"THE BOOK OF ACTS" From Malta To Rome (28:1-16) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                     From Malta To Rome (28:1-16)


1. Following weeks of terrifying sea travel...
   a. Beginning with contrary winds near the island of Crete - Ac 27:4
   b. With difficult winds making progress slow off Cnidus - Ac 27:7
   c. Arriving at Fair Havens on Crete with further difficulty - Ac 27:7-8
   d. Encountering tempestuous winds off Crete that blew them toward
      Clauda - Ac 27:13-16
   e. Forced to undergird the ship, lightening the ship, throwing tackle
      overboard - Ac 27:18-19
   f. Seeing neither sun nor stars for many days as the storm raged - Ac 27:20
   g. Finally nearing land, fearing that they might run aground - Ac 27:27-29
   h. Deciding to run the ship onto the beach if possible - Ac 27:39
   i. Instead hitting a reef or bar that stuck the bow - Ac 27:41
   h. With violent waves breaking up the stern - Ac 27:41

2. They were forced to swim ashore...
   a. With some on boards, others on parts of the ship - Ac 27:43-44
   b. Even so, all 276 souls escaped safely to land - Ac 27:44

[They found themselves on the island of Malta (Ac 28:1), an island 60
miles south of Sicily and on the main route from Myra (Ac 27:5) to
Rome.  God's providence had actually brought them through the storm and
back on course (ESVSB)!  Divine providence continued as we continue reading about...]


      1. The natives (lit., barbarians, i.e., non-Greeks) showed unusual kindness 
           - Ac 28:2
      2. Paul was bit by a viper, but did not die - Ac 28:3-6
         a. The natives presumed Paul a murderer
         b. Despite surviving shipwreck, that justice would not let him live
         c. When Paul suffered no harm, the natives thought him to be a
            god - cf. Ac 14:14-15
      3. This is an example of Jesus' promise to His disciples
         a. Made to the seventy following their mission - cf. Lk 10:1, 17-19
         b. Made to the apostles when given the Great Commission - cf. Mk 16:15-18
         c. Such signs confirmed the words that they preached - Mk 16:19-20; He 2:3-4

      1. A prominent citizen, Publius, entertained them for three days - Ac 28:7
      2. When his father lay sick of fever and dysentery, Paul healed him- Ac 28:8
      3. This led to many others on the island being healed - Ac 28:9
      4. Which led to much honor and provisions for their journey - Ac 28:10

[After three months on the island of Malta (Ac 28:11), the journey continued...]


   A. BY SHIP...
      1. In an Alexandrian ship - Ac 28:11
         a. Whose figurehead was the Twin brothers (Castor and Pollux,
            twin sons of Zeus, who were viewed as gods who protected seamen) - ESVSB
         b. Which had wintered at the island of Malta
      2. Sailing to Syracuse where they stayed three days - Ac 28:12
      3. On to Rhegium (the southern tip of Italy), and then the next day
         to Puteoli - Ac 28:13
      4. At Puteoli they found brethren who invited them to stay seven 
         days - Ac 28:14

   B. BY FOOT...
      1. From Puteoli they headed toward Rome - Ac 28:14
      2. When brethren from Rome heard they were coming, they came to
         meet them - Ac 28:15
         a. At Appii Forum (40 miles from Rome)
         b. At Three Havens (28 miles from Rome)
      3. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage - Ac 28:15
      4. Finally arriving at Rome - Ac 28:16
         a. Where the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard
         b. While Paul was allowed to dwell by himself with a soldier to guard him  


1. I can only imagine Paul's emotions upon his arrival at Rome...
   a. An opportunity he had prayed for years earlier - Ro 1:8-12; 15:22-24; Ac 19:21
   b. The fulfillment of a promise Jesus and an angel made to him 
        - Ac 23:11; 27:23-24

2. Though it took years and unexpected twists and turns...
   a. God's providence led him to his destination
   b. And throughout it all, gave evidence of such Divine providence

Similar to stories like that of Joseph and Esther, Paul's life is a
reminder that God is good, He watches and provides for His people,
though at the time our faith may be tested when it seems that He is not near.  

May such Biblical accounts encourage us to never lose faith, but to
trust in God's providence to lead us through the stormy seas of life to
our final destination, the heavenly city that awaits...!

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love
God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." - Ro 8:28 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

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


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

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

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


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

Why Do Men Reject God? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Why Do Men Reject God?

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Most people in the world, throughout the ages of history, have believed in some concept of a Supreme Being. They may have had a perverted sense of Who that Being is, but they were convinced that there is a Personal Power greater than man. Given the evidence available, faith is reasonable. That is why the psalmist declared: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The Hebrew word for “fool” suggests one who is not thinking rationally.
Since unbelief is neither reasonable nor the norm, one cannot but wonder why some people become atheists. I am convinced, after reflecting upon the matter for many years, that religious disbelief does not result from logical conclusions based on well-researched data. Rather, generally speaking, emotional motivation of some sort is a primary causative factor.
Consider the following case. In 1996, Judith Hayes, a senior writer for The American Rationalist, authored a caustic, atheistic tirade titled: In God We Trust: But Which One? In this treatise, Mrs. Hayes revealed two clues as to why she left the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) and became an atheist.
As a youngster, she had a friend who was a Buddhist. Judith was very close to “Susan,” and she simply could not tolerate the idea that her friend, who did not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, might be lost apart from the biblical redemptive system. So, rather than carefully examining the evidence to determine whether or not the claims of the Lord (as set forth in the New Testament record—see John 14:6; Acts 4:12) are true, she simply decided, on an emotional and reactionary basis, that Christianity could not be genuine.
Eventually Judith married, but the relationship degenerated. Mrs. Hayes claims her husband was verbally abusive. Again, though, instead of considering the possibility that she might have been responsible for having made a bad choice in her marital selection, or that her husband decided on his own volition to be abusive (in direct violation of divine teaching—Ephesians 5:25ff.), she blamed God for her disappointment. “[H]ow could I possibly have wound up married to a tyrant? Why had God forsaken me?,” she wrote (1996, p. 15). God did not forsake her. He honored her freedom of choice, and that of her husband as well. Human abuse of that freedom is not the Lord’s responsibility.
The infidel William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was known principally for his skeptical poem, Invictus. As a youngster, Henley contracted tuberculosis, and had to have one foot amputated. He suffered much across the years and became quite bitter. He wrote:
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.
His disbelief, however, was emotional, not intellectual.
The late Isaac Asimov once wrote: “Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time” (1982, emp. added).
In one of his books, Aldous Huxley acknowledged that he had reasons for “not wanting the world to have a meaning.” He contended that the “philosophy of meaningless” was liberating. He confessed that the morality of theism interfered “with our sexual freedom” (1966, p. 19). This is hardly a valid argument for rejecting the vast array of evidence that testifies to the existence of a Supreme Being!
Here is an important point. When men have motives for resisting faith in God, and when—out of personal prejudice—they are predisposed to reject the Creator, they become “ripe” for philosophical skepticism.


Asimov, Isaac (1982), “Interview with Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible,” Paul Kurtz, interviewer, Free Inquiry, pp. 6-10, Spring. See also Hallman, Steve (1991), “Christianity and Humanism: A Study in Contrasts,” AFA Journal, p. 11, March.
Hayes, Judith (1996), In God We Trust: But Which One? (Madison: WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Huxley, Aldous (1966), “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspectives on the News, Vol. 3, June.

Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As America continues her downward spiral into social, moral, ethical, and spiritual chaos, it is difficult to realize that the first 150 years of American civilization stand in such stark contrast to current culture. The Christian orientation of this country from its inception is irrefutable, revisionist history notwithstanding. The present extensive transformation of society, and the wholesale abandonment of biblical principles, are astonishing. If the Founding Fathers could be resurrected momentarily to observe the change, they would be unquestionably incredulous. They would be aghast, horrified, and deeply saddened that America could be so thoroughly redirected toward moral degradation—a condition that characterized the France of their day.
Pluralism is the notion that all religious belief systems and philosophies are of equal validity. Multiculturalism is the idea that American culture has historically been neither superior to nor preferable over any other culture in the world, and that all cultures—regardless of basic religious, moral, ethical, and spiritual beliefs and practices—are equally credible, viable representations of proper behavior and living. Multiculturalism actually denigrates American civilization as inferior to the other cultures of the world, demonizing it as oppressive, coercive, and exploitive. For both multiculturalism and pluralism, absolute truth does not exist. Both systems embrace the self-contradictory notion that truth is relative, and that right and wrong depend upon the subjective assessments of fallible humans. The politically correct climate that has been forged, insists that whatever people choose to believe is, indeed, correct and good—at least for them!
One illustration of the mad rush to dilute truth and to advocate the mindless acceptance of every imaginable belief or practice is the recent Interfaith Congress held at the Paul VI Pastoral Center in Fatima, Portugal, site of the Catholic shrine dedicated to “the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Attended by delegates representing many religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and African Paganism, the Shrine’s rector, Monsignor Luciano Guerra, spoke of the need to create a shrine where different religions can mingle—a “universalistic place of vocation” (“Fatima,” 2003). Jesuit theologian Jacques Dupuis insisted that the religions of the world must unite: “The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all” (“Fatima”). Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, spoke of the Shrine’s “inter-religious dimension” (“Vatican,” 2003).
Dupuis argued: “The other religious traditions in the world are part of God’s plan for humanity and the Holy Spirit is operating and present in Buddhist, Hindu and other sacred writings of Christian and non-Christian faiths as well” (“Fatima”). The Congress issued an official statement that urged all religions to refrain from proselytizing those of other religions, since “no one religion can irradiate another or strengthen itself by downplaying others. What is needed is that each religiontreat each [other] religion on the same footing of equality with no inferior or superiority complexes (“Fatima”). The statement emphasized the idea that peace may be achieved among all religions—if everyone will admit that contradictions exist between beliefs, and then concentrate on what unites them rather than what separates them.
History repeats itself over and over again. Stubborn humanity refuses to learn from the mistakes of the past. The Israelites were plagued by syncretism [the fusion of differing systems of belief, as opposed to remaining individualistic] through much of their Old Testament history. They did not remove God completely from their lives. They did not become outright atheistic (although polytheism amounts to the same thing). Rather, they engaged in syncretism and, as a result, mixed many elements of false religion into their own beliefs and practices. During the dark ages of the judges, a man named Micah was typical of the spiritual climate of the day. He had a shrine dedicated to the gods of the pagan nations, but he also latched on to a Levite in hopes of currying the favor of the one true God as well (Judges 17:5-13). The condition of the northern kingdom of Israel at the time of the Assyrian captivity was one in which “[t]hey feared the Lord, yet served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33). By Zephaniah’s day, the same conditions prevailed. God pronounced judgment on Judah in the following words: “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous and pagan priests—those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by Molech” (Zephaniah 1:4-5).
Precisely the same malady is afflicting America. Many Americans still claim to believe in the God of the Bible (although the number is declining year by year). However, many—perhaps most—have bought into the idea that we must not be “judgmental” or “intolerant” of the beliefs of others. Hence, our society is swiftly becoming a strange mixture of every sort of religious belief and practice. People in high places are calling upon nationwide acceptance of all religions without reservation—from Native American animism to Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Most shocking of all is the way that so many Americans have simply chosen to embrace a nebulous blend of ambiguous New Age beliefs that enables them to embrace diversity without consideration of specific differences in belief and practice. Spiritual ambiguity has become the sum and substance of religion for many.
It is interesting—if not sadly tragic—that although Israel was born in monotheism in 1500 B.C., it degenerated into paganism, polytheism, and idolatry. America, too, was born in monotheism—the God of the Bible, not Allah or the gods of Hinduism or Buddhism. But her citizenry is now moving full swing into raw paganism. The gods of sensualism and ethical relativity have become the focus of attention for large numbers of Americans. Sensible people have looked back over the centuries and recognized that any country or culture that worships physical things, or attributes divinity to anyone or anything except the one true God, is a country that is ignorant, superstitious, and unenlightened. Who would ever have dreamed that America would one day turn into just such a country? Israel returned to monotheism by the time of Christ—but only after years of suffering and tribulation as a consequence of their national sin. Will America survive the present mad rush away from God? History shows—probably not. The nation likely will face severe punishment in a variety of forms. Oh, that Americans in large numbers would heed the advice of God given to Solomon—a prescription for national health and well-being: “[I]f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).


“Fatima to Become Interfaith Shrine” (2003), The Portugal News, November 1, [On-line], URL: http://the-news.net/cgi-local/story.pl?title=Fatima to become interfaith shrine &edition=all.
“Vatican Denies Fatima Will Become Interfaith Shrine” (2003), The Portugal News, November 29, [On-line], URL: http://the-news.net/cgi-local/story.pl?title=Vatican denies Fatima will become interfaith shrine&edition=all.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In all likelihood, most of you reading this article already have made up your minds about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Truth be told, the majority of you probably believe that Jesus Christ lived on this Earth for approximately 33 years, died at the hand of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, was buried in a new tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, and miraculously defeated death by His resurrection three days later.
But there may be some of you who have lingering doubts about the truthfulness of the resurrection of Christ. In fact, many people have much more than lingering doubts; they already have made up their minds that the story of the resurrection happened too long ago, was witnessed by too few people, has not been proven scientifically, and thus should be discarded as an unreliable legend.
Regardless of which position best describes your view of Christ’s resurrection, what we all must do is check our prejudice at the door and openly and honestly examine the historical facts attending the resurrection.


Determining whether Jesus Christ actually lived is something that must be established before one can begin to discuss His resurrection. If it cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt that He did walk this Earth, then any discussion about whether or not He arose from the dead digresses quickly into an exercise in yarn stringing based on little more than guesswork and human imagination. Fortunately, the fact that Jesus lived is practically universally accepted. A host of hostile witnesses testified of His life, and the New Testament documents in intricate detail His existence. [Even if one does not accept the New Testament as inspired of God, he or she cannot deny that its books contain historical information regarding a person by the name of Jesus Christ Who really did live in the first century A.D.] The honest historian is forced to admit that documentation for the existence, and life, of Jesus runs deep and wide (for an in-depth study on the historicity of Christ, see Butt, 2000). Thus, knowing that Jesus Christ existed allows us to move farther into the subject of His resurrection.


