Donald R. Fox

Creation, and how all life came into being and the complex function of the universe may be the greatest of all mysteries. Our English dictionaries define mystery in part as: “One that is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding; an unexplained or inexplicable event, phenomenon, etc.”

Let us now note a scientist acknowledging an “acceptable explanation” or an understanding of creation and living matter. “If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces and radiation, how has it come into being? I think, however, that we must admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation, I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it.” (Reference: H. S. Lipson “Physics Bulletin”, vol 31, May 1980, page 138; extracted from “That Their Words May Be Used Against Them” Compiled by Henry M. Morris)

The word acceptable is defined in part as: “Worthy of being accepted; adequate to satisfy a need, requirement, or standard; satisfactory”. The word explanation is defined in part as: “The act or process of explaining; something that explains; a mutual clarification of misunderstandings; a reconciliation”.

Lipson also states that to accept creation would be “anathema to physicists”. Anathema is defined in part as: “A thing or a person accursed or damned; hence; anything greatly detested.” So here we have some in the scientific community stating, even though an “acceptable explanation” for the first cause is to be “greatly detested”. Lipson’s explanation is that the idea of God Almighty and creation must be “accursed, damned”. I thought that scientists were supposed to have an open mind? Is it not great to have such an open-minded scientific society? Pun intended!

Lipson, a physicist, rejects creation, “In the beginning God…” because it does not fit his evolution theory. With this example of rejection of creation, we should not conclude that all scientists reject God Almighty. There are countless brilliant people who believe in the God of the Bible.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; There is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1 ASV)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15 ASV)

NOTE: For further study see essay titled “ALIENS AND CREATION”.

Is Freewill Scriptural? By Louis Rushmore


By Louis Rushmore

Is Freewill Scriptural?

Almost every single denomination I have heard of believes that all people have free will.  I haven't found a single verse in the Bible that teaches that people do have free will.  Why do Christians believe this unanimously without any Biblical text to affirm it? ~ Rick (Baptist), Springfield, OR.
Dear Friend, as much as you are amazed that myriads of people believe in “freewill,” I am equally amazed that you are unable to find “any Biblical text to affirm it.”  Further, simple observation should declare the existence of freewill in the human race. The first biblical indication that mankind possesses the capacity of freewill was immediately following the creation of Adam.
“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:19-20).
Through the capacity of freewill, Adam was prompted by God to name the animal creation.  This establishes the basic capability of mankind to employ “freewill.” The very existence of an orderly universe replete with design and implying a designer, implicitly calls out to intelligent life, man, to seek the Creator.  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psa. 90:1).  “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).  “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isa. 40:26).
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psa. 33:6-9).
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb. 11:3). Job 38:4-41 lists numerous aspects of God’s creation over which mankind still ponders, and much of which also is little understood even today.  Truly, the created universe has the name of God written all over it, and it calls mankind to search out his Creator.  All of this, which is true, would be a cruel hoax by God if it were impossible to choose (exercise freewill) to seek the Creator (and find him through his divine revelation).
Both testaments of the Bible, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden, are filled with choices presented to mankind.  In order to choose, correctly or even incorrectly, as God exhorts mankind, humanity must possess the capacity of freewill.  Further, mankind, at God’s urging to make choices, has the obligation to make choices (use freewill).  Adam and Eve were presented with the choices of eating from the forbidden tree or not eating from that same tree.  They chose incorrectly, nevertheless, they exercised their capacity of freewill (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:3-6).
The great leader, Joshua, memorably called upon his fellows to exercise their freewill in accepting God as their Lord.  “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).  Often, unfortunately, mankind has chosen to forsake God, nevertheless it was a choice (use of freewill):  “For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:29).
The word “whosoever” appears 183 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  It is employed in all religious dispensations and applied variously to every representative of humanity.  Essentially, then, when ‘anyone’ does what he by God’s Word is forbidden to do, he sins; when ‘anyone’ does what he by God’s Word is commanded to do, he is acceptable to God.  The word “whosoever” in its sundry appearances in the Bible expresses the capacity and obligation of mankind to exercise his freewill.  Naturally, I cannot list 183 occurrences of the word “whosoever” here, but a couple instances spoken by Jesus should provide the necessary emphasis.  “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).  “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).  What a cruel hoax it would be for the Lord to invite everyone to partake of living water, but it not be possible humans or some humans to make the choice to accept or reject of the offer of the Lord.
The invitation of the Lord himself appears also in other words:  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).  Can humanity (through freewill) make the choice to accept or reject the invitation of our Lord, or did Jesus simply make an empty gesture?
Every command to do something implies the ability (freewill) with which man can either comply or not comply with divine direction.  “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” (2 Thess. 3:4).  “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord . . .” (Acts 10:48).  Often, people do not follow the directions of even God and many people defiantly have not obeyed God’s Word regarding, for instance, baptism.  Therefore, it is evident that through the exercise of freewill, some obey God and others do not.  Those who choose to obey are the recipients of redemption and those who do not obey God are not the recipients of God’s grace and mercy through which he proffers redemption.  Regarding Jesus, Scripture says, “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him . . .” (Heb. 5:9).
Further, regarding “freewill,” the Bible uses that word 17 times in our English translation.  In those places, a distinction is made between mandatory tithes and the amount and character of additional offerings made at the discretion or choice of the giver.
The denial of “freewill” is not the product of biblical doctrine, but the product of the Reformation movement, to which Luther contributed and which was further crystallized and preserved in what is commonly called Calvinism.  We have shown in the short treatment above that mankind has not lost either his capacity or his responsibility since his initial placement in the Garden through the present to exercise his freewill.  The ability to choose, which mankind exercises numerous times daily in the profane and mundane affairs of life, is the identical capacity with which he can choose (or choose not) to digest and put into practice the exhortations of divine revelation.  As the Scripture says, we have no excuse (Rom. 1:20).  Each soul has personal responsibility for his or her eternal destination.
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live . . . I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life” (Deut. 30:15-16, 19).
Though the quotation immediately above includes both their spiritual and physical welfare, the principle regarding our spiritual welfare remains the same.  God places before each accountable soul choices regarding his redemption and pending eternity among which he is obligated to exercise his freewill.  Satan votes against us; God votes for us; and each of us casts the deciding vote as to where we will spend eternity.  To not make a choice (exercise freewill) is to make the worst choice of all! [The querist swiftly responded to the above with a brief and scornful dispatch in which he ignored every evidence offered and did not make even one allusion to Scripture.  Each soul needs to be acutely aware that by Scripture we must order our lives, for by it alone we all will be judged.  Jesus said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).]

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Miracles Of The Apostles (5:12-16) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                The Miracles Of The Apostles (5:12-16)


1. Following the death of Ananias and Sapphira, we read about...
   a. The signs and wonders being done by the apostles - Ac 5:12-13
   b. Where they were able to heal all those brought to them - Ac 5:14-16

2. "The Miracles Of The Apostles" provide an opportunity to make observations about...
   a. The success of the apostles' miracles
   b. The purpose of the apostles' miracles

[Similar observations can be made about the miracles of Jesus and Paul,
which can serve to critique so-called miracles today (are they really
miracles?).  So let's begin by noting...]


      1. During the early days of the church - Ac 5:12; cf. Ac 2:43
      2. Daily in the temple, in Solomon's Porch - Ac 5:12; cf. Ac 2:46; 3:1-10
      3. Even in the streets, as the shadow of Peter went by - Ac 5:15

      1. The miracles of Jesus - Mk 6:53-56
         a. In the land of Gennesaret
         b. In villages, cities, the country
      2. The miracles of Paul - Ac 19:11-12
         a. In the city of Ephesus
         b. During his extended stay while on his third journey

[In both rural and urban settings, wonderful things happened when true
men of God were healing the sick.  So let's consider carefully...]


