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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Whether or not you believe Jesus Christ was who he said he was, you cannot deny the fact that he was. Without going into C.S. Lewis’ “liar, lunatic, or Lord” illustration, the one thing that you cannot deny is that there is evidence that a man named Jesus lived and existed around the time that modern Christians believe he did, that he was killed by crucifixion, and had followers. While a person can claim that there isn’t evidence for the existence of something (though in the case of Jesus there is definitely evidence) you cannot claim that something did not exist with any certainty.

One of the first things you must understand when researching anything from historical documents as old as the Bible is that there are cultural and linguistic differences that may need to be accounted for. I will attempt to explain those where necessary, and provide further links to the information.

The Census

The argument I saw most recently against the existence of Jesus was “there is no record of a census being taken around Jesus’ birth!”. This article gives a detailed answer, but the short answer is: Yes, there was a census. It appears that there were likely multiple censuses (censi?) that were taken throughout the land at varying times. There are papyrus scrolls referencing a Roman census taken in Egypt also. Another part of the complaint of these “history deniers” is the existence of a particular governor, Quirinus. The objection seems to have to do with the timing of when he served as governor, but some evidence shows that the man may have served twice, allowing for him to fit into the timeline in accordance with Luke’s detailed account. Some have suggested that Luke was attempting to make a distinction between the census we know Quirinius took in AD 6 from the census that Mary and Joseph were participating in. (Read the article for more detail).

Accuracy of Names, Titles, Locations

Next, a look to the validity of the timing of the scriptures. Gallio (proconsul of Achaea, Acts 18:12-17) and Lysanias (tetrarch of Abilene, Luke 3) are both mentioned and their timing questioned, that is until inscriptions were found at Delphi and Abilene (respectively) that tie them together.

In Acts 19:22, Erastus is named as a Corinthian who becomes a coworker of Paul. When Corinth was excavated, an inscription was found near the theatre and read “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid the pavement at his own expense.” They could easily be the same man, and it would explain why a wealthy citizen who converted was mentioned. Luke also gives the correct titles for several other officials.

Confirmation by Secular Historians

The next argument presented is that there were no “contemporary sources” that confirmed the existence of Jesus, which is flat out false.

The Gospel accounts were written within 40 years of Jesus’ death by eyewitnesses and by people who knew the eyewitnesses. Paul, for example, records meeting Peter (the disciple) in the book of Galatians. He also was known as a persecutor of the Jews; why would he need to persecute people who followed someone who did not exist? More importantly, if Jesus’ resurrection was made up, why would people willingly die for something they knew to be a lie? Since the accounts of the eyewitnesses (and others) are demonstrably historically accurate, and the mention of individuals correct, we have little reason to doubt the existence of Jesus. (Look here for links and info on historians — most of whom reject the theory that Jesus was a myth.)

Tacitus was a Roman historian (AD 55-120). He made at least three references to Christ. In the first he explains how Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that burned Rome:

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 reighn of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, 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 center and become popular. […] Covered with the skins of beasts, they were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illimation, when daylight had expired. (Ibid, p. 51)

Note that it mentions Christians (why would they exist if not for Christ?), references the basic points of Christ’s death, and the superstition Tacitus mentions is likely to be that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead.

Christ is also mentioned by a Roman Satirist named Lucian, the chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian who was called Suetonius, and a Jewish historian named Josephus. All of these historians present the death of Christ and the belief that he rose from the dead as a belief followed by Christians, nothing more or less. They do not attempt to refute it — after all, if a body had been found, would it not be mentioned? (They also do not state that the man did not exist or that his followers did not.) Particularly since the Christian believers were such a large number that they were mentioned by historians, satirists, and secretaries — it is likely that the refutation of the belief that had caused such difficulty for the Romans would have been proclaimed loudly.

Though the Gnostic gospels are not books that should be relied upon as accurate sources of information about Jesus’, his life, or his theology, they do help us to understand history in light of the Gospels. These Gnostic gospels were written primarily by men who pretended to be biblical apostles, and they agree that Jesus existed, though they felt the need to build and modify the story to suit their needs (indicating that He wasn’t simply a myth they could ignore).