For most people, coming to the conclusion that Jesus died is not difficult, due to either of two reasons. First, the Bible believer accepts the fact that Jesus died because several different biblical writers confirm it. Second, the unbeliever accepts the idea, based not upon biblical evidence, but rather on the idea that the natural order of things which he has experienced in this life is for a person to live and eventually die. Once evidence sufficient to prove Christ’s existence in history has been established, the naturalist/empiricist has no trouble accepting His death. However, in order to provide such people with a few more inches of common ground on this matter, it would be good to note that several secular writers substantiated the fact that Jesus Christ did die. Tacitus, the ancient Roman historian writing in approximately A.D. 115, documented Christ’s physical demise when he wrote concerning the Christians that “their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus” (1952, 15.44).
In addition to Roman sources, early Jewish rabbis whose opinions are recorded in the Talmud acknowledged the death of Jesus. According to the earlier rabbis,
Jesus of Nazareth was a transgressor in Israel who practised magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said that he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. He was hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people (Bruce, 1953, p. 102, emp. added).
Likewise, Jewish historian Josephus wrote:
[T]here arose about this time Jesus, a wise man.... And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross on his impeachment by the chief men among us, those who had loved him at first did not cease (Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.3).
The fact that Pilate condemned Christ to the cross is an undisputed historical fact. As archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi stated:
Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings such as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that...he [Jesus—KB] was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius (1995, p. 222).
It is at this point in our study that some would suggest that Hugh Schonfield’s infamous “Swoon Theory” should be considered. Schonfield (1965) postulated that Christ did not die on the cross; rather, He merely fainted or “swooned.” Later, after being laid on a cold slab in the dark tomb, He revived and exited His rock-hewn grave. Such a theory, however, fails to take into account the heinous nature of the scourging (sometimes referred to as an “intermediate death”) that Christ had endured at the hand of Roman lictors, or the finely honed skills of those Roman soldiers whose job it was to inflict such gruesome punishment prior to a prisoner’s actual crucifixion. To press the point, in the March 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, William Edwards and his coauthors penned an article, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” that employed modern medical insight to provide an exhaustive description of Jesus’ death (256:1455-1463). Sixteen years later, Brad Harrub and Bert Thompson coauthored an updated review (“An Examination of the Medical Evidence for the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”) of the extensive scientific evidence surrounding Christ’s physical death (2002). After reading such in-depth, medically based descriptions of the horrors to which Christ was exposed, and the condition of His ravaged body, the Swoon Theory quickly fades into oblivion (where it rightly belongs). Jesus died. Upon this, we all most certainly can agree.


Around the year A.D. 165, Justin Martyr penned his Dialogue with Trypho. At the beginning of chapter 108 of this work, he recorded a letter that the Jewish community had been circulating concerning the empty tomb of Christ:
A godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.
Somewhere around the sixth century, another caustic treatise written to defame Christ circulated among the Jewish community. In this narrative, known as Toledoth Yeshu, Jesus was described as the illegitimate son of a soldier named Joseph Pandera. He also was labeled as a disrespectful deceiver who led many away from the truth. Near the end of the treatise, under a discussion of His death, the following paragraph can be found:
A diligent search was made and he [Jesus—KB] was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.
Upon reading Justin Martyr’s description of one Jewish theory regarding the tomb of Christ, and another premise from Toledoth Yeshu, it becomes clear that a single common thread unites them both—the tomb of Christ had no body in it!
All parties involved recognized the fact that Christ’s tomb laid empty on the third day. Feeling compelled to give reasons for this unexpected vacancy, Jewish authorities apparently concocted several different theories to explain the body’s disappearance. The most commonly accepted one seems to be that the disciples of Jesus stole His body away by night while the guards slept (Matthew 28:13). Yet, how could the soldiers identify the thieves if they had been asleep? And why were the sentinels not punished by death for sleeping on the job and thereby losing their charge (cf. Acts 12:6-19)? And an even more pressing question comes to mind—why did the soldiers need to explain anything if a body was still in the tomb?
When Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost, after the resurrection of Christ, the crux of his sermon rested on the facts that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. In order to silence Peter, and stop a mass conversion, the Jewish leaders needed simply to produce the body of Christ. Why did not the Jewish leaders take the short walk to the garden and produce the body? Simply because they could not; the tomb was empty—a fact the Jews recognized and tried to explain away. The apostles knew it, and preached it boldly in the city of Jerusalem. And thousands of inhabitants of Jerusalem knew it and converted to Christianity. John Warwick Montgomery accurately assessed the matter when he wrote:
It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus (1964, p. 78).
The tomb of Jesus was empty, and that is a fact.


Regardless of whether or not one believes that Christ rose from the dead, one thing that cannot be denied is the fact His apostles preached that they saw Jesus after He physically rose from the dead. The New Testament book of Acts stresses this issue almost to the point of redundancy. Acts 1:22, as one example, finds Peter and the other apostles choosing an apostle who was to “become a witness” of the resurrection of Christ. Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter insisted in his sermon to the multitude that had assembled to hear him that “God raised up” Jesus and thus loosed Him from the pangs of death (Acts 2:24). And to make sure that his audience understood that it was a physical resurrection, Peter stated specifically that Jesus’ “flesh did not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). His point was clear: Jesus had been physically raised from the dead and the apostles had witnessed the resurrected Christ. [Other passages which document that the central theme of the apostles’ preaching was the bodily resurrection of Christ include: Acts 3:15; 3:26; 4:2,10,33; and 5:30.] Furthermore, the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 (especially verse 14) verifies that the preaching of the apostle Paul centered on the resurrection.
Even Joseph McCabe, one of the early twentieth century’s most outspoken infidels, remarked: “Paul was absolutely convinced of the resurrection; and this proves that it was widely believed not many years after the death of Jesus” (1993, p. 24). The skeptical modernist Shirley Jackson Case of the University of Chicago was forced to concede: “The testimony of Paul alone is sufficient to convince us, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this was the commonly accepted opinion in his day—an opinion at that time supported by the highest authority imaginable, the eye-witnesses themselves” (1909, pp. 171-172). C.S. Lewis correctly stated: “In the earliest days of Christianity an ‘apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection” (1975, p. 188).
It has been suggested by some critics that the apostles and other witnesses did not actually see Christ, but merely hallucinated. However, Gary Habermas had this to say about such a fanciful idea:
[H]allucinations are comparably rare. They’re usually caused by drugs or bodily deprivation. Chances are, you don’t know anybody who’s ever had a hallucination not caused by one of those two things. Yet we’re supposed to believe that over a course of many weeks, people from all sorts of backgrounds, all kinds of temperaments, in various places, all experienced hallucinations? That strains the hypothesis quite a bit, doesn’t it? (as quoted in Strobel, 1998, p. 239).
Indeed, the hallucination theory is a feeble attempt to undermine the fact that the apostles (and other first-century eyewitnesses of a risen Christ) preached the message that they really had seen a resurrected Jesus.
The apostles preached that Christ physically rose, and those who heard the apostles verified that they preached the resurrection. Apart from what a person believes about the resurrection of Christ, he or she cannot deny (legitimately) the fact that the apostles traveled far and wide to preach one central message—“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).