      1. The sick were laid out in the street on beds and couches - Ac 5:15
      2. People from surrounding cities brought the sick and possessed - Ac 5:16
      3. Note well:  "they were all healed"

      1. Jesus in the land of Gennesaret - Mk 6:53-56
         a. When people heard He was there, they gathered the sick
         b. Wherever He went, they brought the sick to Him, on beds laying them in the market
         c. Note well:  "as many as touched Him were made well"
      2. Paul at Ephesus - Ac 19:11-12
         a. God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul
         b. Even handkerchiefs brought from his body to the sick healed them
         c. Note well:  implied is that all who received such ministrations were healed

[The crowds that gathered around the apostles, Jesus, and Paul were
understandable, for the success of these three men was remarkable.  Now
for an observation or two about...]


      1. The effect of the miracles led to high esteem among the people - Ac 5:13
      2. The purpose of apostolic miracles was to confirm their message - Mk 16:17-20

      1. The purpose of Jesus' miracles was to confirm His claims - Jn 5:36; 10:25,37-38
         a. People who saw such signs made the connection - Jn 3:2; 9:30-33
         b. Jesus did refrain from doing miracles on one occasion for lack of faith - Mt 13:58
         c. But note well:  He never failed any miracle that He Himself attempted!
      2. The purpose of apostolic miracles was to confirm they were from God - Ac 14:3
         a. God bore witness to His Word by gifts of the Holy Spirit  - He 2:3-4
         b. The apostles did not always heals those they knew were sick - 2Ti 4:20
         c. But note well:  the apostles never failed any miracle they attempted!


1. Today, there are self-proclaimed miracle workers who say God is working through them...
   a. Large crowds often attend their meetings, hoping to be healed
   b. But many people leave such meetings, disappointed that they were not healed
   c. Despite having such healers lay their hands on them, and pray for them

2. When true servants of God worked miracles, everyone was healed...!
   a. Whether it was the apostles, Jesus, or Paul
   b. The purpose of miracles to confirm they were servants of God
   c. And God left no room for doubt:  all were healed!

3. It is important to remember that such miracles were for a specific purpose...
   a. They were to confirm the message and messengers as being from God
   b. Once the Word of God was completely revealed and confirmed, there
      is no longer a need for such miracles of confirmation - cf. 1Co 13:8-10
   c. Which explains why such miracles are not being done today
   d. Contrary to claims made by false teachers who mislead many

When we carefully study the miracles of Jesus and those of His apostles,
comparing them with the so-called miracle healers of today, we can easily see the difference...
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Ananias And Sapphira (5:1-11) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                     Ananias And Sapphira (5:1-11)


1. Previously, we examined the remarkable liberality in the Jerusalem church...
   a. As people sold lands and possessions to aid their brethren - Ac 2:44-45; 4:32-35
   b. As exemplified by Joses, named Barnabas by the apostles - Ac 4:36-37

2. In vivid contrast, we are then told of the example of Ananias and Sapphira...
   a. A husband and wife who sold a possession, giving part of the proceeds to the apostles
   b. Who were both struck dead!

[Why did this happen?  What can we learn from this remarkable incident in
the history of the early church?  Let's take a closer look at the case of
Ananias and Sapphira, beginning with...]


      1. Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a possession - Ac 5:1
      2. Ananias kept back part of the proceeds, his wife knowing - Ac 5:2
      3. He brought a part of the proceeds to the apostles - Ac 5:2

      1. From the context we know that they intended to deceive the apostles
      2. To give the impression they gave the full amount of the proceeds
      3. Evidently to appear magnanimous in their giving

[What happens next may at first seem shockingly extreme...]


      1. Peter challenges Ananias - Ac 5:3-4
         a. Why has he allowed Satan to enter his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?
            1) The land was his to use
            2) The money was his to control
         b. He has not lied to men, but to God!
      2. Ananias drops dead - Ac 5:5-6
         a. Upon hearing the words of Peter
         b. Creating great fear on those who heard
         c. Carried out by young men and buried

      1. Noted in our lesson on "Communal Christianity"
         a. The selling of homes, lands, possessions, et all, was free-will offerings
         b. They did not have to sell their possessions, nor give 100% of the proceeds
      2. The relationship of the apostles to the Holy Spirit
         a. Lying to the apostles was lying to the Holy Spirit
         b. Because the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit - cf. Jn 16:13
      3. The relationship of the Holy Spirit to God
         a. Peter identifies the Holy Spirit as God - Ac 5:3-4
         b. One of many passages that illustrates the deity of the Holy Spirit

[Not long after the death of her husband, just as shocking is...]


      1. Peter confronts Sapphira - Ac 5:7-9
         a. She enters three hours later, unaware of her husband's death
         b. Did she sell the land for a certain amount?  Yes, she answers
         c. Why did she agree with her husband to the test the Spirit?
         d. Those who buried her husband were ready to carry her out
      2. Sapphira falls dead - Ac 5:10-11
         a. Immediately at the feet of Peter
         b. Carried out by young men and buried by her husband
         c. Creating great fear upon all the church and all who heard

      1. The accountability of Sapphira
         a. Her complicity in the sin of lying was exposed
         b. She could not use submission to her husband as an excuse
      2. The punishment of death for lying to the apostles
         a. Reminiscent of the deaths of Nadab & Abihu - Lev 10:1-3
         b. Both incidents occur at the beginning of their respective dispensations
            1) Nadab and Abihu struck down just as the Law of Moses begins
            2) Ananias and Sapphira struck down just as the Church begins
         c. Both make the point:  God's Word and His spokesmen must be taken seriously
      3. The first case of "church discipline"?
         a. Jesus and His apostles taught church discipline - Mt 18:15-17; 1Co 5:1-13; 2Th 3:6-15
         b. One effect of such discipline is to preserve the purity of the church - 1Co 5:6-8
         c. Of course, church discipline today calls for withdrawal
            from the one who refuses to repent, not death - cf. Mt 18:17; 1Co 5:13; 2Th 3:6,14
         d. But even the extreme case of Ananias and Sapphira reveals
            the positive effect "church discipline" can have in the eyes
            of the community (i.e., respect) - cf. Ac 5:11,13-14


1. From the case of Ananias and Sapphira, we learn that apostles were to be taken seriously...
   a. Lying to the apostles was lying to the Holy Spirit (i.e., God!)
   b. Just as heeding their words is heeding the words of God - cf. Jn 13:20

2. Do we take the apostles of Christ seriously today...?
   a. We may not lie to them as did Ananias and Sapphira
   b. But do we respect their teaching as did the early church? - cf. Ac 2:42; 1Th 2:13

Muhammad's Polygamy by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Muhammad's Polygamy

