scripture was the only judge of what the church had in each age ventured to say in her Lord’s name.

In Luther’s time the Roman Church had weakened the authority of the Bible by exalting human traditions to the stature of Scripture and by insisting that the teaching of the Bible could be communicated to Christian people only through the mediation of popes, councils and priests. The Reformers re­stored biblical authority by holding that the living God speaks to his people directly and authoritatively through its pages.

  • James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1986), 48-49.

The Dalai Lama Borrows from Christianity To Support Buddhism

(Jump to comparison of manuscripts)

I want to suggest that the Lama’s use of “love” and “compassion” are not found in Buddhism, but used in the Judeo-Christian sense (borrowed in other words) because Eastern metaphysics lack such thought. The Dalai Lama may do this out of ignorance of his own belief, or out of wanting to pull on Western heart strings of compassion (honed itself by the Judeo-Christian ethic), which is often followed by monetary support. Here is a discussion I had with a Buddhist apologist about such thinking, it is taken from my chapter, Reincarnation vs. Laws of Logic:


My initial engagement:

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or bad truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds:

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond:

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

 “All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him. (Diamond Sutra, Sura 14)

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response:

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:

 Here’s another way to see the same thing. It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?[1]

Another author put it thusly, “if pantheism is true (and my individuality an illusion), it is false, since there is no basis by which to explain the illusion.”[2]  The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”[3]


[1] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[2] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 210.

[3] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.


“One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

One of my very favorite quotes deals with the founders of the great religions and the consistency found in these founders:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshiped, even with multitudinous idols. All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

An example of a self-refuting/incoherent worldview that deals a bit with Eastern philosophy/religion comes from A Handbook for Christian Philosophy, by L. Russ Bush. After giving a basic definition of what a worldview is,[1] Dr. Bush goes on to explain how differing worldviews can interpret reality and then he applies some first principles to the matter:

…most people assume that something exists. There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be? How could he or she make such an affirmation? Sometimes in studying the history of philosophy, one may come to the conclusion that some of the viewpoints expressed actually lead to that conclusion, but no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists. It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince. Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense. So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[2]


[1] “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to one’s thoughts. A worldview is the set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[2] Ibid.

I will say here that Buddhism and Christianity agree that the proper relation in a marriage situation is a male and female. But many “Western “adherants” to Buddhism do not know what they are saying when statements are made about Buddhism being “such-and-such.” Two short videos are perfect for setting up an excerpt from my book:

So here is a portion of my chapter dealing with Eastern Thought:

Pantheism

Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking.  All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists.  The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.”  Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion.  This holds true for the personality of man as well.  This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.

But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”

In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”

With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.”  Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting.  If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions.  There’s a real problem here.  As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.”  When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite.  The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition.  It is an untruth – by definition.

Reincarnation

Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation.  I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term.  Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”

Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma.  When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat.  This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all.  In fact, it perpetuates evil.  How so?  It necessitates a beatee,” which mandates a “beater.”  Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.”  In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.  This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them.  This next true story drives this point home.

Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”

Do you get it now?  It takes a “Mother Teresa” with a Christian worldview to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.

Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home.  While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency.  I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve.  While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son.  Should I call the authorities??  If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation.  Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime.  (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.)  Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities.  These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population.  Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel.  This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people.  The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death….

(…all material referenced in my chapter…)

So to say the Dalia Lama or the Buddha are “Christ like” is to wholly misunderstand the chasm of differences in the two completely different leaders of these religions… and their logical conclusions. Also worth noting is that the date between writings, and so the possibility of corruption of the text is vastly different between the two faiths. For instance, the Buddha is said to have dies around (using the earliest date) 400 B.C.. The earliest portion of a Buddhist writing is dated at about 179 A.D. So let us compare this:

...Compare/Contrast

Buddhist Text Compared Final

References for the above dating of the Buddhist fragments: 

  • Richard Salomon, Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara: The British Library Kharosthi Fragments (PDF summation, book);
  • Ingo Strauch, The Bajaur collection: A new collection of Kharoṣṭhīmanuscripts:  A preliminary catalogue and survey (PDF).

Diamond Sutra Compared to Book of John

The most complete copy that dates early is the Gospel of John (Bodmer Papyrus II – 150-200 A.D.). That is 127 years after Christ, for the Gospel of John. The earliest fragment is dated to 120 A.D. And Clement of Rome quoted from it about 95 A.D., and Polycarp quoted from it around 110 A.D. [+]. So we KNOW John is older.

The oldest full book key to Buddhist thought is the Diamond Sutra, dated at about 868AD. That is 1,268-to-1,468 years after Buddha’s death. We KNOW the Diamond Sutra is older… but the fragments and quotes of the Gospel of John match up well with earliest text. The earlier quotes of the Diamond Sutra and it’s fragments show drastic change.

Another example. The earliest copy of Isaiah the church had was dated to about 900AD. They found a copy of Isaiah dated to 1,200 years earlier. Because of how the Jewish scribes copied text… there were only a few letters in the entirety of the text that were different. Most were in a word known to be “light” No meaning or concept was changed in those letters being different. (Sources: here, here, and here.)

The change in meaning in the Diamond Sutra from earlier Buddhist teaching as well as fragments is great:

Since at least the fifth century, generations of Buddhists have memorized and chanted the Diamond Sutra, a short Mahayana Buddhist scripture. The work, which offers meditations on illusion and perception, was originally written in Sanskrit and first translated into Chinese in 402 A.D. Despite the text’s longevity, Stanford religious studies professor Paul Harrison’s latest research suggests that previous translations may have incorrectly interpreted certain words in a way that affects the entire meaning of the text.

For the last seven years Prof. Harrison has been working on re-editing and re-translating the Diamond Sutra. Though he is a professor of religious studies his translation work falls squarely in the field of philology. Harrison is often surrounded by a large semicircle of previous translations and dictionaries that he consults as he combs through the sutra one word at a time.

The Diamond Sutra is one of the most historically important texts in the Buddhist faith, in part because a copy of it is the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world (868 A.D.). Also known by its Sanskrit title Vajracchedika, the Diamond Sutra posits that something is what it is only because of what it is not. The text challenges the common belief that inside each and every one of us is an immovable core, or soul—in favor of a more fluid and relational view of existence. Negative, or seemingly paradoxical statements by the Buddha abound in the text, such as “The very Perfection of Insight which the Buddha has preached is itself perfection-less.”

Professor Harrison elaborated, “I think the Diamond Sutra is undermining our perception that there are essential properties in the objects of our experience….

(Sources: here and here)

I write about the early attestation to the New Testament in the first 16-pages of my chapter on Gnosticism and Feminism. But I reworked Kenneth Boa’s graphic on comparing dating of ancient texts with some updated information not only cataloged via the aforementioned chapter from my book, but also from here, and the books:

  • Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999);
  • Carsten Peter Theide and Matthew d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus: The Most Sensational Evidence on the Origins of the Gospels Since the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, NY: Galilee DoubleDay, 1996).

(I edited the last column under “Date Written” and “Time Span”)

manuscript comparison AGAIN 700

Below is some of the evidence for the early dating of the New Testament.

More on this from Dr. Geisler:

...Earliest Attested Fragments

[DSS stands for Dead Sea Scrolls]

….Light on the New Testament. Some DSS frag­ments have been identified as the earliest known pieces of the New Testament. Further, the mes­sianic expectations reveal that the New Testa­ment view of a personal messiah-God who would rise from the dead is in line with first-century Jewish thought.Geisler 188 CHART

The New Testament fragments? Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and clas­sified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments. The center column in the following chart uses the numbering system established for manuscripts. For example, “7Q5” means fragment 5 from Qumran cave 7.

[RPT’s Note: 7Q5 matches up well with Mark 6:52-53 ~ see below, sources for graphic: here, here, as well as this chapter and the aforementioned books.]

Both friend and critic acknowledged from the beginning that, if valid, O’Callahan’s conclusions would revolutionize current New Testament the­ories. The New York Times reported: “If Father O’Callahan’s theory is accepted, it would prove that at least one of the gospels—that of St. Mark—was written only a few years after the death of Jesus.” United Press International (UPI) noted that his conclusions meant that “the peo­ple closest to the events—Jesus’ original followers—found Mark’s report accurate and trustwor­thy, not myth but true history” (ibid., 137). Time magazine quoted one scholar who claimed that, if correct, “they can make a bonfire of 70 tons of indigestible German scholarship” (Estrada, 136).

7Q5 Dead Sea Scroll FinalOf course, O’Callahan’s critics object to his identification and have tried to find other possi­bilities. The fragmentary nature of the ms. makes it difficult to be dogmatic about identifi­cations. Nonetheless, O’Callahan offers a plausi­ble, albeit revolutionary, possibility. If the iden­tification of even one of these fragments as New Testament is valid, then the implications for Christian apologetics are enormous. It would be shown that the Gospel of Mark was written within the life time of the apostles and contem­poraries of the events.

A date before A.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Fur­ther, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testa­ment was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. It would also reveal the existence of the New Testa­ment canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Tes­tament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and Gen­eral Epistles.

The fragment of 2 Peter would argue for the authenticity of this often disputed epistle. The absence of fragments of John’s writings might in­dicate that they were written later (A.D. 80-90) in accordance with the traditional dates. With all these revolutionary conclusions it is little wonder that their authenticity is being challenged.

First-Century Jewish Messianic Expectations. The DSS have also yielded text that, while not re­ferring to the Christ of the New Testament, have some interesting parallels, as well as some signif­icant differences. The similarities that confirm the New Testament picture accurately describes Jew­ish expectation of a personal, individual Messiah who would die and rise from the dead. A frag­ment called “A Genesis Florilegorium” (4Q252) re­flects belief in an individual Messiah who would be a descendant of David. “Column 5 (1) (the) Government shall not pass from the tribe of Judah. During Israel’s dominion, (2) a Davidic descendant on the throne shall [not cease . . until the Messiah of Righteousness, the Branch of (4) David comes” (see Eisenman, 89).

Even the deity of the Messiah is affirmed in the fragment known as “The Son of God” (4Q246), Plate 4, columns one and two: “Oppression will be upon the earth . . . [until] the King of the people of God arises, . . . and he shall become [gre]at upon the earth. [ . . . All w]ill make [peace,] and all will serve [him.] He will be called [son of the Gr]eat [God;] by His name he shall be desig­nated. . . . He will be called the son of God; they will call him son of the Most High” (ibid., 70).Geisler 189

“The Messiah of Heaven and Earth” fragment (4Q521) even speaks of the Messiah raising the dead: “(12) then He will heal the sick, resurrect :he dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings” (ibid., 23; cf. 63, 95).

The Dead Sea Scrolls also confirm that Qum­ran was not the source of early Christianity. There are significant differences between their concept of the “Teacher of Righteousness,” ap­parently an Essene messianic hope, and the Jesus revealed in Scripture and early Christianity. The differences are enough to show that early Chris­tianity was not just an offshoot of the Essenes, as has been theorized (see Billington, 8-10). The Essenes emphasized hating one’s enemies; Jesus stressed love. The Essenes were exclusivistic re­garding women, sinners, and outsiders; Jesus was inclusive. The Essenes were legalistic sabbatarians; Jesus was not. The Essenes stressed Jewish purification laws; Jesus attacked them. The Essenes believed two messiahs would come; Christians held that Jesus was the only one (see Charlesworth).

Conclusion. The DSS provide an important apologetic contribution toward establishing the general reliability of the Old Testament Hebrew text, as well as the earliest copies of parts of Old Testament books and even whole books. This is important in showing that the predictive prophe­cies of the Old Testament were indeed made cen­turies before they were literally fulfilled. Further­more, the DSS provide possible support for the New Testament. They may contain the earliest known fragments of the New Testament, and they definitely contain references to messianic beliefs similar to those taught in the New Testament.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999), 188-189.

Take note as well that the earliest Church Fathers quoted Scripture… which would need to be completed and widely used by then:

  • You write “All four gospels are quoted in patristic writings (a technical term which means writings by the early church “fathers.”) before AD 100 in books such as the Epistle of Barnabus, the book of Clement of Rome and the Didache.” There is nothing said about the four Gospels in the “Clement of Rome”. It is really pathetic that you must base supernatural ideas on false evidence and then you show this false evidence to the masses. I’d really like to get a response as to where I can find the gospels mention in the “Clement of Rome”. I’m curious to know what words you rummaged through to come up with this ridiculous accusation.

Answer:

I sense a lot of anger here. The use of words like “pathetic” and “ridiculous” are really not helpful if you want to engage in honest conversations. I want to encourage you to use a more respectful tone, even with those with whom you do not agree. In any case, I just gave a very quick little read of the Letter of Clement to Rome. I found a few quotations from the gospels as well as ones from the letters. Below is a sampling. Besides these, I found a number of allusions to the gospels and other New Testament Books. After each quote, I will have a very short comment.

1Clem 13:1 Let us therefore be lowly minded, brethren, laying aside all arrogance and conceit and folly and anger, and let us do that which is written. For the Holy Ghost saith, Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong in his strength, neither the rich in his riches; but he that boasteth let him boast in the Lord, that he may seek Him out, and do judgment and righteousness most of all remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching forbearance and long-suffering.

This is a quote from 1 Corinthians 1:31

1Clem 13:2 for thus He spake Have mercy, that ye may receive mercy: forgive, that it may be forgiven to you. As ye do, so shall it be done to you. As ye give, so shall it be given unto you. As ye judge, so shall ye be judged. As ye show kindness, so shall kindness be showed unto you. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured withal to you.

This is a quote from Matthew 7:2

1Clem 15:2 For He saith in a certain place This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

This is quoting from either Matthew 15:8 or Mark 7:6

1Clem 16:1 For Christ is with them that are lowly of mind, not with them that exalt themselves over the flock.

This is an allusion to Luke 22:26 or Matthew 23:11

1Clem 34:8 For He saith, Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man what great things He hath prepared for them that patiently await Him.

