Struggling With the Trinity, Some Examples

JUMP to the update showing Allah and the his word (the Qur’an) got it wrong

DENNIS PRAGER

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.


DAVID WOODS UPDATE


ISLAM

  • “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.


AN OLD POST RE-POSTED


SOME CULTS

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):

TRINITY

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).

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

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.

DIETY OF CHRIST

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

Also, LDS struggle with the following a tad:

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

One of the best books I have read on the topic of the Trinity is by an ex-Oneness Pentecostal, Robert Bowman,

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.


Two SCRIBD Papers


A Letter I Wrote A Co-Worker by Papa Giorgio

Apologetics – Trinity Defined by Papa Giorgio

Does the Bible Advocate For “Open Borders”?

This was from a Facebook post from a friends wall… I wanted to add this verse to a discussion I had from 2018 when Santa Clarita was discussing becoming a “sanctuary city”

This post should be read as a companion to the above, older post.

I will post the “meme” making a point about Leviticus… which the WASHINGTON TIMES (June 24, 2018) responds to well. Even their headline: Suddenly, the left loves Leviticus Funny, they reject the edicts against the gay lifestyle in Leviticus but accept what they want.

Here is the “meme”

Great article by Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, at the Washington Times:

This week in the news: All of the sudden, the mainstream media, Hollywood, the liberal church, and other members of our national intelligentsia seem to care about what the Bible says. In particular, they appear to have suddenly acquired some affection for the Old Testament — a book that, heretofore, these proud members of the “smarter-than-thou” club have excoriated as laden with “hate-filled rhetoric.”

More to the point: These newly minted defenders of biblical orthodoxy seem to have all of the sudden fallen in love with the third book of the Jewish Torah (otherwise known as the Pentateuch); a book referred to in the Bible as Leviticus.

One of the passages quoted over and over again in recent days has been that of Leviticus 19: 33-34, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

As a Wesleyan university president and as a Christian, I am always thrilled when anyone wants to discuss scripture. But let us first be sure we are taking every measure to be historically, theologically, logically, linguistically and hermeneutically accurate in our efforts. I hope we can all agree that any exegesis to the contrary, any misusing and misapplying the Bible for political gain, is a detestable and damnable practice.

Old Testament scholar and Wheaton College Professor James Hoffmeier is a person who actually lived as an alien in the Middle East growing up. His family had to flee Egypt because of the 1967 war. For nearly two months, they lived in tents at a mountain camp in Cyprus. Not only does Mr. Hoffmeier know his Bible, he knows what it is like to be the “stranger” in a foreign land.

It is fair to say that he is not insensitive to plight of immigrants. Please read carefully what Mr. Hoffmeier has to say about the Levitical directive to care for the “stranger” in our midst:

“What I learned in my study is that there are three relevant terms used in Hebrew [for the word ‘stranger’] (ger, zar, nekhar). [Some translators] render them all as [simply] ‘foreigner.’ That is misleading and incorrect.

“Zar and nekhar, indeed, refer to foreigners or visitors passing through a foreign land. [But], Ger refer[s] to foreign residents who live in another land with the permission of a host The law is clear that ger is not to be oppressed but they were also obligated to live in accordance with the laws just like the Israelites.”

Mr. Hoffmeier goes further:

“The Law does not, however, extend to the zar and nekhar such [protections], benefits and services. From this I conclude that ger was viewed as a legal alien. The mistake of some well-meaning Christians is to apply the biblical laws for the ger to illegal aliens in America even though they do not fit the biblical legal and social definition.”

Mr. Hoffmeier concludes:

“The Old Testament Law is very clear about the practice of sanctuary The purpose of sanctuary was not to avoid the law or one’s sentence, but to get a fair trial So, when American[s] offer their cities as sanctuary from federal law, or when churches offer their facilities as a refuge for illegal immigrants who have been tried and order deported, they are neither following the letter or spirit of the Old Testament law.”

The biblical narrative is not one without borders. Just read the book of Nehemiah — it is a story about rebuilding a wall. Boundaries have existed throughout antiquity. Yes, Abraham was a sojourner who crossed borders, but he sought approval in order to do so and such permission was granted contingent upon his agreement to honor and obey the laws of the country of his desired residence.

Yes, Egypt and Israel alike allowed “strangers” to travel in their countries, but they never stopped defending their own sovereignty and territorial integrity. Bottom line: Abraham was an alien who sought permission before entering Egypt and there is no indication that, centuries later, Mary and Joseph did anything different as they crossed the same boundaries with the baby Jesus.

A quote this week from a Facebook friend named Nancy is perhaps the best response of any to those suddenly infatuated with Leviticus:

“Manipulating the definition of words is one of the hallmarks of genius propaganda. Take a sliver of truth and use misquotes or quotes out of context Ignore history and facts. Get all the people who read the first few sentences of an article all worked up and sit back and smirk at the mayhem Could [this] all be a giant power play at the expense of the children who are apparently just pawns in this game?”

Amen, Nancy. Amen.

Here are some quick takes as well:

19:33 The “foreigner” (Hb. ger) in the Bible was most often a foreign merchant, craftsman, or mercenary soldier. This term never refers to the prior inhabitants of the land. Generous actions to foreigners were motivated by the memory of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt (Ex 23:9; Dt 5:14–15).

Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 182.

Do him wrong: the verb may be translated “mistreat,” “oppress,” “exploit,” or “take unfair advantage of.” In this context there seems to be the idea of a person in a position of power taking unfair advantage of one who is weak.

René Péter-Contesse and John Ellington, A Handbook on Leviticus, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1992), 299.

Vers. 33, 34. Lange: “Humanity towards the stranger, who is not a Jew, who thus certainly might dwell as a private man in the future inheritance of Israel. He was to be treated exactly as an inhabitant in human intercourse. Thou shalt love him as thyself.—With this the remembrance is still preserved that the Israelites had been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The royal law of ver. 18 is here expressly extended to the stranger, and notwithstanding the national narrowness necessary to preserve the true religion in the world, the general brotherhood of mankind is hereby taught as far as was possible under the circumstances.

John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, and Frederic Gardiner, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Leviticus (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 152.

Here is a good short video via GOT QUESTIONS regarding illegal immigration:

  • What does the Bible say about illegal immigration? How should Christians view illegal immigrants?

And here is a good post over at CULTURE WATCH:

….I want to focus on the Hebrew terminology used in the Leviticus passage (and in others). One expert that is worth being aware of is Old Testament professor James Hoffmeier. He has written a very important and incisive volume on these matters called The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible (Crossway, 2009).

I have quoted from him before, as in this piece: CHRISTIANS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

In pages 48-52 of his book he has a section called “What is an alien according to the Bible?” It is a very important discussion indeed. However, for those who cannot get hold of his excellent book, he did an article-length discussion of these particular matters in 2011 called “The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate”.

Since the material in the article is fairly similar to what is found in his book, let me make use of the article here. He opens his piece with these words:

Secularists and liberals, both political and religious, are typically loath to consult the Bible when it comes to matters of public policy. So it is somewhat surprising that in the current debate about the status of illegal immigrants, the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is regularly cited in defense of the illegal. Debra Haffner, a Unitarian Universalist minister — a denomination not known for taking Scripture seriously — offered a recent critique of the Arizona illegal immigration law in the Washington Post online (May 25, 2010), saying “It’s as if the 70 percent of Arizonans who support the law have forgotten the Biblical injunction to ‘love the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’” This verse and others like it are frequently quoted in the name of “justice” for the illegal immigrant. A left-wing Christian advocacy group Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which is affiliated with Sojourners, had this passage on its website: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the stranger. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you.” (Leviticus 19:33)

But the main point is how the biblical writers use certain specific terms when they seek to make specific points – something that can get easily lost however in some English translations. So let me quote this important part of his article:

What about the “stranger” or “alien”? The Bible is not “a living breathing document” that can mean whatever you want it to say. This question must be answered contextually and based on what the key words meant when they were written before we apply what that might mean in our own times. The most significant Hebrew word for our discussion is ger, translated variously in English versions, which creates some confusion, as “stranger” (KJV, NASB, JB), “sojourner” (RSV, ESV), “alien” (NEB, NIV, NJB, NRSV), and “foreigner” (TNIV, NLT). It occurs more than 80 times as a noun and an equal number as a verb (gwr), which typically means “to sojourn” or “live as an alien.” The problem with more recent English translations (e.g. TNIV and NLT) is that they use “foreigner” for ger, which is imprecise and misleading because there are other Hebrew terms for “foreigner,” namely nekhar and zar. The distinction between these two terms and ger is that while all three are foreigners who might enter another country, the ger had obtained legal status.