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Muhammad was the founder of the religion we know today as Islam. Through the centuries, much has been written that is critical of Muhammad’s multiple marriages. It is estimated that he had as many as nine wives simultaneously. The reported total number of wives is at least twelve: Khadijah, Sawdah, A’ishah, Hafsah, Zaynab, Umm Salamah, Zaynab, Juwariyah, Mariyah, Safyyah, Umm Habeeba, and Maymunah (Brooks, 1995, pp. 77-88). The usual Islamic response to this criticism is that Muhammad did not form these marriages out of lust or a desire for sex. Rather, the marriages were due to: (1) the desire to form alliances with diverse clans due to the swift expansion of Islam, thereby bringing peace with enemies by marrying their daughters; (2) the need to emancipate conquered clans by linking them to Muslim family clans; and (3) Muhammad’s desire to render benevolent assistance and care to widows (especially widows of men killed in battle), or to a displaced slave or captive (e.g., Pickthall, n.d., pp. 300-301). Muslim apologist Osama Abdallah offered the following justification for Muhammad’s polygamy:
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was a Messenger of God (filled with sympathy and mercy to people) and a leader for all Muslims. He didn’t practice polygamy for the sake of sexual pleasure at all. Most of his wives were either widows (older than him in age, too) or divorced women (also most of them were either older or same age). Only one of his wives was a virgin, and he only married her because her father was his best friend. He wanted to strengthen that relationship. And it was her father who offered her to our Prophet peace be upon him anyway. If our beloved Prophet peace be upon him really seeked [sic] sexual pleasure, then he would’ve married young virgins from the Muslims. Back then, people loved Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him so much, that they would literally do anything for him. Certainly fathers would’ve given him their young virgin daughters if he wanted to. Many people offered him their young virgin bosomed daughters anyway to raise their families’ honor, but our Prophet never seeked [sic] that sexual privilege in life.
Because Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was a smart political leader and a wonderful humble merciful true Messenger of Allah Almighty, he chose to marry the weak from his people to encourage the Muslim men to do the same; to create a balance in the Muslim society. Again, another emergency case that existed during Islam’s weak times that forced the Muslims (including Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) to practice polygamy (Abdallah, n.d.).
Another defense of Muhammad’s polygamy is seen in the following general advocacy of the institution of polygamy [NOTE: “B.A.P.U.H.” stands for “Blessings and peace be upon him”]:
The ProphetB.A.P.U.H in his lifetime took eleven women in marriage. Majority of these marriages as described above were contracted due to cultural, social, political and moral necessity. In war when a large number of men are killed, the women outnumber men and in this situation, polygamy becomes a social and economic necessity. In case of chronically ill and infertile wife, polygamy prevents break up of marriage as the husband can contract another wife to have children. Polygamous instinct of men as compared to women is also recognised in science. Restriction of number of marriages to one for some men would most certainly encourage society to embark on adultery and prostitution. The modern world where such restrictions have been legally imposed is full of evidence to such evils. It is universally recognised that laws, orders and limitations imposed on ordinary people are not enforced on special people chosen from among the people by themselves or by the Almighty Allah. Let us first take the rights of the leaders chosen by people such as kings, presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and general managers. They all enjoy special privileges, usually defined by the constitution or parliament of the country. When we do not object to these privileges given to ordinary men, how can we question the privileges given to the prophets? (“Polygamy,” n.d.).
Notice that the latter remarks justify Muhammad’s excessive polygamy on the basis of his special status as the prophet of Allah.
Of course, no one is in a position to know what was in Muhammad’s mind at the time these relationships were formed. Hence, no one can prove his motives to be either legitimate or illegitimate. If Muhammad’s polygamy is justifiable on the grounds that he was simply extending assistance to war widows, why not allow all Muslim men to take as many widowed wives as Muhammad? Even Muhammad could not accommodate all the widows of war. If their deprived and needy status was truly the issue, surely God would want all widows to be cared for in a similar fashion—thus opening the door to Muslim men besides Muhammad to marry more than four wives. The same may be said if polygamy is justifiable on the grounds of forming political alliances. Why not allow all Muslim men to assist with the strengthening of alliances, as well as the emancipation of conquered clans?
Regardless, these alleged justifications do not account for all of Muhammad’s marriages. A’ishah was only six years old when Muhammad claimed to receive dreams instructing him to marry her. He was past fifty at the time. What possible rationale can be offered to legitimize this intention? Much is made of the fact that Muhammad did not consummate the marriage at this point. Yet, it is admitted that he did so within three years when A’ishah was nine (see al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Bk. 58, #234; Vol. 7, Bk. 62, #64). But whether he did so or not, the propriety of such a marriage, both in terms of the age of the child as well as the disparity in their respective ages, is appalling, repugnant, and, to say the least, unacceptable to the unbiased observer.
An even greater objection centers on Muhammad’s conduct with regard to the wife of Zayd, the freed slave whom Muhammad had adopted and reared as his own son. Seeing Zaynab, Zayd’s wife, in her home (some accounts say partially unclad) during Zayd’s absence, sparked the circumstances that led to Zayd divorcing his wife in order to accommodate Muhammad’s desire to have her. The shock waves that reverberated across the community elicited a string of curt, even stinging, revelations: (1) Surah 33:37, which declared the marriage of Muhammad to Zaynab as a “done deal”; (2) Surah 33:4-5,40, which clarified the previous revelation that forbade men from marrying the wives of sons by birth (4:23). The new revelation insisted that adopted sons were not included in the previous prohibition; (3) Surah 33:50-51, which granted special dispensation to Muhammad to exceed the Quran’s restrictive limitation of no more than four wives (4:3); and (4) Surah 33:53, which made three sweeping declarations. First, it chided visitors to Muhammad’s home for delaying their departure and overstaying their welcome. The guests who came to celebrate Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab lingered longer than the Prophet preferred, delaying his desire to be alone with his newest wife. Second, it required all future conversations with Muhammad’s wives to be conducted with a veil or curtain separating the guest from the wife. Third, no Muslim was ever to marry one of Muhammad’s wives. Also, henceforth, Muslims were to invoke blessings on Muhammad (vs. 56).
Once again, for the unbiased, objective observer, this event brings the credibility of Muhammad and his revelations into serious question. In the first place, the Bible consistently represents God as impartial and perfect in justice (e.g., Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17). The God of the Bible simply would not grant special dispensation to one man over others. He would not exempt one person from a law while expecting others to keep it. Prophets and inspired spokesmen of God in the Bible were never given the right to sidestep laws of God—let alone laws that all men are under obligation to obey.
Second, how can Zaynab’s divorce from Zayd be morally justifiable on any grounds? Observe carefully the wording of the Surah that speaks to this point:
And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest. And when thou saidst unto him on whom Allah hath conferred favor and thou hast conferred favor: Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah. And thou didst hide in thy mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and thou didst fear mankind whereas Allah had a better right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zeyd had performed the necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled. There is no reproach for the Prophet in that which Allah maketh his due (33:36-38).
One cannot help but be suspicious. This surah is worded the way one would expect it to be worded if it were produced by a man, unguided by God, who was seeking to justify his desire for another man’s wife. Likewise, the unbiased observer surely is stunned, incredulous, and dismayed at the lax attitude toward divorce. Absolutely no justification existed for Zayd to divorce his wife—except to make her available to Muhammad, under the guise that it was an unhappy marriage (see Pickthall, p. 300).
What a far cry from the teaching of the New Testament. Jesus declared in no uncertain terms: “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
Separate from the question of Muhammad’s motives for contracting multiple marriages (whether to unite clans or aid widows), the more pressing question pertains to whether polygamy, itself, is a legitimate social institution—i.e., is it sanctioned by God? It certainly is true that plural marriages were commonplace in the Old Testament. Some prominent men of the Bible are said to have contracted multiple marriages, including Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon. Yet, this circumstance is simply reported (along with other violations of divine law) without any indication that God approved of it. One does not find the Bible stating explicitly that polygamy is God’s will. But that is precisely what the Quran does: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3).
In contrast, quite the opposite is the case in the Bible. God ordained the institution of marriage at the very beginning of the Creation. He enjoined strict heterosexual monogamy (e.g., Genesis 2:24). Whatever human beings did throughout the centuries prior to Christ’s advent in their relaxation of the divine will on this point, God legislated one man for one woman for life. Disobedient man introduced polygamy into the world (Genesis 4:19). God tolerated (not endorsed) this sordid state of affairs prior to Christ, but with the institution of New Testament Christianity, God’s original intention for the human race received definitive reaffirmation and reinstatement: “Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Polygamy is sinful. Every New Testament passage that addresses the marriage relationship presupposes monogamy (e.g., Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:1-12; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6; Hebrews 13:4).
Even as the church is represented as the bride of Christ (e.g., Ephesians 5:23-32), Jesus would no more have multiple brides than He would endorse men having multiple wives. In fact, God would be guilty of being a respecter of persons if He allowed men to have a plurality of wives, while disallowing women from having a plurality of husbands. Likewise, who could successfully deny that polygamy is damaging to the psyche and self-worth of women?
The Hadith confirms that Muhammad’s polygamy created jealousy, bickering, and bitter rivalry among his wives (see Brooks, p. 83). In fact, the Quran itself reflects this turmoil on the occasion of Muhammad adding to his harem the Coptic Christian slave girl, Mariyah. The bitter jealousy of his wives caused him to separate from her initially, only to reinstate her standing when the newly received surah commanded him to do so (Surah 66). The result was that Muhammad lived a month with Mariyah—undoubtedly spiting his other wives. Another surah then followed that reprimanded the wives and ordered them to make a choice as to whether they desired to be married to Muhammad (Surah 33). Was this special treatment extended to Mariyah, which punished the other wives by depriving them of their usual turn with Muhammad—a violation of the equal treatment clause of the Quran (Shorrosh, 1988, p. 65; cf. Lings, 1983, pp. 276-279)? Additionally, the consensus of the Islamic community has ever been that A’ishah was Muhammad’s favorite wife and that she received preferential treatment—a circumstance in direct violation of the Quran.


