Modern-Day Tongue Speaking by Allan Turner


Modern-Day Tongue Speaking

All who believe the Bible are aware there were those in the early church who had the ability to speak in tongues, that is, languages they had not learned (I Corinthians 12:28). From the 16th chapter of Mark we learn that the ability to speak in tongues was a sign promised by Jesus to His disciples after giving them what has come to be known as “The Great Commission.” Notice, if you will, that these apostles were commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Understandably, the gift of tongues was a very powerful sign to all who heard these unlearned Galileans speaking to them in their own native languages. What more powerful or convincing demonstration could have been given than on the Day of Pentecost when men from all nations heard the apostles preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own native tongues? So powerful was the demonstration, the Scripture says: “they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, behold are not all these Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:7-8)
The purpose of signs is revealed by the disciples response to the great commission:
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 1 6:20). In agreement with this, the Hebrew writer says: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For... How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:1,3,4)

We see then, according to the Scriptures, that the purpose of miraculous signs was to confirm the word of God which was declaring a new and divine message. The need for extraordinary proof during that period is understandable when one realizes the nature of the message—Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified on the Roman cross, had been raised from the grave and was now in heaven on the right hand of God. It was this Jesus who God had raised up and given all authority as both Lord and Christ. It was because of His life, death, burial, and resurrection, that the sins of all mankind could be forgiven. It was a salvation without price, unmerited and truly a gift from God.
We learn then from Scripture that tongues were foreign languages (I Corinthians 12:10; Acts 2:4, 6, 8, 11). However, many of our Pentecostal friends maintain tongues are ecstatic utterances. It should be apparent that what they teach on the subject is not in harmony with the word of God. And if we can use their own words as any indication, then maybe it is apparent to a great many of them as evidenced by the following:
The devil will be right on hand to challenge your experience, telling you that you made it all up or that it sounds foolish and crazy (everyone seems to experience this testing). But if you continue in faith, the Lord will give you confidence in your new tongue. (Christian News, November 25, 1968, page 11)

Are we to believe that any of the apostles experienced this testing? We think not! Furthermore, we learn from these Pentecostals that tongues function as a sign to believers that they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This, too, is a clear-cut contradiction of Scripture which says, "Wherefore tongues are a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not..." (I Corinthians 14:22). Although Pentecostals teach that all believers should be baptized in the Holy Spirit and therefore speak in tongues as evidence of it, the Bible states that not all had the same gifts and not all spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 30).
The modern-day “tongue-speakers” or glossolalists, as they are often called, would have us believe that “their gift” comes from God; but it is apparent that it comes not from God but from man. The observations of Dr. John Kilbahl, a psycho-therapist who conducted a 10 year in-depth study of these modern-day tongue speakers, illustrates this very well:
The importance of the leader was well illustrated by the fact that the style of glossolalia adapted by the group bore a close resemblance to the way in which the leader spoke. A linguist engaged in glossolalia research found that prominent visiting speakers affected whole groups of glossolalists. Although no two tongue-speakers sounded exactly alike, if the prominent leader spoke in a kind of Old Testament Hebraic style, those who were taught by him also spoke in this manner. If the leader of the group evidenced Spanish diction and mannerism, his followers also developed that style. It is not uncommon for linguists to be able to tell which prominent itinerant glossolalist has introduced a congregation to tongue-speaking. Relatively few men and women travel the tongue-speaking circuit. The glossolalist styles of Bennett, Bredesen, Christenson, du Plessis, Mjorud, and Stone are distinctive enough to be identifiable by observant linguists. (Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues, Harper & Rowe, 1972, page 53)

As to the nature of their “gift,” we can learn further from the instruction given by these tongue-speakers on receiving it:
1 . Help the candidate see that the gift is already given and all he has to do is to receive it. 2. Lead him to realize that anyone who is saved through baptism is prepared to receive the baptism of the Spirit. 3. Tell him that when hands are laid upon him he will receive the Holy Spirit. 4. Tell the candidate he is to expect the Spirit to move on his vocal chords, but that he must cooperate with the experience as well. 5. Tell him to throw away all fear that this experience might be false. 6. Tell him to open his mouth wide and breathe as deeply as possible, at the same time telling himself that he is receiving the Spirit now. (G.E. Stiles, The Gift of the Holy Spirit, page 104 [cited by Morton T. Kelsey, Tongue-Speaking, Doubleday, 1964, page 801)

Before concluding this article, we would like to once again quote Dr. Kildahl:
We attended many meetings where glossolalia both occurred and was interpreted, and noted that the interpretations were usually of a very general nature. After a segment of tongue-speech, an interpreter commonly offered the explanation that the speaker had been thanking and praising God for many blessings. Another frequent theme was that the speaker was asking for strength and guidance for himself and others.
However, perhaps a third of the time, the interpreter offered specific interpretations of what glossolalists said. More rarely, an interpreter 'translated,' phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence. In order to investigate the accuracy of these interpretations, we undertook to play a taped example of tongue-speech privately for several different interpreters of tongues. In no instance was there any similarity in the several interpretations. The following typifies our results: One interpreter said the tongue-speaker was praying for the health of his children; another that the same tongue-speech was an expression of gratitude to God for a recently successful church fund-raising effort.
When confronted with the disparity between their interpretations, the interpreter offered the explanation that God gave to one person one interpretation of the speech and to another person another interpretation. They showed no defensiveness about being cross-examined and generously upheld alternative interpretations as equally valid...
We know of a man who was raised in Africa, the son of missionary parents, who decided—rather cynically perhaps—to test the interpretation of tongues. At the appropriate moment, he rose and spoke the Lord's prayer in the African dialect he had learned in his youth. When he sat down, an interpreter of tongues at once offered the meaning of what he said. He interpreted it as a message of the imminent second coming of Christ. (Kildahl, op. cit., pages 62,63)

As Christians, we must rely upon the word of God as our only guide and rule of faith, recognizing that man has surely laid his foundation on the sand when following the subjectivity of human experience. As is usually the case, personal feelings are misleading and often fatal. The Bible is clear in its warning to Christians concerning the many false teachers in the world (1 John 4: 1). Furthermore, it is evident that many will be lost at judgement who thought they had prophesied, cast out demons, and done many mighty works in the name of Jesus (Matthew 7:22,23). And finally, the Scriptures state that some will be lost because they did not love the truth, but instead believed all the deception of wickedness, that is, “power” and “signs” and “wonders” (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).
We have shown that there is a difference between what some teach about the gift of tongues and what the Bible teaches on this important subject. We, therefore, appeal to our tongue-speaking friends to consider the end product of their false teaching: If they are right, then the Holy Spirit was wrong. If the Holy Spirit was wrong, then He did not reveal all the truth as Jesus said He would (John 16: 13). If the Holy Spirit did not reveal all the truth, then Jesus lied to His apostles. If Jesus lied to His apostles, then He was not the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6); neither was He the Christ, the Son of the living God. As the apostle John wrote in I John 2:21-22: "We have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?"



