Waiting for the End – A Meditation for Easter

Crucifixion of Jesus – Marco Palmezzano

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

 

“It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.” When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

Mark 15.34-37; 42-45

Pilate was surprised to learn that Jesus had died so quickly. That was because Roman crucifixion was not merely an  execution. It was a slow death by way of torture, filled with excruciating pain, designed by the Romans to  extend the amount of time it actually took to die as long as possible. “Historically the process could take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 3-4 days. And there were reports of people living as long as 9 days on a cross.”[1] The Jewish leaders and Pilate were both expecting it to take days for Jesus to die as was typical. That’s why the Jewish leaders petitioned Pilate to have his legs broken (John 19.31).   Because when hung on a cross for crucifixion, “Modern forensic research shows that a person whose hands are bound above his head has severe trouble breathing.”[2] The results being that:

“The muscles that run between the ribs are basically fully extended which means the ribs are fully expanded, which means the chest is essentially passively full of air. In order to get the stale air and the carbon dioxide and all the waste gases out, the victim would actually have to actively lift themselves up to get the pressure off of these muscles and allow themselves to exhale.”[3]
Robert M. Morris, MD
ER Chief, Stanford medical center

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Are Biblical accounts copied from pagan religions? Part 2. The Resurrection

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Since the original sin in the garden of Eden, mankind has searched for reasons not to believe God so he could live a life independent of God. In the garden, the serpent convinced Eve not to trust God. Why? Supposedly because God was holding back the knowledge of good and evil to the detriment of Adam and Eve. The serpent suggested God was wrong f0r withholding that knowledge, but that if they were to discover the truth, they would be “like God”. (Gen 3.5) That was a big lie. God was indeed withholding the knowledge of evil, but he was not wrong in doing so because he knew that (experiential) knowledge of evil (like disobeying God) would lead to death.  And the biggest irony is – they were already like God (Gen 1.26),  there was nothing to be gained from what the serpent offered.

Today there is another lie circulating to destroy belief in God: The claim that the biblical accounts are not history, but rather stories borrowed or stolen and then adapted from the made up stories of pagan religions. If there’s no reason to believe the pagan religions, then there’s no reason to believe a made up story based on it either. Continue Reading

Intelligent Design’s Blind Side

Intelligent Design’s Blind Side

William Dembski is a leader in the Intelligent Design (ID) community, so I read with initial interest a recent interview he did with Sean McDowell titled How is the Intelligent Design Movement Doing? Interview with William Dembski.  which is posted on McDowell’s blog. That initial interest turned to dismay as the adversarial attitude Dembski has toward revealed truth in general and Young Earth Creationism (YEC) in particular was made apparent. When asked how he assesses the reception of ID within the church, Dembski states:

“I would say that the church broadly and even the evangelical community has — on balance — been somewhere between useless and downright counterproductive to the success of ID.”

A most unfortunate assessment given the potential ID has to impact a culture that has largely fallen under the sway of the junk science put forth to support the materialist religion known as Darwinian Evolution. Even more unfortunate is Dembski’s  apparent blindness to how he (and other ID advocates with similar positions) has caused such a reaction from the God fearing, Bible believing faithful they’d like to gain support from. To unravel this mystery for them, let’s start with what both ID advocates and YEC advocates are trying to achieve. Continue Reading

Review: The Atheist Delusion

In his latest evangelistic movie “The Atheist Delusion – Why Millions Deny the Obvious” Ray Comfort is once again out among atheists in what I’d like to say is his inimitable style – but that would be a very inaccurate description. Because it is clear that Comfort has developed an easy to use approach that he’d like every Christian to use when confronted with atheist claims of “there’s no evidence of God”. Continue Reading

The signs of an arriving king

“The Adoration of the Shepherds”, 1622 by Gerard van Honthorst

What kinds of events accompany the coming of a king?

A meditation for Christmas

What does one expect at the arrival of a King? Here in the America, while we have celebrities that are treated as royalty, we have no legitimate king who rules from a recognized throne. But we have a wealth of images from both history and fiction. The below painting of the arrival and reception of King George V and Queen Mary at the West Door of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, Jubilee Day, 6 May 1935 confirms common notions of the pageantry, pomp and circumstance that accompanies the coming of a king publicly to his people.

The reception of King George V and Queen Mary at the West Door of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, Jubilee Day, 6 May 1935

In such situations the long desired king is invariably accompanied by: Continue Reading

The Final Word on Marriage

Aslan, a type of the Christ, resurrected (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2005)

Just as Aslan, a symbol of Christ, had the final word over death; likewise the Lord Jesus will have the final word on Marriage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On June 26, 2015, five justices of the supreme court took it upon themselves to   overturn legally enacted state constitutional amendments against same sex marriage that had been enacted in 30 states[1], to redefine the meaning of marriage that has been understood as between a single man and a single woman for multiple millennia by the majority of religious adherents[2] and  thereby disregard the religious beliefs of 2/3 of the world, so that the less than 4% of Americans[3] who identify as gay can legally fulfill their sinful desires. That is to say nothing of the trampling underfoot of the clear teaching of scripture[4], and the disregard for the maintenance of a modicum of morality (having already lost most of it to the sexual revelation) preferring instead to push us over the slippery slope toward polygamy, and a host of other evils.[5]

As one might expect, supporters of the gay-rights movement erupted in all sorts of displays of joy and approval. A new hashtag was born to link like minds: #lovewins. For those not on twitter, you can see a sample of the rejoicing here.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene from the 2005 production of CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan has surrendered himself to the witch. The witch gloats in her apparent victory:

Behold, the great lion.
Bind him.
Wait, let him first be shaved.
Bring him to me.
You know Aslan, I’m a little disappointed in you.
Did you honestly think by all this that you could save the human traitor?
You are giving me your life and saving no one. Ha!
So much for love.

(To the crowd) Tonight – the deep magic will be appeased. (Crowd is increasingly roused)
But tomorrow we will take Narnia forever! (round of cheering)
In that knowledge – despair and die! (thrusts a knife into Aslan)
The great cat is dead! (Cheers)
General, prepare you troops for battle. (General celebration continues)
(To herself) However short it may be.

As usual, Lewis’ allegories are uncannily accurate.  Though I see at least eight parallels, so as not to be tedious, let me point out just three:

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What is Religion? Does evolution qualify? Atheism?

 

A Torah scroll containing the first five books of the Bible Text highlighted: The first words of Deuteronomy 6.5 Atheists and evolutionists claim they have no religion. But is that true?
A Torah scroll containing the first five books of the Bible
 Text highlighted: The first words of Deuteronomy 6.5

Atheists are fond of saying that they have no religion, because atheism is not a religion. Here’s an example from Twitter.

Likewise, evolutionists claim that evolution is science, a  fact, and certainly not religion. Here, for example, is a video of Richard Dawkins at big think claiming evolution is a fact. But are atheists and evolutionists correct in asserting that their respective beliefs are not religions? That of course depends on the definitions.

Evolutionists are notorious for redefining evolution to suit their needs for the occasion. In other words to keep evolution from being exposed as the total fraud it is, they keep changing the meaning of the word “evolution”; so they wind up claiming you’re not speaking about the same thing; though you’re speaking of the same evolution the discussion started with.  For instance, you may start out with a statement like “molecules to man evolution has never been observed.” They’ll return something like, “Do you know what evolution is? It’s a change in the allele frequency of a gene pool.” These are two different things; two different discussions, and thus  you can never convince them of anything.   Steven Meyer and Mike Keas have documented 6 of the common uses of the term “evolution” that evolutionists switch between.1  There’s a term for that tactic.  It’s the logical fallacy known as equivocation.

Religion is the basic belief system of the person
Atheism likewise comes in various flavors. The strong position, those who categorically state there is no God, (or as they would say gods); the weaker position, those who simply do not believe God exists; and finally those who try to be a little less arrogant and more rational (knowing that  proving a universal negative like “there is no God” is impossible.

