“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. 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.”
Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.
MUHAMMAD –Ordered his followers, as well as personally participating in, both digging their graves and cutting the throats of between 600-to-900 men, women, and children. Jews. Some of the women and children were taken as property. He was a military tactician that lied and told others to use deception that ultimately led to the death of many people (taqiyya): The word “Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing, precaution, guarding.”
In the West, what is said and done more or less corresponds to the intentions of the speaker and the doer. Liars and cheats abound, of course, but generally they can go only so far before being caught out in the contractual relationships of their society. Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account, and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives. In Shia practice, a man is allowed what is called “precautionary dissimulation,” a recognition that truth may be impossible in some contexts.
Pierre Bourdieu, the French social anthropologist, has pointed out that no dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.
Islamic ethics include deceiving the Kafir. The doctrine of deception is found in the Sunna and the Koran. The Arabic name for sacred deception is called taqiyya.
We never see any depictions of Muhammad with children, we just know that he most likely acquired a child bride at age six and consummated that “marriage” when she was nine — he was a pedophile in other words. While the Qu’ran states that a follower of this book should have no more than 4 wives, we know of course that he had many more, about 5 more in fact. And “Just War Theory” cannot apply to Muhammad and Muslim’s since when he said:
“I have been ordered by Allah to fight against people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle and offer prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity…then they will save their lives and property from me” (Sahih Muslim 1.24).
He ordered his followers to raid caravans, “This is the caravan of the Quraysh possessing wealth. It is likely that Allah may give it to you as booty.” As he was dying, he said these now famous words, “I have been made victorious with terror.”
Many more examples could be provided! Even when it comes to “salvation,” the most ardent/obedient Muslim still leaves his or her entrance into “heaven” is, in the end, an impersonal act of arbitrary divine power.… no story of love and sacrifice or assurance is provided.
 David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs (Chicago, IL: Ivan R, Dee Publishers, 2009), 4, 38.
 Bukhari, vol. 5, book 63, no. 3896; cf. Bukhari, vol. 7, book 67, no. 5158.
 Ibn Sa’d, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, translated by S. Moinul Haq and H. K. Ghazanfar, vol. 2 (Kitab Bhavan, n.d.), 9.
 Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, translated by Muhammad M. Khan, vol. 4, bk. 56, no. 2977 (Darussalam, 1997).
I was reading through some passages in the Quran not too long ago and came across Quran chapter 79, verse 42. I immediately noticed how similar this verse in the Quran is to Mark 13:31-32 … So, I started to do some more research on who Muhammad REALLY thought he was compared to Jesus. The findings are quite shocking!
JESUS – When Peter struck off the ear of the soldier, healed it. Christ said if his followers were of any other kingdom, they would fight to get him off the cross. He also told Peter if he lived by the sword, he would die by it.; Christ invited and used children as examples of how Jewish adults should view their faith… something culturally radical – inviting children into an inner-circle of a group of status-oriented men such as the Pharisees was unheard of. Especially saying to them their faith must be similar; Jesus, and thusly us, can access true love because the Triune God has eternally loved (The Father loves the Son, etc. ~ unlike the Unitarian God of Islam).
Love between us then has roots in our Creator… [examples]:
my wife and I for instance, as well as family,
the love in community/Body of Christ,
love for our enemies, …etc…
…has eternal foundations in God; This love from God towards us has caused a Sacrifice to ensure our salvation (John 3:16-17; 5:25; 6:47). Jesus said as well that he has “spoken openly to the world… always teaching in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. ‘I said nothing in secret’” (John 18:20). The Bible also states that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) … and Jesus is God in orthodoxy (i.e., Jesus cannot lie). The love of Christ and the relationship he offers is bar-none the center piece of our faith… something the Muslim does not have. Which is why the Church evolved because they have a point of reference in Christ to come back to. In Matthew chapter 5 we find Jesus’ teaching and commending us to the following:
THE BEATITUDES | BELIEVERS ARE SALT AND LIGHT | CHRIST FULFILLS THE LAW | MURDER BEGINS IN THE HEART | ADULTERY BEGINS IN THE HEART | DIVORCE PRACTICES CENSURED | TELL THE TRUTH | GO THE SECOND MILE | LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
Muhammad would never be able to speak of these things that Christ did in the record of Matthew. Which is why whenever given the chance I say to a Muslim I pray they emulate Jesus’ life and follow Him rather than Muhammad. I wish Muhammad had read and followed Jesus’ teachings as well.
