Contradictions in the Gospels: An Interview with Mike Licona

On April 21 Christianity Today published an interview with Dr. Michael Licona about his new, provocative, and innovative book, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (Oxford). In the interview Licona says things such as, [Christians] often engage in “harmonization efforts, which sometimes subject the Gospels to a sort of hermeneutical waterboarding until they tell the harmonizer what he wants to hear”; “If I fail to [let the Bible’s evidence about itself speak], I deceive myself, claiming to have a high view of Scripture when in reality I would have a high view of my view of Scripture.”

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And the heart of the interview–and the recent book: “What my book does is look at how one of the most highly regarded biographers of antiquity—Plutarch—reported the same events differently. By looking at those different accounts, I can identify patterns in those differences, infer compositional devices from those patterns, and then read the Gospels with those devices in mind. It’s truly amazing to see the Gospel authors using many of the same compositional devices employed by Plutarch!”

And what does he say about historical reliability in the Gospels? You’ll just have to read the interview and, more importantly, read the book!

179 thoughts on “Contradictions in the Gospels: An Interview with Mike Licona

  1. RWL

    Is it ancient biography or ancient historiography? Bauckham (2006) and Byrskog (2000) assert the Gospels are ancient historiographies, not ancient biographies? What do you think?

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    1. Peter Connell

      It seems that the literary devices – regardless of how one would classify the writing – are what is in view here — and there may be something to what is written. I plan on buying the book and giving it a read. Bauckham has written some fascinating things himself, especially in the area of Christology.

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  3. jrrlawless

    Once again this is a warning to all Christians. Liconia called Matthew a liar by reporting the saints rising from the grave on the night of Christ’s crucifixion never happened. A point excellently defended by Norman Geisler. It is sad a young man who started with so much promise had denigrated to the skeptics such as Blomberg and McGowan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clarke Morledge

      Craig Blomberg a “skeptic?”

      So, when Blomberg wrote “Can We Still Believe the Believe?” as a defense of the Bible, what do you think he was defending?

      Furthermore, Matthew can only be called a “liar” if he, in fact, is making an historical claim, that turns out not to be true. As I understand Licona, if Matthew is using a literary device consistent with all other Greco-Roman biography of the time period, then Matthew is not making a specific historical claim. So, if it turns out that Matthew is not making such an historical claim, then charging Matthew with a falsehood is irrelevant.

      That would be like charging Jesus with making a falsehood, if no historical farmer named “X” could be found who planted that seed along the path, on the stony ground, among the thorns, and in the good soil.

      To your favor, you could be correct that Matthew IS indeed making an historical claim. But it just means that Licona’s interpretation of Matthew is wrong. It does not imply a denial of inerrancy. The inerrancy of Scripture and the inerrancy on someone’s interpretation (yours, mine, Licona’s) must be kept distinct from one another.

      If I had to issue a “warning to all Christians,” it would be that your remarks come across as confusing.

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      1. jrrlawless

        Inerrancy means ALL the Scriptures is true. Blomberg uses that word but it does not mean what the rest of the conservative evangelicals. As far ass Matthew using a device where he stressed the truth is still lying. Either the saints came out of the graves or they did not. There is a reason why Blomberg has unkind and rude things to say about Geisler, because Geisler knows the truth behind Blomberg’s deception.

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    2. To show a lie, you must show three things.

      First, Matthew knew this to be a historical event and meant for it to be read in that light.

      Second. Licona also thinks Matthew knew this and meant it to be read in that light.

      Third. Licona thinks Matthew is wrong.

      Only then is he denying inerrancy. Based on the standards given by Geisler, a number of YECs have accused him of denying inerrancy. Strangely, Geisler can use modern science to interpret an ancient text, but Licona can’t use ancient Greco-Roman biography techniques to interpret ancient Greco-Roman biography.

      Geisler’s excellent defense has also consisted of banning and blocking people who challenge him. I posted a review of his book on Preserving Orthodoxy on the VES page under it. What answer did I get? Ban and block.