There are several episodes in the Bible that illustrate how a foreigner became a ger. The individual or party had to receive permission from the appropriate authority in that particular culture. Perhaps the best-known story has to do with the Children of Israel entering Egypt. In the book of Genesis, we are told of how during a time of famine in Canaan, the sons of Jacob did the natural thing under the circumstances — go to Egypt where the Nile kept the land fertile. Even though their brother Joseph was a high-ranking official who had recommended to Pharaoh that they be allowed to settle in the northeast delta of Egypt, they felt compelled to ask Pharaoh for permission:

He looks at Genesis 47:3-6, and then discusses a few other passages. He then says this:

From the foregoing texts we can conclude that in the ancient biblical world, countries had borders that were protected and respected, and that foreigners who wanted to reside in another country had to obtain some sort of permission in order to be considered an alien with certain rights and privileges. The delineation between the “alien” or “stranger” (ger) and the foreigner (nekhar or zar) in biblical law is stark indeed. The ger in Israelite society, for instance, could receive social benefits such as the right to glean in the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22) and they could receive resources from the tithes (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). In legal matters, “there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:15-16). In the area of employment, the ger and citizen were to be paid alike (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). In all these cases, no such provision is extended to the nekhar or zar. In a sense, the ger were not just aliens to whom social and legal protections were offered, but were also considered converts, and thus could participate in the religious life of the community, e.g. celebrate Passover (Exodus 12:13) and observe Yom Kippur, the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:29-30). They were, moreover, expected to keep dietary and holiness laws (Leviticus 17:8-9 & 10-12). It is well known that within Israelite society, money was not to be lent with interest, but one could loan at interest to a foreigner (nekhar). These passages from the Law make plain that aliens or strangers received all the benefits and protection of a citizen, whereas the foreigner (nekhar) did not. It is wrong, therefore, to confuse these two categories of foreigners and then to use passages regarding the ger as if they were relevant to illegal immigrants of today. cis.org/Report/Use-and-Abuse-Bible-Immigration-Debate

I could quote from various critical commentaries on Leviticus and other OT books to further make these distinctions with the Hebrew terminology, but hopefully you get the point. Simply ripping a text out of its context – especially while ignoring important grammatical and linguistic nuances – is not how a political point should be made by believers.

As both Hoffmeier and I have often said, yes, having a compassionate response to the needy, including genuine refugees, is one thing. But misusing texts to push for radical open border policies, and to call to ‘tear down the wall’ is not how the biblical Christian should proceed.

In another excellent (and long) article at BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY, the conclusion sums up the MUST READ article well:

The basic message we get from this study is that there are two basic kinds of immigrants in Scripture: the ger who, though not natives of a nation, have all the rights and privileges of the native citizens; and the nokriy, who have a second-class status because they are unwilling to take the steps the fully privileged immigrants were.

In addition, it is clear that a great majority of the passages dealing with the ger are of a prescriptive nature, being based on explicit instructions from God. It is thus safe to view them as being of enduring pertinence for basing policy decisions on.

Regarding those termed the nokriy, it is clear that although they, like the ger, have crossed a country’s border, they are distinct and separate from the ger in terms of the rights and privileges they are granted. That they are not mentioned in many passages where the rights of the ger are clearly delineated strongly implies that, in God’s sight, they do not warrant receiving these privileges.

This study thus offers biblical support-i.e., God’s sanction-for policies which preferentially give immigrants who show a willingness to do what it takes to integrate into and fully participate in the life of a society, rights and privileges which do not accrue to those who do not. The claim that it is unjust or unloving to withhold any privileges from those unwilling to do certain things appears to be a gross misapplication of ‘social justice.’ The Apostle Paul said, ‘For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat’ (2 Thess. 3:10). This principle can easily be seen to apply to immigration issues. Privileges come to those who do what it takes to warrant them, a truism that applies to a biblical perspective on immigration as well as to so many other things in life. And it should be added that, since the Church is to obey the civil authorities (Rom. 13:1-8), Christians should not be advocating people from foreign nations to break laws when they attempt to cross into another country. We who claim to be the Lord’s children have an obligation not only to follow His principles ourselves, but to encourage others to do the same. Since the loving God we serve is not wishy-washy but has definite opinions about how we should live, we should make every effort to line up our opinions and policies with His.

My Debate With A Sikh (Imported From My Old Blog)

This was originally posted in January of 2009 on my old blog. The debate took place in August of 2007. I am combining my parts ONE and TWO as Blogspot [at the time] had a cut off on the length of the post.

PART ONE:


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


What a wonderful Hadith verse… however, if you accept that, you should also accept this:

Hadith from Bukhari, vol. 7, # 715, that details Islamic wife beating:

“Narrated Ikrima: ‘Rifaa divorced his wife whereupon Abdur-Rahman married her. Aisha said that the lady came wearing a green veil and complained to her (Aisha) and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating. It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s messenger came, Aisha said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes! When Abdur-Rahman heard that his wife had gone to the prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, “By Allah! I have done no wrong to him, but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this,” holding and showing the fringe of her garment. Abdur-Rahman said, “By Allah, O Allah’s messenger! She has told a lie. I am very strong and can satisfy her, but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifaa.” Allah’s messenger said to her, “If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifaa unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you.” The prophet saw two boys with Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), “Are these your sons?” On that Abdur-Rahman said, “Yes.” The prophet said, “You claim what you claim (that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow.””

Also, book 009, Number 3512, 3526, and 3527 show that beating your wife is legal.

Sahih Muslim #2127:

When it was my turn for Allah’s Messenger to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi’. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O ‘Aisha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?

Muhammad even beat women. When Peter struck the ear of the Roman Guard, Jesus healed it. Muhammad hit women and even was involved – personally – with the slitting of 900 throats. There are pictures of Jesus with children all around him, even telling his disciples they should be like them. There are no such renderings of Muhammad.

Muhammad personally murdered. He personally beat women. And he slept with very, very young girls and had many more wives than “Allah” would allow.

The Quran clearly states that Muhammad was a sinner (his own words), and that Jesus was sinless. Is Muhammad really the superior “prophet” to look to? Especially in light of Jesus clearly stating himself to be the creator of the space-time continuum… e.g., Jesus created and sustains the cosmos.


GODSDOG SAID…


hi Papa,

i would caution in putting full faith in all of the hadiths as many are of questionable source and interpretation for a muslim, only the koran is the revealed scripture, the hadiths are creations of man

i agree that much of the misogny and violence coming out of islam is due to emphasizing the hadiths over the koran also, i could reference interpretations that show muhammed to be the kindest and most gentle of men, but since he was commissioned by god (as many of the jewish prophets), we must be careful in judging based on third parties and hearsay i am a sikh, i earnestly try to show respect for all the spiritual traditions of the world

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Beating of the wife, a call to murder (“prescriptive,” whereas the passages in the Bible are histories, or “descriptive”), the relegation of non-Muslims to Dhimmitude (second-class citizens), and the fact that Muhammad is called a sinner in the Quran and Jesus is called sinless, are all in line with the Hadith.

Also, that caution against the Hadith, then, would caution me when others use quotes from it, either negative or positive. (Like your post.)

All this still does not change the fact that verses ascribed to a Jin were removed, nor does it deal with the historical fact that Muhammad slit the throats of young boys and men as well as other murderous acts in history. His marrying a 9-year old is another issue.

Jesus ministry stands in stark contrast to Muhammad’s, Godsdog.


GODSDOG SAID…


papa,

you are entitled to your view and i certainly cannot change it

please understand i am not comparing or contrasting jesus and muhammed…that is not the purpose of this blog

i have great love for the christ as well as the deepest respect for muhammed(pbuh), the sikh gurus hold a special place in my heart

as a sikh, i feel the lord in his infinite mercy has revealed to different people (even today) different paths to him

personally, i feel the best and easiest way is to humbly submit to the lord in your heart…this truth is indisputable and is verified by the bible…by the koran…by the torah…by the vedas…and by guru granth sahib

anger at and disrespect of other religions and their founders is an obstacle which must be removed from the path if one truly wishes to see clearly

there is truly only one judge

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Unfortunately, Godsdog, using the rules of logic (non-contradiction and excluded middle), your saying many paths lead to one is easily proven unwarranted by the mutually exclusive claims between these religions. Your main problem is when you say this: “as a sikh, i feel the lord in his infinite mercy has revealed to different people (even today) different paths to him.” This goes against Judaic thinking, Christian thinking, and Islamic thinking. You are here judging these religions are wrong and your opinion about them is right, and thus, I am wrong. You are self-refuting your claims in your post above.