This is a segment of a Muslim caller into the Michael Medved Show and both Mosab Yousef and Michael Medved respond. Yousef compares Christians to Muhammad, the caller compares Muslims to Christians:
AQUINAS THOUGHTS ON MUHAMMAD
St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the most prolific thinkers in Western history; his words should not be taken lightly, regardless of your cultural/religious background. Subscribe now to stay updated with excellent content.
BREITBARThas a neat story about Aquinas and his views on Islam… here is a portion of it:
…In one of his most significant works, the voluminous Summa contra gentiles, which Aquinas wrote between 1258 and 1264 AD, the scholar argued for the truth of Christianity against other belief systems, including Islam.
Aquinas contrasts the spread of Christianity with that of Islam, arguing that much of Christianity’s early success stemmed from widespread belief in the miracles of Jesus, whereas the spread of Islam was worked through the promise of sensual pleasures and the violence of the sword.
Mohammad, Aquinas wrote, “seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure.”
Such an offer, Aquinas contended, appealed to a certain type of person of limited virtue and wisdom.
“In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men,” he wrote. “As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.”
Because of the weakness of Islam’s contentions, Aquinas argued, “no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning.” Instead, those who believed in him “were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms.”
Islam’s violent methods of propagation were especially unconvincing to Aquinas, since he found that the use of such force does not prove the truth of one’s claims, and are the means typically used by evil men.
“Mohammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms,” Aquinas wrote, “which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.”
At the time Aquinas was writing, Islam was generally considered a Christian heresy, since it drew so heavily on Christian texts and beliefs. Aquinas wrote that Mohammed “perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law.”
According to the noted historian Hilaire Belloc, Islam “began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was—not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.”…
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 (He has passed away)
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:
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.” 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.
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, 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.”
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. 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, one of the elite, the elect.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV).
 Isma’il al Faruqi, Christian Mission and Islamic Da’wah: Proceedings of the Chambésy Dialogue Consultation, Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1982, pp. 47-48.
 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.
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.
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.
“Muhammad” Talks to “Jesus Christ”
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.
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, ed., Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 221-222.
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.
I want to first deal with the “authorship of Mark” challenge. I may deal with the video authors challenge about the Old Testament God — but really this is old news by the “new atheists.” This has been thoroughly dealt with by many, many fine apologists over the years. If I do it will be in a “PART 2” But for now, this will suffice:
Missing The Moral Mark
“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts — i.e. of Materialism and — are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”
C.S. Lewis, God In the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), pp. 52–53.
If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling “whatever you say and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?” But then that threw me back into another difficulty.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too — for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.
In the VIDEO, the author tries to make a connection between the zealots who died following Jim Jones, and what Jesus has called people to in Mark 8:34-35:
34 Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?37What can anyone give in exchange for his life?38For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
— Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Mk 8:34–38.
What are the KEY THEMES via the ESV Study Bible?
But to sum up the people willing to die after Jesus’ ascension, you have a myriad of martyrs being burned alive, fed to lions, and the like. They did not poison themselves or die fighting to convert others. For instance, in 2016 about 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith worldwide. Christians are the most martyred group in the world. Maybe Jesus was foreshadowing this reality’s in His omniscience? (I will post a commentary at the end to show the slightly more complex idea than the simpleton one in the video.)
This first – short – video is by J. Warner Wallace, followed by a quick blurb I assume many do not know well… followed still by some more of the same. I wanted to post on this topic because of a video by , the part that got me thinking was the section from the 10:32 mark to the 12:05 time stamps.
John Mark was not one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. He is first mentioned by name in the book of Acts in connection with his mother. Peter had been thrown in prison by Herod Antipas, who was persecuting the early church. In answer to the church’s prayers, an angel came to Peter and helped him escape. Peter hurried to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where she was holding a prayer gathering of many of the church members (Acts 12:12).
