THE LAW: A Muslim Student Challenges Ravi Zacharias

A Muslim student at Michigan University challenges Ravi Zacharias on Christianities seemingly lack of ability in keeping the “law” like Islam and Judaism do so well. How can Christianity be true if it isn’t doing that which God demands? (I have recently enhanced, greatly, the audio in the file from my original VIMEO upload… and reconfigured slightly the visual presentation.)

Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Updated w/ Bill Maher)

More videos/articles like this:

Shattering the Christ Myth (J. P. Holding) — Buy Holding’s book, Shattering the Christ Myth; Tektonics.org articles on Jesus Mythicism and CopycatsJesus Never Existed?: Give Me a Break! (with Paul L. Maier); Jesus of Testimony (a documentary defending the historical existence of Jesus); Debunking Robert M. Price ~ 6-Part Series (leading Christ Mythicist is refuted by Phil Fernandes); Debunking Richard Carrier ~ 2-Part Series (another leading proponent of the Jesus Myth theory); The God Who Wasn’t There, Refuted (Tektonics); Jesus Legend (by Greg Boyd) — Buy Boyd’s book on the, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition — and his book, Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma; Is Jesus a Legend? (Phil Fernandes) — Part 1 and Part 2; Is the Movie Zeitgeist Accurate? ~ Larry Wessels and Steve Morrison || Dr. Mark Foreman || and Michael Boehm.

See my pages on the topic of mystery religion and Jesus:

Here is some information from a wonderful book, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, in my “Evidence” paper:

  • The fact that the early church fathers lived at the same time as these 500 [+] witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ and his ascension (believers: Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Papius, Polycarp, Quadratus.) (Non-believers [some were contemporaries]: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Talmudic writings [A.D. 70-200], Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Gospel of Truth, the Acts of Pontius Pilate.)

Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that: 1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; 2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; 3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; 4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilot in the reign of Tiberius; 5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; 6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside – men and women, slave and free – worshipped him as God by the beginning of the second century (100 A.D.)

Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 221-222

This is the MEAT from a larger — must read — article via Stand to Reason:

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Witnesses
There are a number of ancient classical accounts of Jesus from pagan Greek sources. These accounts are generally hostile to Christianity and try to explain away the miraculous nature of Jesus and the events that surrounded his life. Let’s look at these hostile accounts and see what they tell us about Jesus:

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.

Suetonius (69-140AD)
Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. His writings about Christians describe their treatment under the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD):

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” (Life of Claudius, 25:4)

This expulsion took place in 49AD, and in another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result:

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” (Lives of the Caesars, 26.2)

There is much we can learn from Suetonius as it is related to the life of early Christians. From this very EARLY account, we know that Jesus had an immediate impact on his followers. They believed that Jesus was God enough to withstand the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on his followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.

Tacitus (56-120AD)
Cornelius Tacitus was known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116AD, he describes Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

In this account, Tacitus confirms for us that Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
Sometime after 70AD, a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compared the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. The fact that Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. As a matter of fact, Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King”:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

From this account, we can add to our understanding of Jesus. We can conclude that Jesus was a wise and influential man who died for his beliefs. We can also conclude that his followers adopted these beliefs and lived lives that reflected them to the world in which they lived.

Phlegon (80-140AD)
In a manner similar to Thallus, Julius Africanus also mentions a historian named Phlegon who wrote a chronicle of history around 140AD. In this history, Phlegon also mentions the darkness surrounding the crucifixion in an effort to explain it:

“Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen (an early church theologian and scholar, born in Alexandria):

“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 14)

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … ” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 33)

“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 59)

From these accounts, we can add something to our understand of Jesus and conclude that Jesus had the ability to accurately predict the future, was crucified under the reign of Tiberius Caesar and demonstrated his wounds after he was resurrected!

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
Lucian was a Greek satirist who spoke sarcastically of Christ and Christians, but in the process, he did affirm that they were real people and never referred to them as fictional characters:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13)

From this account we can add to our description and conclude that Jesus taught about repentance and about the family of God. These teachings were quickly adopted by Jesus’ followers and exhibited to the world around them.

Celsus (175AD)
This is the last hostile ‘pagan’ account we will examine (although there are many other later accounts in history). Celsus was quite hostile to the Gospels, but in his criticism, he unknowingly affirms and reinforces the authors and their content. His writing is extensive and he alludes to 80 different Biblical quotes, confirming their early appearance in history. In addition, he admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the early 2nd century! Here is a portion of his text:

“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”

Celsus admits that Jesus was reportedly born of a virgin, but then argues that this could supernatural account could not be possible and offers the idea that he was a bastard son of a man named Panthera (an idea borrowed from Jews who opposed Jesus at the time). But in writing this account, Celsus does confirm that Jesus had an earthly father who was a carpenter, possessed unusual magical powers and claimed to be God.

Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses
In addition to classical ‘pagan’ sources that chronicle the life of Jesus and his followers, there are also a number of ancient hostile Jewish sources that talk about Jesus. These are written by Jewish theologians, historians and leaders who were definitely NOT sympathetic to the Christian cause. Their writings are often VERY harsh, critical and even demeaning to Jesus. But there is still much that these writings confirm.

