The Euthyphro Argument Dissected

(Originally Posted June 2016)

The Dilemma [Challenge] Stated Clearly:

“Either something is good (holy) because God commands it or else God commands something because it is good.”

  • If you say something is good because God commands it, this makes right and wrong arbitrary; In other words, God could have commanded that acts of hatred, brutality, cruelty, and so on be good. Making God Himself arbitrary and the commands His followers follow arbitrary as well.
  • If God commands something because it is good, then good is independent of God. Thus, morality can’t claim to be based on God’s commands (and God Himself is bound by something “outside” Himself — nullifying the theists claim of omnipotence and omniscience.

(Here is a good less-than-five-minute telling of the above by a skeptic.)

One of the best short article’s comes from…

FREE THINKING MINISTRIES

At first it seems like we’re stuck. Except, as mentioned earlier, this dilemma has been resolved for centuries: God is good. He is the source of goodness. He is the moral standard. His commands are not arbitrary, nor do they come from some standard external to him. They are good because they flow from his innate goodness. Dilemma averted.

Euthyphro is dead.

Now I know this doesn’t settle the issue of God’s goodness. Since this article is only intended to discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, I’ll just briefly touch on two related objections:

1 – God is not good. This is typically in response to an action or command from God in the Old Testament. And I agree that there are some things that are hard to understand and need to be discussed. But generally speaking, if we question God’s goodness, what are we judging him against? Our own moral standard? Then it’s our opinion against God’s and, if he truly exists, I’m going to trust his judgment over any finite, fallible human’s.

2 – How do we know that God is good? This question completely misses the point of Euthyphro’s resolution: God is the standard of goodness. There is nothing to compare him against or judge him by. But let’s suppose there does exist some higher moral standard. By applying this objection’s logic, we should ask “How do we know that this standard is good?” See the problem? You’re forever asking “How do we know?” to any moral standard. But if there is an objective moral standard, that is the standard by which morality is measured. It simply is good.

The best you can do is try to find some kind of inconsistency in God’s moral character. But then you can still only judge him against himself, which would point you back to objection 1. And even if you feel that one (or both) of these objections has not been resolved, my broader point is that the Euthyphro dilemma fails as a dilemma since there’s a third possible option, whether you like it or not. Thus, it’s an invalid argument.

Euthyphro is dead.

Why do skeptics keep digging him up? You may as well as ask why zombies keeps coming back. Because they do. That’s what makes them zombies. Bad arguments will always come back into fashion. But you need to see Euthyphro for what he is: a dead, defeated argument. Yet unlike zombies from TV shows and movies, he has no bite. He doesn’t even have teeth. His dilemma has been resolved for centuries….

(FREE THINKING MINISTRIES)

C.A.R.M.

For those looking for a quick answer to the issue, here is a short video and explanation from the theistic worldview via CARM (and CARM’S YOUTUBE):

Here is more from CARM’S WEBSITE:

[What is it?]

The Euthyphro dilemma comes from Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue, which has had different forms over the centuries.  Basically, it is “Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God?”  Another way of saying it is, does God say that things are moral because they are by nature moral, or do they become moral because God declares them to be?

The dilemma is that if the acts are morally good because they are good by nature, then they are independent of God and morality somehow exists apart from God.  These acts would already be good in themselves, and God would have to appeal to them to “find out” what is good. Of course, This raises questions on how moral absolutes can exist as independent abstract entities apart from a divine being.  On the other hand, if something is good because God commands that it is good, then goodness is arbitrary, and God could have called murder, good, and honesty not good.  The problem here is that it means God could also be a tyrant if he so chose to be.  But, he chooses to be nice.

Responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma

The Euthyphro dilemma is actually a false dichotomy.  That is, it proposes only two options when another is possible.  The third option is that good is based on God’s nature.  God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good and then reveals what is good to us.  It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself).  Both of these situations ignore the biblical option that good is a revelation of God’s nature.  In other words, God is the standard of what is good.  He is good by nature, and he reveals his nature to us. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.