Both the home and household of John Mark’s mother Mary were important in the early Christian community of Jerusalem. Peter seemed to know that fellow believers would be gathered there for prayer. The family was presumably wealthy enough to have a maidservant (Rhoda) and host large worship meetings.
The earliest manuscripts tell us Mark wrote the Gospel: “according to Mark.” But who was Mark?
Mark, or John Mark, as he was known, lived in Jerusalem, and his mother owned a home where the earliest followers of Jesus gathered. He worked with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Later, he joined Peter in Rome. It was in Rome, according to church tradition, where Mark wrote Peter’s version of the Gospel.
Despite this anonymity, there is strong and early tradition identifying the author of the Third Gospel as John Mark, part-time associate of both Paul and Peter. The earliest tradition is reported by the church historian Eusebius (c. AD 263 – 339), who quotes Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, in the latter’s five-volume work known as Interpretation of the Sayings of the Lord (Λογίων κυριακῶν ἑξήγησις). Papias, likely writing around AD 95 – 110,37 quotes John “the Elder” concerning the authorship of the Second Gospel:
The Presbyter used to say this also: “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote down accurately, but not in order, all that he remembered of the things said and done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord or been one of his followers, but later, as I said, a follower of Peter. Peter used to teach as the occasion demanded, without giving systematic arrangement to the Lord’s sayings, so that Mark did not err in writing down some things just as he recalled them. For he had one overriding purpose: to omit nothing that he had heard and to make no false statements in his account.”2
Eusebius points out that though Papias did not himself know the apostles, he was in direct contact with those who had heard them, including John the Elder, Aristion, Polycarp, and the daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.1 – 9; cf. Acts 21:8 – 9).3 We thus have a first-century tradition claiming that Mark accurately interpreted (or translated) Peter’s eyewitness accounts, turning Peter’s anecdotal stories into a connected narrative, though not necessarily in chronological order.4
Mark’s authorship in the second century
Second-century sources make similar claims. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Mark (c. 160 – 180) identifies Mark as the author and links him to Peter: “Mark . . . who was called ‘stump-fingered’ because for the size of the rest of his body he had fingers that were too short. He was Peter’s interpreter. After the departure [or ‘death’] of Peter himself, the same man wrote his Gospel in the regions of Italy.”5 The odd statement about Mark’s disfigured fingers may point to a reliable tradition, since the church is unlikely to have invented such a disparaging remark.6We find here two additional pieces of information: that Mark wrote after Peter’s death and that he wrote in Italy.
Irenaeus (c. 180), referring to Peter and Paul, similarly asserts, “Now Matthew published a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing and founding the church in Rome. But after their departure [ἔξοδος; death?], Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself also handed over to us, in writing, the things preached by Peter.”7 The implication is that Mark is writing from Rome after the deaths of Peter and Paul.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 180) specifically refers to Rome: “When, by the Spirit, Peter had publicly proclaimed the Gospel in Rome, his many hearers urged Mark, as one who had followed him for years and remembered what was said, to put it all in writing. This he did and gave copies to all who asked. When Peter learned of it, he neither objected nor promoted it.”8Peter’s apparent indifference to Mark’s work suggests that this statement was not created as an apologetic defense of the Petrine tradition, since, if that were the case, one would expect a much more positive affirmation by Peter. Other early church writers, including Tertullian (Marc. 4.5), Origen (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.25.5), and Jerome (Comm. Matt., prologue 6), affirm Mark’s role as author and that he was dependent on the eyewitness accounts of Peter.
How many of these early witnesses are dependent on one another is not known. Yet their unanimity is impressive. No competing claims to authorship are found in the early church. Since John Mark was a relatively obscure figure, it seems unlikely that a gospel would have been attributed to him if he had not in fact written it. We could add to this the evidence of the titles to the Gospels, which, as noted above, appear in nearly all of our extant manuscripts.