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 Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)
The Toledot Yeshu is a medieval Jewish retelling of the life of Jesus. It is completely anti-Christian, to be sure. There are many versions of these ‘retellings’, and as part of the transmitted oral and written tradition of the Jews, we can presume their original place in antiquity, dating back to the time of Jesus’ first appearance as an influential leader who was drawing Jews away from their faith in the Law. The Toledot Yeshu contains a determined effort to explain away the miracles of Jesus, and to deny the virgin birth. In some places, the text is quite vicious, but it does confirm many elements of the New Testament writings. Let’s take a look at a portion of the text (Jesus is refered to as ‘Yehoshua’):

“In the year 3671 (in Jewish reckonging, it being ca 90 B.C.) in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah. Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing. At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will. Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam… Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu (“Yeshu” is the Jewish “name” for Jesus. It means “May His Name Be Blotted Out”). On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition. One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a niddah. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee. After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God’s Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters. He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’” He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: ‘The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.’” The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: “This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone.” Yeshu replied, “The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,’ and I am he; but as for them, Scripture says ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.’” Queen Helene asked the Sages: “What he says, is it in your Torah?” They replied: “It is in our Torah, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: ‘And that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.’ He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah.” Yeshu spoke up: “Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead.” A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: “This is a true sign.” She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Yeshu’s dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel. Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. the Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Yeshu practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him. The found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Yeshu said to the men of Upper Galilee: “Wage no battle.” He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Yeshu, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment. Then the Sages selected a man named Judah Iskarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Yeshu had done. When Yeshu was summoned before the queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Judah Iskarioto. Yeshu said: “It is spoken of me, ‘I will ascend into heaven.’” He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between heaven and earth, to the amazement of everyone…Yeshu was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with pomegranate staves; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable Name. Yeshu was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Yeshu, as a result of which the followers escaped with Yeshu to the region of Antioch; there Yeshu remained until the eve of the Passover. Yeshu then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Judah Iskarioto apprised the Sages that Yeshu was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Yeshu was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages. Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the carob-stalk, for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree.” They buried him outside the city. On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden. Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Yeshu be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanhuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Yeshu’s followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, “This is Yeshu who is said to have ascended to heaven.” Realizing that Yeshu was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

Now in spite of the fact that the ancient Jews who wrote this did their best to argue for another interpretation of the Life of Jesus, they did make several claims here about Jesus. This passage, along with several others from the Toledot tradition, confirms that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, healed the lame, said that Isaiah foretold of his life, was worshipped as God, arrested by the Jews, beaten with rods, given vinegar to drink, wore a crown of thorns, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, was betrayed by a man named Judah Iskarioto, and had followers who claimed he was resurrected and ascended, leaving an empty tomb!

God vs. Hitler (Updated!)

The reason for this post is to respond to the idea that the NAZIs were in any way Christian or were supported by the Church or that Hitler was friends with the church. OR, for that matter, were anything but socialists. This post should be connected with my updated post, “NAZI OCCULTISM.” As well as a post discussing Luther’s anti-Semitism and the distinction between [conservative] Confessing Lutheran’s in Germany at the time and the more socially liberal socialist [state-run] Lutherans: Defending “Lutheranism” from Martin Luther’s Fall from Grace

Between these three posts one should be equipped to respond to this lack of knowledge in regards to history.


“Every powerful movement has had its philosophy which has gripped the mind, fired the imagination and captured the devotion of its adherents. One has only to think of the Fascist and the Communist manifestos of this century, of Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the one hand and Marx’s Das Kapital and The Thoughts of Chairman Mao on the other.”

~ John Stott


Here, for instance, are some verses from a Hitler Youth anthem:

We are the happy Hitler Youth;

We have no need of Christian virtue;

For Adolf Hitler is our intercessor

And our redeemer.

No priest, no evil one

Can keep us

From feeling like Hitler’s children.

Not Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!

Away with incense and holy water pots.

Singing we follow Hitler’s banners;

Only then are we worthy of our ancestors.

I am no Christian and no Catholic.

I go with the SA through thick and thin.

The Church can be stolen from me for all I care.

The swastika makes me happy here on earth.

Him will I follow in marching step;

Baldur Von Schirach, take me along.

~ Hitler Youth Song

(The two books in bold I own)

  • Gene Edward Veith, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1993), 67;
  • See Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler: Back­ground, Struggle, and Epilogue (Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1979), 267.
  • Horst Wessel was the composer of the party anthem. Baldur von Schirach was the Reich Youth Leader. See Hermann Glaser, The Cultural Roots of National Socialism (Austin, TX: Univ. Texas Press, 1978), 43, 56n.

In Mein Kampf, he presented a social Darwinist view of life, life as a struggle, and presented national socialism as an antidote to both Judaism and communism. His party attempted to develope a new form of religion with elements of de-Judaised Christianity infused with German and Nordic pagan myths, but this was resisted by the Christians. ~ Professor Thies

  • “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.” ~ Hitler

On a plaque hung on the wall at Auschwitz; found in, Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God (Nashville, TN: W Publising Group, 1994), 23.

  • “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.” ~ Hitler

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.

  • “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

Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.

The Above Video Description:

Nuremberg Day 28 Church Suppression

Colonel Leonard Wheeler, Assistant American Trial Counsel, on Jan. 7, 1946, submitted the case regarding the Oppression of the Christian Churches and other Religious Groups in Germany and the Occupied Countries. He stated that the Nazi conspirators found the Christian churches to be an “obstacle to their complete domination of the German people and contrary to their master race dogma”.

The Indictment charged that “the Nazi conspirators, by promoting beliefs and practices incompatible with Christian teaching, sought to subvert the influence of the churches over the people and in particular the youth of Germany”.

For further information, see www.roberthjackson.org


Here as well is a quote from a much lauded biography of Hitler and his time in power. Note that he wanted to ultimately destroy the Christian churches with a materialist faith (Any of the large quotes below come from books I own and have read in full or in-part):Alan Bullock Book Cover 330 - Hitler

  • Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1952/1962), 388-390.