This is a quote from 1 Cor 2:9

1Clem 36:2 Through Him let us look steadfastly unto the heights of the heavens; through Him we behold as in a mirror His faultless and most excellent visage; through Him the eyes of our hearts were opened; through Him our foolish and darkened mind springeth up unto the light; through Him the Master willed that we should taste of the immortal knowledge Who being the brightness of His majesty is so much greater than angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name. 1Clem 36:3 For so it is written Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers aflame of fire 1Clem 36:4 but of His Son the Master said thus, Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession. 1Clem 36:5 And again He saith unto Him Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.

These are quoting from Hebrews Chapter one….

(EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY)

Ignatius of Antioch would be another prime example.

Effectively the above information updates this older Josh McDowell graph here. In other words, we know the early history of Christianity because of the wealth of evidence behind certain events. For instance:

“Pharisaic Judaizers come down to Antioch (Acts 15:1, 5) in the late summer of 49 A.D. and teach that circumcision is necessary before a person can be saved. Paul, Barnabas, Titus and certain others (Galatians 2:1-2) are sent to Jerusalem to confer with other apostles, elders and brethren concerning the relationship between circumcision and salvation. This gathering is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem Conference. This conference occurs in the Fall of 49 A.D. around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 15:2).”

We know this because of the evidence… the same evidence to say that two letters describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are considered history.

SCRIPTURE NEGATIVE

Buddhism lacks this historical attestation and predictive power that the New Testament has in that the original texts are much closer to the events that happened. In fact, the New Testament is superior to ALL ancient documents in this respect.


“…but test all things. Hold on to what is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21);
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1);
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test[a]” (2 Corinthians 13:5 — [a] “unless you are disqualified” or “you are counterfeit”).

“Causes of Wars,” Concepts (ISIS Compared to Christianity)

Before starting this post one must note that this post is connected to other “war” positions taken against Christians by typically — atheists:

Atheists often claim that religion fuels aggressive wars, both because it exacerbates antagonisms between opponents and also because it gives aggressors confidence by making them feel as if they have God on their side. Lots of wars certainly look as if they are motivated by religion. Just think about conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Asian subcontinent, Indonesia, and various parts of Africa. However, none of these wars is exclusively religious. They always involve political, economic, and ethnic disputes as well. That makes it hard to specify how much [of a] role, if any, religion itself had in causing any particular war. Defenders of religion argue that religious language is misused to justify what warmongers wanted to do independently of religion. This hypothesis might seem implausible to some, but it is hard to refute, partly because we do not have enough data points, and there is so much variation among wars.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Morality Without God? (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 33-34 (Walter is an atheist, BTW)

(As usual, if you wish you can enlarge the above by clicking the article.)

This is gonna be mainly raw text from two sources about the Thirty Years’ War. The first is a run-down of stats of the war from The Encyclopedia of WarEncyclopedia of wars

The authors are nine history professors who specifically conducted research for the text for a decade in order to chronicle 1,763 wars. The survey of wars covers a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years… (source)…

…The second will be from the great resource The Myth of Religious Violence, and will answer two charges against the War. (Take note as well that I dealt with an aspect of this in a previous post/article by John, HERE.)

All this will be preceded by a summary of sorts from the following three sources:

  • Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars (New York, NY: Facts on File, 2005);
  • The General History of the Late War (Volume 3); Containing It’s Rise, Progress, and Event, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (No Publisher [see here], date of publication was from about 1765-1766), 110;
  • William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Summary

A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be ‘most’ really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare.

Even the Seven Years’ War, widely recognized to be “religious” in motivation, noting that the warring factions were not necessarily split along confessional lines as much as along secular interests. And the Thirty Years’ War cannot be viewed as “religious” in that you should find certain aspects if this were the case. For instance, professor Cavanaugh offers the following short critique after a long list of historical instances [included below] building-up-to and during the Thirty Years’ War.

[….]

The other encyclopedia in this excerpt, edited by Gordon Martel, is a bit too expensive for me to add to my home library. I will have to wait for a reasonably priced used copy of this multi-volume set:

Not only were students able to demonstrate the paucity of evidence for this claim, but we helped them discover that the facts of history show the opposite: religion is the cause of a very small minority of wars. Phillips and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars lays out the simple facts. In 5 millennia worth of wars—1,763 total—only 123 (or about 7%) were religious in nature (according to author Vox Day in the book The Irrational Atheist). If you remove the 66 wars waged in the name of Islam, it cuts the number down to a little more than 3%. A second [6-volume] scholarly source, The Encyclopedia of War edited by Gordon Martel, confirms this data, concluding that only 6% of the wars listed in its pages can be labelled religious wars. Thirdly, William Cavanaugh’s book, The Myth of Religious Violence, exposes the “wars of religion” claim. And finally, a recent report (2014) from the Institute for Economics and Peace further debunks this myth.

(Stand to Reason)

Dr. Cavanaugh sets up the premise like John Van Huizum did, but then responds. (Again, the longer response follows the summary information):

A. Combatants opposed each other based on religious difference. The killing in the wars that are called religious took place between combatants who held to different religious doctrines and practices. We would expect to find, there­fore, in the wars of religion that Catholics killed Protestants and that Catholics did not kill fellow Catholics. We would likewise expect to find that Protestants killed Catholics, but we would not necessarily expect that Protestants did not kill each other without being more specific in differentiating those who are commonly lumped together as “Protestants.” Certainly, we would expect that Lutherans did not kill other Lutherans, Calvinists did not kill other Calvinists, and so on. But given that Lutherans had significant theological differences with Calvinists, Zwinglians, and Anabaptists—and those groups had great doctrinal differences among themselves—we should expect violence among different types of Protestants as well. We should expect, in Kathleen Sullivan’s phrase, a “war of all sects against all.”

[….]

Collaboration between Protestants and Catholics of the lower classes was also widespread in the French wars of religion, mainly in an effort to resist abuse by the nobility and the Crown. In Agen in 1562, the Catholic baron Francois de Fumel forbade his Huguenot peasants from conducting services in the Calvinist manner. They revolted and were joined by hundreds of Catholic peasants. Together, they seized Fumel’s château and beheaded him in front of his wife. Holt comments, “The episode shows above all how difficult it is to divide sixteenth-century French men and women into neat communities of Protestants and Catholics along doctrinal or even cultural lines.”

[….]

If the above instances of war making—in which members of the same church fought each other and members of different churches collaborated—undermine the standard narrative of the wars of religion, the absence of war between Lutherans and Calvinists also undermines the standard tale. If theo­logical difference tends toward a war of all sects against all, we should expect to find Lutheran-Calvinist wars, but in fact we find none. Although there were internal tensions in some principalities between Lutheran princes and Calvinist nobility or Calvinist princes and Lutheran nobility, no Lutheran prince ever went to war against a Calvinist prince. The absence of such wars cannot be attributed to the similarity of Lutheranism and Calvinism. There were sufficient theological differences to sustain a permanent divide between the two branches of the Reformation. Such differences were serious enough to produce sporadic attempts by the civil authorities to enforce doctrinal unifor­mity. In the decades following Phillip Melanchthon’s death in 1560, there was an effort to root out “Crypto-Calvinists” from the ranks of Lutheranism. The rector of the University of Wittenberg, Caspar Peucer, was jailed for Crypto-Calvinism from 1574 to 1586; Nikolaus Krell was executed for Crypto-Calvinism in Dresden in 1601. Many Crypto-Calvinists among the Lutherans were forced to relocate to regions friendlier to Calvinism, such as Hesse-Kasse1. However, the fact that Lutheran-Calvinist tensions played no part in the wars of religion indicates at minimum that significant theological differences in the public realm did not necessarily produce war in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. There simply was no war of all sects against all….

B. The primary cause of the wars was religion, as opposed to merely political, economic, or social causes. Protestants and Catholics not only killed each other, but they did so for religious—not political, economic, or social—reasons.

[….]

There are two immediate reasons that this would not be an adequate response. First, the above list contains more than just a few isolated instances. In the case of the Thirty Years’ War, for example, the entire latter half of the war was primarily a struggle between the two great Catholic powers of Europe: France, on the one hand, and the two branches of the Habsburgs, on the other. Second, the above list contains more than just exceptions; if the wars in question are indeed wars of religion, then the instances above are inexplicable exceptions, unless other factors are given priority over religion. Why, in a war over religion, would those who share the same religious beliefs kill each other? Why, in a war over religion, would those on opposite sides of the religious divide collaborate? If the answer is that people prioritized other concerns over their religious views, then it does not make sense to call them wars of religion.

  • William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 141-142, 146, 150-152.

Another thought. Assuming John’s position that the Thirty Years’ War was religious… it was religion fighting for more freedom. So the analogy John is making falls apart. ISIS is not fighting for freedom… they are fighting to enslave… like their predecessors:

(See more)

Okay, that short answer above now gets much more technical — and is geared toward the history buff or technical/in-depth response using history. I will include Dr. Cavanaugh’s 4-part list of issues in regards to the Thirty Years’ War, BUT ONLY his first two responses. His book is so good I recommend the person who has a stomach for history buy it. Here is the raw facts from The Encyclopedia of War:

Thirty-Years’-War 700

Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: The Holy Roman Emperor, Spain, Bavaria and other Catholic German states, Saxony and other Protestant German states (after 1635), the Papacy and various Italian states vs. numerous Protestant states and groups in the Empire, Saxony and other Protestant German states (until 1635), Transylvania, the Dutch Republic, Denmark (1625-1629), Sweden (from 1630), and France (from 1636)

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Germany

DECLARATION: None

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Religious and political freedom for the Protestants of the Empire, and especially of the Hapsburg lands (the emperor and the states of the empire); the atomization of Germany, territorial gains in north Germany, and a war indemnity (Sweden); territorial gains in Alsace-Lorraine and reduction of assistance between the Austrian and Spanish Hapsburgs (France); security for the “Protestant cause” in Germany (Denmark, the Dutch)

OUTCOME: The Empire became fragmented, with the emperor losing most of his political authority within Germany but consolidating his hold over his own territories; religion ceased to be a major precipitant of political conflict; Germany, although devastated by 30 years of conflict, enjoyed internal peace for almost a century; the foreign powers all gained their objectives, although the cost of doing so provoked serious political strains in most of them; Sweden briefly became a great power.

APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS: The Imperial army commanded by Wallenstein in North Germany in 1628-29 probably approached 200,000 men; Gustavus Adolphus probably directed the operations of 120,000 men in 1631-32; France maintained some 130,000 men, at least on paper, in 1635-36. Total number of men in battle, however, rarely exceeded 20,000 per side and normally numbered 10,000 or less—roughly half of them cavalry.

CASUALTIES: Perhaps 500,000 soldiers took part in the war, of whom perhaps two-thirds died in service; in addition civilian losses amounted to perhaps 4 million-20 percent of the total population of the Empire.

TREATIES: Hague Alliance (December 9, 1625); Peace of Lubeck (July 7, 1629); Truce of Altmark (September 26, 1629); Heilbronn League (April 23, 1633); Peace of Prague (May 30, 1635); Treaty of Hamburg (March 15, 1641); Peace of Westphalia (October 24, 1648).

  • Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars, vol III (New York, NY: Facts on File, 2005), cf, Thirty Years’ War, 1140-1141.

Okay, now for the in-depth items to deal with… remember, only “A” and “B” are responded to. Take note as well that the death toll of secular — non-religious — governments in the 20th Century alone are included (the graphic is linked) at the end.


Components of the Myth

In this section, I will lay out the basic components of the narrative of the wars of religion as used by the figures above. Subsequent sections of this chapter will examine the historical record to determine the plausibility of each component of the narrative. For the overall narrative to be true, each of the following components must be true:

  1. Combatants opposed each other based on religious difference. The killing in the wars that are called religious took place between combatants who held to different religious doctrines and practices. We would expect to find, there­fore, in the wars of religion that Catholics killed Protestants and that Catholics did not kill fellow Catholics. We would likewise expect to find that Protestants killed Catholics, but we would not necessarily expect that Protestants did not kill each other without being more specific in differentiating those who are commonly lumped together as “Protestants.” Certainly, we would expect that Lutherans did not kill other Lutherans, Calvinists did not kill other Calvinists, and so on. But given that Lutherans had significant theological differences with Calvinists, Zwinglians, and Anabaptists—and those groups had great doctrinal differences among themselves—we should expect violence among different types of Protestants as well. We should expect, in Kathleen Sullivan’s phrase, a “war of all sects against all.”
  2. The primary cause of the wars was religion, as opposed to merely political, economic, or social causes. Protestants and Catholics not only killed each other, but they did so for religious—not political, economic, or social—reasons.
  3. Religious causes must be at least analytically separable from political, eco­nomic, and social causes at the time of the wars. Although the historical reality is inevitably complex, and people’s motives are often mixed, we must be able, at least in theory, to separate religious causes from political, economic, and social causes.
  4. The rise of the modern state was not a cause of the wars, but rather provided a solution to the wars. The transfer of power from the church to the state was necessary to tame the disruptive influence of religion. As we have seen, there are two versions of this narrative. In one, the liberal state tames religion by separating church and state and removing religion from the public realm. In the other, the absolutist state enforces political unity by absorbing the church. For contemporary liberal political theorists of the latter type, absolutism is a necessary but temporary stage on the way to liberalism.

We will now see how each of these components stands up to recorded his­tory. This is important, given that the tellings of the narrative we examined above tend not to look very closely at history. Toulmin’s, Skinner’s, and Pocock’s books contain scattered references in the notes to contemporary histories of the religious wars. None of the other figures cites, either in the main text or the footnotes, any work by any historian of the European wars of religion.