As the list of facts continues, one that must be enumerated is the verified historical fact that the majority of the apostles suffered cruel, tortuous deaths because they preached that Christ rose from the dead. Documenting these persecutions is no difficult task. Fox’s Book of Martyrs relates that Paul was beheaded, Peter was crucified (probably upside down), Thomas was thrust through with a spear, Matthew was slain with a halberd, Matthias was stoned and beheaded, Andrew was crucified, and the list proceeds to describe the martyr’s death of every one of the Lord’s faithful apostles except John the brother of James (Forbush, 1954, pp. 2-5).
Additional testimony comes from the early church fathers. Eusebius, who was born about A.D. 260 and died about 340, wrote that Paul was beheaded in Rome and that Peter was crucified there (Ecclesiastical History, 2.25). [Exactly how and where Peter was martyred is unclear from history; the fact that he was martyred is not.] Clement of Rome (who died about A.D. 100), in chapter five of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, also mentioned the martyrs’ deaths of Peter and Paul. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, documented the death of James when he stated: “Now about that time Herod the king put forth his hand to afflict certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). The apostle Paul perhaps summed it up best when he said:
For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).
Wayne Jackson correctly noted that “while men may die out of religious deception, they do not willingly go to their deaths knowing they are perpetrating a hoax” (1982, 2:34).
Some ill-advised attempts have been made to deny that Christ’s apostles actually died because of their belief in, and preaching of, the resurrection. For example, it has been proposed that the apostles died because they were political instigators or rabble-rousers. However, combining the high moral quality of their teachings with the testimony of the early church fathers, and acknowledging the fact that their primary task was to be witnesses of the resurrection, it is historically inaccurate to imply that the apostles suffered for any reason other than their confession of the resurrection. The fact of the matter is, the apostles died because they refused to stop preaching that they had seen the Lord alive after His death.


Sir William Ramsay was a one-time unbeliever and world-class archaeologist. His extensive education had ingrained within him the keenest sense of scholarship. But along with that scholarship came a built-in prejudice about the supposed inaccuracy of the Bible (specifically the book of Acts). As Ramsay himself remarked:
[A]bout 1880 to 1890, the book of the Acts was regarded as the weakest part of the New Testament. No one that had any regard for his reputation as a scholar cared to say a word in its defence. The most conservative of theological scholars, as a rule, thought the wisest plan of defence for the New Testament as a whole was to say as little as possible about the Acts (1915, p. 38).
As could be expected of someone who had been trained by such “scholars,” Ramsay held the same view. He eventually abandoned it, however, because he was willing to do what few people of his time dared to do—explore the Bible lands themselves with an archaeologist’s pick in one hand and an open Bible in the other. His self-stated intention was to prove the inaccuracy of Luke’s history as recorded in the book of Acts. But, much to his surprise, the book of Acts passed every test that any historical narrative could be asked to pass. In fact, after years of literally digging through the evidence in Asia Minor, Ramsay concluded that Luke was an exemplary historian. Lee S. Wheeler, in his classic work, Famous Infidels Who Found Christ, recounted Ramsay’s life story in great detail (1931, pp. 102-106), and then quoted the famed archaeologist, who ultimately admitted:
The more I have studied the narrative of the Acts, and the more I have learned year after year about Graeco-Roman society and thoughts and fashions, and organization in those provinces, the more I admire and the better I understand. I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it here [in the book of Acts—KB]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s, and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment, provided always that the critic knows the subject and does not go beyond the limits of science and of justice (Ramsey, 1915, p. 89).
In his book, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, Ramsay was constrained to admit:
Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense.... In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians (1915, p. 222; cf. also Ramsay’s 1908 work, Luke the Physician).
Indeed, Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, is widely acknowledged as an extremely accurate historian in his own right—so much so that Ramsay converted to Christianity as a result of his personal examination of the preciseness of Luke’s historical record. It is of interest, then, to note what Luke himself wrote concerning Christ’s resurrection:
The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3).
What legitimate reason is there to reject Luke’s testimony regarding Christ’s resurrection when his testimony on every other subject he presented is so amazingly accurate? As Wayne Jackson noted:
In Acts, Luke mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine Mediterranean islands. He also mentions ninety-five persons, sixty-two of which are not named elsewhere in the New Testament. And his references, where checkable, are always correct. This is truly remarkable, in view of the fact that the political/territorial situation of his day was in a state of almost constant change (1991, 27:2).
Other Bible critics have suggested that Luke misspoke when he designated Sergius Paulus as proconsul of Cyprus (Acts 13:7). Their claim was that Cyprus was governed by a propraetor (also referred to as a consular legate), not a proconsul. Upon further examination, such a charge can be seen to be completely vacuous, as the late Thomas Eaves documented:
As we turn to the writers of history for that period, Dia Cassius (Roman History) and Strabo (The Geography of Strabo), we learn that there were two periods of Cyprus’ history: first, it was an imperial province governed by a propraetor, and later in 22 B.C., it was made a senatorial province governed by a proconsul. Therefore, the historians support Luke in his statement that Cyprus was ruled by a proconsul, for it was between A.D. 40-50 when Paul made his first missionary journey. If we accept secular history as being true, we must also accept biblical history, for they are in agreement (1980, p. 234).
The science of archaeology seems to have outdone itself in verifying the Scriptures. Eminent archaeologist William F. Albright wrote: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition” (1953, p. 176). The late Nelson Glueck, himself a pillar within the archaeological community, said:
It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible (1959, p. 31).
Such statements—offered 40+ years ago—are as true today as the day they were made.
Please note, however, that this argument is not being introduced here to claim that the New Testament is inspired (although certain writers have used it in this way quite effectively). Rather, it is inserted at this point in the discussion to illustrate that the books which talk the most about the resurrection have proven to be accurate when confronted with any verifiable fact. Travel to the Holy Lands and see for yourself if you doubt biblical accuracy. Carry with you an honest, open mind and an open Bible, and I assure you that you will respect the New Testament writers as accurate historians.


Maybe the New Testament documents are accurate when they discuss historical and geographical information. But what about all the alleged “contradictions” among the gospel accounts of the resurrection? Charles Templeton, who worked for many years with the Billy Graham Crusade but eventually abandoned his faith, used several pages of his book, Farewell to God, to compare and contrast the statements within the four gospels, and then concluded: “The entire resurrection story is not credible” (1996, p. 122). Another well-known preacher-turned-skeptic, Dan Barker, has drawn personal delight in attempting to locate contradictions within the four accounts of the resurrection. In his book, Losing Faith in Faith, he filled seven pages with a list of the “contradictions” he believes he has uncovered. Eventually he stated: “Christians, either tell me exactly what happened on Easter Sunday, or let’s leave the Jesus myth buried” (1992, p. 181).
It is interesting, is it not, that Barker demands to know “exactly what happened” on a day in ancient history that occurred almost 2,000 years ago? Such a request speaks loudly of the historical legitimacy of the resurrection story, since no other day in ancient history ever has been examined with such scrutiny. Historians today cannot tell “exactly what happened” on July 4, 1776 or April 12, 1861, yet Christians are expected to provide the “exact” details of Christ’s resurrection? Fortunately, the gospel writers described “exactly what happened”—without contradiction. Examine the following evidence.