The religion of Islam and the Quran have a great many features that the Christian mind (i.e., one guided by the New Testament) finds objectionable. Polygamy is simply one among many such “difficulties.” The Bible and the Quran are in significant conflict on this subject.


Abdallah, Osama (no date), “When is Polygamy Allowed in Islam?” http://www.answering-christianity.com/polygamy.htm.
al-Bukhari, Sahih (no date), The Hadith, http://www.sahih-bukhari.com/.
Brooks, Geraldine (1995), Nine Parts of Desire (New York, NY: Anchor Books).
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Polygamy” (no date), http://www.answering-christianity.com/islam_polygamy.htm.
Shorrosh, Anis A. (1988), Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

The Question of Inerrancy by J.W. McGarvey


The Question of Inerrancy

by  J.W. McGarvey

[Editor’s Note: The following article was penned by J.W. McGarvey and originally appeared in the May 27, 1893 issue of Christian Standard, reprinted in McGarvey, 1910, pp. 36-39. While the specific occasion that elicited the article has long since passed, the principles have not, since they still afflict the thinking of modern liberal theologians. We commend this timeless article to your consideration.]
I believe it was Professor Briggs who first introduced the current use of the term “inerrancy” in the controversy about the character of the original Scriptures. If he did not, he at least has given it its chief conspicuity in recent discussions. It is well-known that no intelligent man claims inerrancy for the printed Bibles which we now use, whether in the translations or the original tongues. The question has never had reference to any other than the language of the inspired writers, as distinguished from the alterations and interpolations which have been introduced by copyists and editors. In other words, it has reference to the autographic writing of the authors of the books. Instead of meeting the question fairly, those gentlemen who are so fond of an errant Bible, have taken a great deal of pains to obscure the real issue by throwing dust into the air. Professor Warfield, of Princeton, has an excellent article in the Independent of March 23, in which he scatters this dust, and lays bare the real issue in a most intelligible manner. We quote him:

We have heard a vast deal of late of “the first manuscripts of the Bible which no living man has ever seen,” of “Scriptures that have disappeared forever,” of “original autographs which have vanished;” concerning the contents of which these controversialists are willing to declare, with the emphasis of italics, that they know nothing, that no man knows anything, and that they are perfectly contented with their ignorance. Now, again, if this were to be taken literally, it would amount to a strong asseveration that the Bible, as God gave it to men, is lost beyond recovery; and that men are shut up, therefore, to the use of Bibles so hopelessly corrupted that it is impossible now to say what was in the original autographs and what was not! In proportion as we draw back from this contention—which is fortunately as absurd as it is extreme—in that proportion do we affirm that we have the autographic text; that not only we, but all men, may see it if they will; and that God has not permitted the Bible to become so hopelessly corrupt that its restoration to its original text is impossible. As a matter of fact, the great body of the Bible is, in its autographic text, in the worst copies of the original texts in circulation; practically the whole of it is in its autographic text in the best texts in circulation; and he who will may today read the autographic text in large stretches of Scripture without legitimate doubt, and, in the New Testament at least, may know precisely at what rarely occurring points, and to what not very great extent, doubts as to the genuineness of the text are still possible.
The Professor might have added that this autograph, thus accurately preserved, and now in the hands of every reader of the corrected Greek text of the New Testament, is faithfully represented to the eye of every English reader in the renderings and marginal readings of the Revised Version. For while, as the textual critics make plain to us, seven-eighths of the words of the New Testament are now printed in the very form in which they came from the original penmen, and nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of it absolutely so in meaning; and while we can put our finger on every word about which there remains any doubt; the marginal readings of the revised New Testament enable the reader who knows not a word of Greek to put his finger also on these words, and to know that all the rest are precisely those of the autographs. It is a most mischievous and deceptive device, therefore, originating from the heat of controversy, to speak of the autographic writing of the apostles as though it were lost to the world, never to be known again except by conjecture. Thank God, we have it in a purer form than our fathers had, even back to the early ages of the faith; and with this autographic writing in our hands, we stand before those who would criticize its representations, and say: Gentlemen, show us an error here which by a fair logical process can be certainly charged to the inspired penmen, and we will concede that to this extent their inspiration failed to guard against error. You have not done so yet; for all the specifications which you have made fail of this essential condition. We would caution them also to remember that there is the breadth of the heavens between infinitesimal errors of detail in a very few instances, and such errors as they are constantly charging upon the Scriptures, errors in which multitudes of facts, arguments and inferences in every part of the Bible are discredited at the good pleasure of every opinionated critic. The former would be a puzzle worthy of profound consideration and an earnest effort at solution; but the latter makes the Bible less reliable as a record of facts than Macaulay’s History of England or Bancroft’s History of the United States. We want no such Bible as that, and the coming generation will have none at all if that is the alternative


McGarvey, J.W. (1910), Short Essays in Biblical Criticism (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company).

The Foolishness of Atheism by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Foolishness of Atheism

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Atheists are fond of claiming that their way of thinking is logical, reasonable, and intellectual. They maintain that they are open-minded and refer to themselves as free thinkers. Unlike Christians, who are allegedly delusional, irrational, blind, and absurd, atheists consider themselves utterly rational, sensible people who follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Yet atheism says that everything came from nothing. Atheism says that an explosion caused exquisite order. It says that random chances produced precision and that life popped into existence in nature from non-life. Atheism says that the design of the human eye is a delusion, while the design of a camera is apparent. Atheism says that fish and frogs are man’s distant forefathers and that intelligence is the result of non-intelligence. Atheism alleges that either man is on the same moral plane as a moose, or he actually evolved a sense of morality from amoral monkeys. Atheism spends multiplied millions of dollars and countless thousands of hours in search of extra-terrestrial life, which has never been found.
When atheism is stripped of pompous proclamations and arrogant allegations, its naked soul is seen for what it really is: weak, illogical, unscientific, and worthless. Atheists blindly believe that, for example, life came from non-life. Rather than accept what scientific experimentation has repeatedly concluded over the past 200 years (that in nature life comes only from life and that of its own kind), atheists remain committed to a disproven theory. Man has never witnessed mindlessness bring forth intelligence. He’s never seen something come from nothing.
While trying to convince others he is galloping confidently atop a stallion called Common Sense, in truth, atheism stumbles on the back of a donkey called Foolishness. Is there any wonder why David said, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1)?
For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22).

