4/17/15

From Jim McGuiggan... A LUCKY BREAK---YEAH RIGHT!


A LUCKY BREAK---YEAH RIGHT!

Today's BBC news (10th Oct-09). UK's chief medical officer announced that the UK has got a "lucky break" regarding swine flu.
The numbers infected in Scotland are down, the rise in England is not what they feared, those that are contracting swine flu suffer mild distress and the very very few poor people that have died who were diagnosed as having swine flu were already having difficulty living because of underlying serious health problems. Two people in total are said to have died who did not have underlying health problems.
Not a word from the Minister about the alarmist announcements from officials of WHO and UK medical bosses. ("Millions could die"; "Remember what this flu did in 1918"; "We have emergency arrangements in place for the expected flood of victims having to be hospitalized"; "We should close the schools!"; "Don't travel and don't use public transport unless you have to." "We're well prepared for the coming pandemic"; "We have purchased 60 million doses of the [untested] vaccine"; and on and on and on.)
So what now? It was all hype and the figures say so and have always said so. So what now? The Minister tells us we've been lucky and this gives us time to better prepare to complete the vaccination of millions.
Good grief!
They can't be stopped! The pharmaceutical companies with their allies in the CDC and WHO keep stirring it up, nobody admits with a sheepish look; "Yeah, we hyped it out of all proportion again, didn't we?!"
And the public and the tax-payer get it in the neck while trying to keep their heads above the economic water because no one in power is willing to admit they've blundered again.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

Black Muslims and the Nation of Islam by Brad Bromling, D.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=258

Black Muslims and the Nation of Islam

by Brad Bromling, D.Min.

Ever since entering the spotlight of public attention (about 1984), Louis Farrakhan has been a controversial figure. He thrills the hearts of some, scares the daylights out of others, and offends many more. When he called the African-American community to participate in a "Million Man March" on Washington, D.C., 400,000 responded—twice the number who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. Unlike Dr. King, everything Farrakhan said was dedicated to Allah.
Few people have reminded Americans of Islam’s presence on this continent more pointedly than Farrakhan. But what many people do not know is that Farrakhan does not represent Islam. He is the leader of the Nation of Islam, a distinctly American invention that has its roots in the opening years of the twentieth century (see Bijlefeld, 1993; Gudel and Duckworth, 1993; Ahlstrom, 1972; Morey, 1992).
In 1930, a Detroit clothing merchant named Wallace D. Fard (a.k.a. Wali Farad Muhammad) began preaching an Islamic-flavored message among blacks. Fard had been a follower of the “Noble Prophet Ali Drew,” founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America. Drew’s message was a mixture of Christian principles, Islamic ideals, and black nationalism that offered hope to an oppressed community of people. After Drew’s assassination in 1929, Fard, claiming connections with Mecca, began calling black Americans to renounce Christianity (a “white man’s religion”), and to embrace Islamic ideals. He founded the Temple of Islam in Detroit, and by 1934 had a following of 8,000. After Fard mysteriously disappeared in 1934, his most famous disciple, Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole), carried the movement forward.
Elijah Muhammad claimed that Allah had appeared in the person of Fard, and that he himself was a prophet of Allah. He saw white people as devils and preached against integration. In his view, the black man would win ultimate victory over the white man in the battle of Armageddon. He offered the impoverished and persecuted black community a sense of dignity. Blacks were not simply the white man’s equal, but someday would rule the Earth.
In 1947, Elijah Muhammad’s message was heard and believed by the imprisoned Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) who, upon his release in 1952, joined the Black Muslims. He was an outspoken minister of the group until 1963, when he became disillusioned with Muhammad. After a trip to Mecca a year later, Malcolm X converted to orthodox Islam and no longer endorsed racial antagonism. Eleven months later he was assassinated.
When Muhammad died in 1975, he was succeeded by his son, Wallace Deen, who sought unification between the Black Muslims and orthodox Islam. This trend was unacceptable to Louis Farrakhan, who preferred the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. So, in 1977 Farrakhan broke from the Black Muslims, returned to his mentor’s teaching, and started the faction that bears the name “Nation of Islam” (a name also used by Elijah Muhammad).
Without Farrakhan, Wallace Deen Muhammad led Black Muslims to full unification with orthodox Islam. This group is not to be confused with the Nation of Islam, which still is considered heretical by Islam worldwide.
Some of the more troubling views of Elijah Muhammad that are evident in current Nation of Islam rhetoric are well summarized by Sidney Ahlstrohm:
[Their] eschatology teaches that God has come; there is no life after this life; heaven and hell are only two contrasting earthly conditions; the hereafter (which will begin to appear about A.D. 2000) is but the end of the present "spook" civilization of the Caucasian usurpers, including the Christian religion. It will be followed by the redemption of the Black Nation and their glorious rule over all the earth (1972, p. 1068).
Ostensibly, the message of the Nation of Islam (as presented by Farrakhan at the Million Man March) is one of social atonement and reconciliation; it is a call for the black community to strive for moral and ethical superiority. Farrakhan called the audience to give up drugs, prostitution, and violence, and to commit to improving themselves “spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically, and economically” (1995). These are laudable concerns that should transcend race. If lower crime rates, higher economic productivity, and an over-all improvement in the quality of life for African-Americans result from the efforts of Farrakhan, then all people will have reason to rejoice.
The problem with the Nation of Islam, however, is at least two-fold: (1) it is not the religion of Jesus Christ; and (2) it is preoccupied with “white supremacy.” In his Million Man March speech, Farrakhan argued that the United States is rotten at its very foundation because it has been characterized from the beginning by white supremacy. For example, He said:
The Seal and the Constitution [of the United States—BB] reflect the thinking of the founding fathers, that this was to be a nation by White people and for White people. Native Americans, Blacks, and all other non-White people were to be the burden bearers for the real citizens of this nation (1995).
Clearly, anyone with a cursory understanding of American history can respect (even if only to a limited degree) the sense of anger and frustration that minorities feel about their position in this society. Prejudice is a dangerous and painful thing. Its effects have not disappeared, and the wounds it has inflicted still are very fresh in many places (and in many lives). But the answer is not found in the Qur’an or the doctrines of Elijah Muhammad. Cornel West succinctly stated:
...one’s eyes should be on the prize, not on the perpetuator of one’s oppression. In short, Elijah Muhammad’s project remained captive to the supremacy game—a game mastered by the white racists he opposed and imitated with his black supremacy doctrine (1993, p. 100).
The only hope for a world torn by racial hatred is Jesus Christ—not a black Jesus or a white Jesus, but the Jesus of Scripture—Who like all of us is the Son of Adam, but unlike us, is also the Son of God. By His self-sacrifice for all humanity, He offers to break down the walls of enmity that sin erects between us (Acts 10:34; Ephesians 2:14; Galatians 3:28).

REFERENCES

Ahlstrom, Sidney E. (1972), A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).
Bijlefeld, Willem A. (1993), “Black Muslims” The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia [CD-ROM].
Farrakhan, Louis, (1995), Transcript from Minister Louis Farrakhan’s remarks at the Million Man March [Online], URL http://www3.cnn.com/US/9510/megamarch/10-16/transcript/index.html.
Gudel, Joseph P. and Larry Duckworth (1993), “Hate Begotten of Hate,” The Christian Research Institute [Online], URL http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0010c.txt.
Morey, Robert A. (1992) The Islamic Invasion (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).
West, Cornel (1993), Race Matters (Boston, MA: Beacon).

Are Jesus’ Words More Important than the Bible Writers’? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=2341