Hitler had been brought up as a Catholic and was impressed by the organization and power of the Church. Its hierarchical structure, its skill in dealing with human nature and the unalterable character of its Creed, were all features from which he claimed to have learned. For the Protestant clergy he felt only contempt: ‘They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.

They have neither a religion they can take seriously nor a great position to defend like Rome.’ It was `the great position’ of the Church that he respected, the fact that it had lasted for so many centuries; towards its teaching he showed the sharpest hostility. In Hitler’s eyes Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest. “Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.” From political considerations he restrained his anti-clericalism, seeing clearly the dangers of strengthening the Church by persecu­tion. For this reason he was more circumspect than some of his followers, like Rosenberg and Bormann, in attacking the Church publicly. But, once the war was over, he promised himself, he would root out and destroy the influence of the Christian Churches. “The evil that is gnawing our vitals,” he remarked in February 1942, “is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for but… it’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them…. They’ll hear from me all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered with judicial samples.”

Earnest efforts to establish self-conscious pagan rites roused Hitler’s scorn: “Nothing would be more foolish”, he declared, “than to reestablish the worship of Wotan. Our old mythology had ceased to be viable when Christianity implanted itself…. I especially wouldn’t want our movement to acquire a religious character and institute a form of worship. It would be appalling for me, if I were to end up in the skin of a Buddha.”

Nor is there any evidence to substantiate the once popular belief that he resorted to astrology. His secretary says categoric­ally that he had nothing but contempt for such practices, although faith in the stars was certainly common among some of his followers like Himmler.

The truth is that, in matters of religion at least, Hitler was a rationalist and a materialist. “The dogma of Christianity,” he declared in one of his wartime conversations, gets worn away before the advances of science…. Gradually the myths crumble. All that is left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic. When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light, but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity…. The man who lives in communion with nature necessarily finds himself in opposition to the Churches, and that’s why they’re heading for ruin ­for science is bound to win.

It was in keeping with this nineteenth-century faith in science replacing the superstitions of religion that Hitler’s plans for the rebuilding of Linz included a great observatory and planetarium as its centrepiece.

Thousands of excursionists will make a pilgrimage there every Sunday. They’ll have access to the greatness of our universe. The pediment will bear this motto: “The heavens proclaim the glory of the everlasting.” It will be our way of giving men a religious spirit, of teaching them humility – but without the priests. For Ptolemy the earth was the centre of the world. That changed with Copernicus. Today we know that our solar system is merely a solar system amongst many others. What could we do better than allow the greatest possible number of people like us to become aware of these marvels?… Put a small telescope in a village and you destroy a world of superstitions.

Here as well is a respected biography on Hitler by Ian Kershaw. He notes that Hitler was trying to get his followers to “lay off” the Church till after the war was won — the main point being that there was nor room for Christianity in this future Utopia:Hitler a Biography Kershaw 330

  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2008), 382, 661, 785, 969.

In February 1937 Hitler made it plain to his inner circle that he did not want a “Church struggle” at this juncture. The time was not ripe for it. He expected “the great world struggle in a few years’ time”. If Germany lost one more war, it would mean the end. The implication was clear: calm should be restored for the time being in relations with the Churches. Instead, the conflict with the Christian Churches intensified. The anti­clericalism and anti-Church sentiments of the grass-roots party activists simply could not be eradicated. The activists could draw on the verbal violence of party leaders towards the Churches for their encouragement. Goebbels’s orchestrated attacks on the clergy through the staged “immor­ality trials” of Franciscans in 1937 — following usually trumped-up or grossly exaggerated allegations of sexual impropriety in the religious orders — provided further ammunition. And, in turn, however much Hitler on some occasions claimed to want a respite in the conflict, his own inflammatory comments gave his immediate underlings all the license they needed to turn up the heat in the “Church struggle”, confident that they were “working towards the Führer.”

Hitler’s impatience with the Churches prompted frequent outbursts of hostility. In early 1937, he was declaring that “Christianity was ripe for destruction”, and that the Churches must yield to the “primacy of the state”, railing against any compromise with “the most horrible institution imaginable”. In April, Goebbels reported with satisfaction that the Führer was becoming more radical in the “Church Question”, and had approved the start of the “immorality trials” against clergy. Goebbels noted Hitler’s verbal attacks on the clergy and his satisfaction with the propaganda campaign on several subsequent occasions over the following few weeks. But Hitler was happy to leave the Propaganda Minister and others to make the running. If Goebbels’s diary entries are a guide, Hitler’s interest and direct involvement in the ‘Church struggle’ declined during the second half of the year. Other matters were by now occupying his attention.

[….]

Hitler put forward once more his vision of the East as Germany’s “future India”, which would become within three or four generations “absolutely German”. There would, he made clear, be no place in this utopia for the Christian Churches. For the time being, he ordered slow progression in the “Church Question”. “But it is clear,” noted Goebbels, himself among the most aggressive anti-Church radicals, “that after the war it has to be generally solved… There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a Germanic-heroic world-view.”

[….]

…and in line with his undiluted social-Darwinistic beliefs, to take his people down in flames with him if it proved incapable of producing the victory he had demanded.

[….]

…in its maelstrom of destruction Hitler’s rule had also conclusively demonstrated the utter bankruptcy of the hyper-nationalistic and racist world-power ambitions (and the social and political structures that upheld them) that had prevailed in Germany over the previous half a century and twice taken Europe and the wider world into calamitous war.