One author put it this way:

I feel it a duty to bear my solemn testimony against the spirit of the day we live in, to warn men against its infection. It is not Atheism I fear so much, in the present times, as Pantheism. It is not the system which says nothing is true, so much as the system which says everything is true. It is not the system which says there is no Saviour, so much as the system which says there are many saviours, and many ways to peace! – It is the system which is so liberal, that it dares not say anything is false. It is the system which is so charitable, that it will allow everything to be true. It is the system which seems ready to honour others as well as our Lord Jesus Christ, to class them all together, and to think well of all. Confucius and Zoroaster, Socrates and Mahomet, the Indian Brahmins and the African devil-worshippers, Arius and Pelagius, Ignatius Loyola and Socinus – all are to be treated respectfully; none is to be condemned. It is the system which bids us smile complacently on all creeds and systems of religion. The Bible and the Koran, the Hindu Vedas and the Persian Zendavesta, the old wives’ fables of Rabbinical writers and the rubbish of Patristic traditions, the Racovian catechism and the Thirty-nine Articles, the revelations of Emanuel Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon of Joseph Smith – all, all are to be listened to: None is to be denounced as lies. It is the system which is so scrupulous about the feelings of others, that we are never to say they are wrong. It is the system which is so liberal that it calls a man a bigot, if he dares to say, “I know my views are right.” This is the system, this is the tone of feeling which I fear in this day, and this is the system which I desire emphatically to testify against and denounce.

Another author said:

The Achilles’ heel of the claim that all paths lead to the same destination is the problem of internal consistency. Each religious tradition makeqs truth-claims which contradict the truth-claims of other religious traditions. We will briefly examine three areas of disagreement.

(1.) The first area of contradiction regards the nature of the ultimate reality (such as God). One discovers there is a vast chasm between monotheistic religions (such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and pantheistic religions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism). Muslims claim that there is only one God, Allah, who created the universe from nothing. Some Hindus, on the other hand, believe not in a personal creator, but in Brahman, an impersonal absolute reality which permeates all things. Other Hindus believe that there are millions of deities (such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Krishna) which are manifestations of Brahman.

(2.) A second area of contradiction relates to the fate of individuals at death. According to Islam, each of us will die once and then face judgement by Allah. Depending on Allah’s judgement we will spend eternity in heaven or hell. In contrast, many Hindus claim that we will live (and have already lived) many lives on earth. Hindus believe that the conditions of our past and future existence are determined by the cosmic laws of karma. Following death each of us is reincarnated into a different form (human, animal, etc.).

(3.) Each religious tradition also identifies a universal problem that afflicts humanity. This brings us to a third area of disagreement. Hindus, for example, claim that the universal problem is samsara. Samsara is an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth (reincarnation) in which every person is trapped. Only through knowledge of one’s relationship to Brahman and religious devotion can this cycle be broken and moksha (release) experienced. Christianity, on the other hand, maintains that the universal problem facing every person is separation from the God. According to Christianity, each person has rebelled against God by violating his commands (what the Bible calls sin). Christianity insists that there is no human solution to this problem. Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ can this problem of separation from God be overcome. Christians believe that Jesus Christ paid our sin-penalty through his death on the cross in order that our relationship with God might be restored.

These conflicting claims about the nature of the Ultimate, the fate of individuals at death, as well as the universal problem facing humanity are only a few of the conflicting assertions made by different religious traditions. These conflicts render implausible the claim that “all paths lead to the same destination.” Perhaps the following will help illustrate why this is the case. Consider the following two statements:

—– Northwestern University won the Big Ten championship in football in 1995.
—– Northwestern University did not win the Big Ten championship in football in 1995.

It is obvious that both of the these statements cannot be correct at the same time. This self-evident truth is often referred to as the principle of “non-contradiction.” This principle has a significant implication for our investigation. Two contradictory assertions cannot both be correct. Thus, if two religions make truth-claims which contradict each other, they cannot both be right. For example, when Hindus claim that there are many Gods and Jews claim that there in only one God, one of them must be wrong . In addition, when Muslims claim that each person lives only once and then faces judgement and Hindus claim that each person lives many lives determined by the law of Karma, one of them must be wrong.


GODSDOG SAID…


thanks papa,

well reasoned and logical,

you are right and i am wrong

i will end with this…true god realization is not a function of reason or logic…it is primarily, perhaps only, a function of love and humility

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


All I am pointing out is the following Godsdog:

“All truth is relative!” (Is that a relative truth?); “There are no absolutes!” (Are you absolutely sure?); “Its true for you but not for me!” (Is that statement true just for you, or is it for everyone?) In short, contrary beliefs are possible, but contrary truths are not possible.

It isn’t that I say you are right or wrong, it is that Logic is a universal law, like math is. When the Hindu says that nothing exists and that all is an illusion, but then builds a house using geometry, math, physics, and the like, he is throwing his own philosophy to the wayside and accepting the Theistic philosophy… whether he realizes it or not.

In fact, these laws are so universal that one cannot refute the Law of Contradiction without using it (thus undermining his purpose).

Jesus spoke differently than any other founder of a religion. I have already pointed out that the Quran speaks of this difference by calling Muhammad a sinner (Sura 40:55) but saying Jesus was sinless (Sura 3:46).

One author puts it thus:

I want to leave the reader with this thought by Robert Hume. In his book, The World’s Living Religions, he comments that there are three features of Christian faith that “cannot be paralleled anywhere among the religions of the world” [I can add here, the cults either]. These include the character of God as a loving Heavenly Father, the character of the founder of Christianity as the Son of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Further, he says:

“All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion” (p.285-286).

Jesus said He was God Almighty, not a way or a path. Jesus said He was the Way, the Path, the Light. He said He was the Creator of the space-time-continuum, and the Jews tried to stone him for saying it. (See John 8:58-59 for one example of the many.) You give lip service to Jesus, but do not give his own words credence.

Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, Muhammad, Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith, and all the guru’s and religious leaders who have misled the masses since have not all made the claim in such Theistic terms that they are the creator of life itself. Only Jesus.

I didn’t say it, nor did I infer it. Much like the laws of logic are separate truths unto themselves. So to are Jesus’ words.

In order to change their plain meaning one has to “add” something to them, another text or person’s opinion (like the Book of Mormon or Nanak’s interpretation). Remember, Jesus said that all those who came before him (Buddha, Confucius, and the like) were liars. I didn’t say it. Jesus did.


GODSDOG SAID…


sura 3:46 (of jesus)
[3:46] “He will speak to the people from the crib, as well as an adult; he will be one of the righteous.”

<<>>

in sura 3:51, jesus says:
[3:51] “GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path.”

<<>>

sura 3:55
3:55 (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ.

brother…let us agree to let the one lord god be the judge

amen


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Who are the others that are righteous? Jesus said in John 7:24 for us to “judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

In Matthew 7:16a, Jesus says we will “know them by their fruits…”, this knowing requires judgment Godsdog. Religious pluralism. Like you posit, cannot know their fruits. I use what we know about the fruits of both Islam and Muhammad to judge that they are doctrines of death. Can you name one Islamic country where the Quran is law where a person is not killed for converting from Islam to Christianity? I know them by their fruits Godsdog.

1 Timothy 5:20 tells us to “rebuke” the sin of someone before other people. In order to rebuke someones sin we must judge that someone’s conduct.

In Luke 12:51, Jesus says that he brings division, not peace. This division is the fact that he claims to be our Creator, not the messenger for the Creator. This “absolute” divides people, such as ourselves Godsdog. (Have you read the Bible? I am curious, many who do not understand Jesus have not read the New Testament the whole way through. Have you?)

II Timothy 4:2 tells us that the word is for “reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, with all long suffering, and doctrine.” Doctrine is what I am talking about here.

And, Godsdog, do you discount Jesus calling Himself God? And if so, on what basis, or why. Is it that you feel the Scriptures have been changed? Is it that you do not realize whom and to what culture Jesus was speaking to? Is it because you have been told repeatedly by people who themselves haven’t read the Bible that Jesus isn’t who he said he was?


GODSDOG SAID…


papa,

i have read the bible (once cover to cover and still randomly read passages from it)

i guess, my understanding of it is a bit different than mainstream christians

was jesus god? yes

was he the one and only son of god? not in my understanding

when one become perfect like our father in heaven is perfect, the lord brings one so close to himself that there remains no distinction

the ability to become one with god is a wonderful gift given to the human soul, not even the angels have been bestowed this gift

al-hallaj also said “i am the truth” and was duly tortured and killed, many saints have realized the same reality

take care in the distance you assume between yourself and the lord…he is closer to you then your very breath and heartbeat

in the true name of the victorious


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


When you see the Bible (specifically the New Testament) speak of the “Son of God,” you cannot interpret that with a 21st century meaning. You have to understand what that phrase meant to the 1st century Jew.

Al-hallaj may have said he was truth, but Jesus is the only one to prove that He was God Almighty (raising Himself from the grave)… again, the Creator of space and time. Al-hallaj is not the Creator of the space-time continuum. In other words, Jesus claimed to be God, not part of creation, but the progenitor of it. This is the clear understanding of Jesus’ words in light of the 1st century Jew.