Internal evidence for Markan authorship
Although internal evidence does not provide direct evidence for authorship, it can be used to help corroborate the external claims. (1) The author’s many Aramaisms (Mark 3:17; 5:41; 7:11, 34; 10:45; 14:36) are compatible with a Palestinian Jew like John Mark (cf. Acts 12:12). (2) The large number of Latinisms would also fit a Roman provenance (place of origin). (3) The identification of Rufus and Alexander as sons of Simon of Cyrene (15:21) is also significant, since it confirms that the author was known to his readers. It seems unlikely that the title “according to Mark” (κατὰ Μάρκον) could have been attached to the gospel so early if the original readers knew it came from someone else. Furthermore, if this Rufus is the same one mentioned in Rom 16:13, we have incidental confirmation of a Roman provenance.
2) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.15 (translation from P. Maier, Eusebius: The Church History (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 129 – 30. 3)“Papias thus admits that he learned the words of the apostles from their followers but says that he personally heard Aristion and John the presbyter. He often quotes them by name and includes their traditions in his writings” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.7; trans. Maier, Eusebius, 127). 4)The connection to Peter is also indirectly made by Justin Martyr (c. AD 150), who refers to Mark 3:16 – 17 ( Jesus’ naming of Simon as “Peter,” and James and John as “Sons of Thunder”) as coming from the memoirs of Peter (Dial. 106). For strong defenses of the authenticity of the Papias tradition, see Hengel, Studies, 47 – 53; Robert H. Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 1026 – 45. 5)Cited by C. Black, Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994), 119. The date of the Anti-Marcionite prologues is disputed, with some scholars placing them in the third century. 6)The same description is found in Hippolytus, Haer. 7.30.1 (see Black, Mark, 115 – 18). 7) Ireneaus, Haer. 3.1.1; translation from Black, Mark, 99 – 100. 8) Cited by Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.14.6 – 7 (trans. Maier, Eusebius, 218).
Author: Although the Gospel of Mark does not name its author, it is the unanimous testimony of early church fathers that Mark was the author. He was an associate of the Apostle Peter, and evidently his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). From Peter he received first-hand information of the events and teachings of the Lord, and preserved the information in written form.
It is generally agreed that Mark is the John Mark of the New Testament (Acts 12:12). His mother was a wealthy and prominent Christian in the Jerusalem church, and probably the church met in her home. Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but not on the second because of a strong disagreement between the two men (Acts 15:37-38). However, near the end of Paul’s life he called for Mark to be with him (2 Timothy 4:11).
Date of Writing: The Gospel of Mark was likely one of the first books written in the New Testament, probably in A.D. 55-59.
T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 339–341.
34 Mark uses προσκαλέομαι to alert the reader to expect something new or emphatic to be revealed, or some new instruction to be delivered to the disciples (cf. 3:13, 23; 6:7; 7:14; 10:42; 12:43). What is surprising here is that the object of the verb is not just the disciples, whom one would expect, but τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ. We have gained from vv. 27–33 the impression that the setting is a private retreat in the countryside in the far north of Palestine, where Jesus was presumably little known and the population probably largely non-Jewish. A crowd of people in this area who were at least potentially followers of Jesus seems incongruous, and they will play no further part in the narrative. From the narrator’s point of view, however, the introduction of the ὄχλος serves here, rather like οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα in 4:10, to widen the audience for a key pronouncement; their inclusion in the audience asserts that the harsh demands of the following verses apply not only to the Twelve but to anyone else who may wish to join the movement. The introductory phrases εἴ τις θέλει and ὃς γὰρ ἐάν (vv. 35, 38) further generalise the scope of the paragraph; this is not a special formula for the elite, but an essential element in discipleship.