I also wanted to add this comparison of ideals/ethos that drove some of the worst socialists of the day. Here Andy Bannister notes Stalin’s admission that “socialism proper” is at war with Christianity:Andy Bannister Atheist Who Didnt Exist book 330

Stalin once stated: “You know, they are fooling us, there is no God … all this talk about God is sheer nonsense.” But Stalin was not content with mere words; he also acted on them. In 1925, he actively encouraged the founding of the League of Militant Atheists, which for over twenty years acted out its slogan, “The Struggle Against Religion is a Struggle for Socialism.” It began with popular campaigns in the media against religion, aiming to persuade citizens that religion was irrational and toxic. But soon things became considerably more violent:

  • Churches were closed or destroyed, often by dynamiting; priests were imprisoned, exiled or executed. On the eve of the Second World War there were only 6,376 clergy remaining in the Russian Orthodox Church, compared with the pre-revolutionary figure of 66,140. One dreadful day, 17 February 1938, saw the execution of 55 priests. In 1917 there were 39,530 churches in Russia; by 1940, only 950 remained functional.

Andy Banister, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or, The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2015), 23.

Here we see a stark admission of the ideals/ethos driving Hitler:John Toland - Hitler 330

“We are socialists, we are ene­mies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” ~ Hitler

John Toland, Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1976), 223-225.

Did Hitler, like Stalin, kill the religious? At least 3-million Polish Catholics were holocaust victims. Note especially the systematic massacre of the clergy and religious orders:

Repression of the Church was at its most severe in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, where churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported. From across Poland, thousands of priests died in prisons and concentration camps; thousands of churches and monasteries were confiscated, closed or destroyed; and priceless works of religious art and sacred objects were lost forever. Church leaders were targeted as part of an overall effort to destroy Polish culture. At least 1811 Polish clergy died in Nazi Concentration Camps. An estimated 3000 clergy were killed in all. Hitler’s plans for the Germanization of the East saw no place for the Christian Churches.

[….]

[In the Diocese of Chełmno] It is stated that a large number of priests have been shot, but neither the number nor the details are as yet known, as the occupation authorities maintain an obstinate silence on the subject… The Churches have almost all been closed and confiscated by the Gestapo… all the crosses and sacred emblems by the roadside have been destroyed… 95% of the priests have been imprisoned, expelled, or humiliated before the eyes of the faithful… and the most eminent Catholics executed.

— Excerpts from Cardinal August Hlond‘s report to the Vatican.
Hlond reported similar outrages and terror in the Dioceses of Katowice, Łódź and Włocławek which had also been incorporated into the Reich. In his final observations for Pope Pius XII, Hllond wrote:

Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and fertile territories of Poland which have been incorporated into the Reich… It is known for certain that 35 priests have been shot, but the real number of victims… undoubtedly amounts to more than a hundred… In many districts the life of the Church has been completely crushed, the clergy have been almost all expelled; the Catholic churches and cemeteries are in the hands of the invaders… Catholic worship hardly exists any more… Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed… [Church properties] all have been pillaged by the invaders.

— Excerpts from Cardinal Hlond’s report to the Vatican

(WIKI)

It would seem that Hitler’s socialism had the same outcome in every way as Stalin’s.

Here is my final update for a while, and it regards how the NAZI Party was taking away church property and replacing church programs with socialist ones:Conway Hitler Persecution Church Churches 330 COVER

  • J.S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45 (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1968), 255-259.

From the beginning of 1941 such new and stringent measures were taken against the churches by the Nazi authorities that more damage, it was said, was done ‘physically and morally by the land raids of the Gestapo than by the air raids of the RAF’.

The number of expropriated church properties rose rapidly. In a secret circular addressed to the Gauleiters on 20 March, Bormann wrote:

Many valuable church properties have had to be sequestred lately, especially in Austria; according to reports from the Gauleiters to the Führer, these sequestrations were frequently caused by offences against ordinances relating to the war economy (e.g. hoarding of food-stuffs of various kinds, textiles, leather goods, etc.). In other cases they were caused by offences against the law relating to malicious attacks against the State [Heimtϋckegesetz], and in others because of prohibited posses­sion of firearms. Obviously, no compensation is to be paid to the Churches for sequestrations made because of the above-mentioned reasons. . . .

The reasons given for the seizures were the need for auxiliary hospitals or resettlement centres for refugees and evacuated children, or, alternatively, acts of hostility to the State perpe­trated by members of the religious orders, particularly the Jesuits. If an individual member of a monastic community was adjudged guilty of an offence, it was seized upon as a pretext for the closure of the whole institution. In actual fact, the Churches’ properties were expropriated solely for the Nazis’ own ends, each of the Nazi leaders making a bid for what he considered their most appropriate use. Dr Ley in June 1940 argued in favour of using monasteries as homes for the Aged or for the Kraft durch Freude. In April 1941 Bormann suggested that Church orphanages should be taken over for the housing of evacuees, a move to which Hitler agreed. In a circular issued from Hitler’s headquarters in May 1941, Bormann decreed that

the Nazi State and movement cannot permit children to be brought up in denominational kindergartens according to Church principles, or along the lines of denominational divisions. Today this question can be finally cleaned up by withdrawing permission from the organizers of Church-sponsored institutions for children. In justification, the special role of the Party in this area should be stressed.

The requisite orders were accordingly issued, and by 31 July all Church kindergartens had been seized by the Gestapo and transferred to the sponsorship of the Nazi Welfare organization.

The requisitioning of monastic properties had first been adum­brated by Himmler, in December 1939, when, in his capacity as Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of the German People’s Community (Reichskommissar far die Festigung deutschen Volkstums), he had ordered the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle in Berlin to take over `suitable accommodation which could be used for the housing of returning Volksdeutsche’. When, eleven months later, Cardinal Bertram protested that the decree had been used to requisition entire monasteries and convents and to evacuate their inhabitants, his protest was ignored. In January 1941 Himmler ordered the complete evacuation of all such Church properties without com­pensation. War-time necessity, the Cardinal was informed, was a sufficient justification for the measure, and the question of com­pensation, could be settled after the end of the war. In December 1940 the Gauleiter of Alsace ordered all Church organizations to be dissolved and their property confiscated. In Innsbruck, Gauleiter Hofer coerced the Premonstratensian Order into ‘selling’ their monastery at Wilten to the provincial government of Tyrol. In Silesia no less than 60 monasteries and church institutions were seized. In Luxembourg, 400 priests were expelled on Hitler’s personal orders; all the institutions run by members of Catholic Orders were confiscated and their inhabitants were transported across the border into the diocese of Trier; all hospitals in the territory were declared secular institutions. In Lorraine, the Warthegau, Lower Austria and South Germany where the measures were particularly severe, the Church authorities estimated that by the beginning of May no less than 13o monasteries and Church institutions had been confiscated.

This was only the beginning. A letter from the Party head­quarters for Mainfranken on 24 April 1941 informed the local Party organizers that :

By order of the Gauleiter, I request from you an immediate report on the situation of all monasteries and convents in your area. A short description of each building should include its size, its place in the countryside, and its activities or participation in agricultural work. Very important is an account of the transportation facilties, since the rural setting of many monasteries makes them very suitable for the needs of the Kraft .lurch Freude (Hotels, Rest houses, holiday and sports resorts). Furthermore your report should include the view of the County Party leader on the future use of these buildings. Since the matter is being treated as very urgent on the national level, I am asking for an immediate reply by return of post, in an express and registered letter.

The German bishops and the Roman Curia itself immediately launched a protest. For some time past the Papal Nuncio had almost monthly complained either verbally, by letter, or with a Verbal Note to State Secretary Weizsäcker about similar sequestra­tions, some of them involving considerable properties. In May 1941 he again protested against the abruptness with which the confiscations had been carried out without prior warning either to himself or to the Church authorities. Weizsäcker’s reply was a curt statement to the effect that the war-time need for housing was so great that further requisitions could be expected. Rome could draw only one conclusion. In a letter to the German Embassy dated January 1942, the Curia protested that because of

the increasing difficulties put in the way of the religious Orders and Congregations in the spiritual, cultural and social field, and above all the suppression of abbeys, monasteries, convents, and religious houses in such great numbers, one is led to infer a deliberate intention of render­ing impossible the very existence of the Orders and Congregations in Germany.

In June 1941 Cardinal Bertram again bitterly complained that, ‘at a time when the whole German people were united in a decisive struggle for the future of our country’, the rights of Catholics were disregarded and overridden throughout the land. In the regions of Trier, Kassel, Saxony, Thuringia, Cologne, Aachen, and Silesia, he stated, church kindergartens had been expropriated, such Catholic insignia as crucifixes and religious paintings had been removed, and teachers and nuns had been expelled. Catholic parents, he averred, were alarmed by these events, which contravened the provisions of the Concordat and served to strengthen the impres­sion ‘that a systematic campaign for the destruction of all that was Christian was now in process’.

Despite the Nazis’ oft-repeated desire not to exacerbate tension between Church and State, restrictions on Church work continued to multiply. On I June 1941, the Church press was totally sup­pressed for the duration of the war in contrast to the press of the German Faith Movement and the anti-clerical pamphlets of the Ludendorff Publishing House, which continued to be published though on a reduced scale. In April, new regulations for the pastoral care of patients in hospitals were promulgated, whereby priests were prohibited from entering the hospitals unless specific­ally requested by patients and with the approval of the medical authorities, and Church welfare agencies were replaced by the National Socialist Welfare organization and the Winter Aid Pro­gramme. In the same month religious education in Saxony was abolished altogether; the Ministry of Education in Berlin pro­hibited the use of prayers at school assemblies; and the gradual removal of crucifixes and religious paintings from every school was ordered by the Bavarian Ministry of Education.

On Bormann’s instructions, every pastor who resigned his office and, preferably withdrew from the Church, was to be offered a government job; and Hitler himself ordered that any Jesuits serving in the Army were to be declared unfit for service and released. Anti-clerical propaganda was stepped up in an attempt to alienate the sympathy of the laity from their clerical leaders, and anti-church literature denigrating the sacraments was handed out free of charge. On 12 June the Gauleiter of Baden, Robert Wagner, announced to an enthusiastic audience of Party followers in the Festival Hall in Karlsruhe that

when our foreign foes lie at our feet, then we will tackle the foes at home; there are still some running around the country in purple and ermine.

3-Hindu Philosophies Concisely Explained

  • James E. Taylor, Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 257-259.

JESUS AND HINDUISM

Hinduism may be the most metaphysically diverse of all religious traditions, since its practitioners have been polytheists, monotheists, pantheists, panentheists, atheists, and agnostics. This metaphysical diversity is grounded in the widespread Hindu conviction that the truth about ultimate reality is inexpressible and unknowable.

The Hindu name for ultimate reality is Brahman. In spite of the general skepticism just mentioned, many Hindu scholars have studied the Vedic texts (especially the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma-sutra) to articulate an understanding of Brahman and Brahman’s relationship to the universe. The philosophical/theological systems formulated are called Vedanta. The three most in­fluential vedantic thinkers are Sankara (788-820), Ramanuja (1017-1137), and Madhya (thirteenth century AD).

Sankara’s view is called Advaita (non-duality) Vedanta. According to this worldview, reality is one, and the one is Brahman. It follows that the only absolute reality is Brahman, and therefore every­thing that exists is Brahman. Thus, each individual atman (soul) is identical with Atman (the world soul), and Atman is the same thing as Brahman. Though Brahman may seem to be a personal lord with a variety of divine attributes who is worthy of worship, Brahman is really impersonal (and so not appropriately worshiped) and completely without different and distinct qualities (except for being, consciousness, and bliss). This is clearly a version of pan­theism, which accounts for polytheism at the popular level: The allegedly many gods are just manifestations of Brahman. Sankara says that the assumption that there are many real things (human be­ings, animals, plants, inorganic things, different qualities of things, etc.) is due to ignorance and that this ignorance is caused by maya (illusion). According to his view, salvation comes through eliminating maya and the ignorance based on it by becoming enlightened. Enlightenment in­volves grasping that everything (including oneself, of course) is really (distinctionless and impersonal) Brahman.

Sankara’s interpretation of the Vedas is philosophically problematic, and because of this, it does not provide a plausible chal­lenge to Christian exclusivism. The main problem with his view is that it says, on the one hand, that there is only one thing and thus no distinctions between different kinds of things, and, on the other hand, that there is a distinction between maya and ultimate reality, ignorance and enlightenment, bondage to samsara and liberation from it, and so on. In short, Sankara’s Hindu theology is self-contradictory. Moreover, it does not help to distinguish, as Sankara does, between absolute reality (Brahman) and conventional reality (maya). This too is a distinction between two different things, and if Brahman is all, then there cannot be two different things. An additional problem is that Sankara’s view is inconsistent with the wisdom of collective human sensory experience, which reveals a world of many real things. An appeal to mystical experience does not save his position. There is no good reason to trust such an experience, since insofar as it supports Sankara’s view, it contradicts both reason and sense perception.

Ramanuja is a later Hindu thinker who tried to improve on Sankara’s theology by attempting to be faithful to the theme of unity between Atman and Brahman in the Vedas while avoiding contradiction. His theology is a qualified nondualism. According to his view, the universe is Brahman’s body, which emerges or emanates eternally out of Brahman and through which Brahman expresses itself. As such, the universe is coeternal with and dependent on Brahman, but it is not the same thing as Brahman. Therefore, the universe can consist in many different things, including souls, which are not identical with Brahman. If we take this to mean that the universe is part of Brahman, then Ramanuja’s theology is a version of panentheism. If instead Brahman’s body is not a part of Brahman, then Ramanuja’s view is a version of contingency monotheism. Either way, Ramanuja avoids Sankara’s pantheism. Moreover, whereas Sankara conceives of Brahman as impersonal, Ramanuja believes Brahman is a personal God who has become incarnate in many forms (such as Rama and Krishna)2 and who gives grace to save human beings who love him and are devoted to him (but this salvation does not involve atonement).i

Though Ramanuja’s picture of reality avoids the contradictory antirealism of Sankara’s approach, and though it includes some Christian themes, it faces a problem of evil that is more serious than the one afflicting the Abrahamic faiths. In the first place, if his view is panentheistic, so that the universe is part of God and the universe contains evil, then a part of God is evil. But Ramanuja says that God is perfect. Therefore, the universe does not contain evil, or God is not perfect, or the universe is not a part of God. Since it seems best to affirm the last of these alternatives, it seems best to reject the panentheistic interpretation of Ramanuja’s theology. Second, since Ramanuja affirms the eternality of souls (a consequence of his denial of creation ex nihilo), then those souls that have not yet been liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth have already suffered eternally. But this is an experience equivalent to eternal suffering in hell—at least with respect to length of time. Therefore, all of us still caught in the cycle of death and rebirth have no freedom of choice in this life to avoid eternal suffer­ing. We have already endured it! According to the Christian view, all human beings suffer only a finite amount during the one earthly existence they are granted, and they are given an opportunity to choose freely whether to suffer eternally apart from God. Moreover, there is consequently a much greater amount of pain and suffering for which Ramanuja needs to account than there is in the Christian view.

The third Hindu theologian is Madhya. According to his view, the universe is eternal and completely independent of God. His theology is a member of the cosmological dualism family. Thus, he avoids the problems facing Sankara’s panthe­ism and the panentheist interpretation of Ramanuja. Moreover, he says God is the designer of the universe but not the creator. Therefore, his theology does not have to explain why God either created or eternally generates a universe that contains evil, pain, and suffering. Like Ramanuja, he also affirms that God is personal, has become incarnate in different forms, and offers salvation by grace.

But Madhva’s account of God and the world has two serious problems. First, from the standpoint of Hinduism, it does not affirm the close relationship between God and the universe that is taught by the Vedas. Second, it can provide no satisfying philosophical explanation of the existence of the universe. Since Madhva’s position is that the universe is both eternal and independent, the universe’s existence is a brute fact. But the Abrahamic faiths and the other versions of Hinduism can all explain the existence of the universe as identical with God (Sankara), a part of or dependent on God (Ramanuja), or created by God out of nothing (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Therefore, these other theologies are supe­rior to Madhva’s theology in this respect.

2. In Hinduism, an incarnation of God is called an avatar.

i. RPT’s note. Ramanuja seems close to some theistic beliefs, but one should be aware that he lived around 1017–1137 AD, and so borrowed from Christianity to try and “fix” the glaring problems in Hinduism. 

Islam’s View of Jesus’ Diety

Here are some ways to deal with Muslim apologists questioning Jesus’ Divinity:

(Above) Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim, answers a question from a faithful Muslim about how Jesus could have both a Divine (God) nature and a human nature without confusion or contradiction. See more from Nabeel HERE  Follow him on TWITTER as well.

Nabeel is battling stomach cancer, so any prayers would be a gracious help.

Here is a more in-depth presentation dealing with how the question is typically raised.

Muslims around the world are being trained to ask Christians, “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God, worship me,’ in those exact words?” However, if Muslims are suggesting that Jesus could only claim to be God by uttering a specific sentence, we may reply by asking, “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am only a prophet, don’t worship me,’ in those exact words?” The unreasonable demand for a particular statement, if applied consistently, would thus force Muslims to reject their own view!

Fortunately, we have a simple way to examine what Jesus said about himself. According to both the Bible and the Qur’an, there are certain claims that only God can truly make. For instance, God alone can correctly state that he created the universe. Of course, a mere human being can pronounce the words, “I created the universe,” but the statement would be false coming from anyone other than God.

Hence, if Jesus said things that can only truly be said by God, we must conclude that Jesus claimed to be God. Interestingly, Jews, Christians, and Muslims agree on many of the claims that cannot be properly made by (or about) mere human beings. In this video, we consider several examples of such claims.

For more on the deity of Christ, watch these videos by David Wood:

More from David Wood:


A Couple Debates/Discussions


A good back-and-forth between  Imam Mustri and Dr. James White:

“Did the Earliest Followers of Jesus Believe in His Deity?” James White debates Shabir Ally at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

“Muhammad” Talks To “Jesus”

I am not a fan of the show… I think it is borderline blasphemous; but was listening to him (Neil Saavedra, AKA, “Jesus Christ”) on the way to get coffee for the wife and I while we were watching the niece. I enjoyed the call. I may start listening and uploading stuff like it in the future. BUT KNOW that a dude who responds like Jesus, is, …well… creepy and again ~ borderline blasphemous in my mind.

|Render Unto Caesar| Prager Takes A Call From A Christian Woman

A caller asks Dennis Prager about her struggle to vote for Trump ethically, being a Christian. I pick up the tail end of the call as this woman’s religious concerns are succinctly responded to:

Pope Says Islam and Qur’an Peaceful

Recently:

From a year ago:

  • “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence” (Breitbart)
  • “It’s not fair to identify Islam with violence. It’s not fair and it’s not true” (Jihad Watch)

JIHAD WATCH notes where the Pope miserably fails in regards to Islam:

The Pope is once again ignoring a simple distinction: while people of all faiths and backgrounds commit acts of violence, Islam is unique among world religions in having a developed doctrine, theology and legal system mandating warfare against unbelievers. Unless and until that is confronted, Muslims will continue to commit acts of violence against non-Muslims, including Christians. The Pope is betraying the Christians of the Middle East and the world, and all the victims of jihad violence, by repeating palpable falsehoods about the motivating ideology of attacks upon them, instead of confronting that ideology and calling upon Muslims to renounce and reform Islam’s doctrines of violence.

“The pope said that when he reads the newspaper, he reads about an Italian who kills his fiancé or his mother in law. ‘They are baptized Catholics. They are violent Catholics.’” Does Catholicism teach the murder of fiancés or mothers in law? No. Does Islam teach jihad warfare against unbelievers? Yes.

“The pope said that in every religion there are violent people, ‘a small group of fundamentalists,’ including in Catholicism.” There have been 28,923 violent jihad terror attacks worldwide since 9/11. How many violent attacks have there been in that span by violent Catholic “fundamentalists” doing violence in the name of Catholicism?

Jesus Versus Muhammad by Papa Giorgio on Scribd

Some Basic Differences Between Islam and Christianity

Among the major differences between Islam and Christianity is that of the character and nature of God as understood by the Bible and the Qur’an. For the Bible, Yahweh is a relational God, a God who appears to his people throughout the Old Testament, who took on flesh in the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and who will be present, the Bible claims, in heaven with us once again: “For now we see through a glass, darkly,” wrote the apostle Paul; “but then face to face.” [76] This is very different from Allah in the Qur’an, a God who is distant and remote, transcendent and lofty, who does not deign to step down into his creation, and is not present in Paradise. As Muslim theologian Isma’il al Faruqi writes:

Allah does not reveal Himself to anyone in any way. Allah reveals only his will… Allah does not reveal himself to anyone… that is the great difference between Christianity and Islam.[77]

Central, too, to the Christian understanding of God is that Yahweh is loving; indeed, the Bible goes as far as to boldly make the claim that God is love,[78] the one whose character and nature define what love actually is. You will commonly hear people opine that all religions teach that God is love, but this is simply not true – for instance, nowhere does the Qur’an claim that “Allah is love.”[79]

Finally, at the heart of Christianity stands the belief that, in Jesus, God has experienced suffering, paying the price of the cross in order to reconcile humanity to himself. Now atheists may choose to dismiss, laugh at, or even scoff at that claim, but it is a claim unique to Christianity.[80] It is certainly not an idea found in Islam, where the Qur’an goes as far as to deny that the historical event of Jesus’ crucifixion ever happened.