      I am one who has written much to challenge Geisler and I know this situation better than most people do. I also did use to study at Geisler’s seminary but now, I just see his behavior as disgraceful.

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  4. I totally agree with the issue of harmonization, yet it goes far beyond the Gospels. I was browsing a church’s add for a pastor that insisted in its statement of faith on multiple harmonizations across the board! Part of it is the theologians haven’t done a good job cleaning up after the apologist! Adding this book to my reading list now!

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  5. PC1

    I found this link to a round-table discussion between Licona and some well-known evangelical authors. It includes discussion about inerrancy and I found it very informative. Personally, although I appreciate the point Licona makes regarding ‘apocryphal’ language in Matthew, I view the rising of these ‘saints’ to be historical, and that is what Matthew intended. Quarles and Kruger particularly make important points about the text. However, I find it very disappointing that it seems Licona effectively lost his job over this issue in 2011. He is clearly a committed Christian who is convinced of the resurrection of Jesus and what that means for humanity, and is keen to tell others about Him. To be treated like that is pretty awful.

    https://www.risenjesus.com/wp-content/uploads/a-roundtable-discussion-with-michael-licona-on-the-resurrection-of-jesus.pdf

    Peter

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  6. text scholar

    Hey Wallace, this may be a little off topic, but do you believe that Luke 22:19b where Jesus tells us to “do this in remembrance of me” is a later textual addition or original?

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  7. Gary

    I recently read Licona’s book and I just read the referenced article. I applaud Licona’s attempt to be fair and open-minded with the evidence. I believe thAT has hit the proverbial nail squarely on its head: The Gospels were not written as modern history textbooks nor even as modern biographies in which precise historical accuracy is mandatory. They were first century books written in a very different genre from anything we are familiar with today. Yes, they were biographies about Jesus, but they were also a means of evangelization (skeptics would call them, “propaganda”); their very purpose can be summed up by the Gospel writers themselves: “these things are written THAT YOU MIGHT BELIEVE!”

    If you read Licona’s book you will see that one of the literary devices used by Plutarch is the invention of details which the author believes enhances the story; which makes the story better. THIS IS KEY! This would never be allowed in a modern biography but it was perfectly acceptable in first century Greco-Roman biography as long as it did not alter the central core story and character of the central character.

    What was the central, core story of Jesus? Answer: It is told in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15. Jesus was crucified and died, was buried, and then rose from the dead. He then appeared to many of his followers (no descriptions of these appearances given). It would therefore be perfectly acceptable in first century Greco-Roman biography for an author to “flesh-out” this bare-boned story and give it more detail, such as: an elaborate trial before his crucifixion; an earthquake, three hour eclipse, and dead saints shaken out of the graves at this death; burial in a rich man’s tomb; angelic beings at an empty tomb on the third day; very detailed appearances of the resurrected Jesus in which he eats food, walks, talks, and asks them to touch his wounds; and finally an ascension into heaven before his disciples’ very eyes.

    All this would have been perfectly acceptable in a Greco-Roman biography. It would have been acceptable because it does not change the central story of Jesus nor does it change the core characteristics of Jesus: He was the Son of God who was killed but who defeated sin and death and rose from the dead.

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    1. Peter Connell

      While I think that Licona’s book brings up some valid points worthy for consideration—to throw “the gospels” into a genre that allows the writer to incorporate “the invention of details” and then basically say that the throwing in of such details that never happened does not constitute lying—is ludicrous in my opinion.

      What you are saying is that in the Greco-Roman world, making stuff up was perfectly acceptable, and this fabrication of non-factual “facts” was supposed to enhance the credibility of the writing to the point that the reader “might believe” the general thrust of what was written. I’m not buying that for a moment.

      This proposed view detracts from rather than adds to the the thought that the Scriptures were given by inspiration of God.