The Historical Record

(A) Combatants Opposed Each Other Based on Religious Difference

The myth of the wars of religion is an uncomplicated tale of violence between religious groups who held to different theological doctrines. Historical records of these wars, however, show many examples of members of the same church killing each other and members of different churches collaborating:

  • If there truly were a war of all sects against all, one would expect that war would have broken out soon after Europe split into Catholic and Protestant factions. However, between the time that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517 and the outbreak of the first commonly cited religious war—the Schmalkaldic War of 1546-1547—almost thirty years would pass. The Catholic prosecutor of the Schmalkaldic War, Holy Roman emperor Charles V, spent much of the decade following Luther’s excommu­nication in 1520 at war not against Lutherans, but against the pope. As Richard Dunn points out, “Charles V’s soldiers sacked Rome, not Wittenberg, in 1527, and when the papacy belatedly sponsored a reform program, both the Habsburgs and the Valois refused to endorse much of it, rejecting especially those Trentine decrees which encroached on their sovereign authority.”93 The wars of the 1520s were part of the ongoing struggle between the pope and the emperor for control over Italy and over the church in German territories.94
  • The early decades of the Reformation saw Catholic France in frequent wars against the Catholic emperor. The wars began in 1521, 1527, 1536, 1542, and 1552; most lasted two to three years.95 Charles V was at war twenty-three of the forty-one years of his reign, sixteen of them against France.96 Although most of these wars predate what are commonly called the wars of religion, they come in the wake of the Reformation and underscore the fact that the first decades of religious difference in Europe did not produce war between sects. War continued to be based on other factors.
  • In a similar vein, starting in 1525, Catholic France made frequent alli­ances with the Muslim Turks against Catholic emperor Charles V.97 Until the Schmalkaldic War of 1546-1547, the Protestant princes of the Holy Roman Empire generally supported the Catholic emperor in his wars against France. In 1544, Charles granted wide control to the Protestant princes over the churches in their realms in exchange for military support against France.98
  • The first religious war of Charles V against the Schmalkaldic League found a number of important Protestant princes on Charles’s side, including Duke Moritz of Saxony, the Margrave Albrecht-Alcibiades of Brandenburg,99 and the Margrave Hans of Kiistrin.100 The Protestant Philip of Hesse had already signed a treaty to support Charles against the Schmalkaldic League, but he reneged in 1546.101 Wim Blockmans remarks, “The fact that a number of Protestant princes joined Charles’s army shows that the entire operation was based on sheer opportunism.”102
  • Catholic Bavaria refused to fight for the Habsburg emperor in the Schmalkaldic War, though Bavaria did provide some material assis-tance.103Already in 1531, Bavaria had allied with many Lutheran princes in opposing Ferdinand’s election as king of the Romans, and in 1533 Bavaria had joined Philip of Hesse in restoring Wurttemburg to the Protestant duke Ulrich.104
  • The popes were equally unreliable. In January 1547, Pope Paul III abruptly withdrew his forces from Germany, fearing that Charles’s military successes would make him too strong.105 As Blockmans com­ments, “[The pope found a few apostates in northern Germany less awful than a supreme emperor.”106 In 1556-1557, Pope Paul IV went to war against another Habsburg monarch, the devoutly Catholic Philip II of Spain.107
  • In alliance with Lutheran princes, the Catholic king Henry II of France attacked the emperor’s forces in 1552.108 The Catholic princes of the empire stood by, neutral, while Charles went down to defeat. As Richard Dunn observes, “The German princes, Catholic and Lutheran, had in effect ganged up against the Habsburgs.”109 As a result, the emperor had to accept the Peace of Augsburg, which granted the princes the right to determine the ecclesial affiliation of their subjects. Dunn notes that the German peasantry and urban working class “were inclined to follow orders inertly on the religious issue, and switch from Lutheran to Catholic, or vice versa, as their masters required.”110 Most of Charles’s soldiers were mercenaries; these included many Protestants. Some of Charles’s favorite troops were the High German Landsknechte, who commanded a relatively high wage but were good fighters, despite the prevalence of Lutheranism among them.111 The French wars of religion, generally dated 1562-1598, are usually assumed to have pitted the Calvinist Huguenot minority against the Catholic majority. The reality is more complex. In 1573, the gover­nor of Narbonne, Baron Raymond de Fourquevaux, reported to King Charles IX that the common people believed that the wars were rooted in a conspiracy of Protestant and Catholic nobles directed against the commoners.112 The Huguenot and Catholic nobles “openly help each other; the one group holds the lamb while the other cuts its throat.”113 Other contemporary accounts confirm that this view was widespread.114; Though the existence of such a grand conspiracy is doubtful, there were many examples of nobility changing church affiliation at whim115 and many examples of collaboration between Protestant and Catholic nobles. Instances of Protestant-Catholic collaboration among the nobility were generally aimed at asserting the ancient rights of the nobility over against the centralizing efforts of the monarchy. In 1573, the Catholic Henri de Turenne, duke of Bouillon, led the Huguenot forces in upper Guyenne and Perigord.116
  • In 1574, the Catholic royal governor of Languedoc, Henri de Mont­morency, Sieur de Damville, who had previously fought against the Protestants, joined forces with the Huguenot nobility to support a pro­posed antimonarchical constitution.117 He led the anti-Crown military forces in the west and south against the forces of Jacques de Crussol, duke of Uzes, a former Huguenot destroyer of Catholic churches.118 In 1575, the Catholic duke of Alencon, King Henry III’s brother, joined the Huguenots in open rebellion against the monarchy’s oppres­sive taxation.119 In 1578, as duke of Anjou, he sought the hand of the staunchly Protestant Elizabeth I of England in marriage, in an attempt to secure an English-French alliance versus Spain.120
  • A number of Protestants joined the ultra-Catholic duke of Guise’s war of 1579-1580) against the Crown. J. H. M. Salmon comments, “So strong was the disaffection of the nobility, and so little was religion a determining factor in their alignment, that a number of Huguenot seigneurs in the eastern provinces showed a readiness to follow Guise’s banners.”121
  • In 1583, the Protestant Jan Casimir of the Palatinate joined forces with the Catholic duke of Lorraine against Henry III.122
  • Catholic nobles Conti and Soissons served the Protestant Conde in the 1587 campaigns. 123
  • The Crown was not above making alliances with the Huguenots when it served its purposes. In 1571, Charles IX allied with the Huguenots for an anti-Habsburg campaign in the Low Countries.124
  • Henry III joined forces with the Protestant Henry of Navarre in 1589.125 The Catholic kings also made alliances with Protestants beyond France’s borders. In 158o, Anjou offered the French Crown’s support to Dutch Calvinist rebels against Spanish rule. In return, Anjou would become sovereign of the Netherlands, if the revolt should succeed. He took up his position in the Netherlands in 1582, though his reign lasted only a year.126
  • The fluidity of the nobles’ and the Crown’s ecclesial affiliations is cap­tured by Salmon in the following passage:

If the shift from feudal obligation to clientage had intensified the spirit of self-interest among the nobility of the sword, it was never more evident than in the years immediately before the death of Anjou in 1584. Ambition and expediency among the princes, magnates, and their followers made a mockery of reli­gious ideals. Huguenot and Catholic Politiques had co-operated in Anjou’s service in the Netherlands, just as they had at Navarre’s petty court at Nerac. Montpensier, once a zealous persecutor of heretics, had deserted the Guisard camp to advocate toleration. Damville had changed alliances once more and abandoned his close association with the Valois government to effect a rapprochement with Navarre. For political reasons Navarre himself had resisted a mission undertaken by Epernon to reconvert him to Catholicism. Not only his Huguenot counselors, Duplessis-Mornay and d’Aubigne, urged him to stand firm, but even his Catholic chancellor, Du Ferrier, argued that more would be lost than gained by a new apostasy. More surprising was a covert attempt by Philip II to secure Navarre as his ally, coupled with a proposal that the Bourbon should repudiate Marguerite de Valois to marry the Infanta.127

  • Collaboration between Protestants and Catholics of the lower classes was also widespread in the French wars of religion, mainly in an effort to resist abuse by the nobility and the Crown. In Agen in 1562, the Catholic baron Francois de Fumel forbade his Huguenot peasants from conducting services in the Calvinist manner. They revolted and were joined by hundreds of Catholic peasants. Together, they seized Fumel’s château and beheaded him in front of his wife. Holt comments, “The episode shows above all how difficult it is to divide sixteenth-century French men and women into neat communities of Protestants and Catholics along doctrinal or even cultural lines.”128
  • In 1578, the Protestant and Catholic inhabitants of Pont-en-Roians acted together to expel the Protestant captain Bouvier, who had refused to abide by the terms of the Treaty of Bergerac.129
  • In 1578-1580, the widespread Chaperons-sans-cordon uprising united Catholics and Protestants against the Crown’s attempt to impose a third levy of the taille tax in a single year. In 1579, an army of Catholic and Protestant artisans and peasants based in Romans destroyed the fortress of Chateaudouble and went on to capture Roissas. The combined forces moved throughout the region, occupying seigneurial manors. They were finally trapped and slaughtered by royal troops in March 1580.130 In 1579, Catholic and Protestant parishes actively collaborated in the revolt in the Vivarais against the violence and corruption of the ruling classes. In the spring of 1580, the Protestant Francois Barjac led a combined Catholic and Huguenot force from the Vivarais against the troops stationed at the fortress of Crusso.131
  • In 1586, Catholic and Protestant villages collaborated in an attack on Saint Bertrand de Comminges.132 In 1591, the peasant federation of the Campanelle, based in Comminges, joined Catholics and Protestants together to make war on the nobility.133
  • In the Haut-Biterrois in the 1590s, a league of twenty-four villages of both Protestants and Catholics arose to protest taxes and set up a sys­tem of self-defense and self-government.134
  • In 1593-1594, Protestant and Catholic peasants joined in dozens of uprisings in the southwest of France. Some of these consisted of a few hundred peasants, while others gathered up to 40,000.135 The most famous of these revolts was that of the Croquants, whose articles of association required the ignoring of ecclesial differences.136
  • If Protestants and Catholics often collaborated in the French civil wars of 1562-1598, it is also the case that the Catholics were divided into two main parties, the Catholic League and those called politiques, who often found themselves on opposing sides of the violence. The queen mother, Catherine de Medici, promoted Protestants like Navarre, Conde, and Coligny to positions of importance in order to counter the power of the ultra-Catholic Guises. In May 1588, the Guise-led Catholic League took Paris from the royal troops, and Henry III fled the city. In December of that year, Henry III had the duke and cardinal of Guise killed and made a pact with the Protestant Henry of Navarre to make war on the Catholic League. Henry III was assassinated in August 1589 by a Jacobin monk. With Henry of Navarre as successor to the throne, Catholics split into royalists who supported him and Leaguers who led a full-scale military rebellion against him and his supporters.137 The myth of the religious wars presents the Thirty Years’ War as one widespread unified conflict pitting Europe’s Protestants against its Catholics. There was indeed an attempt in 1609 to expand the Protestant Union created by eight German principalities into a pan-European alliance. However, only the counts of Oettingen and the cities of Strasbourg, Ulm, and Nuremburg responded. The elec­tor of Saxony, King Christian of Denmark, and the Reformed cit­ies of Switzerland—in short, the majority of Protestant princes and regions—refused to participate in the Protestant Union.138 When the Protestant estates of Bohemia rebelled against Emperor Ferdinand II in the opening act of the Thirty Years’ War, they offered the crown of Bohemia to Frederick V of the Palatinate, one of the founders of the Protestant Union. The other members of the Protestant Union refused to support him, however, and the union disbanded two years later.139 The Protestant Union attracted some Catholic support. The now-Catholic Henry IV of France sent troops to support the Protestant Union’s intervention in the succession crisis in Cleves-Julich in 1610, but he demanded as a condition of support that the union sever all con­tact with French Huguenots.140 The Catholic prince Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy made an alliance with the Protestant Union in 1619 because the Austrian Habsburgs had failed to solve the succession crisis in Monferrato in a way favorable to his interests. After the Bohemian Protestants were defeated at the Battle of White Mountain, Carlo Emanuele switched his support to the Habsburgs.141
  • The Lutheran elector of Saxony, John George, helped Emperor Ferdinand II to reconquer Bohemia in exchange for the Habsburg province Lusatia.142 In 1626, the elector of Saxony published a lengthy argument in which he tried to persuade his fellow Protestants to sup­port the Catholic emperor. According to John George, the emperor was fighting a just war against rebels, not a crusade against Protestants; what the emperor did in Bohemia and Austria was covered by the prin­ciple of cuius regio, eius religio. Those who opposed the emperor were guilty of treason. The elector of Saxony even cited Luther’s admonition to obey the powers that be.143 John George would later throw in his lot with the Swedes against the emperor.144
  • Catholic France supported Protestant princes from early in the war. France supported the Protestant Grisons in Switzerland against the Habsburgs in 1623.145 In 1624, the minister for foreign affairs, Charles de la Vieuville, made alliances and promises of aid to the Dutch and to multiple German Protestant princes. He also opened negotiations with England to restore Frederick to the throne of Bohemia.146
  • Cardinal Richelieu replaced Vieuville later in 1624 and demanded English and Dutch help in repressing the Huguenots. When such help was not forthcoming, Richelieu abandoned plans for an alliance with England; the Dutch, however, did send a fleet to aid in the defeat of the Huguenot stronghold La Rochelle in 1628.147
  • While the Calvinist Dutch were helping the French Crown to defeat the Calvinists at La Rochelle, Catholic Spain was supporting the Protestant duke of Rohan in his battle against the French Crown in Languedoc.148 The principal adviser of the Calvinist elector of Brandenburg, George William, was a Catholic, Count Adam of Schwarzenberg.149
  • One of the leading commanders of the Imperial Army under Albrecht von Wallenstein, Hans Georg von Arnim, was a Lutheran. Historian R. Po-Chia Hsia remarks, “To build the largest and most powerful army in Europe, Wallenstein employed military talent regardless of confessional allegiance.”150
  • Wallenstein’s foot soldiers included many Protestants, including, ironically, those fleeing because of the imposition of Catholic rule in their home territories. In April 1633, for example, Wallenstein gained a large number of Protestant recruits from Austria who left because of Emperor Ferdinand’s policy of re-Catholicization there.151
  • Private mercenary armies of flexible allegiance helped to perpetuate the Thirty Years’ War. Soldiers of fortune sold the services of their armies to the highest bidder. Ernst von Mansfield worked first for the Catholic Spanish, then for the Lutheran Frederick V, and subsequently switched sides several more times.152 Protestant Scots and English served as officers in Catholic armies, especially in France. Some, like Captain Sidnam Poyntz, switched sides several times.153 Sir James Turner acknowledged that he “had swallowed, without chewing, in Germanie, a very dangerous maxime, which military men there too much follow, which was, that soe we serve our master honestlie, it is no matter what master we serve.”154
  • Sweden’s king Gustavus Adolphus is sometimes presented as the champion of the Protestant cause upon his entry into the war in 1630. However, Gustavus found it difficult to gain Protestant allies. When Swedish troops landed in Germany, their sole ally in the empire was the city of Stralsund. Over the next few months, the Swedes gained only a few more small principalities as allies.155 The most powerful of the Protestant imperial diets saw the Swedish invasion as a threat. They met in the Convention of Leipzig from February to April 1631 in order to form a third party independent of Swedish and imperial control.156 After the initial Swedish victories in 1631, however, many formerly neutral territories were forced to join the Swedes. With Swedish troops approaching in October 1631, Margrave Christian of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, who had heretofore avoided any military engagement, swore his allegiance to Gustavus and agreed to quarter and subsidize his troops. The common people endured many hardships due to the pres­ence of the Swedish troops. When the Lutheran peasants attempted to drive out the Swedes in November 1632, they were massacred.157 France under Cardinal Richelieu signed a treaty with Sweden in January 1631, in which France agreed to subsidize heavily the Swedish war effort.158 Cardinal Richelieu also made a pact with the Protestant principality of Hesse-Kassel.159 The French began sending troops to battle imperial forces in the winter of 1634-1635, and the latter half of the Thirty Years’ War was largely a battle between Catholic France, on the one hand, and the Catholic Habsburgs, on the other.160
  • In March 1635, the troops of fervently Catholic Spain attacked Trier and kidnapped the Catholic archbishop elector. Catholic France subsequently declared war on Catholic Spain.I61
  • In May 1635, the Protestant principalities of Brandenburg and Saxony reconciled with the emperor in the Peace of Prague. Not only did hostilities between the parties cease, but the armies of the Protestant principalities were absorbed into the imperial armies. Within months, most Lutheran states made peace with the emperor on the same terms and proceeded to direct their energies against the Swedes.162 By 1638, the Scottish Presbyterian Robert Baillie could observe, “For the Swedds, I see not what their eirand is now in Germany, bot to shed Protestant blood.”163
  • The pope, on the other hand, refused to support the Holy Roman emperor and gave his approval to the Swedish-French alliance. Pope Urban VIII’s main interest lay in weakening Habsburg control over the papal states in central Italy.164
  • In 1643, Lutheran Sweden attacked Lutheran Denmark. King Christian IV had long harassed Swedish shipping in the Baltic and given asylum to political enemies of Sweden. When word reached Stockholm that Denmark was negotiating an alliance with the emperor, Sweden decided on a preemptive strike. The conflict lasted two years. Despite the Catholic emperor’s aid, Denmark was defeated and forced to sue for peace.165