Are Jesus’ Words More Important than the Bible Writers’?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Occasionally, Christians will make the statement that “Jesus’ words are more important than the words of the Bible writers.” Allegedly, the words of Christ deserve greater attention, allegiance, and admiration than the inspired words of Paul, Peter, James, and every other Bible writer. Some even go so far as to say, “Jesus’ teachings must be obeyed, while the teachings of the Bible writers could be overlooked.” After all, Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He saves us (Luke 19:10). The Bible writers were merely men—fallible men who made numerous mistakes in their lives, and whose salvation, like ours, comes only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). So why should we consider their teachings on par with the teachings of Christ?
It clearly needs to be established that no one is on par with God. The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe is infinite in all of His glorious attributes. He alone is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. The Son of God is the only accountable person never to sin (Hebrews 4:15). It has always been wrong to attempt to put men, even Bible writers, on par with God (cf. Genesis 3:5; Ezekiel 28:1-8). Only the wicked try to elevate themselves to the status of deity. King Herod, for example, flirted with self-deification—and died in a horrific manner as a result (Acts 12:21-23). This incident stands in stark contradistinction to the reaction of a Bible writer, Paul, when the heathen at Lystra attempted to worship him. Rather than accept worship that is reserved only for God (Matthew 4:10), Paul and Barnabas refused it and rebuked those who attempted such worship (Acts 14:8-18).
Jesus, as God in the flesh (John 1:1-5,14,17), rightly accepted, and still accepts, His followers’ worship (John 9:35-38; Luke 24:52; Revelation 5:8-14). However, the fact that the words of the Bible writers deserve the same level of attention and allegiance as the words of Christ has nothing to do with attempting to put weak, finite, sinful humanity on par with God. To say that all of the words of the Bible deserve our utmost respect and attention is actually in harmony with what the Bible itself teaches.
First, the only reason we have the words of Christ is because God used men to write them down. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all wrote about the life and teachings of Christ. The apostle Paul also quoted Jesus occasionally (2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Timothy 5:18; Acts 20:35; 22:7-21). To say that the words of Christ deserve man’s ultimate respect, while the words of the Bible writers warrant less appreciation, is to ignore the fact that God gave us the teachings of Christ through inspired men(Galatians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).
Second, at times in the gospel accounts there is no clear way to know for sure if the Bible writers were quoting Jesus or simply narrating the inspired story. As commentator Leon Morris concluded:
All are agreed that from time to time in the Gospel [of John—EL] we have the meditations of the [e]vangelist, but it is difficult to know where they begin and end. In the first century there were no devices like quotation marks to show the precise limits of quoted speech. The result is that we are always left to the probabilities and we must work out for ourselves where a speech or quotation ends (1995, p. 202, emp. added).
For example, we cannot say for sure if John 3:16—arguably the most frequently quoted Bible verse in the world—is a direct quotation of Jesus or a comment by John. The great thing is, we do not have to know this in order to know the teachings of God. Whether John 3:16 is a direct quote from Jesus or not, it is from God, and thus divinely authoritative. [NOTE: A person should be careful not to assume that red-letter Bibles have all of (and only) Jesus’ direct quotations printed in red. Judgment calls must be made by publishers as to which words they put in red and which words they do not. The fact is, whatever color publishers make the words of Jesus and the Bible writers, all of them deserve our utmost respect because all of them come from God. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160, emp. added).]
Third, consider also the fact that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament numerous times throughout His ministry. He quoted from Deuteronomy (6:13,16; 8:3) when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). When the Pharisees connivingly asked Jesus a question about divorce (Matthew 19:1-10), the master Teacher directed their attention to God’s plan for marriage as recorded in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 1:27; 2:24; 5:2). When dying on the cross (Matthew 27:46), Jesus quoted from Psalm 22:1. Genesis, Deuteronomy, and the book of Psalms did not become authoritative when Jesus quoted from them; they were already authoritative, because they came from God. After quoting from the relatively obscure words in Psalm 82:6, Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). That is, it is impossible for Scripture to be annulled, for its authority to be denied, or its truth to be withstood (see Warfield, 1970, pp. 138-140). “It cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous” (Morris, 1995, p. 468). Why? Because it was the authoritative, inspired, inerrant Word of God, even before Jesus quoted from it.
Indeed, the fact that Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament, appealing to it as the authoritative “Word of God” (Mark 7:13; John 10:35), is further proof that all of the Scriptures—not just the words Jesus spoke while on Earth—deserve our utmost respect. It is illogical and without biblical backing to suggest that the “Word of God” (whether the book of Genesis or the book of James) is somehow inferior to the “words of the Son of God.” [NOTE: Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Law (Matthew 5:17), taking “it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” God’s people have been amenable to the New Law (Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 8:7-13). Regardless of what law man is under, however, it is still proper to acknowledge that all Scripture should be respected because it is all God’sWord.]
Fourth, Jesus and the Bible writers even referred to narrational comments, and not just direct quotations from God, as being God’s Word. For example, when Jesus reminded His hypocritical hearers of God’s original design in marriage (Genesis 1-2), He quoted from Moses in Genesis 2:24. Yet Jesus explained that “He [God] who made them at the beginning…said” the words (Matthew 19:4-5). How could God have “said” this statement when Moses was not directly quoting God? Answer: If it is in Scripture, it is “God’s Word” (i.e., it was given by inspiration of God). When the writer of Hebrews quoted from the words of the psalmist (95:7-11), where nothing was said about this psalm being inspired by God, the Hebrews writer noted that these words were from “the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 3:7-11). Why? Because the Holy Spirit guided the psalmist in what he wrote.
To treat the words of Moses, Paul, Peter, and other inspired penmen as “second class” Scripture is equivalent to saying that “God’s Word is not as important as God’s Word.” The fact is, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16, emp. added). Paul quoted from Jesus and the God-inspired prophet Moses when writing to Timothy and elevated both as “Scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18). Therefore, whether we are reading a direct quotation from God the Father (Matthew 3:17), or a statement made by God the Son, or a truth revealed by God the Spirit through one of His inspired spokesmen or penmen (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), all of Scripture should be respected and rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). “I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!... Consider how I love Your precepts… My heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice in Your word as one who finds great treasure… I love your law… My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly” (Psalm 119:127,159-163,165,167).

REFERENCES

Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Warfield, Benjamin (1970 reprint), The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed).

A Higher Law by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2687

A Higher Law

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Concomitant with the decline of the American Republic with its inherent Christian connections, has been the infiltration of various segments of society, education foremost among them, by alternative philosophies and ideologies. Indeed, though once considered unthinkable, atheism and evolution have now achieved respectability within academia. The implications of these false systems of belief are sinister and destructive to civil (i.e., Christian) society. As French existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, openly acknowledged:
Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.... Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behavior (1961, p. 485, emp. added).
Or, to put it in the words of prominent evolutionist, Richard Dawkins:
I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave.... My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene’s law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live. But unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop it being true (1989, pp. 2,3, emp. added).
So if atheism, and its sinister protégé, evolution, are true, no higher standard for human behavior exists than human opinion, genetic tendency, and subjective inclination—animalistic impulse.
But such thinking is utter nonsense. No sane evolutionist would want to live in a society where the behavioral implications of his theory are enacted on a thoroughgoing, widespread scale. Yet, atheists and evolutionists continue their propaganda campaign to eradicate Christian principles from civilization. Tragically, the gradual encroachment of atheistic morality is evident in American society. Not only have crime statistics exploded since the systematic elimination of God and Christianity from public schools commenced in the 1960s, many immoral behaviors are openly, blatantly vying for legal and social sanction—from same-sex marriage, polygamy, and abortion to gambling, suicide, and a host of other evils.
No atheist or evolutionist desires to embrace the logical outcome of his godless philosophy. He seeks to distance himself from those moments in history where atheistic ideology has managed to assert itself over a society. One stark example is seen in the rise of the Nazis and their Third Reich in 1930s Germany. Their agenda included the persecution and elimination of Christian and Jewish elements of society. When their regime came crashing down and they were called before the world’s tribunal, one of their attempts to justify themselves was that they were merely obeying the law of the land. They insisted that they all had to obey Hitler’s orders, which had the force of law in the German state, and, hence, obedience could not be made the basis of a criminal charge. Dr. Stahmer, the defense attorney for Hitler’s “Successor Designate No. 1,” Hermann Goering, articulated the point on July 4, 1946 at the Nuremburg Trials in Nuremburg, Germany:
From whence will they [the victorious Allies—DM] take the standard by which to decide about justice and injustice in a legal sense? In so far as such standards exist by International Law, valid up to now, further statements are not required. That a special court for the trial was created by the Charter of this Tribunal I also do not object to. I must, however, vigorously protest against its use, in so far as it is meant to create a new material law by threatening punishment for crimes which, at the time of their perpetration, at least as far as individuals are concerned, did not carry any punishment.... Can one expect that hereafter punishment will be recognized as just, if the culprit was never aware of it, because at the time he was not threatened with such punishment, and he believed to be able to derive the authorisation for his way of acting solely from the political aims pursued?... Because internationally recognized standards outside the positive International Law by which the legitimacy of States and of their aims could have been judged did not exist, any more than did an international community as such. Slogans about the legitimacy of one’s own and of the illegitimacy of foreign aspirations served only the formation of political fronts just as the efforts to brand political adversaries as disturbers of the peace. In any case they did, indeed, not create law (The Trial of..., 1946b, 18:106-107, emp. added).
In his final argument, Dr. Stahmer further asserted that Germany was operating under a dictator: “A dictator does not enter into a conspiracy with followers, he does not make any agreement with them, he dictates” (1946b, 18:111). Hitler was the law of Germany. Hence, what right did America, Britain, or Russia (the Allied powers) have to call the Nazis to account for their actions? What standard of behavior, what law code, could possibly justify their condemnation of the Nazis? How could Nazis be judged on the basis of American, British, or Russian law, seeing they were Germans—not Americans, British, or Russians? Atheists, humanists, materialists, and evolutionists can offer no legitimate answer to these questions. The very nature of their viewpoint militates against the existence of objective, absolute morality. Indeed, to the evolutionist, morality can be nothing more than a function of the human mind—an expression of personal taste, likes, and dislikes.
U.S. Supreme Court justice, and U.S. Chief of Counsel for the prosecution (Chief Prosecutor) of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson, made the following observation in his opening remarks on November 21, 1945: “The Charter of this Tribunal evidences a faith that the law is not only to govern the conduct of little men, but that even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke [said] to King James, ‘under God and the law’” (The Trial of..., 1946a, 1:78, emp. added). Similarly, on July 27, 1946, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, asserted the fundamental basis for human behavior: “Ultimately the rights of men, made as all men are made in the image of God, are fundamental” (The Trial of..., 1946d, 19:470, emp. added).
On Friday, July 26, 1946, Jackson included the following comments in his closing arguments:
As a Military Tribunal, this Tribunal is a continuation of the war effort of the Allied nations. As an International Tribunal, it is not bound by the procedural and substantive refinements of our respective judicial or constitutional systems, nor will its rulings introduce precedents into any country’s internal system of civil justice. As an International Military Tribunal, it rises above the provincial and transient and seeks guidance not only from international law but also from the basic principles of jurisprudence which are assumptions of civilization and which long have found embodiment in the codes of all nations (The Trial of..., 1946c, 19:383, July 26, emp. added).
The only legal guidance and authority that transcends international law, which is responsible for the moral assumptions of civilization as embodied in the codes of all nations, and which rises above “the provincial and transient” (geographical locale and time), is the law of God! Here is the only basis upon which human behavior may be rightly measured.
Atheists typically define morality in terms of “minimizing harm and pain,” and then insist that humans naturally possess an inherent recognition of morality—mores that have characterized human civilization throughout history. But this vague, ambiguous attempt to evade the existence of objective morality will not do. World-renowned atheist, Antony Flew, attempted this sleight of hand in his debate with Thomas B. Warren in 1976, when he insisted that the Nazis were tried for their crimes on the basis of “International” law (p. 248). Observe that this quibble side-steps the real issue, for at least three reasons: (1) There is no such thing as “International” law, since the entire international community has never established a single law code that can be bound on all countries. Even the United Nations lacks any such law code. Nor would they ever come to an agreement on one, if they tried! (2) Even if all nations on Earth somehow united to reach consensus on right and wrong, what right would those nations’ representatives have to impose their standard of behavior on all humans? (3) And, further, even if one generation of world leaders defined right and wrong for the entire world, what would prevent the next generation of world leaders from meeting and overturning that standard? All subsequent moral frameworks and law codes would be just as legitimate as the first one—though they may differ with each other in numerous instances. In the specific case of the Nazis, if some later tribunal convened to revisit the Nuremberg verdicts, and decided to overturn those decisions and declare to the world that the Nazis’ actions were actually noble, heroic, and moral—would their action make it so? If there is no God, the atheist must answer, “Yes.”
The Founders of the American Republic insisted that human government must be established on unchanging moral principles that transcend human opinions and feelings. These unchanging moral principles are derived from and based upon the unchanging laws of God—what the Founders styled in the Declaration of Independence: “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” As Constitution signer and U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson expressed: “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine” (1804, 1:105). Or as Constitution signer Alexander Hamilton insisted: “The law...dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this” (1961, 1:87). Noah Webster said it so well when he observed that “our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion” (1832, p. 6).
The truth is that all human behavior that conflicts with the law of God is sin (1 John 3:4)—the only moral evil. Any civilization that jettisons this objective standard of morality is committing ultimate, national suicide. That society is leaving itself open to unimaginable horror—the natural consequence that logically follows from the expulsion of God from the minds of the citizens. Atheism, if honestly applied, must inevitably result in hedonism. The psalmist certainly connected the dots:
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good (Psalm 53:1).
The solution? Citizens must return to the founding principles: God exists, the Bible is the Word of God, Christianity is the one true religion, and citizens must govern themselves by Christian moral principles.

REFERENCES

Dawkins, Richard (1989), The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Hamilton, Alexander (1961), The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold Syrett (New York: Columbia University Press).
Sartre, Jean Paul, (1961), “Existentialism and Humanism,” French Philosophers from Descartes to Sartre, ed. Leonard M. Marsak (New York: Meridian).
The Trial of German Major War Criminals (1946a), 2nd Day: Wednesday, 21st November, 1945, (Vol. 1, Part 7 of 8), (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office), http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-01/tgmwc-01-02-07.html.
The Trial of German Major War Criminals (1946b), 187th Day: Thursday, 4th July, 1946, (Vol. 18, Part 7 of 8), (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office), http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-18/tgmwc-18-171-07.shtml.
The Trial of German Major War Criminals (1946c), 187th Day: Friday, 26th July, 1946, (Vol. 19, Part 1 of 12), (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office), http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-187-01.shtml.
The Trial of German Major War Criminals (1946d), 188th Day: Saturday, 27th July, 1946, (Vol. 19, Part 8 of 8), (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office), http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-188-08.shtml.
Warren, Thomas and Antony Flew (1976), The Warren-Flew Debate on the Existence of God, Creation and Evolution (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press). http://www.nationalchristianpress.net/NCPcatalog.pdf.
Webster, Noah (1832), History of the United States (New Haven, CT: Durrie & Peck).
Wilson, James (1804), The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, ed. Bird Wilson (Philadelphia, PA: Lorenzo Press).

Are There Modern-Day Apostles? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1226

Are There Modern-Day Apostles?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The incredible diversity of viewpoint that exists in religion today is startling and disconcerting. We are witnessing a breakdown of respect for authority in American culture, as well as a tremendous increase in personal opinion and feelings as the standard of authority. Consequently, we now have a veritable smorgasbord of doctrinal variety in religion. Such is the nature of pluralism. One is likely to see anything and everything perpetrated in the name of religion and/or Christianity. The only solution to such a situation is to reaffirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is the only written document on this planet that is the standard of authority in life and in religion (see Miller, 1996, pp. 430-446,462-471).

THE DEFINITION OF AN APOSTLE

Such being the case, we must go to the Bible to determine God’s will with regard to modern-day apostles. When we do so, we first learn that the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “one sent from or forth, a messenger, delegate” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 99; Thayer, 1901, p. 68). The term is used in the New Testament in two distinct senses. It can refer to an individual who is sent by other humans to accomplish a particular mission or task. The term is so used to refer, for example, to Barnabas (Acts 14:14). He was an “apostle” in the sense that he accompanied Paul on an evangelistic trip. Jesus is said to be our “Apostle” in the sense that He was sent to atone for our sins (Hebrews 3:1).
The term “apostle” also is used in a second sense—what we might call an official sense. That is, “apostle” can refer to individuals who were officially and divinely selected to serve as Jesus’ original representatives—“ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus handpicked the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-2). Of these original twelve, Judas betrayed the Lord as predicted by the Old Testament (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-19; 18:1-5). Instead of repenting, he cinched his apostasy by committing suicide (Matthew 27:3-5; John 17:12). Consequently, a successor to Judas was selected by divine decree (Acts 1:16-26).
Only one other apostle in the official sense is alluded to in the New Testament—Paul. His appointment to apostleship was unique and unparalleled in that he was chosen for a specific first century task (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:11-12,15-16). Christ selected him to introduce the message of Christianity to the Gentile world (Romans 11:13; 15:16; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:8). Paul was careful to document the fact that his apostleship was by divine appointment (e.g., Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1,16).

THE QUALIFICATIONS OF AN APOSTLE

When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an apostle in the official sense (Hayden, 1894, p. 33, expands these credentials to seven in number). First, an apostle had to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically selected by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:5; Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21; 26:16). Third, an apostle was invested with miraculous power to the extent that he could perform miracles. The power to perform miracles included the capability to confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through the laying on of his hands (Mark 3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 6:6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus referred to His bestowal of miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they would be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

THE WORK OF AN APOSTLE

The apostolic office was unquestionably a temporary office for the early church (though apostolic appointment was for life). Its essential purpose was twofold. First, apostles were commissioned by Jesus to launch the Christian religion (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). This purpose was achieved by means of the initial presentation of the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23), and the establishment of the church of Christ (Acts 2). Second, apostles were largely responsible for making the New Testament available—first in oral form and, more specifically, in written form (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:15-16).
These two central tasks are set forth clearly in the New Testament. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He would build His church after His resurrection from hades (vs. 18). He then explained that it would be the apostles who would instigate initial entrance into Christ’s church (hence the significance of “keys”—vs. 19). This commencement of the Christian religion and the church of Christ would be achieved by means of the apostles “binding” and “loosing” the doctrinal tenets and principles of Christianity that Heaven had previously bound or loosed [the Greek uses the perfect passive and should be translated “will have been bound/loosed in Heaven” as in the NASB (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23)]. Peter and the apostles articulated the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ for the first time on the Pentecost that followed Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:14ff.).
In Ephesians 4, after summarizing Christianity in terms of seven core concepts (vss. 1-6), Paul described the initial sequence of events that recounted the advent of Christianity (vss. 7-16). Paul noted that: (1) after His crucifixion, Jesus descended into the Hadean realm; (2) He then was resurrected; (3) He ascended back to Heaven; (4) upon His ascension, He dispensed gifts; (5) the apostolic office was included in the reception of these miraculous capabilities; (6) the purpose of these gifts was to equip and edify the church; (7) the preparation provided to the infant church by these gifts was temporary (“till” is an adverb of time connoting when the miraculous gifts were to terminate), in that the same preparation soon would be available through the completed revelation, i.e., “the faith.” [By “completed revelation” we do not mean completed canon. We mean that all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed. See the New Testament discussion contrasting “mystery” with “made known” (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-11). In the meantime, the process of producing copies of the various New Testament documents and circulating them far and wide would have been occurring rapidly and extensively from the very moment of their production by the inspired writers (cf. Colossians 4:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, where Luke 10:7 is already known and classified as “Scripture,” and 2 Peter 3:15-16, where Paul’s epistles are already circulated and recognized as “Scriptures”). Further, the reference to “the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 cannot refer to a time when all people or all Christians will achieve unity in faith. Such a circumstance will never occur. Paul was referring to the time when all people would have access to all of God’s communication to man, thus giving them the potential for attaining spiritual maturity (“a perfect man” vs. “children“). See Miller, 2003].
Once all of the information necessary to the promotion of the Christian religion was revealed to the early church (through oral means made possible by the distribution of the gifts), the church would have the means available to grow and mature in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). While prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers [the words “pastors and teachers” share the same article in the Greek, and so should likely be construed to mean “pastor-teachers,” i.e., a single function in which pastors (those selected by the local congregation to serve as elders or shepherds) were endowed with the miraculous ability to teach inspired information not yet made available in written form] were part of this early development of Christianity (Ephesians 4:11), the office of an apostle was the primary means by which Christ accomplished the inauguration of His religion.
The apostles had the sole responsibility of executing the will of the Son of God in founding, organizing, and fully equipping the church of Christ on Earth, that she might fulfill her heaven-borne mission, until Jesus comes again (Hayden, p. 22). That is why Paul could say two chapters earlier that the household of God (i.e., the church) was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 3:5; Revelation 21:14). That is why he informed the Corinthian Christians:
God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
The apostles are said to be “first” in the significance and criticality of their divinely appointed role. The apostles specifically described their unique role in the early church as entailing giving themselves to “the word of God” and “the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4).

THE DURATION OF AN APOSTLE

Once the church of Christ was established and Christianity was given its initial presentation (cf. Colossians 1:23), the apostolic office faded from the scene along with the age of miracles. As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Neither apostles nor miraculous gifts was needed any longer. They had served their temporary purpose (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-31; 13:12; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; cf. Exodus 4:30). Miraculous gifts functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed once the structure had been completed (1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11; Ephesians 4:13-14). The book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. The apostles “had no official successors. From the nature of their duties, there could be no succession” (Hayden, pp. 20-21).Apostles, quite simply, are no longer needed!

NO APOSTLES TODAY

Unfortunately, several groups that claim affiliation with the Christian religion allege to have apostles among them, including Catholicism, Mormonism, and some pentecostal groups. This claim is unbiblical. No person living today can meet the qualifications given in Scripture for being an apostle. No one living today has been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection. Christ has selected no one living today for the apostolic role. No one living today possesses the miraculous capabilities of an apostle. We should not be surprised that people would falsely claim to be apostles. Jesus warned that false prophets would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they would be ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Paul described some of his opponents in these words:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Further warning was issued to the Galatian churches: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Anyone claiming to be an apostle today who teaches anything in addition to the New Testament is clearly not an apostle of Christ!
Peter added his voice on the same subject: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). No wonder John admonished: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Matthew 24:11,24). In the Revelation, the church at Ephesus was commended because they “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).
Catholicism maintains that Peter was the supreme bishop, even over the other apostles, and that every pope since Peter is an apostolic successor to Peter. The pope is selected after literally hours and days of deliberation by cardinals in the Vatican. The only apostle in the Bible that was not handpicked by Christ in person was Matthias. Yet he was not selected by mere men deliberating and debating his potential. He was selected by the casting of lots—which was simply another way for Jesus to do the selecting (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).
It is incredible to think that any human beings living today would presume to appoint apostles. In pinpointing the credentials of an apostle, Luke (Acts 1) made it abundantly evident that to qualify as an apostle a person would have to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of His resurrection. That is why Paul was careful to state: “Am I not an apostle? …Have I not seen the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, emp. added). In recounting his conversion, he quoted Ananias as having said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15, emp. added). What alleged modern-day apostle could make such a claim?
The New Testament also makes clear the fact that an essential characteristic of an apostle was that he had been selected by Deity. When Jesus was on Earth, He handpicked the first twelve apostles. After His departure from Earth, the disciples cast lots to select a successor to Judas. Their method allowed no input from mere humans—except in the recognition that two men possessed all the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. Casting lots allowed God to do the selecting. Divine control in the selection process by casting lots was common in Old Testament history (see Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; Joshua 14:2; 18:6,10; 19:51; cf. Acts 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:42; Nehemiah 10:34; Psalm 16:5). Solomon claimed: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Indeed, Peter’s prayer on the occasion shows that the decision already had been made by the Lord before the actual casting of lots: “…show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24, emp. added). The summary statement regarding Matthias—“he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26; cf. Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33)—gives way to a return to the expression “the twelve” (Acts 6:2; cf. Acts 2:14). The text states: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:24-25). Paul also was handpicked by Jesus—to be a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). No human being on Earth today can claim he has been personally singled out and chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.
A third proof that no apostles exist on Earth today is the fact that New Testament apostles were empowered by God—not only to perform miracles—but also to convey miraculous power to other people who then could work miracles themselves. This characteristic is demonstrated in detailed fashion in Acts: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:18). The issue of modern-day apostles may be settled very quickly! To authenticate their claim to be apostles, they must be able both to perform miracles as well as confer miraculous power to others. The apostles of Jesus in the New Testament demonstrated their apostolic status without hesitation. Anyone today who claims to be an apostle should be willing to do the same. No such ability exists today.

ORIGINAL APOSTLES WERE SUFFICIENT

A fascinating passage in the New Testament sheds further light upon this notion of modern-day apostles. That passage is Matthew 19:28. There Jesus informed Peter and the other apostles: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” A related passage is Luke 22:29-30 which says, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
These verses are Christ’s figurative declarations describing the role of the twelve apostles in the establishment of the church and the dissemination of the gospel proclamation (cf. Bales, 1957, pp. 187-223). The “regeneration” refers to the Christian era, which began at Pentecost, during which time spiritual regeneration became possible through the blood of Christ (Titus 3:5). It is an equivalent expression with the “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The throne of Christ’s glory refers to His present location at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12-13). The “judging” done by the apostles refers to the rule that the apostles exerted while they were on Earth, setting in place the features of New Testament Christianity (Matthew 16:19; John 20:22-23). The “twelve thrones” refers to their complete authority from Christ to implement Christ’s will until the end of time—which they presently do today through their authoritative writings—found only in the New Testament. The “twelve tribes” is a figurative way to refer to the church—the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16; James 1:1; cf. Romans 2:28-30; Galatians 3:29).
Neither Christ nor the original apostles needs successors or representatives on Earth today. They continue to rule and reign over the kingdom through the work that they achieved in the first century, and that is preserved for all in the New Testament. Christ is now on His throne ruling and reigning. The apostles also are on the thrones assigned to them by Christ. To suggest that the apostles have modern-day successors is to discount and discredit the current rule of the apostles. Neither Christ nor the apostles has abdicated their authority or their current rule to any humans on Earth.
Additionally, the fact that Jesus declared that all twelve apostles would occupy thrones in the kingdom proves that Peter had no greater authority than the other apostles. The apostles were equal in their reception and wielding of the authority delegated to them by Christ. Yet the Catholic Church claims that the immediate successors to Peter were Linus (from A.D. 67 to 79), Cletus (from A.D. 79 to 91) and Clement (from A.D. 91 to 100). They agree that the apostle John would have still been alive throughout this period (see G.C. Brewer’s discussion as quoted in Bales, pp. 208-210). The doctrine of the primacy of Peter means that the first three of the alleged successors of Peter would have exercised authority over the still-living apostle John—who had been handpicked by Christ Himself! The very John whom Jesus placed on one of the twelve thrones would have been under the authority, knowledge, and power of three popes who had not been selected to be among the original Twelve! (see also Hayden, pp. 22-33). Hayden aptly summarized the New Testament position regarding modern-day apostles:
The thirteen apostles chosen, ordained and endowed by the newly crowned Messiah faithfully and fully executed their commission. When they entered into everlasting rest, the church was established, with all needful ministries to edify, extend and perpetuate it throughout all coming centuries. Then the extraordinary, which was necessary to found a new institution, was succeeded by the ordinary, which is sufficient to teach, regulate and govern the subjects of Christ’s kingdom according to the laws that went forth from Jerusalem. The revelation of God was completed. The word of faith is henceforth nigh every believer, even in his mouth and in his heart. The apostolic office ceased, and evangelists and pastors became the permanent teachers and superintendents of the church (pp. 33-34).

REFERENCES

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bales, James (1957), The Kingdom: Prophesied and Established (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation).
Hayden, W.L. (1894), Church Polity (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

Answering Christ’s Critics by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=578

Answering Christ’s Critics

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

[EDITORS’ NOTE: Unbelief & skepticism continue to expand their impact on society. Recent attacks on the person of Christ have come from The DaVinci Code as well as the so-called “gospel of Judas.” According to www.thebeastmovie.com, on June 6, 2006 (i.e., 6/6/6) a movie ridiculing the historicity of Christ (titled The Beast) is scheduled to be released in theatres worldwide. Likely many will ponder over questions that these sources raise regarding whether Jesus ever really lived, or if He did, whether He was a fraud. Others may simply choose to believe whatever they read, hear, or see. Regardless, Christians need to be prepared to give reasonable answers (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) when they are called upon to defend their faith in the Son of God. Twice in the past decade Apologetics Press has dealt extensively in Reason and Revelation with the historicity of Christ (see Jackson, 1998, 18[1]:6-7; Butt, 2000, 20[1]:1-6). This issue of R&R deals with questions critics of Christ often ask once they realize that His existence 2,000 years ago is indisputable. We hope that you benefit from learning how easily the allegations can be refuted.]
Once skeptics come to the realization that the evidence for the historicity of Christ and the historical accuracy of the New Testament cannot logically be explained away, the next step frequently taken by critics of Christ is to attack the Bible’s own portrayal of Jesus. If the enemies of Christ can discredit His claims of divinity by demonstrating instances of deceitfulness and inappropriate behavior in His life, then Jesus certainly could not be Who He and the Bible writers claimed that He was—God in the flesh (John 1:1,14). However, if the charges against Jesus’ life and character are proven to be fallacious or unsubstantiated, then such accusations should be dismissed, and Jesus’ true identity must either be accepted or rejected based upon the fact that the Bible’s portrayal of the life of Christ is consistent with His claims of deity.
So what have critics alleged about the Son of God? In an essay that appeared on evilbible.com, one enemy of Christ wrote: “Dear believer: ...I refuse to accept Jesus as my personal savior, for his behavior and teachings often expose one who should be escaped and not worshipped” (Schnook, n.d.). Atheist Dan Barker observed in an article titled “Why Jesus?”: “It would be more reasonable and productive to emulate real, flesh-and-blood human beings who have contributed to humanity—mothers who have given birth, scientists who have alleviated suffering, social reformers who have fought injustice—than to worship a character of such dubious qualities as Jesus” (1993). Another critic of Christ has stated: “...Jesus taught few precepts that he himself did not violate! According to the Bible, JESUS WAS A HYPOCRITE AND NOT REALLY PERFECT AFTER ALL”! (Morgan, 1996, emp. in orig.). Allegedly, Jesus did and said many questionable things throughout His ministry that should cause one to flee from Him rather than follow Him. This article addresses several of those criticisms and provides reasonable responses in defense of the deity and unblemished disposition of Christ.

DID JESUS IGNORE THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT?

Like many critics of the life of Christ today, the first-century Pharisees certainly did not think that the Son of God was beyond reproach. Following Jesus’ feeding of the four thousand, the Pharisees came “testing” Him, asking Him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1). Later in the book of Matthew (19:3ff.), the writer recorded how “the Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ ” It was their aim on this occasion, as on numerous other occasions, to entangle Jesus in His teachings by asking Him a potentially entrapping question—one that, if answered in a way that the Pharisees had anticipated, might bring upon Jesus the wrath of Herod Antipas (cf. Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29) and/or some of His fellow Jews (e.g., the school of Hillel, or the school of Shammai). A third time the Pharisees sought to “entangle Him in His talk” (Matthew 22:15) as they asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (22:17). The jealous and hypocritical Pharisees were so relentless in their efforts to destroy the Lord’s influence (as are many critics today), that on one occasion they even accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the law as they “went through the grainfields on the Sabbath...were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat” (Matthew 12:1ff.). [NOTE: “Their knowledge of so trifling an incident shows how minutely they observed all his deeds” (Coffman, 1984, p. 165). The microscopic scrutiny under which Jesus lived likely was even more relentless than what some “stars” experience today. In one sense, the Pharisees could be considered the “paparazzi” of Jesus’ day.] Allegedly, “Jesus ignored the restrictions as to what can’t be done on the Sabbath” (McKinsey, 2000, p. 265). He supposedly allowed His disciples to “work” on this particular Sabbath, which the Law of Moses forbade (Matthew 12:2; cf. Exodus 20:9-10; 34:21).
Jesus responded to the criticism of His enemies by giving the truth of the matter, and at the same time revealing the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. As was somewhat customary for Jesus when being tested by His enemies (cf. Matthew 12:11-12; 15:3; 21:24-25; etc.), He responded to the Pharisees’ accusation with two questions. First, He asked: “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (12:3-4). Jesus reminded the Pharisees of an event in the life of David (recorded in 1 Samuel 21:1ff.), where he and others, while fleeing from king Saul, ate of the showbread, which divine law restricted to the priests (Leviticus 24:5-9). Some have unjustifiably concluded that Jesus was implying innocence on the part of David (and that God’s laws are subservient to human needs—cf. Zerr, 1952, 5:41; Dummelow, 1937, p. 666), and thus He was defending His disciples “lawless” actions with the same reasoning. Actually, however, just the opposite is true. Jesus explicitly stated that what David did was wrong (“not lawful”—12:4), and that what His disciples did was right—they were “guiltless” (12:7). Furthermore, as J.W. McGarvey observed: “If Christians may violate law when its observance would involve hardship or suffering, then there is an end to suffering for the name of Christ, and an end even of self-denial” (1875, p. 104). The disciples were not permitted by Jesus to break the law on this occasion (or any other) just because it was inconvenient (cf. Matthew 5:17-19). The Pharisees simply were wrong in their accusations. Like many of Jesus’ enemies today, “The Pharisees were out to ‘get’ Jesus; and any charge was better than none” (Coffman, 1984, p. 165). The only “law” Jesus’ disciples broke was the pharisaical interpretation of the law (which was more sacred to some Pharisees than the law itself). In response to such hyper-legalism, Burton Coffman forcefully stated: “In the Pharisees’ view, the disciples were guilty of threshing wheat! Such pedantry, nit-picking, and magnification of trifles would also have made them guilty of irrigating land, if they had chanced to knock off a few drops of dew while passing through the fields!” (p. 165, emp. added).
Jesus used the instruction of 1 Samuel 21 to cause the Pharisees to recognize their insincerity, and to exonerate His disciples. David, a man about whom the Jews ever boasted, blatantly violated God’s law by eating the showbread, and yet the Pharisees justified him. On the other hand, Jesus’ disciples merely plucked some grain on the Sabbath while walking through a field—an act that the law permitted—yet the Pharisees condemned them. Had the Pharisees not approved of David’s conduct, they could have responded by saying, “You judge yourself. You’re all sinners.” Their reaction to Jesus’ question—silence—was that of hypocrites who had been exposed.
Jesus then asked a second question, saying, “Have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:5). Here, Jesus wanted the Pharisees to acknowledge that even the law itself condoned some work on the Sabbath day. Although the Pharisees acted as if all work was banned on this day, it was actually the busiest day of the week for priests.
They baked and changed the showbread; they performed sabbatical sacrifices (Num. xxviii. 9), and two lambs were killed on the sabbath in addition to the daily sacrifice. This involved the killing, skinning, and cleaning of the animals, and the building of the fire to consume the sacrifice. They also trimmed the gold lamps, burned incense, and performed various other duties (McGarvey, n.d., pp. 211-212).
One of those “other duties” would have been to circumcise young baby boys when the child’s eighth day fell on a Sabbath (Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22-23). The purpose of Jesus citing these “profane” priestly works was to prove that the Sabbath prohibition was not unconditional. [NOTE: Jesus used the term “profane,” not because there was a real desecration of the temple by the priests as they worked, but “to express what was true according to the mistaken notions of the Pharisees as to manual works performed on the Sabbath” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 676).] The truth is, the Sabbath law “did not forbid work absolutely, but labor for worldly gain. Activity in the work of God was both allowed and commanded” (McGarvey, n.d., p. 212). Just as the priests who served God in the temple on the Sabbath were totally within the law, so likewise were Jesus’ disciples as they served the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8), Whose holiness was greater than that of the temple (12:6; cf. Coffman, p. 167). Jesus did not ignore nor encourage defiance of God’s command to keep the Sabbath.

DID JESUS BREAK THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT?

Consider the mother who asks her son to do something for a neighbor, and the son responds to his mother by saying, “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” Responding to a mother’s (or any woman’s) request in twenty-first-century America with the refrain, “Woman...,” sounds impolite and offensive. Furthermore, a Christian, who is commanded to honor his father and mother (Ephesians 6:2), would be out of line in most situations when using such an expression while talking directly to his mother.
In light of the ill-mannered use of the word “woman” in certain contexts today, some question how Jesus could have spoken to His mother 2,000 years ago using this term without breaking the commandment to “[h]onor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12; cf. Matthew 15:4; Matthew 5:17-20). When Jesus, His disciples, and His mother were at the wedding in Cana of Galilee where there was a depletion of wine, Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine” (John 2:3). Jesus then responded to His mother, saying, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Notice what one skeptic has written regarding what Jesus said in this verse.
In Matt. 15:4 he [Jesus—EL] told people to “Honor thy father and thy mother”; yet, he was one of the first to ignore his own maxim by saying to his mother in John 2:4, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (McKinsey, 1995, p. 44).
Imagine someone talking to his own mother in such a disrespectful manner and addressing her by such an impersonal noun as ‘woman.’ Talk about an insolent offspring! (1995, p. 134).
Jesus needs to practice some parental respect... (McKinsey, 2000, p. 251).
Apparently Jesus’ love escaped him (McKinsey, n.d., “Jesus...”).
Why was Jesus disrespectful of his mother? In John 2:4, Jesus uses the same words with his mother that demons use when they meet Jesus. Surely the son of God knew that Mary had the blessing of the Father, didn’t he, (and she was the mother of God—Ed.) not to mention the fact that the son of God would never be rude? (Mc­Kinsey, n.d., “Problems...,” parenthetical comment in orig.).
As one can see, Mr. McKinsey is adamant that Jesus erred. He uses such words to describe Jesus as disrespectful, insolent, unloving, and rude. Is he correct?
As with most of Christ’s critics, Mr. McKinsey is guilty of judging Jesus’ words by what is common in twenty-first-century English vernacular, rather than putting Jesus’ comments in their proper first-century setting. It was not rude or inappropriate for a man in the first century to speak to a lady by saying, “Woman (gunai)....” This “was a highly respectful and affectionate mode of address” (Vincent, 1997), “with no idea of censure” (Robertson, 1932, 5:34). The New International Version correctly captures the meaning of this word in John 2:4: “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” (emp. added). Jesus used this word when complimenting the Syrophoenician woman’s great faith (Matthew 15:28), when affectionately addressing Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (John 20:15), and when speaking to His disconsolate mother one last time from the cross (John 19:26). Paul used this same word when addressing Christian women (1 Corinthians 7:16). As Adam Clarke noted: “[C]ertainly no kind of disrespect is intended, but, on the contrary, complaisance, affability, tenderness, and concern, and in this sense it is used in the best Greek writers” (1996).
As to why Jesus used the term “woman” (gunai) instead of “mother” (meetros) when speaking to Mary (which even in first-century Hebrew and Greek cultures was an unusual way to address one’s mother), Leon Morris noted that Jesus most likely was indicating
that there is a new relationship between them as he enters his public ministry.... Evidently Mary thought of the intimate relations of the home at Nazareth as persisting. But Jesus in his public ministry was not only or primarily the son of Mary, but “the Son of Man” who was to bring the realities of heaven to people on earth (1:51). A new relationship was established (1995, p. 159).
R.C.H. Lenski added: “[W]hile Mary will forever remain his [Jesus’—EL] mother, in his calling Jesus knows no mother or earthly relative, he is their Lord and Savior as well as of all men. The common earthly relation is swallowed up in the divine” (1961b, p. 189). It is logical to conclude that Jesus was simply “informing” His mother in a loving manner that as He began performing miracles for the purpose of proving His deity and the divine origin of His message, His relationship to her was about to change.
Finally, the point also must be stressed that honoring fathers and mothers does not mean that a son or daughter never can correct his or her parents. Correction and honor are no more opposites than correction and love. One of the greatest ways parents disclose their love to their children is by correcting them when they make mistakes (Hebrews 12:6-9; Revelation 3:19). Similarly, one of the ways in which a mature son might honor his parents is by taking them aside when they have erred, and lovingly pointing out their mistake or oversight in a certain matter. Think how much more honorable this action would be than to take no action and allow them to continue in a path of error without informing them of such. We must keep in mind that even though Mary was a great woman “who found favor with God” (Luke 1:30), she was not perfect (cf. Romans 3:10,23). She was not God, nor the “mother of God” (viz., she did not originate Jesus or bring Him into existence). But, she was the one chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. Who better to correct any misunderstanding she may have had than this Son?

DID JESUS VIOLATE THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT BY ENCOURAGING THIEVERY?

Numerous passages of Scripture teach—either explicitly or implicitly—about the sinfulness of thievery. One of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Israel was: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). In the book of Leviticus, one can read where “the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them... You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.... You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him’ ” (19:1-2,11,13). If a thief was found breaking into a house at night and was struck so that he died, the old law stated that there would be “no guilt for his bloodshed” (Exodus 22:2). Under the new covenant, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, saying, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (4:28). And to the Christians at Corinth, Paul wrote that thieves “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Thus, God obviously considers stealing to be a transgression of His law.
Critics of the deity of Christ, however, assert that Jesus once commanded His disciples to steal a donkey and a colt prior to entering Jerusalem during the final week of His life. According to Matthew’s gospel account, Jesus instructed His disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them” (Matthew 21:1-3). Luke added: “So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, ‘Why are you loosing the colt?’ And they said, ‘The Lord has need of him.’ Then they brought him to Jesus” (Luke 19:32-35). Regarding this story, McKinsey asked: “Are we to believe this isn’t theft? Imagine seeing a stranger driving your car away while claiming the lord needed it” (1985, p. 1). Allegedly, “Jesus told people to take a colt...without the owners’ permission.” And that, says McKinsey, is “commonly known as stealing” (2000, p. 236). Another infidel by the name of Dan Barker commented on this event in the life of Jesus in his book, Losing Faith in Faith, saying, “I was taught as a child that when you take something without asking for it, that is stealing” (1992, p. 166). But did Jesus really encourage His disciples to steal a donkey and a colt? Can His actions be explained logically in light of the numerous statements throughout Scripture that clearly condemn thievery?
Before responding to these criticisms, consider the following: If a husband were to e-mail his wife and ask her to walk to a neighbor’s house and pick up the neighbor’s truck so that he could use it to haul an old furnace to the junkyard, would someone who read his e-mail (perhaps finding a hard copy of it crumpled up in the trash) be justified in concluding that this gentleman asked his wife to steal the truck? Certainly not. Since the e-mail had no other information in it than a request for the wife concerning a neighbor’s truck, a person reading the note would have to have access to additional information in order to come to the conclusion that this man and his wife were guilty of theft. The reader may be ignorant of the fact that the husband had prearranged such a pick-up with his neighbor the previous day. Or, perhaps the neighbor had told the husband at some earlier time that he could use his truck whenever he needed it.
What Mr. McKinsey and other skeptics never seem to take into consideration in their interpretation of Scripture is that the Bible does not record every single detail of every event it mentions (cf. John 21:25). The Bible was not intended to be an exhaustive chronological timeline citing every aspect about the lives of all of the men and women mentioned within it. The New Testament book of Acts covers a period of about thirty years, but it actually is only about some of the acts of some of the early Christians. There were many more things that Paul, Peter, Silas, Luke, and other first-century Christians did that are not recorded therein. For example, Paul spent three years in Arabia and Damascus after his conversion (Galatians 1:16-18), yet Luke did not mention this detail, nor the many things Paul accomplished during these three years.
The case of Jesus telling His disciples to go locate the donkey and colt does not prove thievery, any more than Jesus’ disciples inquiring about and occupying an “upper room” makes them trespassers (cf. Mark 14:13-15). When sending His two disciples to get the requested animals, Jesus told them exactly where to go and what to say, as if He already knew the circumstances under which the donkey and colt were available. Jesus may very well have prearranged for the use of the donkeys. Neither Mr. McKinsey nor any other skeptic can prove otherwise. Similar to how a man is not obligated to go home from work every night and rehearse to his wife everything he did each hour at work, the Bible is not obligated to fill in every detail of every event, including the one regarding the attainment of two animals. No contradiction or charge of wrong is legitimate if unrelated circumstantial details may be postulated that account for explicit information that is given.
Furthermore, the innocence of Jesus and His disciples is reinforced by the fact that the disciples were able to leave with the beasts. Had the disciples really been stealing the animals, one would think that the owners would not have allowed such to happen. Also, nothing is said in the text about what happened to the animals after Jesus rode them into Jerusalem. For all we know, Jesus’ disciples could have immediately taken them back to their owners.
Skeptics who accuse the Lord of thievery have no solid ground upon which to stand. Unless it can be proven that Jesus’ disciples took the animals by force (and without prior permission), justice demands that the accusations of guilt must be withdrawn.

WAS JESUS TRUSTWORTHY?

When Christ spoke to a group of hostile Jews in Jerusalem regarding God the Father, and His own equality with Him (John 5:17-30; cf. 10:30), He defended His deity by pointing to several witnesses, including John the Baptizer, the Father in heaven, and the Scriptures (5:33-47). One statement that has confused some Bible readers concerning Jesus’ defense of His deity is found in John 5:31. Jesus began this part of His discourse by saying, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (emp. added). According to many Bible critics, this declaration blatantly contradicts the following statement He made on another occasion when speaking to the Pharisees. He said: “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true” (John 8:14, emp. added). How could He say that His witness was both true, and not true, without having lied?
Imagine for a moment an innocent man on trial for murder. He is judged to be guilty by the jury, even after proclaiming his innocence. (Someone had framed the defendant for the murder, and all the evidence the jury heard pointed to the defendant as the offender.) When leaving the court house, if the man who was wrongly convicted is asked by a reporter, “Are you guilty?,” and he responds by saying, “If the court says I’m guilty, I’m guilty,” has the man lied? Even though the statements, “I am guilty,” and “I am not guilty,” are totally different, they may not be contradictory, depending on the time and sense in which they are spoken. After the trial, the wrongly accused defendant simply repeated the jury’s verdict. He said, “I am guilty,” and meant, “The court has found me guilty.”
When Jesus conceded to the Jews the fact that His witness was “not true,” He was not confessing to being a liar. Rather, Jesus was reacting to a well-known law of His day. In Greek, Roman, and Jewish law, the testimony of a witness could not be received in his own case (Robertson, 1997). “Witness to anyone must always be borne by someone else” (Morris, 1995, p. 287). The Law of Moses stated: “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15; cf. Matthew 18:15-17). The Pharisees understood this law well, as is evident by their statement to Jesus: “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true” (John 8:13). In John 5:31, “Jesus points to the impossibility of anyone’s being accepted on the basis of his own word.... He is asserting that if of himself he were to bear witness to himself, that would make it untrue” in a court of law (Morris, p. 287). If Jesus had no evidence in a trial regarding His deity other than His own testimony about Himself, His testimony would be inconclusive and inadmissible. Jesus understood that His audience had a right to expect more evidence than just His word. Similar to the above illustration where an innocent man accepts the guilty verdict of the jury as final, Jesus said, “My witness is not true,” and meant that, in accordance with the law, His own testimony apart from other witnesses would be considered invalid (or insufficient to establish truth).
But why is it that Jesus said to the Pharisees at a later time that His “witness is true” (John 8:14)? The difference is that, in this instance, Jesus was stressing the fact that His words were true. Even if in a court of law two witnesses are required for a fact to be established (a law Jesus enunciated in verse 17), that law does not take away the fact that Jesus was telling the truth, just as it did not take away the fact that the wrongly accused man mentioned previously was telling the truth during his trial. Jesus declared His testimony to be true for the simple reason that His testimony revealed the true facts regarding Himself (Lenski, 1961b, p. 599). He then followed this pronouncement of truth with the fact that there was another witness—the Father in heaven Who sent Him to Earth (8:16-18). Thus, in actuality, His testimony was true in two senses: (1) it was true because it was indeed factual; and (2) it was valid because it was corroborated by a second unimpeachable witness—the Father.
God the Father (John 8:18; 5:37-38), along with John the Baptizer (John 5:33), the miraculous signs of Jesus (5:36), the Scriptures (5:39), and specifically the writings of Moses (5:46), all authenticated the true statements Jesus made regarding His deity. Sadly, many of His listeners rejected the evidence then, just as people reject it today.

WAS JESUS IGNORANT OF ELIJAH’S ASCENSION?

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus regarding the need to be “born again” (John 3:1-8), He also sought to impress upon the mind of this ruler of the Jews that His words were from above. Jesus spoke of spiritual things that no man knew (Matthew 13:35; cf. 7:28-29; Luke 2:47). One of the reasons Jesus gave for being able to expound on such spiritual truths is found in John 3:13. Here, the apostle John recorded that Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). According to the skeptic, this statement by Jesus is severely flawed. Since the Old Testament reveals that Elijah escaped physical death and “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11; cf. Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), allegedly Jesus could not truthfully tell Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven.” Is the skeptic right?
For Jesus’ statement to contradict what the Old Testament says about Elijah, one first must presuppose that Jesus was referring to the exact same place to which Elijah ascended. Can the skeptic be certain that the “heaven” to which Jesus referred, is the same one into which the body of Elijah ascended? The words “heaven” or “heavens” appear in our English Bibles about 700 times. And yet, in many of the passages where “heaven(s)” is found, the inspired writers were not discussing the spiritual heaven with which we most often associate the word. For example, in Genesis 1 and 2 the Hebrew word for heaven appears 15 times in 14 verses. Yet in every instance, the word is referring to something besides the spiritual heaven where God dwells. The word “heaven(s)” (Hebrew shamayim, Greek ouranoi) is used by Bible writers in three different ways. It is used to refer to the atmospheric heavens in which the airplanes fly, the birds soar, and the clouds gather (Genesis 1:20; Jeremiah 4:25; Matthew 6:26, ASV). “Heaven(s)” also is used in the Bible when referring to the firmament where we find the Sun, Moon, and stars—the sidereal heavens, or outer space (Genesis 1:14-15; Psalm 19:4,6; Isaiah 13:10). The third “heaven” frequently mentioned in Scripture is the spiritual heaven in which Jehovah dwells (Psalm 2:4; Hebrews 9:24), and where, one day, the faithful will live forevermore (Revelation 21:18-23; John 14:1-3). The context of John 3 clearly indicates that Jesus is referring to the spiritual heavens wherein God dwells (cf. John 3:27). The passage in 2 Kings 2:11, however, is not as clear. The writer of 2 Kings easily could have meant that the body of Elijah miraculously ascended up high into the air, never to be seen by anyone on Earth again. Nowhere does the text indicate that he left Earth at that moment to dwell in God’s presence. He definitely went somewhere, but we have no evidence that he was transferred to the actual throne room of God Almighty.
The Bible indicates that when God’s faithful servants leave this Earth, their spirits are taken to dwell in a place referred to as paradise (or “the bosom of Abraham”—Luke 16:19-31). Recall when Jesus was fastened to the cross, and told the penitent thief, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The word paradise is of Persian derivation, and means a “garden” or “park.” Where was it that Jesus and the thief went? Neither of them went to heaven to be with God the Father on that very day for, in John 20:17 after His resurrection, Jesus reassured Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. So where did Jesus and the thief go after dying on the cross? Peter gave the answer to that question in his sermon in Acts 2 when he quoted Psalm 16. Acts 2:27 states that God would not abandon Christ’s soul in hades, nor allow Christ to undergo decay. So while Christ’s body was placed in a tomb for three days, Christ’s spirit went to hades. [NOTE: The word hades occurs ten times in the New Testament, and always refers to the unseen realm of the dead—the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all people who die await the Lord’s return and judgment. One part of hades, where Jesus and the thief went, is known as paradise.] Peter argued that David, who penned Psalm 16, was not referring to himself, since David’s body was still in the tomb (Acts 2:29), and his spirit was still in the hadean realm (Acts 2:34). Acts 2 indicates that a faithful servant of God does not go directly to be with God the Father when he dies; rather, he goes to a holding place in hades known as paradise—the same place where Abraham went after he died (Luke 16:22ff.), and the same place where the spirit of Elijah went after he was caught up from the Earth. In short, the Bible does not teach that Elijah left Earth to begin immediately dwelling in the presence of the Father (where Jesus was before His incarnation—John 1:1). Thus, technically he did not ascend to the “place” whence Jesus came.
For the sake of argument, consider for a moment that the skeptic is right, and that Elijah’s spirit did not go to paradise, but was taken to dwell in the very presence of God. Could Jesus still have made the statement He did, and yet not be inaccurate? We believe so. Notice again the response to Nicodemus’ question, “How can these things be?” Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:12-13, emp. added). It may be that Jesus meant nothing more than that no one has ever gone up to heaven “by his own act” or “on his own terms” (see Bullinger, 1898, pp. 281-282). Elijah and Enoch had been taken by God, which is different than freely ascending up into heaven by one’s own ability. Furthermore, Jesus’ words, “No one has ascended to heaven,” also could have meant that no one has ever gone up into heaven to then return and speak firsthand about what he saw, and to spread the same saving message that Jesus preached. Jesus was emphasizing to Nicodemus how no one on Earth at that time was revealing such spiritual truths as Christ was, because no one ever had ascended to heaven only to return and talk about what he had seen and learned. Such seems to have been the main point Jesus was making in John 3:13. No one on Earth had seen what Jesus had seen, and thus none could teach what He taught.
Truly, the skeptic’s accusation that Jesus either lied or was mistaken regarding His comment to Nicodemus about no one having ascended to heaven is unsubstantiated. Perhaps the word heaven used in 2 Kings 2:11 was not meant to convey the idea of the spiritual heavens in which God dwells. Or, considering the Bible’s teaching on departed spirits of the righteous being in a holding place known as paradise, and not in the actual presence of Almighty God, Jesus could have meant that no person has ever ascended to the throne room of God from which He came. Furthermore, it also is interesting to note that Nicodemus, being “a man of the Pharisees” (John 3:1), and thus one who would have been very well acquainted with the details of the Old Testament, did not respond to Jesus by saying, “Wait a minute, Rabbi. What about Elijah and Enoch? Isn’t it written in the law and prophets that they ascended to heaven?” Surely, had Jesus contradicted something in the law and the prophets, it would have been brought to His attention, especially by a Pharisee. Yet, the apostle John never recorded such a statement.
Admittedly, at first glance, it might appear as if the statements, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11) and “No man has ascended to heaven” (John 3:13), are incongruous. However, when a person considers all of the possible solutions to the allegation that Jesus was ignorant of Elijah and Enoch’s ascensions, he must admit that such a conclusion is unjustified.

WAS JESUS A HYPOCRITE?

A man who instructs a person to refrain from doing something he deems inappropriate, but then proceeds to do the very thing he forbade the other person to do, is considered a hypocrite. A preacher who teaches about the sinfulness of drunkenness (cf. Gala­tians 5:21), but then is seen a short while later stumbling down the street, intoxicated with alcohol, could be accused of being guilty of hypocrisy. Some have accused Jesus of such insincere teaching. Allegedly, in the very sermon in which He condemned the Pharisees for their unrighteousness (Matthew 5:20), Jesus revealed His own sinfulness by way of condemning those who used a word He sometimes uttered. Based upon His forbiddance of the use of the word “fool” in Matthew 5:22, and His use of this word elsewhere, skeptics have asserted that Jesus (Who the Bible claims “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”—1 Peter 2:22; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21) was guilty of hypocrisy (see Morgan, 1996; Wells, 2001). In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus stated:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22, emp. added).
Whereas in this passage Jesus warned against the use of the word “fool,” in other passages Jesus openly used this term to describe various people. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likened the person who heard His teachings, but did not follow them, to “a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26, emp. added). When teaching about the need to be prepared for His second coming, Jesus compared those who were not ready for His return to five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). Then, while Jesus was condemning the Pharisees for their inconsistency in matters of religion, He stated: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?” (Matthew 23:16-17; cf. 23:18-19, emp. added). The question that some ask in response to these alleged hypocritical statements is, “How could Jesus condemn the use of the word ‘fool’ in Matthew 5:22, but then proceed to use this word Himself on other occasions?”
First, for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:22 to contradict His actions recorded in other passages, the skeptic must prove that the term “fool,” as used in 5:22, is the same word used elsewhere. The Greek word “Raca,” used earlier in Matthew 5:22, is a transliteration of the Aramaic term whose precise meaning is disputed. [Most likely, it means “an empty one who acts as a numskull” (Lenski, 1961a, p. 219; cf. also Robertson, 1930, 1:44).] The exact meaning of the term “fool” (Greek more) in this context also is debated. “Most scholars take it, as the ancient Syrian versions did, to mean you fool” (Bauer, et al., 1957, p. 533, emp. in orig.). Although some assume that more is the vocative of the Greek moros, in all likelihood,
just as “Raca” is a non-Greek word, so is the word more that Jesus used here. If so, then it is a word which to a Jewish ear meant “rebel (against God)” or “apostate”; it was the word which Moses in exasperation used to the disaffected Israelites in the wilderness of Zin... (Numbers 20:10). For these rash words, uttered under intense provocation, Moses was excluded from the Promised Land (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 359).
Thus, it is quite possible that more (translated “[Y]ou fool” in Matthew 5:22) is not the normal Greekmoros (fool) that Jesus applied to the Pharisees on other occasions (Matthew 23:17,19), but represents the Hebrew moreh (cf. Numbers 20:10). [For this reason, translators of the American Standard Version added a marginal note to this word in Matthew 5:22: “Or, Moreh, a Hebrew expression of condemnation.”] Obviously, if two different words are under consideration, Jesus logically could not be considered a hypocrite.
Second, it must be remembered that Jesus’ comments in Matthew 5:22 were made within a context where He was condemning unrighteous anger (5:21-26). Whereas the Pharisees condemned murder, but overlooked the evil emotions and attitudes that sometimes led to the shedding of innocent blood, Jesus condemned both the actions and the thoughts. Instead of dealing with only “peripheral” problems, Jesus went to the heart of the matter. As someone Who “knew what was in man” (John 2:25), Jesus was more than qualified to pronounce judgment upon the hypocritical Pharisees (cf. John 12:48). Like the unrighteousness that characterized the Pharisees’ charitable deeds (Matthew 6:1-4), prayers (6:5-15), fasting (6:16-18), and judgments (7:1-5), Jesus also condemned their unrighteous anger. [NOTE: Jesus did not condemn all anger (cf. Ephesians 4:26; John 2:13-17), only unrighteous anger.] It was in this context that Jesus warned against the use of the word “fool.” Jesus was not prohibiting a person from calling people “fools” if it was done in an appropriate manner (cf. Psalm 14:1), but He was forbidding it when done in the spirit of malicious contempt. He “warned against using the word fool as a form of abuse” that indicated “hatred in one’s heart toward others” (“Fool,” 1986; cf. Matthew 5:43-48). As in many other situations, it seems that the attitude, rather than actual words, is the focus of the prohibition.
While this verse, when taken in its context, is seen to be consistent with Jesus’ words and actions recorded elsewhere in the gospel accounts, His prohibition regarding the manner of a word’s usage should not be overlooked in the apologist’s effort to defend the deity of Christ (or any other Bible doctrine). We may call an atheist a “fool” for not acknowledging God’s existence (Psalm 14:1), but to do so in a hateful, malicious manner is sinful. Remember, the Christian is called to “give a defense to everyone” in a spirit of “meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

CONCLUSION

Although critics of Christ were numerous during the time in which He lived and shortly thereafter, many peoples and nations since that time have either considered Him, at worst, a “sublime person” (cf. Renan, n.d.) and great moral teacher, or, at best, the Son of God. But times have changed. Unfortunately, the world in which we live (even nations founded upon Christian principles, i.e., the United States of America) is becoming less and less tolerant of the personality and teachings of Christ.
With increasing frequency, Jesus’ enemies are casting caustic criticisms at our Lord and His church. Books, journals, Web sites, movies, etc. are being produced at record speed that attempt to undermine the very foundation of Christianity—the fact that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). With this in mind, Christians must prepare themselves for the defense of Christ’s historicity, deity, and spiritual purity. Nothing is more essential to the Christian’s faith than Christ. What then could be more important for Christians to do than to defend Who He really was—the Son of God?

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith (Madison, WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (1993), “Why Jesus?,” Freedom From Religion Foundation, [On-line], URL: http://ffrf.org/nontracts/jesus.php.
Bauer, Walter, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Butt, Kyle (2000), “The Historical Christ—Fact or Fiction?,” Reason & Revelation, 20[1]:1-6, January.
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Coffman, Burton (1984), Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Dummelow, J.R. (1937), One Volume Commentary (New York,NY: MacMillan).
“Fool,” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Jackson, Wayne (1998), “The Historicity of Jesus Christ,” Reason & Revelation, 18[1]:6-7, January.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961a), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961b), The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McGarvey, J.W. (n.d.), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McGarvey, J.W. (1875), Commentary on Matthew and Mark (Delight AR: Gospel Light).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (no date), “Jesus, Imperfect Beacon,” Biblical Errancy [On-line], URL: http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/bepart11.html#issref113.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (no date), “Problems with the Credentials and Character of Jesus,” Biblical Errancy [On-line], URL: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/errancy/issues/iss190.htm.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1985), “Commentary,” Biblical Errancy, January.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Morgan, Donald (1996), “Jesus Was a Hypocrite,” [On-line], URL: http://www.buffaloatheists.com/articles/group1/jesus%20was%20a%20hipocrite.htm.
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Renan, Ernest (no date), The Life of Jesus, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/ernest_renan/life_of_jesus.html.
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Robertson, A.T. (1932), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Robertson, A.T. (1997), Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Schnook, Charlotte (no date), “The Bible is Fit for Worship?” [On-line], URL: http://www.evilbible.com/is_bible_fit_for_worship.htm.
Vincent, Marvin R. (1997), Word Studies in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line],URL:http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.
Zerr, E.M. (1952), Bible Commentary (Raytown, MO: Reprint Publications).