In a sense, this is a philosophical statement considering the time and place they were:

TITUS 1:5

  • in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began [Greek: before times eternal] (ESV)
  • in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (HCSB)
  • This faith and knowledge make us sure that we have eternal life. God promised that life to us before time began—and God does not lie. (ERV)
  • My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn’t break promises! (MSG)

(Apologetic Press’s Graphic – link in pic)

WILLIAM LANE CRAIG

Another short dealing with this comes from ONE-MINUTE APOLOGIST’S YouTube interview with William Lane Craig:

(Here is Dr. Craig in a class setting teaching the issue [longer].)

FRANK TUREK

Here, Frank Turek and Hank Hanegraaff discuss the issue in under 4-minutes:

Hank is holding Frank’s Book at a certain page[s]… I will reproduce the sections prior to, as well as the section from his book on the Euthyphro Argument in the APPENDIX.

STAND TO REASON

There are “two horns” to the dilemma presented, but much like Plato does, we will split the horns with a third option and show that the two choices are false because there is a third viable option (the site where I grabbed this originally is gone, therefore, so is the link. STAND TO REASON has a good post that stands in as a supplemental link):

SPLITTING EUTHYPHRO’S HORNS

If a dilemma with limited choices is presented, you should always consider that these choices may not be your only options.  Euthyphro’s case is a prime example.  There is a third alternative and who knows?, there could be others that no one has come up with yet, but Christianity teaches this third alternative for the basis of morality:

God wills something because He is good.

What does this mean?  It means that the nature of God is the standard of goodness.  God’s nature is just the way God is.  He doesn’t ‘will’ Himself to be good, and kind, and just, and holy He just is these things.  His commandments to us are an expression of that nature, so our moral duties stem from the commands of a God who IS goodand loving and justnot a God who arbitrarily decides that he will command something on a whim, but gives commandments that stem from His unchanging character.

If God’s character defines what is good.  His commands must reflect His moral nature.

[….]

The Euthyphro dilemma is a false one because there is at least one other choice that splits the horns of the dilemma.  This option, taught as part of the Christian doctrine of who God is, is perfectly consistent with the concept that God must exist for objective morality to exist in our world.

Plato came up with his own third option that moral values simply exist on their own.  No need for God.  Later Christian thinkers equated this to God’s moral nature, like we just discussed.  However, some argue that God is not necessary; that goodness and justice, etc. can exist on their own this idea is often referred to as Atheistic Moral Platonism…. [see STAND TO REASON about “atheistic moral Platonism”]

PETER KREEFT

This is VERY simple to grasp, but here are more dealings with it, Peter Kreeft’s short DEALING WITH THIS supposed dilemma (his entire 20-topics is free online):

There are four possible relations between religion and morality, God and goodness.

Religion and morality may be thought to be independent. Kierkegaard’s sharp contrast between “the ethical” and “the religious,” especially in Fear and Trembling, may lead to such a supposition. But (a) an amoral God, indifferent to morality, would not be a wholly good God, for one of the primary meanings of “good” involves the “moral”—just, loving, wise, righteous, holy, kind. And (b) such a morality, not having any connection with God, the Absolute Being, would not have absolute reality behind it.

God may be thought of as the inventor of morality, as he is the inventor of birds. The moral law is often thought of as simply a product of God’s choice. This is the Divine Command Theory: a thing is good only because God commands it and evil because he forbids it. If that is all, however, we have a serious problem: God and his morality are arbitrary and based on mere power. If God commanded us to kill innocent people, that would become good, since good here means “whatever God commands.” The Divine Command Theory reduces morality to power. Socrates refuted the Divine Command Theory pretty conclusively in Plato’s Euthyphro. He asked Euthyphro, “Is a thing pious because the gods will it, or do the gods will it because it is pious?” He refuted the first alternative, and thought he was left with the second as the only alternative.

But the idea that God commands a thing because it is good is also unacceptable, because it makes God conform to a law higher than himself, a law that overarches God and humanity alike. The God of the Bible is no more separated from moral goodness by being under it than he is by being over it. He no more obeys a higher law that binds him, than he creates the law as an artifact that could change and could well have been different, like a planet.