It has long fascinated me that when Christianity talks about the cross and the suffering of God, it is doing something quite startling, namely reversing the traffic pattern of every other religion, world view, and belief system. All other religions of which I am aware tend to work in one of three basic ways: they claim that if you know the right things, do the right things, or experience the right things, then you will achieve paradise, nirvana, wisdom, a higher state of consciousness, good teeth — whatever it is you are looking for. Islam adopts this model (“Keep the commandments”), as does, incidentally, the New Atheism, whose message is that if you think the right way — think good, secular, scientific thoughts — you’ll be one of the smart ones, one of the brights,[81] one of the elite, the elect.


[76] 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV).

[77] Isma’il al Faruqi, Christian Mission and Islamic Da’wah: Proceedings of the Chambésy Dialogue Consultation, Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1982, pp. 47-48.

[78] 1 John 4:16.

[79]  And many Muslim theologians argue that Muslims should not use the word “love” when talking about Allah; see e.g. Murad Wilfried Hofmann, “Differences between the Muslim and the Christian Concept of Divine Love” in 14th General Conference of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Amman, Jordan, 2007. See also Gordon Nickel, “The Language of Love in Qur’an and Gospel” in Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala and Angel Urban, (eds), Sacred Text: Explorations in Lexicography, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2009, pp. 223-248.

[80] If you wish to understand this idea (which, whatever you make of it, is the central claim at the heart of Christianity), a great place to start is John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Leicester: IVP, 2006.

[81] A nauseatingly self-congratulatory term coined by some of the New Atheists to mark themselves off from the rest of the world, whom they clearly perceive as dimwits. See Daniel Dennett, “The Bright Stuff“, The New York Times, 12 July 2003.


Andy Banister, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or, The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2015), 62-63.

Caesar’s vs. Jesus’ Sources Compared

(There are other videos in the above series)

Following is an excerpt from a slightly larger article entitled, “Sources for Caesar and Jesus Compared,” where scholar and professor, Darrell L. Bock*, explains quickly the manuscript integrity in the New Testament. I would even push it further back myself (see my post detailing the differences in Buddhist Scripture and Biblical Scripture).

Considering Caesar’s Sources

Tracing ancient history is about examining sources and the manuscripts behind them, as well as the nature of their content and claims. In regard to Julius Caesar, the key sources are his own accounts of the Gallic Wars, the speeches of Cicero, Sallust’s account of Catiline’s War, Suetonius’s section on Caesar in Twelve Caesars, and Plutarch’s section on Caesar in Plutarchs’s Lives.

In some ways, Caesar’s autobiographical account gives us more to consider than the accounts of Jesus do. It provides direct testimony about events Caesar participated in. Sallust and Cicero were Caesar’s contemporaries as well, so there are reliable outside sources closely tied to the time of these events. Two of the most important sources for the emperor’s life, however, Suetonius and Plutarch, write in the early second century. That’s more than 100 years after the time of Caesar.

Manuscript support lies behind these sources. And this is where things get especially interesting. Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account. The oldest manuscript is from the ninth century—a full 900 years removed from the actual events. The list extends to manuscripts from the 12th century. Cicero’s speeches have an even older pedigree. They have about 15 manuscripts ranging from AD 400 to 800. Sallust’s account has around 20 manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries.Plutarch’s Lives is also mostly divided across six key manuscripts that range from the 10th and 11th centuries. Suetonius’s manuscript is dated AD 820. Classics scholars build much of our understanding of Caesar around these sources, even though their manuscript traditions contain significant gaps of time.

Considering Jesus’s Sources 

What about Jesus? Here we mostly rely on the four Gospels. Their production falls well within the Suetonian and Plutarchian time period. But even if you hold to the more conservative tradition that the synoptics were written in the 60s and John in the 90s, or the common alternative that the synoptics were written in the 80s, you’re still within 60 years of the events described. Contemporaries of Jesus and eyewitnesses of those events were still alive, unlike Suetonius’s or Plutarch’s accounts.

Gospel authorship is also debated. Conservatives argue the apostles Matthew and John are the sources of the Gospels under their names. If so, this is like Sallust’s and Cicero’s accounts in which the authors are contemporaries of the figure being chronicled. The other two Gospels are also traditionally tied to apostles—Mark uses Peter as a source and Luke uses Paul. This is a well-established tradition tied to Papias in the early second century. Once again, this contemporary link is what we see with Sallust and Cicero. Even if one severs those links with a less conservative reading, authorship remains tied to contemporary figures. Add the corporate and oral nature and role of the Gospels and we have good reason—purely on secular grounds—to regard the traditions we have of Jesus. Our sources give us a solid core for understanding him. Ken Bailey’s essay “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels,” James Dunn’s Jesus Remembered, my own and Robert Webb’s edited work Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus, and Robert McIver’s Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels make this case in detail.

What about the manuscripts? Here the New Testament is far superior to its classical companions. Our earliest manuscripts start appearing within decades of the writing. The fragment p52 is dated around AD 125. It only has a few portions of John 18, but it starts a trail that has full manuscripts of the Gospels appearing by the fourth century. The number of Greek manuscripts we have of the New Testament up to the time of the printing press is more than 5,800. The wording of the New Testament, including the Gospels, is extremely solid. Unclear spots often appear with an “or” note in Bible margins that record such differences. Yet none of those differences affects any core doctrinal teaching of Christianity. The only thing affected is how many verses make that teaching point.

So we can see the Gospels compare favorably to the classics in terms of what the sources say about Jesus and Caesar. If such sourcing works for the classics and the study of Caesar, it should work for Jesus as well….

* Darrell L. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 30 books, including