I think this should wrap up this conversation. I will pop in here and there to discuss these important issues… but I must congratulate you for having more nerve than most to stay in the conversation and debate/discuss such issues. This is more than many others do. Even if you didn’t deal with the main topic, that is, who Jesus said He was, not who I or you say He is.

God Bless, Godsdog.

PART TWO:


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Do Sikhs believe in reincarnation?


GODSDOG SAID…


yes, sikhs believe in reincarnation

krishna, buddha, muhammed, nanak and all the perfected ones took innumerable bodily incarnations until they realized the one lord and attained to his infinite presence

accordingly, these perfect souls at times choose to take additional bodily incarnations in order to teach and set an example to their brethren

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Thanks,

You should consider reading my blogs on this:

By-the-by. You have just judged the Holy Scripture of Christians and Muslims. Why? Because they reject pantheism as a worldview. I am merely pointing this out because you seem to not want people to “judge,” yet you just did by saying one position is true which by logic says other positions are wrong.


GODSDOG SAID…


hi papa,

i look forward to reading your blog and will get back to you

btw, i am not “judging” the bible or the koran, simply stating my understanding of reincarnation as it applies to the prophets and saints of the world religions

whats all this in the bible about john being elijah come again?

as you know, belief in reincarnation was tolerated if not explicitly accepted by the early christian church until the nicene council

as for the koran:

“And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you unto Himself.” (2:28).

cheers

[….]

papa,

i’ve read over the two links you listed and you make some very good points

now i’ll refrain from going point-counter point with you as we will be here for weeks…g

btw, i am not a pantheist and neither is sikhism…my posts here are my beliefs and understanding,

i’ve never intimated that mine is the only truth…but you have

so be it

cheers

[….]

papa,

question for you, if “jesus” is the only way to salvation and the lord wants us to realize this, why isn’t everyone born into a christian family? its not fair that some are born muslims or sikhs or hindus or buddhists and not able to hear christs message without bias…why is the heavenly father so unfair that he handicaps billions in the search for truth?

if there is only one way, why so many different types of flowers, trees, dogs etc., one kind of each would be sufficient, no?

cheers

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Godsdog,

Engaging as always I see. That’s a good thing. I want to tackle two quick things that if you wish we can talk about later. First, reincarnation is impossible outside of the pantheistic (or panantheistic) worldviews. I have studied comparative religious thought for about 20-years, and I can emphatically state that monotheism or atheism do not allow for the regression of the soul. That’s one, not two. Reincarnation was not accepted in the Christian community until Nicea. I have likewise studied the early church for almost as long as comparative religions… and I can likewise – emphatically state – that this is not the case. Usually people who believe this also believe the Bible was put together at Nicea, Jesus was elevated to God-Almighty, and the like. I would love to discuss these things more with you in the near future if you wish. However, since I love Scripture, we will start here… sorta.

Before we get into the Scripture you mentioned, and oft repeated one in New Age and Eastern thinking, I want to get some ground rules going, and these ground rules are exegesis and hermeneutics (I will post them on my site under “Science of Interpretation” – you should read it before going further). These rules have been around for 2,500-years. You should become acquainted with them as they will make your studying more fruitful. Okay, the Bible… what fun!

Matthew 17:12: (Jesus Words) “But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did do to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”

John and Elijah did not have the same being — they had the same function. Jesus was not teaching that John the Baptist was literally Elijah, but simply that he came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).

Secondly, Jesus’ disciples understood that he was speaking about John the Baptist, since Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:10-13). Since John had already lived and died by then, and since Elijah still had the same name and consciousness, Elijah had obviously not been reincarnated as John the Baptist.

Thirdly, Elijah does not fit the reincarnation model, for he did not die. He was taken to heaven like Enoch who did not see death (2 Kings 2:11; Hebrews 11:5). According to traditional reincarnation, one must first die before he can be reincarnated into another body.

And finally, this passage should be understood in the light of the clear teaching of Scripture opposing reincarnation. Hebrews 9:27, for example declares, “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (John 9:2).

So, we have Scripture clearly stating that John the Baptist came in the “spirit and power”. Saying that when I send a lawyer to court to sign papers for me, he is going in my spirit and power is not saying the lawyer is me. Same concept. Also the Bible clearly mentions that we die once. These two verses define the limits of the other verse you quoted from. The Bible interprets the Bible Godsdog.

Rule of Definition.
Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.

Rule of Usage.
Don’t add meaning to established words and terms. What was the common usage in the cultural and time period
when the passage was written?

Rule of Context.
Avoid using words out of context. Context must define terms and how words are used.

Rule of Historical background.
Don’t separate interpretation and historical investigation.

Rule of Logic.
Be certain that words as interpreted agree with the overall premise.

Rule of Precedent.
Use the known and commonly accepted meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which their is no precedent.

Rule of Unity.
Even though many documents may be used there must be a general unity among them.

Rule of Inference.
Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts.


GODSDOG SAID…


papa,

thanks for the reply,

reincarnation is not a make or break issue for me personally, i don’t care if i’ve haven’t “lived” before or if i have to “come back” as long as i don’t forget the one lord

reincarnation does, however, make intuitive sense to me

although there are numerous references to reincarnation in sri guru granth sahib, sggs also states that this human body is extremely difficult to obtain and there is no guarantee when one will obtain one again

so we need to cherish this human life and follow the lords call to faith and righteousness and not assume we have innumerable human lives ahead of us to make amends

i feel there is a last day of judgement (as stated in the bible and koran) when this current cycle of the lords play comes to an end

on that day, if i am consigned to hell due to my beliefs or statements…so be it…i ask only that i do not forget the one…if this wish is granted, hell will be a paradise for me

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


Okay Godsdog, track with me buddy… focus like a laser beam. The Quran and the Bible are theistic books. They have in mind a being that created even time itself.

Here, maybe that didn’t help, let me try this. The Biblical view of God and His action in the world and final judgment is neither that of Kismet, the fatalism of Islam, nor that of Karma, the deterministic cause-and-effect of Hinduism and Buddhism. The human actors always behave as if free in their choices and therefore responsible for them.

If you read that small paragraph above, you will see that reincarnation cannot stem from theism, and even within theism there are theological differences that preclude Allah (in Islamic thought) from even caring enough to Judge righteously.

So to the first point. The theistic God has personality, He grieves, feels pains when people decide to reject Him, and is even angered. The God that Sikhs and Buddhist, Taoists, Hindu’s and others speak of is merely a force. This God did not create the “time/space continuum,” but matter and the universe are eternal like this “Mind” is eternal. (There are deep philosophical problem to an actual infinite regress of events in history, but this is a discussion for another day.) Reincarnation, in fact, can only run in a pantheistic worldview.

And since we know that both the theistic God who is personal and creative cannot exist at the same time as a “Force” who is impersonal and not creative (even using “who” for this pantheistic “god” is wrong), then either there is judgment or there is not. Logically then, both gods (the pantheistic one and the theistic one) could both not exist, making atheism the answer. But in pantheistic thinking this “Force” has always “existed” alongside matter, or, nature. This then makes this “Force” susceptible to nature’s influences and laws. The Judeo-Christian specifically created nature and therefore nature’s laws. So He is above these laws and not subject to them in any way, shape, or form. (I might add that the laws of logic and order come out of God’s nature of Being.) The “Force” of reincarnation is subject to nature and human actions.

This conversation shouldn’t be about debate; this one should be about clarity of thought. I want you to walk away from this conversation learning new truths that you may not have considered in the past. Our world puts limitations on us — in that one cannot disavow logical applications of thought about certain issues. And reincarnation and pantheism are at odds with your personal talk of judgment and a God who is active and cares and is angered. Both concepts cannot be true, and if this is what Sikhs believe — that both concepts are true — then you can surmise on your own if this belief is true or not. It is not my opinion or yours… you can reason to the logical conclusion using principles outside of yourself that both you and I can tap into.


GODSDOG SAID…


thanks papa,

very impressed with your theological knowledge and thought processes

i would humbly submit, however, that you do not truly understand sikhism

the waheguru of sikhism is not a “force”, it is a personality and the timeless supreme being (akal purakh)

please read some of sukhmani sahib to at least get a better understanding of sikhism and its expounding of the one without a second, the most high lord

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


I do not truly understand… like I do not truly understand the “prophet” of Allah, Muhammad.

I will read what you mentioned.

[….]

Realize Godsdog that Hindus teach that there is a “Mind” that is timeless. But this “Mind” is impersonal, and that all “personalities” are an illusion because this eternal “Mind” is not personal. In fact, this is why pantheists – those who believe in reincarnation – try to rise above personality by altered states of consciousness, as well as other techniques (some completely stop talking and engaging with loved ones – like in Tibet and in India for example).