The only rationally acceptable answer to the question of the relation between God and morality is the biblical one: morality is based on God’s eternal nature. That is why morality is essentially unchangeable. “I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Our obligation to be just, kind, honest, loving and righteous “goes all the way up” to ultimate reality, to the eternal nature of God, to what God is. That is why morality has absolute and unchangeable binding force on our conscience.

The only other possible sources of moral obligation are:

a. My ideals, purposes, aspirations, and desires, something created by my mind or will, like the rules of baseball. This utterly fails to account for why it is always wrong to disobey or change the rules.
b. My moral will itself. Some read Kant this way: I impose morality on myself. But how can the one bound and the one who binds be the same? If the locksmith locks himself in a room, he is not really locked in, for he can also unlock himself.
c. Another human being may be thought to be the one who imposes morality on me—my parents, for example. But this fails to account for its binding character. If your father commands you to deal drugs, your moral obligation is to disobey him. No human being can have absolute authority over another.
d. “Society” is a popular answer to the question of the origin of morality “this or that specific person” is a very unpopular answer. Yet the two are the same. “Society” only means more individuals. What right do they have to legislate morality to me? Quantity cannot yield quality; adding numbers cannot change the rules of a relative game to the rightful absolute demands of conscience.
e. The universe, evolution, natural selection and survival all fare even worse as explanations for morality. You cannot get more out of less. The principle of causality is violated here. How could the primordial slime pools gurgle up the Sermon on the Mount?

Atheists often claim that Christians make a category mistake in using God to explain nature; they say it is like the Greeks using Zeus to explain lightning. In fact, lightning should be explained on its own level, as a material, natural, scientific phenomenon. The same with morality. Why bring in God?

Because morality is more like Zeus than like lightning. Morality exists only on the level of persons, spirits, souls, minds, wills—not mere molecules. You can make correlations between moral obligations and persons (e.g., persons should love other persons), but you cannot make any correlations between morality and molecules. No one has even tried to explain the difference between good and evil in terms, for example, of the difference between heavy and light atoms.

So it is really the atheist who makes the same category mistake as the ancient pagan who explained lightning by the will of Zeus. The atheist uses a merely material thing to explain a spiritual thing. That is a far sillier version of the category mistake than the one the ancients made; for it is possible that the greater (Zeus, spirit) caused the lesser (lightning) and explains it; but it is not possible that the lesser (molecules) adequately caused and explains the greater (morality). A good will might create molecules, but how could molecules create a good will? How can electricity obligate me? Only a good will can demand a good will; only Love can demand love.

(TWENTY ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: THE MORAL ARGUMENT)

MISC.

While Plato was dealing with polytheism and a form of monism, this argument as dealt with herein is response to the challenges presented to theism. However, his use of a third option is what we present here as well… making this dilemma mute. What was Plato’s solution?

  • “You split the horns” of the dilemma by formulating a third alternative, namely, God is the good. The good is the moral nature of God Himself. That is to say, God is necessarily holy, loving, kind, just, and so on. These attributes of God comprise the good. God’s moral character expresses itself toward us in the form of certain commandments, which became for us our moral duties. Hence, God’s commandments are not arbitrary but necessarily flow from His own nature. (BE THINKING quoting Dr. Craig)

They [“the Good”] are the necessary expression [“commands”] of the way God “is” — RPT.

One of the most important notes to mention is that once there is a third alternative, there is no longer a dilemma.

TRUE FREE THINKER

Mariano Grinbank of True Free Thinker deals with the many aspects of this supposed dilemma. He does an excellent job of doing this. However, zero in on the section from the 2:40 mark to the 3:45 mark (the same idea is brought up in the 6:55 through 9:55 mark of the Craig response — Craig”s audio follows Mario’s). Mariano Grinbank does a bang-up job below (Grinbank’s article being read by someone else):

(Above audio description from YouTube) Mario’s original audio is hereApologetic315 and TrueFreeThinker team up to put to rest the many aspects of what is perceived to be a dilemma by many first year philosophy students in the Euthyphro dialogue between two Grecian thinkers: “Essay: The Euthyphro Dichotomy by Ken Ammi

MORE CRAIG

Here is William Lane Craig responding to some challenges in regards to the Euthyphro argument.