It would be difficult to come up with a list similar to the one above for the English Civil War, in part because the major contestants—Puritans and Laudians—were factions of the same Anglican Church. However, Scottish Presbyterians entered the fray on the side of the Puritans, while Irish Catholics supported Scottish Presbyterians as a way of weakening the monarchy.166

If the above instances of war making—in which members of the same church fought each other and members of different churches collaborated—undermine the standard narrative of the wars of religion, the absence of war between Lutherans and Calvinists also undermines the standard tale. If theo­logical difference tends toward a war of all sects against all, we should expect to find Lutheran-Calvinist wars, but in fact we find none. Although there were internal tensions in some principalities between Lutheran princes and Calvinist nobility or Calvinist princes and Lutheran nobility,167 no Lutheran prince ever went to war against a Calvinist prince. The absence of such wars cannot be attributed to the similarity of Lutheranism and Calvinism. There were sufficient theological differences to sustain a permanent divide between the two branches of the Reformation. Such differences were serious enough to produce sporadic attempts by the civil authorities to enforce doctrinal unifor­mity. In the decades following Phillip Melanchthon’s death in 1560, there was an effort to root out “Crypto-Calvinists” from the ranks of Lutheranism. The rector of the University of Wittenberg, Caspar Peucer, was jailed for Crypto-Calvinism from 1574 to 1586; Nikolaus Krell was executed for Crypto-Calvinism in Dresden in 1601. Many Crypto-Calvinists among the Lutherans were forced to relocate to regions friendlier to Calvinism, such as Hesse-Kasse1.168 However, the fact that Lutheran-Calvinist tensions played no part in the wars of religion indicates at minimum that significant theological differences in the public realm did not necessarily produce war in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. There simply was no war of all sects against all.

The long list above is almost certainly incomplete. It is gleaned from a reading of some standard histories of the wars of religion. Undoubtedly, a pro­fessional historian of this period could add more instances of war between members of the same church and collaboration in war among members of different churches. Undoubtedly as well, we could compile an even longer list of acts of war between Catholics and Protestants in the sixteenth and seven­teenth centuries. Nevertheless, we must at least observe at this point that the first component of the myth (A) must be significantly qualified by all of the above instances in which it does not hold. As we will see, once we consider the implications of the above list, problems arise with the other components of the myth as well.

(B) The Primary Cause of the Wars Was Religion, as Opposed to Merely Political, Economic, or Social Causes

May we not simply conclude that the above list contains exceptions to the gen­eral rule of war between different religions in this era, but the standard nar­rative of the wars of religion still holds? That is, may we not claim that the majority of violence was Catholic-Protestant, and so, granting the above excep­tions, the standard narrative is valid?

There are two immediate reasons that this would not be an adequate response. First, the above list contains more than just a few isolated instances. In the case of the Thirty Years’ War, for example, the entire latter half of the war was primarily a struggle between the two great Catholic powers of Europe: France, on the one hand, and the two branches of the Habsburgs, on the other. Second, the above list contains more than just exceptions; if the wars in question are indeed wars of religion, then the instances above are inexpli­cable exceptions, unless other factors are given priority over religion. Why, in a war over religion, would those who share the same religious beliefs kill each other? Why, in a war over religion, would those on opposite sides of the reli­gious divide collaborate? If the answer is that people prioritized other concerns over their religious views, then it does not make sense to call them wars of religion.

Imagine I am writing a history of World War I. I am telling the standard story of the war as a struggle between two sets of nations, fueled by com­plex national aspirations, when I uncover a startling fact: the English coun­ties of Somerset, Kent, Durham, Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cumbria, and Cornwall entered World War I on the side of the Kaiser. Leaders in each of these counties declared their allegiance to the German cause, and thousands of troops were sent by ship to Hamburg to join the German forces fighting on the Western Front. I could respond to this discovery by noting these odd exceptions, but pointing out that the majority of English counties fought for the Allied powers, so the basic plotline of the war is unaltered. If I were a good historian, however, I would most likely drop everything and try to find a nar­rative that would take these cases into account. Perhaps nationalism was not the only force driving this war. What motivated the leaders of these counties? Did the troops from these counties go out of conviction or desperation? Were they volunteers, conscripts, or mercenaries? What grievances did these coun­ties have against London that made them unwilling to fight for the king? What other factors besides nationalism were at work in this war?

In the actual case of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century wars, histo­rians generally deal with the facts from the list above by acknowledging that other factors besides religion were at work in the wars of religion—political, economic, and social factors. The question then becomes one of the relative importance of the various factors. Are political, economic, and social factors important enough that we are no longer justified in calling these wars “of religion”? The above list consists of acts of war in which religion as the most important motivating factor must necessarily be ruled out. But once religion is ruled out as a significant factor from these events, the remainder of the acts of war—those between Protestants and Catholics—become suspect as well. Were other factors besides religion the principal motivators in those cases too? If Catholics killed Catholics for political and economic reasons, did Catholics also kill Protestants for political and economic reasons?

Historians take different positions on this question. Opinions range from those who think that religion was an important factor among other significant factors to those who think that religion was not important, except as a cover for underlying political, economic, and social causes. Since the Enlightenment, these wars have been labeled wars “of religion.” Since the wars occurred, however, there have been those who have doubted whether in fact they were actually religious wars.169 Michel de Montaigne in the sixteenth century remarked that, “if anyone should sift out of the army, even the average loyalist army, those who march in it from the pure zeal of affection for religion …he could not make up one complete company of men-at-arms out of them.”170

This divide is apparent if we look at twentieth-century historiography of the French wars. For much of the century, historians downplayed the role of religion in favor of supposedly more fundamental political, economic, and social causes. J.-H. Mariejol in 1904 stressed the role of the dissident nobility of the sword who joined the Huguenot movement to avenge grievances against the monarchy and the church: “Whether it wanted to or not, [the Huguenot church] served as a rallying point for all kinds of malcontents. It ceased being uniquely a church; it became a party.”171 Lucien Romier—whose two-volume 1913 study Les Origines politiques des guerres de religion set the tone for much further historiography of the period—also focused on the role of dissident nobility and found their theological bona fides wanting: “In short, the nobility were thinking of their own interest and were not particularly concerned with bringing it into accord with any precise doctrine. It cannot be denied that self­ish passion and sometimes unrestrained greed persuaded many of the nobil­ity and captains to join the Protestants.”172 James Westfall Thompson’s 1909 book, The Wars of Religion in France, which was for decades the standard text in English, took a similar approach. Thompson wrote, “Although the purposes of the Huguenots were clandestinely more political than religious, it was expe­dient to cloak them under a mantle of faith.”173 John Neale located the root of the religious wars in the weakness of the French monarchy.174 As for the dis­sidents who opposed the monarchy, he concluded, “Generally speaking, social discontent found an outlet for itself in religious and political unrest.”175 Henri Drouot’s 1937 work on the Catholic League in Burgundy saw religious factors as merely a cover for class tensions: “With the economic and monetary crisis [of the late 1580s], with civil war replacing foreign war and internal peace, social mobility ceased. Classes were more clearly defined, and above all, social tensions arose and festered, social tensions that religion could disguise in its own colors and intensify with fanaticism, but which were really the basis of local tensions at the time of the League.”176 Henri Hauser wrote of the outbreak of violence in 1562, “Elements of social and political discontent were to become much more significant than religious faith in the complex attitudes of the new Protestants, and thenceforth it became possible to speak of ‘political’ as well as of ‘religious’ Huguenots.”177 In the 19 6os, George Livet’s Les Guerres de religion identified the “economic and social crisis” of France in the sixteenth century as the principal cause of the wars.178 Hauser’s distinction between types of Huguenots indicates that religion was not entirely forgotten as a motivating force, and some mid-twentieth-century historians, such as Robert Kingdon and N. M. Sutherland, maintained the importance of religious factors.179 Until the 1970s, however, the dominant opinion tended to push aside religion in its search for the underlying material causes of the wars.

Natalie Zemon Davis’s 1973 article, “The Rites of Violence,” is consid­ered a watershed for bringing religious factors back into the study of the French wars. Davis objects to the standard practice of reducing religious fac­tors to, for example, class conflict, and identifies the cause of popular riots in sixteenth-century France as “ridding the community of dreaded pollution.”180 For Catholics, the rites of violence promised the “restoration of unity to the body social”; for Protestants, the goal was the creation of a new kind of unity in the body social.181 The rites of violence were drawn from a variety of sources: the Bible, the liturgy, the action of political authority, the traditions of folk justice.182 Their underlying function was the dehumanization of victims.183 Such riots were religious because they drew from the fundamental values of the community.184 Other factors, economic, social, and political, were at play in popular riots—pillaging was common, for example, indicating economic motives—but “the prevalence of pillaging in a riot should not prevent us from seeing it as essentially religious.”185

In his 1993 review article, “Putting Religion Back into the Wars of Religion,” Mack Holt identifies a number of other twentieth-century attempts to take religious factors seriously. According to Holt, the older Weberian approach is being supplanted by a more Durkheimian influence; rather than see material causes as more fundamental than religion, Durkheim identified religion with the rituals necessary to bind adherents to the social group. Holt sees this influence in the work of Natalie Davis, Carlo Ginzburg, John Bossy, Keith Thomas, and other historians who retain Durkheim’s emphasis on reli­gion as social, but give a greater role to human agency than did Durkheim. Holt then goes on to review several attempts to put religion back into the French religious wars. Denis Crouzet’s massive two-volume Les guerriers de Dieu: La violence au temps des troubles de religion, which appeared in 1990, finds the source of the wars in the prevalence of popular apocalyptic visions of the end times.186 The collective psychology of “eschatological anguish,” rather than political, economic, or social factors, was the principal engine of the wars. The Huguenot project of desacralization was a threat to the sacral monarchy and the purity of the entire social order. The threat was inter­preted in apocalyptic terms, as an attempt to create a new world. Holt also reviews Natalie Davis’s student Barbara Diefendorf’s 1991 book, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris. According to Holt, Diefendorf “shows how the normal socioeconomic tensions of the period were exacerbated by confessional strife.”187 Holt notes that Diefendorf is particu­larly effective in showing that Catholic eucharistic imagery was used to rein­force the boundaries of the social order and identify threats to that order. Holt writes that Diefendorf’s book underscores Crouzet’s attempt to “restore the centrality of religion” in the French civil wars,188 but Diefendorf herself positions her book as occupying a “middle ground” between Crouzet’s book, which offers “very little room for politics,” and more standard, “overly politi­cal” interpretations of the period.189 Holt also reviews books by Denis Richet and Michael Wolfe, which do not downplay the importance of religious fac­tors, and one that does, Iron and Blood by Henry Heller. Richet argues that “the ‘idea of nation’ was enfolded with religion during the civil wars”;190 Wolfe argues, “Although politics certainly had its place, as did questions of social interest and economic competition, these bitter conflicts were primarily reli­gious wars.”191 Holt applauds Richet and Wolfe, but takes issue with Heller’s view that the French civil wars of the sixteenth century were “from start to finish … a kind of class war from above.”192 In Heller’s avowedly Marxist approach, both the Huguenot movement and the Catholic League were seen as threats to monarchy and the nobility, who put them down with force. Holt objects to the reductionism implied by Heller’s blunt contention that “[r]eli-gion is beside the point.”193

We have, then, one group of historians that dismisses religion as an important factor in the French civil wars of the sixteenth century, and another group that wants to reclaim religion as an important driving force among oth­ers in these conflicts. (We should note that similar conflicts of interpretation are present in the historiography of the other wars of religion beyond France.) We must at least note that historians have given us ample reason to doubt the straightforward tale of theological zealotry run amok that Voltaire, Rawls, Shklar, and others tell. No academic historian, with the possible exception of Crouzet, tells the story that way. With regard to component (B) of the myth of the wars of religion, then, we must conclude that the myth is at best a distorted and one-dimensional narrative; at worst, it eliminates so many of the relevant political, economic, and social factors as to be rendered false.