Head-on Collusion

“Collusion: A secret agreement between two or more parties for a fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful purpose” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000, p. 363). Even if we never had heard the word collusion before, most of us still would understand the situation it describes. Suppose, for example, that five bank robbers don their nylon-hose masks, rob the city bank, and stash the cash in a nearby cave. Each robber then goes back to his respective house until the police search is concluded. The first robber hears a knock at his door and, upon opening it, finds a policeman who “just wants to ask him a few questions.” The officer then inquires, “Where were you, and what where you doing, on the night of February 1, 2002?” The thief promptly responds, “I was at Joe Smith’s house watching television with four other friends.” The policeman obtains the four friends’ names and addresses and visits each one of their homes. Every single robber, in turn, tells exactly the same story. Was it true? Absolutely not! But did the stories all sound exactly the same, with seemingly no contradictions? Yes.
Now, let’s examine this principle in light of our discussion of the resurrection. If every single narrative describing the resurrection sounded exactly the same, what do you think would be said about those narratives? “They must have copied each other!” In fact, in other areas of Christ’s life besides the resurrection, when the books of Matthew and Luke give the same information as the book of Mark, critics today claim that Matthew and Luke must have copied Mark because it is thought to be the earliest of the three books. Another raging question in today’s upper echelons of biblical “scholarship” is whether Peter copied Jude in 2 Peter 2:4-17 (or whether Jude copied Peter), because the two segments of scripture sound so similar.
Amazingly, however, the Bible has not left open the prospect of collusion in regard to the resurrection narratives. Indeed, it cannot be denied (legitimately) that the resurrection accounts have come to us from independent sources. In his book, Science vs. Religion, Tad S. Clements vigorously denied that there is enough evidence to justify a personal belief in the resurrection. He did acknowledge, however: “There isn’t merely one account of Christ’s resurrection but rather an embarrassing multitude of stories...” (1990, p. 193). While he opined that these stories “disagree in significant respects,” he nevertheless made it clear that the gospels are separate accounts of the same story. Dan Barker admitted the same when he boldly stated: “Since Easter [his wording for the resurrection account—KB] is told by five different writers, it gives one of the best chances to confirm or disconfirm the account” (1992, p. 179). One door that everyone on both sides of the resurrection freely admits has been locked forever by the gospel accounts is the dead-bolted door against collusion.

Dealing With “Contradictions”

Of course it will not be possible, in these few paragraphs, to deal with every alleged discrepancy between the resurrection accounts. But I would like to set forth some helpful principles that can be used to show that no genuine contradiction between the resurrection narratives has been documented.
Addition Does Not a Contradiction Make
Suppose a man is telling a story about the time he and his wife went shopping at the mall. The man mentions all the great places in the mall to buy hunting supplies and cinnamon rolls. But the wife tells about the same shopping trip, yet mentions only the places to buy clothes. Is there a contradiction just because the wife mentioned only clothing stores, while the husband mentioned only cinnamon rolls and hunting supplies? No. They simply are adding to (or supplementing) each other’s story to make it more complete. That same type of thing occurs quite frequently in the resurrection accounts.
As an example, Matthew’s gospel refers to “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” as women who visited the tomb early on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Mark cites Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as the callers (Mark 16:1). Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “the other women” (Luke 24:10). Yet John writes only about Mary Magdalene visiting Christ’s tomb early on Sunday (John 20:1). Dan Barker cited these different names as discrepancies and/or contradictions on page 182 of his book. But do these different lists truly contradict one another? No, they do not. They are supplementary (with each writer adding names to make the list more complete), but they are not contradictory. If John had said “only Mary Magdalene visited the tomb,” or if Matthew had stated that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the only women to visit the tomb,” then there would be a contradiction. As it stands, however, no contradiction occurs. To further illustrate this point, suppose you have 10 one-dollar bills in your pocket. Someone comes up to you and asks, “Do you have a dollar bill in your pocket?” Naturally, you respond in the affirmative. Suppose another person asks, “Do you have five dollars in your pocket?” and again you say that you do. Finally, another person asks, “Do you have ten dollars in your pocket?” and you say yes for the third time. Did you tell the truth every time? Yes, you did. Were all three statements about the contents of your pockets different? Yes, they were. But were any of your answers contradictory? No, they were not. How so? The fact is: supplementation does not equal contradiction!
Also fitting into this discussion about supplementation are the angels, men, and young man described in the different resurrection accounts. Two different “problems” arise with the entrance of the “holy heralds” at the empty tomb of Christ. First, exactly how many were there? Second, were they angels or men? Since the former question deals with supplementation, I will discuss it first. The account in Matthew cites “an angel of the Lord who descended from heaven” and whose “appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (28:2-5). Mark’s account presents a slightly different picture of “a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe” (16:5). But Luke mentions that “two men stood by them [the women—KB] in dazzling apparel” (24:4). And, finally, John writes about “two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (20:12). Are any of these accounts contradictory as to the number of men or angels at the tomb? Factoring in the supplementation rule, we must answer in the negative. Although the accounts are different, they are not contradictory as to the number of messengers. Mark does not mention “only a young man” and Luke does not say there were “exactly two angels.” Was there one messenger at the tomb? Yes, there was. Were there two as well? Yes, there were. Once again, note that supplementation does not equal contradiction.
Were They Men or Angels?
The second question concerning the messengers is their identity: Were they angels or men? Most people who are familiar with the Old Testament have no problem answering this question. Genesis chapters 18 and 19 mention three “men” who came to visit Abraham and Sarah. These men remained for a short time, and then two of them continued on to visit the city of Sodom. The Bible tells us in Genesis 19:1 that these “men” actually were angels. Yet when the men of Sodom came to do violence to these angels, the city dwellers asked: “Where are the men that came in to thee this night?” (Genesis 19:5). Throughout the two chapters, the messengers are referred to both as men and as angels with equal accuracy. They looked like, talked like, walked like, and sounded like men. Then could they be referred to (legitimately) as men? Yes. But were they in fact angels? Yes.
To illustrate, suppose you saw a man sit down at a park bench and take off his right shoe. As you watched, he began to pull out an antenna from the toe of the shoe and a number pad from the heel. He proceeded to dial a number and began to talk to someone over his “shoe phone.” If you were going to write down what you had seen, could you accurately say that the man dialed a number on his shoe? Yes. Could you also say that he dialed a number on his phone? Indeed you could. The shoe had a heel, sole, toe, and everything else germane to a shoe, but in actuality it was much more than a shoe. In the same way, the messengers at the tomb could be described accurately as men. They had a head perched on two shoulders and held in place by a neck, and they had a body that was complete with arms and legs, etc. So, they were men. But, in truth, they were much more than men because they were angels—holy messengers sent from God’s throne to deliver an announcement to certain people. Taking into account the fact that the Old Testament often uses the term “men” to describe angels who have assumed a human form, it is fairly easy to show that no contradiction exists concerning the identity of the messengers.
Perspective Plays a Part
What we continue to see in the independent resurrection narratives is not contradiction, but merely a difference in perspective. For instance, suppose a man had a 4x6 index card that was solid red on one side and solid white on the other. Further suppose that he stood in front of a large crowd, asked all the men to close their eyes, showed the women in the audience the red side of the card, and then had them scribble down what they saw. Further suppose that he had all the women close their eyes while he showed the men the white side of the card and had them write down what they saw. One group saw a red card and one group saw a white card. When their answers are compared, at first it would look like they were contradictory, yet they were not. The descriptions appeared contradictory because the two groups had a different perspective, since each had seen a different side of the same card. The perspective phenomenon plays a big part in everyday life. In the same way that no two witnesses ever see a car accident in exactly the same way, none of the witnesses of the resurrected Jesus saw the events from the same angle as the others.
Obviously, I have not dealt with every alleged discrepancy concerning the resurrection accounts. However, I have mentioned some of the major ones, which can be explained quite easily via the principles of supplementation or difference of perspective. An honest study of the remaining “problems” reveals that not a single legitimate contradiction exists between the narratives; they may be different in some aspects, but they are not contradictory. Furthermore, whatever differences do exist prove that no collusion took place and document the diversity that would be expected from different individuals witnessing the same event.