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      1. Gary

        Mike Licona is not the only scholar to propose this view. NT Wright comments in his master work, “The Resurrection of the Son of God”, that the author of the Book of Acts used this very technique in describing Paul’s Damascus Road experience. (The author of Acts invented details for his stories.)

        The story of Paul’s conversion is repeated three times in the Book of Acts. Each time the story is slightly different. In one telling of the story, the companions of Paul see something but hear nothing. In another telling of the story, the companions of Paul see nothing but hear something. Is this a contradiction? Not at all, according to Wright. What the author of Acts has done here is a standard literary technique used by first century Greco-Roman biographers. The author deliberated changed the story…”to keep the reader’s interest” (to make his book more interesting).

        To a fundamentalist Christian this is absolute heresy, but to moderate Christian scholars it is simply an obvious fact based on evidence from the literature of that era.

        Even conservative scholar Richard Bauckham believes that the Gospel authors invented some of their stories. In Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, Bauckham states that it is blatantly obvious that the author of Matthew (who Bauckham does NOT believe was Matthew the Apostle) borrowed the author of Mark’s story about the calling of Levi the tax collector to be a disciple of Jesus for his own story about the calling of Matthew the tax collector: The author of Matthew invented the story of the calling of Matthew the Apostle to make his story (and book) more interesting!

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      2. Peter Connell

        Gary,

        I’m well aware of others believing a bit of this. The examples in the story of Paul’s conversion you cite as evidence of the view of NT writers fabricating “facts” reminds me of a little place on the Puget Sound in Washington State. As you drive up the coast one sees a little “point” jutting out into the water; but as you continue driving, you see that it really wasn’t a “point” after all. The place is called “Point No-Point.” 🙂

        The variations in Paul’s story are not contradictory at all. The story in Acts 9 outlines the fact that he was travelling with others (verses 7 and 8) they “heard a voice” in verse 7 and they led him by the hand in verse 8. This chapter tells us they heard the voice but saw “no man” (KJV) or “no one” (ESV). It does not say that they “saw nothing.”

        In Acts 22, verses 9 and 11 tell us that he was accompanied by others, but while THEY HEARD the voice they “did not understand (ηκουσαν) the voice” (vs. 9, ESV). That is, they did not understand what was said. Verse 9 says that they “saw the light” – which does not contradict Chapter 9’s account in any respect. There is no contradiction between this account and Acts 9 regarding hearing or seeing.

        In Acts 26, verse 13 tell us once again that “others” were travelling with Paul at the time of the event. The Acts 26 account does not mention anyone seeing or not seeing anything (other than Saul, who saw the light)–and this also contradicts neither Acts 9 nor Acts 22). One cannot say that they “saw” or “heard” nothing based on an “argument from silence” – as this would be a fallacious argument. A bit of information that IS added (not the same as “fabricated”) in this account by Paul not mentioned in either Acts 9 or 22, namely, that the voice that spoke with him was in the Hebrew tongue. This would explain why, in Chapter 22 the account mentions none of those accompanying Paul “understood” or comprehended the meaning encompassed in the voice that they heard. Koiné Greek was the lingua franca of the region as well as being the language of the New Testament (Machen, 1923, p.p, 2-5). Some Aramaic was certainly spoken in Judea, but as Saul travelled to Damascus, it is doubtful that other were as tutored in Hebrew as was Saul (who sat at the feet of Gamaliel; Acts 22:3). This reveals that the voice was for Saul to understand. It is also significant that it was delivered in the Hebrew language to the monotheistic Pharisee named Paul. His response was revealing: “Who art thou Lord?” – this using the language of deification that was reserved only for YHWH. The response was also revealing: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutes.”

        In these three examples we see none of the contradictions that you intimated were present, but we DO see additional features within the texts that complement one another without contradiction when we use a solid grammatical-historical approach when examining the Scriptures.

        I would write more to address other things mentioned, but I need to get back to some work that is going undone at the moment.

        Machen, A. W. (1923). New Testament Greek for Beginners. Toronto, CA: Macmillan.