But is the solution simply to seek balance among the various factors? Barbara Diefendorf’s question is an apt one: “Must we go from an overly polit­ical interpretation of the period to one that seems to offer very little room for politics, at least as traditionally viewed?” Should we, like Diefendorf, seek a middle ground between political and religious interpretations? Or is there a problem with the way politics and religion have been, in Diefendorf’s phrase, “traditionally viewed”?

  • William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 141-155.


Switching gears a bit… to how secular society is far worse off than any (save Islamic) religious culture prior. One must keep in mind the mass killings on a grand scals for the Twentieth Century was “prophesied” about by a well-known atheist, Frederick Nietzsche:

Nihilism can take more than one form. There is, for instance, passive nihilism, a pessimistic acquiescence in the absence of values and in the purposelessness of existence. But there is also active nihilism which seeks to destroy that in which it no longer believes. And Nietzsche prophesies the advent of an active nihilism, showing itself in world-shaking ideological wars. “There will be wars such as there have never been on earth before. Only from my time on will there be on earth politics on the grand scale.”

The advent of nihilism is in Nietzsche’s opinion inevitable. And it will mean the final overthrow of the decadent Christian civilization of Europe. At the same time it will clear the way for a new dawn, for the transvaluation of values, for the emergence of a higher type of man. For this reason “this most gruesome of all guests”, who stands at the door, is to be welcomed.

  • Frederick Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy, Volume VII (New York, NY: Doubleday, Image Books edition,1994), 405-405

Here is an adaptation of the linked article:

The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainly. Something wrong? Dismally wrong.

A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law.

(The above two paragraphs are a condensing of Gregory Koukl’s, “The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?”)

“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature.  Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all….  If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

  • Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy [New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942], pp. 161-162; found in: Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001], 206.

20TH_C_MORTACRACIES

Is Christianity Connected with Mystery Religions?

A small excerpt from Mary Jo Sharp’s chapter, “Does the Story of Jesus Mimic Pagan Stories,” via, Paul Copan & William Lane Craig, eds.,  Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (pp. 154-160, 164). Mary Jo has a website, Confident Christianity.

1. Osiris
While some critics of Christ’s story utilize the story of Osiris to demonstrate that the earliest followers of Christ copied it, these critics rarely acknowledge how we know the story of Osiris at all. The only full account of Osiris’s story is from the second-century Al) Greek writer, Plutarch: “Concerning Isis and Osiris.”[4] The other information is found piecemeal in Egyptian and Greek sources, but a basic outline can be found in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2686-c. 2160 BC). This seems problematic when claiming that a story recorded in the second century influenced the New Testament accounts, which were written in the first century. Two other important aspects to mention are the evolving nature of the Osirian myth and the sexual nature of the worship of Osiris as noted by Plutarch. Notice how just a couple of details from the full story profoundly strain the comparison of Osiris with the life of Christ.

Who was Osiris? He was one of five offspring born of an adulterous affair between two gods—Nut, the sky-goddess, and Geb earth-god.[5] Because of Nut’s transgression, the Sun curses her and will not allow her to give birth on any day in any month. However, the god Thoth[6] also loves Nut. He secures five more days from the Moon to add to the Egyptian calendar specifically for Nut to give birth. While  inside his mother’s womb, Osiris falls in love with his sister, Isis. The two have intercourse inside the womb of Nut, and the resultant child is Horus.[7] Nut gives birth to all five offspring: Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.

Sometime after his birth, Osiris mistakes Nephthys, the wife of hisbrother Set, for his own wife and has intercourse with her. Enraged, Set plots to murder Osiris at a celebration for the gods. During the festivi­ties, Set procures a beautiful, sweet-smelling sarcophagus, promising it as a gift to the attendee whom it might fit. Of course, this is Osiris. Once Osiris lies down in the sarcophagus, Set solders it shut and then heaves it into the Nile. There are at least two versions of Osiris’s fate: (a) he suffocates in the sarcophagus as it floats down the Nile, and (b) he drowns in the sarcophagus after it is thrown into the Nile.

Grief-stricken Isis searches for and eventually recovers Osiris’s corpse. While traveling in a barge down the Nile, Isis conceives a child by cop­ulating with the dead body.[8] Upon returning to Egypt, Isis attempts to conceal the corpse from Set but fails. Still furious, Set dismembers his brother’s carcass into 14 pieces, which he then scatters throughout Egypt. A temple was supposedly erected at each location where a piece of Osiris was found.

Isis retrieves all but one of the pieces, his phallus. The body is mum­mified with a model made of the missing phallus. In Plutarch’s account of this part of the story, he noted that the Egyptians “presently hold a festival” in honor of this sexual organ.[9] Following magical incantations, Osiris is raised in the netherworld to reign as king of the dead in the land of the dead. In The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East, T. N. D. Mettinger states: “He both died and rose. But, and this is most important, he rose to continued life in the Netherworld, and the general connotations are that he was a god of the dead.”[10] Mettinger quotes Egyptologist Henri Frankfort:

Osiris, in fact, was not a dying god at all but a dead god. He never returned among the living; he was not liberated from the world of the dead,… on the contrary, Osiris altogether belonged to the world of the dead; it was from there that he bestowed his blessings upon Egypt. He was always depicted as a mummy, a dead king.[11]

This presents a very different picture from the resurrection of Jesus, which was reported as a return to physical life.

2. Horus
Horus’s story is a bit difficult to decipher for two main reasons. Generally, his story lacks the amount of information for other gods, such as Osiris. Also, there are two stories concerning Horus that develop and then merge throughout Egyptian history: Horus the Sun-god, and Horus the child of Isis and Osiris. The major texts for Horus’s story are the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead, Plutarch, and Apuleius-all of which reflect the story of Horus as the child of Isis and Osiris.[12] The story is routinely found wherever the story of Osiris is found.

Who was Horus? He was the child of Isis and Osiris. His birth has several explanations as mentioned in Isis and Osiris’s story: (1) the result of the intercourse between Isis and Osiris in Nut’s womb; (2) conceived by Isis’s sexual intercourse with Osiris’s dead body; (3) Isis is impregnated by Osiris after his death and after the loss of his phallus; or (4) Isis is impregnated by a flash of lightning.[13] To protect Horus from his uncle’s rage against his father, Isis hides the child in the Delta swamps. While he is hiding, a scorpion stings him, and Isis returns to find his body lifeless. (In Margaret Murray’s account in The Splendor That Was Egypt, there is no death story here, but simply a poisoned child.) Isis prays to the god Ra to restore her son. Ra sends Thoth, another Egyptian god, to impart magical spells to Isis for the removal of the poison. Thus, Isis restores Horus to life. The lesson for worshippers of Isis is that prayers made to her will protect their children from harm and illness. Notice the outworking of this story is certainly not a hope for resurrection to new life, in which death is vanquished forever as is held by followers of Jesus.[14] Despite this strain on the argument, some still insist that Horus’s scorpion poisoning is akin to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In a variation of Horus’s story, he matures into adulthood at an accel­erated rate and sets out to avenge his father’s death. In an epic battle with his uncle Set, Horus loses his left eye, and his uncle suffers the loss of one part of his genitalia. The sacrifice of Horus’s eye, when given as an offering before the mummified Osiris, is what brings Osiris new life in the underworld.[15] Horus’s duties included arranging the burial rites of his dead father, avenging Osiris’s death, offering sacrifice as the Royal Sacrificer, and introducing recently deceased persons to Osiris in the netherworld as depicted in the Hunefer Papyrus (1317-1301 BC). One aspect of Horus’s duties as avenger was to strike down the foes of Osiris. This was ritualized through human sacrifice in the first dynasty, and then, eventually, animal sacrifice by the eighteenth dynasty. In the Book of the Dead we read of Osiris, “Behold this god, great of slaughter, great of fear! He washes in your blood, he bathes in your gore!”[16] So Horus, in the role of Royal Sacrificer, bought his own life from this Osiris by sacrificing the life of other. There is no similarity here to the sacrificial death of Jesus.

3. Mithras
There are no substantive accounts of Mithras’s story, but rather a pieced-together story from inscriptions, depictions, and surviving Mithraea (man-made caverns of worship). According to Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor University, an immense amount of “nonsense” has been inspired by modern writers seeking to “decode the Mithraic mysteries.”[17] The reality is we know very little about the mystery of Mithras or its doctrines because of the secrecy of the cult initiates. Another problematic aspect is the attempt to trace the Roman military god, Mithras, back to the earlier Persian god, Mithra, and to the even earlier Indo-Iranian god, Mitra. While it is plausible that the latest form of Mithraic worship was based on antecedent Indo-Iranian traditions, the mystery religion that is compared to the story of Christ was a “genuinely new creation?”[18] Currently, some popular authors utilize the Roman god’s story from around the second century along with the Iranian god’s dates of appearance (c. 1500-1400 BC).

This is the sort of poor scholarship employed in popular renditions of Mithras, such as in Zeitgeist: The Movie. For the purpose of summary, we will utilize the basic aspects of the myth as found in Franz Cumont’s writing and note variations, keeping in mind that many Mithraic schol­ars question Cumont, as well as one another, as to interpretations and aspects of the story.[19] Thus, we will begin with Cumont’s outline.

Who was Mithra? He was born of a “generative rock,” next to a river bank, under the shade of a sacred tree. He emerged holding a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other to illumine the depths from which he came. In one variation of his story, after Mithra’s emergence from the rock, he clothed himself in fig leaves and then began to test his strength by subjugating the previously existent creatures of the world. Mithra’s first activity was to battle the Sun, whom he eventually befriended. His next activity was to battle the first living creature, a bull created by Ormazd (Ahura Mazda). Mithra slew the bull, and from its body, spine, and blood came all useful herbs and plants. The seed of the bull, gathered by the Moon, produced all the useful animals. It is through this first sacrifice of the first bull that beneficent life came into being, including human life. According to some traditions, this slaying took place in a cave, which allegedly explains the cave-like Mithraea.[20]

Mit(h)ra’s name meant “contract” or “compact.”[21] He was known in the Avesta—the Zoroastrian sacred texts—as the god with a hundred ears and a hundred eyes who sees, hears, and knows all. Mit(h)ra upheld agreements and defended truth. He was often invoked in solemn oaths that pledged the fulfillment of contracts and which promised his wrath should a person commit perjury. In the Zoroastrian tradition, Mithra was one of many minor deities (yazatas) created by Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity. He was the being who existed between the good Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu—the being who exists between light and darkness and mediates between the two. Though he was considered a lesser deity to Ahura Mazda, he was still the “most potent and most glorious of the yazata.”[22]

The Roman version of this deity (Mithras) identified him with the light and sun. However, the god was not depicted as one with the sun, rather as sitting next to the sun in the communal meal. Again, Mithras was seen as a friend of the sun. This is important to note, as a later Roman inscription (c. AD 376) touted him as “Father of Fathers” and “the Invincible Sun God Mithras.”[23] Mithras was proclaimed as invin­cible because he never died and because he was completely victorious in all his battles. These aspects made him an attractive god for soldiers of the Roman army, who were his chief followers. Pockets of archaeologi­cal evidence from the outermost parts of the Roman Empire reinforce this assumption. Obviously, some problems arise in comparing Mithras to Christ, even at this level of simply comparing stories. Mithras lacks a death and therefore also lacks a resurrection.

Now that we have a more comprehensive view of the stories, it is quite easy to discern the vast difference between the story of Jesus and even the basic story lines of the commonly compared pagan mystery gods. One must only use the very limited, general aspects of the stories to make the accusation of borrowing, while ignoring the numerous aspects having nothing in common with Jesus’ story, such as missing body parts, sibling sexual intercourse inside the womb of a goddess-mother, and being born from a rock. This is why it is important to get the whole story. The sup­posed similarities are quite flimsy in the fuller context.

(Click to enlarge – above & below) Just three pages from Edwin Yamauchi’s book, Persia and the Bible, These three pages are a bit unrelated… but the topic is on Mithras, and if read, you can see the connection to the above portion by Mary Jo.


[4] Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” in Hellenistic Religions: The Age of Syncretism, ed. Frederick C. Grant (Indianapolis: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), 80-95.

[5] In some depictions, Nut and Geb are married. Plutarch’s account insinuates that they have committed adultery because of the anger of the Sun at Nut’s transgression.

[6] Plutarch refers to Thoth as Hermes in “Concerning Isis and Osiris.”

[7] Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris” appears to be the only account with this story of Horus’s birth.

[8] This aspect of the story, which was a variation of Horus’s conception story, is depicted in a drawing from the Osiris temple in Dendara.

[9] Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” 87.

[10] N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001), 175.

[11] Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 190, 289; cf. 185; cited in Mettinger, Riddle of Resurrection, 172.

[12] For the purposes of this chapter, I use the following sources and translations: E. A. Wallis Budge’s translation of the Book of the Dead; Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris”; Joseph Campbell’s piecing together of the story in The Mythic Image; as well as other noted interpreta­tions of the story.

[13] The latter two versions of Horus’s birth can be found in Rodney Stark, Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief (New York: Harper Collins, 2007), 204. However, Stark does not reference the source for these birth stories.

[14] The development of Isis’s worship as a protector of children is a result of this instance; Margaret A. Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, rev. ed. (Mineola: Dover, 2004), 106.

[15] Joseph Campbell, The Mythic Image (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974), 29, 450.

[16] Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, 103.

[17] Stark, Discovering God, 141.