Based on historical grounds, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has as much or more evidence to verify its credibility than any other event in ancient history. Unfortunately, this evidence often gets tossed aside by those who deny the possibility of miracles. Using a strictly empirical approach, some have decided what is, and what is not, possible in this world, and miracles such as the resurrection do not fall into their “possible” category. Since they never have seen anyone raised from the dead, and since no scientific experiments can be performed on a resurrected body, they then assume that the gospel resurrection accounts must have some natural explanation(s). In an article titled “Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection,” Richard Carrier embodied the gist of this argument in the following comment:
No amount of argument can convince me to trust a 2000-year-old second-hand report over what I see, myself, directly, here and now, with my own eyes. If I observe facts which entail that I will cease to exist when I die, then the Jesus story can never override that observation, being infinitely weaker as a proof. And yet all the evidence before my senses confirms my mortality.... A 2000-year-old second-hand tale from the backwaters of an illiterate and ignorant land can never overpower these facts. I see no one returning to life after their brain has completely died from lack of oxygen. I have had no conversations with spirits of the dead. What I see is quite the opposite of everything this tall tale claims. How can it command more respect than my own two eyes? It cannot (2000).
Although such an argument at first may appear perfectly plausible, it encounters two insurmountable difficulties. First, there are things that took place in the past that no one alive today has seen or ever will see, yet they still are accepted as fact. The origin of life on this planet provides a good example. Regardless of whether a person believes in creation or evolution, he or she must admit that some things happened in the past that are not still occurring today (or at least that have not been witnessed). To evolutionists, I pose the question: “Have you ever personally used your five senses to establish that a nonliving thing can give rise to a living thing.” Of course, evolutionists must admit that they never have seen such happen, in spite of all the origin-of-life experiments that have been performed over the last fifty years. Does such an admission mean, then, that evolutionists do not accept the idea that life came from nonliving matter, just because they never have witnessed such an event? Of course not. Instead, we are asked to consider “ancient evidence” (like the geologic column and the fossil record) that evolutionists believe leads to such a conclusion. Still, the hard fact remains that no one alive today (or, for that matter, anyone who ever lived in the past) has witnessed something living come from something nonliving.
Following this same line of reasoning, those who believe in creation freely admit that the creation of life on Earth is an event that has not been witnessed by anyone alive today (or, for that matter, anyone else of the past, except possibly Adam). It was a unique, one-time-only event that cannot be duplicated by experiment and cannot currently be detected by the five human senses. As with evolutionists, creationists ask us to examine evidence such as the fossil record, the inherent design of the Universe and its inhabitants, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Biogenesis, etc., which they believe leads to the conclusion that life was created at some point in the past by an intelligent Creator. But, before we drift too far from our primary topic of the resurrection, let me remind you that this brief discussion concerning creation and evolution is inserted only to establish one point—everyone must admit that he or she accepts some concepts from the distant past without having personally inspected them using the empirical senses.
Second, it is true that a dead person rising from the dead would be an amazing and, yes, empirically astonishing event. People do not normally rise from the dead in the everyday scheme of things. Yet, was not that the very point the apostles and other witnesses of the resurrection were trying to get people to understand? If Jesus of Nazareth truly rose from the grave never to die again—thereby accomplishing something that no mortal man ever had accomplished—would not that be enough to prove that He was the Son of God as He had claimed (see Mark 14:61-62)? He had predicted that He would be raised from the dead (John 2:19). And He was!
Those first-century onlookers certainly understood that a person rising from the dead was not natural, because even they understood how the laws of nature worked. As C.S. Lewis explained:
But there is one thing often said about our ancestors which we must not say. We must not say “They believed in miracles because they did not know the Laws of Nature.” This is nonsense. When St. Joseph discovered that his bride was pregnant, he “was minded to put her away.” He knew enough about biology for that.... When the disciples saw Christ walking on the water they were frightened; they would not have been frightened unless they had known the Laws of Nature and known that this was an exception (1970, p. 26).
The apostle Paul underscored this point in Romans 1:4 when he stated that Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” The entire point of Christ’s resurrection was, and is, that it proved His deity. As I stated earlier, most people who deny the resurrection do so because they refuse to believe in a God Who performs miracles, not because the historical evidence is insufficient.


When dealing with the resurrection of Christ, we must concentrate on the facts. Jesus of Nazareth lived. He died. His tomb was empty. The apostles preached that they saw Him after He physically rose from the dead. The apostles suffered and died because they preached, and refused to deny, the resurrection. Their message is preserved in the most accurate document of which ancient history can boast. Independent witnesses addressed the resurrection in their writings—with enough diversity (yet without a single legitimate contradiction) to prove that no collusion took place.
The primary argument against the resurrection, of course, is that during the normal course of events, dead people do not arise from the grave—which was the very point being made by the apostles. But when all the evidence is weighed and it is revealed that the apostles never buckled under torture, the New Testament never crumples under scrutiny, and the secular, historical witnesses refuse to be drowned in a sea of criticism, then it is evident that the resurrection of Jesus Christ demands its rightful place in the annals of history as the most important event this world has ever seen. To quote the immortal words of the Holy Spirit as spoken through the apostle Paul to King Agrippa in the great long ago: “Why is it judged incredible with you, if God doth raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8).


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Logical Illiterates and Scientific Simpletons by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Logical Illiterates and Scientific Simpletons