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      3. Gary

        I am not a scholar, Peter, so I cannot debate you on the intricacies of the original Greek. But I am not the one saying that the author of the Book of Acts (who most scholars believe was also the author of the Gospel of Luke) fabricated details in his stories. Renowned New Testament scholar, NT Wright, said that.

        NT scholar Richard Bauckham is the darling of conservative Protestants and evangelicals, yet even he admits that the Gospel authors invented details in their stories. And of course renowned moderate scholars such as Raymond Brown are in full agreement with Licona, Wright, and Bauckham on this issue. Brown agrees with Licona that Matthew’s “Guards at the Tomb” story was an “apologetic invention”.

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  8. Gary

    NT Wright also believes that the four authors of the Gospels invented the stories in which Jesus predicts his death and resurrection.

    Therefore, three New Testament scholars whom conservative Christians hold in high regard for their scholarship—Licona, NT Wright, and Bauckham—believe that the authors of the Gospels invented some of the details in their Gospels. None of these invented details change one single Christian doctrine. They were simply literary devices to flesh out the bare bones story of Jesus as found in the Early Creed. The authors of the Gospels were writing books for evangelization purposes. They were not writing history text books. The core story of Jesus’ death, burial, and claims of post-death sightings is historical fact. The rest is quite possibly literary fiction.

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  9. Gary

    Peter: Here is more evidence that the author of Luke/Acts invented stories in his Gospel:

    “We know a lot about the reign of Caesar Augustus from the writings of historians, philosophers, essayists, poets, and others living about that time. In none of these writings, including an account written by Caesar August himself about his own reign, is there a solitary word of any empire-wide census. And indeed how could there have been one? Think about it for a second: are we to imagine the entire Roman Empire uprooting for a weekend in order to register for a census? Joseph returns to the town of Bethlehem because he’s from the lineage of David. But King David lived a thousand years earlier. Everyone in the empire is returning to the home of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier? How is that possible? How would people know where to go? If you had to go register to vote in the town your ancestors came from a thousand years ago, where would you go?!? And are we to imagine that this massive migration of millions of people, all over the empire, took place without any other author from the period so much as mentioning it?”

    This event did NOT happen. There was no world-wide census. Jesus was most likely born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Luke’s birth narrative in Bethlehem was a literary/theological invention, and a brilliant one at that. It has captivated the minds of children (and adults) for two millennia!

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  10. Gary

    It seems no one else is interested in continuing the discussion on this topic, so let me say this in conclusion:

    Mike Licona has done evangelical and other conservative Christians a huge favor. No longer do these Christians need to twist themselves into pretzels trying to harmonize the many discrepancies in the four resurrection stories in the Gospels. From now on whenever a skeptic points out one of these discrepancies, all Christians need to say is this: There are no discrepancies. These DIFFERENCES in the retelling of the life of an historical character were standard practice in first century Greco-Roman biographical literature. The core story is the same in all four Gospels: Jesus was crucified. He was buried. Shortly after his death, his followers believed that he appeared to them.

    The question then comes down to this: Do YOU believe the early Christians’ story? Do YOU believe that they really saw a reanimated, three day brain-dead corpse or were they mistaken, caught up in emotional, religious hysteria, “seeing” things that were not there (illusions, false sightings, vivid dreams, trances, and possibly hallucinations)?

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  11. kwells

    My humble opinion is that we need to contend for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and His resurrection. And that’s pretty much it. With apologies to all on this thread. I have been continually saddened over the decades by those who, at least seemingly, would gladly see thousands condemned to hell if it means they can keep their microscopically granular infallibility.
    I’m not talking about doctrine like Hell or Soteriological requirements, but simple, even trivial story details.

    The bible is a precious gift from God to His people, but it is not a member of the Godhead. It is not to be worshiped like the Quran. Even Jesus himself promised forgiveness for all who would say anything against His Person, no matter how pejorative and vindictive. It was the Religious Gatekeepers who He implied were committing the unforgivable sin. Where is grace and love, therefore, for those whose lives and careers testify to their love of the truth and of Christ? No one stands toe to toe with the likes of Bart Ehrman in a public forum on multiple occasions for fun, money or fame.