[18] Roger Beck, “The Mysteries of Mithras: A New Account of Their Genesis,” Journal of Roman Studies 88 (1998): 123.

[19] Roger Beck, M. J. Vermaseren, David Ulansey, N. M. Swerdlow, Bruce Lincoln, John R Hinnells, and Reinhold Merkelbach, for example.

[20] More corecontemporary Mithraic scholars have pointed to the lack of a bull-slaying story in the Iranian version of Mithra’s story: “there is no evidence the Iranian god ever had anything to do with a bull-slaying.” David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 8; see Bruce Lincoln, “Mitra, Mithra, Mithras: Problems of a Multiform Deity,” review of John R. Hinnells, Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, in History of Religions 17 (1977): 202-3. For an interpretation of the slaying of the bull as a cosmic event, see Luther H. Martin, “Roman Mithrraism and Christianity,” Numen 36 (1989): 8.

[21] “For the god is clearly and sufficiently defined by his name. `Mitra means ‘con-tract’, as Meillet established long ago and D. [Professor G. Dumezi] knows but keeps forgetting.” Ilya Gershevitch, review of Mitra and Aryaman and The Western Response to Zoroaster, in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 22 (1959): 154. See Paul Thieme, “Remarks on the Avestan Hymn to Mithra,”Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 23 (1960): 273.

[22] Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra: The Origins of Mithraism (1903). Accessed on May 3,2008, http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/mom/index.htm.

[23] Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI. 510; H. Dessau, Inscriptions Latinae Selectae II. 1 (1902), No. 4152, as quoted in Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 147. This inscription was found at Rome, dated August 13, AD 376. Notice the late date of this title for Mithras—well after Christianity was firmly established in Rome.


All Religious and Moral Thinkers in History Rejected Same-Sex Marriages

I was challenged after I noted that every religious and moral leader of note never endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. Here is the response to this challenge.

A point Dennis Prager makes is that this is the first time in human history where a “liberal elite” thinks it knows better than all previous religious, political, and moral thinkers before them. I have been challenged on this point and so I enter here a response to some of it. But first the audio portion in which discussion took place over:

(To follow up on Plato and Aeschines’ thoughts, read this.) Here is the small portion of one of the conversations that emboldened me to post this information:

Initial “Religious” Challenge:

Also, this is not just a matter of discrimination based on sex. It is also a matter of religious persecution. There are religious institutions where gay marriage is condoned and officiated just as heterosexual marriage is. To list a few, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Old Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Australia and there are even more!!! Just as they would not dare to tell you what to do with your religion, so should you not dare to tell them what to do with theirs. If you believe in freedom of religion, you cannot be against gay marriage. You cannot control what others do with their religion. That is one of the founding principles of this nation. And that is what this really boils down to in the end. It is a matter of control. You seek to control others. You seek to tell others how they are supposed to live their lives. That is the antithesis of freedom. For someone as obviously intelligent as you are it is extremely disheartening that you cannot see something this simple.

After I refuted the world religious challenge of Buddhism (see beneath this conversational example that took place here), I got this response:

…I listed a lot of churches that condone gay marriage. One of them was mistaken and you spend how long arguing against it while ignoring every other one? I made a mistake on buddhism. What of the rest I listed and the many more that I didn’t?


To which I responded:

I wish to clarify something I said. In the historical past, same-sex marriage has never been accepted. While polygamy, concubines, and the like have been accepted in cultural practice. Homosexuality being on equal footing with other forms of marriage has never, never been a practice accepted by any religion or culture. Wiccan, Satanism, and liberal forms of the world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like) have only recently endorsed such a view. Since the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s when radical Marxist ideals were injected into Western thinking, writ large. So even your list is a new phenomenon.

I did mention paganism in the past. What I was saying is that men in historic pagan thinking/actions controlled women so that they were prostitutes at the local temple and a place for men to stop and “give sacrifice” to the gods. Other aspects that paganism and other cultures practiced that were harmful to women that Christianity helped cure were (below — partial list) only made possible by a faith that lifted women up. Something modern day feminism and radical gender equality movements do not do, or cannot do… since Wiccan practices do laud – for instance – the older pagan prostitution practices that subjugated a whole swath of women to serve men in horrible ways:

Paul, who often gets a bad rap for his perceived low view of women, considered at least twelve women coworkers in his ministry.* Paul clearly had a high view of women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The earliest Christians recited these remarkable, countercultural words as a baptismal confession. Widows, far from being abandoned, were cared for, and older women were given a place of honor. In light of all of this, is it any wonder “the ancient sources and modern historians agree that primary conversion to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than males”?

In recent history, Christians were responsible for the banning of three despicable practices inflicted upon women around the world. Christian missionaries pressured the Chinese government to abolish foot binding in 1912. This practice was done for the sole reason of pleasing men—”it made a woman with her feet bound in an arch walk tiptoe and sway seductively.” In 1829 the English outlawed the Indian practice of suttee, in which widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, because of Christianity’s teaching regarding widows and women. Finally, Western countries influenced by a Christian view of women and sexuality have condemned clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation), a gruesome practice that is still common in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 230-231.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.

My goal is not to refute every example [you give]. Yes, extreme leftism in Christianity is nothing new. In fact, the term “fundementalist” was coined in the 1920’s. In fact, a free book about this movement by one of its founders is here, “Christianity & Liberalism

And of course Paganism is [against treating people with humanity]. At least historical paganism, [modern paganism in the West adopts the Judeo-Christian ethic]. Of course I deal with this in my book as well.

With that example of a conversation, I wish to officially give my readers an insight in how to refute such thinking (that major world religions supported same-sex relationships). A proper understanding of Buddhism regards all marriages as mundane. In fact, even love in Buddhistic understanding is mundane and is rejected as anything based in reality — which is also key to this discussion. Here are some actual historical cases that the Buddha interacted with as well as more recently the Dalai Lama dealing with the issue.

….there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).

The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offense will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)

The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.

In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.

It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.

Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.

As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.

(The Buddhist Channel)

Another authoritative source mentions that “in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with … the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.” So one would have to reject the core of this religion in order to supplant it with a personal view and new model of sexuality. Obviously, ripping the core of an ancient religious belief out in the name of tolerance is what the Left is all about! The article continues:

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely-respected spiritual figure) was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer any strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem a bit unnatural. He said that sexual desires in themselves are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control.

In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:

  • nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well. …

The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.

(Religion Facts)

So we see in Buddhistic history and theology a firm denial of homosexuality being approved of (or endorsed, like the Left wants done with same-sex marriage). Even at its best there is no universal Buddhist position on same-sex marriage. In other words, it was never endorsed (if forgetting the above) by the Buddhistic religion or state — like the Left wants in this case.

In all religious understanding, if the practice wasn’t frowned upon, it was never endorsed. Bottom line. Nor was it even thinkable until about a generation ago.

“I’m not divisive, the media is divisive” ~ Rev. Wright Unleashed…Again

“White religionists are not capable of perceiving the blackness of God, because their satanic whiteness is a denial of the very essence of divinity. That is why whites are finding and will continue to find the black experience a disturbing reality.”

~ quoted from James Cone’s book, A Black Theology of Liberation, page 64.

A recent story by the Blaze brings to mind some older posts that I will partially import from my old blog to this newer post… combining it with the newer information. The Blaze (video and more at their site) bullet points some of Rev. Wrights new rants, which causes me to import some older posts to this site:

♆ Rev. Jeremiah Wright delivered three fiery sermons about faith, race and politics at Metropolitan Baptist Church in S.C.
♆ Wright said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worships “some other God” outside of “Allah and Yahweh” (who are the “same” he says)
♆ Obama’s former pastor called Thomas Jefferson “a pedophile”
♆ He sees “white supremacy” driving “world policy”
♆ Wright condemned the U.S. military, saying, “fighting for peace is like raping for virginity.”

Obama’s Pastor went to Libya with Farrakhan to meet Islamisists! Yet, other are the extremist, not his view of theology and God. Hannity and Colmes years ago had the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on their show, and this is how the reverend defended himself:

“How many books of Cones have you read!?”
(Money quote from the interview above with Obama’s pastor.)

Take note the Rev. Wright camps out on the point of reading James Cone’s books, books that were sold in his churches book store the entirety of Obama’s time at Trinity United Church of Christ.

(This section was updated 12-4-2014, see below the links for the update)

Link to Africentric Theology at Trinity United Church of Christ;

Also the Akiba Bookstore main page.

The churches bookstore has been sanitized since this was written. I managed to grab a couple of cached pages. Not nearly what it was, but the few I could find are here: Page 1, page 2, page 3. On page three for instance there are some resources for women, one of the books, “Feminist Theologies: Legacy and Prospect” ~ by Rosemary Radford Ruether, has this review: “it is a collection of academic papers and perspectives from a feminist conference…. Some essays are clearly stronger than others – particularly on Islam.” Strong on Islam? This author has written books on Gaia and God, pro Palestinian (anti-Israel) books, and books on “Goddesses and the Divine,” as well as radically left leaning feminist theology.

E.g., not a Christian book or author at all. More Marxist and Islamic in reality.

So got on Trinities website and bought Dr. Cones’ books, and read them. This lead me to make an early “documentary” (Sept of 2008) called Obama-Con. In it I mention some of the following ideas that Obama’s church paralleled:

...See For Yourself

(From an older post) Of course the money quote is the Rev. Wright recommending some authors/books. I love books, so I went out and bought them and read them. I was amazed the media didn’t do what I had just done! Could you imagine if McCain or Bush went to a church for twenty years headed by a pastor whom — a) brought you to your faith, b) married you and your wife, c) baptized your kids, and was d) on your campaign staff — sold Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the church’s bookstore. Not only that but on national television recommended this same book? We would never hear the end of it. Never. In fact, this fictitious person would never make it on a ballot.


“The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew” ~ Adolf HitlerMein Kampf

  • “The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods” ~ James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p.62
  • “White religionists are not capable of perceiving the blackness of God, because their satanic whiteness is a denial of the very essence of divinity. That is why whites are finding and will continue to find the black experience a disturbing reality” ~ James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p.64

“I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord” ~ Adolf HitlerMein Kampf

  • “There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples” ~ James ConeA Black Theology of Liberation, p.63
  • “Christianity is not alien to Black Power, Christianity is Black Power” ~ James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power, p.38
  • “In contrast to this racist view of God, black theology proclaims God’s blackness. Those who want to know who God is and what God is doing must know who black persons are and what they are doing” ~ James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p.65

“The [Nazi party] should not become a constable of public opinion, but must dominate it. It must not become a servant of the masses, but their master!” ~ Adolf HitlerMein Kampf

  • “These new theologians of the Third World argue that Christians [liberation theology accepting Christians] should not shun violence but should initiate it” ~ James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power, p.32
  • “It is important to make a further distinction here among black hatred, black racism, and Black Power. Black hatred is the black man’s strong aversion to white society. No black man living in white America can escape it” ~ James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power, p.14
  • “It is this fact that makes all white churches anti-Christian in their essence. To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people!” ~ James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power, p.151
  • “It [black liberation theology] is dangerous because the true prophet of the gospel of God must become both “anti-Christian” and “unpatriotic.”…. Because whiteness by its very nature is against blackness, the black prophet is a prophet of national doom. He proclaims the end of the American Way” ~ James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p.55-56

Here is The New Yorker commenting on some of the issues herein I concern myself with:

The rise of Jeremiah Wright, in the seventies and eighties, coincided with the rebirth of the Nation of Islam under Minister Louis Farrakhan. In fact, the uproar over Obama and Wright has been, in part, an uproar over Farrakhan, who keeps sneaking into the frame. He and Wright were twinned at the Democratic Presidential debate in Cleveland, on February 26th, when Tim Russert, of NBC, ascribed to Wright the claim that Farrakhan “epitomizes greatness.” (Actually, the statement came from an article by Rhoda McKinney-Jones in Trumpet, a Trinity-associated magazine published by Wright’s daughter Jeri L. Wright; as has been widely noted since then, Farrakhan was given a lifetime-achievement award at a Trumpet banquet in November.) Last summer, the Trinity Bulletin reprinted an open letter by a Farrakhan ally convinced that Israel and apartheid South Africa had “worked on an ethnic bomb that kills blacks and Arabs.” Yet Wright seems to have a complicated relationship with Farrakhan, whose national headquarters are in the South Shore neighborhood, a few miles from Trinity. His remarks about Farrakhan veer from the fulsome (the minister’s analysis of America’s racial ills is “astounding and eye opening”) to the equivocal (he is “sincere about his faith and his purpose”), but for the most part Wright chooses his words with tactical care, the way Cone did when he wrote about Elijah Muhammad. It is the language of a respectful, and possibly anxious, rival. Like Cone in the nineteen-sixties, Wright may have worried that he would be judged, and found wanting, by purer and less forgiving forms of black nationalism. Farrakhan represented the threat; his followers—particularly the young black men whom churches sometimes had trouble reaching—represented the prize.

Wright attended (but didn’t address) the Million Man March, the 1995 gathering in Washington that Farrakhan convened to promote self-reliance and “spiritual renewal” among black men. In the months afterward, Wright delivered a series of sermons that were reprinted in a book, “When Black Men Stand Up for God,” which presents a Christian response to the challenge posed by the Nation of Islam. In it, he lambastes the preachers who opposed the march on political or religious grounds: they had missed a prime opportunity to present their case to African-American men. And, by way of establishing his bona fides, he reminds readers that he studied Islam at the University of Chicago. “I have a different perspective on Islam than the average preacher,” he writes. “Islam and Christianity are a whole lot closer than you may realize. Islam comes out of Christianity.” That’s interfaith dialogue, served with a hint of one-upmanship.