Jesus Used Logic by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Jesus Used Logic

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Jesus was undoubtedly the Master Logician. He demonstrated unsurpassed logical prowess on every occasion. One such incident occurred when He was preaching to a group that had gathered in a house. So many people were crammed into the house that four men were unable to bring a paralytic into contact with Him, so they carried him onto the roof, punched a hole through the ceiling, and lowered him down through the hole into the presence of Jesus. The text then reads:
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:5-12).
Observe that in their private thoughts the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy, since He claimed to forgive the man of his sins on the spot—an act that only Deity could rightly perform. By asking the question, “Which is easier…?,” Jesus was urging them to reason correctly and think through what was taking place. If Jesus had the power to cause a bedfast paralytic to stand up and walk, instantaneously healing him of his affliction, then He either had divine backing or He, Himself, was God. Anyone can verbally say, “Your sins are forgiven” (cf. Catholic priests). That is what Jesus meant when he used the word “easier.” For a mere human to pronounce forgiveness upon a fellow human does not make it so. How, then, can one determine whether sin is actually forgiven, i.e., that God forgave the individual? Answer: The one making the claim would either have to be God in the flesh, or he would have to have divine authority for his action, and that divine authority would have to be verified, i.e., proven and shown to be authentic.
The purpose of miracles throughout the Bible was to authenticate God’s spokesmen. To verify that his words and claims were authored by God, the speaker would perform a miracle (see Miller, 2003; cf. Hebrews 2:3-4). When an observer saw a bona fide miracle performed before his very eyes, he could know, i.e., have complete certainty, that the speaker was a genuine representative of God. Jesus, therefore, prodded the scribes to face up to the fact that if Jesus could merely speak to the paralytic and cause him to be healed, then Jesus possessed divine credentials and had every right to also forgive the man of his sins. Follow the logic:
  1. If Jesus can perform miraculous feats, then His claim to be the Son of God Who can forgive sin is true.
  2. Jesus can perform miraculous feats (He healed the paralytic on this occasion).
  3. Therefore, Jesus is the Son of God Who can forgive sin.
Having pressed this remarkably logical handling of the situation, all that remained was for Jesus to perform a miraculous feat, thereby validating His power to forgive the paralytic man of sin. So Jesus healed the man, prefaced with this logical conclusion: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (vs. 10). Jesus’ logic was impeccable, powerful, and perfectly consistent with Deity.


Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—EXTENDED VERSION,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1399.

Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus is not God and never claimed to be” (“Should You Believe…?,” 2000). Rather, Jesus can be understood “from the scriptures to be Michael the Archangel” (The Watchtower, 1979, p. 29). “Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself,” they allege (The Watchtower, 1984, p. 29). The May 15, 1969 issue of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower magazine suggested: “There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (p. 307). Where is the “scriptural evidence” for such a doctrine? In an article titled “The Truth About Angels” that appears on the official web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9 were the only two passages listed as proof that “the foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (2001).
Michael the archangel is mentioned only five times in the Bible (Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7), and yet never do these passages indicate that he is to be equated with the preincarnate Christ, nor with the ascended Jesus. First Thessalonians 4:16 also alludes to “an archangel,” and, although the name Michael is not mentioned, this is the passage Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently cite as proof of Jesus being the archangel. Concerning the Second Coming of Christ, Paul wrote: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (emp. added). Supposedly, since Jesus is described as descending from heaven “with the voice of an archangel,” then He must be the archangel Michael. However, this verse does not teach that Jesus is an archangel, but that at His Second Coming He will be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Just as He will be attended “with a shout” and “with the trumpet of God,” so will He be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Question: If Jesus’ descension from heaven “with the voice of an archangel” makes Him (as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim) the archangel Michael, then does His descent “with the trumpet of God” not also make Him God? Jehovah’s Witnesses reject this latter conclusion, yet they accept the first. Such inconsistency is one proof of their erroneous teachings about Jesus.
One of the strongest arguments against Jesus being an angel is found in the book of Hebrews. In chapter one, the writer of Hebrews showed the superiority of Jesus over the angelic beings, and contrasted Him with them.
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (1:5-13).
Jesus’ superiority over the angels is seen in the fact that the Father spoke to Jesus as His special begotten Son to Whom He gave the seat of honor at His right hand (1:5,13). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews indicated that God commanded all angels to worship Jesus (1:6; cf. Revelation 5:11-13; Philippians 2:10). Yet, if Jesus were an angel, how could He accept the worship of other “lesser” angels when, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other? Hebrews chapter one is a death knell to the idea of Jesus, the Son of God, being Michael, the archangel. [NOTE: Interestingly, John H. Paton, the most frequently used contributing writer in 1879 of Charles Taze Russel (the founder of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), admitted such when he stated in The Watchtower magazine near the end of its inaugural year: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Sadly, even though Paton rejected the idea of Jesus being Michael the archangel, and even though Russell, The Watchtower's founder and first editor and publisher, allowed such a teaching in the magazine's first year of publication, Jehovah’s Witnesses today hold firmly to the doctrine that Jesus is Michael, the archangel.]
The writer of Hebrews returned to the subject of Jesus’ superiority over angels in chapter two, saying, “He [God] has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (2:5). To whom will the world be in subjection? Scripture indicates that it would be Jesus, “the appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). “All authority” has been given, not to any angel, but to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). All angels, authorities, and powers “have been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him” (Hebrews 2:8, NIV, emp. added). Jesus, therefore, is not Michael, the archangel, “for it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5, RSV).
One final proof that Jesus is not Michael the archangel actually comes from one of the five passages in which Michael’s name is found in Scripture—Jude 9. According to Jude: “Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Whereas Michael would not dare pronounce a railing judgment against the devil (cf. 2 Peter 2:11), Jesus once declared about Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus did not approach the subject of rebuking Satan with the same hesitation as godly angels like Michael. Jesus, as Lord of heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18), boldly called the devil a murderer and liar, and even went so far as to declare that “there is no truth in him.” The Son of God obviously is not Michael the archangel.
I find it extremely puzzling how Jehovah’s Witnesses can conclude that there is no biblical proof of Jesus being deity, and yet at the same time allege that “[t]here is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (Watchtower, 1969, p. 307, emp. added). Where is the evidence? There is none. Jesus is not Michael the archangel; rather, He is exactly Who the apostle John said He was (John 1:1,14), Who Thomas said He was (John 20:28), and even Who His enemies accused Him of making Himself (John 5:18; 10:33). Jesus is God!


“Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (2000), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm.
The Truth About Angels (2001), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1/the_truth_about_angels.htm, originally appeared in The Watchtower, November 1, 1995.
The Watchtower, 1879, November.
The Watchtower, 1969, May 15.
The Watchtower, 1979, February 15.
The Watchtower, 1984, December 15.