Here is more at CAA’s “CATECHISM”:


APPENDIX


Atheists and Morality: What I Am NOT Saying

The next few paragraphs my editor wanted me to take out. He said it repeats too much from above. He’s right to a certain extent. But it can’t be left out because many atheists I meet think I’m making an argument that I’m not making. (It’s probably my fault.) So let me spell it out as explicitly as I can.

I am not saying that you have to believe in God to be a good person or that atheists like David Silverman are immoral people.

David seems like a very nice man. And some atheists live more moral lives than many Christians.

I am also not saying that atheists don’t know morality or that you need the Bible to know basic right and wrong. Everyone knows basic right and wrong whether they believe in God or have the Bible or not. In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches (see Romans 2:14-15).9

What I am saying is that atheists can’t justify morality. They can act morally and judge some actions as being moral and others immoral (as David Silverman does). But they can provide no objective basis for those judgments. Whether it’s the Holocaust, raping and murdering children, eating children, aborting children, or who adopts children, atheists have no objective standard by which to judge any of it.

Let me go out on a limb and suggest that if your worldview requires you to believe that raping children, murdering children, eating children, and slaughtering six million innocent people is just a matter of opinion, then you have the wrong worldview.

No Book Without an Author—No Morality Without God

Unlike David Silverman, Sam Harris is a new atheist who believes in objective morality. In his book, The Moral Landscape, Harris maintains that objective morality is related to “the well-being of conscious creatures,” and that science can help us determine what brings “well-being” to conscious creatures.

What’s objectionable about that thesis? Well-being is usually associated with moral choices (although not always). And science may help us discover what actually helps bring about well-being. The problem with Harris’s approach is that he is addressing the wrong question.

 The question is not what method should we use to discover what is moral, but what actually makes something moral? Why does a moral law exist at all, and why does it have authority over us?

The Moral Landscape gives us no answer. It’s a nearly three-hundred-page-long example of the most common mistake made by those who think objective morality can exist without God. Harris seems to think that because we can know objective morality (epistemology), that explains why objective morality exists in the first place (ontology).

You may come to know about objective morality in many different ways: from parents, teachers, society, your conscience, etc. (Harris talks about brain states.) And you can know it while denying God exists. But that’s like saying you can know what a book says while denying there’s an author. Of course you can do that, but there would be no book to know unless there was an author! In other words, atheists can know objective morality while denying God exists, but there would be no objective morality unless God exists.

Science might be able to tell you if an action may hurt someone—like if giving a man cyanide will kill him—but science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone. Who said it’s wrong to harm people? Sam Harris? Does he have authority over the rest of humanity? Is his nature the standard of Good?

To get his system to work, Sam Harris must smuggle in what he claims is an objective moral standard: “well-being.” As William Lane Craig pointed out in his debate with Harris, that’s not a fail-safe criterion of what’s right. But even if it was, what objective, unchanging, moral authority establishes it as right? It can’t be Sam Harris or any other finite, changing person. Only an unchanging authoritative being, who can prescribe and enforce objective morality here and beyond the grave, is an adequate standard. Only God can ground Justice and ensure that Justice is ultimately done.

Can’t Evolution Explain Morality?

We’ve already seen that an atheistic worldview can’t account for objective morality, as even Richard Dawkins once admitted. He wrote, “It’s pretty hard to get objective morality without religion.” Yet some atheists persist in claiming that evolution somehow gives us objective morality to help us survive—that if we didn’t “cooperate” with one another, we wouldn’t survive. But this argument doesn’t survive for several reasons.

First, trying to explain morality by biology is a massive category mistake. A category mistake is when you treat something in one category as if it belongs in another category. Questions like those posed earlier do that: “‘What is the chemical composition of justice?” or “What does courage taste like?” Justice and courage do not have chemicals or flavor, so the questions commit category mistakes.