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

On Thursday evening, May 23, 1985, I participated in a debate with renowned evolutionist/humanist Delos McKown. The setting was the Tracey Larkin show on Alabama Public Television. The audience was composed of the people of Alabama. The show aired at 6:30 p.m.
I had received a telephone call the day prior to the television show, asking if I might be willing to meet Dr. McKown in order to discuss the proposition: “Scientific creationism should be taught in public schools in America.” I gladly accepted the invitation. Dr. McKown, of course, was no stranger to me. He is well known in evolutionist/humanist circles. At the time, he was the chairman of the department of philosophy at Auburn University, and wrote often for anti-creationist publications such as the humanist journal Creation/Evolution. In fact, he had just released his novel, With Faith & Fury (1985), published by the humanist publishing company, Prometheus Press of Buffalo, New York, in which a “fundamentalist preacher” tangles with an evolutionist, and, of course, loses. Actually, Dr. McKown is no stranger to “fundamentalism,” as he once was a minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For reasons known only to him, he gave up his belief in God and opted for belief in evolutionary humanism, which he now promotes with a vengeance. The students who come from his classes at Auburn are quick to speak of his anti-God stance.
In this article, I would like to mention a few of the items that were discussed in the debate. But prior to that, I would like to explain the title of this article, and the reason for its publication. In the last 60 seconds of the debate, the host, Mr. Larkin, was concluding the evening’s discussion when he remarked to Dr. McKown that the creationists seemed to be making a good bit of progress in their efforts to set forth the scientific evidence for creation. Dr. McKown exploded in a burst of inflamed rhetoric and stated in no uncertain terms that indeed, creationists were making a good deal of headway—but due only to the fact that our nation is filled with (and this is a direct quote) “logical illiterates and scientific simpletons.”
I was stunned, to say the least, that a man of the supposed caliber of Dr. McKown would resort to name-calling of the worst sort in a feeble attempt to try to substantiate his position. But more than that, I was shocked and insulted (as were a number of others with whom I have spoken who watched the debate). I was shocked, in that it seemed incredulous to me that a man who is in every sense of the word a public servant (a professor at a state-supported university), and whose salary is paid by my taxes, could go on public television and verbally insult the people of the state that he purportedly serves. I was insulted, in that I knew quite well that the epithet Dr. McKown used to label all of the good people of the United States did not fit and was, in fact, a slap in the face to every educated person in this country.
I would like to examine Dr. McKown’s false and baseless assertion that creationists are making progress in having the scientific evidence for creation taught in public schools simply because our nation is composed of “logical illiterates and scientific simpletons.”
As the debate opened that Thursday evening on May 23rd, Dr. McKown fired a salvo intended to leave the audience with the impression that “all” scientists of any repute are evolutionists. He quoted from a booklet published by the National Academy of Sciences that sought to present evolution as a scientific fact and creation as “strictly religious.” He suggested that this material was accepted by “all scientists” as representative of the case. You can imagine his surprise (and it was physically evident during the debate as he stuttered and stammered in an attempt to respond) when I reminded him that the National Academy of Sciences had been slapped with a multimillion dollar lawsuit because of the publication of that very booklet, which was not representative of all of its membership, and which was published without prior knowledge of most of its members.
I hastened to remind Dr. McKown that “all” scientists are not now, nor have they ever been, evolutionists. In fact, a quick look at great scientists of both past and present generations will quickly defuse such an erroneous idea. Such scientists as Sir Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Robert Boyle, Lord Kelvin, Louis Pasteur, Matthew F. Maury, Michael Faraday, Clerk Maxwell, John Ray, Carolus Linnaeus, Werhner Von Braun, Walter Lammerts, and others were (or are) creationists. And the list could be extended greatly (see Morris, 1982). Further, what difference would it make even if every scientist were an evolutionist? Truth is not determined by popular opinion or majority vote! And anyone even vaguely familiar with the history of science can offer instance after instance where “the majority” of the scientific community had “voted,” as it were, on a particular issue, only to be proved wrong soon thereafter. The scientific community told British medical doctor Edward Jenner that his smallpox vaccine would not work. But it did. The scientific community told Austrian medical doctor Ignaz Semmelweis that it was fruitless to worry about “germs” as a cause of mortality among medical patients. But it wasn’t. And so on, and so on. “All” the scientists were wrong. Popularity does not guarantee correctness!
Dr. McKown then tried to suggest to the viewing audience that the only view that should be presented in public schools was the evolutionary scenario. I quickly reminded him, however, that he had put himself at odds with his mentor, Charles Darwin, as well as the great defender of evolution, Clarence Darrow. Darwin stated in the “Introduction” of his 1859 publication, The Origin of Species:
I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question (1956, p. 18, emp. added).
It was Clarence Darrow who stated in the famous 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial” that it was “bigotry” to teach only one theory of origins. [Of course, Darrow was referring to the teaching of only creation, but his statement is true nonetheless!] I asked Dr. McKown what would be wrong with allowing students to have all the evidences, so that they then could make up their own minds? He recoiled in shock at such a suggestion, and stated that teaching evidences for creation would be like putting astrology back into astronomy, or the stork back into obstetrics, etc. He stated that if we put the “so-called evidences” (to use his term) for creation into the public schools, our students quickly would see that they had been sold a bill of goods.”
I hastened to mention to Dr. McKown that our students in public schools already have been “sold a bill of goods,” in that they are being given only one side of a two-sided issue. My point was this: creationists have an impressive arsenal of evidence that establishes the conclusion that the creation model fits the available scientific facts far better than the evolution model. The one-sided indoctrination of students in this materialistic philosophy in the tax-supported schools in our pluralistic, democratic society is a violation of academic and religious freedoms. Furthermore, it is poor science and poor education. To remedy this intolerable situation, creation scientists simply ask that, excluding the use of the Bible or any other religious literature, only the scientific evidence that can be adduced in favor of creation and evolution be presented thoroughly and fairly in public schools. After students have had an opportunity to weigh all the data, consider each alternative, and examine the implications and consequences of each position, then they should be challenged to decide for themselves which one is more credible or rational. That is good education, and good science. But, as Norman Macbeth, the Harvard-trained lawyer, stated in his book, Darwin Retried, evolutionists (and this certainly describes Dr. McKown) are almost irrationally fearful of creationists today, and are determined to stop them from presenting creationism at all costs. Furthermore, Macbeth observed, the evolutionists “are not revealing all the dirt under the rug in their approach to the public. There is a feeling that they ought to keep back the worst so that their public reputation would not suffer and the Creationists wouldn’t get any ammunition” (1982, 2:22). Here is a good example. I pressed Dr. McKown with this point:
If evolution is scientific, then by definition it must be falsifiable, since one of the criteria of a good scientific theory is that it potentially can be falsified (i.e., it must be possible to devise an experiment or set of studies, the failure of which would disprove the theory). My question to Dr. McKown was this: Is evolution falsifiable? Dr. McKown knew exactly where my question was leading, and he had no choice, if he wanted to retain the “scientific” nature of evolution, but to say “yes.” Indeed, he said that evolution was falsifiable. But once again he put himself at odds with the mainstream of evolutionary thought. Evolutionists Ehrlich and Birch wrote, for example:
Our theory of evolution has become…one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus “outside of empirical science” but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training (1967, p. 352).
Sir Karl Popper, the eminent philosopher of science, stated in his autobiography, Unended Quest: “I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme.... It is therefore important to show that Darwinism is not a scientific theory, but metaphysical” (1976). H.S. Lipson, the renowned British physicist, noted: “In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to ‘bend’ their observations to fit in with it” (1980, 31:138).
These statements are a far cry from those of Dr. McKown. He wishes us to believe that evolution is scientific and therefore falsifiable. His own evolutionary colleagues, however, are not so quick with their answers, and in fact, strongly disagree with him. Numerous other statements made by Dr. McKown could be examined and refuted, but I would like to examine here his statement that creationists are making great strides in having the scientific evidence for creation taught because people are “logical illiterates and scientific simpletons.” Such a statement not only is untrue, but also is unbecoming a man of the supposed intellectual stature of Delos McKown.
First, creationists are making great strides in this battle. Consider, for example, the following. In a center-column, front-page article in the June 15, 1979 issue of the Wall Street Journal, there appeared an article by one of the Journal’s staff writers commenting on how creationists, when engaging in debates with evolutionists, “tend to win” the debates, and that creationism was “making progress.” In 1979, Gallup pollsters conducted a random survey, inquiring about belief in creation versus evolution. The poll had been commissioned by Christianity Today magazine, and was reported in its December 21, 1979 issue. This poll found that 51% of Americans believe in the special creation of a literal Adam and Eve as the starting place of human life. In the March 1980 issue of the American School Board Journal (p. 52), it was reported that 67% of its readers (most of whom were school board members and school administrators) favored the teaching of the scientific evidence for creation in public schools. Glamour magazine conducted a poll of its own and reported the results in its August 1982 issue (p. 28). The magazine found that 74% of its readers favored teaching the scientific evidence for creation in public schools. One of the most authoritative polls was conducted in October 1981 by the Associated Press/NBC News polling organization. The results were as follows:
“Only evolution should be taught” 8%
“Only creation should be taught” 10%
“Both creation and evolution should be taught” 76%
“Not sure which should be taught” 6%
Thus, nationwide no less than 86% of the people in the United States believe that creation should be taught in public schools. In August 1982, another Gallup poll was conducted, and found that 44% of those interviewed believed not only in creation, but in a recent creation of less than 10,000 years ago. Only 9% of the people polled believed in atheistic evolution.
On November 28, 1991 results were released from yet another Gallup poll regarding the biblical account of origins. The results may be summarized as follows. On origins: 47% believed God created man within the last 10,000 years (up 3% from the 1982 poll mentioned above); 40% believed man evolved over millions of years, but that God guided the process; 9% believed man evolved over millions of years without God; 4% were “other/don’t know.” On the Bible: 32% believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, and that it should be taken literally; 49% believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, but that it should not always be taken literally; 16% believed the Bible to be entirely the product of men; 3% were “other/don’t know” (see Major, 1991, 11:48; John Morris, 1992, p. d). Two years later, a Gallup poll carried out in 1993 produced almost the same results. Of those responding, 47% stated that they believed in a recent creation of man; 11% expressed their belief in a strictly naturalistic form of evolution (see Newport, 1993, p. A-22). Four years after that poll, a 1997 Gallup survey found that 44% of Americans (including 31% who were college graduates) subscribed to a fairly literal reading of the Genesis account of creation, while another 39% (53% of whom were college graduates) believed God played at least some part in creating the Universe. Only 10% (17% college graduates) embraced a purely naturalistic, evolutionary view (see Bishop, 1998, pp. 39-48; Sheler, 1999, pp. 48-49). The results of a Gallup poll released in August 1999 were practically identical: 47% stated that they believed in a recent creation of man; 9% expressed belief in strictly naturalistic evolution (see Moore, 1999).
In its March 11, 2000 issue, the New York Times ran a story titled “Survey Finds Support is Strong for Teaching 2 Origin Theories,” which reported on a poll commissioned by the liberal civil rights group, People for the American Way, and conducted by the prestigious polling/public research firm, DYG, of Danbury, Connecticut. According to the report, 79% of the people polled felt that the scientific evidence for creation should be included in the curriculum of public schools (see Glanz, 2000, p. A-1).
The amazing thing about all of this, of course, is that these results are being achieved after more than a century of evolutionary indoctrination.
Second, this is the case, not because the majority of people are “logical illiterates or scientific simpletons,” but because the majority of people recognize what Dr. McKown and a few of his humanistic colleagues refuse to recognize—viz., the evidences from every field of science in support of creation are overwhelming. For example, when I reminded Dr. McKown that the fundamental, foundation cornerstone of all of biology is the law of biogenesis (which states that all life comes from preceding life of its kind), and that we know no known exception to it in nature, he replied, “That’s not right.” I asked, “Can you disprove it, or give me an example that violates it? Evolution, of course, violates it hundreds, thousands, or millions of times.” Of course, he was completely unable to provide any such an example. That is no surprise. The law of biogenesis is a scientific law; his evolutionary scenario is an imaginary philosophy that he is trying to pass off as “science.” When measured against true science, it pales into insignificance.
I also reminded Dr. McKown of the laws of genetics that ensure basic “kinds” remain within their own groups. And I reminded him of the laws of probability, which absolutely exclude the possibility of spontaneous generation and/or chemical evolution. I find it of special interest that Dr. McKown attempted to use the common evolutionist ploy that says, “But you creationists have a miracle in the camp, while we evolutionists use only that which is based in nature and is therefore scientific.” Amazing, is it not? The evolutionist asks us to believe that: (a) inorganic gave rise to organic; (b) Nonliving gave rise to living; (c) amoral gave rise to moral; and (d) unconscious gave rise to conscious. Yet creationists are the ones with the miracle!? And while we were on the subject, I also reminded Dr. McKown that science is not defined as “naturalism” in the first place. “Science” comes from the Latin word scientia, which means “knowledge.” To assume that knowledge can be acquired solely on the basis of naturalism is the height of intellectual snobbery, and more important, is wrong. Of all people, a philosopher of the stature of Dr. McKown should know that!
Likewise, I mentioned to Dr. McKown the two most fundamental laws of science, the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The first law, which states in simplified form that neither matter nor energy may be created or destroyed, strictly forbids the Universe having created itself. And the second, which states in simplified form that all things are “running down,” strictly forbids the evolutionary process on a universal scale from occurring; things are running down, not building up.
Piece by piece, this type of evidence was presented to Dr. McKown. And as the program came to an end, I suggested to him that it was not because people were “illiterates and simpletons” that creationists were making such inroads into the evolutionary establishment, but because sane, rational people can use a little common sense and a lot of good science and quickly come to the conclusion that evolution is both bad science and bad philosophy.
Why do evolutionists continually refuse a hearing for the scientific evidences for creation? There may exist two possibilities. First, it may be that evolutionists consider that students are too ignorant, too illiterate to be exposed to these competing ideas of origins. They must be “protected from error” and carefully indoctrinated in “correct” ideas by those who consider themselves to be the intellectually elite, the sole possessors and guardians of truth. Second, having engendered this fragile tower of hypotheses piled upon hypotheses, where fact and fiction intermingle in an inextricable confusion, it may be that evolutionists are aware of the fact that the notion of evolution will fare badly if exposed to an open and determined challenge from creation scientists and that if this is done, the majority of our students will accept creation as the better of the two concepts of origins. Whatever may be the case, it is urgent that inquiring students be exposed to all of the evidence and all of the arguments on each side of the question, so that these two alternative concepts of origins can compete freely in the marketplace of ideas!