                              Chapter Seven


1) To be impressed with basic principles governing marriage and the
   single life

2) To see the importance of studying scripture in its proper context


At this point in Paul's letter, he begins to address those things about 
which the Corinthians had written to him (7:1).  In this chapter he
discusses matters relating to marriage and the single life.  The first
half deals with issues involving those married (1-24), and the last
half covers those who are single (25-40).  It is important to notice
that some of what Paul says is in light of the "present distress" being
experienced by the Corinthians; also that much of what he says is 
clearly identified as his personal judgment, not necessarily the 
commandments of the Lord.  In such cases, it is not a matter of right 
versus wrong, but good versus better.



   A. IN GENERAL (1-9)
      1. It is good to marry to avoid sexual immorality (1-2)
      2. Proper attitudes to govern the marriage relationship (3-4)
      3. Abstinence appropriate for short times devoted to fasting and
         prayer (5-6)
      4. Living the single life with self-control a gift from God, so
         unmarried and widows should marry if they cannot exercise 
         self-control (7-9)

      1. As commanded by the Lord (10-11)
         a. A wife is not to depart from her husband; if she does, let
            her remain unmarried or else be reconciled (10-11a)
         b. A husband is not to divorce his wife (11b)
      2. As instructed by Paul (12-16)
         a. Christians are not to divorce their unbelieving spouses
         b. Because of the "sanctifying influence" the believer can
            have on the family (14)
         c. If the unbeliever departs, the believer is not under
            bondage, let the unbeliever depart (15)
         d. These instructions given in view of the possibility of the
            believer being able to save the unbelieving spouse (16)

      1. As the Lord has called each one, so let him walk (17)
      2. The example of circumcision versus uncircumcision, where 
         keeping the commandments of God is what is important (18-20)
      3. The example of being a slave versus being free, where one
         might improve their condition if it is possible and profitable


      1. Paul gives his personal judgment in light of the "present
         distress":  remain as you are (25-26)
      2. Of course if you are married, remain so; but those who are
         single would be spared much trouble in the flesh in light of
         what is to come (27-31)
      3. Remaining unmarried enables them to serve the Lord without
         distraction, and be totally devoted to Him (32-35)
      4. If it is necessary, the single may marry (36)
      5. The choice is not between good and bad, but between good and
         better (37-38)

      1. They are free to marry, but only "in the Lord" (39)
      2. Though Paul's personal judgment is that such a one will be
         happier to remain single, which is also the advice (though not
         demanded) of the Spirit of God (40)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Instructions Concerning Those Married (1-24)
   - Instructions Concerning Those Single (25-40)

2) What are Paul's instructions to married Christians? (3-5,10-11)
   - Render affection that is due to one another
   - Do not deprive one another, except for short periods of fasting 
     and prayer
   - Do not leave or divorce your spouse

3) What does he advise those who are unmarried and widows? (8-9,25-40)
   - It is better to remain as they are
   - But if they marry, that is alright

4) What does he tell Christians married to unbelievers? (12-16)
   - If the unbelievers are willing to live with them, do not divorce
   - If the unbelievers depart, the Christians are not under bondage, 
     let the unbelievers go

5) What underlying principle is governing Paul's instructions in this
   chapter? (17-24)
   - For people to remain in whatever position they find themselves
     when they are called by God
   - Though where change is possible and profitable, such is permitted

6) What advantage do the single have over the married? (32-35)
   - They are better able to serve the Lord without distraction

7) What restriction does Paul place on widows who desire to remarry?
   - They are to marry "only in the Lord"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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                               Chapter Six


1) To see how brethren in Christ should settle their differences

2) To be impressed with the power of the gospel to transform the lives
   of people

3) To appreciate the proper use of our bodies in service to God


Having seen that the brethren at Corinth were often filled with strife,
envy and divisions (3:3), and that Paul frequently describes them as
being "puffed up" (4:6,18), it is not surprising that they were also
guilty of the fault Paul deals with in this chapter:  taking brethren
to court before unbelievers.  With an expression of  shock and 
disbelief, he instructs them through a series of questions designed to 
help them see how absurd and wrong such a thing was (1-11).

The latter half of the chapter deals with what must have been a major
problem in a city like Corinth: immorality.  What might have been
acceptable behavior with their bodies prior to becoming Christians is
no longer acceptable, for even their bodies belong to the Lord, whose
Spirit indwells them, and who will one day raise them from the dead by
His own power.  Therefore they should glorify God with their bodies 



      1. Dare they take their personal problems to be decided upon by
         the unrighteous? (1)
         a. When the saints will one day judge the world? (2)
         b. When the saints will one day judge angels? (3a)
         c. How much more should they be able to judge matters of this
            life! (3b)
      2. More rebuke in the form of questions (4-5)
         a. Do they seek the advice of those least esteemed by the
            church to judge? (4)
         b. Don't they have even one wise man among them who could serve
            as judge? (5)
      3. The shame of it all:  brethren suing each other before
         unbelievers! (6)

      1. It is bad enough that they had lawsuits to begin with! (7-8)
         a. It would be better to accept wrong and be defrauded (7)
         b. But no, they found themselves doing wrong and defrauding
            their own brethren! (8)
      2. A warning and a reminder (9-11)
         a. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (9-10)
         b. They had been such, but had been washed, sanctified, and
            justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God (11)


      1. What may be lawful may not be helpful, and should not
         overpower us (12)
      2. The stomach may need food, but that need is only temporary
      3. The body, which is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord,
         will be raised up by the power of God (13b-14)

      1. Shall we take the members of Christ and make them one with a
         harlot? (15-16)
      2. No, for we are to be one in spirit with the Lord (17)
      3. Therefore flee immorality which is a sin against your own
         bodies (18)

      1. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is from God, and
         is in it (19a)
      2. You are not your own, you were bought at a price (19b-20a)
      3. Therefore glory God in your body (20b)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Taking Brethren To Court (1-11)
   - Glorifying God With Your Body (12-20)

2) What was the nature of the problem being discussed in the first part
   of this chapter? (6)
   - Brethren taking each other to court, before unbelievers

3) What is Paul's solution to such a problem? (5)
   - Find a wise man among brethren to decide the issues

4) What would have been better than displaying their differences before
   the eyes of the world? (7)
   - For the one in the right to accept wrong, to be defrauded

5) What were some of the Corinthians before they became Christians?
   - Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites,
     thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners

6) Though something may be lawful, what two other criteria does Paul 
   mention which should govern our use of it? (12)
   - Is it helpful?
   - Does it overpower us?

7) To whom does our bodies belong? (15)
   - Christ

8) What is the body of one who is a Christian? (19)
   - A temple of the Holy Spirit who is in them

9) What then should we do with our bodies?  Why? (20)
   - Glorify God
   - We were bought at a price

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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                              Chapter Five


1) To understand the need for proper church discipline

2) To understand the nature of church discipline


Having dealt with the problem of division in the first four chapters, 
Paul now addresses the problem of immorality in the church at Corinth.  
He describes the particular case at hand, one which even pagan Gentiles 
would find shameful (1).  Rebuking them for being "puffed up" instead 
of mourning (2), Paul then instructs them to "deliver such a one to 
Satan", giving them reasons why this action is necessary (3-8).  
Clarifying what may have been written in an unknown earlier epistle, 
Paul concludes by limiting towards whom such action is to be taken, and 
describing how it is to be carried out in practice (9-13).



      1. Something not even the Gentiles would approve! (1a)
      2. A man was living with his father's wife (1b)

      1. They were "puffed up" (2a)
      2. Rather than mourning that such conduct might result in the
         removal of the offender (2b)


      1. Must exercise judgment, as Paul though present has already
         done (3)
      2. When assembled together in the name of Jesus, deliver such a
         one to Satan (4-5a)

      1. To save the sinner (5b)
         a. By destroying the flesh (its pride and works)
         b. That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord
      2. To save the church (6-8)
         a. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (6)
         b. Christ, our "passover", should be kept with the unleavened
            bread of sincerity and truth (7-8)

      1. Not to be exercised toward those who are of the world (9-10)
      2. But towards brethren in Christ who remain in sin, with such
         don't even eat (11)
      3. For God judges those outside the church, while we must judge
         those inside (12-13a)
      4. The nature of church discipline:  "put away from yourselves
         that wicked person" (13b)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - The Problem Of Immorality In The Church At Corinth (1-2)
   - Instructions For Dealing With This Problem (3-13)

2) What was the nature of the immorality that existed in the church at
   Corinth? (1)
   - A man had his father's wife

3) What was the attitude of the church in this regard? (2)
   - They were "puffed up"

4) Why does a church "deliver such a one to Satan"? (5)
   - For the destruction of the flesh
   - That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord

5) Why should a church be diligent in exercising church discipline? (6)
   - A little leaven leavens a whole lump

6) Who is the "passover" for Christians? (7)
   - Christ

7) How should we observe our "passover"? (8)
   - With sincerity and truth

8) Towards whom is church discipline to be administered? (9-11)
   - Those in the church who do not repent; not those in the world

9) Who has the responsibility of judging whom? (12-13)
   - God judges those outside the church; the church is to judge its

10) What expressions may help explain what it means to "deliver such a
    one to Satan"? (11,13)
   - "not to keep company"
   - "not even to each with such a person"
   - "put away from yourselves that wicked person"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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                               Chapter Four


1) To learn further how we should regard preachers and teachers

2) To learn a lesson in humility by observing the examples of the


With this chapter Paul brings to a conclusion his treatment of the 
problem of division as it existed in the church at Corinth.  He 
describes the proper estimate one should have of those who serve God, 
and why we should leave the ultimate evaluation of such men to God 
(1-5).  Having already used himself and Apollos as examples to help 
them see the errors of their arrogance (cf. "puffed up"), Paul also 
uses the example of the apostles in a passage filled with irony (6-13).  
His purpose is not to shame them, but to warn them, for he is sending 
Timothy to remind them of what is proper, and he himself is coming to 
deal with those who are "puffed up", if necessary (14-21).



      1. Servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God (1)
      2. Their chief responsibility:  faithfulness (2)

      1. Not Christians, or any human court (3a)
      2. Not even one's own self, but rather, the Lord (3b-4)
      3. Therefore leave it up to Him  (5)


      1. To learn in them not to think beyond what is written (6a)
      2. That none be "puffed up" on behalf of one against the other

      1. For they act as though they were the source of what they have
      2. With irony, Paul rebukes them (8)

      1. Made a "spectacle" to the world (9)
      2. Contrasted with the pride of the Corinthians, using more irony
      3. The plight of the apostles (11-13)


      1. Those whom he considers as beloved children (14)
      2. Those whom he has begotten through the gospel (15)
      3. Those whom he charges to imitate him (16)

      1. He is sending Timothy to remind them (17)
      2. He himself will soon come, Lord willing, to deal with those who
         are "puffed up" (18-21)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - The Proper Estimate Of Paul And Others (1-5)
   - Lessons In Humility (6-13)
   - Paul's Purpose In Writing (14-21)

2) What two terms properly describe preachers of the gospel? (1)
   - Servants of Christ
   - Stewards of the mysteries of God

3) Who is to be the judge of those who serve the Lord? (3-5)
   - The Lord

4) Why was Paul writing these things? (6)
   - That none be "puffed up" on behalf of one against the other

5) What technique did Paul use in teaching lessons about humility?
   - Irony

6) Who did Paul use as an example of humility? (9-13)
   - The apostles

7) Why was Paul writing these things to them? (14)
   - To warn those he loved

8) How had Paul become like a "father" to them? (15)
   - Through teaching them the gospel by which they had been "begotten"
     in Christ Jesus

9) Why was he sending Timothy to them? (17)
   - To remind them of Paul's ways in Christ

10) What one phrase is used repeatedly in this chapter to describe some
    at Corinth? (6,18,19)
   - "puffed up"

11) What choices did Paul leave them as to how he might come to them?
   - With a rod
   - In love and a spirit of gentleness

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Quran and Forgiveness by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Quran and Forgiveness