The same is true when atheists try to explain moral laws by biological processes. Morality and biology are in different categories. You can’t explain an immaterial moral law by a material biological process. Justice is not made of molecules. Furthermore, moral laws are prescriptive and come from authoritative personal agents. Biological processes are descriptive and have no authority to tell you what to do. How could a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave?

Second, biological processes can’t make survival a moral right. There is no real “good” or purpose to evolution. Without God, survival is a subjective preference of the creature wanting to survive, but not an objective moral good or right. Biology describes what does survive, not what ought to survive. Why should humans survive as opposed to anything else? And which humans, we or the Nazis?

If one could make the case that survival is somehow a right, then should a person rape to propagate his DNA? Should a person murder if it helps him survive? Should a society murder the weak and undesirables to improve the gene pool and help the desirables survive? Hitler used evolutionary theory to justify just that.

You can’t answer those moral questions without smuggling a moral law into the evolutionary worldview. As Sam Harris rightly puts it, “Evolution could never have foreseen the wisdom or necessity of creating stable democracies, mitigating climate change, saving other species from extinction, containing the spread of nuclear weapons, or of doing much else that is now crucial to our happiness in this century.” Indeed, evolution describes a survival-of-the-fittest outcome. It doesn’t prescribe a moral outcome. That’s why Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, to their credit, are anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality. They just don’t realize that they are stealing a moral law from God when they condemn a survival-of-the-fittest ethic.

Third, physical survival isn’t the highest moral virtue. Sacrificing yourself to save someone else, as our military heroes often do, is the highest form of morality and love—far higher than mere survival. That’s exactly what Jesus claimed and then did for us.14

Fourth, since evolution is a process of change, then morals must change. Rape and murder may one day be considered “good.” So if evolution is your guide, it’s impossible for morals to be objective and unchanging.

Fifth, the assertion that evolution gave us morality as a kind of “social contract” to enable civilization isn’t an adequate ground for objective morality. ‘What if someone violates the “contract?” Is he immoral for doing so? To judge him wrong, you would again need to appeal to an objective moral law beyond any “social contract,” like we did in order to condemn the Nazi “social contract.”

Finally, the claim that we wouldn’t survive without cooperation is a pragmatic issue, not a moral issue. And it isn’t even true. Many people survive and even prosper precisely because they don’t cooperate with other people! Criminals often prosper quite nicely. So do dictators. Atheist Joseph Stalin murdered millions more people than he cooperated with. He never got justice in this life. He died comfortably in bed at the age of seventy-four, shaking his fist at God one last time.

Atheists call murderers like Stalin, Mao, and Poi Pot, who were atheists themselves, “madmen”—as if reason alone should have led them to act morally. But those dictators were very reasonably following their atheistic belief that without God, everything is permissible. Reason is a tool by which we discover what the moral law is, but it can’t account for why the moral law exists in the first place. For the moral law to exist, God must exist. If God does not exist, then why shouldn’t Stalin and Mao have murdered to get what they wanted, especially since they knew they could get away with it? That certainly was not “unreasonable.”

From Euthyphro to Elvis

“Not so fast,” say atheists. “Even if evolution doesn’t work as the standard of morality, you can’t ground objective morality in God either. You’re forgetting about the Euthyphro dilemma.”

Euthyphro is a character in one of Plato’s writings who poses a couple of questions that either make God subject to objective morality or an arbitrary source of morality. The supposed dilemma goes like this: Does God do something because it is good (which would imply there is a standard of Good beyond God), or is it Good because God does it (which would imply that God arbitrarily makes up morality)?

But this is not an actual dilemma at all. An actual dilemma has only two opposing alternatives: A or non-A. We don’t have that here. In this situation we have A and B. Well, maybe there is a third alternative: a C. There is.

When it comes to morality, God doesn’t look up to another standard beyond Himself. If He has to look up to another standard, then He wouldn’t be God—the standard beyond Him would be God. Nor is God arbitrary. There is nothing arbitrary about an unchanging standard of Good.