Bishop, George (1998), “The Religious Worldview and American Beliefs about Human Origins,” The Public Perspective, pp. 39-48, August/September.
Darwin, Charles (1956 edition), The Origin of Species (London: J.M. Dent & Sons).
Ehrlich, Paul R., and L. C. Birch, (1967), “Evolutionary History and Population Biology,” Nature, 214:349-352, April 22.
Glanz, James (2000), “Survey Finds Support is Strong for Teaching 2 Origin Theories,” The New York Times, p. A-1, March 11.
Lipson, H.S. (1980), “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, 31:138, May.
Macbeth, Norman (1982), “Darwinism: A Time For Funerals,” Towards, 2:22, Spring.
Major, Trevor J. (1991), “In the News—National Beliefs Polled,” Reason & Revelation, 11:48, December.
McKown, Delos (1985), With Faith and Fury (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus).
Moore, David W. (1999), “Americans Support Teaching Creationism as Well as Evolution in Public Schools,” [On-line], URL http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr990830.asp (Princeton, NJ: Gallup News Service).
Morris, Henry M. (1982), Men of Science: Men of God (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
Morris, John D. (1992), “Do Americans Believe in Creation?,” Acts and Facts, p. d, February.
Newport, Frank (1993), “God Created Humankind, Most Believe,” Sunday Oklahoman, A-22.
Popper, Karl (1976), Unended Quest (Glasgow, Scotland: Fontana Books).
Sheler, Jeffery L. (1999), Is the Bible True? (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins).