Cultural Christianity: One | Secularism: Zero (New Atheism Fails)

Okay, let’s get this party started… right? I had seen a blip of Dawkins admitting — and it really is an admission of sorts — that what Christ wrought [as a worldview] is CULTURALLY what he [Dawkins] prefers to live under. He says he prefers this over Islam, but note, he didn’t mention he would rather live under some atheistic program.


Because when dialectical materialism comes about as a worldview embedded into government, what do we get? (PDF version of the below)

A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be ‘most’ really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare. Even the Seven Years’ War, widely recognized to be “religious” in motivation, noting that the warring factions were not necessarily split along confessional lines as much as along secular interests.


  • 9 Total Crusades from 1095-1272 A.D;
  • The crusades lasted about 177 years;
  • bout 1-million deaths – this includes: disease, the selling into slavery, and died en-route to the Holy land;
  • About 5,650 deaths a year.

(More visual info HERE)

ATHEISM (Stalin)

  • His rise to power in 1927 lasted until his death in 1953;
  • Stalin’s reign was 26-years;
  • Middle road estimates of deaths are from 20-million to a high of 60-milion;
  • That clocks in at about 1,923,076 deaths a year.

(Some put the death toll per-week by Stalin at 40,000 every week — even during “peacetime” [IBT])


  • His rise to power was in 1949 until his death in 1976;
  • Mao’s reign was 27-years;
  • HOWEVER, the “Great Leap Forward” was 4-years (1958 to 1962);
  • While Mao killed about 78-million people, in just 4-years he killed 45-million people
  • That is almost 31,000 a day — killed — for four years.

ISLAM (killing just Hindus)

  • From 1000 (conquest of Afghanistan) to 1525 (end of Delhi Sultanate);
  • 80-million killed;
  • 160,000 a year.

[BTW, over 270 million people have been killed by Islam, over a hundred millions blacks on the Continent of Africa — for the #woke crowd’s knowledge Muhammad was racist to the bone.]

… a minimum of 28 million African were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East.  Since, at least, 80 percent of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave market, it is believed that the death toll from 1400 years of Arab and Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been as high as 112 Million.  When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the trans-Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people. – John Allembillah Azumah, author of The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa: A Quest for Inter-religious Dialogue

As an aside… about 5.714 [yes, point] people were killed a year by the Spanish Inquisition [if you take the highest number] over its 350-year long stretch if you use the leading historian on the topic.

Another aside: the Crusades were largely an operation to free people, whereas Islamic caliphates [jihad] were to convert and enslave people.

Some Resources Used

  • Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars, 3 volumes (New York, NY: Facts on File, 2005);
  • John Entick, The General History of the Late War (Volume 3); Containing It’s Rise, Progress, and Event, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (Reprinted by Hard Press; date of publication was from about 1765-1766);
  • William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009);
  • Gordon Martel, The Encyclopedia of War, 5 Volumes (New Jersey, NJ: Wiley, 2012);
  • Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (London, England: Yale University Press, 1997);
  • (8-authors) The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999);
  • J. Rummel, Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 (New York, NY: Routledge Publishers, 1997);
  • Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 2005);
  • M. Davis, House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2015);
  • Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery (Bloomington, IN: iUniversity, 2009).


AGAIN, to be clear via STAND TO REASON:

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

In other words, the culturally Christian West seems to diminish the propensity to “war.”

WHICH may be part of the issue, as well as culturally where we are headed with “gender,” “climate legislation/regulation,” “free-speech,” and the like that are bringing a consensus of sorts on the idea of the positive attributes of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Which leads me to my next example… a recent ATLANTIC article. Mr. Thompson starts the article thus:

  • As an agnostic, I have spent most of my life thinking about the decline of faith in America in mostly positive terms. Organized religion seemed, to me, beset by scandal and entangled in noxious politics. So, I thought, what is there really to mourn? Only in the past few years have I come around to a different view. Maybe religion, for all of its faults, works a bit like a retaining wall to hold back the destabilizing pressure of American hyper-individualism, which threatens to swell and spill over in its absence.

Here, ARMSTRONG & GETTY discuss the article, as two non-believers/cultural Christians themselves:

As they were discussing the issue, I was thinking of this well worn quote from G.K. Chesterton: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” You should read the entire ATLANTIC article.

Bill Maher recently noted the following:

  • For all the progressives and academics who refer to Israel as an outpost of Western civilization, like it’s a bad thing, please note: Western civilization is what gave the world pretty much every [expletive] liberal precept that liberals are supposed to adore. Individual liberty, scientific inquiry, rule of law, religious freedom, women’s rights, human rights, democracy, trial by jury, freedom of speech. Please, somebody, stop us before we enlighten again. 

Western civ is basically the Greco-Roman/Judaica-Christianity stream of influence. The CHRISTIAN POST, after quoting Maher, finishes their story:

  • Which, in fact, brings up just what Bill Maher left out in his otherwise thoughtful and compelling monologue. As you might expect from the guy behind the faith-despising faux-documentary Religulous, he’s not quite ready to admit the role of religion in cultivating liberty and human rights. Because Voltaire and Rousseau were anti-religious, they are safe to mention. Locke and King are often praised almost in spite of their deep faith, which Maher never mentioned. 

For more on the video to the right, see my post:

And it is this failure for community, freedom, and following the science (gender) that is chasing people away from secularism… into Western Foundations.

Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” talks to Frank Turek author of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” about the collapse of the New Atheist movement; Richard Dawkins admitting that religion may be necessary for a flourishing society; the failure of atheism in providing a sense of purpose and meaning; what prominent atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris overlooked; how only religions like Christianity and Judaism can protect a society from the worst elements of radical Islam; the spreading of social justice and woke culture in America’s churches; the case for intelligent design as a part of the story of evolution; how morality always ends up being legislated; Jordan Peterson’s utilitarian view of religion; and much more.

CROSS EXAMINED NOTED: Yes, we know that Dave Rubin is an openly gay man. does not always agree with and affirm all the held beliefs of our guests. Dave did not agree with everything Frank said when he was on The Rubin Report last month either. However, it is good to have dialogue and ask questions of non-Christian guests to see if they are open to Christ, as you will hear Frank do with Dave. We also welcome guests who can add value to specific topics on which we do agree. Despite our noted disagreements, Dave gets a lot right.

I will end with this article I found to be an interesting and pleasant read… this is how it ends:

From Relativism to Wokism: A Path of Confusion, Fallacy and Self-Destruction

Society appears to have come a long way from initially professing relativism, which rejects any and all standards of truth including moral, to eventually embracing wokism – an utterly aggressive force of imposed “moralistic” judgment. Semantically different, these concepts are actually homogeneous. When objective truth is denied, its place does not remain empty; it is swiftly occupied by opinions and beliefs of the “self,” either formed by individuals themselves or, more commonly, enforced through educational, group and/or societal indoctrination. People who do not love truth or are precluded from seeking it will find themselves confused, easily manipulated and ultimately deceived.

The tree is always known by its fruit.


The Argument from Reason | David Wood (PLUS: Greg Bahnsen)

Originally posted in March of 2016

(H/T ~ Debunking Atheists)

….Darwin thought that, had the circumstances for reproductive fitness been different, then the deliverances of conscience might have been radically different. “If . . . men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill  their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering” (Darwin, Descent, 82). As it happens, we weren’t “reared” after the manner of hive bees, and so we have widespread and strong beliefs about the sanctity of human life and its implications for how we should treat our siblings and our offspring.

But this strongly suggests that we would have had whatever beliefs were ultimately fitness producing given the circumstances of survival. Given the background belief of naturalism, there appears to be no plausible Darwinian reason for thinking that the fitness-producing predispositions that set the parameters for moral reflection have anything whatsoever to do with the truth of the resulting moral beliefs. One might be able to make a case for thinking that having true beliefs about, say, the predatory behaviors of tigers would, when combined with the understandable desire not to be eaten, be fitness producing. But the account would be far from straightforward in the case of moral beliefs.” And so the Darwinian explanation undercuts whatever reason the naturalist might have had for thinking that any of our moral beliefs is true. The result is moral skepticism.

If our pretheoretical moral convictions are largely the product of natural selection, as Darwin’s theory implies, then the moral theories we find plausible are an indirect result of that same evolutionary process. How, after all, do we come to settle upon a proposed moral theory and its principles as being true? What methodology is available to us?

  • Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds., Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering the New Atheists & Other Objections (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 70.

Laws of Logic | Greg Bahnsen VS. Gordon Stein

I was getting started on a similar venture, but found this and decided to steer people to the full debate if they so wish (FULL DEBATE). This is a classic back-n-forth showing that in order to deny God’s existence based on the immaterial nature of God, non-physical laws of logic [reasoning that crosses all cultures and space] are used.


Happy First Fruits

Jesus is the center of history… in more ways than one!

Some Historical Reflections

Napoleon said this about Jesus:

  • I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

H.G. Wells, the famous novelist and historian in his own right agreed:

  • I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

Albert Einstein adds his intellect:

  • As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene….No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.

Church historian Philip Schaff concludes:

  • Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.

Robert Hume

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.)


The Joy of the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas

Lee Strobel

A SEASONED JOURNALIST CHASES DOWN THE BIGGEST STORY IN HISTORY – Is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates who are specialists in the areas of old manuscripts, textual criticism, and biblical studies. Strobel challenges them with questions like; How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event? Strobel s tough, point-blank questions make this bestselling book read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it is not fiction. It is a riveting quest for the truth about history s most compelling figure. What will your verdict be in The Case for Christ?

Lecture by Dr. Craig Hazen | “Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus”

Answering Skeptics

Matthew 27:52-53

While this is cute, it is how skeptics view this passage… as myth. I DO NOT.

The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53, HCSB)

On this Easter and a verse at church about the first-fruits and then ending with the new heaven and new earth… I remembered a book I read from many, many years ago. So I dug it out and excerpted the portion I was thinking of. Enjoy and happy “First-fruits”!

  • Grant R. Jeffrey, Heaven: The Last Frontier (Toronto, Ontario: Frontier Research Publications, 1990), 25-28.

The Firstfruits of Resurrection

The Bible uses the word “firstfruits” to describe this First Resurrection which leads to eternal life in Heaven. In Israel the Feast of Firstfruits happened in the spring of the year to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. As the Jews brought these tokens of the bounty of the coming harvest to the Temple they were acknowledging that God was the provider of the harvest. This word “firstfruits” became a proper symbol of this first group of resurrected saints, a token of the great harvest when Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, will come to gather the saints to meet Him in the air.

The writer of the book of Hebrews, after recounting the many acts of faith of Old Testament saints, told his readers about their life in Heaven. He declares “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). They still live! They have been transformed and are now in Paradise, watching our walk of faith. Many of those Old Testament saints participated in this first stage of the First Resurrection, when Jesus rose from the grave.

Matthew 27:52-53 describes the amazing and exciting events that happened after Jesus rose from the dead, during the Feast of the Firstfruits: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His Resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”

The various writers who observed this miraculous resurrection recounted it in their histories of the day. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and won victory over death, not only for Himself as the Son of God, but also for those saints who had died centuries before and for all who would believe in Him as their Lord and Savior for centuries to follow.

Writings by Christians of that time have been collected in the Ante-Nicene Library. They describe that more than twelve thousand of these Old Testament saints walked through Galilee for forty days, appeared in Jerusalem before many, and later ascended into Heaven when Jesus Christ ascended to His Father.

This undeniable fact of Christ’s Resurrection and the resurrection of Old Testament saints who identified themselves to many Jews created a ground swell of belief in the claims of Christ that He was the Messiah and the true Son of God. The Lord proved forever that His power of resurrection and eternal life was available to all who would receive His offer of salvation. God will not force you to accept eternal life, nor will He force you to live in Heaven if you choose not to claim this “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) as Lord and Savior.

These saints who rose from the dead when Christ arose were the “firstfruits” of the first resurrection to eternal life in Heaven. It is no coincidence that this seventeenth day of Nisan in A.D. 32 was the Feast of the Firstfruits. Other notable events connected with resurrection also happened on this anniversary.

On this day the ark of Noah rested on Mount Ararat and the human race was resurrected following the flood. Almost a thousand years later, on this anniversary, Moses led the people of Israel through the Red Sea to be resurrected as a nation from the bondage of Egypt. Forty years later, Israel crossed the Jordan on the seventeenth day of Nisan, and the people enjoyed the firstfruits of the Promised Land. In the sovereignty of God, He caused Jesus Christ to rise from the dead and to bring these saints with Him into new life on this same day, during the Feast of Firstfruits.

These resurrected saints had bodies that were real. Several documents from this era claim that among those raised by Jesus were the Temple priest, Simeon, who had once waited in the Temple to see the baby Jesus, and his two sons who lived in Arimathaea. The records state their resurrection was specifically investigated since they were well-known to the Sanhedrin because of their Temple service as priests. After so many centuries, it is impossible to ascertain the documentary accuracy of these ancient texts, but it is interesting to note that they confirm the details of the event which Matthew recorded in his Gospel.

These records in the Ante-Nicene Library claim that during the investigation each of the sons of Simeon was separately and simultaneously interrogated. They both told the same story, namely that Christ had appeared to them in Hades, preached to all, and that those who had earlier responded to God were miraculously given new bodies and resurrected when Christ rose from the grave.

Matthew’s record of this event is tantalising in both what it reveals and what it conceals. He states that these Old Testament saints “went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Remember that all the events involved with the death and resurrection of Jesus happened in Jerusalem during the busiest season of the year, the Feast of Passover. Every Israelite male who was capable made an effort to come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Deuteronomy 16:2 records this as a command of God. Each home in the holy city had upper rooms which were supplied without cost to fellow Israelites who came on these pilgrimages. Therefore, during this Feast of Passover, the population of Jerusalem had swollen to five times the normal number. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, says in his Jewish Wars that, according to Roman records, the number of sheep sacrificed during the Passover was 256,500. Since one sheep would serve as a sacrifice for five people, the conclusion is that during the time of Christ up to 1,250,000 people would come to the city during Passover instead of the usual 250,000 city dwellers.

Both the New Testament and letters of first-century Christians record that these resurrected saints identified themselves to the people as historical, biblical characters. With 1,000,000 visitors already in the city, obviously these resurrected saints must have appeared different in some way from other men, or they would simply have been lost in the crowd. Possibly their faces were transfigured with God’s reflected glory as the faces of Moses and Elijah were on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Those saints who rose with Christ did not die again, according to the writings of the first century. They were raptured to Heaven when Christ was raptured. These saints are now enjoying a “better that is, a heavenly countryfor He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). These raptured believers are the firstfruits of the first resurrection, which is “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29).

Paul described this resurrection in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica: “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” and if we are still alive on earth, “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (4:14,17) in eternal life in the New Jerusalem forever. The rapture of the saints will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter. Those who miss the first resurrection will also rise again, but they will partake of the dreaded second resurrection, which is a spiritual, eternal death in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).

Some Early Church Father’s Take:

This gem comes from BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICSAsk A Question section

It is defended regularly by Early church fathers such as:

Ignatius to the Trallians (c. AD 70-115)

  • “For Says the Scripture, ‘May bodies of the saints that slept arose,’ their graves being opened. He descended, indeed, into Hades alone, but He arose accompanied by a multitude” (chap. Ix, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 70).

Ignatius to the Magnesians (c. AD 70-115)

  • [T]herefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master—how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He who they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead” [Chap. IX] (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I (1885). Reprinted by Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 62. Emphasis added in all these citations).

Irenaeus (c. AD 120-200)

  • He [Christ] suffered who can lead those souls aloft that followed His ascension. This event was also an indication of the fact that when the holy hour of Christ descended [to Hades], many souls ascended and were seen in their bodies” (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus XXVIII, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, Alexander Roberts, ibid., 572-573).

Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 155-200)

  • “‘But those who had fallen asleep descended dead, but ascended alive.’ Further, the Gospel says, ‘that many bodies of those that slept arose,’—plainly as having been translated to a better state” (Alexander Roberts, ed. Stromata, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. II, chap. VI, 491).

This does not include the *multiple times the phrase was quoted by later church Fathers (Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyril, etc). If one suggests that it was added to the text, they must first grapple with its extended use in these and other very early documents and decide how an error was placed within the text so early in transmission.

The below is most likely where the above responder got his quotes from:


This comes by way of an excellent dealing with the topic/Scripture, DEFENDING INERRANCY — via Dr. Norman Geisler titled:

(Emphasis in the original) BTW, this section is titled: “A Survey Of The Great Teachers Of The Church On The Passage,” as, “early Church Fathers” are not the only persons listed below.

Tertullian (AD 160-222)

  • The Father of Latin Christianity wrote:  “’And the sun grew dark at mid-day;’ (and when did it ‘shudder exceedingly’ except at the passion of Christ, when the earth trembled to her centre, and the veil of the temple was rent, and the tombs burst asunder?) ‘because these two evils hath My People done’” (Alexander Roberts, ed. An Answer to the Jews, Chap XIII, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, 170).

Hippolytus (AD 170-235)

  • “And again he exclaims, ‘The dead shall start forth from the graves,’ that is, from the earthly bodies, being born again spiritual, not carnal.  For this he says, is the Resurrection that takes place through the gate of heaven, through which, he says, all those that do not enter remain dead” (Alexander Roberts, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5,  The Refutation of All Heresy, BooK V, chap. 3, p. 54).  The editor of the Ante-Nicene Fathers footnotes this as a reference to the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:52, 53 (in Note  6,  p. 54.), as indeed it is.

Origen (AD 185-254)

  • Despite the fact that Origen was known for his Neoplatonic spritualizing of some biblical texts, Origen declared that Matthew 27 spoke of a literal historical resurrection of these saints.  He wrote:  “Now to this question, although we are able to show the striking and miraculous character of the events which befell Him, yet from what other source can we furnish an answer than the Gospel narratives, which state that ‘there was an earth quake, and that the rock were split asunder, and the tombs were opened, and the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, an the darkness prevailed in the day-time, the sun failing to give light’” (Against Celsus, Book II, XXXIII. Alexander Roberts, ed.  Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, 444-445).
  • “But if this Celsus, who, in order to find matter of accusation against Jesus and the Christians, extracts from the Gospel even passages which are incorrectly interpreted, but passes over in silence the evidences of the divinity of Jesus, would listen to divine portents, let him read the Gospel, and see that even the centurion, and they who with him kept watch over Jesus, on seeing the earthquake, and the events that occurred [viz., the resurrection of the saints], were greatly afraid, saying, ‘This man was the Son of God’” (Ibid., XXVI, p. 446).

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. AD 315-c. 386)

  • Early Fathers in the East also verified the historicity of the Matthew text.  Cyril of Jerusalem wrote: “But it is impossible, some one will say, that the dead should rise; and yet Eliseus [Elisha] twice raised the dead,–when he was live and also when deadand is Christ not risen? But in this case both the Dead of whom we speak Himself arose, and many dead were raised without having even touched Him.  For many bodies of the Saints which slept arose, and they came out of the graves after His Resurrection, and went into the Holy City(evidently this city in which we now are,) and appeared to many” (Catechetical Lectures XIV, 16,  Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 7, p. 98).
  • Further, “I believe that Christ was also raised from the dead, both from the Divine Scriptures, and from the operative power even at this day of Him who arose,–who descended into hell alone, but ascended thence with a great company for He went down to death, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose through Him (ibid., XIV, 18, vol. 7, p. 99).

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. AD 330-c. 389)

  • “He [Christ] lays down His life, but He has the power to take it again; and the veil rent, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened;5 the rocks are cleft, the dead arise.  He dies but he gives life, and by His death destroys death.  He is buried, but He rises again. He goes down to Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, and to put to the test such words are yours” (Schaff, ibid., vol. VII, Sect XX, p. 309).

Jerome (AD 342-420)

  • Speaking of the Matthew 27 text, he wrote: “It is not doubtful to any what these great signs signify according to the letter, namely, that heaven and earth and all things should bear witness to their crucified Lord” (cited in Aquinas, Commentary on the Four Gospels, vol. I, part III: St. Matthew (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841)964.
  • “As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord’s resurrection; yet notwithstanding that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose, that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963).

Hilary of Poitiers (c. AD 315-c.357)

  • The graves were opened, for the bands of death were loosed.  And many bodies  of the saints which slept arose, for illuminating the darkness of death, and shedding light upon the gloom of Hades, He robbed the spirits of death” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963).

Chrysostom (AD 347-407)

  • When He [Christ] remained on the cross they had said tauntingly, He saved others, himself he cannot save. But what He should not do for Himself, that He did and more than that for the bodies of the saints.  For if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was it that they who had long slept should not shew themselves above; this is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come.  But that it might not be thought that that which was done was an appearance merely, the Evangelist adds, and come out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).

St. Augustine (AD 354-430)

  • The greatest scholar at the beginning of the Middle Ages, St. Augustine, wrote: “As if Moses’ body could not have been hid somewhereand be raised up therefrom by divine power at the time when Elias and he were seen with Christ: Just as at the time of Christ’s passion many bodies of the saints arose, and after his resurrection appeared, according to the Scriptures, to many in the holy city” (Augustine, On the Gospel of St. John, Tractate cxxiv, 3, Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. VII, 448).
  • “Matthew proceeds thus: ‘And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arise, and come out of the graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’ There is no reason to fear that these facts, which have been related only by Matthew, may appear to be inconsistent with the narrative present by any one of the rest [of the Gospel writers)…. For as the said Matthew not only tells how the centurion ‘saw the earthquake,’ but also appends the words [in v. 54], ‘and those things that were done’….  Although Matthew has not added any such statement, it would still have been perfectly legitimate to suppose, that as many astonishing things did place at that time…, the historians were at liberty to select for narration any particular incident which they were severally disposed to instance as the subject of the wonder.  And it would not be fair to impeach them with inconsistency, simply because one of them may have specified one occurrence as the immediate cause of the centurion’s amazement, while another introduces a different incident” (St. Augustine, The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III, chap. xxi in Schaff, ibid., vol. VI, p. 206, emphasis added).

St. Remigius (c. 438-c. 533) “Apostle of the Franks”

  • “But someone will ask, what became of those who rose again when the Lord rose.  We must believe that they rose again to be witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection.  Some have said that they died again, and were turned to dust, as Lazarus and the rest whom the Lord raised.  But we must by no means give credit to these men’s sayings, since if they were to die again, it would be greater torment to them, than if they had not risen again.  We ought therefore to believe without hesitation that they who rose from the dead at the Lord’s resurrection, ascended also into heaven together with Him” (cited in Aquinas, ibid., 964).

Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274)

  • As Augustine was the greatest Christian thinker at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Aquinas was the greatest teacher at the end.  And too he held to the historicity of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27, as is evident from his citations from the Fathers (with approval) in his great commentary on the Gospels (The Golden Chain), as all the above Aquinas references indicate, including Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, Chrysostom, and Remigius (see Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).

John Calvin (1509-1564)

The chain of great Christian teachers holding to the historicity of this text continued into the Reformation and beyond.  John Calvin wrote:

  • Matt. 27.52.  And the tombs were opened. This was a particular portent in which God testified that His Son had entered death’s prison, not to stay there shut up, but to lead all free who were there held captive….  That is the reason why He, who was soon to be shut in a tomb opened the tombs elsewhere.  Yet we may doubt whether this opening of the tombs happened before the resurrection, for the resurrection of the saints which is shortly after added followed in my opinion the resurrection of Christ.  It is absurd for some interpreters to image that they spent three days alive and breathing, hidden in tombs.  It seems likely to me that at Christ’s death the tombs at once opened; at His resurrection some of the godly men received breath and came out and were seen in the city.  Christ is called the Firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18)…. This reasoning agrees very well, seeing that the breaking of the tombs was the presage of new life, and the fruit itself, the effect, appeared three days later, as Christ rising again led other companions from the graves with Himself.  And in this sign it was shown that neither His dying nor His resurrection were private to himself, but breathe the odour of life into all the faithful (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, trans. A. W. Morrison. Eds. David and Thomas Torrance.  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1972, vol. 3, pp. 211-212).


Of course, there are some aspects of this Matthew 27 text of the saints on which the Fathers were uncertain.  For example, there is the question as to whether the saints were resurrected before or after Jesus was and whether it was a resuscitation to a mortal body or a permanent resurrection to an immortal body.  However, there is no reason for serious doubt that all the Fathers surveyed accepted the historicity of this account.  Their testimony is very convincing for many reasons:

First, the earliest confirmation as to the historical nature of the resurrection of the saints in the Matthew 27 passage goes all the way back to Ignatius, a contemporary of the apostle John (who died. c. AD 90).  One could not ask for an earlier verification that the resurrection of these saints than that of Ignatius (AD 70-115).  He wrote: “He who they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead”[Chap. IX]. And in the Epistle to the Trallians he added, “For Says the Scripture, ‘May bodies of the saints that slept arose,’ their graves being opened.  He descended, indeed, into Hades alone, but He arose accompanied by a multitude” (chap.IX, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 70). The author who is a contemporary of the last apostle (John) is speaking unmistakably of the saints in Matthew 27 who were literally resurrected after Jesus was.

Second, the next testimony to the historicity of this passage is Irenaeus who knew Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John.  Other than the apostolic Fathers, Irenaeus is a good as any witness to the earliest post-apostolic understanding of the Matthew 27 text.  And he made it clear that “many” persons “ascended and were seen in their bodies”(Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus XXVIII. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, ibid., 572-573).

Third, there is a virtually unbroken chain of great Fathers of the church after Irenaeus (2nd cent.) who took this passage as historical (see above).  Much of the alleged “confusion” and “conflict” about the text is cleared up when one understands that, while the tombs were opened at the time of the death of Christ, nonetheless, the resurrection of these saints did not occur until “after his resurrection” (Mt. 27:53, emphasis added) 7  since Jesus is the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:23) of the resurrection.

Fourth, the great church Father St. Augustine stressed the historicity of the Matthew 27 text about the resurrection of the saints, speaking of them as “facts” and “things that were done” as recorded by the Gospel “historians” (St. Augustine, The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III, chap. xxi in Schaff, ibid., vol. VI, p. 206, emphasis added).

Fifth, many of the Fathers used this passage in an apologetic sense as evidence of the resurrection of Christ.  This reveals their conviction that it was a historical event resulting from the historical event of the resurrection of Christ.  Irenaeus was explicit on this point, declaring, “Matthew also, who had a still greater desire [to establish this point], took particular pains to afford them convincing proof that Christ is the seed of David” (Irenaeus, ibid., 573).

Some, like Chrysostom, took it as evidence for the resurrection to come.  “For if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was it that they who had long slept should not shew themselves above; this is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963-964).

Origen understood it as “evidences of the divinity of Jesus” (Origen, ibid., Book II, chap. XXXVI. Ante-Nicene Fathers, 446).  None of these Fathers would have given it such apologetic weight had they not been convinced of the historicity of the resurrection of these saints after Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 27.

Sixth, even the Church Father Origen, who was the most prone to allegorizing away literal events in the Bible, took this text to refer to a literal historical resurrection of saints.  He wrote of the events in Matthew 27 that they are “the evidences of the divinity of Jesus” (Origen, ibid., Book II, chap. XXXVI. Ante-Nicene Fathers, 446).

Seventh, some of the great teachers of the Church were careful to mention that the saints rose as a result of Jesus’ resurrection which is a further verification of the historical nature of the resurrection of the saints in Mathew 27.  Jerome wrote: “As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord’s resurrection; yet notwithstanding that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose, that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead” (cited by Aquinas, ibid., 963).  John Calvin added, “Yet we may doubt whether this opening of the tombs happened before the resurrection, for the resurrection of the saints which is shortly after added followed in my opinion the resurrection of Christ.  It is absurd for some interpreters to image that they spent three days alive and breathing, hidden in tombs.”  For “It seems likely to me that at Christ’s death the tombs at once opened; at His resurrection some of the godly men received breath and came out and were seen in the city.  Christ is called the Firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, vol. 3, pp. 211-212).

Eighth, St. Augustine provides an answer to the false premise of contemporary critics that there must be another reference to a New Testament event like this in order to confirm that it is historical.  He wrote, “It would not be fair to impeach them with inconsistency, simply because one of them may have specified one occurrence as the immediate cause of the centurion’s amazement, while another introduces a different incident” (St. Augustine, ibid., emphasis added).

So, contrary to the claims of many current New Testament critics, the Matthew 27 account of the resurrection of the saints is a clear and unambiguous affirmation of the historicity of the resurrection of the saints. This is supported by a virtually unbroken line of the great commentators of the Early Church and through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation period (John Calvin).  Not a single example was found of any Father surveyed who believed this was a legend.  Such a belief is due to the acceptance of modern critical methodology, not to either a historical-grammatical exposition of the text or to the supporting testimony of the main orthodox teachers of the Church up to and through the Reformation Period.

Ninth, the impetus for rejecting the story of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27 is not based on good exegesis of the text or on the early support of the Fathers but is based on fallacious premises:

(1) First of all, there is an anti-supernatural bias beginning in the 17th century and lying beneath much of contemporary scholarship.  But there is no philosophical basis for the rejection of miracles (see our Miracles and the Modern Mind, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), and there is no exegetical basis for rejecting it in this text.  Indeed on the same ground one could reject the resurrection of Christ since it supernatural and is found in the same text.

(2) Further, there is also the fallacious premise of double reference which affirms that if an event is not mentioned at least twice in the Gospels, then its historicity is questioned.  But on this grounds many other events must be rejected as well, such as, the story of Nicodemus (Jn. 3), the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4), the story of Zaccchaeus (Lk. 19), the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn. 11), and even the birth of Christ in the stable and the angel chorus (Lk. 2), as well as many other events in the Gospels.  How many times does an event have to be mentioned in a first century piece of literature based on reliable witnesses in order to be true?

(3) There is another argument that seems to infect much of contemporary New Testament scholarship on this matter.  It is theorized that an event like this, if literal, would have involved enough people and graves to have drawn significant evidence of it in a small place like Jerusalem.  Raymond Brown alludes to this, noting that “many interpreters balk at the thought of many known risen dead being seen in Jerusalem—such a large scale phenomenon should have left some traces in Jewish and/or secular history!”  8 However, at best this is simply the fallacious Argument from Silence.  What is more, “many” can mean only a small group, not hundreds of thousands. Further, the story drew enough attention to make it into one of the canonical Gospels, right along side of the resurrection of Christ and with other miraculous events.  In brief, it is in a historical book; it is said to result from the resurrection of Christ; it was cited apologetically by the early Fathers as evidence of the resurrection of Christ and proof of the resurrection to come.  No other evidence is needed for its authenticity.


Some more various views from commentaries can be found here:

Bart Ehrman vs. The Gospel of Mark | McDowell and McGuire

I am going through this debate [below] and as soon as Dr. Ehrman said this, my thoughts raced back to the first time I read “More Than a Carpenter“; and so I grabbed this video to make the point I read — also by Josh McDowell.

In this video, Bart Ehrman & Peter J Williams discuss what Ehrman calls a “developmental view” of the 4 Gospels, that is, the idea that Jesus’ claims of divinity were added to the later gospels but did not exist in the gospel of Mark. His ultimate point is that Jesus did not believe Himself to be, nor ever claim to be, God. This turns out to be a really interesting discussion and a useful example of the philosophical presuppositions of modern scholarship. And yes.. Ehrman’s argument is refutted… Enjoy!

In this clip, Dr. William Lane Craig addresses Dr. Bart Ehrman’s claim that conflicting accounts in the Gospels undermine the credibility of the Resurrection.

“Zeitgeist the Movie” Refuted by Dr. Mark Foreman

In putting this post together to “house” the above video, I found out the sad news that Mark Foreman passed a couple years back (Liberty University). So, if any of his family or friends come across this video description, know that his work has lasted and affected the apologetic discourse and response for years to come. I look forward to meeting him in the “great-by-n-by.” This is from the book, “Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics” (AMAZON)

See my, Is Jesus a Copycat Savior?“, for more.

Chapter 11


Parallelomania on Steroids

Mark W. Foreman

A few semesters back, a student approached me after class and wanted to know whether he could meet with me. He was having some doubts about his faith because of a movie he had seen on the Internet called Zeitgeist (pronounced “tzaiyt-gaiyst“). He shared with me how this movie had made claims that Christianity was a total fiction—that it was completely made up from a combination of other religious claims—and that all world religions were just different expressions of sun worship. He blurted out, “They really backed up their claims with all sorts of evidence, Dr. Foreman. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Is it true? Is all this stuff I was taught in church just a big hoax?” I had not seen the film at the time, but I had heard there was something out there on the web and decided to investigate it. What I found was a very polished film that might come across to the uninformed at first glance as well argued but actually was full of fallacious arguments and false claims. In fact, they weren’t even new bad arguments. Some of them go back to the late nineteenth century.

In this essay, I want to briefly examine some of the arguments and claims of Zeitgeist. My purpose will be to show that these arguments are replete with poor reasoning and that the argument that Christianity is just a rehash of old pagan myths does not hold up under close scrutiny.

The Zeitgeist Movie

Zeitgeist (a German word meaning “spirit of the age”) was produced and written by Peter Joseph and was released online in June of 2007. The film is a two-hour documentary conspiracy theory that attempts to show a connection among three supposed frauds: Christianity, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the domination of world events by international bankers. The film is made up of three parts, each part dedicated to one of these three supposed frauds. For purposes of this essay, we will only discuss the claims from part 1 about Christianity.

This first portion of the film is divided into two main arguments: (1) Christianity is a myth based on teachings from earlier pagan myths; (2) all these myths, including Christianity, are in essence astrologically based—a view called “astrotheology.” Because of space constraints, I shall examine only the first argument. The basic thesis of this argument is well stated in The Companion Guide to Zeitgeist: Part 1. The book was written by Acharya S, the periodic pen name of Dorothy M. Murdock, who was a primary consultant for the film and whose book, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, was one of the main sources for many of the claims in the film. She writes:

Indeed, it is my contention and that of others deemed “Jesus mythicists” that the creators of the gospel tale picked various themes and motifs from the pre-Christian religions and myths, including and especially the Egyptian, and wove them together, using also the Jewish scriptures, to produce a unique version of the “mythos and ritual.” In other words, the creators of the Christ myth did not simply take an already formed story, scratch out the name Osiris or Horus and replace it with Jesus. They chose their motifs carefully, out of the most popular religious symbols, myths and rituals, making sure they fit to some degree with the Jewish “messianic scriptures” as they are termed, and created a new story that hundreds of millions since have been led to believe really and truly took place in history. . . . In other words, we are convinced that “Jesus Christ” is a fictional character created out of older myths, rituals and symbols.1

The idea that the early church of the first century borrowed its beliefs from other pagan religions is often referred to as the copycat theory. The main tactic employed in supporting this claim is to cite parallels between the pagan religions and Christianity. Here is an example from the film:

Broadly speaking, the story of Horus is as follows: Horus was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri. His birth was accompanied by  a star in the east, which in turn, three kings followed to locate and adorn the new-born savior. At the age of 12, he was a prodigal child teacher, and at the age of 30 he was baptized by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry. Horus had 12 disciples he traveled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. Horus was known by many gestural names such as The Truth, The Light, God’s Anointed Son, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and many others. After being betrayed by Typhon, Horus was crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected.

These attributes of Horus, whether original or not, seem to permeate in many cultures of the world, for many other gods are found to have the same general mythological structure.

Attis, of Phrygia, born of the virgin Nana on December 25th, crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days, was resurrected.

Krishna, of India, born of the virgin Devaki with a star in the east signaling his coming, performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was resurrected.

Dionysus of Greece, born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the “King of Kings,” “God’s Only Begotten Son,” “The Alpha and Omega,” and many others, and upon his death, he was resurrected.

Mithra, of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.2

This tactic of citing parallels is not new. In fact, in a 1962 article in the Journal of Biblical Literature, Samuel Sandmel referred to such sloppy scholarship as “parallelomania,” which he defined as “that extravagance among scholars which first overdoes the supposed similarity in passages and then proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction.”3 Zeitgeist is parallelomania on steroids.

In addressing the copycat charge, I do not intend to examine every parallel being claimed, though I will comment on some of them.4 Instead, my approach is to look at the overall method used in making the arguments in the film and by other supporters of the copycat theory. I will argue that these arguments are baseless, and poorly argued, and most of them are rejected by all but a tiny percentage of scholars in the field.

Assessing the Copycat Theory

Before examining the specific fallacies involved in the copycat theory, I need to make some general comments. First, while the ideas portrayed in Zeitgeist may be new to many viewers, the basic charge is an old one. The copycat theory emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and was popularized mostly through James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890). It continued until the early twentieth century, when its methods and conclusions were rejected by critical scholars.5 In fact, the vast majority of sources cited in the online Zeitgeist transcript to support its claims come either from these late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors or from more recent writings that depend heavily on these sources.6 While the copycat theory is largely ignored by critical scholars, the movement has gained some new momentum more recently, in part owing to films such as this.7 While the view is regaining popularity, however, no new evidence has been presented in its support. The same old sources are just being dusted off and repackaged as slickly produced films like Zeitgeist. Arguments don’t stop being bad simply because of their upgraded, flashy attire.

Another point to note is that certain similarities between pagan religions and Christianity are inevitable. The simple fact that we categorize them under the same term—”religion”—means that they will have some things in common. Many religions believe in and worship a godlike figure, have rites and ceremonies that express this belief, and deal with the universal struggles of the human condition. These are often conveyed in a shared language and analogous symbols.8 Ronald Nash comments, “After all, religious rituals can assume only a limited number of forms, and they naturally relate to important or common aspects of human life. Alleged similarities might reflect only common features of a time or culture, rather than genetic dependence.”9 Similarity, we see, does not imply dependence. In order to better understand this, we need to make “a clear distinction between dependence in the genetic sense and the dependence of ‘adaptation.'”10 A “genetic” dependence is one where we can trace an idea or belief back to an original earlier source. A dependence of “adaptation” occurs when one borrows words, symbols, or concepts to convey an idea or belief, the substance of which does not originate in another religion. For example, the apostle Paul adapts the Athenians’ belief in an unknown God in the speech on Mars Hill to talk about the Christian God. The church father Clement of Rome (d. AD 110) does the same thing when he says, “Come, I shall show you the Logos, and the mysteries of the Logos, and I shall explain them to you in images that are known to you.”11 The adaptation sense of dependence is still used today by Christian missionaries to communicate the gospel message in foreign cultures.

Is there any evidence of genetic dependence of Christian beliefs on pagan religions? Yes and no. There is strong evidence that the pagan religions did have some influence over certain beliefs and practices of the Christian church. However, as biblical scholar Bruce Metzger comments, “A distinction must be made between the faith and practice of the earliest Christians and that of the Church during subsequent centuries. One cannot deny that post-Constantinian Christianity [fourth and fifth centuries AD], both Eastern and Western, adopted not a few pagan rites and practices.”12 For example, mystery religions may well have influenced the selection of December 25 as the celebration of the birth of Christ, but this date was not widely observed until the fourth century.13 We do not deny such late influences. What is missing, though, is evidence to suggest that any pagan religion influenced basic Christian teaching or the Gospel accounts of Jesus written in the first century. There are two reasons for this. First, there is no evidence of pagan mystery religions existing in Palestine in the first century.14 Second, Judaism was an extremely exclusive monotheistic religion and would not have tolerated the syncretism of the mystery religions. Christianity was even more exclusivistic and has often been referred to as the “anti-mystery” religion.15

A third point has to do with the overall fallacy behind these arguments: post hoc, ergo propter hoc—a form of the fallacy of the false cause. It is committed when a causal connection is drawn between two events or ideas without adequate evidence of such a connection. While Zeitgeist is full of individual examples of post hoc fallacies,16 my point is that the entire argument based on parallels is one flagrant post hoc fallacy. For even if it is true that these parallels between pagan religions and Christianity exist, that fact alone does not constitute evidence that Christianity was influenced or based on these pagan mystery religions. While one might speculate and assert a causal connection, speculation and assertion are not evidence of a causal connection between the two.17 Correlation does not entail causation.

Finally, Zeitgeist makes clear that its producers believe the entire story of Jesus is fictional: “Once the evidence is weighed, there are very high odds that the figure known as Jesus, did not even exist. . . . The reality is, Jesus was the Solar Deity of the Gnostic Christian sect, and like all other Pagan gods, he was a mythical figure.”18 The nonexistence of Jesus is essential to the theory behind the Zeitgeist movie, for it wants to argue that every major aspect in the life of Jesus—his birth, teachings, baptism, followers, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection—is based not on real historical events but on previous pagan religious myths that were around long before the time of Jesus. Before one can reasonably make that case, however, one must address something more basic: There are a massive number of New Testament critical historical scholars, holding a wide range of theological perspectives, still confidently affirming the historicity of Jesus. The film simply ignores this scholarship. It is outside the scope of this article to present such evidence, but it can be categorically stated that, while there are certainly widely divergent views concerning certain specific events in the life of Jesus, the vast majority of critical scholars acknowledge the existence of the historical Jesus and most of the major aspects of His life in some form.19 The historical evidence for Jesus is a major argument against the whole theory behind Zeitgeist.20

Zeitgeist Fallacies

Space constraints preclude a discussion of all but a few of the many specific fallacies Zeitgeist commits. One of the most blatant is the terminology fallacy. That is, events in the lives of the mythical gods, for example, are expressed using Christian terminology in order subtly to manipulate viewers into accepting that the same events in the life of Jesus also happened in the lives of mythical gods. We are told, for instance, that Horus, Krishna, Dionysius, and others were “baptized,” “born of a virgin,” “crucified,” and “resurrected”—just to mention a few. Examples of such locutions, however, involve assertions with no evidence, are ripped out of their Christian context, or are obtained from post-first-century sources. Nash observes: “One frequently encounters scholars who first use Christian terminology to describe pagan beliefs and practices and then marvel at the awesome parallels that they think they have discovered.”21 A few examples will suffice.

It is claimed that Horus was “born of the virgin Isis-Meri.”22 In the most common version of the Osiris-Isis-Horus myth, Osiris has been murdered by Set and cut into 14 pieces. Isis, his wife (so we can assume she is not a virgin), retrieves all but one of the pieces and reconstructs Osiris. She cannot find the fourteenth piece (his sexual organ); so she fashions one out of wood and then has sexual relations with him. She later gives birth to Horus. Here are other alleged “virgin births.” Attis is conceived when Zeus spilled his seed on the side of a mountain which eventually became a pomegranate tree. Nana, mother of Attis, is sitting under the tree when a pomegranate falls in her lap and she becomes pregnant with the child of Zeus. Devaki, the mother of Krishna, had seven children before Krishna.23 Dionysius’s mother, Semele, was impregnated by Zeus. In fact, none of the mythical gods experienced a “virginal” conception even close to the manner that Scripture claims of Jesus.24

What of the claim that these figures were “crucified”? Krishna was shot in the foot with an arrow and died from his wounds. Attis castrated himself in a jealous rage, fled into the wilderness, and died. Depending on which version of the myth one reads, Horus either (1) did not die, (2) was merely stung by a scorpion, or (3) his death is conflated with the death of Osiris.25 Adonis was gored by a wild boar. Yet, Acharya S justifies the use of the term “crucify” to describe the death of Horus as follows:

When it is asserted that Horus (or Osiris) was “crucified” it should be kept in mind that it was not part of the Horus/Osiris myth that the murdered god was held down and nailed on a cross, as we perceive the meaning of “crucified” to be, based on the drama we believe allegedly took place during Christ’s purported passion. Rather in one myth Osiris is torn to pieces before being raised from the dead, while Horus is stung by a scorpion prior to his resurrection. However, Egyptian deities, including Horus, were depicted in cruciform with arms extended or outstretched, as in various images that are comparable to crucifixes.26

So, according to Murdock, anytime deities are depicted with arms outstretched, we are justified in claiming they were crucified.

A final example is the claim that all of these gods were “resurrected” from the dead. While the idea that the resurrection of Jesus was borrowed from the “dying and rising gods” of the pagan mystery religions was very popular at one time, almost all scholars have abandoned this view today. Jonathan Z. Smith writes:

All of the deities that have been identified as belonging to the class of dying and rising deities can be subsumed under the two larger classes of disappearing deities or dying deities. In the first case, the deities return but have not died; in the second case, the gods die but do not return. There is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity.27

The best known example of a resurrection claim is the Horus/Osiris myth, but Osiris did not rise from the dead and return to this world as did Jesus.

Instead, he was made king of the underworld.28 After his death, Attis eventually turns into a pine tree. Many sources claiming resurrections were written long after the first-century sources for Christianity and therefore could not have influenced the Gospel accounts or Paul’s teaching in letters such as 1 Corinthians. A second-century source tells us of the resurrection of Adonis. Claims of Krishna’s resurrection do not emerge until the sixth or seventh century.29 Older tradition holds he simply entered the spirit world where he is always present. This is not a resurrection in the manner in which the Gospels claim Jesus rose from the dead.

A second fallacy is the nonbiblical fallacy. This is where a parallel is claimed about some aspect of Jesus that is not even reported in the Gospel accounts. One example is where Zeitgeist claims a parallel between the three stars in the belt of Orion called the “three kings” and the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. The problem is that the Gospels never call them kings and never state how many there are.30 Another example, mentioned above, is the oft-claimed parallel of the birth date of all these deities, December 25, with the birth date of Christ.

A third fallacy is the chronological fallacy. In order for the copycat charge of borrowing to succeed, one needs to provide evidence that the parallel preceded the writing of the Gospel accounts and the letters of Paul— all written in the first century. However, this simply is not the case. First, as mentioned above, there is no evidence that there was any pagan mystery influence in first-century Palestine.31 Second, the mystery religions evolved over time, and as they did, their beliefs and narratives changed. This results in several versions of the various pagan myths. Most of the evidence we have of their narratives comes from sources dated in the second and third centuries, a time when they were experiencing the peak of their influence in the Mediterranean world. We have little evidence of the beliefs of these religions from the first century. Nash comments:

Far too many writers on the subject use the available sources to form the plausible reconstructions of the third-century mystery experience and then uncritically reason back to what they think must have been the earlier nature of the cults. We have plenty of information about the mystery religions of the third century. But important differences exist between these religions and earlier expressions of the mystery experience (for which adequate information is extremely slim).32

A fourth fallacy closely connected with this last one is the source fallacy. One of the comments often made in praise of Zeitgeist is how well the claims are documented. It is true that, in the transcript of the movie, many of the claims are documented; some by multiple sources. The brief section quoted above has 44 citations from 11 different sources to support its claims. At first glance this may seem impressive. As scholars will insist, however, it is not the number of sources that matter but their quality—and the quality of these sources is highly questionable. Not one of them is a primary source of the religion under discussion. They are all secondary, and most of them are the older, discredited sources that have been abandoned by most critical scholars. These sources often make undocumented assertions, speculate on causal relationships, and offer selective interpretations of some texts (of which there is much unrevealed disagreement). Often the authors are not experts in the field of religion, or they are experts in a related field (such as Egyptology), neither of which is a qualification over which to drape a cloak of scholarship. What inevitably results is rabid and unprincipled speculation on the origin of Christianity.

One reason why primary sources are not relevant is that they are not as conclusive as copycat theorists would lead one to believe. Because these ancient religions evolved over time, often no one authoritative story exists to which one may appeal. For example, the story of Horus in Zeitgeist is pieced together from a number of sources, some of which conflict. It is like playing “connect the dots,” but interpreting how to connect those dots is a slippery, unscholarly enterprise. These writers seem to use the life of Jesus as a guide for how to connect the dots for the life of Horus and then proclaim that the story of Jesus is based on Horus—when actually it is the other way around! Other religions don’t fare much better. For example, there is no text for Mithraism; everything we know about the religion comes either from interpreting reliefs and statues or from brief comments by other ancient writers, almost all of whom are post-first century. Metzger comments, “It goes without saying that alleged parallels which are discovered by pursuing such methodology evaporate when they are confronted with the original texts. In a word, one must beware of what have been called ‘parallels made plausible by selective description.'”33

The final fallacy to mention is the difference fallacy, which is committed by an overemphasis on (supposed) similarities between two things while ignoring the vast and relevant differences between them. Again, Metzger observes, “In arriving at a just estimate of the relation of the Mysteries to Christianity as reflected in the New Testament, attention must be given to their differences as well as resemblances.”34 The differences between Christianity and the pagan religions are enormous, and yet Zeitgeist ignores them.

Here are a few examples. First, whereas all of the mystery religions are tied into the vegetative cycle of birth-death-rebirth and continue to follow this cycle year after year ad infinitum, Christianity is linear, viewing all of history as headed on a trajectory culminating in God’s transforming this world into a renewed creation—the new heaven and new earth. Second, mystery religions are secretive. One has to go through secret initiation rites to become a member. They are full of secret knowledge, available only to some, which is one reason we don’t know a lot about them. By contrast, Christianity is open to all to scrutinize and to embrace. It is a “mystery of revelation.”35 Third, doctrine and beliefs are totally unimportant in pagan mystery religions. In fact, a characteristic hallmark is their syncretism: you can hold almost any belief and still become a member of their religion. They emphasize feeling and experience over doctrine and belief.36 In diametric contrast, doctrine and beliefs are the heart and soul of Christianity, which is highly exclusivistic. That is one of the major reasons Christians were so persecuted in the Roman Empire. They held that there was only one way to God. Fourth, the pagan mystery religions are almost completely void of almost any ethical element. Rahner comments:

At no stage [of their development] do the mysteries bear comparison with the ethical commandments of the new Testaments and their realization in early Christianity. The two terms are truly incommensurable—and this is not the foregone conclusion of apologists but results from an unbiased examination of the sources by scholars who cannot be accused of denominational commitment.37

Fifth, even if one accepts the “dying and rising gods” concept, the meaning of the death of Christ is completely different. Christ died for the sins of mankind; none of the pagan gods died for someone else. Pagan gods died under compulsion, but Jesus died willingly. Jesus died and was raised once; the pagan gods die cyclically. Jesus’ death was not tragic or a defeat; it was a victory. Pagans mourn and lament the death of their gods.38 Finally, and most importantly, the view of the church from the very beginning is that Jesus was a real person who lived in history. His death and resurrection were actual events of history. Metzger states, “Unlike the deities of the Mysteries, who were nebulous figures of an imaginary past, the Divine being whom the Christian worshipped as Lord was known as a real Person on earth only a short time before the earliest documents of the New Testament were written.”39 It is the historicity of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that makes Christianity the true anti-mystery.


Imagine we are 2,000 years in the future. Through some sort of cataclysmic event only a handful of documents of the history of the United States are available, and these are just fragments. After sifting through these fragments, a small group of historical enthusiasts come to a radical conclusion: The myth of President John F. Kennedy is based on the earlier myth of Abraham Lincoln. Their reason for such a conclusion: “Just look at all the parallels!”

  • Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846; Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
  • Lincoln was elected president in 1860; Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
  • “Lincoln” and “Kennedy” each have seven letters in their names.
  • Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy; Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.40
  • Both married, in their thirties, a 24-year-old socially prominent girl who could speak fluent French.
  • Both presidents dealt with civil rights movements for African Americans.
  • Both presidents were assassinated on a Friday, in the back of the head, before a major holiday, while sitting next to their wives.
  • Both their assassins were known by three names consisting of 15 letters (John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald).
  • Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and was captured in a theater; Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and was captured in a warehouse.41
  • Both assassins were shot and killed with a Colt revolver days after they assassinated the president and before they could be brought to trial.
  • Both presidents were succeeded by vice presidents named Johnson, from the South, born in 1808 and 1908 respectively.42

This example shows that insignificant, spurious, false, and misleading parallels can be used to argue just about anything.

When one considers the fallacies that permeate the “parallelomania” of Zeitgeist, one is left agreeing with Rahner: “It is and remains a riddle how in the period of unrestricted ‘comparative religion’ scholars should even have ventured a comparison, not to speak of trying to derive the basic doctrines of Christ from the mystery religions.”43 But it is Adolf von Harnack, writing in 1911, who deserves the last word here:

We must reject the comparative mythology which finds a causal connection between everything and everything else, which tears down solid barriers, bridges chasms as though it were child’s play, and spins combinations from superficial similarities. . . . By such methods one can turn Christ into a sun god in the twinkling of an eye, or transform the Apostles into the twelve months; in connection with Christ’s nativity one can bring up the legends attending the birth of every conceivable god or one can catch all sorts of mythological doves to keep company with the baptismal dove; and find any number of celebrated asses to follow the ass on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem; and thus with the magic wand of “comparative religion,” triumphantly eliminate every spontaneous trait in any religion.44


1 Acharya S, The Companion to Zeitgeist: Part 1 (Seattle, WA: Stellar House Publishing, 2009), 8 (emphasis hers).

2 Peter Joseph, Zeitgeist : The Movie. Online Transcript (2007). Accessed Sept. 23, 2011,

3 Samuel Sandmel, “Parallelomania,” Journal of Biblical Literature 81 (1962): 1. Sandmel admits that he did not originate the term “parallelomania” but does not remember where he first came across it.

4 Unfortunately, space does not allow me to do more than offer a short overview of the main problems of the copycat theory. I encourage the reader to seek out the sources cited in this article (especially Rahner, Metzger, Nash, and Komoszewski et al.) for a more thorough treatment.

5 The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, or history of religions school, coming out of Germany, was one of the instigators of this line of thinking, but was abandoned by the early 1930s because of its radical methodology and approach. See Kurt Rudolph, “Religionsgeschichtliche Schule,” The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 12:293–96.

6 Forty percent of the citations offered come from only three sources: Gerald Massey, a nineteenth-century amateur Egyptologist, author of The Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ (1886); Thomas Doane, Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions (1882); and James Frazer, The Golden Bough (1890). My argument is not that age makes a work necessarily inferior. It is simply to point out that this is an old theory that has been abandoned by all but a tiny handful of scholars, a fact of which viewers of the film are likely to be unaware.

7 One writer suggests that much of the resurgence is because of a “ready access to unfiltered information via the internet and the influential power of this medium. The result is junk food for the mind—a pseudointellectual meal that is as easy to swallow as it is devoid of substance.” J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006), 221–22.

8 Hugo Rahner writes, “A vast number of ideas, words, rites, which formerly were designated offhand as ‘borrowings’ of Christianity from the mysteries, grew to life in the early church from a root that has indeed no bearing on a historical-genetic dependence, but that did spring from the universal depths of man, from the psychological nature common to heathen and Christian alike—’from below,’ as we have said. Every religion forms sensory images of spiritual truths: we call them symbols.” Hugo Rahner, “The Christian Mystery and the Pagan Mysteries,” in Pagan and Christian Mysteries: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, ed. Joseph Campbell (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1955), 171–72.

9 Ronald H. Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 140.

10 Rahner, “Christian Mystery,” 152; Nash, Gospel, 8–9; and Komoszewski, et al., Reinventing Jesus, 227–28, refer to this distinction as strong (genetic) and weak (adaptation) dependence.

11 Clement, Protrepticus 12.119.1, cited in Rahner, “Christian Mystery,”146. Much has been made about Justin Martyr’s defense of the virgin birth of Jesus by referencing the belief in the virgin birth of Perseus. However, the “adaptation” concept of dependence accounts for what Justin is doing here. He is not affirming Perseus’s virgin birth but just using this widespread belief to communicate his message.

12 Bruce M. Metzger, “Methodology in the Study of the Mystery Religions and Early Christianity,” Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 4. Every student interested in this topic should read Metzger’s and Rahner’s essays.

13 Zeitgeist makes the point of claiming that all of the pagan gods were born on December 25. Of course, this is moot when it comes to Jesus, as the New Testament makes no mention of the date of his birth. Acharya S is aware of this response and states:

“Nevertheless it has been argued that this comparison is erroneous because Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th, an assertion in itself that would come as a surprise to many, since up until just a few years ago only a miniscule percentage of people knew such a fact. In any event, this argument constitutes a logical fallacy, because over the centuries since the holiday was implemented by Christian authorities, hundreds of millions of people have celebrated Jesus’ birthday on December 25th, or Christmas, so named after Christ. Moreover, hundreds of millions continue to celebrate the 25th of December as the birth of Jesus Christ, completely oblivious to the notion that this date does not represent the ‘real’ birthday of the Jewish son of God” (Acharya S, Companion, 24, emphasis hers).

I am not sure how this strengthens the parallel or where the “logical fallacy” is. Just because Christians have celebrated the birth of Jesus on December 25 has nothing to do with the origin of the belief and, hence, the parallel.

14 According to Metzger, “Unlike other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Palestine has been extremely barren in yielding archaeological remains of the paraphernalia and places of worship connected with Mysteries” (Metzger, “Methodology,” 8). He cites one second-century source that contains a detailed list of places where Isis was worshipped: 67 in Egypt and 55 outside Egypt, only one of which is in Palestine—namely, Strato’s Tower in Caesarea, which was built by the wicked king Herod.

15 “In the matter of intolerance Christianity differed from all pagan religions, and surpassed Judaism; in that respect it stood in direct opposition to the spirit of that age. . . . It frowned upon the hospitality of the competing cults. The rites of pagans were in her eyes performed to devils; pagan worship was founded by demons and maintained in the interest of demons.” Samuel Angus, The Mystery Religions: A Study in the Early Religious Background of Early Christianity (New York: Dover Publications, 1975 [1928]), 279.

16 To offer just one example: “The Virgin Mary is the constellation Virgo, also known as Virgo the Virgin. Virgo in Latin means virgin. The ancient glyph for Virgo is the altered ‘m.’ This is why Mary along with other virgin mothers, such as Adonis’s mother Myrrha or Buddha’s mother Maya, begin [sic] with an M” (Zeitgeist transcript).

The film is suggesting a causal connection between the astrological symbol for the constellation Virgo and the names of the mothers of pagan gods as if the symbol is the cause of the names. However, there is no evidence for such a connection.

17 In the Companion to Zeitgeist: Part 1, Acharya S offers this as an explanation for the parallels:

“In essence, when studying this situation, the scenario that reveals itself is that the creators of the gospel story in large part appear to have been scouring the vast Library of Alexandria in Egypt and elsewhere, such as Antioch and Rome, and picking out various attributes of the pre-Christian religion to be used in their creation of a cohesive Christian mythical tale that was later fallaciously set into history and presented to the gullible masses as a ‘true story'” (Companion, 16).

No evidence is offered for this charge of calculated and intentional deception on the part of the early church, and the inherent implausibility of the stipulated scenario strains the credulity of the most gullible indeed.

18 Zeitgeist transcript.

19 John Dominic Crossan, certainly no conservative scholar, comments on the crucifixion of Jesus: “That he was crucified is sure as anything historical can ever be.” John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperCollins), 145.

20 Among the plethora of scholars affirming the historicity of Jesus are N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress Press, 1997); E. P. Sanders, The Historical Person of Jesus (New York: Penguin, 1996); John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, 4 vols., Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1991–2009); Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009). This list barely scratches the surface.

21 Nash, Gospel, 116.

22 The term “Isis-Meri” is specifically used to associate Isis with Mary the mother of Jesus. Actually the term “meri” is used of almost all of the gods of Egypt, as Acharya S herself admits: “In reality, the epithet meri/mery [meaning ‘beloved’] was so commonly used in regards to numerous figures in ancient Egypt, such as gods, kings, priests, government officials and others that we could not list here all the instances in which it appears.” So the term has no substantive connection with Isis.

23 I read one online post that claimed: “In the Krishna tale we are not talking about real people but about myths. In the world of mythology, gods and goddesses can have a number of children and still be considered ‘chaste’ and ‘virginal.'” If one can use language so equivocally, I suppose one can claim just about anything.

24 New Testament scholar Raymond Brown comments, “These ‘parallels’ consistently involve a type of hieros gamos where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration. They are not really similar to the non-sexual virginal conception that is at the core of the infancy narratives, a conception where there is no male deity or element to impregnate.” Raymond E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 2003), 64.

25 It is common in the development of Egyptian myth to conflate the gods. This is a major way copycats draw many of the parallels with Horus/Osiris.

26 D. M. Murdock, Christ in Egypt: The Jesus-Horus Connection (Seattle: Stellar House, 2009), 335. It is interesting to note that even Murdock states that there are other reasons gods are depicted with arms outstretched: “The god Ptah is the very ancient Father-Creator who in ‘suspending the sky’ resembles other Egyptian deities such as Isis and Horus with arms outstretched in the vault of heaven, as well as the Greek god Atlas supporting the world on his shoulders” (Companion, 32).

27 Jonathan Z. Smith, “Dying and Rising Gods,” in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Eliade, 1:522 (emphasis mine). Until recently this view was close to unanimous by critical scholars. In 2001, T. N. D. Mettinger published a monograph titled The Riddle of the Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell International, 2001); in it he argued that there is some evidence of at least three cases of pre-Christian belief in dying and rising gods (none of whom are those highlighted in Zeitgeist). Copycat supporters have made much of Mettinger’s book, but (1) his evidence is largely circumstantial; (2) he is the only scholar who supports the view (a point he concedes); and (3) he does not believe such ancient belief led to the early church’s proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. He writes, “There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world. While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions” (Mettinger, Riddle, 221).

28 “Whether this can be rightly called a resurrection is questionable, especially since, according to Plutarch, it was the pious desire of devotees to be buried in the same ground where, according to local tradition, the body of Osiris was still lying” (Metzger, “Methodology,” 21).

29 A number of scholars point to evidence that these late sources may actually have borrowed from Christianity rather than the other way around. Rahner comments, “As modern scholars have become more objective in this field, they have turned with increasing interest to another aspect, namely the possible influence of Christianity on the Greek mysteries” (Rahner, “Christian Mystery,” 176). See also Metzger, “Methodology,” 11; Nash, Gospel, 187; and Komoszewski, et al., Reinventing Jesus, 232–33.

30 In fact, the film states that the three stars have been called the “three kings” from ancient times but offers no ancient text naming them so. It could very well be that they received this nickname from the Christian nonbiblical tradition of the three kings and not the other way around.

31 “There is no evidence whatever, that I know of, that the mystery religions had any influence in Palestine in the early decades of the first century”; Norman Anderson, Christianity and World Religions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984), 53–54.

32 Nash, Gospel, 116.

33 Metzger, “Methodology,” 9.

34 Ibid., 12.

35 Rahner, “Christian Mystery,” 167.

36 “They are a religion of feeling. They do not address themselves to the perplexed intellect of man, they are no ‘doctrine’ or ‘dogma,’ and the cult legend with its thousands of variations has no bearing upon religious action.” Ibid., 159.

37 Ibid., 169.

38 See Nash, Gospel, 160–61, for a further development of the contrasts.

39 Metzger, “Methodology,” 13. He then quotes Plutarch, “Whenever you hear the traditional tales which the Egyptians tell about the gods, their wanderings, dismemberments, and many experiences of this sort, . . . you must not think any of these tales actually happened in the manner in which they are related” (Plutarch, De Isede at Osiride, trans. Frank Cole Babbitt, Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936], 11).

40 While this is often asserted, there is absolutely no evidence that Lincoln had a secretary named “Kennedy.”

41 Well, not really. Booth was actually captured in a barn. “But it’s kind of a warehouse.”

42 These parallels are available from a number of sources and have become part of our American folklore even though they prove absolutely nothing.

43 Rahner, “Christian Mystery,” 168.

44 Translated by and cited in Rahner, “Christian Mystery,” 153. From Adolf von Harnack, Wissenschaft und Leben (Giessen, Germany: Töplemann, 1911) 2:191.

A Strategy For Teaching Apologetics To Youth | Mike Winger

A simple strategy that anyone can do to help prepare the church to face skeptical challenges and be ready to outreach to an unbelieving world. I’ve found these strategies to be effective. Integrating apologetics into normal church services is easy. Here is how to do it and some resources that will help!

Disclaimer: the following links are affiliate links. If you purchase materials through these links a small portion of that purchase will go toward helping me financially. It won’t cost you anything extra and it will help me keep making content online. It’s a win/win!

  1. Archaeology Study Bible (easy to incorporate into vs by vs messages)
  2. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties (this is the newly updated “When Critics Ask”)
  3. When Skeptics Ask
  4. Evidence That Demands a Verdict

Some of my recommended books are here as well:

RPT’s Apologetics 101

This will be a very basic introduction to why many — like myself — believe apologetics to be very important in the believers life. A “WHY APOLOGETICS 101,” so-to-speak.

What is the word “apologetic” even mean? How do we defining the word, Biblically. Apologetics is explaining to the non-believing friends, co-workers, family, the soundness of the Christian collection of beliefs about life and the universe in easy to express ways that allows co-operation of our created will and intellect with the Holy Spirit in evangelizing those around us. We are not robots under God’s divine hand (automatons) but individuals whom God works through keeping our personality intact in sharing the Gospel effectively and showing how Christianity stands in stark contrast to competing beliefs around us. The non-believer is not expected to interpret the data of history, psychology, and morality (let alone theology and miracles), as does the Christian. However, he must be given such data as the Christian interprets it… Otherwise he is not being witnessed to by a Christian.

1 Peter 3:15 – “… and always be ready to give a defense [or answer in some translations] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Defense/Answer: is the Greek apologia, from which we get our word “apologetics,” meaning the careful, logical defense of the Christian faith showing its validity as the true saving gospel of God, our Creator and Savior. In effect Peter is admonishing believers to be always prepared to give an apologetic for the faith, especially when confronted by those who deny it and would destroy it if they could.

Jude 3 – “although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Contend: Should be “earnestly contend.” The Greek, epagonizomai, refers to athletes intensely agonizing in the grueling training for a coming contest. Thus Jude graphically stresses the urgency of defending the faith. The defense of the gospel is no indifferent matter to be left to a few specialists, but one to which all believers should be trained and committed.

Philippians 1:7 – “…whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Defending: A legal term referring to a formal defense as in a courtroom. Many modern evangelicals think the gospel does not need to be defended — just preached. Paul and Timothy are saying different here.

For instance, apologetics should stir ones knowledge base about their own faith and understanding towards positions Christianity naturally takes. Or, what are known as “truth statements,” i.e., “Jesus rose from the grave,” “God exists,” “God changed my life,” “Jesus is not like the Buddha,” “God is creator,” and the like. People often times will stop you at one of those points and ask you to elucidate. You should be prepared to.

“I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers that impose upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition”

Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.

Apologetics is one of the steps one takes (should take) in advancing their faith past milk by increases one’s “awareness” about the world in which they live and parts of it we should separate ourselves from. This includes as well aberrant thinking in our own camp.

“Instead of thinking of Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, we should approach our faith as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view…. Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity”

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992], 19, 9.

1) Apologetics helps with correct belief (truth) and in this regard is very important:

Believers may not fully comprehend or may have genuine misunderstandings or even limited exposure to and about Christian truth, but there are doctrinal parameters outside of which a person cannot cross without suffering apostasy and divine judgment. Embracing a false Christ and/or a false’ gospel leads to dire consequences. Paul’s warning to the Galatia church concerning a different gospel dramatically underscores the importance of sound (biblical) doctrine: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)

2) Christianity as a truth position, a worldview, necessitates an apologetic response:

Christian apologists must take the religions of the world seriously. The effective apologist will come to know other religions and their adherents with an insider’s mastery. Only then can he or she graciously expose a given religion’s flaws in light of essential Christian truth. Not an easy task for the apologist for sure, however, a well-done expose can have a powerful effect. This endeavor seems to be what Scripture calls for in terms of the apologetics enterprise. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

3) Apologetics offers People, deservedly, the proper respect:

As creatures of God, all people bear the imago Dei and therefore have inherent dignity and moral worth. Every person consequently deserves respectful treatment regardless of race, sex, social class, political, or religious belief. Christians are called by God to guard the individual right of others to believe what they choose, whether their particular beliefs are wrong, absurd, or contrary to Christian truth. This regard basically amounts to respecting human personhood, volition, and individual moral responsibility. Christians should even tolerate the practices (religious and otherwise) of others, so long as those practices are legal, moral, and prudential. However, respecting another person’s beliefs must not be misconstrued as approving those beliefs. Christians are responsible to use their powers of persuasion to convince others of truth, especially the ultimate truth of, Jesus Christ. While being socially tolerant, Christians must at the same time be intellectually intolerant of conflicting truth claims.

(#s 1-3 are from: Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004], 178-180)

Ravi Zacharias tells a story that is worth repeating, it is called “The Bell Tower”:

There’s a story of a man who used to go to work at a factory and every day would stop outside a clockmaker’s store to synchronize his watch with the clock outside. Seeing this routine, the clockmaker finally asked the gentleman, “Excuse me, sir, I see that every day you stop and adjust your watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?” The man replied, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but, I keep the time at the factory nearby, and I have to ring the bell at four o clock every afternoon when it is time for the people to go home. My watch doesn’t work very well, so I synchronize it with your clock.” The clockmaker sheepishly responded, “I’ve got bad news for you. My clock doesn’t work very well either, so I synchronize it with the bell that I hear from the factory at 4:00 every afternoon.” …. Even a clock that doesn’t work may show you the right time twice a day…but it’s not because it’s keeping time.

Adapted from Ravi Zacharias, “Address to the United Nations’ Prayer Breakfast.”

Apologetics is analogous to wearing a pair of glasses:

The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can function in much the same way. When someone looks at the world from the perspective of the wrong worldview, the world won’t make much sense to him. Or what he thinks makes sense will, in fact, be wrong in important respects. Putting on the right conceptual scheme, that is, viewing the world through the correct worldview, can have important repercussions for the rest of the person’s understanding of events and ideas.

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 17-18.

Below is a wonderful graphic of what the person seeking to use and learn apologetics properly should look like. It is from the first chapter in a book I am currently reading and it has helped me to understand the delineations  (or sub categories) to a healthy, well-balanced study of apologetics. Gregory Ganssle, in the before-mentioned book (Come Let us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics, by-the-by, this is not a good introductory book on apologetics… it is a bit technical), points out the areas of study one might find him or herself in the “theological theme” (tt) of the pyramid:

… This angle [tt] includes a variety of topics, such as the scope of common grace, the nature of general revelation, and the effects of our sinful condition on our reasoning.

Exploring these topics theologically helps us develop a realistic understanding of what we ought to expect in our encounters with those who are not yet believers. Theological themes, then, are relevant to our thinking well about apologetics.

UntitleTriangle Apologetics

As one enters into studies on topics like these, red flags may appear in your reading general books by Christian authors. Does this mean you shouldn’t read these books or get information from such people. Not necessarily. It really depends how far they twist major doctrines of the Gospel [Bible]. For instance, would I tell a person (like my wife for instance) not to read Beth Moore? Of course not. I would however, as the spiritual leader of my household, explain some of my “red-flags” I encountered in reading her stuff and mention that an author highly recommended by her is a person I WOULD  NOT read. (That being said, as I learn more about what is aberrant, I find my reading of these books has increased for my own personal apologetic studies, not as books that I incorporate into my walk.)


I love the opening portion about rigorous training and higher education and Sunday school. So important!

In this episode, Eli takes some time to talk about apologetics at the introductory level and speaks a little about how to teach it. He covers both apologetics and the apologetic value of theology.

I hope this short introduction to apologetics was and is helpful. There are three books I highly recommend as great starter points to both understanding the importance of apologetics as well as seeing the differing models of thinking in the world compared. These three resources are technical enough to invigorate the thinker as well as great introductions to the subject accessible to the layman.

  1. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith;
  2. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists;
  3. Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides)

Character | Doing Some Connective Reading On A Family Trip

This is another “connective reading” post. These come about when I am on a trip with time to think through well what is in front of me. The last time was a 10-hour layover coming back from Michigan — a series of cancelled flights. Southwest. In that post I was connecting a book I read many years ago on the effects of marijuana with a totally unrelated book on apologetics.Marijuana | Doing Some Connective Reading In An Airport

This connective reading lies less far apart timespan wise. Before heading to Utah for a family hike through Zion, I came across this FEDERALIST article about Russell Kirk and the foundation for conservatism. Here is the excerpt:

Michael Federici gives a brief but insightful introduction to the newly rereleased version of The Politics of Prudence, Kirk’s collection of essays first published in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The work attempted to present conservatism anew in an age now free from the ideological struggle of the Cold War.

Conservative Character

Federici notes that Kirk understood conservatism to be “a disposition of character rather than a collection of reified, abstract political doctrines. It is the rejection of ideology rather than the exercise of it.” This, too, is the understanding of conservatism laid out by the champion of conservatism in the 21st century, my former teacher Sir Roger Scruton.

This understanding may help one realize why conservatism fails as an ideology — because it is not an ideology. As Kirk humorously notes early on in one of the early chapters of this book, conservatives who attempt to ideologize conservatism make the first and most egregious error in understanding conservatism.

If, though, conservatives are united in “a disposition of character” and “rejection of ideology,” what is that “disposition” and what does the “rejection of ideology” entail?


Second, the conservative accepts that the cosmos is governed by a transcendent moral order. This transcendent moral order serves as the basis of the mystery and wonder of existence, which makes possible the life of love. This disposition of love that guides conservatives is opposed to the modernist view of existence, “an arid and loveless realm” that “is a stage for the ego, with its appetites and self-assertive passions.”

Against Ideology and Centralized Power

Next, the rejection of ideology is principally opposed to the double threat of “an earthly paradise” and “centralized power,” which motivate totalitarian impulses.

Three of the chapters, originally lectures given by Kirk, illustrate these ideas. First, “The Errors of Ideology” explores the ideologue’s outlook and disastrous policies. The ideologue, Kirk explains, “thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature.” This outlook and ideological construction of politics is what the conservative rejects.

Second, Kirk’s brief but illuminating reflection on “The Politics of T.S. Eliot” helps the reader understand more fully the conservative disposition. The life and writings of Eliot reveal the conservative’s distrust of “centralized power” in any form, be it under “capitalism” or “socialism” or any other ism. The destruction of ethics and theology by practical utilitarianism has caused the despotism of merciless and heartless politics.

We are told, repeatedly, to keep God and morality out of politics. Yet, as Eliot insisted, society is bound together by common religion and a common ethical outlook. Without the recovery of the ethics of kindness and compassion, rooted in the Christian God, Western society runs to its own destruction under “the cult of the colossal.”

Hang with me here, there is going to be some biographical info coming up.

My professor of missions was Ray D. Arnold… he was one of the 1,000 missionaries that General MacArthur called to go to Japan at the conclusion of WWII. One blog notes this about the endeavor:

  • Perhaps General MacArthur didn’t succeed in bringing Christianity to Japan in the institutional sense.  But he did bring mercy, forgiveness and respect for human dignity–the heart of Christianity–and these the Japanese graciously accepted.

Here is more via TIM SHORROCK:

In November 1945, two months after he accepted the surrender of Japan on the deck of the USS Missouri, General Douglas MacArthur sat down with a delegation of American clergy at his headquarters in the Dai-Ichi Insurance Building in downtown Tokyo. The four churchmen had come to Japan to rekindle a dialogue with Japanese Christians cut short by World War II and were the first Americans in civilian dress to enter postwar Japan. MacArthur, a lifelong Episcopalian, asked them to send 1,000 missionaries to Japan as soon as possible.  “Japan is a spiritual vacuum,” he said.  “If you do not fill it with Christianity, it will be filled with communism.”

So began one of the strangest episodes of the Cold War: MacArthur’s attempt to harness Christianity in his mission to transform Japan into an American-style democracy. Over the next five years, over 1,500 American missionaries arrived in Japan in answer to the call from MacArthur and a recruitment drive launched by the mainline American churches. Most of them were young people who came to Japan fresh from college, bible school or the military, filled with visions of remaking Japan and providing spiritual guidance and sustenance to a defeated nation.