The third alternative is that God’s nature is the standard. God Himself is the unchanging standard of Good. The buck has to stop somewhere, and it stops at God’s unchanging moral nature. In other words, the standard of rightness we know as the Moral Law flows from the nature of God Himself—infinite justice and infinite love.

How can God’s nature account for ultimate value? Before answering that, we need to reiterate that an atheistic worldview can’t account for the objective value of human beings. On an atheistic worldview, we’re nothing but overgrown germs that arrived here accidentally by mindless processes and thus have no ultimate purpose or significance. Life is meaningless. We are each objectively worth zero. And adding a bunch of us up into a society doesn’t create value. If you add up a bunch of zeroes, the total worth is still zero.

But on a Christian worldview, God is the ground and source of ultimate value, and He endows us with His image. Therefore, our lives have objective value, meaning, and purpose. If there is a real purpose to life—a “final cause” as Aristotle put it—then there must be a right way to live it. After all, to get to a specific destination, you can’t just go in any direction. Morality helps inform us of that direction. That means God doesn’t arbitrarily make up moral commands. He’s not an exasperated parent who justifies everything with, “Just do it because I said so!” God’s commands are consistent with His moral nature and point us to the final cause or objective goal of our lives (more on that goal later).

So the source of our lives as human beings is God, not primordial slime. And source is important. You can see the importance of source by considering the most expensive items ever sold at auction:

  • The most expensive lock of hair: Elvis Presley’s, $115,000.
  • The most expensive piece of clothing: Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, $1,267,500.
  • The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia: Mark McGwire’s 70th-home-run ball from 1998, $3,000,000.

People ascribed enormous value to those items not because the raw materials are that valuable—you can get hair, dresses, and baseballs for a lot less—but because of the source of each item. People or events that are deemed special are connected with those items.

The values of those items are extrinsic in that they are ascribed by whatever the buyers want to pay. But if Christianity is true, your value is intrinsic because you are connected to God. Your value is based on the worth infused into you by the source and standard of all value, God Himself.

Marinate in that for a minute: The infinite God has endowed you with immeasurable worth. The majestic heavens aren’t made in His image, but you are! That’s why you have moral rights. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “All men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because of God, you are inherently valuable, and always will be, no matter what you’ve done or what anyone else thinks about you. Your value is far from zero. You are literally sacred.

  • Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 98-106.

Gay Christians?

  • and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)

Luther Comments:

“Yet not I.” That is to say, not in mine own person, nor in mine own substance. Here he plainly showeth by what means he liveth; and he teacheth what true Christian righteousness is, namely, that righteousness whereby Christ liveth in us, and not that which is in our own person. And here Christ and my conscience must become one body, so that nothing remain in my sight but Christ crucified, and raised from the dead. But if I behold myself only, and set Christ aside, I am gone. For Christ being lost, there is no counsel nor succour, but certain desperation and destruction must follow.

The following story starts will quote first BREITBART, following it will be a portion of an article (and audio) from an NPR PIECE.

(BREITBART) National Public Radio aired a remarkable interview on Sunday’s Weekend Edition with Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian pastor who is gay, yet lives a heterosexual life. Torn between his sexuality and his faith, he chose his faith–without trying to “convert” his attraction to men, and without trying to change his religion to fit his personal preferences. The conversation between NPR’s Weekend Edition and Edwards–and his wife–sheds light on an often overlooked constituency in the debate over gay marriage.

Edwards explains that he began to realize he was attracted to men during his teenage years, at the same time he was active in his church youth movement. He realized immediately that there was a conflict between his sexuality and his faith, and tried to find a justification in the Bible for living a gay life as a Christian. He could not, he says–and so he chose to live a heterosexual life, in accordance with the teachings of his church. He does not deny his gay sexuality, but does not act on those feelings, he says.