Therefore to say there is no God is arrogant), and thus they simply say “I don’t know if God exists” – the agnostic position.

And with Bill O’Reilly out there confusing people with his repeated claims that Christianity is a “philosophy” not a religion,2 Christianity is not without those who are muddying the waters. So can we claim any of these are religions?  Yes, these are all religions and that can be clearly seen once we understand the difference between how a religion is recognized, and how it is expressed by adherents.

Religion and the Establishment Clause

The courts have been a favored weapon of atheists and to a lesser degree evolutionists in the battle to silence Christians while simultaneously getting their Godless theories to be accepted and promoted in government sponsored venues like schools. The typical approach is to use the first amendment’s “establishment clause” against anything that even sounds Christian.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

The clause reads as follows: Continue Reading

AD Apologetics – Part 2: Jesus’ Triumphant Resurrection

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware.

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware. (AD The Bible Continues)

The series “AD – The Bible Continues” presents a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus.

In  part 1, Jesus’ death and the empty Tomb, the uniqueness of Christianity was examined through  a consideration of the following questions:

Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?

The answer to all those questions is resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – it is the answer to each question, and what makes Christianity unique. Furthermore, Christianity is the only religion which provides hope for us mortal men and women through a savior who has demonstrated mastery over death by himself rising from the dead. And that savior offers the same resurrection to all who believe in him.

That claim – resurrection from the dead –  is so startling, so bold, so beyond common experience that some people refuse to even consider it as a possibility. Such doubt has been expressed by the well known liberal scholar,  the late Rudolph Bultmann who in his disbelief writes,

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AD Apologetics – Part 1: Jesus’ death and the Empty Tomb

Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb (John 20.1) in “AD – The Bible Continues” episode 2 “The Body is Gone”

The series “AD – The Bible Continues” presents many strong evidences of why the resurrection of Jesus is true.

Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?


The answer to these an many other question about the authenticity of the Christian faith is the same.  That which:

 – distinguishes Jesus and Christianity from any other religion,
– validates that Christianity is true, and
– proves that Jesus is the son of God

 is the same fact: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus is the most important doctrine of the Christian faith

No other religion has a founder who has proved he is the Lord of Life by showing mastery over death by being raised from the dead. This is precisely the point scripture makes when it proclaims:

…who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rom 1.4)

The resurrection of Jesus is the most important doctrine of the Christian faith, because without the resurrection there is no point to the Christian faith, and indeed no  faith at all. Or as the apostle Paul put it:

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Cor 15.14, 17

It is no wonder then that of all the doctrines that critics, liberal scholars and those who wish to destroy Christianity could take aim at,  the one they choose to attack early, often and most viciously is the teaching that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead, after having being put to death on a Roman cross and entombed. Continue Reading

“Killing Jesus” – a review

Jesus overturns the tables of the temple money changers in National Geographic's/Bill O'Reilly's

Jesus overturns the tables of the temple money changers in National Geographic’s/Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”

“Killing Jesus” presents a Jesus declared to be the son of God by his disciples, instead of the eternal God  made flesh that is presented in scripture.

What can you expect from Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus? Let me borrow a scene from the Bible to explain:

After John the Baptizer1 is  put in prison by Herod Antipas (called Herod the Tetrarch) for preaching against Herod’s immoral, adulterous affair with the wife of his brother Philip, the Bible records John while in prison sends some of his disciples to Jesus to affirm that Jesus is in fact the messiah that John had announced to the world that he was when Jesus came to him to be baptized by John in the Jordan. In answer to John’s question – are you the one – Jesus provides John’s disciples evidence that he is in fact the messiah by performing messianic miracles (Is 35.5) in the sight of John’s disciples, and sends them back with the message that he is doing the works of the messiah as prophesied by scripture; and also sends a word of encouragement to John. (Luke 7.21-23)

Jesus then turns to the crowd and affirms John and his ministry by asking the people a series of questions that hones in on the expectations the people had about John: Continue Reading