Absorption into this “Mind” seems to be the goal of Eastern philosophy. They lose “themselves” in the infinite Mass/Mind… there is no “me” or “you” in Eastern thought. …

… …

Which, if true and believed by you, you are one mind arguing with another mind (mine) that no minds like ours exist. That is self-refuting. But, I will look into this even more. But I have read Nanak and others and feel I have a decent grasp on your philosophy, with areas that I need to grow in knowledge in of course.


GODSDOG SAID…


hi papa,

long time, no chat huh?

these are very subtle points you are bringing up

the drop merging in the ocean (becoming one with god) and other such metaphors are applicable to some extent

the impersonal Mind you refer to is the classic advaita vedanta, where the impersonal brahman is elevated beyond and is considered higher than the personal ishwara or lord

in sikh philosophy there are two simultaneous aspects of the one lord

nirgun – without attributes
sargun – with attributes

one aspect is not greater than the other, the lord is both simultaneously

if your question is does our individual personality remain after merging with the one lord…i believe it does, it is the ego (sense of separateness) that is lost

cheers


PAPA GIORGIO SAID…


A couple things, I just put two videos up on my site that I think you will enjoy watching… I just found them but they are similar in discussion matter.

and, I have a site that I think you would benefit from (I have read every article on this site… good stuff. Especially for the seeker), it is:

A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

 OF THE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

THE END

Caller: Roe v Wade at His Synagogue (Dennis Prager)

A caller notes his experience the day after the Supreme Court announced their Federalist ruling at his synagogue. Dennis Prager makes a great argument from our [pro-life] point of view. I have used a similar “extreme” example to counter the Left’s extreme examples, but a “well-ta-do” family with the means to care and raise the child is a good one as well… uses the Left’s argument of “poor” persons with no means of caring for said child and turning the argument around on them.

This is the quote I always use:

  • “If homosexuality is really genetic, we may soon be able to tell if a fetus is predisposed to homosexuality, in which case many parents might choose to abort it. Will gay rights activists continue to support abortion rights if this occurs?”

Dale A. Berryhill, The Liberal Contradiction: How Contemporary Liberalism Violates Its Own Principles and Endangers Its Own Goals (Lafayette, LA: Vital Issues Press, 1994), 172.

[BTW, this was the first book I read that made excellent arguments using the Left’s positions to show just how vacuous their stance was.]

Even well-known atheists GET IT. And the BIBLE IS CLEAR in the Old Testament about the issue.

IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE VIDEO IN HD, CLICK THE GEAR AT THE BOTTOM OF THE VIDEO AND CHOOSE 1080P

Does The Bible Say All Conservatives Are Going To Hell?

So I had a cousin (wife’s side) mention a conversation and wanted me to join it. Here is the starter of the convo by his friend:

Here are the verses:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the [c]holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;

43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer [d]Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Here is my response that…. got me banned from this guys Facebook. LOL:

I think you have a misconception as to who gives more time and money to the needy. Here for instance is a 28-minute interview (via my YT) with Arthur Brooks discussing his book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism”

I include this in a larger post [on my site] discussing the free market and the wealth it affords people to help others (Capitalism, The Moral Choice | PragerU and More).

However, conservatives gave about 30 percent more money per year to private charitable causes, even though his study found liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year in income than did conservative families. This greater generosity among conservative families proved to be true in Brooks’ research for every income group, “from poor to middle class to rich.”

This “giving gap” also extended beyond money to time donated to charitable causes, as well. Brooks also discovered that in 2002, conservative Americans were much more likely to donate blood each year than liberals and to do so more often within a year. Brooks found “if liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.”

When Brooks compared his findings to IRS data on the percentage of household income given away, he found that “red” states in the 2004 election were more charitable than “blue” states. Brooks found that 24 of the 25 states that were above average in family charitable giving voted for Bush in 2004, and 17 of the 25 states below average in giving voted for Kerry. Brooks concluded, “The electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar.”

Why? A clue may be found in the 1996 General Social Survey, which asked Americans whether they agreed that “the government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality.” People who “disagreed strongly” with that statement gave 12 times more money to charity per year than those who “agreed strongly” with the statement.

One’s values, beliefs and political philosophies seem to impact how much one shares of one’s own income with the less fortunate in society. Facts are often surprising and illuminating.

(BELIEF NET)

See also “GOING TO THE MAT’s” post:

So adopting your premise [what I think is your premise], the opposite is true.

Response?

Censorship.

The go to by the left.

Adrienne Johnson: Why I Am No Longer an Atheist

PragerU Chief of Staff Adrienne Johnson was once a cynical atheist, struggling to find meaning and purpose in ways that left her feeling even more adrift and alone. After hitting rock bottom, she learned that it’s never too late to take responsibility and change your life. Adrienne shares her powerful personal story of how finding faith in God gave her a second chance at life.

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.

Blaise Pascal (Pensees 10.148)

Discussing History and Faith With A Tow Truck Driver

Met some awesome young believers todays on Main Street in Newhall. I was leaving Smokehouse on Main after my 2-beers and a chapter of reading in a book. They were out witnessing, which was awesome. They are Master’s College students… one young man was from Missouri, the other was a So-Cal dude, and the gal was from Costa Rica. Her English was flawless… but it dawned on me later that her parents are probably missionaries. At ANY RATE, I am reposting this encounter I had from Grace Community to our Valley.

Originally posted April 26th, 2021.

(My Facebook descriptor) The tow-truck driver I hitched a ride with today was probably surprised at the level of conversation in a reasonable and rational way. I enjoyed the challenges, and I am sure Charlie did as well. topics of discussion I engaged:

  • Everything good comes from God, but Priests say when something bad happens, it’s you;
  • Wars caused by religion, most wars not religions;
  • Secular governments that rejected God killed more people in 100 years than all religions previously;
  • Belief in the afterlife creates a worse world;
  • Halloween (yep, I was taken aback as well).

While driving the 5am delivery around, the work van started to give me an “Overheating” warning. I finished my 2-remaining drops and headed back to the shop… but the van would have nothing of it. So I nursed it into Grace Community Church’s parking lot and the office called for a tow truck – which took a little over an hour-and-a-half (they were busy). One of the security guards came out to check on me and I asked him if I could use the restroom. He said yes. I told him I had to retrieve my mask, he mentioned no masks were mandated to wear, that I could if I wished. I chose to support the Church’s “gravitas” and went in mask-less. Awesome. I love Grace. As I was walking around to hit the head, the security guard witnessed to me… I thought that was more awesomer.

So when the tow truck service guy (Charlie, a nice guy) had me loaded up and we were driving out, he asked what the place was I was sitting at. I explained it was a church, one of the better ones. I mentioned a couple more things about it, and then Charlie started to criticize the Christian Faith (mainly Catholicism at first), speaking of greed, how the people say all good things come from God but then when something bad happens like an accident – we are to blame, how rich the Catholic Church is, and all the wars religion started, and how people who believe in an afterlife make the world worse.

(This is a general recalling of our conversation)

I mentioned to him that I cannot speak to his points regarding the Vatican, as, I am not Catholic. But I did choose to address a couple of his broader points. (I had to break into his speaking about one topic and then going to another.)

The first point I made is that the Bible does not promise your life to be “good,” and harm free. On the Contrary, the Bible – from Genesis to Revelations documents man’s fallen nature and that from Genesis to Revelation that mankind needs a savior… someone to step into the place of wretched humanity to save it. I said, we need saving, not comfort.

I also mentioned that Nietzsche said that the death of God in the 19th century would all but guarantee the bloodiest 20th century. I then noted in conversation that this prediction came true… telling Charlie that in less than 100 years, non-God movements in Communism and Marxism through Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Hitler, and others, killed more people than ALL religions previous to the 20th century.

He broke in and said this wasn’t true, and I could tell his language barrier with me was frustrating him. So I jumped in when I had a chance and mentioned that two encyclopedia sets went through 10,000 years of warfare and categorized the reasons for these wars.  I mentioned these encyclopedia sets by name: Encyclopedia of Wars, 3 volumes – and — The Encyclopedia of War, 5 Volumes. I told him that only 7% of all wars were religious, and that if you took out Islamic wars, all other religions cause about 3% of the wars in a 10,000 year period.

DATA POINTS FOR THE READER:

  • 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. The authors are nine history professors who specifically conducted research or the text for a decade in order to chronicle a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years(RPT)
  • (A well known atheist agrees) Atheists often claim that religion fuels aggressive wars, both because it exacerbates antagonisms between opponents and also because it gives aggressors confidence by making them feel as if they have God on their side. Lots of wars certainly look as if they are motivated by religion. Just think about conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Asian subcontinent, Indonesia, and various parts of Africa. However, none of these wars is exclusively religious. They always involve political, economic, and ethnic disputes as well. That makes it hard to specify how much [of a] role, if any, religion itself had in causing any particular war. Defenders of religion argue that religious language is misused to justify what warmongers wanted to do independently of religion. This hypothesis might seem implausible to some, but it is hard to refute, partly because we do not have enough data points, and there is so much variation among wars. — Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Morality Without God? (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 33-34 

I then mentioned to him a study (I was wrong about the source, I thought Stanford — it was actually done by a University of Oregon psychologist) that found that a country’s belief in heaven and hell is related to its crime rates, and that a belief in a punitive God equals less crime. So belief in a God where our actions can be morally judged make a better society.