    You may defend your bibliology (which I pray has not descended to bibliolatry) and stake your faith on encyclicals like the CSBI, But men like Wallace, Keener, Licona, and Blomberg defend Christ.

    I understand if this is inflammatory and wont make it past the referee, but this issue really grieves me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jared

      Thank you for the much needed perspective. Apologists like Gary Habermas and authors like Lee Strobel and Frank Morrison always impress me with their simple appeal to “majoring on the major” – focusing on Christ resurrected, the thing that matters the most. I want Jesus to have walked on water – I really, really do. And I believe it does have a lot to say about how much we can trust the Scripture as a whole. But if he didn’t walk on water, it still doesn’t affect whether he was God – it just affects the honesty of his followers. If he died and rose again, then there is still a spiritual reality that needs to be reckoned with!

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      1. Gary

        “But if he didn’t walk on water, it still doesn’t affect whether he was God – it just affects the honesty of his followers. If he died and rose again, then there is still a spiritual reality that needs to be reckoned with!”

        And THAT is the million dollar question, my dear Christian friends: Did a brain-dead first century corpse really come back to life, escape it’s sealed tomb, and later fly off into the clouds/outer space, or, is this story the product of the wild imagination of superstitious people?

        I suggest that NO quantity of alleged eyewitness testimony is sufficient for modern, educated people to believe this tale. Why? Ask yourself this question: If five THOUSAND villagers in the highlands of Guatemala claimed that thirty years ago they witnessed a man turn into a lava-spewing volcano after eating magic beans, would this be sufficient evidence for you to believe that a man can transform into a volcano???

        Of course not.

        And I suggest that the same logic should apply to a two thousand year old claim that a first century corpse turned into a space-levitating superhero.

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      2. Jared

        Caricaturing the evidence never really dismisses it. It’s always ok to say, “It’s not enough for me – so I don’t believe.” But to many of us, the evidence we have seen and experienced and researched is compelling. If it were as simple as you state, you are right – no one would believe. That’s the essence of straw men – they are easy to blow down. This isn’t really the place for a debate for me, but there are countless books detailing what some consider a preponderance of evidence to base their own beliefs on. For anyone still on their own personal fact finding journey to see if the faith has substance, I encourage you to look up any book on apologetics to explore.

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      3. Gary

        Hi Jared,

        I take this subject very seriously. It is not something I have simply dismissed out of hand without examining the evidence. Here is a list of all the scholarly books and articles I have read regarding the central claims of Christianity, in particular, the Resurrection:

        1. “The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
        2. “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham
        3. “Making the Case for Christianity” by Maas, Francisco, et al.
        4. ” The Resurrection Fact” by Bombaro, Francisco, et al.
        5. “Miracles” , Volumes 1 and 2, by Craig Keener
        6. “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
        7. “Why are There Differences in the Gospels” by Michael Licona
        8. “The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig
        9. “The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus” by Raymond Brown
        10. “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Gerd Luedemann
        11. “Resurrection Reconsidered” by Gregory Riley
        12. “John and Thomas—Gospels in Conflict?” by Christopher Skinner
        13. “The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor
        14. “Israel in Egypt” by James Hoffmeier
        15. “The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Silberman
        16. “The Resurrection of Jesus in the Light of Jewish Burial Practices” by Craig Evans, (newsletter article) The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, May 4, 2016
        17. “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?” by Jodi Magness, SBL Forum
        18. “Genre, Sub-genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman biography” (article) by Justin M. Smith, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
        19. “Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus” by Asher Norman (not a work of scholarship per se, but it is endorsed by Talmudic scholars for its accuracy in presenting a Jewish perspective of Jesus and the Christian New Testament)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Gary

        Jared, you said this: “to many of us, the evidence we have seen and experienced and researched is compelling.”

        I find the order of the sources of evidence you listed in this sentence very interesting. Instead of stating, “The historical and archeological evidence is compelling” you have given priority, consciously or subconsciously, to your own personal experiences, visual and perception, over and above “research”, the source for all other historical claims regarding alleged events in Antiquity.

        I believe that this is the crux of the problem for why Christians and skeptics never see the strength of the evidence for this ancient claim in the same light. You and many other Christians believe that you have witnessed visually and experienced perceptually supernatural acts which you attribute to your god. We skeptics challenge you to prove that any one of these alleged “miracles” could not be explained as a rare, but random NATURAL coincidence.

        The historical evidence itself is very poor for the claim that a first century corpse came back to life, exited it’s sealed tomb, and later levitated into the clouds. The fact that early Christians claimed that over five hundred people witnessed seeing this resurrected corpse is NOT sufficient evidence to believe that an event which defies all we know about how the universe operates really did happen twenty centuries ago. If FIVE THOUSAND villagers in Guatemala claimed that thirty years ago, a man turned into a volcano after eating magic beans, would you believe them?

        I doubt it.

        Eye witness testimony is not sufficient for very extra-ordinary claims which defy all we know about the operation of the universe.

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      5. Jared

        That’s just the way you measure evidence. It’s hardly authoritative. If I told you about my awesome uncle and then gave you 10 books on him, you could still doubt him. It all changes when you meet him.
        There’s only a certain degree of certainty you could ever gain from dusting off books. And if the faith claim was that Jesus rose and died again, it wouldn’t be particularly compelling. Instead, the claim that He’s still alive and active today IS measured in eye witness testimony, which is truly sufficient for all of us who sought Him out and experience Him regularly.
        You’ve done your reading, which is commendable. That’s your due diligence, and no one could argue that you didn’t care enough to look into it.
        The only other thing I’d encourage you to do is take your Christian friends out to coffee and ask them what their personal relationship with Christ looks like. If it’s just historically true and not relevant today, then it wouldn’t be worth engaging. Instead, what we find is billions of people who find it incredibly meaningful, powerful, life changing and experiential.
        I don’t know a whole lot of Christians who read their way into the faith. A consistent theme with all the people I disciple is that they have experienced God in powerful and moving ways that I can’t simply dismiss, as you do, as “natural coincidence.” I have my own journey, and while we disagree with how much evidence the scholars amass, which I find incredibly detailed and compelling, I could never doubt my own daily relationship with God.
        Yours will always be an argument from silence. “I haven’t experienced God myself.” That’s not like to sway Believers, unless they only believe because they were raised that way and haven’t engaged the faith on their own.

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      6. Gary

        One day at the age of nine, I sincerely and with all my heart prayed to Jesus, asking him to forgive me of all my sins, save my sinful soul, and make himself the Lord of my life. I felt a great peace in my heart and great assurance and comfort. Shortly thereafter I was baptized.

        In my teen years, I began to have doubts about my salvation. “Had I really and truly believed in Jesus as my Lord and Savior?” “Had I fully repented of ALL my sins?” “Did I ask Jesus to save me because I wanted him to be my Lord and Savior or simply because I was afraid of Hell?”

        The uncertainty of my salvation was very emotionally draining.

        One night, I prayed to God and said, “Dear Lord, I will do ANYTHING you want me to do. I will become a preacher or a missionary if that is what you want me to be. I will forsake all worldly pleasures. But PLEASE give me assurance of my salvation!” I went into the backyard, burned all my rock-n-roll records in the trash bin and again asked Jesus to save me and to be my Lord and Savior. Once again I felt great peace and assurance.

        In my twenties I joined a non-denominational evangelical church in which the people were much more expressive and emotional about their faith and experiences of Jesus than my previous Baptist congregation. As people prayed to Jesus their eyes would roll back in their heads, they would cry, they would sway with the rhythmic songs about Jesus. Why had I never felt that kind of INTENSE emotion about Jesus??? Was it because I lacked enough faith? Was it because of some sin of which I was unaware? Or, was it because I was STILL…unsaved???

        So I have “experienced Jesus”, my friend. I know the warm feelings of peace, comfort, and serenity. I know how wonderful it feels to have a supernatural “big brother” figure who is more powerful than any force on earth and has the power to do ANYTHING for me, if he desires. That gave me GREAT comfort.

        But I began to ask myself this question: Is that still, small “voice” that at times speaks to me, moves me, and leads me to do “God’s will” God, or, just…ME? And here is the conclusion I have come to, my friend: The evidence is overwhelming that corpses do not come back from the dead. The evidence is overwhelming that corpses do not levitate into the sky. And the evidence is overwhelming that children who believe that they have an IMAGINARY FRIEND also experience peace, comfort, and security. Are their feelings and perceptions about their invisible friend any different than those Christians claim to receive from their invisible friend. And what about miracles? Jesus only seems to heal conditions that could have very natural explanations, even if that natural explanation is very rare.

        The evidence is very strong to me, my friend: Jesus “the Christ” is simply an imaginary friend. He died two thousand years ago. He is still dead. He was not a god. The intense emotions and perceptions Christians experience are no different than the intense emotions and perceptions of people in other religions and of children with imaginary friends.

        It is all an ancient superstition, friends.

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      7. Gary

        For those of you who are of the evangelical/”born again” branch of Christianity, I would encourage you to think about this: How many born again Christians do you know who have had multiple “born again” experiences for the simple reason is that they “felt” or “perceived” that they may not be truly saved? There is an evangelical pastor from North Carolina who states that he has repeated the born again experience FIVE THOUSAND times!

        This belief causes people serious psychological trauma, folks. I grew up believing that something was wrong with me. The truth is, I was the healthy one! I was the one who figured out that the voice I heard in my head was just…ME!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Jared

        This definitely highlights a culture problem within the church. Churches often tend to employ guilt, shame, and fear as motivators, as opposed to Jesus who routinely employed forgiveness and grace, love in defiance of norms. You don’t see his disciples engaging in the same vanities, yet our churches seem to thrive off altar calls for the already-saved to come back up and do it all over again.
        Churches need to better disciple people to live out the identity and grace God has given. Christian author Shane Claiborne famously called our multiple born again experiences “spiritual masturbation” – it feels good but produces no fruit. You’ve definitely noted a real issue within institutionalized faith.
        I’m going to step out on a limb here and guess the pastor you mention was making a point – that he needs forgiveness daily.
        But the point remains. Handing a faith to someone, however true it may be, can be incredibly damaging if you don’t disciple them along and help them grow more knowledgeable in it. Shallow faith that is easily taken advantage of or shaky theology that is used for corrupt purposes have often been the root of many great problems in our history.

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  12. Joey Henry

    Gary,

    You placed so much faith in scholars. While scholars have their place in weighing the evidence, they are not the final authority. Real evangelicalism places the final authority on Scriptures; and this has been the confession of Christians since day 1: No one believed and confessed that the authors of the Gospels were inventing stories. This is a novel view built by liberal scholars and blindly adopted by conservative scholars with a twist in the 20th century. The Gospel writers did not give a single hint that they were inventing stories. Nor did the Christians that read the Gospels for 2 millenia. The problem with scholars like Licona is that they presuppose that the Gospel is not unique and would follow the conventional method of Plutarch. But did they really have the worldview of Plutarch when writing about Jesus or did the writers have the worldview of the Old Testament where truth and accuracy were rightfully understood and death was the penalty of prophets who speak about God and lied? The background of the Gospels was the worldview of the OT where test is applied to false prophets, who invented prophecies or false events, not the worldview of pagans.

    Sure, there are challenges here and there regarding harmonisation. This is not a surprise for even the early fathers understood the importance of such endeavour. Begin with the right foundation on the nature of Scripture. And here is where Licona should take a pause beacise his proposed solution says that the authors made up stories that didn’t happen and no one since Christianity was founded has confessed that view. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has only spoken now and only the scholars on the 20th centuey unlocked the key to this knowledge. This is not Christianity. This is akin Gnosticism.