ὀπίσω μου is used here not as in v. 33 but in its more normal NT sense (see 1:17, 20 etc.), and the double use alongside it of ἀκολουθέω (cf. 1:18; 2:14) confirms that we have here a basic condition of discipleship. It is to join Jesus on the way to execution. This is the first use of σταυρός by Mark, and neither noun nor verb will occur again before chapter 15. Jesus’ predictions of his death in 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34 do not spell out the means of death, and this specifically Roman form of execution would not be the first to come to a Jewish mind when hearing of death at the behest of the Jewish authorities. By the time Mark wrote his gospel, of course, Jesus’ crucifixion was well known, and his readers would need no explanation for the σταυρός here. But at the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem such language is calculated to shock, and evokes a vivid and horrifying image of the death march with all its shameful publicity. The preservation of so specific an image at more than one point in the gospel tradition (see also the Q saying Mt. 10:38; Lk. 14:27) may suggest that it originates from Jesus’ own awareness of how he would die rather than from Mark’s reading back the later event.
The metaphor of taking up one’s own cross is not to be domesticated into an exhortation merely to endure hardship patiently. In this context, following 8:31, it is an extension of Jesus’ readiness for death to those who follow him, and the following verses will fill it out still in terms of the loss of life, not merely the acceptance of discomfort. While it may no doubt be legitimately applied to other and lesser aspects of the suffering involved in following Jesus, the primary reference in context must be to the possibility of literal death.
The call to take up the cross is preceded by ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτόν, a phrase not paralleled in the gospel tradition. The verb ἀπαρνέομαι is particularly associated with Peter’s eventual denial not of himself but of his master; in that context it means to dissociate oneself completely from someone, to sever the relationship. So the reflexive use implies perhaps to refuse to be guided by one’s own interests, to surrender control of one’s own destiny. In 2 Tim. 2:13 ἀρνήσασθαι ἑαυτόν (of God as subject) means to act contrary to his own nature, to cease to be God. What Jesus calls for here is thus a radical abandonment of one’s own identity and self-determination, and a call to join the march to the place of execution follows appropriately from this. Such ‘self-denial’ is on a different level altogether from giving up chocolates for Lent. ‘It is not the denial of something to the self, but the denial of the self itself.’
35–37 The talk of losing and gaining the ψυχή in these verses depends on the range of meaning of ψυχή, and poses problems for the translator. The same noun denotes both the ‘being alive’ (as opposed to dead; cf. 3:4; 10:45) which one might seek to preserve by escaping persecution and martyrdom, and the ‘real life’ which may be the outcome of such martyrdom, and therefore is to be found beyond earthly life. It is in this latter sense that the English word ‘soul’ is traditionally used here, but the wordplay is better preserved by retaining ‘life’ but where necessary qualifying it with ‘true/eternal’ or ‘earthly’.
The immediate subject of these verses, following as they do the imagery of taking up one’s cross in v. 34, is surely the literal loss of (earthly) life which the disciple is called to accept as a potential result of following Jesus. Only that sense fully does justice to the wordplay. To extend this sense to the loss of privilege, advantage, reputation, comfort, and the like may be legitimate in principle, but only so long as this primary and more radical sense is not set aside. To cling to the things of this life, the things which humanity naturally values most, is the way to forfeit true life; clinging to life itself is the ultimate example of this concern, and is set in contrast with the acceptance of death (for the right reason) as the way to real life. Jesus himself, in his death and resurrection, will be the supreme example of this new perspective.
The promise of true life is not attached to death in itself, but to the loss of life ἕνεκεν [ἐμοῦ καὶ] τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (see Textual Note). The possibility of literal martyrdom as the outcome of Christian discipleship is clearly envisaged here; cf. 13:9 (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ). Jesus’ expectation of his own death must have raised this possibility, and the experiences of the early church from Acts 7 onwards would add weight to it. The specific mention of the εὐαγγέλιον as the cause of loss of life indicates that the disciples are to play an active role in mission rather than merely privately following the teaching of Jesus, and that it is in this missionary work that they are likely to meet with persecution and death. Best rightly emphasises that the addition of this phrase indicates the inadequacy of a view of discipleship as merely the imitation of Jesus.
In the Synoptic Gospels κόσμος does not carry the negative connotation it has elsewhere in the NT, and especially in John; it denotes the created world in a neutral sense. κερδῆσαι τὸν κόσμον ὅλον therefore simply expresses the height of human ambition and achievement, measured in terms of earthly life. While ζημιόω sometimes carries a juridical sense of penalty or punishment, the context here does not require that nuance. Its more normal sense is simply loss or disadvantage. ζημιωθῆναι in v. 36 therefore denotes the opposite of κερδῆσαι; this is a profit and loss account, and it is clearly understood that the loss of the ψυχή (here ‘true life’) far outweighs any gain in terms of earthly advantage.
The same idea is differently expressed in the rhetorical question of v. 37, where again the assumption is made that the ψυχή is all that ultimately matters, and that nothing else can compensate for its loss. The ἀντάλλαγμα (cf. LXX Job 28:15) is the ‘exchange rate’ at which the ψυχή is valued; it is beyond price. The language of exchange echoes Ps. 49:7–9 (though LXX there uses λυτρόω/λύτρωσις, not ἀνταλλάσσομαι/ἀντάλλαγμα), but whereas the psalm speaks of a payment to avoid physical death, here the focus has moved to ‘true life’, which is even more beyond the reach of human valuation. There is no reason in this context to read into the question any developed theology of redemption; it is simply a statement of comparative value.
David Smith, Mark: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), 157–169
Insight into the Messiah’s Task
…….3. Jesus’ First Passion Prediction 8:31–33
Coupled with the immediately preceding command to silence, the core of Jesus’ self-revelation began with a redirection of the disciples’ choice of titles. They chose Messiah; Jesus offered another, more enigmatic title: the Son of Man (8:31). What Jesus was about to say regarding suffering and death might have been incomprehensible if He had retained the disciples’ more victorious-sounding title: “Christ.” Jesus would not allow himself to be categorized. For Jesus, the title “Christ” carried too much militaristic and nationalistic baggage; it had to be tempered with the less familiar “Son of Man” designation. He went on to teach His disciples the essential issues with reference to His identity.
The “Son of Man must suffer many things” (8:31). The disciples had seen nothing but power and victory in the acts of Jesus thus far. So these words had no place to take root. Moreover, the suffering and death of the Messiah raised huge theological problems. If Jesus was indeed the Messiah, why would God allow Him to be rejected and be killed (8:31)? Though the answer is not fully elucidated in the gospel of Mark, it is part of a plan found in the Old Testament. Mark reported that the Son of Man must suffer many things. The word must is often used of divine necessity as spelled out later in 9:12 and 14:21, 49. Thus, Jesus’ rejection and death are to find their source in Scripture and the heart of the Father’s will and not in the violence of Palestinian politics. Mark would not allow Jesus’ death to be read as a sociological mistake but rather as an act of divine redemption.
The wording of each of the three passion predictions is just a bit different. It is only in this passage that the reader of Mark sees the word suffer. But with rejected, Mark draws attention to Psalm 118:22, where Christians identify in Jesus’ fate that the “stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” and His following vindication. Each of the three passion predictions ends with the same climax: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The disciples were no more attentive to this aspect of Jesus’ teaching than any other.
No matter how much explanation He provided, the disciples never achieved complete clarity. This unveiling of the messianic mission demanded a response from the disciples. And it came from Peter as he took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him (8:32). Peter displayed that he was at cross-purposes with Jesus’ agenda. The word “rebuke” connotes a command by one taking authority over another. Jesus, without hesitation, turned and looked at his disciples (8:33), implicating them as coconspirators, as he rebuked Peter. The repetition of the same verb (8:31, command of Jesus to disciples; 8:32, Peter’s rebuke of Jesus; 8:33, Jesus’ rebuke to Peter) demonstrates irreconcilable perspectives. Jesus settled the issue when He ordered Peter to get behind Him. Note how this short statement is spatially as well as relationally oriented. First, Jesus said, “Get behind me.” This is the same language used by Jesus in His initial call of His disciples in 1:17 and could be translated, “Come, behind Me.” This might be understood as Jesus calling Peter to get back in step with Him. Further, there is another occurrence of the word in the next verse, where the phrase is translated, “If anyone would come after me” (8:34), cementing Peter’s call to follower-ship based not on his notion of power or might, but on Jesus’ revelation of rejection, shame, and death.