But remember, the reverend says “I’m not divisive, the media is divisive,” which merely redefines anti-Semitic/racist statements as non-divisive:

While reading these books cover-to-cover and doing some looking around, I also noted that Louise Farrakhan was given a lifetime achievement award at Obama’s church. Not only that though, but Farrakhan was given three cover spreads on the church’s magazine, the Trumpet. One of those his face shot put alongside Obama as well as Elijah Muhammad, the second leader of the Nation of Islam. His [Elijah Muhammad’s] many books are sold by the Nation of Islam not Old Testament mention being taught by Louise Farrakhan as theological doctrine. Since Obama’s church gave such a prestigious award to the current leader of the Nation of Islam, whom Obama’s pastor was a part of in his younger years, let us see what some of these books they tout say as well:

“It is due to your ignorance of God, or you are one deceived by the devil, whose nature is to mislead you in the knowledge of God. You originally came from the God of Righteousness and have the opportunity to return, while the devils are from the man devil (Yakub) who has ruled the world for the past 6,000 years under falsehood, labeled under the name of God and His prophets.   The worst thing to ever happen to ‘the devils is: The truth of them made manifest that they are really the devils whom the righteous (all members of the black nation) should shun and never accept as truthful guides of God! This is why the devils have always persecuted and killed the righteous. But the time has at last arrived that Allah (God) will put an end to their per­secuting and killing the righteous (the black nation).”

~ Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman In America, p.6  [Yakub is an evil scientist who created the white race 6,000 years ago in Nation of Islam theology]

“…they are a prey in the hands of the white race, the world’s archdeceivers (the real devils in person). You are made to believe that you worship the true God, but you do not! God is unknown to you in that which the white race teaches you (a mystery God).   The great archdeceivers (the white race) were taught by their father, Yakub, 6,000 years ago, how to teach that God is a spirit (spook) and not a man. In the grafting of his people (the white race), Mr. Yakub taught his people to contend with us over the reality of God by asking us of the whereabouts of that first One (God) who created the heavens and the earth, and that, Yakub said, we cannot do.”

Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman In America, p. 9

According to Elijah Muhammad, Jesus was a black African and only a mortal man like the Prophet Muhammad of Islam. He also taught that Jesus was the product of sexual intercourse between Mary and Allah (who is a black man). Louis Farrakhan said this of the second leader of the Nation of Islam:

  • “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I am here to declare, is risen. The Jesus you have been seeking and waiting for His return has been in your midst for 40 years, but you knew not who He was. A Holy One was working among us, and It is only now, after He is gone, that we realize who He was.” ~ Louis Farrakhan

Again, for clarity:

  • “If you understand the Bible right, you will agree with me that the whole caucasion race is a race of devils. They have proved to be devils in the Garden of Paradise and were condemned … by Jesus.” ~ Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman In America, p. 23-24.
  • “Christianity is the Devil’s religion created to mislead black people.” ~ Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman In America, p. 11.

Louis Farrakhan, the guy who was given an award by Wright, knew personally that Elijah Muhammad had risen because…

Obama’s church gave a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to this guy. Remember that he believes he was taken up in a UFO and told explicit things about himself and white people. Here are four pages from the book, Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family: A Guide to Ten Non-Christian Groups Out to Convert Your Loved Ones, (click on them to enlarge – and again to get it even bigger):


FARRAKHAN/UFO by XYBORG7

So you can see that there are some very occultic beliefs tied to Rev. Wright. Which may explain why the Reverend Wright believes Allah and YHWH are the same God, something you would never hear a Christian minister say. One reason is the Rev. Wright use to be a part of the Nation of Islam, and often times Black Panthers and Nation of Islam adherents would sit in on these “Christian” services. But remember, it isn’t the Rev. Wright that is divisive, it is the media:

An Apologetic “Aside”

What are some of the differences between Yahweh and Allah?

How do the Democrats let this type of stuff slide… year after year? One reason is that the Democratic party has become more-and-more leftist every year:

Democrats More Left Every Year

…..congressional Democrats have not moved to the political center — they have all but deserted it. Employing statistics from the Americans for Democratic Action, a self-defined liberal activist group, we analyzed House and Senate voting records dating back to 1974. Using as a definition of ”liberal” someone who votes with the ADA recommendation at least two-thirds of the time, we found that in 1995 nearly four out of five Democrats in the House (78 per cent) qualified as liberal. That is more than double the 34 per cent of 1974.

In fact, the liberal quotient for Democrats has risen steadily over the past 11 Congresses, while the percentage of Democrats qualifying as conservative has shrunk to virtually nil. Even the number of moderate Democrats is dwindling. According to the ADA’s ratings there are now only 45 moderate Democrats, down from 75 in 1980

In short, last year House Democrats’ voting record was more liberal than it had been in at least twenty years. The Democrats were more left-wing in the 104th Congress than when the House was under the command of Speakers like Tip O’Neill or Jim Wright; and more left-wing than it was during the ascendancy of the post-Watergate class of 1974.

In the Senate, the statistics are equally grim. In 1974, only 55 per cent of Democrats were classified as liberal; by 1995, that figure had risen to 93.5 per cent. Only Sam Nunn of Georgia, Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, and James Exon of Nebraska (all of whom are also retiring this year) are not liberal — contradicting the conventional wisdom that the Senate Democrats are a pack of political pragmatists. How’s this for a depressing statistic: nine of Ted Kennedy’s Senate colleagues had more liberal voting records than he did last year.

Let’s examine some key votes. Back in 1977 there were 63 House Democrats who voted against increasing the minimum wage; in almost every subsequent vote on the issue that number has declined. In this summer’s vote, only 2 Democrats (the aforementioned Hall and Geren from Texas) opposed the mandatory-job-loss bill. When the Balanced Budget Amendment was defeated in 1982, President Reagan told American voters to ”count heads and take names” — to make note of who in Congress was fiscally rational and who was not. Those voters who took the President’s advice counted 69 Democrats in support of the amendment and 167 opposed to it. In contrast, in the landmark January 1995 vote in which the House finally passed the Balanced Budget Amendment, a record-low 33 Democrats voted in favor.

A recent comprehensive study by political analysts Mark Melcher and David Tappan of Prudential Securities examined vote ratings by the ADA and the American Conservative Union and came to much the same conclusion as we did: the political center in Congress is shrinking. The ACU ratings, for example, tell us that, in 1995, 47 House Democrats had more liberal voting records than Bernie Sanders of Vermont — an avowed socialist. If this trend keeps up Sanders will have to stop caucusing with the Democrats: he’s too anti-government for them….

What are the numbers today of those Democrats calling themselves, voluntarily, anti-American?

The Socialist Party of America announced in their October 2009 newsletter that 70 Congressional democrats currently belong to their caucus. This admission was recently posted on Scribd.com:

American Socialist Voter–

Q: How many members of the U.S. Congress are also members of the DSA?
A: Seventy

Q: How many of the DSA members sit on the Judiciary Committee?
A: Eleven: John Conyers [Chairman of the Judiciary Committee], Tammy Baldwin, Jerrold Nadler, Luis Gutierrez,
Melvin Watt, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen, Barbara Lee, Robert Wexler, Linda Sanchez [there are 23 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of which eleven, almost half, are now members of the DSA].

Q: Who are these members of 111th Congress?
A: See the listing below

Co-Chairs

Hon. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07)
Hon. Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)

Vice Chairs

Hon. Diane Watson (CA-33)
Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
Hon. Mazie Hirono (HI-02)
Hon. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)

Senate Members

Hon. Bernie Sanders (VT)

House Members

Hon. Neil Abercrombie (HI-01)
Hon. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)
Hon. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
Hon. Madeleine Bordallo (GU-AL)
Hon. Robert Brady (PA-01)
Hon. Corrine Brown (FL-03)
Hon. Michael Capuano (MA-08)
Hon. André Carson (IN-07)
Hon. Donna Christensen (VI-AL)
Hon. Yvette Clarke (NY-11)
Hon. William “Lacy” Clay (MO-01)
Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Hon. Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Hon. John Conyers (MI-14)
Hon. Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Hon. Danny Davis (IL-07)
Hon. Peter DeFazio (OR-04)
Hon. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Rep. Donna F. Edwards (MD-04)
Hon. Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Hon. Sam Farr (CA-17)
Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Hon. Bob Filner (CA-51)
Hon. Barney Frank (MA-04)
Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Hon. Alan Grayson (FL-08)
Hon. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Hon. John Hall (NY-19)
Hon. Phil Hare (IL-17)
Hon. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Hon. Michael Honda (CA-15)
Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)
Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hon. Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Hon. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Hon. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13)
Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Hon. John Lewis (GA-05)
Hon. David Loebsack (IA-02)
Hon. Ben R. Lujan (NM-3)
Hon. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Hon. Ed Markey (MA-07)
Hon. Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Hon. James McGovern (MA-03)
Hon. George Miller (CA-07)
Hon. Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-08)
Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-AL)
Hon. John Olver (MA-01)
Hon. Ed Pastor (AZ-04)
Hon. Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Hon. Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Hon. Charles Rangel (NY-15)
Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37)
Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)
Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Hon. Linda Sánchez (CA-47)
Hon. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Hon. José Serrano (NY-16)
Hon. Louise Slaughter (NY-28)
Hon. Pete Stark (CA-13)
Hon. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Hon. John Tierney (MA-06)
Hon. Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)
Hon. Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12)
Hon. Henry Waxman (CA-30)
Hon. Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Hon. Robert Wexler (FL-19)

Radical does as radical is! Some quotes from James Cone’s book, A Black Theology of Liberation (A book sold in Obama’s church the entire 20-years he attended).

“It is dangerous because the true prophet of the gospel of God must become both ‘anti-Christian’ and ‘unpatriotic.’ (55) …. Because whiteness by its very nature is against blackness, the black prophet is a prophet of national doom. He proclaims the end of the ‘American Way…'” (56) ~ James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (A book sold in Obama’s church the entire 20-years he attended).

But this does not mean that religion is irrelevant altogether; it only means that religion unrelated to black liberation is irrelevant. (58-59)

… it is that whites are incapable of making any valid judgment about human existence. The goal of black theology is the destruc­tion of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods. The God of black liberation will not be confused with a blood’ thirsty white idol. Black theology must show that the black God has nothing to do with the God worshiped in white churches whose primary purpose is to sanctify the racism of whites and to daub the wounds of blacks. Putting new wine in new wineskins means that the black theology view of God has nothing in common with those who prayed for an American victory in Vietnam or who pray for a “cool” summer in the ghetto…. There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God’s experience, or God is a God of racism…. Because God has made the goal of blacks God’s own goal, black theology believes that it is not only appropriate but necessary to begin the doctrine of God with an insistence on God’s blackness. (62-63)

White religionists are not capable of perceiving the blackness of God, because their satanic whiteness is a denial of the very essence of divinity. That is why whites are finding and will continue to find the black experience a disturbing reality. (64)

In contrast to this racist view of God, black theology proclaims God’s blackness. Those who want to know who God is and what God is doing must know who black persons are and what they are doing. (65)

God comes to us in God’s blackness, which is wholly unlike white­ness. To receive God’s revelation is to become black with God by joining God in the work of liberation…. Becoming one of God’s disciples means rejecting whiteness and accepting themselves as they are in all their physical blackness. (66)

Black theology cannot accept a view of God which does not represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white oppressors. Living in a world of white oppressors, blacks have no time for a neutral God. The brutalities are too great and the pain too severe, and this means we must know where God is and what God is doing in the revolution…. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God’s love. (70)

God is black because God loves us; and God loves us because we are black. Righteousness is that side of God which expresses itself through black liberation. God makes black what humans have made white…. Love is a refusal to accept whiteness. (73-74)

If creation “involves a bringing into existence of something that did not exist before,” then to say God is creator means that my being finds its source in God. I am black because God is black! God as creator is the ground of my blackness (being), the point of reference for meaning and purpose in the universe…. Rather it is incumbent upon me by the freedom granted by the creator to deny whiteness and affirm blackness as the essence of God. That is why it is necessary to speak of the black revolution rather than reformation. The idea of reformation suggests that there is still something “good” in the system itself, which needs only to be cleaned up a bit. This is a false perception of reality. The system is based on whiteness, and what is necessary is a replacement of whiteness with blackness. (75-76)

Being white excludes them from the black community and thus whatever concern they have for blacks will invariably work against black freedom…. Certainly if whites expect to be able to say anything relevant to the self-determination of the black community, it will be necessary for them to destroy their whiteness by becoming members of an oppressed community. Whites will be free only when they become new persons—when their white being has passed away and they are created anew in black being. When this happens, they are no longer white but free, and thus capable of making decisions about the destiny of the black community. (97)

  • “Born Again” redefined: They [white people] would destroy themselves and be born again as beautiful black persons. (103)
  • “Sin” redefined: This means that whites, despite their self-proclaimed religiousness, are rendered incapable of making valid judgments on the character of sin…. In a word, sin is whiteness… (106, 108)
  • “Salvation” redefined: Salvation, then, primarily has to do with earthly reality and the injustice inflicted on those who are helpless and poor. To see the salvation of God is to see this people rise up against its oppressors, demanding that justice become a reality now, not tomorrow. (128)

The Incoherence of the Cultural Relativist Making Moral Pronouncements ~ Conversation Series

Here is a great conversation that stemmed from another story — as debated on FaceBook. I commented on a story someone posted on their FaceBook about an Iraqi woman who was killed in her home, and whoever murdered her left a note calling her a terrorist and they (the family) should go back to the Middle-East. (THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED!) The person posting the story did so to try and show that there is a bias against Muslims. I often wondered why the liberal does this, that is, find stories to showboat as against the status-quo showing America or our culture as racist by finding rare stories of victims to make some point of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, imperialism, bigotry, or intolerance. David Mamet answered this for me. After he laid the premise of the protagonist in a play who is typically afflicted by a condition not of their making, thus, drawing a similarity to the political realm of someone “afflicted” with homosexuality, illness, being a woman, etc, saying they had merely acted and thusly could not have sinned, he furthers his point by saying:

These plays were an (unfortunate) by-product of the contemporary love-of-the-victim. For a victim, as above, is pure, and cannot have sinned; and one, by endorsing him, may perhaps gain, by magic, part of his incontrovertible status.

So the liberal, by emphasizing these “victim-hood” stories, absorbs to their psyche innocence, proving that they are peaceful, fair, tolerant, stand for the poor, disenfranchised, and care about the environmentThus, better than those whom they just labeled. While many of these people will label religious folk as “holier than thou,” it is these priests of the victicrats [whether directed towards human plight or a perceived environment plight] that are replacing spirituality with “concern.” They are not just as religious, but are in fact fanatical in their positions.  (Larry Elder defines a “victicrat” as someone who “blames all ills, problems, concerns and unhappiness on others.”) At least the religious person is being honest and keeping the categories straight. But I digress.