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Quran forthrightly rejects the crucial role occupied by the death and resurrection of Jesus (Surah 4:157-158; 3:55). Consequently, the Quran of necessity must leave the impression that God can simply forgive people if they will repent and submit (i.e., become Muslims). To “believe” means to accept Allah as the one and only God, and to accept Muhammad as Allah’s ultimate and final messenger. Resignation and submission of one’s will to this foundational principle (theshahadas), accompanied by good deeds in life, is the means of forgiveness in the Quran. Consider the following passages (from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall):
And as for those who believe and do good works, He will pay them their wages in full (Surah 3:57, emp. added).
Then, as for those who believed and did good works, unto them will He pay their wages in full, adding unto them of His bounty; and as for those who were scornful and proud, them will He punish with a painful doom (Surah 4:173, emp. added).
O ye who believe! If ye keep your duty to Allah, He will give you discrimination (between right and wrong) and will rid you of your evil thoughts and deeds, and will forgive you. Allah is of infinite bounty (Surah 8:29, emp. added).
And those who believed and did good works are made to enter the Gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein abiding by permission of their Lord, their greeting therein: Peace! (Surah 14:23, emp. added).
Say: O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him, before there come unto you the doom, when ye cannot be helped (Surah 39:53-54, emp. added).
These verses spotlight the Quran’s formula for salvation. Turning from unbelief to Allah is the specific grounds upon which Allah can forgive past sin and extend continuing forgiveness to the believer (cf. Surah 11:3; 26:51; 45:30; 46:31). Not only does the Quran nowhere offer a deeper explanation by which forgiveness may be divinely bestowed (i.e., blood atonement), it states explicitly that it is genuine (i.e., non-hypocritical) belief and good deeds that rectify sin:
And those who believe and do good works and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammad—and it is the truth from their Lord—He riddeth them of their ill-deeds and improveth their state (Surah 47:2, emp. added).
And whosoever striveth, striveth only for himself, for lo! Allah is altogether Independent of (His) creatures. And as for those who believe and do good worksWeshall remit from them their evil deeds and shall repay them the best that they did.... And as for those who believe and do good works, We verily shall make them enter in among the righteous (Surah 29:6-7,9, emp. added).
Compare Ali’s translation of these same verses:
And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is free of all needs from all creation. Those who believe and work righteous deeds, from themWe shall blot out all evil (that may be) in them, and We shall reward them according to the best of their deeds.... And those who believe and work righteous deeds, them We shall admit to the company of the Righteous (emp. added).
Another example is seen in the following Quranic utterance:
Thou seest the wrong-doers fearful of that which they have earned, and it will surely befall them; while those who believe and do good works (will be) in flowering meadows of the Gardens, having what they wish from their Lord. This is the great preferment. This it is which Allah announceth unto His bondmen who believe and do good works. Say (O Muhammad, unto mankind): I ask of you no fee therefore, save lovingkindness among kinsfolk. And whoso scoreth a good deed We add unto its good for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Responsive. Or say they: He hath invented a lie concerning Allah? If Allah willed, He could have sealed thy heart (against them). And Allah will wipe out the lie and will vindicate the truth by His words. Lo! He is aware of what is hidden in the breasts (of men). And He it is Who accepteth repentance from his bondmen, and pardoneth the evil deeds, and knoweth what ye do. And accepteth those who do good works, and giveth increase unto them of His bounty. And as for disbelievers, theirs will be an awful doom (Surah 42:22-26, emp. added).
Where Pickthall has “whoso scoreth a good deed,” Ali renders it: “if any one earns any good We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof” (vs. 23). The Quran explains that when Allah’s warnings and signs eventually come to pass, “no good will it do to a soul to believe in them then, if it believed not before nor earned righteousness through its faith....He that does good shall have ten times as much to his credit” (Ali’s translation of Surah 6:159,161, emp. added). Such verses underscore the fact that the means by which Allah can forgive sins is the Muslim’s commission of good deeds (cf. Surah 25:70; 39:35; 64:9).
In fact, the good deeds must outweigh the bad deeds on the Day of Judgment: “Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy, will be in a Life of good pleasure and satisfaction. But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) light, will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit. And what will explain to you what this is? (It is) a Fire blazing fiercely!” (Surah 101:6-11, Ali’s translation). The Quran even states explicitly that good deeds drive away evil deeds:
And lo! unto each thy Lord will verily repay his works in full. Lo! He is informed of what they do. So tread thou the straight path as thou art commanded, and those who turn (unto Allah) with thee, and transgress not. Lo! He is Seer of what ye do.... Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful. And have patience, (O Muhammad), for lo! Allah loseth not the wages of the good (Surah 11:111-112,114-115, emp. added).
Allah will, in fact, simply overlook the evil deeds of those who become Muslims: “Those are they from whom We accept the best of what they do, and overlook their evil deeds. (They are) among the owners of the Garden. This is the true promise which they were promised (in the world)” (Surah 46:16, emp. added). Ali renders “overlook” as “pass by.” So according to the Quran, forgiveness from Allah is grounded in and dependent upon the act of becoming a Muslim and maintaining that status with good deeds. No wonder the September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorists could visit a strip bar just prior to their suicidal mission (Farrington, 2001). They understood the Quran’s teaching that good deeds enable God to overlook the bad.
In contrast, the Bible certainly teaches that good deeds are necessary to salvation (Acts 10:35; Romans 2:6). In fact, faith itself is a “work”—a deed that the individual must do (John 6:29). Repentance, confession of the deity of Jesus with the mouth, and water baptism are likewise all necessary prerequisites to the reception of forgiveness from God (Acts 2:38; 17:30; Romans 10:9-10). However, the New Testament teaches that obedience to divinely specified deeds does not make those deeds meritorious, i.e., they do not earn salvation for the individual. They areconditions of salvation—but not the grounds of salvation. They do not erase or rectify past sin.Atonement must still be made for all sins previously committed (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Much of Christendom has gone awry on this point. Especially since the Protestant Reformation, the pendulum shifted to the extreme, unbiblical contention that all one need do is “believe,” what Martin Luther labeled “sola fide” (faith alone) (cf. Lewis, 1991, pp. 353-358; Butt, 2004). The Quran advocates the equally incorrect opposite extreme of earning forgiveness by human works of merit. The New Testament actually steers a middle course between these two extremes by insisting that no sin can be forgiven without the shed blood of Jesus. Here is the grace of Christianity—God doing for humanity what humanity is powerless to do for itself, i.e., atone for its own sin. This gracious act of God is unmerited, undeserved, and unearned (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing humans do can repay God for this indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Nevertheless, in order for the alien sinner to access the rich blessing of forgiveness based on the blood of Christ, he or she must render obedience to the Gospel of Christ (Romans 6:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 5:9) through faith, repentance, confession, and baptism (Hebrews 11:6; Luke 13:3; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Peter 3:21). This obedient response to Christ does not earnforgiveness for the sinner, or counteract past misdeeds. Rather, it represents compliance with the divinely (not humanly) mandated prerequisites by which one receives and accepts the gift of salvation that God offers to those who will respond appropriately. [NOTE: The New Testament term that is translated “Gospel,” meaning “good news” (Bruce, 1977, pp. 1ff.), refers specifically to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as the sole means by which sin may be forgiven. Incredibly, the Quran is silent on the need for atonement and Christ’s death on the cross, and yet it speaks approvingly of “Injil” (or “Injeel”), i.e., the Gospel, apparently referring to the revelation that Muhammad thought was revealed to Jesus.]


Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Bruce, F.F. (1977), The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Butt, Kyle (2004), “Martin Luther Speaks on ‘Faith Only’ and Baptism,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=958.
Farrington, Brendan (2001), “FBI Investigates Possible Fla. Links,” [On-line]: URL: http://newsmine.org/archive/9-11/questions/stripbar.htm.
Lewis, Jack (1991), Questions You’ve Asked About Bible Translations (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

Too Much Activity on Day Six? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Too Much Activity on Day Six?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One of the reasons skeptics reject the validity of the biblical account of creation is because they find it impossible to believe that one man could name every single species of animal on the Earth in a single day. Considering there are only 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour period, we are told it is ridiculous to believe that an individual (who had never seen animals before the day he named them) could name several million species of animals in one day. Perhaps over a period of a few weeks he could accomplish such a task, but certainly not in a single day—right?
The problem with such objections to Genesis 2:18-20 is that they are based on assumptions. The question that skeptics often ask, “Could Adam have gathered and named all of the animals on the Earth in one day?,” is misleading because the Bible places certain restrictions on the animals Adam named. Consider the following.
  • Adam’s task did not include searching for and gathering all of God’s creatures. Rather, God “brought them” to him (Genesis 2:19). Likely this was in some sort of orderly fashion in order to reduce the amount of time and human energy necessary to complete the process.
  • Genesis 2:20 does not say that Adam named “all” of the animals on the Earth. The text actually says, “Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.” Excluded from this naming process were sea creatures and creeping things mentioned earlier in the creation narrative (cf. Genesis 1:21,25).
  • The beasts God brought to Adam are qualified by the descriptive phrase “of the field” (hassadeh). Although the precise limits of the term “field” are difficult to determine, it is possible that it refers only to those beasts living in Eden.
  • If the beasts of the field were limited to those animals within the boundaries of Eden, then livestock and birds could have been similarly limited. This would greatly reduce the number of animals involved in the naming process, since it is very unlikely that all created animals lived in Eden. [If so, Eden would have been quickly overrun and destroyed.]
  • Contrary to popular belief, Adam did not name millions of species of animals on day six (cf. Wells, 2001; McKinsey, 2000, p. 84). Genesis 1 states that the animals were created “ according to their kind(s)” (vs. 21), not species. The Bible was written long before man invented the modern Linnaean classification system. The “kinds” (Hebrew min) of animals Adam named on the sixth day of Creation were probably very broad—more like groups of birds and land animals rather than specific genera and species. Adam would have given animals general names like “turtle,” “dog,” or “elephant,” not special names like “pig-nosed soft-shell turtle” or “Alaskan Husky.” As Henry Morris has pointed out,
...the created kinds undoubtedly represented broader categories than our modern species or genera, quite possibly approximating in most cases the taxonomic family. Just how many kinds were actually there to be named is unknown, of course, but it could hardly have been as many as a thousand (1984, p. 129).
All of these textual considerations suggest that the events of day six could have been accomplished easily within a 24-hour period. Adam did not have to spend a great deal of time pondering what he would call each animal; he was created with the ability to speak and reason. If my two-year-old son can look at a book and call the names of 60 different kinds of animals in 60 seconds, I have no problem believing that Adam, having been created directly by the hand of God and made in His image (see Lyons and Thompson, 2002), had the ability to name hundreds (if not thousands) of birds and land animals in 3,600 seconds (just one hour!).


Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God,’ ” Reason & Revelation, 22:17-32, March & April.
McKinsey, Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Morris, Henry (1984), The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible [On-line], URL:http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/1cor/index.html

Who Makes the World’s Best Fliers? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Who Makes the World’s Best Fliers?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

For more than seven years, Dr. Robert Wood and a team of researchers from Harvard University have been studying flies and attempting to build a life-size, flying robot that can mimic the flight of living flies. The government is hopeful that robotic flies might one day be used as spies in surveillance missions, as well as to detect toxic chemicals used by terrorists. On July 19, 2007,MIT’s Technology Review announced that Wood’s “robotic fly has taken flight at Harvard University” (Ross, 2007). Dr. Ron Fearing of the University of California, Berkeley has been studying the dynamics of insect flight for years. In fact, he is Wood’s former Ph.D. advisor. He called Wood’s robotic flying insect “a major breakthrough” (as quoted in Ross).
What do brilliant scientists have to show for their seven plus years of research on flies? What was the “major project milestone” reported in Technology Review? Why was Wood joyfully “jumping up and down in the lab” (Ross)? Answer: his life-size robotic fly took off. It cannot maneuver in the air. It is unable to be controlled. It cannot avoid obstacles. It cannot slow down and land on a specific target. It does not have its own power source (and even if it did, it could provide no more than five minutes of power to fly). “At the moment, Wood’s fly is limited by a tether that keeps it moving in a straight, upward direction” (Ross). Yet, since “a lot of people thought it would never be able to take off,” such a feat is considered remarkable.
Admittedly, Woods and his colleagues have done a superb job in building a life-size robotic fly that can move upward on a tether by flapping its synthetic wings. It takes extremely intelligent individuals to develop their own fabrication process and manufacture a tiny robot that resembles and mimics (to some degree) living flies. Yet, these same men advocate that real flies, which have “long puzzled scientists and bedazzled engineers” with their “magical,” “sophisticated,” “intricate maneuvers,” are the end result of mindless time and chance, i.e., evolution (Dye, 2007). Such a proposition defies common sense!
Were Woods and his team of researchers to leave hundreds of tiny carbon-polymer pieces lying around in a lab for 100 years (or one billion years!), no reasonable person would conclude that, eventually, time and chance would assemble a robotic fly, much less one that maneuvers as well as a real fly. It has taken intelligent, hardworking scientists more than seven years just to make a robotic fly lift off the ground.
Who made the often imitated, but never duplicated living fly that can “change the direction of its flight by 90 degrees in about 50 thousandths of a second” (Dye)? Who designed the fruit fly’s “spiffy neuron-circuitry” that allows it to rotate from north to west and then zip westward “in one-fifth the blink of a human eye” (Dye)? Who made the fly, its sesame-seed size brain, and its complicated flight dynamics that scientists have been unable to “figure out” fully even after several years of study? Did mere time and chance create the common fly, which Dr. Michael Dickinson of the California Institute of Technology said has “the fastest visual system” and “most powerful muscles on the planet” (as quoted in Dye)? Should we conclude, as did Dr. Wood, that “[n]ature makes the world’s best fliers” (as quoted in Ross)? Certainly not! Only a superior Intelligence outside and above nature’s time and chance logically explains the existence of intricate design. Indeed, God is the builder and maker of all things (Hebrews 3:4).


Dye, Lee (2007), “Scientists Study the Amazing Flight of Flies,” ABC News, [On-line], URL:http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97651&page=1.
Ross, Rachel (2007), “Robotic Insect Takes Off for the First Time,” Technology Review, [On-line],URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19068/.