Charlie broke into discussion about Halloween for some reason, wanting a response about why people dress up in costumes. I said I do not know much beyond that it is a Pagan holiday of sorts, and that the Church wanted to evangelize these Pagans and so stuck a holiday close to it – All Saints Eve. (I may be wrong, but what Charlie then followed up with I knew was wrong. He said that the Church killing people had a connection to it.

I said I don’t think that is the case, mentioning the Druids and Irish Paganism being more connected to the issue than anything.*

He again brought up the Vatican, and I again noted I am not Catholic, and that the church I went to spent a lion’s share of their funds on missionaries around the world in tough places (Africa, Middle-East, and even one couple that would try to sneak across the border to North Korea at times), as well as having a large outreach to the poorer Hispanic area of the church’s influence.

We were at our destination finally (the shop that fixes our work truck and van.) I said, “Charlie, remember two things from this conversation. You were wrong, historically about religion and wars, as well as ‘religious’ people making the world worse. I ask you to remember these two examples because they are great examples of how you approach the Christian Faith: with bad facts and evidence. Try to approach these topics from a better starting point and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.”

At that, we went our separate ways. After some paperwork of course. I did finish with “Charlie, I had a pleasure discussing this with you.” But in the back of my mind, I really was thinking:

*NOTE:

There’s no one explanation for how Halloween costumes originated. Much like the holiday itself, the practice of dressing up is the result of a hodgepodge of traditions from around the world.

Many historians suspect that the tradition has some basis in the Celtic festival of Samhain (also called Calan Gaeaf in Wales). Celebrated between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, Samhain marks the official start of winter—known to the Celts as the “dark season.” During Samhain, “the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

That wasn’t a comfort to the ancient Celts, who believed their deities were prone to playing tricks on human worshippers. Many festival participants disguised themselves as animals or beasts, hoping to hide from malevolent spirits who might bring them misfortune.

Move forward a few centuries and the modern-day practice of dressing up and trick-or-treating has its roots in the European custom of “mumming and guising.” Mummers would dress up in costumes, often woven from straw, and perform plays and songs for neighbors in exchange for food. Scottish and Irish immigrants brought that tradition to North America, where it later morphed into what we now know as trick-or-treating.

Halloween costumes didn’t experience their true heyday until the mid-1900s, though. For that, you can thank New York City entrepreneurs Ben and Nat Cooper, who started a company producing pop culture-themed costumes at a low cost. Ben Cooper, Inc., found a niche in helping kids become the characters they admired from television and comic books, often purchasing merchandising rights before said characters ever became popular. Due in no small part to the Cooper family’s innovation, Halloween costumes became an accessible and even necessary part of holiday festivities…..

(MENTAL FLOSS)

5-Part Series: Science and God | Stephen Meyer

Can you believe in God and science at the same time? Many claim that belief in religion is at odds with “the science” of today. But is that really true? In this five-part series, Stephen Meyer, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, attempts to answer this existential question.

Series “Broken Out”

  1. Are Religion and Science in Conflict? — Science and God
  2. How Did the Universe Begin? — Science and God
  3. Aliens, the Multiverse, or God? — Science and God
  4. What Is Intelligent Design? — Science and God
  5. What’s Wrong with Atheism? — Science and God

 

 

 

 

 

The Cults, Language, Revelation, and Secularism (1999)

I dug this gem out of my Microsoft Word due to a conversation on my Facebook. I was planning on going a different direction but after I found this from about 1999 via a debate in a forum on what is still SPACE BATTLES… it was late 99 or early 2000 that I cut my teeth on the Internet via Space Battles. I kept most of my debates from the 4 or so years I was on the forums there… at least my responses. This is one of those early debates — the main point here is that secularism is a religion. (I may add some media when I see fit):


SKEPTIC, YOU SAID:

  • I don’t know how you can say Jimmy Jones and the Branch Davidians weren’t believers in absolutism and God.

This is easy to say.  Both rejected the God of the Bible, period.  They were not Christians, period.  They were cults who had sex with multiple partners and were power hungry and changed meanings of plain and clear scripture to get their way.  This is important, because when anyone deals with a cult member, they need to realize that there is a language barrier.  For instance, when a Mormon says he or she believes in Jesus, is this the same Jesus Christianity has preached for 2,000 years?  How a bout the Jehovah’s Witness when they say they believe in Jesus?

JESUS

Mormons believe that Jesus is not God, but a god, they are polytheists.  They believe that Jesus was born first in heaven in a spiritual body via sexual relations between “Heavenly Father” (God in Mormon terms) and one of his many wives.  Lucifer also was a son born by “God” sticking his dingy in one of his wives.  By the way, God was once a man like us, and now resides on the planet Kolob (according to the Pearle of Great Price – one of many added Mormon scripture).  And be sure that all mentioned here have to take away, change, or add scripture to get their theology to work – just like Hitler and his cronies.

(SEE ALSO: “MORMON GLOSSARY: WORDS HAVE MEANING“)

Jehovah’s Witness’s believe that Jesus was the first created being, that is, Michael the Archangel.  Jehovah (God) then created all things THROUGH Michael the Archangel.  When Michael came to earth in bodily form he was known as Jesus.  And now is not Jesus any longer, but once again under the name and title Michael the Archangel, the first-born.

Jesus, according to the historic Christian faith is God, the creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  He is not bound by time-space; for unlike the two before mentioned perversions of plain scripture, Jesus is the Creator of the space-time continuum.  He is God Almighty.

SALVATION

Both Jehovah’s Witness’ and Mormons believe that the sacrifices given on the cross by “Jesus” was only in remission of Adam’s original sin, opening the way for these sincere persons to “work” their way into heaven or “salvation.”  Jehovah’s Witness’s believe that 100 hundred hours a week of going door-to-door or standing in front of donut shops handing out booklets will one of the many rules sufficient enough to allow them to be resurrected here on earth to live forever more (only 144,000 get to go to heaven).  Mormons don’t drink caffeine, cuss, marry in the temple, wear special undergarments, tithe, all in the hopes of making to the “best” heaven.

Christianity teaches that we can do nothing to please God, all our good works are like leaves in the wind, they blow away.  Salvation is a gift that only can be fulfilled by an immutable, perfect, gift… man can never attain this in his finite state.  Salvation is through Christ alone. This is one of the many proofs that Christianity is divine, that is, if this were a man-made religion, man would have made it conquerable.  So like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness’ religious construct of lists of items to do for salvation to be attainable, Christianity has no such list.  If man had made Christianity, there would be something we could do to please God for our salvation, in fact, we cannot.  Christianity is unconquerable by man.  (sorry, back to the point).

So when a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon come to your door and say, “we believe in Jesus,” or, “we believe in salvation,” and, “we are followers of Christ, therefore we are the true Christians,” you can break through the fog by understanding what is meant by terms used.

(From a debate with a J-Dub):

The main problem is that the Watchtower gives ALL truth that is to be believed by the Jehovah’s Witness. I will show an example, and I quote the founder, Charles Taze Russell:

If the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes THE BIBLE IN AN ARRANGED FORM. That is to say, they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself….

Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years – if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood the Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. on the other hand, if he had merely read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES with their references, and not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.

Even if you’ve read the Scripture Studies for ten years, and you lay them aside and read the Bible for two years alone, you enter into darkness?!

This is a revealing quote.

It shows how brainwashed Jehovah’s Witnesses are to the fact that the ruling council and president of the Watchtower Society dispense nothing but truth and reality while the rest of humanity who points out the misquotes and misrepresentations are shunned as devils (almost literally).

I will go out on a limb here and say, “if the devil were to create a religious group that undermines the true message in the Bible, would the devil require someone to read the Bible by itselfor would the devil want to add something to it that would interpret everything within?”

Same goes for our current discussion.

When Hitler uses the words Christians, Jesus, church, and the like, you know he had changed the Biblical absolutes to fits his relativistic pantheism/paganism that we know he believed.  If Hitler came to our door today passing out tracts talking of Jesus’ non-Jewish heritage and that he was going to finish what Jesus couldn’t, namely the extermination of the Jews, then we would know that this is not Christianity, not absolutes, but fascism at it most perverted.  Remember what a philosophy major once said:

  • “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition….  If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity….  From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable” — Mussolini

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

This is what Hitler did, Mussolini, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and all others who relativize God’s plainly stated truth to fit their particular needs or situation.  And in doing so, they must change, reject, or add to the Bible or the historic Christian faith in order to do so.