In that way, Edwards says, he is no different than anyone else. Everyone, he says, experiences some kinds of forbidden desire, or a sense of discontentment with their lives, and they have to adjust their behavior to their values and goals. He and his wife have a sexual relationship, despite his attraction to men, and they are expecting their first child. He is reluctant to judge others, but when pressed by Montaigne, says that he believes those who try to adjust Christianity to accept same-sex marriage are “in error.”

He acknowledges that others might call his lifestyle one of suppression–one that is doomed to divorce or suicide. He disagrees, and says that his relationship with God comes before other parts of his identity, including his sexuality….

…read more…

How did this young man come to find his identity within the Christian faith? Simple, if Jesus is who He claims to be, then he [pastor Edwards… and we/us] should believe what Jesus believes. Simple:

(NPR)

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He’s attracted to men, but considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

“I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?” he says. “So for me, it’s not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am.”

Where he is now is married. He and his wife, Leanne Edwards, are joyfully expecting a baby in July.

[….]

He didn’t understand how he could resolve his feelings, he says, and had little support from his friends. “I didn’t know anyone else who experienced same-sex attractions, so I didn’t talk about it much at all,” Allan says.

But at a small, Christian liberal arts college, he did start talking.

“My expectation was, if I started talking to other guys about this, I’m going to get ostracized and lambasted,” Allan says. “I actually had the exact opposite experience … I actually was received with a lot of love, grace, charity: some confusion, but openness to dialogue.”

Allan considered following a Christian denomination that accepts gay relationships, but his interpretation of the Bible wouldn’t allow it, he says.

“I studied different methods of reading the scripture and it all came down to this: Jesus accepts the rest of the scripture as divined from God,” he says. “So if Jesus is who he says he is, then we kind of have to believe what he believes.”

…read more…

In other words, Christ’s claims and later His backing his claim with the Resurrection should make any one WANT to thank his/her creator by worshiping Him in obedience for the work done for each of us on Calvary. Pastor Edwards is building riches in his heavenly home in his obedience.

Wesley Hill, who is a scholar of New Testament studies and happens to be an openly gay Christian. He says the Bible makes it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, subjects himself to the will of the Lamb… not subjecting the Lamb to his will:

Now… I would be remiss to note as well that there are many people who once were gay, but through Christ’s redeeming power they no longer identify as homosexual. There is a play list of some testimony in this regard at Theology, Philosophy and Science’s YouTube Channel: Ex-Gay People.

The above testimonies and viewpoints add to a previous upload of mine a while back with three church leaders talking about this same-sex attraction but duty to God ~ and it is this duty to God that gives a new identity (a “new man” if you will):

The three men in the above interview (see below) have a powerful testimony to God working in their lives. They take Scripture serious and share their struggles openly and honestly in this interview by Justin Brierley of Premier Christian Radio for his show, “Unbelievable” (http://tinyurl.com/d2sgjrz). This interview and some other recent insights via Stand to Reason and Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, has me evolving and honing my apologetic on this more and more (See #4 of my cumulative case: http://tinyurl.com/acqhcfv).

▼ Sean Doherty is associate minister at St Francis, Dalgarno Way in London and teaches theology at St Mellitus College;
▼ Sam Allberry is associate minister at St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead;
▼ Ed Shaw is part of the leadership of Emmanuel Church, Bristol.

This is the larger interview of which I isolated Sean Doherty’s portion here.

And Savi Hensman of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Anglican blogger Peter Ould debate the issues in the interview.

Here I am adding a video by First Things, and it is a short talk about a woman who is gay but has chosen to live towards truth. While I am not a Catholic, I am an admirer of people who sacrifice for the faith:

Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith
— from First Things on Vimeo

Eve Tushnet is a lesbian and celibate Catholic freelance writer. She studied philosophy at Yale University, where she was received into the Catholic Church in 1998. She writes from D.C., and has been published in (among others) Commonweal, First Things, The National Catholic Register, National Review, and The Washington Blade. Eve blogs at Patheos.com.

And one of the most important presentations delineating the issue of “can a Christian be a homosexual?” is by Dr. William Lane Craig (see also his article, “Christian Homosexuals?” & “A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality“). His other noteworthy videos are these:

Another pastor who grew up in the mix of the LGBT culture… and his in-depth knowledge of what is often “Messy Grace” in a fallen world.

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!

The Apocrypha vs. Jesus

(I change the links to the Scripture references from their original source.) While there are many reasons to reject the Apocrypha as on par with Scripture, the main reason is the testimony of Christ. Here for instance is an article from the BLUE LETTER BIBLE by Don Stewart (a co-author on many works with Josh McDowell) giving 27-reasons to reject the Apocrypha as equal to Scripture… the most important point being his #27:

27. JESUS’ TESTIMONY IS DEFINITIVE

It is clear that in the first century the Old Testament was complete. Jesus put His stamp of approval on the books of the Hebrew Old Testament but said nothing concerning the Apocrypha. However, He did say that the Scriptures were the authoritative Word of God and they could not be broken. Any adding to that which God has revealed is denounced in the strongest of terms. Jesus asked the religious leaders a penetrating question.

Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3).

Jesus’ And The Extent Of The Old Testament

A statement by Jesus seemingly gives His belief in the extent of the Old Testament.

Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation (Matthew 23:34-36).

He mentions Abel and Zechariah as the first and last murder messengers of God that were murdered. Abel’s murder is mentioned in Genesis while Zechariah’s was in 2 Chronicles – the last Old Testament book in the Hebrew canonical order. The fact that these two are specifically mentioned is particularly significant. There other murders of God’s messengers recorded in the Apocrypha. Jesus does not mention them. This strongly suggests He did not consider the books of the Apocrypha as part of Old Testament Scripture as with the books from Genesis to 2 Chronicles.

THERE WAS MORE TESTIMONY FROM JESUS

Jesus gave further testimony of the extent of the Old Testament canon in the day of His resurrection. He said.

How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! . . . And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:25,27).

Note Jesus’ emphasis on “all that the prophets had spoken.” Later He explained the extent of “all that the prophets had said.”

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).

This is a reference to the threefold division of the Hebrew Scripture. They constitute “all that the prophets said.” There is no reference to the Apocrypha. It would not have been part of the threefold division of the Old Testament.

So, even if an early church father thought the Apocrypha should be included as Holy Scripture, he would be wrong (see also CARM). STAND TO REASON basis their article on the matter on this point by Jesus:

Should the Bible include the Apocrypha? Here is where I think Jesus can help. Specifically, I believe Jesus’ words lead us to the conclusion that the Apocrypha is not Scripture.

During one of His heated discussions with the Pharisees and the lawyers, Jesus says,

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.” Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering. (Luke 11:49–51)

First, notice that Jesus mentions the blood of all the prophets. He’s not talking about some of the prophets. He’s talking about the blood of all the prophets since that foundation of the world. Next, Jesus limits who He includes with “all the prophets.” He gives us some bookends for identifying these prophets. In verse 50, Jesus says, “…from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”

Abel is the very first prophet to die for his faith. The death of Abel is recorded in Genesis—the first book of the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus also cites the death of Zechariah as the last prophet to die. However, this isn’t right. Zechariah isn’t the last prophet to die. Chronologically speaking, Uriah—the son of Shemaiah—is the last prophet killed. You can read about his death in Jeremiah 26:20–23.

So why does Jesus list Zechariah as the last prophet to die? The reason is crucial to why we shouldn’t accept the Apocrypha as Scripture. Jesus chose Abel first and Zachariah last because they were the first and last prophets martyred in the Jewish Scriptures. The Jews of Jesus’ day would have known that Zechariah’s death is recorded in Chronicles—the last book of the Jewish Scriptures. It reads,

Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’” But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 24:20–21)

Therefore, Jesus limits “all the prophets” to the Jewish Scriptures—from Genesis to Chronicles. It was the prophets contained in the Jewish Scriptures, and no others, who were responsible for communicating God’s word until the time of Christ. The author of Hebrews writes, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world” (Hebrews 1:1–2)….

Oh, BTW, I am a big fan of that guy, Jesus.