Who Are These People? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Who Are These People?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

From time to time, we are asked for clarification concerning the identity of the church of Christ. “What do churches of Christ stand for?” “What do they believe?” “Who are these people—the churches of Christ?”
One must take Bible in hand to answer these questions. In Matthew 3:2, John the baptizer declared that the kingdom of heaven was near. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus Himself announced to His disciples that He would build His church and give to them the keys of the kingdom. In Mark 9:1, Jesus further stated that some were standing in His presence who would not taste of death before they would see the kingdom of God come with power. In John 3:5, Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order for him to enter into the kingdom of God, he would have to be “born again”—which consisted of being “born of water and the Spirit.” After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, He instructed the apostles to go into all of the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who would believe and be baptized would be saved (Mark 16:16).
These passages set the stage for the momentous events of Acts chapter 2. In that key passage, Jesus followed through with His promises. The Gospel was preached, some 3,000 hearers believed and were baptized, and the church of Christ was brought into existence. The year was A.D. 30. The place was the city of Jerusalem. In direct fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies—including Isaiah 2, Daniel 2, Joel 2, and Micah 4—Jesus established His church.
Churches of Christ today are reproductions of the church of Christ that is described in the New Testament, beginning in Acts 2. Several characteristics are discernible from the Bible that aid in seeing what it takes to be a church of Christ.
In the first place, consider what people in the first century did to become a member of the church of Christ. In Acts 2, after listening to the preaching of the Gospel, the people asked the apostles what they needed to do. Peter responded: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). This was in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”
The same procedure is depicted over and over again in Acts. Acts 8:12-13 records that “when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized.” In the same chapter, Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch. When the eunuch saw water, he insisted upon being baptized. Philip said he could if he believed.
In Acts 10, Cornelius heard the message, believed, and was baptized. In Acts 16, Lydia listened to the message, believed, and was baptized. In the same chapter, the Philippian jailer heard the word of the Lord and was immediately baptized the same hour of the night. In Acts 18:8, many of the Corinthians heard the word, believed, and were baptized. In Acts 19:4-5, some of the citizens of Ephesus listened to Paul’s preaching, believed, and were baptized. Paul, himself, in Acts chapters 9 and 22, heard the word and was baptized to have his sins washed away.
The rest of the New Testament confirms this procedure for becoming a Christian. Paul reminded Roman Christians that on the day they were baptized, they were baptized into Christ, into His death, and were made free from sin to live a new life (Romans 6:1-7). He told the Corinthians that on the day they were baptized, they were baptized into the one body, which is the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). He told the Galatians that when they were baptized, they were baptized into Christ, and thus put on Christ, i.e., were clothed with Him (Galatians 3:27). Peter added his support to this same understanding by declaring that one is saved at the moment of baptism, for it is at that point that the benefits of the resurrection of Christ are applied to the believer (1 Peter 3:21).
Notice from these Scriptures that in the first century, a person became a Christian in the same way and at the same moment that he became a member of the church of Christ. First-century people heard the message of salvation and God’s will for their life. They then believed (had faith in) God and Christ (and the teaching about Them), repented of their sins, confessed the name of Christ with their mouths, and then were baptized (or immersed) in water for the remission of sins (cf. Romans 10:9-10; Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 10:22). Who are the churches of Christ? They arethose churches that practice that same New Testament plan of salvation.
Second, consider how churches of Christ were organized or structured in the New Testament. Each local congregation was independent and autonomous. There was no hierarchy or denominational headquarters. Each local church was directly under the headship of Christ (Colossians 1:18). Churches of Christ had no synods, councils, or conventions that established policy or provided governing guidelines. Every single local congregation was self-governing and completely autonomous.
Within each of these churches, the New Testament teaches that men who meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are to be appointed by the church members to be elders. Other names for this function in the New Testament are bishops, pastors, shepherds, and overseers (Titus 1:5,7; Acts 20:17,28; 1 Peter 5:1-2). The New Testament teaches that when a church has qualified men, two or more are to be appointed to serve. Churches in the New Testament always had a plurality of elders over a single congregation (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5). These men are to function as the overseeing authorities in the local church. They shepherd and watch over the members under their charge (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The name “pastor” did not refer to a preacher in the New Testament, but to an elder.
New Testament churches also had deacons appointed who were to meet specific God-given qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Deacons were assigned responsibilities and tasks that involved serving the needs of the congregation (Acts 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1).
In addition to elders and deacons, churches of Christ in the first century had teachers, preachers, and evangelists (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5; James 3:1). These men taught and preached Christian doctrine to non-Christian and Christian alike. Female Bible teachers taught women and children (Titus 2:4). All of the members participated together in the work and worship of the church in an effort to glorify God in their lives.
Many improvisations have evolved since the first century as regards church government and organization. But, in summary, the simple structure of Christ’s church according to the New Testament consisted of elders who shepherded the flock, deacons who ministered to the congregation, preachers and evangelists who proclaimed the Gospel, and all other members of the local congregation who worked and worshipped under the oversight of the elders. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that follow this simple New Testament format.
Third, how is the church of Christ to be designated? What are the scriptural names by which God’s people are to be known? The New Testament clearly states that the group of saved people was called the “church of Christ” (Romans 16:16). Remember, Jesus Himself stated that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). The church, therefore, belongs to Christ, Who is the Head of the body (Ephesians 1:22-23). Sometimes His church was referred to merely as “the church” (e.g., Acts 8:1). “Church” simply means “called out,” and refers to the fact that Christians have been called out of the world and into Christ’s kingdom.
Sometimes, Christ’s church was referred to as “the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19), “the kingdom of God” (Mark 9:1; John 3:5), “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3), or “the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). We also find the “church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2) and the “church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15)—no doubt references to Jesus’ deity as owner. We also find the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Several other names are found in the New Testament for Christ’s church. But observe that most of the names that men have given to their denominational organization are not found in the New Testament. Churches of Christ are those who seek to be scriptural in name.
The same applies to the designations for individual members. The number one name by which church members are to be known is the name “Christian” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16; Isaiah 62:1-2). This is the name which indicates that one belongs to Christ. Other names included “disciples” [which means “learners”] (Acts 20:7), “saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “brothers” (1 Corinthians 15:1), “sons of God” (Romans 8:14), “children of God” (1 John 3:1), “priests” (1 Peter 2:9)—and several other names. These are scriptural names.
But what about the many religious titles and designations used today? The denominational concept of a clergy is foreign to the New Testament. Preachers in the New Testament were merely Christians who prepared themselves to teach others. They were not set apart as a special class of religious people. They did not receive special titles like “reverend” or “pastor” or “father” (Matthew 23:9). Such designations are manmade and serve only to cultivate the praise of men, when, in fact, all praise belongs to God (Luke 4:8).
So who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that wear the name of Christ—individually and collectively. As the apostle Peter stated, “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16).
A fourth identifying mark of the church of Christ in the New Testament is seen in the absence of denominational trappings. For example, churches of Christ had no official creeds, church manuals, or confessions of faith to which members had to subscribe. The only authoritative document for governing belief and practice was the Bible. The Bible presents itself as the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God—the only reliable guide to get humans from this life to heaven. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that rely solely on the Bible for direction.
A fifth and final facet of the church of Christ in the New Testament is her worship practice. Churches of Christ have reproduced simple New Testament worship in their services—nothing more and nothing less. When one examines the New Testament, one finds that first-century churches engaged in five worship activities on Sunday. First, they met together for the important purpose of partaking of the Lord’s Supper, which consisted of bread and grape juice as symbols of the body and blood of Christ offered on the cross (Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16-21; 11:20-34). Christians observed the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and only on Sunday. Second, the early church engaged in prayer together (Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 2:1-8). Third, Christians sang religious songs together (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Their congregational singing was unaccompanied by musical instruments. Fourth, they participated in Bible study, either by public reading of the Scriptures or as taught by a preacher or teacher (1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 2:15). Finally, Christians contributed their money on the first day of the week as a treasury from which the Lord’s work could be carried out (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
New Testament worship is extremely simple and unpretentious—free from the hype and glitter that bored humans frequently fabricate. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that have restored simple New Testament worship in their congregations. They meet together every first day of the week and commune together around the Lord’s Table; they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together; they contribute a percentage of their income to carry on the work of the church; they pray together; and they study the Word of God together.
Members of churches of Christ are certainly not perfect. Just as in the first century, churches of Christ are composed of imperfect people. But the superstructure of the New Testament church has been set in place. It therefore is possible for anyone to be simply a Christian—a member of the church we find described in the New Testament—the church of Christ.
That’s not to say that all groups who bear the name “church of Christ” are following the New Testament portrait of the church. A church may have a scriptural name without engaging in scriptural worship. Some churches of Christ are in the process of going off into apostasy as they restructure the church and make unscriptural changes. We cannot endorse such churches, merely because they continue to wear the name “church of Christ.”
You can be a member of the New Testament church. You do not have to settle for a man-made denomination. We urge you to study what the New Testament says about the church of Christ.

The Non-Crucified Non-Saviors of the World by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


The Non-Crucified Non-Saviors of the World

by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

Today the church finds itself bombarded with all kinds of criticism. One of these is the notion that Christianity owes its origins to pagan religions. One particularly troubling issue for some Christians is the massive amount of misinformation circulating on the Internet concerning the various “crucified saviors” of the world. Jesus is claimed to be no different than dozens of other saviors who were crucified for the sins of mankind, and later resurrected. If this were true, then Jesus would be merely a Johnny-come-lately to the religious scene, no different and no more authoritative than Zeus, Odin, or Thor.
The nineteenth century was the seedbed of comparative religion, which sought to analyze and discover the connections between various world religions. Critics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were guilty of glossing over important differences for the sake of making connections between different religious traditions, including Christianity. Usually these connections were highly dubious in nature, and no real scholar uses this approach today. While it can be shown that some ancient pagan religions migrated, developed, and influenced others over time, Christianity is a different matter altogether.
Critics today—who almost universally have no training in ancient religion, philosophy, or languages—can be quite adamant that Christianity plagiarized ancient mythology when constructing the Bible and its supposed mythological traditions about Jesus. This idea is found in documentaries such as Bill Maher’s Religulous, Brian Flemming’s The God Who Wasn’t There, Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist, the Movie, as well as in publications such as those by Dorothy M. Murdock’s The Sons of GodThe Christ Conspiracy, and Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. All of these promote the idea of the “mythic Christ.”
Where did the idea of the mythic Christ originate? Much of it began in the writings of two amateur Egyptologists named Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833) and Gerald Massey (1829-1907). Both wrote extensively on the idea of the mythic Christ. They claimed one parallel after another between the Bible and pagan mythology, making it appear as if the biblical writers borrowed stories wholesale from ancient tales. Almost all scholars today recognize that this approach is fundamentally flawed. For nearly all of the supposed parallels these two men discovered, scholars today say without hesitation that no genetic connection exists between the Bible and the myths these two men examined.
Neither Higgins nor Massey was a scholar or academician, and both were self-taught religious enthusiasts (this generally holds true for all proponents of the Christ myth theory). More importantly, neither is remembered in the history of scholarship today. Writers such as Dorothy Murdock—a vocal proponent of the Christ myth theory—laments that these supposed intellectual titans have been forgotten. She heaps effusive praise upon Massey in particular (2009, pp. 13-26), calling him a “pioneer.” In truth, neither one of them had any ideas worth remembering. They are virtually unknown in modern Egyptology.
The work of Higgins and Massey was picked up and continued most famously by Kersey Graves, who authored the book The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors (1919). This woefully outdated book is still standard reading for militant atheists. Unfortunately, Graves’ fans do not appear to realize that his book was based on the work of our two error-prone amateurs. To make matters worse, Graves did not appear to consult the original myths himself. It appears that he may have even falsified some of his work. In all of the cases of his “crucified saviors,” unlike Jesus, none were actually crucified, and none of them died salvific deaths, that is in behalf of the salvation of others. Indeed, some of them never died.
The chart below gives the names of the gods that Graves and others traditionally claim were crucified saviors. The problems become apparent rather quickly:
Adonis dies when he is gored by a bull on a hunting trip.
In a moment of madness, Attis commits suicide by emasculating himself.
The text is unclear, but it appears Baal is slain in personal battle with Mot, the Canaanite god of death. 
Bacchus is the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, whose body is almost completely devoured by the Titans, who leave only his heart.
In the Norse myths, Balder is invincible to all known objects, except for mistletoe. One of the gods’ pastimes is throwing objects at Balder, who cannot be harmed. Loki crafts a magical spear from this plant and tricks the god Hodur into throwing it at Balder, killing him.
Supposedly a Japanese figure. Either Graves had a bad source, or he simply invented the name, as no figure with this name exists in Far Eastern literature. It may be that he meant to say “Beddou,” who is a Japanese figure some have equated with the Buddha. Regardless, there is no record of the crucifixion of this individual, if he even existed in any of the literature.
This is uncertain, but appears to be the name of the Buddha in some places in the Far East. The literature states that the Buddha died at 80 of a natural illness, though some say he was poisoned. Either way, he never died on a cross, and Buddhism has no need of a personal savior, anyway.
The Greek god of wine and the grapevine had a tough childhood. When an infant, the Titans devour his body, leaving only his heart behind. He is later reborn.
Hercules dies when he is burned alive on a funeral pyre. 
Hermes never dies in the Greek myths.
Horus never dies in the Egyptian myths.
Krishna is mortally wounded when a hunter accidentally shoots him in the heel with an arrow.
Mithras does not die in the Persian myths.
In one account, Orpheus is torn apart by Maenads, the female followers of Dionysus, for failing to honor their master. In other accounts he either commits suicide or is struck by one of Zeus’ lightning bolts.
Osiris is killed when his brother Seth drowns him in the Nile. Seth later recovers the body and dismembers it.
Originally called Dumuzi by the Sumerians, Tammuz is taken to the underworld when his lover, Inanna, is given a deal where she can be released if she finds a substitute. She is enraged that Tammuz is not mourning her death, so she chooses him to take her place in the realm of the dead. There is no mention of crucifixion.
Thor dies in Ragnarok, the final battle that will end the world, when he is bitten by a giant serpent.
According to one ancient source, Zoroaster was murdered while at an altar.
Upon even a cursory inspection, it becomes clear that none of the so-called “crucified saviors” were actually crucified. Indeed, none of them are saviors, dying for the sins of humanity. Self-sacrifice was not involved. Instead, many did not die at all, or died an accidental death, or were murdered. Worse yet, none of them resurrected from a tomb. A few of the divine figures on the list were revived (or deified), but in a different manner than the Christian concept of resurrection. In short, this list consists purely of non-crucified non-saviors. Why are these connections made if they never truly existed? In short, it is due to careless research and preconceived biases that are immune to evidence.
While the idea of the pagan or mythic Christ draws from a variety of ancient mythologies, it is heavily influenced by Egyptian mythology, perhaps because the early proponents of this theory worked primarily with myths from Egypt. They also made connections based on preposterously thin evidence. Some examples of the typical connections include the following from Gerald Massey’s book Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ:
  • Jesus’ casting of a group of demons  calling themselves “Legion” into a group of pigs, which is equated with a story in which Horus turns someone into a pig (1996, pp. 62-63).
  • Jesus and Horus are each claimed to have had two mothers—two Marys for Jesus, and the goddesses Isis and Nephthys for Horus (p. 118).
  • Herod the Great, despite being a well-known figure to historians, is equated with Herrut, the Typhonian Serpent (p. 95).
In their book Unmasking the Pagan Christ, Porter and Bedard summarize Massey’s position this way:
[H]is conclusions rely on exaggerations and forced parallels that too often used later interpretations o the Gospels, rather than the primary texts themselves. To make matters worse, Massey cites numerous parallels without any indication of the original references in the Egyptian texts. Massey also begins the practice…of describing Egyptian myths with biblical language in an attempt to find a causal link (Porter and Bedard 2006, p. 30).
If the idea of a “crucified savior” had been as common as the critics allege, then it would not have been included among the criticisms leveled against the early Christians. The apostle Paul stated that the cross was a stumbling block to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23), which would have been quite strange if the Greeks recognized any of the so-called “crucified saviors” mentioned by Graves and others. Justin Martyr admitted that preaching a crucified Christ appeared to be madness: “[The opponents of the church] say that our madness lies in the fact that we put a crucified man in second place to the unchangeable and eternal God, the creator of the world” (Apology I, 13.4). If everyone had crucified gods, then they would not have criticized the Christians for having one, too.
The picture that quickly emerges when looking at the original sources is one of exceedingly poor research on the part of the critics. It is one thing to make an honest mistake, but their litany of errors is academically unacceptable. At times, even other skeptics and atheists chide their fellow unbelievers for their careless work. Writing a review of Zeitgeist, the Movie in the magazineSkeptical Inquirer, leading skeptic Tim Callahan is highly critical of the “sloppy assumptions” in the documentary, concluding, “Zeitgeist is The Da Vinci Code on steroids” (Callahan, 2009, p. 67).
Some of this sloppy work includes failing to cite sources properly. Graves was not the only one guilty of failing to cite his sources or inventing material out of whole cloth. Of the pseudo-scholars in the 19th and early 20th century who promoted the Christy myth theory, apologist J.P. Holding says,
Kersey Graves…assures the reader that he has before him plenty of original documentation for his claims of crucifixion parallels, but…doesn’t have room to include any. And this is the rule, not the exception. Lundy, Higgins, Inman, Graves, Doane, etc., they all claim they have read or heard this or that, but none of them can site[sic]a single source document (Holding, 2008, p. 376, italics in orig.).
Because of its manifold problems, the idea of the mythic Christ is dihttp://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=973fficult even for many atheists to swallow. On the anti-Christian Web site Infidels.org, historian and atheist Richard Carrier lists ten major problems with Graves’ work, the last of which is that “Graves’ scholarship is obsolete, having been vastly improved upon by new methods, materials, discoveries, and textual criticism in the century since he worked” (Carrier, 2003). Scholars see Graves’ work as worthless. Critics find it absolutely indispensible, perhaps because there are no scholarly treatments that agree with their presuppositions.
The Christ myth theory has not been answered by many scholars, simply because they choose not to waste their time debunking fringe theories. Experts are usually preoccupied with teaching and research, with a few of them engaged in archaeology and other academic pursuits as well. This leaves little time for answering the preposterous claims of the “Christ mythers.” (In personal e-mails to three leading New Testament scholars, each noted that the Christ myth theory holds no place of respect in modern scholarship. Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary said, “[T]his whole discussion is considered beyond the pale and beyond belief, even with liberals.” When asked whether the paucity of scholarly material on the pagan Christ was because scholars do not waste their time on “crackpot theories,” Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary said, “I think you have got the reason you cannot find stuff.” Thomas Schreiner of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary confessed, “I do not know anything about this issue…. I am tempted to think it is the lunatic fringe.” The issue is so intellectually bankrupt that liberal scholarship does not endorse it, and other scholars may not even be familiar with it).
Critics will always “discover” parallels between Christianity and pagan religions in the attempt to make believers look foolish. Ironically, this quest only demonstrates their own academic shortcomings. Time and time again Christianity demonstrates its uniqueness among the world religions. It is the hallmark of truth for a world in desperate need of history’s one and only crucified Savior.  


Callahan, Tim (2009), “Greatest Story Ever Garbled: A Critique of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’—Part I of the Internet Film Zeitgeist,” Skeptic, 15[1]:61-67.
Carrier, Richard (2003), “Kersey Graves and the World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors,” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/graves.html.
Graves, Kersey (1919), The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors or Christianity Before Christ (New York: Peter Eckler Publishing), sixth edition.
Holding, James P. (2008), Shattering the Christ Myth: Did Jesus Not Exist? (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press).
Massey, Gerald (1996), Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ (Whitefish, MT: Kessenger).
Murdock, Dorothy M. (2009), Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (Seattle, WA: Stellar House).
Porter, Stanley E. and Stephen J. Bedard (2006), Unmasking the Pagan Christ (Toronto, ON: Clements Publishing).