SKEPTIC, WHEN YOU SAID:

  • That I agree with! Claiming a personal revelation can hid a host of evils. But it seems like the religious are more likely to do that then a humanist….  I am also arguing that a humanist who believes he contains within himself the ultimate determination of what is moral, would not do the things that these people did without, at least, the recognition that he is being evil. These nazis, Branch Davidians, terrorists, and kool aid killers are all more dangerous because they believe they are doing good.

I almost fell out of my chair.  The Communists killed many, many millions believing they were doing good?  God revealing this is not mandated by Mao is it?  Special revelation isn’t only from God.  One needs only to read the Humanist Manifesto’s or the Communist Manifesto to see revelation without God.  Huxley called evolution a religion without revelation.  However, there can be revelation in non-belief.  For instance, consider the following excerpt from a letter written by Charles Darwin in 1881:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, I, Letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316; cited in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959), p. 343.

Or:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed. (New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1874), p.178.

How a bout this:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilization will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest. But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between Nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it, and the Caucasian conscience be void of reproach for evermore. And this, if we look to the bottom of the matter, is the real justification for the abolition policy.”

Thomas Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (New York: Appleton, 1871), pp 20-1.

One more before I head to humanism:

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

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

These seem very revelational, just revelations from nature.

John Dewey, signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, says this regarding education:

education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform….  In this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God.

John Dewey, Education Today, “My Pedagogic Creed,” (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1897), p. 15, 17.

You see, John Dewey argues that “scientific” education has made the notion of the supernatural “incredible,” and anticipates “the coming of a fuller and deeper religion” – Humanism.  Dewey viewed public education as the vehicle to promote this “deeper religions.”

We certainly cannot teach religion as an abstract essence.  We have got to teach something as religion, and that means practically some religion….  It is their business to do what they can to prevent all public educational agencies from being employed in ways which inevitably impede the recognition of the spiritual import of science ands  of democracy, and hence of that type of religion which will be the fine flower of the modern spirit’s achievement.

Ibid – 1940 edition.

My point as I continue on here is that men are made for revelation, if God’s is thrown to the wayside, some other revelation will take its place.  Roy Wood Sellers is also a signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, he says:

The center of gravity of religion has been openly changing for some time now from supernaturalism to what may best be called a humanistic naturalism….  There have been many steps forward in the past, for every age must process its own religion, a religion concordant with its knowledge and expressed of its problems and aims….  The coming phase of religion will reflect man’s power over nature and his moral courage in the face of the facts and possibilities of life.  It will be a religion of action and passion, a social religon, a religion of goals and prospects.  It will be a free man’s religion, a religion for an adult and aspiring democracy.

Roy Wood Sellers, The Next Step In Religion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918), foreword.

Here Sellers makes the case for atheistic, naturalistic Humanism as the next world religion, or revelation.  Again:

But the humanist’s religion is the religion of one who says yea to life here and now, of one who is self-reliant and fearless, intelligent and creative.  It is the religion of the will to power, of one who is hard on himself and yet joyous in himself.  It is the religion of courage and purpose and transforming energy.  Its motto is, “What hath man not wrought?”  Its goal is the mastery of all things that they may become servants and instrumentalities to man’s spiritual comradeship.  Whatever mixture of magic, fear, ritual and adoration religion may have been in man’s early days, it is now, and henceforth must be, that which concerns man’s nobilities, his discovery of, and loyalty to, the pervasive values of life.  The religious man will now be he who seeks out causes to be loyal to, social mistakes to correct, wounds to heal, achievements to further.  He will be constructive, fearless, loyal, sensitive to the good wherever found, a believer in mankind, a fighter for things worth while….  The religion of human possibilities needs prophets who will grip men’s souls with their description of a society in which the righteousness, wisdom and beauty will reign together….  Loyalty to such an ideal will surely constitute the heart of the humanist’s religion….  If religion is to survive, it must be human and social.  It is they who insists upon a supernatural foundation and object who are its enemies.  Man’s life is spiritual in its own right.  So long as he shall dream of beauty and goodness and truth his life will not lack religion.

Ibid., p. 212, 215-216, 225.

Curtis W. Reese likewise signed the Humanist Manifesto I, he says quite plainly:

Within the liberal churches of America there is a religious movement which has come to be known as Humanism….  There is a large element of faith in all religion.  Christianity has faith in the love of God; and Humanism in man as the measure of values….  Hypotheses, postulates, and assumptions in their proper realm are comparable to faith in the realm of religion.  In this way I speak of the faith of Humanism.

Edited by Curtis W. Reese, Humanist Sermons, preface and “The Faith of Humanism,” (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1927), p. v, 39, 40

One last quote, as I could go on ad infinitum, another signer was Charles Francis Potter, he plainly states:

[Humanism] is a new type of religion altogether….  Is Humanism a religion?  It is both a religion and a philosophy of culture….  Education is the most powerful ally of humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism.  What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching.

Charles Potter, HUMANISM: A New Religion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930), p. 3, 114, 128

You can see that one revelation, say, “God exists,” is replaced with another that says, “God does not exist.”

Here is a quote from the famous 1961 court case, Torcaso v. Watkins:

  • Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.

See: Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127; Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 153 Cal.App.2d 673, 315 P.2d 394; II Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 325-327; 21 id. at 797; Archer, Faiths Men Live By (2d ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138, 254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695, 712; Year Book of American Churches for 1961, at 29, 47.

“Secular Humanism” is official atheism… BTW. It is a religion according to law, and why there are atheist (secular humanist) chaplains in the military.

Humanism is revelation, and just as “absolute” as the other.

  • Paul Kurtz says, “Humanism is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view.” 
  • Dewey states, “Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class or race….  It remains to make it explicit and militant.”

Chesterton said,

  • “When a man ceases to believe in God he does not believe in nothing, he believes almost in anything.” 

And so it is.


2021 EXCERPT


This is from APOLOGETIC PRESS:

Humanism is a religion, and the Supreme Court defined it as such in 1961 (Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961; the word “religion” or “religious” occurs 28 times in the first Manifesto, 1933). While the initial Manifesto is specifically religious, the subsequent humanist documents are not. However, the democratic humanism of the Secular Humanist Declaration (1980), and the “planetary” humanism of Kurtz’s Humanist Manifesto 2000, do not contradict the major premises of the first Manifesto.

The initial Manifesto most plainly declares humanism to be a religious enterprise. The very first section (or article) states: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (1933, emp. added). Religionists familiar with the goals and practices of secular humanism may be surprised at the high praise of traditional religion in this seminal treatise:

Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult) established for realizing the satisfactory life…. [T]hrough all changes religion itself remains constant in its quest for abiding values, an inseparable feature of human life (Humanist, 1933, Preface, parenthetical items in orig.).

So the secularist’s problem is not with religion per se, but with religious beliefs and practices that are antithetical to certain humanist norms and objectives. Secularists reject “salvationism,” which they regard as based on mere “affirmation” (Humanist, 1973). Practically all religion other than humanism falls into the category of religion that humanism would oppose. So, religion must be restructured into a humanist “faith” or belief system.

The first Manifesto unveils the humanists’ desire to reshape modern religion. “The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere revision of traditional values…. Religions the world over are under the necessity of coming to terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and experience” (1933, Preface). In a sense, humanists see themselves as saving people from theistic religion: “There is a great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth Century…. Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (Preface-Section 1).

Because theistic religion is so “out of date” according to secularists, a mammoth adjustment is in order. Religion of practically every kind must be eliminated or restructured.

Today man’s larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation (Humanist, 1933, Preface).

Humanists seem to have as their primary religious activity expunging God from society and the minds of people (see “Humanists Praise,” 2007; “‘Church Polling Place’,” 2006). Only when God is out of the picture may humanists convert all humans to the religion of humanism (and this is precisely what they intend to do; see Ericson, 2006; Lyons and Butt, 2007).

(READ THE REST)

“Why So Many Denominations Batman”?

(Originally Posted Dec 13, 2015)

WHY SO MANY?

ATHEIST CHALLENGE

I was recently in a conversation and was challenged with a long litany of items. This is a common tactic of atheists. Not camping on a single topic and dealing with it well. Rather they have a myriad of points combined that they think are sound, which is why I often choose on from their long screed to show them that in similar fashion when each statement is looked at and dealt with properly you often find straw-men, non-sequiturs, of category mistakes. Here is an example:

  • You see that is why there are 40,000 denominations approximately. Each interprets the bible differently, never mind all the other religions. Saying the bible is spot on is totally crazy

I thought I responded to this in the past… but after searching through my Word docs and my sites… I have not in fact posted responses to this challenge. So here I wish to do just that. But first, I want to define myself, and what “I am”

DEFINITIONS

I am broadly a theist, which is a theological system which postulates a transcendent God who is the creator of the universe, an immanent God who sustains it, and a personal God who is able to communicate with and redeem his creation. Christian theism is monotheistic.  I vigorously defend the theistic worldview as well as showing the inequities and the self-refuting nature of the opposing worldviews such as pantheism, panantheism, atheism, and polytheism.