In addition to the written evidence, there are inscriptions after the time of Jesus resurrection declaring unusually harsh punishments for disturbing graves. It is suggested that this may have been in response to the claim of Jesus’ resurrection. The method of Christ’s death is also verified by ancient burial sites in Jerusalem where the bodies of crucified men were found and the injuries consistent with the description found in the Gospels.

Massacre of the Innocents

It seems that this is one event that there is limited evidence for (though that, in itself, does not prove the non-existence of Jesus or that the Gospels were faked). Josephus mentions other atrocities of Herod, particularly his violent ones, but not this one. Some have argued that the murder of his two sons may have set such fear in the people that they believed he would kill their children as well. Others believe that a decree was issued, but then retracted and never carried out. Historian Raymond Brown (and others) argue that, based on Bethlehem’s estimated population of 1,000 at the time, the largest number of infants that could have been killed would have been about twenty,[15][16] and R. T. France, addressing the story’s absence in Antiquities of the Jews, argues that “the murder of a few infants in a small village [is] not on a scale to match the more spectacular assassinations recorded by Josephus”.[17] Here is another article referencing the possibility of this event. Let it be known that the absence of one (potentially small, comparatively) event, does not disprove the entirety of Christ’s existence.

Note: Much of the information used here was taken from Norman Geisler’s book When Skeptics Ask. It is an excellent source of answers to questions that people often have, and provides many footnotes and references to support the answers given. (Chapter 9 alone has 22 footnotes!) Please check this book out from your library or order on Amazon.

 

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In many conversations and religious discussions I have heard people condemn Christianity and Christians because some passages in the Bible make it appear that rape is acceptable. The proof scripture that is used most frequently is found in Deuteronomy 22:22-28. Here I will share the scripture and give my rebuttal.

“22 If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. 23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you. 25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, 27 for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her. 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[b] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
The word shakab that is translated “rape” in the Deuteronomy 22:28 means “to have sexual relations with”, “lie with” etc., and does not indicate forced intercourse. The verse gives the idea that they slept together consensually and were being secretive and then they were discovered. The word translated “rape” in Deuteronomy 28:30 (“You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her.”) is what we would actually define as rape, or being violated. That word is shagal The woman in verse 28 was to be married to the man who slept with her because she had been humiliated, she was not betrothed to a man, and would never be allowed to marry or have a “normal” life otherwise. The man is punished in a way as well because he cannot divorce her, nor can he marry another woman.

Don’t forget verses 25-26 “But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death.” This instance uses shakab “to lie with” but says previously that she was “forced” or “prevailed upon” (depending upon the translation) to sleep with him, so it indicates that she was probably unwilling but it is not clearly stated (he could have convinced her to do it willingly). The man is stoned because he slept with a woman who was not his betrothed; though she might possibly have been willing there is no way to tell when they were alone in the countryside, and even if she had screamed no one would hear to come help her. If, however, he sleeps with a betrothed woman in the city and she does not scream, both are to be put to death for committing adultery.

Another verse referenced is 2 Samuel 2:11-12: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

David’s punishment is essentially that the same thing that he did to Uriah will be done to him. Because David had Uriah killed and secretly slept with his wife, David was going to have the same thing done to him, except in public knowledge; he will see and know that his women are being loved (shakab) by other men. It says nothing about rape (shagal). Some have noted that God has caused the women to commit adultery. I would argue that he did not cause it, but simply allowed it. But that is another story.

 

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What is commitment? Does anyone know these days? Here’s what the dictionary has to say about that.

1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b : mittimus
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date

 b : something pledged
 c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled <a commitment to a cause>
A commitment does not have to be a signed formal contract (not that those last long in this century), it can be a spoken word, a written message, or a non-verbal understanding.
This week I’ve witnessed two acts of non-commitment. A friend left his wife because, as he said “she has issues she needs to work out”  (though he does too…) and another friend was cheated on for the second time. The first instance is sad because a husband (or wife) should be committed to their spouse no matter what.  In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, as long as you both shall live. ‘Til death do us part! Nowhere in this verbal agreement does it say, “I get to leave you because you have issues.” The second instance is sad because within days of saying “I want to be with you” to my friend, this guy was with another girl. After he had already been forgiven for cheating on my friend once, he was with another girl. What is wrong with these people?!
1 Corinthians 7:10-11: “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not [d]leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not [e]divorce his wife.”
Malachi 2:13-16 tells us that God does not accept the offerings of those who are unfaithful to their spouses: Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 1You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[c] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[d] says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. 

The Bible says that God hates divorce. Why? Because it tears apart something that he has designed to function as one unit. We were created to be married and partnered with someone for all our lives.

“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

I know that ending a relationship is not nearly as serious as ending a marriage, but it has the same effect in this day and age. It used to be that people did not have an intimate emotional relationship until the point where they were engaged or married. In our society we have a serious intimate relationship before we are married, often with physical affection attached. When these relationships end abruptly, they can be just as painful as divorce (even if they’re less complicated legally).

All this is to say PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTIES AND DEAL WITH IT!!!! When you commit to a relationship you are in it until you have a seriously good reason to end it. “I met another girl” is not a good reason, nor is “I’m bored” or “you gained weight” or “you aren’t as perfect as I thought you were.” If there’s a logical reason to end a relationship, be honest and just do it. If you’re married, just deal with it. Get counseling, talk to a pastor, and stick with it. There is NO good reason to end a marriage, even if you think there is one at the time. Deal with it.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

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Life was frustrating for a while there, but I must be honest: my life is not that difficult right now. There are so many people who are struggling with something more than what I have been through lately, and I need only focus on God and His greatness to see how small my problems really are. By complaining, worrying, or being stressed I am basically saying that my problems are unique and that I am above God’s commands to be joyful in all things. We have a wonderful God who calls us to be a joyful light to all, and we should strive to answer that call daily. Realize His sovereignty and let Him have control and you will have nothing to worry about!

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

My husband and I have been listening to the audiobook of “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer, and I have recently started reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan (a birthday present from my husband). In the latter book Chan quotes the former…Tozer makes the profound statement:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the church is always God himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”

What is God like? What words can we use to describe His attributes? He is holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite, immutable, just, merciful, timeless, and many others. We cannot even fathom all of God’s attributes fully (if we could understand God completely, then he would not be God). If He is so many things, and so much more than we could ever comprehend, is He not worthy of praise? Of devotion? Of sacrifice? Of all the wonderful things God is, I am going to strive to honor Him and worship Him for every one, and to change my schema of who God is to match the Biblical identity of who God really is.

What do you conceive God to be like?

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What Happened After God’s Funeral?

–Ravi Zacharias

These are the notes I took while listening to this message, it comes in 4 parts and they can be found here:

http://www.rzim.org/resources/listen/justthinking.aspx?archive=1

“Young people, please hear me; this, to me, is the problem of 20th century man: he no longer knows what to laugh at and no longer knows what to weep at.”

“So you turn on your television screen and before you know it, you’re looking at a seduction yourself. And instead of weeping at it, you’re watching in intrigue as the story unfolds. You watch illegitimacies transpire before your eyes and mine, and because Hollywood has convinced us that it is entertainment we become entertained, rather than sitting there with a crushed and a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And I often wonder, if my Lord Jesus were able to stalk some of the seats of Broadway, or sit in some of the theatres where things are perpetrated and shown to you and me, where jokes are made of His virgin birth, where Christianity is demeaned and mocked, where illegitimacies are glorified and exalted; that which is vulgar is intended to make us laugh, that which is sacred is intended to make us weep, rather than sit there in awe and gratitude for the sacred, what has really happened between the educational system and whatever else is happening, we’ve lost the differentiation between laughter and tears. It is vitally important what you laugh at. It is vitally important what you weep at. What breaks your heart tells God who you are. What makes you laugh tells God who you are.”

If God is dead:

  1. You have to mistake man for being God:
    1. If there is no infinite being, you are left with a finite being: man.
      1. i.      If man is made god, some men will become God.
  2. If God is dead someone will have to take his place, it will be megalomania or erotomania. The drive for power or the drive for pleasure; the fist or the fallace; Hitler or Hugh Heffner.
  3. You will have to take your body to be a soul
    1. If there is no God, there is no soulishness. If there is no soulishness all you have left is the material, and you have to take the body to be the ultimate and the eternal. Your body becomes your soul.
    2. The Abolition of Man, CH 1: Men without Chests, by C.S. Lewis.
      1. i.      “If I believe these men, they tell me mathematics is real therefore my brain is real. Food is real, therefore my stomach is real. But they tell me my emotions have nothing whatsoever to do with reality; they are going to produce a generation of men with brains, men with stomachs, men without chests and no heart.” –Lewis
  4. “And if God is dead, you have to take the body to be the soul. And you will end up killing feelings of nobility, and shame.”
    1. i.      If your glands are what make you feel a certain way, then you can decide what you do without consequences: there is no nobility, there is no shame. We become men without chests; we’ve killed our heart.
  5. Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
  6. When we see something noble, there is something of the spirit in it (not just flesh, blood, and bone). If God is dead the body has to be taken to be the soul. The only way one can live with this is to live with a constant sense of contradiction.
  7. “The new rebel is a skeptic and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty therefor he can never be a real revolutionist. The fact that he doubts everything gets in the way when he wants to denounce anything, for all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind, and the modern revolutionists doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. So he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, then he writes another book, a novel, in which he insults it himself. He curses the sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician he cries out that war is a waste of life, and as a philosopher that all life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. … In short, the modern revolutionist being an infinite skeptic is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling morality, in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes for revolt; by rebelling against everything he has lost his right to revolt against anything. “ G.K. Chesterton.
  8. When soulishness is gone and body is all that is left, you live with a constant sense of contradiction, and nothing will make sense anymore.
  9. You have to take time to be eternity.
    1. There is no tomorrow, there is no eternity; worms will eat your body and it will decompose. When a child dies it is no more significant than if a 95 year old were to die after a long life, because death is the end of everything.
    2. If you live by Nietzsche’s philosophy, that’s it. If you live by the teaching of God’s work, that is not it.
    3. John 14:19 “Because I live, you also will live.”
    4. Illustration:
      1. i.      A young med student tried to perform an abortion on his wife. They could not go to the abortionist because in his lectures he denounced abortion, and he accidentally killed his wife. We should not play God.
  10. “No guilt in life, no fear in death; this is the power of Christ in me.”

 

 

You choice: Christ, or Nietzsche.

 

 

 

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I seriously don’t understand why people can’t just say Merry Christmas. I understand that there is a fear of excluding those who are not Christian and do not celebrate Christmas…but let’s face it, most of the people who celebrate Christmas are NOT Christians, they just want presents. So what to do? You can always just add Hannuka in…Merry Christmas and Happy Hannuka! Missing something? Add Kwanza too…Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka and a Joyous Kwanza! Is it really that offensive if someone wishes you a joyous…whatever holiday…if you aren’t a follower of that religion? If someone wishes me a Happy Hannuka, or says “may Allah bless you” I’m not offended. I just take that as their wish for me to be blessed and have a great day. The bottom line is this…add as many seasonal celebrations’ greetings to your banners as you wish, just don’t take away my Christmas. If you are a Christian I ask you, keep Christ in Christmas, one of the few places where His name is allowed to be mentioned publicly, don’t just say happy holidays… There is only one truly Holy day this season, and that is the day of my savior Jesus Christ’s birth. Christmas.

It’s ok if you’re a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew;
It’s ok if you’re agnostic and don’t know what to do.
Happy Christmahanukwanzica to you!

Seriously people.

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