Going by the numbers, MacArthur’s crusade was a miserable failure. In the political turbulence after World War II, millions of Japanese joined the reborn Japanese Communist Party and cooperated with communists and leftists to organize labor unions and demonstrate against the spread and testing nuclear weapons. Fifty years after the war, the number of Japanese who call themselves Christians remains a little over one-half of one percent of the population, the same level it was before Pearl Harbor.

But judged on human terms, the American missionary influx after 1945 helped heal the wounds of war and exposed the defeated Japanese to a new kind of American, neither businessman or soldier, willing to forgo the comforts of home to share in the uncertainties and poverty of postwar Japan. “They were young and idealistic, and identified with Japan,” recalls Kiyoko Takeda Cho, a prominent Christian intellectual who lives in Tokyo. “They represented not the ruling country, but came for reconciliation. That attitude was very much appreciated, not only by Christians but also non-Christians.”….

(Worth the read)

Of course, in today’s ever more politically correct world, would you ever fathom a well-known general today calling for missionaries to, say, Iraq? However, the main point here is that both Russell Kirk and General MacArthur had a keen sense of the extent of Communism and that void it fills.

As does the author of the book I brought. The author was introduced to me through a class I took on missions with Dr. Arnold as the professor. Dr. Arnold used a smaller quote from Lit-Sen Chang’s booklet, but you can see the keen awareness of the extent of this “do-goodism,” Communism and Socialism give people:

As Dr. Carl F. H. Henry pointed out: “The Chicago evangelicals, while seeking to overcome the polarization of concern in terms of personal evangelism or social ethics, also transcended the neo Protestant nullification of the Great Commission.” “The Chicago Declaration did not leap from a vision of social utopia to legislation specifics, but concentrated first on biblical priorities for social change.” “The Chicago evangelicals did not ignore transcendent aspects of God’s Kingdom, nor did they turn the recognition of these elements into a rationalization of a theology of revolutionary violence or of pacifistic neutrality in the face of blatant militarist aggression.” (Cf. Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, “Evangelical Social Concern” Christianity Today, March 1, 1974.) The evangelical social concern is transcendental not merely horizontal.

We must make it clear that the true revolutionaries are different from the frauds who “deal only with surface phenomena. They seek to remove a deep-seated tumor from society by applying a plaster to the surface. The world’s deepest need today is not something that merely dulls the pain, but something that goes deep in order to change the basic unity of society, man himself. Only when men individually have experienced a change and reorientation, can society be redirected in the way it should go. This we cannot accomplish by either violence or legislation” (cf. Reid: op. cit.). Social actions, without a vertical and transcendental relation with God only create horizontal anxieties and perplexities!

Furthermore, the social activists are in fact ignorant of the social issues, they are not experts in the social sciences. They simply demand an immediate change or destruction of the social structures, but provide no blueprint of the new society whatsoever! They can be likened to the fool, as a Chinese story tells, who tried to help the plant grow faster by pulling it higher. Of course, such “action” only caused the plant to wither and die. This is exactly what the social radicals are doing now! And the W.C.C. is supporting such a tragic course!

We must challenge them [secular social activists] to discern the difference between the true repentance and “social repentance.” The Bible says: “For the godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret; but worldly grief produces death” (II Cor. 7:10). This was the bitter experiences of many former Russian Marxists, who, after their conversion to Christ came to understand that they had only a sort of “social repentance”—a sense of guilt before the peasant and the proletariat, but not before God. They admitted that “A Russian (Marxist) intellectual as an individual is often a mild and loving creature, but his creed (Marxism) constrains him to hate” (cf. Nicolas Zernov: The Russian Religious Renaissance). “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one…. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10,23). A complete change of a society must come from man himself, for basically man is at enmity with God. All humanistic social, economic and political systems are but “cut flowers,” as Dr. Trueblood put it, even the best are only dim reflections of the Glory of the Kingdom of God. As Benjamin Franklin in his famous address to the Constitutional Convention, said, “Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” Without reconciliation with God, there is no reconciliation with man. Social action is not evangelism; political liberation is not salvation. While we shall by all means have deep concern on social issues; nevertheless, social activism shall never be a substitution for the Gospel.

Lit-Sen Chang, The True Gospel vs. Social Activism, (booklet. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co: 1976), 9.

Now, for some more biographical background to Lit-sen Chang, it fits well with the drive of this post.

Again, hang in there:

What is Apologetics? is the English translation of a portion of the late Dr. Lit-Sen Chang’s four-volume work, Comprehensive Christian Apologetics. I have taken the first six chapters of Volume 1 (originally published by Tien Dao Publishing House, Hong Kong, in 1982), and rendered them in a style which is compatible with his original Chinese. The result is a piece of theology-as-proclamation, a sermon-in-print.

Dr. Chang (1904-1996) is probably the most prolific Chinese Protestant theologian during the second half of the twentieth century. He had been a zealous promoter of Confucianism and Buddhism, a brilliant university professor and author, and a confidante of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), before he met Jesus Christ in the 1950s. Thereafter he devoted himself to theological study and the defense of the Christian faith. He had several memorable encounters with God during his Christian career, including healing from sickness. For decades he was professor of missions at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts; but his passion was apologetics, defending Christianity and proclaiming it to the Chinese people. To make the best use of his time, Dr. Chang would often only sleep for two hours a night. A meticulous manager of his time, he took his supper as a “second breakfast,” as it were, and pursued his writing, editing and correspondence into the night. He was the author of over eighty books and booklets (these do not include significant works penned before his conversion).

Lit-sen Chang, What Is Apologetics (translated by Samuel Ling, Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), xiii.


Dr. Lit-Sen Chang, Chinese Christian apologist and theologian, tireless author and distinguished scholar in Far Eastern philosophy and religion, gave his life to the exposition and defense of the historic Christian faith in obedience to his Lord and Master. He was born on May 9, 1904 in Wu Hsi, Kiangsu province, China. From a young age he received a thorough education in the Confucian classics, and imbibed the traditional Confucian scholar’s passionate concern to rescue China from her national plight. As he witnessed his country on the verge of extinction, he cried out for national salvation through individual endeavor. He became a prolific author.

Dr. Chang graduated from Fu Tan University, Shanghai, intent on serving and saving his country through a career in law and government. At age twenty-one he became a university professor in Peking, thus becoming the youngest professor of his time. He studied law at the Sorbonne, Paris, and traveled to the universities of London, Cambridge, Oxford and to Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland in search of China’s national salvation. He returned to China at twenty-six, and was appointed professor at several leading universities, as well as dean of the College of Social Sciences, Labor University.

When Japan invaded mainland China in 1937, Dr. Chang was recruited by the central government to important positions in the Nationalist Party, the National Government and the Ministry of Defense, turning his attention from law to political strategy. After China’s victory over Japan in 1945, he won a seat to the Parliament of the Republic of China, and was later appointed Deputy Commissioner for Overseas Chinese Affairs.

Confronted by multiple and complex social ills in China, Dr. Chang realized that the way to peace and national strength lay beyond law and government, in the human heart. He immersed himself in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, including the mystical Ch’ien school of Buddhism. He felt called to regenerate Chinese culture and the religions of the East. He founded Chiang Nan University, and recruited noted contemporary Confucian philosophers such as Ch’ien Mu, T’ang Chun-I and Mou Tsung-san as professors. He planned to visit India and strategize with scholars there to revive the traditional religions of Asia.

As the political situation in China deteriorated, Chang became exiled in Indonesia. There he heard the gospel by the grace of God, repented of his sin and committed his life to Jesus Christ. He gave up all his plans and ambitions, and came to Boston to study theology at Gordon Divinity School. He was fifty-three by that time. He graduated from Gordon summa cum laude, and served as professor of missions for many years. He was honored with the Doctor of Literature degree from Wheaton College, and when he retired from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, he was named “Distinguished Professor Emeritus.”

Dr. Chang knew God’s vocation to devote his later life to the propagation of the Christian faith through literature. He wrote day and night in order to “give the reason for the hope” within (I Peter 3:15), and to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Departing from popular trends of the twentieth century, Dr. Chang boldly proclaimed the infinite absolute God of the Bible, and critiqued humanistic thinking East and West without compromise. He lived a simple, frugal and diligent life, tirelessly writing and publishing his works with no regard for return or reward. His writings in Chinese and English totaled over eighty volumes. His mature thought is seen in the four-volume work on apologetics and eight-volume opus on systematic theology. These are not only valued for their scholarship, but comprise a unique treasure for the Body of Christ, as they both edify the reader’s heart, and inform the reader’s mind through a passionate and reasoned defense of the whole counsel of God revealed in Scripture.

Dr. Chang died on January 19,1996 in Boston at the ripe old age of ninety-two. He was survived by five children and seven grandchildren. May the glorious Triune God who called him home continue to give fruit to his voice in the twenty-first century, that “by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).

Lit-sen Chang, What Is Apologetics (translated by Samuel Ling, Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), xvii-xix.

So, Dr. Chang was very familiar with Maoist Communism.

Okay, what is the foundation then for a Christian life in response to all the “isms” offered to man?

Character. Virtues.

Roger Scruton Quickly Defines American Culture

Here is the short excerpt followed by a scan of the page it came from:

  • We will conquer the strong with meekness; our victory is based on Christian virtues, winning the relationship, and not just the argument. Love is the greatest power in apologetics. Even if our opponent attacks unreasonably, let us keep our peace. If we move forward emotionally, we may win with words, but not with our lives.

CHRISTIAN virtues [character, really of Christ]. Not our virtues.

Of course, this reminds me of John Adams quote:

  • we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

Our form of government is set up to incorporate this character and virtues assuming the Judeo-Christian ethic. Without those we are a ship without a sail.

This quote from an article my Pastor posted on his FB notes (more currently) the issue:

  • Either way, it does point to an emerging problem within the United States: the collapse of a shared moral consensus that saw as a source of public good the broad moral contours of a Christian ethic, even if detached from the religious claims of Christianity. (WORLD MAGAZINE)

Yep. Apologist! preach the totality of our view, and how our virtues differ in their foundation from other views.

  • “Instead of thinking of Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, we should approach our faith as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view.”

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 19.

More Russell Kirk:

Russell Kirk’s Ten Principles of Conservatism

Religious Exclusivity In A Pluralistic Society (Ravi Zacharias)


(My position on Ravi is encapsulated by Acts 17 Apologetics) The longer version of this can be found HERE. Here is THAT description:

  • (September 3, 2012) Ravi Zacharias responds with “precise language” to a written question. With his patented charm and clarity, Ravi responds to the challenge of “exclusivity in Christianity” that skeptics seem to think is exclusive to our faith. This is one of Ravi’s best.

Here is my slightly adapted script of this upload:

Here is my adapted transcript of the above:

Many people like to criticize Christianity’s arrogant exclusivity, they will say that if the end result is to be good, how could I embrace a faith that claims to be the only true way?

This is the perceived problem with exclusivity. How can there be only one way to God?

The answer with the post-modernist when they raise this question of the Christian faith is that the post-modernist has not again examined his or her own question. It is not only the Christian faith that claims to be exclusive.

  • Islam claims exclusivity.
  • Buddhism claims exclusivity.
  • Sikhism claims exclusivity.
  • Hinduism claims exclusivity.
  • All religions claim exclusivity at some point in their philosophy.

Gautama Buddha was born a Hindu. He rejected Hinduism on two major accounts.

(1) Hinduism assumes, for example, that the Vedas are the ultimate revelation, and in that sense their inerrant scriptures. Buddha rejected the Veda.

(2) Hinduism claims the caste system on the hierarchy of human birth. Gautama Buddha rejected the caste system.

Two principal beliefs of Hinduism, the Vedas and the caste system, Gautama Buddha completely rejected. That’s why even in recent times you will hear Hindu leaders sometimes getting disgruntled with Hinduism because of the caste system and the hierarchical system of human birth that is attributed to it.

Now, what did Gautama Buddha do in its place? He changed the notion of self from Hinduism into no essential self. In Buddhism he changed even the idea of reincarnation, what reincarnation actually means.

All this to say it is not true that Christianity is the only exclusive claim every major religion claim exclusivity. The Bahais are the only so-called all inclusivist, but even they exclude the exclusivists.

Here is an example of a discussion with a postmodern brainwashed “Buddhist,” with a pastor.

Is Homosexuality A Sin? (Ask Pastor Cliffe)

Struggling With the Trinity | Some Examples & Responses

JUMP to the update showing Allah and the his word (the Qur’an) got it wrong
(Big Update Today – 12/08/2023)

Jump To “The Eastern Gate” (Ezekiel 44:1-3)


From the video description:

In an honest dialogue via a caller to the show, Dennis Prager tells us his lack of understanding of what seems so clear to Christians — MIND YOU, it is still a mystery, but not self-referentially false. In other words, coherent.

Two quick explanations are from two men I respect:

Here is a four part series by theologian Wayne Grudem:

See his books for more doctrinal specifics:

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith

MANY YEARS AGO when working at Whole Foods I got in a conversation with co-worker. He said he would read what I wrote for him regarding the Trinity. HERE IS THAT LETTER. Another response in a debate from a couple years before that letter to a co-worker may help as well, HERE.



  • “I understand a7th century Arabian caravan robber misunderstanding who is in the Trinity. I understand that. [….] It’s very weird that ‘god’ and his word misunderstood that.”

The fuller interview by Babylon Bee can be found HERE.



The LDS Church teaches that “Elohim” properly refers to Heavenly Father, and that “Jehovah” refers to Jesus. While Mormons believe that both Elohim and Jehovah are “united in purpose”, Mormonism claims that “Elohim” and “Jehovah” are actually two separate exalted beings. This is significant, because it would mean that there are actually numerous “gods”—more than just one! But Christians claim that Jehovah (Or Yahweh) and Elohim are the same being, the One True God, who is uncreated and unchanging. Christianity teaches that there only ever has been and will be One Creator God. If Christians are correct, then the notion of eternal progression and exaltation are abominable and idolatrous. The idea that the Father and Son progressed to their current position is a blasphemous claim to the Christian! Therefore, the true nature of Jehovah and Elohim is a significant question! So what does the Bible teach? Does the Bible indicate that Elohim and Jehovah are two different gods “united in purpose”? Or does Scripture teach that Jehovah and Elohim are different names for the same being?

This is an update to an old post from my free blog from many yearn ago. It deals with certain aspects of Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witness’s understanding of a “bifurcation” (of sorts). Enjoy, I may re-edit this in the weeks coming. This edit is a shortening of the older debate (which itself references an even older discussion. I am thinking this was the late 90’s or early 2000s):


I recommend a book that will assist you in your understanding of Bart Ehrman, it is entitled, Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus.  Learning possibility aside, you believe that YHWH represents Jesus, and Elohim represents Heavenly Father, right?  I will elucidate with an old debate:

You Jeff, are not arguing against me when I speak of sex in heaven, you are speaking or arguing against personalities further up the LDS-chain of command than yourself (I have posted this before):

Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.48:

The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring.  We will have an endless eternity for this.

An endless eternity of celestial sex is what that last sentence meant.  Okay, I will leave you to argue with your ex-president in an LDS book Doctrines of Salvation

How many Jesus’ are there??  Lets do a little Bible study in Genesis.  I will post some scripture from Genesis 18 and 19.  The pink highlights are what we are going to read (pink is for Jehovah’s Witnesses, green is for Mormons I will now have to add a bit of green to these verses as I can use them with LDS).



So again, with your understanding of who Elohim and YHWH is, as before, your theology is less fit for what the bible displays as clearly Trinitarian.  How can Jesus be three people, and then also speak to Himself in heaven while on earth?  I mean, you say YHWH is Jesus, orthodox Christianity says this is one name for God (1x1x1=1), Elohim is another.

No Christian doctrine depends on the longer version of the 1 John:7-8.  It never has, and Ehrman doesn’t reject the Trinity for this verse either.  He does so because he is a philosophical naturalist.  Matthew 28:19-20 states the concept of one God (“in name,” GK singular) expressed in three persons (“of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) just as clearly as those words in 1 John.

According to you Jesus is “a” God, as well as other “persons before Heavenly Father as well as after Heavenly Father.  However, the Old Testament states:

  • “See now that I, I am He, and there is no God besides Me” (Deuteronomy 32:39 NASB)
  • “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me” (Isaiah 43:10 NASB)
  • “Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none” (Isaiah 44:8 NASB)
  • “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5 NASB)

However, Heavenly Father’s parents on another earth may themselves not have achieved exultation, whereas a person who at one time (on another planet in the myriad of Mormon worlds with possible gods that inhabit them) could have owned a brothel, but later was sealed in a temple ceremony and repented of his way may be an even more powerful God than Heavenly Father.  Odd.

Just in case people here do not understand what Bot is doing, he is arguing against one infinite God and arguing for an infinite amount of finite Gods.


According to LDS theology, Jesus did not exist at one point in history at least until Heavenly Father had a bit of foreplay with one of his wives and maybe a martini or two (Brigham Young was the only distributor of alcohol in Utah for some time he’s exulted, right?) and a long night of hot – steamywell, you get the point, Jesus was born.  This is not the belief of any Christian, the apostles, the church fathers, and the like.  Only LDS believe this, not the church even for the first 100 years believed this, as the Scriptures make clear.  Jesus created the space/time continuum, he was not pre-dated by DNA, matter, gods, or the like. 

Heavenly Father didn’t create the eye, or the pancreas, these predate Heavenly Father, and were passed on to him via his parents “sexing it up.”  And the DNA for eyes and pancreas’s were passed to them via an act of sex, and so on ad-infinitum.

Jesus and Heavenly Father were born into a cosmos that enforced its natural laws (both physical and moral) on Jesus and Heavenly Father, whereas these forces were created by God and didn’t pre-date God.  The former is not deity, the later is.

IRR has a good short article where they answer the following:

  • The Hebrew word Elohim is grammatically a plural form, and in a couple hundred occurrences in the Old Testament does mean “gods.” However, about 2,600 times Elohim functions as a singular noun. We know this for four reasons

Here are the four reasons noted:

First, in these passages it is very common for the noun to take singular pronouns, verbs, and descriptive nouns. If you read a sentence saying “Elohim is good,” you know that Elohim in this sentence must be singular because the verb is singular (“is”). The same thing applies to expressions like “Elohim our Father” or “Elohim sits on his throne.” We see this use of singular words in relation to Elohim right in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God [Elohimcreated the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The verb “created” in this verse is singular, not plural.

Second, the Old Testament frequently uses the word Elohim as a name or title for Yahweh (Jehovah), who is of course a singular being. For example, Genesis 2:4 refers to the Creator as Yahweh Elohim (Jehovah God). Over half of the verses in the Old Testament that use the name Elohim also refer to him directly as Yahweh.

Third, the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word Elohim in these contexts as “God,” not “gods.” For example, Genesis 1:1 in the Septuagint says, “In the beginning God [theos, the singular word for “God”) made the heavens and the earth.”

Fourth, the New Testament, written in Greek, also uses the singular form theos when quoting Old Testament texts referring to Elohim. For example, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 as saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (Matt. 4:10). In the Hebrew text, Deuteronomy 6:13 says Elohim. In both the Septuagint and in the quotation in Matthew, the Greek word used is the singular theos.

These four facts prove beyond reasonable doubt that Genesis 1:1 is referring to a single God, not a group of gods, when it speaks about Elohim creating the world.

In another article by IRR, they go on to enforce the above thinking:

There are over 700 verses in the Old Testament that show Jehovah (LORD) and Elohim (God) are the same God. Many of these verses also state that Jehovah is the only Elohim. Following are a few examples.

Isaiah 43:10,11. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD [Jehovah] and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God [Elohim] formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD [Jehovah]; and beside me there is no savior.

Note from these verses that there are several things which God wants us to know, believe, and understand: (1) There is only one God (Elohim) and Jehovah is that one true God. (2) There were no Elohims formed before Jehovah. This means that Jehovah does not have a Father. That is, no God (Elohim) preceded him, by whom He was procreated. (3) There will be no Elohims formed after Jehovah. Some say that Isaiah 43:10,11 is talking about idols. But that cannot be true for there certainly have been idols and false gods made and worshiped since this passage was written. Therefore, when God said no gods would be formed after him, it must mean no real, true Gods.

Isaiah 44:6,8. Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God [Elohim] … Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God [Elohim] beside me? yea, there is no God [Elohim] I know not any.

The emphatic “Thus saith Jehovah” in the above verse commands our attention. The following points are made under authoritative declaration: (1) Jehovah is the first Elohim and the last Elohim. There can be only one first and only one last. Again, this rules out the possibility of any other Gods existing throughout all of eternity past and all of eternity future. It also again shows that Jehovah and Elohim are not different Gods. (2) Jehovah is the only God (Elohim) that exists. This again rules out the possibility of other sovereigns existing. (3) No reasonable person would challenge the intellect of God. When He says that He does not know of something, this certainly does not imply any limitation in the scope or capacity of His knowledge. On the contrary, when He says He does not know of something, we may be assured this means that thing does not exist. So it is plain that when God says He does not know of any other Gods it is because they do not exist. Thus, these verses affirm in the clearest possible terms that no other Gods exist, nor will exist, throughout all of time and space, in this universe or any other.


As we have seen from the Old Testament Scriptures above, it is surely wrong to say that Elohim, Jehovah, and the Holy Ghost are separate Gods. The Bible states emphatically and repeatedly that there is only one God, it declares that Elohim is Jehovah, and it uses the names Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai interchangeably. The Bible also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God (Acts 5:3,4). The awesome but inescapable conclusion is that God is Tri-une in nature. How gracious that He has stooped to reveal Himself to us in His infallible Word. How crucial that we interpret His Word accurately.

One of the best books I have read on the topic of the Trinity is by an ex-Oneness Pentecostal, Robert Bowman. Herein is some discussion on this “triuness” of God in relation to Jehovah’s Witnesses (J-DUBS):

The rest of this book will be concerned with the biblical material relating to the Trinity, considering the arguments advanced by JWs to show that it is unbiblical.

We begin with the biblical teaching that there is one God. The JWs affirm that monotheism is the biblical teaching (p. 12), citing several Scriptures in support (p. 13). And trinitarians could not agree more. There is only one God, and this God is one. The oneness of God is the first plank in the trinitarian platform. For this reason I would agree with the booklet’s argument that the plural form elohim for God in the Old Testament cannot be evidence of the Trinity (pp. 13-14).

The Trinity and the Oneness of God

But two problems need attention. First, JWs claim that the Bible’s affirmations of monotheism mean “that God is one Person—a unique, unpartitioned Being who has no equal” (p. 13). As has already been explained, trinitarians do not regard the three persons as “partitions” of God, or the Son and Spirit as beings outside God yet equal to him. Indeed, if “person” is defined to mean an individual per­sonal being, then trinitarians will agree that in that sense “God is one Person.” Thus, in arguing as if these truths contradicted the Trinity, the JWs show they have mis­construed the doctrine. In fact, that God is one “Person” in this sense does not prove that he is not also three “persons” in the sense meant by trinitarians.

Second, biblical monotheism does not simply mean that the being of the Almighty God is one being. That is true enough, but the Bible also teaches simply that there is one God. The Bible is quite emphatic on this point, repeating it often in both the Old Testament (Deut. 4:35, 39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32; Isa. 37:20; 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:5, 14, 21-22; 46:9) and the New Testament (Rom. 3:30; 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 25). And the very meaning of the word monotheism is the belief in one God.

It is therefore important to note that the JWs flatly deny this most basic of biblical teachings. Although they admit that there is only one Almighty God, they claim that there are, in addition to that God, and not counting the many false gods worshiped by idolaters, many creatures rightly recognized in the Bible as “gods” in the sense of “mighty ones” (p. 28). These “gods” include Jesus Christ, angels, human judges, and Satan. The JWs take this position to justify allowing the Bible to call Jesus “a god” without honoring him as Jehovah God.

The question must therefore be asked whether Wit­nesses can escape the charge that they are polytheists (be­lievers in many gods). The usual reply is that while they believe there are many gods, they worship only one God, Jehovah. But this belief is not monotheism, either. The usual term for the belief that there are many gods but only one who is to be worshiped is heno theism.

The more important question, of course, is whether the Bible supports the JWs’ view. The explicit, direct state­ments of the Bible that there is only one God (cited above) cannot fairly be interpreted to mean that there are many gods but only one who is almighty, or only one who is to be worshiped, or only one who is named Jehovah. There is only one Almighty God Jehovah, and he alone is to be worshiped—but the Bible also states flatly that he is the only God.

More precisely, the Bible says that there is only one true God (John 17:3; see also 2 Chron. 15:3; Jer. 10:10; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 John 5:20), in contrast to all other gods, false gods, who are not gods at all (Deut. 32:21; 1 Sam. 12:21; Ps. 96:5; Isa. 37:19; 41:23-24, 29; Jer. 2:11; 5:7; 16:20; 1 Cor. 8:4; 10:19-20). There are, then, two categories of “gods”: true Gods (of which there is only one, Jehovah) and false gods (of which there are unfortunately many).

The JWs, however, in agreement with most anti­trinitarian groups today that claim to believe in the Bible, cannot agree that there is only one true God, despite the Bible’s saying so in just those words, because then they would have to admit that Jesus is that God. Therefore, they appeal to a few isolated texts in the Bible that they claim honor creatures with the title gods without implying that they are false gods. We must next consider these texts briefly.

Are Angels Gods?

There are two kinds of creatures that the JWs claim are honored as gods in Scripture—angels and men. We begin with angels. The usual prooftext in support of this claim is Psalm 8:5, which the NWT renders, “You also proceeded to make him [man] a little less than godlike ones.” The word translated “godlike ones” here is elohim, the usual word for “God,” but (because plural) also translatable as “gods.” Since Hebrews 2:7 quotes this verse as saying, “You made him a little lower than angels” (NWT), the Witnesses con­clude that Psalm 8:5 is calling angels “gods.”

There are numerous objections to this line of reasoning, only some of which can be mentioned here. First, it is questionable that in its original context elohim in Psalm 8:5 should be understood to refer to angels and translated “gods” or “godlike ones.” This is because in context this psalm is speaking of man’s place in creation in terms that closely parallel Genesis 1. Psalm 8:3 speaks of the creation of the heavens, moon, and stars (cf. Gen. 1:1, 8, 16). Verse 4 asks how God can consider man significant when com­pared with the grandeur of creation. The answer given is that man rules over creation—over the inhabitants of the land, sky, and sea (vv. 6-8; cf. Gen. 1:26-28). What links this question and answer in Psalm 8 is the statement that God made man “a little lower than elohim,” which parallels in thought the Genesis statement that man was created “in the image of elohim,” that is, in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). This makes it quite reasonable to conclude that in its own context Psalm 8:5 is meant to be understood as saying that man is a little lower than God, not angels.

If this view is correct, why does Hebrews 2:7 have the word angels rather than God? The simple answer is that the author of Hebrews was quoting from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament prepared by Jewish scholars and in common use in the first century. The fact that the writer of Hebrews quoted the Septuagint does not imply that the Septuagint rendering he quoted was a literal or accurate word-for-word translation of the Hebrew text (after all, “angels” is certainly not a literal translation of “gods”). Rather, Hebrews 2:7 is a paraphrase of Psalm 8:5 that, while introducing a new understanding of it, does not contradict it. Psalm 8 says that the son of man (meaning mankind) was made a little lower than God; Hebrews 2 says that the Son of Man (meaning Christ) was made a little lower than the angels. The psalm speaks of man’s exalted status, while Hebrews speaks of Christ’s temporary hum­bling. Since the angels are, of course, lower than God, and since Christ’s humbled status was that of a man, what Hebrews says does not contradict Psalm 8:5, though it does go beyond it.

It must be admitted that this is not the only way of reading Hebrews 2:7 and Psalm 8:5. It is just possible that Hebrews 2:7 does implicitly understand Psalm 8:5 to be calling angels “gods.” If this were correct, it would not mean that angels were truly gods. It might then be argued that the point of Psalm 8:5 was that man was made just a little lower than the spiritual creatures so often wrongly worshiped by men as gods. This would fit the context of Hebrews 2:7 also, since from Hebrews 1:5 through the end of chapter 2 the author argues for the superiority of the Son over angels. That is, Hebrews might be taken to imply that even God’s angels can be idolized if they are wrongly ex­alted or worshiped as gods (which some early heretics were doing [cf. Col. 2:18]).

Moreover, this interpretation would also fit Hebrews 1:6, which quotes Psalm 97:7 as saying that all of God’s angels should worship the Son. Psalm 97:7 in Hebrew is a com­mand to the “gods” (identified in the immediate context as idols) to worship Jehovah. Thus, Hebrews 1:6 testifies at once both to the fact that angels, if they are considered gods at all, are false gods, and that Jesus Christ is worshiped by angels as Jehovah the true God.

There are other reasons for denying that angels are truly gods in a positive sense. The Bible flatly states that demonic spirits are not gods (1 Cor. 10:20; Gal. 4:8). Since demons are just as much spirits, and presumably are just as much “mighty ones” (though wicked) as the holy angels, it fol­lows that angels cannot be gods by virtue of their being “mighty ones. “

Furthermore, the translation of elohim in Psalm 8:5 as “godlike ones” runs into the problem of contradicting the Bible, which flatly and repeatedly states that none are like God (Exod. 8:10; 9:14; 15:11; 2 Sam. 7:22; 1 Kings 8:23; 1 Chron. 17:20; Ps. 86:8; Isa. 40:18, 25; 44:7; 46:5, 9; Jer. 10:6-7; Mic. 7:18), though creatures may reflect God’s moral qualities (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2).

Finally, even if angels were gods in some positive sense, that would not explain in what sense Jesus Christ is called “God,” since he is not an angel—he is God’s Son (Heb. 1:4-5); is worshiped by all the angels (Heb. 1:6); is the God who reigns, not a spirit messenger (Heb. 1:7-9); and is the Lord who created everything, not an angel created to serve (Heb. 1:10-13).

Before leaving this question, it should be noted in passing that Satan is called “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4 Niv), but clearly in the sense of a false god, one who is wrongly allowed to usurp the place of the true God in the present age. That is the point of 2 Corinthians 4:4, not that Satan is a mighty one.

Are Mighty Men Gods?

The Witnesses claim that not only mighty angels, but also mighty men, are called “gods” in Scripture in rec­ognition of their might. This claim, however, is open to even more difficult objections than the claim that angels are gods.

The Bible explicitly denies that powerful men, such as kings and dictators and military leaders, are gods (Ezek. 28:2, 9; see also Isa. 31:3; 2 Thess. 2:4). In fact, frequently in Scripture “man” and “God” are used as opposite catego­ries, parallel with “flesh” and “spirit” (Num. 23:19; Isa. 31:3; Hos. 11:9; Matt. 19:26; John 10:33; Acts 12:22; 1 Cor. 14:2). In this light, texts that are alleged to call men “gods” in a positive sense ought to be studied carefully and alterna­tive interpretations followed where context permits.

The usual text cited in this connection, as in the JW booklet, is Psalm 82:6, “I said, you are gods,” which is quoted by Jesus in John 10:34. This verse has commonly been interpreted (by trinitarians as well as antitrinitarians, though with different conclusions drawn) to be calling Isra­elite judges “gods” by virtue of their honorable office of representing God to the people in judgment. Assuming this interpretation to be correct, the verse would not then be saying that judges really are gods in the sense of “mighty ones.” Rather, it would simply be saying that as judges in Israel they represented God. This representative sense of “gods” would then have to be distinguished from a qualita­tive sense, in which creatures are called “gods” as a description of the kind of beings they are.

There are good reasons, however, to think that the Isra­elite judges are being called “gods” not to honor them but to expose them as false gods. This may be seen best by a close reading of the entire psalm.

In Psalm 82:1 Jehovah God is spoken of by the psalmist in the third person: “God takes His stand He judges” (NAss). The psalmist says, “God [elohimi takes his stand in the assembly of God [el]; he judges in the midst of the gods [elohimr (my translation). Here we are confronted with two elohim: God, and the judges, called by the psalmist “gods.”

In verses 2-5 God’s judgment against the Israelite judges is pronounced. They are unjust, show partiality to the wicked, allow the wicked to abuse the poor and helpless, and by their unjust judgment are destroying the founda­tions of life on earth.

Then in verse 6 we read, “I said, ‘You are gods….‘” This is a reference back to the psalmist’s calling the judges “gods” in verse 1: “He judges in the midst of the gods.” The succeeding lines make clear that although the psalmist referred to the wicked judges as “gods,” they were not really gods at all and proved themselves not up to the task of being gods. This is made clear in two ways.

First, the second line of verse 6 adds, “And all of you are sons of the Most High.” What can this mean? The similar expression “sons of God” is used in the Old Testament only of angels (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1), unless one interprets Genesis 6:1-4 to be speaking of a godly line of men. The Israelite judges were neither angels nor godly men. Hosea 1:10 speaks prophetically of Gentiles becoming “sons of the living God,” but this has reference to Gentiles becoming Christians and thus adopted children of God (Rom. 9:26). The judges were not Christians, either. The easiest, if not only, explanation is that they are called “sons of the Most High” in irony. That is, the psalmist calls them “sons of the Most High” not because they really were, but because they thought of themselves as such, and to show up that attitude as ridiculous (see a similar use of irony by Paul in 1 Cor. 4:8). If this is correct, it would imply that they were also called “gods” in irony. Thus the thought would be that these human judges thought of themselves as gods, immortal beings with the power of life and death.

The next lines, in Psalm 82:7, confirm such an inter­pretation: the judges are told that they are ordinary men who will die. The clear implication is that though they seemed to rule over the life and death of their fellow Isra­elites, they were no more gods than anyone else, because—like even the greatest of men—they will die.

Then, in verse 8, the psalmist addresses God in the sec­ond person, “Arise, 0 God, judge the earth!” (NASB). In other words, the judges have proved themselves to be false gods; now let the true God come and judge the world in righteousness.

This way of reading Psalm 82 does not conflict with or undermine Christ’s argument in John 10:34-36. When he says, “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35 NASB), nothing in the text demands that the “gods” be anything but false gods. Jesus’ argu­ment may be paraphrased and expanded as follows:

Is it not written in the Law which you call your own, “I said, `You are gods”? The psalmist, whom you regard as one of your own, and yourselves as worthy successors to him, called those wicked judges, against whom the word of God came in judgment, “gods.” And yet the Scripture cannot be broken; it must have some fulfillment. Therefore these worthless judges must have been called “gods” for a reason, to point to some worthy human judge who is rightly called God. Now the Father has witnessed to my holy calling and sent me into the world to fulfill everything he has purposed. That being so, how can you, who claim to follow in the tradition of the psalmist, possibly be justified in rejecting the fulfillment of his words by accusing me of blasphemy for calling myself the Son of God? How can you escape being associated with those wicked judges who judged unjustly by your unjust judgment of me?

By this interpretation, Jesus is saying that what the Isra­elite judges were called in irony and condemnation, he is in reality and in holiness; he does what they could not do and is what they could not be. This kind of positive fulfillment in Christ contrasted with a human failure in the Old Testa­ment occurs elsewhere in the New Testament, notably the contrast between the sinner Adam and the righteous Christ (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45).

To summarize, the judges called “gods” in Psalm 82 could not have been really gods, because the Bible denies that mighty or authoritative men are gods. If they are called “gods” in a positive sense, it is strictly a figurative expres­sion for their standing in God’s place in judging his people. But more likely they are called “gods” in irony, to expose them as wicked judges who were completely inadequate to the task of exercising divine judgment. However one inter­prets Psalm 82, then, there is no basis for teaching that there are creatures who may be described qualitatively as gods.

We conclude, then, that the biblical statements that there is only one God are not contradicted or modified one bit by the prooftexts cited by JWs to prove that creatures may be honored as gods. There is one Creator, and all else is created; one Eternal, and all else temporal; one Sovereign Lord, and all else undeserving servants; one God, and all else worshipers. Anything else is a denial of biblical monotheism.

Robert M. Bowman, Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997), 49-58.

More J-DUB Stuff

To lay a basis for what is to come let us read some Scripture from Isaiah via the 1611 Authorized King James version next to the New World Translation and my preferred translation (Christian Standard Bible), for clarity:

Is 43:10-13

  • 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God. 13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? (KJV)
  • 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah, “Yes, my servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and have faith in me*And understand that I am the same One. Before me no God was formed, And after me there has been none. 11 I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.” 12  “I am the One who declared and saved and made known When there was no foreign god among you. So you are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah, “and I am God. 13  Also, I am always the same One; And no one can snatch anything out of my hand. When I act, who can prevent it?” (NWT)
  • 10 “You are my witnesses”— this is the LORD’s declaration— “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. No god was formed before me, and there will be none after me. 11 I—I am the LORD. Besides me, there is no Savior. 12 I alone declared, saved, and proclaimed— and not some foreign god among you. So you are my witnesses”— this is the LORD’s declaration— “and I am God. 13 Also, from today on I am he alone, and none can rescue from my power. I act, and who can reverse it?” (CSB)

Is 44:6

  • Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (KJV)
  • This is what Jehovah says, the King of Israeli and his Repurchaser, Jehovah of armies: ‘I am the first and I am the last.There is no God but me.’ (NWT)
  • This is what the LORD, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the LORD of Armies, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me. (CSB)

Is 44:24

  • Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; (KJV)
  • This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: “I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. (NWT)
  • This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am the LORD, who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by myself; who alone spread out the earth; (CSB)

Is 45:5

  • I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: (KJV)
  • I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. There is no God except me. I will strengthen you, although you did not know me, (NWT)
  • I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God but me. I will strengthen you, though you do not know me, (CSB)

Is 45:18

  • For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (KJV)
  • For this is what Jehovah says, The Creator of the heavens, the true God, The One who formed the earth, its Maker who firmly established it, Who did not create it simply for nothing, but formed it to be inhabited; “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.” (NWT)
  • For this is what the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, the one who established it (he did not create it to be a wasteland, but formed it to be inhabited)— he says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other. (CSB)

Is 45:22-23

  • 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (KJV)
  • 22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no one else. 23 By myself I have sworn; the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, And it will not return: To me every knee will bend, Every tongue will swear loyalty (NWT)
  • 22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn; truth has gone from my mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to me, every tongue will swear allegiance. (CSB)

Is 46:9

  • Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (KJV)
  • Remember the former things of long ago, That I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is no one like me. (NWT)
  • Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like me. (CSB)

And in fact this knowledge about God – that He is the only God, is part of our salvonic understanding, for instance in John 17:3(a) we find this statement by Jesus, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God.”  Amen!  I love these Scriptures, they are foundational to our understanding of God’s nature.  Starting here and using proper exegesis and allowing the Bible to interpret the Bible, let us read some more passages.

One of my favorite books is Genesis, and in Genesis is one of my favorite examples of who God is.  I will here scan in some of the verses from my KJV Study Bible.  Genesis chapter 18:1-3, 9, 13, 22, 26-27, and 30 are displayed below; as well as chpt. 19:1-2, 18, and 24.

Please pay attention to the Genesis 19:24 graphic below –



  • “Then the LORD (YHWH) rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD (YHWH) out of heaven.”

Clearly here we see that Jehovah in heaven rained fire down from Jehovah in heaven.  Hmmm.  Is this a statement about God’s nature or not?  Maybe we will go to the SHEMA to put this problem to rest.  The SHEMA is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, and is the most important verse to the orthodox Jewish people, it reads:

  • “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one

Whew!  I thought for a second that this God mentioned in Isaiah was something other than singular entity.  But wait… what Hebrew word is used here that means “one” in front of Lord.  The Hebrew word for a singular “one” is “yachid,” meaning the only one.  The word is used in Genesis 22:2 where God tells Abraham to “take your son, your only son Isaac….”  This is what we should find here… let’s see.  Ahhh shoot!!  It isn’t that word at all?  The word in Hebrew used here is “echad,” it denotes a unity, or united one.  This word is used in Genesis 2:24 it is stated that “a man will his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  Maybe we need to go back to Isaiah to make sense out of this.

Let’s read from Isaiah 44:6 again to ease the mind:

  • Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Wait a minute.  “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, AND his redeemer the LORD of hosts”?  It seems that two divine persons are speaking here, yet both are only one God, the Creator and Savior!  Arrrgggh!  Doesn’t Exodus say what God’s name is.  Exodus 3:14 reads:

  • And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

The New World Translation reads this way:

  • At This God said to Moses: “I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE.”  And he added: “this is what you are to say  to the sons of Israel, ‘I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you.’”

Maybe a Hebrew interlinear will help. The English portion is the NIV (Click to Enlarge)

That didn’t help the New World Translation out much, especially realizing that the Translation Committee didn’t know Hebrew or Greek.  Maybe the Septuagint will assist.  The Septuagint was written by 70 scholars (probably a few more) and was the first time a book had been translated from one language into another, that is, the Old Testament.  It was completed about 200 years before Christ; let’s look at this verse via the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.


Well, that yellow highlighted part literally means “I am” in Greek.  Maybe the Bible uses this Greek term for “I am” (GK: ego eimi) elsewhere.  Let’s try the New Testament; maybe John chapter 8 will shed some light on this matter:

JOHN 8:24-25, 53, 56-59 (I cross out “he” in 24, you will see why shortly)

  • 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning [….] 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? [….] 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (KJV)
  • 24 “Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”25 “Who are you?” they questioned. “Exactly what I’ve been telling you from the very beginning,” [….] 53Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died. Who do you claim to be?” [….]56“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”59 So they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple. (CSB)

By the way, make no mistake about it, this crowd was trying to kill Jesus for claiming to be connected to Exodus 3:14.  For elsewhere we find that these first century Jews understood what Jesus was trying to claim, for we read further along that:

JOHN 10:30-33

  • 30I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (KJV)
  • 30I and the Father are one.” 31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?” 33“We aren’t stoning you for a good work,”  the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.” (CSB)

Well, I know whenever I see an italicized “he” (jn 8:24) after “I am,” this “he” is in not a single ancient manuscript, so verse should read “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.”  This clear connection of ego eimi to the ego eimi in Exodus is what prompted the question from the Pharisees.  You do not have to be a Greek and Hebrew scholar to prove that the Watchtower Society has twisted these verses. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own study Bibles prove that Jesus was claiming to be the I am. Their 1984 large-print New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures with References has a footnote on Exodus 3:14, admitting that the Hebrew would be rendered into Greek a “Ego eimi”—“I am.” And their 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures reveals that Jesus’ words at John 8:58 are the same: “ego eimi” (footnotes), “I am” (interlinear text).   Let’s peer into a few more resources, the first being my most used interlinear (Click to Enlarge):



To be fair, let’s look at the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (KIT), maybe they have it right and everyone else has it wrong?


Why would they change one of the most simple Greek words that stand for “I am” into “I have been” as well as changing Exodus from “I am who I am” into “I Will Prove to Be What I Will Prove to Be” (NWT)? (The newest iteration is this):

  • So God said to Moses: “I Will Become What I Choose to Become.” And he added: “This is what you are to say to the Israelites, ‘I Will Become has sent me to you.’” (NWT)

I mean, every other place ego eimi comes up in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation it is translated “I am”. For instance, in case you need more evidence from Jehovah’s witnesses own literature:


Maybe the five “translators” (click to see picture of the five New World Translation – “translators) were trying to hide something.  What was or is this something?  Jesus put it this way in response to the Pharisees when they tried to challenge him. In Matthew 22:43, citing Psalm 110, Jesus said, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’ [Messiah]?” Jesus stumped his skeptical Jewish questioners by presenting then with a dilemma that blew their own neat calculations about the Messiah “Lord” (as he did in Psalm 110), when the Scriptures also say the Messiah would be the “Son of David” (which they do in 2 Samuel 7:12.)? The only answer is that the Messiah must be both a man (David’s son or offspring) and God (David’s Lord). Jesus is claiming to be both God and human, at the same time!

WOW!  But wait!  What about John 17:3(a)?  Doesn’t it say that we have to believe in the one true God, and this is part of our salvation?  Let’s read that again:

  • “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God.” (NWT)


How does this jive…?  According to this verse and the Isaiah verses, all other gods are false, there is only one true God.  This means by default that all other gods are false, right?  Maybe if we start at the beginning of John.  John 1:1 in my New World Translation reads as follows (right).

“A god”?  But part of my salvation depends on believing in the one true God, which means that Jesus must be a what?  A false god.  Isaiah states that there were no gods made before or after God, and since he is the Creator, He should know that no “gods” were created.  Since it seems that the authors of The New World Translation wanted to use occult commentators for verse one of John, as well as trying to cover up connections between Exodus and John, one should maybe try another translation for John 1:1 by persons who are listed at the beginning of the Bible who can be checked out to see if they know Greek and Hebrew, which they do. Let’s see:

KJV – “and the Word was God.”  Living Bible – “He has always been alive and is himself God.”  Today’s English Version – “and he was the same as God.”  New International Version – “and the word was God.”  Phillips Modern English – “and was God.”  Revised Standard Version – “and the Word was God.”  Jerusalem Bible – “and the Word was God.”  New English Bible – and what God was, the Word was.”  Holman Christian Standard Bible – “and the Word was God.”

While I’ll be the first to admit this may raise questions, one cannot look at this evidence and say that the Trinitarian formula is pagan.

Jesus Fulfilled Ezekiel’s Prophecy

It is something stated quite plainly all throughout the Bible, take for instance the prophecy found in Ezekiel 44:1-3 (KJV).

  • 1 Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. 2 Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. 3 It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate and shall go out by the way of the same. (KJV)
  • 1 The man then brought me back toward the sanctuary’s outer gate that faced east, and it was closed. 2 The LORD said to me, “This gate will remain closed. 3 It will not be opened, and no one will enter through it, because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it. Therefore it will remain closed. The prince himself will sit in the gate to eat a meal before the LORD. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gate and go out the same way.” (CSB)

This “east gate” has, indeed, long been completely sealed.  Whatever reason the Muslim rulers of Jerusalem may have had for this action at the time, the most remarkable testimony of this verse is that the Lord (YHWH), the God of Israel, once entered in by it.  That is, the Creator, Jehovah, the God of Israel, had become a man, that He might actually enter the temple through the east gate, the gate through which Ezekiel had just seen the shekinah glory come into the house (Ez 43:4).  In the new temple, the gate will be open again, and the God/man, the Kink of Kings, Jesus Christ, will enter thereby.


More from BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS contributor Andrew Shanks that explains better than this old paper of mine above:

The Eastern Gate is the only gate from the east leading directly into what used to be the Jewish temple complex.

The gate is part of the city wall rebuilt from 1537 to 1541 by Sultan Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire. It is believed this is the site of the Gate Beautiful mentioned in Acts 3:2. When Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into Latin (386 A.D.), he translated the Greek word “oraia” (beautiful), into the Latin “aurea” (golden). Thus the Eastern Gate came to us as The Golden Gate instead of The Gate Beautiful.

In 1969 archaeologist James Fleming was investigating the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount. As he went about with his research, the ground gave way and he dropped into a hole about eight feet deep where he found an older gate directly under the present Golden Gate.

According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter the city through the Eastern Gate. [takes a while to load at times]

The gate was bricked over and sealed on the orders of Suleiman I in 1541. Suleiman may have sealed the gate to better defend the city or because he wanted to prevent the fulfillment of the Jewish prophesy of the Messiah’s return through the Eastern Gate. Or maybe he wanted to prevent a Jewish insurrection following a false Messiah who would enter the city through the gate (to bolster his credentials).

Prior to Suleiman I, the gate had been closed in 810 (also by the Muslims), then reopened in 1102 by the Crusaders, and then walled up again by Saladin (the first sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty) after defeating the Crusaders in 1187 and gaining control of Palestine and the city of Jerusalem. This would have been the prior to construction of today’s blocked gate, because the gate and wall visible today was built by Suleiman I (the Magnificent).

In Ezekiel, written about 550 BCE, we read:

1 Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. 2 Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. 3 It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same. (Ezekiel 44:1-3)

Two things should be noticed:

  1. It says the gate shall be sealed because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it. It shall be sealed after the Lord has gone through it; and
  2. The Lord shall enter in and go out by the same way.

In Mark’s Gospel, on supposedly Palm Sunday, our Lord entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives to go to the temple. He would have gone through the Gate Beautiful, the Eastern Gate. In Mark’s Gospel we read:

And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve (Mark 11:11).

Bethany is to the east on the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1). It is difficult to escape the conclusion that our Lord by, on the same day, “entering in” by “the gate of the outward sanctuary that looks towards the east” and going out “by way of the same”, was intentionally fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 44:1-3 in addition to deliberately fulfilling Zechariah 9:9,

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

By approaching on a colt, and entering by the Eastern Gate, and later leaving by the same gate, he was proclaiming who he was loud and clear: the time for hiding his Messiahship from his enemies the Jewish leaders was ended: now he would allow them to be provoked to destroy him.

Whatever the motives of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1541, the bricking up of the gate is confirmation from Almighty God that the Lord, the God of Israel, has already passed through the gate in agreement with Ezekiel 44:2, “This gate shall be shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has passed through it”.

What we are looking at in the photo above, I believe, is the fulfilment of prophecy, and confirmation Jesus of Nazareth is Christ the Lord, the God of Israel.

(Andrew Shanks then links to this site for more)

WOW! Again

I would be remiss if I didn’t correct a favorite resource of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that is the book entitled, Reasoning from the Scriptures, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.  I will also refute some of the Watchtower’s misquoting of Church Fathers found in the Watchtower booklet Should You Believe in the Trinity.  I realize this is long, but if you read it with thoughtful patience, you will begin to see just how a false religious movement can distort and twist not only Scripture, but history as well as scholars.  Enjoy, but be warned, it is a bit technical.


The Genealogies of Jesus | A Supposed Contradiction, Explained

(This was originally posted in May of 2015, updated in Oct of 2022, and  Nov 2023)

This first video is the why the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke are important. It is in Hebrew with English text underneath, so you may need a larger home computer screen for it. If the text moves too fast, there is a tool in the lower right of the YouTube video to slow it down. This helps. But this is a powerful video, a must watch. (Video Description) Is Jesus a descendant of the line of David? Or is His lineage full of contradictions as the Rabbis claim?? (This is my 2022 addition)


This is my original post, I will note the addition I will add to it after.


The “Genealogy” of Jesus

Norman Geisler explains the apparent contradiction between Matthew and Luke’s genealogies.

This is one of the more popular examples of a Biblical contradiction that is for the most part brought up by Muslims to show the Bible is a document riddled with problems. However, if one gives this document the same attestation as one gives to any other text of history, say, Livy’s History of Rome or Caesar’s Gallic Wars, then the alleged contradictions disappear. On this test John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic himself.” With this in mind, lets see what some have to say about this “contradiction.”

Matthew 1:1-16 gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, who was himself a descendant of King David. As Joseph’s adopted Son, Jesus became his legal heir, so far as his inheritance was concerned. Notice carefully the wording of verse 16: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ [messiah]” (NASB). This stands in contrast to the format followed in the preceding verses of the succession of Joseph’s ancestors: “Abraham begat [egennesen] Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, etc.” Joseph is not said to have begotten Jesus: rather he is referred to as “the husband of Mary, of whom [Gk. feminine genitive] Jesus was born.”

Luke 3:23-38, on the other hand seems to record the genealogical line of Mary herself, carried all the way back beyond the time of Abraham to Adam and the commencement of the human race. This seems to be implied by the wording of verse 23: “Jesus… being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” This “as was supposed” indicates that Jesus was not really the biological son of Joseph, even though this was commonly assumed by the public. It further calls attention to the mother, Mary, who must of necessity have been the sole human parent through whom Jesus could have descended from a line of ancestors. Her genealogy is thereupon listed, starting with Heli, who was actually Joseph’s father-in-law, in contradistinction to Joseph’s own father, Jacob:

And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli – Luke 3:23 [Mary]

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary – Matthew 1:16 [Joseph]

Mary’s line of descent came through Nathan, a son of Bathsheba (or “Bathshua,” according to 1 Chronicles 3:5), the wife of David. Therefore, Jesus was descended from David naturally through Nathan and legally through Solomon.

The coming Messiah of Israel had to be able to prove this lineage as it was prophesied in the Old Testament that He would in fact be a descendant of David. The Jews kept meticulous records at the temple mount of all the genealogical records of the Hebrew people. This information was “public knowledge,” or, verifiable by even the Pharisees. The Romans destroyed these records in A.D. 70. (This is very important – prophetically speaking – because the Orthodox Jews [as opposed to the Messianic Jews] are still awaiting their Messiah, however, he cannot be traced to David or Abraham! A prerequisite for Messiah clearly stated in the Old Testament.) Also of importance is the fact that Luke is very close to Mary, remember that Jesus gave him charge of her while shortly before he died.

Here is Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe in their book, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, explaining the dealio:

LUKE 3:23 —Why does Luke present a different ancestral tree for Jesus than the one in Matthew?

PROBLEM: Jesus has a different grandfather here in Luke 3:23 (Heli) than He does in Matthew 1:16 (Jacob). Which one is the right one?

SOLUTION: This should be expected, since they are two different lines of ancestors, one traced through His legal father, Joseph and the other through His actual mother, Mary. Matthew gives the official line, since he addresses Jesus’ genealogy to Jewish concerns for the Jewish Messiah’s credentials which required that Messiah come from the seed of Abraham and the line of David (cf. Matt. 1:1). Luke, with a broader Greek audi­ence in view, addresses himself to their interest in Jesus as the Perfect Man (which was the quest of Greek thought). Thus, he traces Jesus back to the first man, Adam (Luke 3:38).

That Matthew gives Jesus’ paternal genealogy and Luke his maternal genealogy is further supported by several facts. First of all, while both lines trace Christ to David, each is through a different son of David. Matthew traces Jesus through Joseph (his legal father) to David’s son, Solomon the king, by whom Christ rightfully inherited the throne of David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff). Luke’s purpose, on the other hand, is to show Christ as an actual human. So he traces Christ to David’s son, Nathan, through his actual mother, Mary, through whom He can rightfully claim to be fully human, the redeemer of humanity.

Further, Luke does not say that he is giving Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph. Rather, he notes that Jesus was “as was supposed” (Luke 3:23) the son of Joseph, while He was actually the son of Mary. Also, that Luke would record Mary’s genealogy fits with his interest as a doctor in mothers and birth and with his emphasis on women in his Gospel which has been called “the Gospel for Women.”

Finally, the fact that the two genealogies have some names in common (such as Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, Matt. 1:12; cf. Luke 3:27) does not prove they are the same genealogy for two reasons. One, these are not uncommon names. Further, even the same genealogy (Luke’s) has a repeat of the names Joseph and Judah (3: 26, 30).

Matthew and Luke each record a different Genealogy for the family of Jesus, so is this a Bible contradiction that cannot be resolved? This video addresses this Supposed Bible Contradiction.

This a a partial excerpt from a great article over
at APOLOGETIC PRESS, enjoy. Click to enlarge:

First, Matthew reported the lineage of Christ only back to Abraham; Luke traced it all the way back to Adam. Second, Matthew used the expression “begat;” Luke used the expression “son of,” which results in his list being a complete reversal of Matthew’s. Third, the two genealogical lines parallel each other from Abraham to David. Fourth, beginning with David, Matthew traced the paternal line of descent through Solomon; Luke traced the maternal line through Solomon’s brother, Nathan.

A fifth factor that must be recognized is that the two lines (paternal and maternal) link together in the intermarriage of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. But the linkage separates again in the two sons of Zerubbabel—Rhesa and Abiud. Sixth, the two lines come together once again for a final time in the marriage of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was the end of the paternal line, while Mary was the last of the maternal line as the daughter of Heli.

The reason Joseph is said to be the “son” of Heli (Mary’s father) brings forth a seventh consideration: the Jewish use of “son.” Hebrews used the word in at least five distinct senses: (1) in the sense used today of a one-generation offspring; (2) in the sense of a descendant, whether a grandson or a more remote descendant many generations previous, e.g., Matthew 1:1; 21:9; 22:42 (“begat” had this same flexibility in application); (3) as a son-in-law (the Jews had no word to express this concept and so just used “son”—e.g., 1 Samuel 24:16; 26:17); (4) in accordance with the Levirate marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; cf. Matthew 22:24-26), a deceased man would have a son through a surrogate father who legally married the deceased man’s widow (e.g., Ruth 2:20; 3:9,12; 4:3-5); and (5) in the sense of a step-son who took on the legal status of his step-father—the relationship sustained by Jesus to Joseph (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 3:23; 4:22; John 6:42).

Notice carefully that Joseph was a direct-line, blood descendant of David and, therefore, of David’s throne. Here is the precise purpose of Matthew’s genealogy: it demonstrated Jesus’ legal right to inherit the throne of David—a necessary prerequisite to authenticating His Messianic claim. However, an equally critical credential was His blood/physical descent from David—a point that could not be established through Joseph since “after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, emp. added). This feature of Christ’s Messiahship was established through His mother Mary, who was also a blood descendant of David (Luke 1:30-32). Both the blood of David and the throne of David were necessary variables to qualify and authenticate Jesus as the Messiah

Here is Dr. Archer getting into the technical aspects of another part of the genealogy lineage:

Does not Matthew 1:9 err in listing Uzziah as the father of Jotham?

Matthew 1:9, which gives the gene­alogy of Jesus through His legal father, Joseph, states, “Ozias begat Joatham.” These are the Greek forms of Uzziah and Jotham. Some are con­fused by this mention of Uzziah, be­cause Jotham’s father is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7 and in 1 Chronicles 3:12. On the other hand, 2 Kings 15:32,34 calls him Uzziah rather than Azariah and refers to him as the father of Jotham. The same is true of 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 27:2; Isaiah 1:1: 6:1; 7:1. The names are different. but they refer to the same king. `” zaryah (“Azariah”) means “Yahweh has helped,” whereas `uzzi-yahu (“Uzziah”) means “Yahweh is my strength.” The reason for the two names is not given in the biblical record, but the fact that he bore them both (perhaps Azariah was later replaced by Uzziah) is beyond dispute.

There are various reasons for the acquisition of second names in the case of Israel’s leaders. Gideon acquired the name Jerubbaal because of his destruc­tion of the altar of Baal at Ophrah (Judg. 6:32; 7:1; 8:29, etc.). Rehoboam’s son Abijam was also called Abijah (cf. 1 Kings 14:31; 15:1,7-8 for Abijam and 1 Chron. 3:10; 2 Chron. 12:16 for Abijah). Jehoahaz son of Josiah also bore the name of Shallum (2 Kings 23:21 and 1 Chron. 3:15; Jer. 22:11). Jehoiakim, Josiah’s oldest son, was originally named Eliakim; but Pharaoh Necho changed his name to Jehoiakim (i.e., “Yahweh will establish” rather than “God will establish”), ac­cording to 2 Kings 23:34. Likewise Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim was also known as Jeconiah, and Zedekiah’s original name was Mattaniah.

Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 316-317.

The above comes from:



WHAT IS NEW is the information I recently came across by THE BIBLE PROJECT (TBP). Their opening part of their Matthew video is informative in the genealogical aspect as to the deeper meaning.

But they got me on to another tangent as well. And it made me think, that to the Jewish mind at the time, it was like a flashing sign in the background of Matthews adept work. Here is a portion of the commentary by TBP:

Just think about the separated sections of the genealogy of Matthew. It is broken up into three parts that cover 14 generations each. But why 14?

Within the written language of Hebrew, the letters are also used as their numbers, and so each letter is assigned a numerical value. The name of David in Hebrew is “דוד,” and from here you just do the math. The numerical value of the first and third letter “ד” (called dalet) is 4. The middle letter “ו” (called waw) has a numerical value of 6. Put it into your mental calculator: 4+6+4=14, the numerical value of the name of “David.”

Matthew has created the genealogy so that it links Jesus to David both explicitly and in the very literary design of the list. In fact, Matthew wants to highlight this “14=David” idea so much that he’s intentionally left out multiple generations of the line of David (three, to be exact) to make the numbers work.

Wait, Matthew has taken people out of the genealogy?

Yes, but this is not a scandal. Leaving out generations to create symbolic numbers in genealogies is a common Hebrew literary practice, going all the way back to the genealogies in Genesis (the 10 generations of Genesis 5, or the 70 descendants of Genesis 46). Ancient genealogies were ways of making theological claims, and Matthew’s readers would have understood exactly what he was doing and why.

Matthew didn’t make numerical adjustments only. He also adjusted a few letters in some names for the same purpose. For example, he changed the names of Asa and Amon to Asaph (the poet featured in the book of Psalms) and Amos (the famous prophet). Matthew is winking at us here, knowing that his readers would spot these out of place names. The point, of course, is that Jesus doesn’t just fulfill Israel’s royal hopes, but also the hope of the Psalms (Asaph) and the Prophets (Amos). Jesus is from a line of kingly succession that also culminates the rich tradition of worship and prophecy of Israel. This way, readers are thinking about all of Israel and her history as they meet Jesus for the first time. The irony is that some modern translations haven’t gotten the pun, and so have changed the names back to their “original” referents. Ah, well.

Let me just break out here and note Ligonier’s comment of the number 14 being used. They simply state:

  • “fourteen” is likely intended as an aid for memorization.

This may be the only reason behind Matthew’s use of 14, but, I believe it is a bit more than just that. I tend to side a bit with Hank Hanegraaff’s comments being added as “and another reason”…

  • Matthew employs the practice of gematria and orders the genealogy according to the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters in King David’s name (4 + 6 + 4 = D + V + D). Matthew highlights the most significant names in the lineage of Jesus, artistically emphasizing Jesus as Messiah, who forever sits upon the throne of David. 

Some Christians may think this is “numerology” in some occultic sense, it is not that at all.

A word of warning however, the Kabbalistic tradition does take this to an occultic level. For instance, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has this notation to their “Gematria” post:

  • Though it does seem that there are some very legitimate and interesting Gematria relationships found in the Bible, we can also see that Kabbalists could take the phenomena too far in their esoteric and mystical explanations of Scripture.

 I will “highlight” the portion below in one of the Biblical dictionaries noting this, as well as putting in the APPENDIX more info on Kabbalism.


Here is Biblical critic, Bart Ehrman talking about this section (yes, I paid the man to open up this section for this post. I donated to an atheist critic, lol). The second theory here is the one I think is in Matthews wheelhouse:

…..I pointed out in the previous post that Matthew presents a numerically significant genealogy of Jesus in order to show that something of major significance happen every fourteen generations:  from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to David, the greatest king of the Jews: fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Captivity, the greatest disaster for the Jews: fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian Captivity to the Messiah Jesus, the ultimate savior of the Jews: fourteen generations.

It’s a terrific genealogy.  But to get to this 14-14-14 schema, Matthew had to manipulate the names in a couple of places, for example, by leaving out some of the generations and by counting the final set of names as fourteen, even though there are only thirteen.   And so, we might wonder whether the number fourteen, in particular, was for some reasons significant for Matthew.  Why not 15, or 12?

Over the years interpreters of Matthew have puzzled over the question and have suggested two, in particular, that strike me as interesting.

First, in ancient Israel, as in a number of other ancient societies where numbers had symbolic significance, the number seven was supremely important: it signified perfection or even divinity (as you’ll notice when you read the book of Revelation, for example, where seven’s turn up a lot).   The ancients divided the week into seven days, probably because they believed that there were seven planets.  For some ancient Jews there were seven stages in a person’s life and seven parts to the human soul; there were seven heavens, seven compartments of hell, and seven divisions of Paradise and seven attributes of God.  There were seven classes of angels.  And so on.   Consider the words of the famous first-century Jewish philosopher Philo: “I doubt whether anyone could adequately celebrate the properties of the number seven, for they are beyond words” (On the Creation of the World, 30).

If seven is a perfect number, a number associated with the divine, what then is fourteen?  Twice seven!  In cultures for which numbers matter, fourteen would have been a doubly perfect number.  Did Matthew set up Jesus’ genealogy to show the divine perfection of his descent?

A second theory ties the genealogy yet more closely into Matthew’s own portrayal of Jesus.  In ancient languages the numbers were typically represented by letters of the alphabet, so that in Hebrew, for example, Aleph was one, Beth was two, Gimel three, etc.  When you hit ten, then the next letter was twenty, then thirty, and so on; and when you hit 100 the next letter was 200, then 300 and so on.   Among other things, this meant that every word had a numerical value: you could just add up the letters.  (In ancient Judaism, this method of interpreting words according to their numerical value was called “gematria.”)

Matthew in particular wants to emphasize that Jesus is the Jewish messiah, the “son of David.”  And what does David’s name add up to?  In Hebrew there are no vowels, only consonants (which makes reading it very interesting indeed!  Luckily, in the middle ages, Jewish scribes added a series of dots to the consonantal letters to indicate the appropriate vowels, so that some of us who are not experts – like me – read Hebrew only with the vowels added.  But originally there weren’t any).  And so David is spelled D-V-D (Daleth-Vav-Daleth).   The D (Daleth) is worth 4 and the V (Vav) is worth 6.   So the numerical value of David’s name is fourteen!  Has Matthew emphasized the number fourteen in Jesus’ genealogy in order to stress his Davidic roots as the messiah of the Jews?

Okay, time to bring that big word Bart used, gematria, into the Biblical definition arena… many do not know the extent of the use of this was in Matthews day. Games were even played using it.

And I wish to note, my wife, who is an accountant/finance person, loves playing what game? Sudoku. You don’t think Matthew was a numbers guy? First a shorter Biblical dictionary definition then a more in-depth one. In this Tyndale Bible Dictionary excerpt, I include their commentary partial explanation to the significance of the number fourteen.

GEMATRIA* One of the rabbinic hermeneutic rules for interpreting the OT. It consisted of explaining a word or group of words according to the numerical value of the letters or by substituting and rearranging certain letters according to a set system. By that rule of interpretation, for example, some rabbis have argued that Eliezer (Gn 15:2) was worth all the servants of Abraham put together, for Abraham had 318 servants and Eliezer’s name equaled 318 (Gn 14:14). The name Babylon is arrived at in Jeremiah 25:26 and 51:41 by substituting the last letter of the Hebrew word for the first letter of the same word.

The pseudepigraphal Epistle of Barnabas interprets the 318 servants of Abraham (Gn 14:14) as pointing to Jesus’ death on the cross, because 300 is the numerical value of the Greek letter “t,” which is cross-shaped, and 18 the value of the first two letters of the Greek word for Jesus. In the book of Revelation the number of the beast is 666 (Rv 13:18). If the number seven is considered to be the perfect number in the Bible, and if three sevens represent complete perfection, then the number 666 falls completely short of perfection.


5. In verse 6 David is called “the king.”

From these data, it is obvious that Matthew does not intend to present a strict genealogy; the arrangement is contrived, and extraneous material is included, probably for some other purpose than merely to present Jesus’ forebears. Matthew’s arrangement of the names into groups of 14, probably guided by an interest in portraying Jesus to Jews as the promised king of Israel and rightful heir to the Davidic throne, gives a definite historical movement to the genealogy by dividing it into three periods of time. These respectively highlight the origin, rise to power, and decay of the Davidic house, the last point represented by the lowly birth of the promised heir to a carpenter of Nazareth.

The 14 names in each group may be an effort to call attention to the thrice-royal character of Mary’s son by focusing on the numerical value 14 of the Hebrew letters in David’s name (d=4, v=6, d=4). This number also happens to be twice the sacred number seven, so that the whole list is composed of three sets of two sevens each. It may be, however, that the contrived groupings were merely intended to aid in memorization.

Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 517, 519.

Here is The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary description which delves a little deeper on the subject of gematria for the studious researcher with limited resources:

gematria (gay-mah´tree-uh), the practice of assigning a numerical value to proper names or to related words and expressions. This was easily done in the ancient world because, in both Hebrew and Greek, letters of the alphabet were also used as numerals. It became commonplace for people to add up the numerical value of the letters that were used to spell any person’s name and to regard the sum of those numbers as “the number of (that) person’s name” (cf. Rev. 13:17–18). For example, if gematria were practiced with the modern-day English alphabet, an A would be equal to 1, a B would be equal to 2, and so forth. After the tenth letter, the eleventh (K) would be equal to 20, the twelfth (L) would be equal to 30, and so on until, with the twenty-first letter (U), multiples of 100 would be used. The proper name “Mark” would end up consisting of four letters with these numerical values: M = 40; A = 1; R = 90; K = 20. The sum of these numbers (40 + 1 + 90 + 20) would be 151, so in modern-day gematria, it could be said that the number of Mark’s name is 151. Today, this would seem like a code, but the whole process would have been less mysterious in the biblical world, when everyone already knew the numerical value of each individual letter. In any case, gematria became very popular in certain times and places. In the Greco-Roman world, during nt times, it often became the basis for jokes and riddles; for these to have functioned as they did at a popular level, most people would have to have known the numbers of their own names, as well as the numbers to be associated with other prominent people. Most Jews would have known that the letters in the name “David” (in Hebrew) added to 14 and most Christians would have known that the letters in the name “Jesus” (in Greek) added to 888. Likewise, the first readers of the book of Revelation probably knew that the letters in the name “Caesar Nero” (in Hebrew) added to either 666 or 616, depending on how it was spelled. Accordingly, Rev. 13:18 reveals the number of the beast to be 666 in some manuscripts and 616 in others.

The practice of gematria consists of assigning a numerical value to a word or phrase by adding together the values of the individual letters. This works in Hebrew and Greek, where the letters of the alphabet can also serve as numerals. In Greek, the marks signifying 6 and 90 were not used as letters in New Testament times.

In the Roman world, gematria became a basis for riddles, jokes, and games:

  • Graffiti on a wall in Pompeii reads, “I love her whose number is 545.”
  • As a political joke, Suetonius (Nero 39) indicates that the name “Nero” (Νέρων) and the phrase “killed his own mother” (ίδίαν μντέρα άπέκτεινε) have the same numerical value (1,005) when written in Greek. This was pertinent because the emperor was rumored to have murdered his mother.

In Christianity and Judaism, gematria could provide a basis for religious symbolism:

  • Rabbis noted that “Eliezer’ (אליעזר), the name of Abraham’s favored servant (Gen. 15:2), has a numerical value of 318, which is the total number of servants mentioned in Gen. 14:14. Thus, Eliezer was equal to all the rest of the servants combined.
  • The Hebrew letters in the name “David” (דוד) add up to 14, so that number could be accorded messianic significance: the messiah was to be the Son of David. This is probably why Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes that the genealogy of Jesus can be divided into three sets of 14 generations (Matt. 1:17).
  • The Greek letters in the name “Jesus” (′Ιησογυς) add up to 888, which some early Christians found significant: 8 surpasses 7 (the number for perfection) and heralds a “new creation” beyond what God did in the first 7 days (Gen. 1:1–2:3).

Many scholars think that gematria holds the clue to resolving the puzzle of 666, the number attributed to the beast in Rev. 13:18:

  • A popular spelling for the name of the emperor Nero adds up to 666 when written in Hebrew (קסרנרון = Caesar Neron). An alternate spelling (קסרנרו = Caesar Nero) adds up to 616, a variant reading for the number of the beast found in some manuscripts of Revelation.
  • A designation for the emperor Domitian that sometimes appeared on Greek coins also adds up to 666: Kai. Domet. Seb. Ge. (an abbreviation for Autokratōr Kaisar Dometianos Sebastos Germanikos = Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus Germanicus).

Over time, most Jewish and Christian groups abandoned the practice of gematria, perhaps because certain groups used numerology in connection with magic and the occult. The practice still features prominently in kabbalah and other mystical traditions.

Mark Allan Powell, “Gematria,” in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated), ed. Mark Allan Powell (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 316.

How can we start to dissect what Matthew was writing? By looking at the time he wrote it, to whom he was writing to, the culture and practices we know of from that time and people group, etc:

  • Who was the writer?
  • To whom were they writing?
  • Is the choice of words, wording, or word order significant in this particular passage?
  • What is the cultural, historical context?
  • What was the author’s original intended meaning?
  • How did the author’s contemporaries understand him?
  • Why did he say it that way?

(See my post on hermeneutics)

The above in the 2023 section goes a long way — I believe — to add more context to the issue of Matthews 14/14/14. So, all this to say that Matthew was throwing in that “flashing Neon Sign” that was saying three times:

David – David – David



This section is not important to the above… I am place carding this here as my first dealing with the topi/issue of Kabbalism. The WATCHMEN FELLOWSHIP has a good short definition of it:

  • Kabbalah: (Various spellings) Mystical Jewish teachings intermingled with teachings of gnosticism, Neoplatonism, magic and the occult. The word Kabbalah means secret oral tradition and was coined by an eleventh century Spanish philosopher, Ibn Gabirol. The philosophy developed in Babylon during the middle ages from earlier Hebrew speculation and numerology. An early Kabbalist, Moses de Leon, developed and systematized the philosophy in his thirteenth century work, The Book of Zolar (sometimes spelled Zohar meaning “Splendor”).

Here is the most accessible post on Kabbalism for the layman via GOT QUESTIONS:

Kabbalah, also spelled Kaballah, Qabalah, or Cabalah, developed between the 6th and 13th centuries among the Jews in Babylonia, Italy, Provence, and Spain. The word “Kabbalah” means “to receive” and refers to revelation from God received by Jews and passed to succeeding generations through oral tradition. The word was first used by mainstream Judaism but later came to refer to those who believed that only a select few were given the secret knowledge from God as to the “true” meaning of Scriptures. Kabbalah uses occult practices and is considered to be a cult.

Kabbalah closely resembles some of the beliefs held by the Greek Gnostics in that both groups believed that only a select few were given deeper understanding or knowledge. Also, Kabbalah teaches that “emanations” from God did the work of creation, denying that creation was a creative act directly from God (Genesis 1). With each descending emanation, the emanation became farther away from God. The final emanation took the personal form of angels.


Kabbalah, like all false doctrine and religions, denies the deity of Christ and the necessity of faith in Him as the only means of salvation (John 14:6). Jesus is God in the flesh, and He came to die for the sins of all who would believe in Him. If an individual trusts in Christ—that He is God (John 1:1-3) and paid for sin (Romans 8:3)—then that person is forgiven and becomes a child of God (John 1:12).

They have a lot in common with Gnostics I doodled this explanation of “emanations” during a very long conversation with actor Michael Berryman in discussion about [among other things] another modern day Gnostic religion, Freemasons:

Like Gnostics and Freemason and followers of the other New Age religions, Jesus is not Divine, God. Madonna is one of the more famous celebrities to “dabble” in it’s practices.

New York: `Material Girl` Madonna has been promoted to the highest level that can be achieved without being ordained, at the Kabbalah Church.

According to, the singer, who is a staunch follower of the mystical Jewish religion, was promoted to an upper category of Kabbalah followers in a ceremony conducted by the Kabbalah Centre founder Rabbi Berg.

“Her teachers think she has reached the pinnacle of spiritual understanding. To Madonna this is the best achievement of her life,” a source said.

It was under Madge’s influence that celebrities like Demi Moore and Britney Spears became attracted towards Kabbalah.


  • There is a pretty good 1920 definition of this esoteric, “New” Age occultic tradition by Lewis Spence in his Encyclopedia of Occultism. He is not a Christian source FYI. (I PDF’ed It) It does get into the weeds a bit, and is dated.
  • The Christian Research Institute tackles it a bi in their article “What Is Kabbalah?
  • Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has quite a few articles to dissect Kabbalism.

A decent covering of the topic:

The Messianic Movement is a broad term to refer to Jewish believers in Jesus. There are many Messianic movements today such as Jews for Jesus and others. However, within the Messianic Movement there are also some who teach heretical doctrines like the cults. Among some of these heretical doctrines is a denial of God’s compound unity (God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Dr. Tony Costa interviews Dr. Igal German in a series of questions related to the Messianic Movement. Dr. Igal German is a Jewish believer in Jesus.