I posted a quick response that this story is fresh and that it could be that this is a cover up for an honor killing, or the like.  This got things kicked off! As evidence that countered the story came out I would post it… (glass busted out, not in; that a dark skinned man was seen running from the house [by-the-way, this effectively stopped part of the conversation… why?… because how could one victim group/minority commit a hate crime against another? There has to be a racist white guy in the story to represent imperialistic, xenophobic, bigoted America. It just doesn’t compute!]). This led to another person, Michael H., jumping in the conversation, taking it another place entirely! Wee will pick it up from the point where he jumped in

Michael H.

Maybe someone killed her because she hates our freedoms. Its sad whatever the reason.

Pat O

No matter, if it was a relative, neighbor, enemy or stranger. It takes a lot of hate to kill someone like that.

Me

Crimes like this are typically familial. Not to mention that the Islamic influence debases women’s humanity and allows for men to “honor” kill them. Now, the question becomes why Nick would post this story and not ones found here? http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/honor_killings/

Now, mind you, I do not frequent Nick’s FB all that much (and in fact I just popped in to see if he uploaded a picture of him wearing a hoodie, or something), but I would guess that he posted the story because it was thought of first as a representation of intolerance towards Islam… showing America’s depravity in some way. Why do extreme liberal orgs support women rapists/killers? (http://youtu.be/IecSOR36CMA). There seems to be some inversion going on here… some moral equivalency, some lack of looking at history, objectively (how people from Saudi Arabia (the home of Wahhabism) treat women. The long list of honor killings. But I am sure a recalling of some Crusade or crime done in the name of Christianity from a 1,000 years ago will hold the faith of those who protect madness and debase Western culture and its influences.

Me

Michael H., maybe someone killed her because she started to fall in love with our freedoms, and her own possibility in those freedoms.

Michael H.

I was joking just so you know. Her family had been in the states for a long while, and her husband was a contractor for the US Army. So I think its unlikely that they were fundamentalists.

Nick N.

Lets go over the facts: She was a devout muslim and mother of 5 children. There was a note found near her body saying “go back to your country you terrorist.” She lives in a neighborhood where other muslims have reported “descriminatory hate incidents”. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a hate crime is still on the table… If you’d rather deny that possibility be my guest.

But know that it’s not just the far left that are worried about incidents like these. Libertarian Anthony Gregory commented that “even though the Iraqi people did nothing against the United States, only to see their country destroyed, hundreds of thousands of their people slaughtered, millions displaced in two decades of murderous U.S. wars and sanctions, somehow these people are still seen as the dangerous ones. But of course, if it’s morally justifiable to treat people as subhuman by the millions—a principle necessarily implicit in the U.S. warfare state—what’s one more dead mother count?”

I understand you have a particular.. view… of muslims as dangerous or irrational people who would murder another for simply being happy or loving freedom, and i have to say this is worrysome to me….

Me

QUOTE:

If the “hate crime” narrative is going to work in describing the brutal beating of Shaima Alawadi, can it be maintained if a man with a dark skin color is a suspect? When was the last time you heard of a Hispanic or African-American attacking a Muslim in America? Could it be that this man was also from Iraq? From UT San Diego:

El Cajon police continue to stress that the possibility of a hate crime is only one avenue they are pursuing, and that they believe the attack to be an isolated incident.

A neighbor told police a dark-skinned man was seen running from the house, according to police records obtained by KFMB/Channel 8. Family members have said in media interviews that a similar note had been found weeks earlier posted on their front door, but they did not notify police.

If the death is determined to be a hate crime, it would be highly unusual.

Of the county’s 136 hate crimes reported in 2010, El Cajon police reported one, according to data gathered by the state Attorney General’s Office. None was reported in 2009, one in 2008 and one in 2007… (UT San Diego)

UNQUOTE

Maybe she wanted to not wear her Hijab anymore? … I like facts Nick N.

Michael H.

I would be extremely worried about us if I was not one of us, but I’m actually still extremely worried about us even though I am on of us. Right or wrong, most of the world has a million reasons to fear and despise the United States. If someone is not able to see that, then they are another reason as far as I’m concerned. I would love to turn all that around if we can. The first step to that is seeing all humans as being created equal and worthy of respect.

Me

All people created equal, but not all ideologies Michael. So an ideology can make good people bad, yeah? So starving 15-million people to death is actually seen as a good thing.

‎…. or having the older sons help the father kill his daughter who is becoming too “Western.”

‎…. or his wife?

Michael H.

Or half the fucking country who claim to be Christians advocating the murder of millions of people over and over again because they are fooled into thinking these said people are worth less than other people. Does “Hitler” ring a bell. We kill people for breaking rules all the time. Its called the death penalty. Whats your point?

Me

Please Michael, be calm, I know leftism is a bit emotional and you are proving my point, but lets work through this. Do you wish to talk about your figure of millions, or, your statement about Hitler {since it was not clear maybe you can correct me if I am wrong] being a Christian?

Also, are you morally equivocating the death penalty (which is typically applied with a jury of peers and many appeals to courts/upper courts) to the killing of a woman or girl for wanting to be free from a cultural mandate from 640 A.D.? Please, take your time and be clear… because if that is not what you said you should make sure we all understand it.

Michael H.

First off, I do not claim a leftist ideology. So sorry to not prove your point. My point is simple and clear. You actually proved it. You sound like you value the morality from your own institutions and culture as superior to others. What the hell is wrong with the ideology of a culture that has vastly more history and cultural significance than our own? To be clear I am not advocating honor killings or anything else for that matter. I am however wondering where the authority to claim that the morality and customs of another country are somehow inferior to our own comes from. I do think that other peoples customs need to respect ours if they are in this country and they need to follow our laws but we are certainly not superior to anyone else. It is clear you believe we are better or superior or more educated or civilized or what ever the fuck you want to call it. My point is, this has happened throughout history. This is the kind of thinking that gave power to Hitler and slavery and every war America engages in. Yes millions; in the last century. Millions of people have been killed in the wars we have fought. But its ok because they were communists, or uncivilized people or terrorists, or the axis of evil, or different and bad in some way. So to be perfectly clear, I do not support anyone that thinks they are superior to any other group of people. To do so shows ignorance and a contempt towards humanity. I was not implying Hitler was a Christian, there is an overwhelming support of wars against Islam by Christians though. This kind of thinking in my opinion shows a clear moral bankruptcy. So yes I am morally equivocating the death penalty and common law to other forms of law that have existed since the dawn of civilization. I appreciate ours much more and i am very happy I live here, but I certainly respect the traditions of those who came before us. All the evil horrible things that have happened throughout history were allowed to occur because people viewed their own cultures as superior to another. This kind of thinking needs to stop. The truth if you can handle it is that those dirty primitive cave people belong to some of the most culturally rich groups of people on earth who happened to invent modern agriculture, civilization, mathematics and Astronomy just to name a couple things. Sorry you did not have me all figured out thinking I was a liberal. I know that would have made it easy. Really I am just sick of war and I am sick of people thinking that we belong to some righteous culture, because we don’t. But we could if we stopped acting like fools. That’s all I got to say. See ya later.

Me

QUOTE YOU

“To be clear I am not advocating honor killings or anything else for that matter. I am however wondering where the authority to claim that the morality and customs of another country are somehow inferior to our own comes from.”

UNQUOTE

There is a self-contradiction going on here, between the two sentences/ideas. I wish to offer a single book for those interested in taking the understanding of “cultural relativism” to task, just one book to counter the many hours in classes and hearsay thinking. It is entitled RELATIVISM: FEET PLANTED FIRMLY IN MID-AIR (you may have to order a used copy… cheaper that way). Its under 200 pages long, and explains well the idea that one cannot speak against a meta-narrative without replacing it with another:

Here is how I deal with it in my opening chapter to me book:

Anthropologist William Sumner argues against the logical position when he says that “every attempt to win an outside standpoint from which to reduce the whole to an absolute philosophy of truth and right, based on an unalterable principle, is delusion.” [81] Authors Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl respond to this self-defeating claim by showing that Sumner is making a strong claim here about knowledge:

He says that all claims to know objective moral truth are false because we are all imprisoned in our own cultural and are incapable of seeing beyond the limits of our own biases. He concludes, therefore, that moral truth is relative to culture and that no objective standard exists. Sumner’s analysis falls victim to the same error committed by religious pluralists who see all religions as equally valid.[82]

The authors continue: Sumner’s view, however, is self-refuting. In order for him to conclude that all moral claims are an illusion, he must first escape the illusion himself. He must have a full and accurate view of the entire picture…. Such a privileged view is precisely what Sumner denies. Objective assessments are illusions, he claims, but then he offers his own“objective” assessment. It is as if he were saying, “We’re all blind,” and then adds, “but I’ll tell you what the world really looks like.” This is clearly contradictory.[83]

Philosopher Roger Scruton drives this point home when he says, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.” [84]

For references: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34407776/Introduction-Technology-Junkies?in_collection=2649254

May I also mention, again, that I am still offering Michael to support a single claim out of the many he presents in “shotgun form” (what some people refer to as the “Gish Gallop” ~ http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gish+Gallop) to try and make a point seem valid by offering a string of bumper sticker platitudes connected together. For instance, just saying “Hitler did ‘A'” does not connect his refutation of the main subject. Do you wish to, Michael, camp on this single topic out of the many (now more points you have entered into the conversation) and do the hard work of dissecting your perception of history, culture, and religion, and discuss (dialogue) these great ideas or do you simply wish to monologue them by endless streams of quips and bad thinking? (I refer to “bad thinking in the self-contradictory aspect of his two sentences together).

For instance, lets go to the sources themselves and see who is closer to the point Michael is making:

“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.” Adolf Hitler, A sign of his quote hangs on the wall at Auschwitz; Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, p. 23. (from: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/a-starbucks-encounter-michael-berryman/)

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18. (From: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/what-is-fascism-two-posts-combined-imported-from-old-blog/)

So as simple as you try and make it sound Michael, you have an opportunity to lay aside your “machismo” and either continue the conversation here, focusing like a laser beam on one of your statements to see if they pan out to reality, or, continue it with me privately. Both ways are getting out of your sound-room/group of like thinking persons you (we all do this) surround yourself with. My email is: rpt@r-pt.net

I will post a videos and an audio of some of the thinking found in that recommended book below.

Michael H.

I do not posses a sound group of like thinking persons. If you find one be sure to let me know. I appreciate the reading material, but I do not need justification for my ideals or yours, I prefer to keep myself free from dogmas and proclaimed ideologies. My opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it or prove it correct by quoting text from another persons attempt to validate their own ideas. I am not going to get into this conversation with you trying to prove that I am right through logic or prove what you are saying is fallacious. My opinion is not factual or provable or even necessarily correct for that mater, its just my opinion, and I refuse to paraphrase the ideas of religious philosophers in a dueling match of circular reasoning. I wholeheartedly believe in the concept of relativism, and will never even consider the possibility of one ultimate truth, god, philosophy or religion. I will check out what you sent me. Thanks.

Me

“My opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it or prove it correct by quoting text from another persons attempt to validate their own ideas” Then you are posting here because you are a narcissist? Or a masochist?

You see, every theory, model, religious position, political ideal (whatever!) needs to be internally consistent. I appreciate that you will pursue the ideas I expressed, but I wish to point out again where your statements are nonsensical, or, incoherent. For instance, when you say, “I wholeheartedly believe in the concept of relativism, and will never even consider the possibility of one ultimate truth, god, philosophy or religion.” Do you see the contradiction in your statement? A great example comes from a philosophy 101 class I took. The teacher had just graduated with a masters in poli-sci and philosophy (a double major). She mentioned before starting our first class that this was her first teaching position/class. She then, within minutes of that wrote on the white board the following:

✪ “There is no absolute truth.”

I felt bad raising my hand and pointing out the inherent contradiction… because she had just stated her “greenness.” But if what she was true, then it refutes her statement, if it is false, it is false. You are essentially saying the same thing. Your denial IS AN ABSOLUTE. In fact, my chapter on karma and reincarnation was born from a paper I wrote for her class. What was her main problem? I think she only read things in her belief structure and never expanded her thinking beyond what she wanted to study and what was hand fed to her by her professors. What was the result? Being embarrassed by something that a first year student knows (Aristotelian logic) at Biola.

You should put two books on your bookcase and keep them there for reading when you get a “bug” under your skin – the RELATIVISM book I already recommended, and “Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith.” Just add some thinking that challenges your entrenched position. That is all I can encourage you to do Michael.

Cheers.

One should take note that many of Michael H.’s positions are moral claims or authoritative claims to knowledge. He just refuses to tie in any epistemology to his claims thus invalidating anyone taking him seriously… which he admits to: “my opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it…” I doubt he has read my posts thoughtfully (maybe he has?), but the relativist position (his) is just as absolute as the communist/Marxist or the conservative evangelical… he just thinks his position is benighted thinking, thusly adopting a “hollier than though” mentality. Which he rejects in other persons.

Really, then, Michael’s position can be summed up as follows:

King Elsy and some Comparative Religious Viewpoints (A Great Song!)

If you watch the video, there is footage of Selassie in it. Seallasie IS JAH in most reggae songs. For instance, when Bob Marley sings this, “We know when we understand, a mighty God is a living man,” he is singing about Selassie mainly. Here is a great 3-page store of information on this topic (click to enlarge):

Rasta-1 Rasta-2 Rasta-3

There is also bad thinking on who took and supported slavery — in general — the most. Less than 10% of African slaves were hunted down and captured by whites, most were captured by fellow Africans or Arabs. I realize this sounds callous and unforgiving for the crimes white American’s played in the role of slavery, but that isn’t my intention with displaying these raw facts. Slavery is not an invention of the white man but of all humans at all times, displaying our brokenness and need for a savior and a fulfillment of the law. Also, here is a snippet from a larger forum debate I had in the early 2000’s:

 

Debate – Slavery and Bible