Haeckel: The Legacy of a Lie by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Haeckel: The Legacy of a Lie

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Although books on evolution began refuting Haeckel’s biogenetic “law” in the 1920s, his idealized drawings of embryos with gill-slits, and his mantra-like saying, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” became part of evolutionary folklore [see feature article]. Biology textbooks perpetuated this fable well into the second half of the twentieth century. Modern editions rarely present the latest evolutionary ideas on embryology, and remain content to rest their case on century-old woodcuts and misnamed “gill slits.” Such imagery persists in the popular media, too. When USA Today published an article on genetic similarities as proof for evolution, the author’s analogy and sole illustration invoked the icons of comparative embryology (Friend, 1993).
Not only were Haeckel’s ideas persistent, they were pernicious. He used his position as professor of zoology at the University of Jena to convert German science and Germany to Darwinism. Haeckel’s efforts outstripped the zeal of Thomas H. Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog” in England. Like Huxley, however, he took Darwin’s theory beyond the confines of biological origins into politics, religion, and other social concerns. Under the guise of evolutionary science, Haeckel and Huxley hoped to rescue humanity from what was, in their opinion, the destructive ignorance of religious delusion.
Haeckel’s embryonic recapitulation inspired a host of popular, but false, conceptions. Perhaps the most powerful offshoot was a rationalization for scientific racism. If it could be shown that the white races are more evolved (read “advanced”) than the dark races, then slavery and colonialism were permissible, even necessary. While Darwin’s work suggested such conclusions, or at least provided the language for making such claims, Haeckel’s ideas could be grasped by ready observation. If the human embryo retraces its animal ancestry, culminating in a fully human child, then the child retraces its human ancestry, culminating in the supreme adult form.
To many scientists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the candidate for that most evolved state was obvious: the northern European white male—a category they happened to occupy. In contrast, the dusky inhabitants of Africa and Asia were simple, more child-like, and hence, less deserving of equal treatment and self-rule. As Gould noted: “If the conquest of distant lands upset some Christian beliefs, science could always relieve a bothered conscience by pointing out that primitive people, like white children, were incapable of self-government in a modern world” (1977, p. 218). The evolutionary racists amassed a wealth of data, based on convenient physical and behavioral criteria, to prove their point. They applied the same contorted reasoning and conclusions to women and anybody who, by their standards, exhibited child-like characteristics.
“African Man-like Apes black in colour, and like their countrymen, the Negroes, have the head long from back to front.... The Asiatic Man-like Apes are, on the contrary mostly brown, or yellowish-brown colour, and have the head short from front to back..., like their countrymen, the Malays and the Monogols” (Haeckel, 1876, 2:180-181).
Haeckel himself was an unabashed racist. He urged the German people to seek racial purity by purging the unfit among them, and to increase the superiority of the “Nordic race” by violent competition (i.e., war) with other nations. A few decades later, these ideas found fertile soil in Adolf Hitler’s mind, and were openly expressed in his book Mein Kampf, or in English, “My Struggle” (taken from Haeckel’s translation of Darwin’s phrase, “the struggle for existence”).
The myth of recapitulation also provided the basis for Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud developed the idea that neurotic adults were stuck in an earlier stage of human evolutionary history. Further, he believed that contemporary “primitive” cultures provided a fitting analogy for the distant past of “advanced” Europeans. In the opening paragraphs of Totem and Taboo, Freud wrote:
Primitive man is known to us by the stages of development through which he has passed.... We can thus judge the so-called savage and semi-savage races; their psychic life assumes a peculiar interest for us, for we can recognize in their psychic life a well-preserved, early stage of our own development (1938, p. 807).
He went on to argue that taboos against incest arose from incidents in Stone Age societies in which sons murdered their fathers so that they could mate with their mothers. Hence, Freud hoped to understand dysfunctional behavior in the light of our supposed primitive past. One of the many problems with this idea is that it simply was not true: nonindustrial cultures do not have a high incidence of patricide and a lack of incest taboos, and anthropologists have not found evidence for Freud’s ideas in ancient cultures (see Milner, 1990, pp. 176-178; Bower, 1991).
Finally, to show how Haeckel’s views surfaced in the 1990s, we can turn to one of the great popularizers of evolution, Carl Sagan. In a Parade Magazine article, Sagan (and co-author Ann Druyan) use the following terms to describe the developmental stages of the pre-born human: “a kind of parasite,” “a little like a segmented worm,” “something like the gill arches of a fish or amphibian,” “the reptilian face,” “somewhat pig-like,” “resembles that of a primate” and, eventually, “recognizably human.” Although they never mention Haeckel’s name, their point is clear: abortion in the first few months of pregnancy is acceptable because the embryo or fetus is a lower form of life during this period (see Jackson, 1990; Ham, 1992).
The abuses of embryonic recapitulation do not, by themselves, disprove Haeckel’s theory. However, it was literally too good to be true for many groups who needed a crutch for their own false theories. Haeckel was determined to give Darwinism a proof its critics could not assail and so, at the very outset, his motives hardly epitomized calm, objective science. By exaggerating the appearance of similarity, and tying it to a radical philosophical view, Haeckel sanctioned the ensuing abuses. It seems his legacy, and a need for response on our part, will continue well into the twenty-first century.


Bower, Bruce (1991), “Oedipus Wrecked,” Science News, 140:248-249, October 19.
Freud, Sigmund (1938), “Totem and Taboo,” The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud (New York: Random House, edited and translated by A.A. Brill), pp. 807-930.
Friend, Tim (1993), “Clues to Human Development Float in Nature’s Gene Pool,” USA Today, p. 5-D, July 27.
Gould, Stephen Jay (1977), “Racism and Recapitulation,” Ever Since Darwin (New York: W.W. Norton).
Haeckel, Ernst (1876), The Evolution of Man (Akron, OH: Werner, English translation of third edition).
Ham, Ken (1992), “The Smartest Man in America?,” Back to Genesis, [a pamphlet] (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research), No. 48.
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “Evolution & Abortion: A Fatal Connection,” Christian Courier, 26:13, August.
Milner, Richard (1990), The Encyclopedia of Evolution (New York: Facts on File).

So Help Me God by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


So Help Me God

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Among the multitude of attempts to eradicate America’s Christian heritage from daily life is the ongoing clamor to jettison the expression “so help me God” from oaths taken by witnesses in courts, by federal employees (including members of the armed forces), and others. For example a district court judge in North Carolina stated that such religious references should be removed because not all people subscribe to the Christian perspective: “The burden should not be on those individuals to speak up and request an oath that does not mention God or use the Christian Bible” (“Nutty North...,” 2004). Atheists have long been pecking away at this feature of American jurisprudence, but now are being joined by increased numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, et al., in the U.S.
Of course, the first question is: Why even have oaths that a person utters before testifying in court or assuming an elected office? An oath is a formal declaration or promise that one is going to tell the truth or conduct himself or herself in a truthful manner. The oath is intended to place the individual in a position to feel a strong sense of obligation to be honest. Upon what is this “strong sense of obligation” based? Whence does any person’s sense of duty, obligation, or conduct arise? Beyond any retribution or repercussions that may come from one’s fellow humans in the event of perjury, the only possible ultimate sense of responsibility would have to come from the individual’s belief in a Higher Power to whom one must eventually give an account—and by whom one could be punished for dishonesty. While the atheist may cry long and loud that he is “moral,” and that he feels as strong an obligation to be truthful as the Christian, logically there is no reason for him to be committed to any system of morality—except his own. In the words of French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist” (1961, p. 485).
The Founding Fathers and judicial authorities from the very beginning of American civilization recognized this fact—and stressed it over and over again. The evidence is voluminous that they insisted very forthrightly that daily proceedings in our nation depend heavily upon the Christian morality of the population. For example, listen to the timely question posed by George Washington in his farewell address to the nation: “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the Oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?” (1796, emp. added). He was speaking of the almost-universal commitment to the Christian religion that existed at the time. One of the Fathers of American Jurisprudence, New York State Supreme Court Chief Justice James Kent, asserted in 1811 that “Christianity was parcel of the law, and to cast contumelious reproaches upon it, tended to weaken the foundation of moral obligation, and the efficacy of oaths.... [W]hatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government” (People v. Ruggles, emp. added).
In arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the famed Daniel Webster explored the essence of oath-taking: “ ‘What is an oath?’ ...[I]t is founded on a degree of consciousness that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues or punish our vices.... [O]ur system of oaths in all our courts, by which we hold liberty and property and all our rights, are founded on or rest on Christianity and a religious belief ” (1844, pp. 43,51, emp. added). Indeed, this explains why one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, Rufus King, affirmed:
[In o]ur laws...by the oath which they prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths. The Pagan world were and are without the mighty influence of this principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system—their morals were destitute of its powerful sanction while their oaths neither awakened the hopes nor fears which a belief in Christianity inspires (Reports of the Proceedings..., 1821, p. 575).
And what of the remarks of Justice James Iredell, appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington? He claimed in 1788: “According to the modern definition of an oath, it is considered a ‘solemn appeal to the Supreme Being for the truth of what is said by a person who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments according to that form which would bind his conscience most’ ” (The Debates..., 1836, 4:196).
So firmly embedded in the American consciousness was this principle of taking an oath as an appeal to the God of the Bible (to establish that the individual was being truthful), the first President of the United States added the words “so help me God” to the oath of office given in the Constitution for the swearing in of the president—a custom repeated by every president since (“Inaugurals of Presidents...,” n.d.). Likewise, several of the original state constitutions employed oath-taking as prerequisite to holding state office. These oaths were typically coupled with an affirmation of the candidate’s belief in God as “the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked” (Constitution of Vermont, 1777; Constitution of Pennsylvania, 1776; cf. Constitution of South Carolina, 1778; et al.).
Many Americans would be shocked and incredulous if they knew that early on in America’s history, atheists and those who did not believe in the God of the Bible (and a future state of rewards and punishments) were disqualified from serving as witnesses in courts of law. Daniel Webster reminded the high court of what was universally understood in 1844: “We all know that the doctrine of the...law is that there must be in every person who enters court as a witness, be he Christian or Hindoo [sic], there must be a firm conviction on his mind that falsehood or perjury will be punished either in this world or the next or he cannot be admitted as a witness. If he has not this belief, he is disfranchised” (1844, p. 43, emp. added). “Disenfranchised” means deprived of the right to serve as a witness. Justice Joseph Story, also a Father of American Jurisprudence, and appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President James Madison, insisted: “[I]nfidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit” (1851, 2:8-9). Or, again, as Daniel Webster argued before the Supreme Court, an oath is “a religious appeal, founded upon a conviction that perjury will be punished hereafter. But if no superior power is acknowledged, the party cannot be a witness. Our lives and liberties and property all rest upon the sanctity of oaths” (Vidal v. Girard..., 1844, emp. added).
The Bible likewise enjoins the sanctity of oaths as an appropriate device by which to impress upon the oath taker the essentiality of telling the truth in view of God, eternity, and eventual reckoning—e.g., Numbers 30:2; Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20. It is perjurers (or “false swearers”—ASV) that are condemned. In fact, God Himself has taken oaths in Bible history, swearing by Himself—since no greater authority exists (Genesis 22:16ff; Hebrews 6:13-17; Luke 1:73; Psalm 104:4; Ezekiel 20:42).
Thus the Founding Fathers were simply following Bible teaching in this regard. The influx into America of rival religions and ideologies, and the politically correct tendency to accommodate and embrace these philosophies—even to the point of removing an appeal to God to tell the truth—is yet another indication of the dismantling of America’s Christian heritage, the erosion of American values, and the inevitable dissolution of the American way of life.


Constitution of Pennsylvania (1776), The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/pa08.htm.
Constitution of South Carolina (1778),The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/sc02.htm.
Constitution of Vermont (1777),The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/vt01.htm.
The Debates in the Several States Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (1836), ed. Jonathan Elliot (Washington, DC: Jonathan Elliot).
“Inaugurals of Presidents of the United States: Some Precedents and Notable Events” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.aoc.gov/aoc/inaugural/inaug_fact.cfm.
“Nutty North Carolina” (2004), Tongue Tied, [On-line], URL: http://www.tonguetied.us/archives/week_2004_03_07.php.
The People v. Ruggles (1811), 8 Johns 290.
Reports of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of 1821, Assembled for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution of the State of New York (Albany, NY: E. and E. Hosford).
Sartre, Jean Paul (1961), “Existentialism and Humanism,” French Philosophers from Descartes to Sartre, ed. Leonard M. Marsak (New York: Meridian).
Story, Joseph (1851), Life and Letters of Joseph Story, ed. William Story (Boston, MA: Charles Little and James Brown).
Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), 43 U.S. 127.
Washington, George (1796), “The Farewell Address,” [On-line], URL: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/farewell/transcript.html.
Webster, Daniel (1844), Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defence of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young, Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton).

Jacob's Journey to Egypt by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Jacob's Journey to Egypt

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Three times in the Old Testament, it is stated that seventy people from the house of Jacob went down into Egypt. According to Genesis 46:27, “All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.” In the first few verses of the book of Exodus, Jacob’s sons are named, and then again we are told, “All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons” (Exodus 1:1,5). The third Old Testament reference to this number is found in Deuteronomy 10:22, where Moses spoke to the Israelites about the “great and awesome things” that God had done for them (10:21). He then reminded the children of Israel of how their “fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons,” which Jehovah made “as the stars of heaven in multitude” (Deuteronomy 10:22). The difficulty that Christians are challenged to resolve is how these verses can be understood in light of Stephen’s statement recorded in Acts 7:12-14. Being “full of the Holy Spirit” (7:55) with a “face as the face of an angel” (6:15), Stephen reminded the Jews of their history, saying, “When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people” (Acts 7:12-14, emp. added). Skeptics, as well as concerned Christians who seek to back their faith with reasonable answers, desire to know why Acts 7:14 mentions “seventy-five people,” while Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22 mention only “seventy persons.” Exactly how many of Jacob’s household went to Egypt?
Similar to how a person truthfully can give different degrees for the boiling point of water (100° Celsius or 212° Fahrenheit), different figures are given in the Bible for the number of Jacob’s family members who traveled into Egypt. Stephen (in Acts 7:14) did not contradict the Old Testament passages where the number seventy is used; he merely computed the number differently. Precisely how Stephen calculated this number is a matter of speculation. Consider the following:
  • In Genesis 46:27, neither Jacob’s wife (cf. 35:19) nor his concubines is included in the seventy figure.
  • Despite the mention of Jacob’s “daughters and his son’s daughters” (46:7), it seems that the only daughter included in the “seventy” was Dinah (vs. 15), and the only granddaughter was Serah (vs. 17).
  • The wives of Jacob’s sons are not included in the seventy (46:26).
  • Finally, whereas only two descendants of Joseph are mentioned in Genesis 46 in the Masoretic text of the Old Testament, in the Septuagint, Joseph’s descendants are calculated as being nine.
Taking into consideration how many individuals were omitted from “the seventy persons” mentioned in the Old Testament, at least two possible solutions to this alleged contradiction may be offered. First, it is possible that Stephen included Jacob’s daughters-in-law in his calculation of seventy-five. Jacob’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren amounted to sixty-six (Genesis 46:8-26). If Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s two sons are added, then the total number is seventy (46:27). If, however, to the sixty-six Stephen added the wives of Jacob’s sons’, he could have legitimately reckoned Jacob’s household as numbering seventy-five, instead of seventy. [NOTE: Jacob is listed by Stephen individually.] Yet, someone might ask how sixty-six plus “twelve” equals seventy-five. Simple—not all of the wives were included. Joseph’s wife obviously would not have been calculated into this figure, if Joseph himself were not. And, at least two of the eleven remaining wives may have been deceased by the time the family journeyed to Egypt. We know for sure that Judah’s wife had already died by this time (Genesis 38:12), and it is reasonable to conclude that another of the wives had passed away as well. (In all likelihood, Simeon’s wife had already died—cf. Genesis 46:10.) Thus, when Stephen stated that “Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people” (Acts 7:14), realistically he could have included the living wives of Joseph’s brothers to get a different (though not a contradictory) number.
A second possible solution to this alleged contradiction is that Stephen quoted from the Septuagint. Although Deuteronomy 10:22 reads the same in both the Masoretic text and the Septuagint (“seventy”), Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:5 differ in the two texts. Whereas the Masoretic text says “seventy” in both passages, the Septuagint says “seventy-five.” As R.C.H. Lenski concluded, however: “This is a mere matter of counting” (1961, p. 270).
The descendants of Jacob that went to Egypt were sixty-six in number (Gen. 46:26), but counting Joseph and his two sons and Jacob himself (Gen. 46:27), the number is seventy. In the LXX [Septuagint—EL] all the sons of Joseph who he got in Egypt were counted, “nine souls,” which, with the sixty-six, made seventy-five (Lenski, p. 270).
Thus, instead of adding the nine living wives of Joseph’s brothers (as proposed in the aforementioned solution), this scenario suggests that the number seventy-five is the result following the reading from the Septuagint—which includes the grandchildren of Joseph (cf. 1 Chronicles 7:14-21). [NOTE: The Septuagint and the Masoretic text may differ, but they do not contradict each other—the former simply mentions some of Joseph’s descendants who are not recorded by the latter.] In Albert Barnes’ comments concerning these differences, he appropriately noted:
Why the Septuagint inserted these [Joseph’s descendants—EL], it may not be easy to see. But such was evidently the fact; and the fact accords accurately with the historic record, though Moses did not insert their names. The solution of difficulties in regard to chronology is always difficult; and what might be entirely apparent to a Jew in the time of Stephen, may be wholly inexplicable to us (1949, p. 123, emp. added).
One of the more “inexplicable” things regarding the 70 (or 75) “of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt,” revolves around the mention of some of Jacob’s descendants who apparently were not born until sometime after the journey to Egypt was completed. If one accepts the Septuagint’s tally of 75, including the grandchildren of Joseph, he also must conclude that Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph’s sons) fathered these children sometime after Jacob’s migration to Egypt, and possibly before Jacob’s death seventeen years later (since Ephraim and Manasseh still were very young when the house of Jacob moved to Egypt). If one excludes the Septuagint from this discussion, there still are at least two possible indications in Genesis 46 that not all “seventy” were born before Jacob’s family arrived in Egypt. First, Hezron and Hamul (the sons of Perez) are included in the “seventy” (46:12), yet the evidence strongly leans toward these great-grandsons of Jacob not being born until after the migration. Considering that Judah, the grandfather of Hezron and Hamul, was only about forty-three when the migration to Egypt took place, and that the events recorded in Genesis 38 (involving his family) occurred over a number of years, it seems logical to conclude, as did Steven Mathewson in his “Exegetical Study of Genesis 38,” that “Judah’s sons Perez and Zerah were quite young, perhaps just a few months old, when they traveled to Egypt. Therefore it would have been impossible for Perez to have fathered Hezron and Hamul, his two sons mentioned in Genesis 46:12, before the journey into Egypt” (1989, 146:383). He went on to note:
A close look, however, at Genesis 46:12 reveals a variation in the mention of Hezron and Hamul. The end of the verse reads: “And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.” Yet throughout Genesis 46, the listing of descendants was done without the use of a verbal form. For example, verse 12a reads, “And the sons of Judah: Er and Onan and Shelah and Perez and Zerah” (146:383).
Hebrew scholar Umberto Cassuto commented on this “special phraseology,” saying, “This external variation creates the impression that the Bible wished to give us here some special information that was different from what it desired to impart relative to the other descendants of Israel” (1929, 1:34). Cassuto also explained what he thought was the intention behind this special use of the verb “were.”
It intended to inform us thereby that the sons of Perez were not among those who went down to Egypt, but are mentioned here for some other reason. This is corroborated by the fact that Joseph’s sons were also not of those who immigrated into Egypt, and they, too, are mentioned by a different formula (1:35).
A second indication that all “seventy” were likely not born before Jacob’s family migrated to Egypt is that ten “sons” (descendants) of Benjamin are listed (46:21). If Joseph was thirty-nine at the time of this migration (cf. 41:46), one can figure (roughly) the age of Benjamin by calculating the amount of time that passed between their births. It was after Joseph’s birth that his father, Jacob, worked his final six years for Laban in Padan Aram (30:25; 31:38,41). We know that Benjamin was more than six years younger than Joseph, because he was not born until sometime after Jacob discontinued working for Laban. In fact, Benjamin was not born until after Jacob: (1) departed Padan Aram (31:18); (2) crossed over the river (Euphrates—31:21); (3) met with his brother, Esau, near Penuel (32:22,31; 33:2); (4) built a house in Succoth (33:17); (5) pitched his tent in Shechem (33:18); and (6) built an altar to God at Bethel (35:1-19). Obviously, a considerable amount of time passed between Jacob’s separation from Laban in Padan Aram, and the birth of Benjamin near Bethlehem. Albert Barnes conservatively estimated that Benjamin was thirteen years younger than Joseph (1997). Biblical commentator John T. Willis said Benjamin was likely about fourteen years younger than Joseph (1984, p. 433). Also, considering Benjamin was referred to as “lad” (“boy”—NIV) eight times in Genesis chapters 43 and 44, which record events directly preceding Jacob’s move to Egypt, one would not expect Benjamin to be any more than 25 or 26 years of age at the time of the migration. What is somewhat perplexing to the Bible reader is that even though Benjamin was by far the youngest son of Jacob, more of his descendants are named in Genesis 46 than any other son of Jacob. In fact, some of these descendants of Benjamin apparently were his grandsons (cf. Numbers 26:38-40; 1 Chronicles 8:1-5).
But how is it that ten of Benjamin’s descendants, along with Hezron and Hamul, legitimately could appear in a list with those who traveled to Egypt, when all indications are that at least some were yet to be born? Answer: Because some of the names are brought in by prolepsis (or anticipation). Although they might not have been born by the time Jacob left for Egypt, they were in his loins—they “came from his body” (Genesis 46:26). Renowned Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch stated: “From all this it necessarily follows, that in the list before us grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob are named who were born afterwards in Egypt, and who, therefore, according to a view which we frequently meet with in the Old Testament, though strange to our modes of thought, came into Egypt in lumbis patrum” (1996). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown agreed, saying:
The natural impression conveyed by these words [“these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt”—EL] is, that the genealogy which follows contains a list of all the members of Jacob’s family, of whatever age, whether arrived at manhood or carried in their mother’s arms, who, having been born in Canaan, actually removed along with him to Egypt…. A closer examination, however, will show sufficient grounds for concluding that the genealogy was constructed on a very different principle—not that of naming only those members of Jacob’s family who were natives of Canaan, but of enumerating those who at the time of the immigration into Egypt, and during the patriarch’s life-time, were the recognized heads of families, in Israel, though some of them, born after the departure from Canaan, could be said to have “come into Egypt” only in the persons of their fathers (1997, emp. added).
While all seventy mentioned in Genesis 46 may not have literally traveled down to Egypt, Moses, writing this account more than 215 years later (see Bass, et. al., 2001), easily could have used a figure a speech known as prolepsis to include those who would be born shortly thereafter, and who eventually (by the time of Moses) would have been “the recognized heads of families.”
Barnes, Albert (1949), Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Barnes, Albert (1997), Notes on the Old and New Testaments (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Bass, Alden, Bert Thompson, and Kyle Butt (2001), “Questions and Answers,” Reason & Revelation, 21:49-53, July.
Cassuto, Umberto (1929), Biblical and Oriental Studies (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1973 reprint).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft), new updated edition.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Mathewson, Steven D. (1989), “An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 146:373-392, October.
Willis, John T. (1984), Genesis (Abilene, TX: ACU Press), orig. published in 1979 by Sweet Publishing Company, Austin, Texas.