Relationally, Jesus called Peter “Satan.” In short order, Jesus completed His own counter-rebuke of Peter. Peter’s plan, which avoided the cross, placed him in league with Jesus’ archenemy. This is partially why Jesus commanded (rebukes) the disciples to silence, for the proclamation of a Messiah without the cross is satanic in its message. This exchange was brought to a culmination with Jesus’ closing reproof: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (8:33). The NIV makes this a separate sentence, while in actuality it is a dependent clause, specifically a result clause: “for you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of people.” The plain teaching of Jesus (8:31) cannot be grasped on a merely human level.
The vision for ministry that Jesus is teaching is irreconcilable with the vision Peter and the other disciples have for Him as the Messiah. The misguided vision of the disciples and their determined refusal to adopt Jesus’ revelation precludes them from full comprehension. Teaching, even from such a skilled educator as Jesus, would not adequately overcome humanity’s blindness. Thus, Mark conveys a truth that became Christian doctrine: Men and women must not merely become educated (or catechized) in the Church; they must initially be transformed.
The Demands of Discipleship
The Cost of Following Jesus 8:34–35
The call to discipleship is comprehensive in its reach (disciples and crowds), but it immediately takes on a conditional nature: “If anyone would come after me” (8:34). The phrase literally translated reads, “If someone wishes/wants after me to follow.…” Jesus demands a heartfelt choice, which eliminates other, possibly more appealing, choices.
Jesus set the agenda according to His spiritual compass; a follower must “deny himself.” Powerfully, the insertion of the reflexive pronoun himself implies the first aspect of discipleship is to refuse to be guided by one’s own interests. Moreover, self-denial is not to be confused with asceticism (the denial of things one desires) or even with self-discipline. Self-denial is the denial of the self itself (see Phil. 2:3–4). The second requirement of a follower is to “take up his cross.” This is the first use of the word in the Gospel, certainly creating a link back to Jesus’ earlier prediction of His own death. In the first century, a cross indicated punishment of a shamed criminal at the hands of the Romans. Moreover, this Roman form of execution might be heard by the listeners as a call to rebel against Rome and to risk their lives. Yet, the word will not reoccur until chapter 15. This provided Jesus with ample time to define the impact and meaning of His own death and the cross-bearing imagery associated with His followers. For in summary, the self-denial to which Jesus calls one is abandonment of one’s autonomy and adoption of Jesus’ leadership and lordship.
Finally, Jesus beckoned His disciples to “follow me” (8:34). Jesus’ initial thrust into discipleship-making seems more directional than doctrinal. His call is bracketed with terms of motion. “Mark is rich in verbs of motion. Jesus is on the move; he summons disciples to come after him” Each time Jesus called His disciples, He was in motion (1:16, 19; 2:14; 10:17). Further, His call was to get in step directly behind Him. Thus, for one to be a disciple, one must follow. The mark of a faithful disciple is to be seen not in fully comprehending all the theological nuances of the person of Jesus, but in setting one’s sight unwaveringly on the path laid out by Jesus. The path to the cross is costly and counterintuitive, yet Jesus clearly laid out the directional markers for all who are willing to follow.
The demands of discipleship are further refined. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (8:35). Jesus offered this paradoxical principle for savings one’s life, using two meanings of “life.” The word implies physical life in its first use (as opposed to death; see 3:4; 10:45). In this sense, people might think they can preserve their lives by avoiding conflict and persecution. However, Jesus’ other meaning was that by losing one’s physical life, one receives (saves) eternal life. More precisely, this call to a loss of life is not a morbid acceptance of death. Rather, it is an adoption of Jesus (for me) and His mission agenda (for the gospel) around which one reorients one’s focus and through which one discovers true life. A disciple is to follow Jesus by publicly adhering to the gospel, proclaiming it to the world, and dying if necessary.