Then I am rightly considered within the Protestantism tradition or movement.  Protestantism is considered the second wave of Christianity, that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Its name is derived from Protestatio, a statement issued by 5 reforming princes and 14 cities of the Holy Roman Empire at the Diet of Spayer in 1529.  The term Protestatio did not imply a mere protest, but a confession.  For the early Reformers, Protestantism was not so much a revolution as a revival of the faith and practices of the early church.

The five marks of the Protestant Church may not apply to all churches falling under this rubric, but they express the driving theological convictions of the early Reformers:

  1. The authority of the Scriptures as the definitive guide to faith and practice. They uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which means that only traditions and liturgical practices that are consistent with the Scriptures are acceptable;
  1. Justification by faith. For Luther and his associates, justification by faith constituted the capstone of the Christian faith. Whereas the Catholic faith teaches that the grace of God must be supplemented by human merits and sacramental grace, Protestants teach that every believer is justified by faith and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer;
  1. Regenerative power of consecration by baptism and the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper. The latter is accepted not as a sacrifice in which there is transubstantiation of the elements, but as a memorial in which the Lord is present in some form for believers to feed upon;
  1. Priesthood of all believers;
  1. Ministry. Most Protestant denominations accept at least three orders of ministers: bishop (superintendent), pastor, and deacon.

Protestant denominations number in the thousands, and vary widely in structure, theology, and forms of worship.  Some denominations are close to Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and others are close to Unitarianism.  The eight principle streams of modern Protestantism are Episcopal or Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian (including Calvinist or Reformed), Lutheran, Congregational, Baptist, Holiness, and Pentecostal.  Within each of these denominations there are warring liberal and conservative or evangelical factions that sometimes merge and at other times split.  Among the most prominent Protestant theologians of the late twentieth century are Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jurgen Moltmann, John R, Stott, Thomas F. Torrance, J. I. Packer, and E. Jungel.

I am then classed even further by my adherence to Evangelicalism.  It is one of the main strands of Protestant Christianity.  Its distinguishing marks are acceptance of scriptural authority as binding on Christians, personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and adherence to historic Trinitarianism.  In almost all countries, Evangelicals are pitted against the liberals, and there are divisions between conservatives and liberals even within Evangelicalism.  The Laodicean character of the liberal churches, as contrasted with the earnestness of the Evangelicals, has helped the latter gain an edge in terms of converts and growth.

Evangelicals have been on the forefront of the missionary movement.  The Church Missionary Society in England and the British and Foreign Bible Society owe their origins to Evangelicals.  In the nineteenth century, Evangelicalism received a boost from the revivalist movements and from the Keswick Convention.  With Evangelicalism’s twin focus of world missions and personal consecration, the social gospel (a theological movement in North America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries emphasizing social improvement  over propagation of the Gospel) has disappeared from its horizon.  In the post WWII period, the conservative Evangelicals have spearheaded a revival under the leadership of John Stott, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Carl Henry, and others.  The crusades of Billy Graham, the Charismatic movement, the impact of Inter-Varsity Fellowship among students, the popularity of theology as an academic discipline, and experiments in new forms of worship and evangelism have contributed to the phenomenal growth of Evangelicalism.

RESPONDING TO CHALLENGE

Now on to the challenge itself, which, the self-definition above will exemplify the main points. When I first cam across the argument myself, it was 33,000 denominations, which “WAR_EAGLE” points out is a fluctuating number in his concise refutation of this number:

This morning, an atheist poster was kind enough to provide us with yet another refutation of the “33,000 denominations” lie and I just thought I’d share it with you here, since he is not able to share that here.

Among The Criticism’s Of The Methodology Used To Arrive At That Ever Fluctuating Number:

  • These “denominations” are defined in terms of being separate organisations, not necessarily separate beliefs. This is a critical difference, not commonly noted by critics.
  • The largest component (something like two thirds to three quarters) of these totals are “independent” churches, mostly in Africa. These are not necessarily different in doctrine, but are simply independent organisations.
  • These estimates include national branches of the same denomination (e.g. the Lutheran Church of Germany and the Lutheran Church of Australia) as separate organisations in the count.
  • There are many churches among the independent churches which would have effectively the same teachings, just different locations, different leaders, etc.

It is thus incorrect to say that these figures indicate more than 40,000 different beliefs. It is impossible to tell how many differences in belief there would be, and probably impossible even to define. But it would certainly be far less than the 43,000 figure.

Differences In Belief:

  • The sources suggest Christian denominations can be divided into “6 major ecclesiastico-cultural mega-blocs”: Independents, Protestants, “Marginals”, Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Anglicans.
  • Wikipedia lists about 40 major divisions, each of whom might have some variation in belief.
  • The degree of difference in belief is hard to describe. For example, most of these denominations would have similar beliefs about major christian doctrines such as God, creation, Jesus, salvation, Holy Spirit, forgiveness, etc, and the differences would mostly be on less essential matters. How much these differences matter is subjective.

Conclusions

The denominations measured in these two reports are not indicators of separate belief, and quoting them as such is a mis-statement of the data. Due to the large number of independent churches, it is impossible to know how much christian belief varies beyond that defined by the 40 or so groups listed in Wikipedia.

(See THE WAY’S post on this)

In the above challenge of 40,000 denominations… Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and other cults are included in the number. Using the same criteria found in the ever-changing large number we see how the criteria works out to an INFLATED NUMBER: Please realize, this includes “Gnostics” (!), Mormons (122 denominations worth!) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (228 denominations)! No Christian church would include them as a “Christian denomination,” unless infected by a form of liberalism that causes a universal viewpoint. That is, all people are going to heaven. This question about denominations comes up often by Mormons. They typically claim they are the one true church… but there are well over 40-factions of Mormonism (“denominations”). How do they themselves distinguish what is true?

Even the Roman Catholic church has 242 “denominations.” (See Dr. White’s presentation near the bottom)

Here is a good concluding remark of a larger response:

Denominations were probably not Christ’s first choice for His church. We recall His prayer that His church would be one (John 17:20-21), and can imagine that He would have preferred for His church to remain fully unified for the cause of Christ. But denominations came to help serve the purpose of God in many important ways:

  • They helped to divide and scatter the influence of the Gospel to a wider spectrum of people.
  • They helped to filter out the spread of harmful heresies and false doctrines.
  • They have unified significant portions of the body of Christ, integrating those congregations of similar views. Even though a denomination may not have an organizational affiliation with all other churches, this does not have to represent disunity any more than a local church who seeks to befriend and support its neighboring congregations. Wise denominational leaders have used their influence to help their flock see the larger family picture of Christianity.

Thank God there will be no denominational divisions in Heaven, only those who have agreed upon their faith in the precious atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

(APOLOGETIC INDEX)

An historical analogy for one of the bullet points above may help. If the world was made up of a “Pangaea” of a country (one country/one world order), it would be impossible to stop a “Hitler” or Mao,” or “Stalin” conquering said world. But because the world is divided into different cultures, languages, and the like… it is near impossible for a tyrant to overthrow the world. (Which is one reason why a “united Europe” is looked upon as a net negative.)

(Hat-Tip To STEVE’S CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICAL INFOGRAPHICS)

Similarly, as was already pointed out, these many denominations “helped to filter out the spread of harmful heresies and false doctrines.”

CATHOLIC’S CONTINUE MYTH

There are of course NEGATIVE VIEWS of the “many denominations,” but all-in-all, it is not a very good challenge to a thoughtful Christian that the many denominations are somehow evidence that Christianity is not true, is a battle Catholics have lost FOR A WHILE NOW.

Here is an older video with James White (Jan 7, 2009):

  • Most (not all) Roman Catholic apologists repeat the same falsehood over and over again: that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations due to sola scriptura. 

I hope this helps.

Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Bill Maher Added)

(Updated Graphics Below – JUMP)

(For video description and links, GO HERE)

More videos/articles like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the MEAT from a larger — must read — article via STAND TO REASON:

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

Thallus (52AD)
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:

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

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

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josephus (37-101AD)
In more detail than any other non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in his “the Antiquities of the Jews” in 93AD. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at age thirteen, was a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. Now there is much controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians, who are accused of making additions to the text. So to be fair, let’s take a look at a scholarly reconstruction that has removed all the possible Christian influence from the text related to Jesus:

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

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

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


UPDATE via FACEBOOK


Here are some pictures via a Facebook Group (HERE):