Keeping an Eternal Perspective 8:36–9:1
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (8:36). Here the contrast between this world and the next (soul) is made more explicit. In this Gospel, “world” represents the created order in a neutral sense. Gain implies human ambition and drive for worldly success. Thus, one should not connote an evil intent on the part of the pursuer, but the explicit contrast as the loss of one’s life or soul far exceeds any profit in terms of earthly gain. This contrast is continued in the rhetorical question “Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (8:37). This passage continues with the theme that we cannot grasp the priceless value of one life or soul, and that there is another way to categorize value apart from what we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
Verse 38 repeats the conditional emphasis begun in 8:34: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” The contrast of honor and shame was a primary value of the first century. So, if anyone was ashamed of Jesus (of me) and His authoritative demands (and my words), she or he might have received worldly honor, but forfeited honor in the future, coming Kingdom. David Garland summarizes it this way:
Jesus uses the threat of judgment to induce his followers to be faithful. To be put to shame is the opposite of vindication (Ps. 25:3; 119:6; Isa. 41:10–11; Jer. 17:18). Those who may be frightened by the edicts of earthly courts (represented in the Gospel by Herod Antipas, the high priest’s Sanhedrin, and the Roman governor, Pilate) should fear even more the decision of the heavenly tribunal, which determines their eternal destiny.
The use of the adjective adulterous reminds the reader of the frequent Old Testament charges against the nation of Israel as she constantly committed spiritual adultery and went out after other gods (Isa. 1:4, 21; Ezek. 16:32; Hos. 2:4).
The traditional early church understanding of the Son of Man “coming” was that of the parousia or the second coming. Yet the imagery and background in this material comes from the visions of Daniel 7: “… one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.” He is presented before the throne of the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13–14), and “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” The scene is clearly set in heaven, and His “coming” is better described as an entrance into the throne room of God, not the “second coming” to earth. One must keep in mind that Jesus’ teaching in 8:31 is an intricate series of contrasts between this world and the next, with the Son of Man prophecy as its climax. Thus, the shaming of the Son of Man on earth by people will result in their judgment in the heavenly realm.
There is an interesting combination of Son of Man language and the Father’s glory. The voice at Jesus’ baptism directly referred to Jesus as His Son (1:11). Jesus only referred to God as His Father again in 13:23 and in His prayer in Gethsemane (14:36). Yet the importance is not simply familial but theological. For here the Son of Man and Son of God concepts are closely linked with each other and with the messianic overtones of the entire passage. This would not happen again until Jesus’ confession before the high priest in 14:62.
And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power” (9:1). Seemingly, 9:1 assures the first-century disciples (and subsequent readers) that for all they abandon in this lifetime, they will indeed see the kingdom of God come and share in His exaltation. The implication is that the event being referred to is near enough that a privileged few will catch a glimpse of this unveiling. Numerous suggestions have been offered regarding the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction. The most prominent suggestions include (1) the death of Jesus and the resultant tearing of the Temple curtain, (2) victory over death in His resurrection, (3) His ascension and enthronement in heaven, (4) the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and (5) the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. All of these would certainly be viable options within the lifetime of the original hearers. Yet nearly all except the first option fall outside the narrative of the gospel of Mark. Possibly the most text-centered line of interpretation would be to look forward to the Transfiguration (9:2–13). The events are linked temporally and precisely—after six days—a highly unusual practice for Mark outside of the passion narrative. Additionally, the Transfiguration narrative reports what the disciples saw, and the cloud appearing and enveloping the disciples is suggestive of the Mount Sinai theophany (Exod. 19), leaving the reader with the impression of Jesus coming in power. One could feel less than satisfied with seeing Jesus transfigured on a mountain being equated with seeing the kingdom of God come with power. Yet throughout the Gospel of Mark, the kingdom of God and the person of Jesus are inseparably linked. The Kingdom was brought near with the coming of Jesus and the proclaiming of the good news of God (1:14–15). Later, the secret of the Kingdom was revealed in Jesus’ parabolic instruction (4:10–12). Thus, it seems appropriate for Mark to make known the joining of the Kingdom of God and the person of Jesus as a signal of the real, though not yet fully revealed, presence.
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.)
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?
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.” The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”
Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.
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, 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.
 “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.
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:
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.
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 worldviewto 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….
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:
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….
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”)
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.
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).
Of 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).
“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 Billing–ton, 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.
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 16:1For 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 34:8For 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 36:2Through 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.
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.
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”).
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.