    JH

    Like

    1. Gary

      “Real evangelicalism places the final authority on Scriptures; and this has been the confession of Christians since day 1: No one believed and confessed that the authors of the Gospels were inventing stories.”

      There is a difference between inventing an entire story and inventing details in that story. The core story never changed: Jesus was crucified; buried; and shortly thereafter some of his followers claimed to see him alive again. This is what we find in the earliest written Christian record: The Creed in First Corinthians 15.

      What Licona (myself, and the majority of NT scholars) are suggesting is that the authors of the Gospels were not constrained by modern literary rules. It was perfectly acceptable in the first century to change the DETAILS of a Greco-Roman biography as long as the core STORY remained intact.

      Your comment is a demonstration of lay conservative/fundamentalist Christians, once again, setting themselves up as a more knowledgeable authority than the experts in the field.

      Like

  13. Gary

    So, let’s assume that Mike Licona is right: The alleged discrepancies in the Gospels are NOT discrepancies. Variations in the retelling of a story in first century Greco-Roman biographies were perfectly acceptable. Therefore Christians can ignore skeptics’ accusations of discrepancies in the four Gospels. Christians can content themselves with the fact that the Gospels contain eyewitness testimony, and eyewitness testimony is the bedrock of truth claims in most cultures, ancient and modern.

    But there are two BIG problems with this thinking. First, the majority of modern New Testament scholars do NOT believe that the Gospels are primary source documents; the majority of modern NT scholars do NOT believe that eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels. If the majority of scholars are correct on this point, we cannot be certain that the Gospels contain eyewitness testimony. Scholar NT Wright, often quoted by conservative Christians for his study and belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, has said the following: “I do not know who the authors of the Gospels were, and nor does anyone else.” But many conservative Christians believe that the majority of NT scholars (including NT Wright?) are biased, therefore it is irrelevant to many conservative Christians what the majority of NT scholars believe.

    Now to the second point: Even if the majority of NT scholars are wrong; even if the Gospels ARE eyewitness accounts, eyewitness testimony for the supernatural claims of the Gospels are insufficient to establish any of the supernatural truth claims in the Gospels.

    (cont’d)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Gary

    (cont’d) And why is eyewitness testimony, even the eyewitness testimony of FIVE HUNDRED alleged eyewitnesses, insufficient to establish the supernatural truth claims of the Gospels?

    Ask yourself this question: If a report came to you that thirty years ago, in the highlands of Guatemala, a man turned into a volcano after eating magic beans, would you believe this story? I doubt it. But what if FIVE THOUSAND Guatemalan villagers claimed (and those that are still alive are still claiming) this amazing transformation occurred right in front of their very eyes? Would you believe it then? I doubt it. But what if these five thousand villagers were willing to be tortured and killed before recanting their eyewitness testimony? Would you believe it then? I doubt it. EVEN IF you personally went to Guatemala and interviewed dozens or hundreds of the alleged eyewitnesses, I highly doubt that they would ever convince you that a man turned into a lava-spewing volcano after eating magic beans! Why not?

    Answer: Eyewitness testimony is NOT sufficient for such a preposterous, supernatural claim!

    So why should educated adults today believe a similarly preposterous, supernatural claim that a three-day-brain-dead first century corpse came back to life, exited his sealed tomb, ate lunch with his former friends, and later levitated into the clouds based on (circa) FIVE HUNDRED alleged eyewitnesses, none of whom are available for interviewing???

    You see, eyewitness testimony may be sufficient for car accidents and murder trials, but it is NOT sufficient for preposterous, out-of-this-world, supernatural claims.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Peter C.

    Gary,

    I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer – but I am a thinking man. That said, I believe that the LORD spoke the worlds into existence, that God confounded the languages at Babylon, that He called Abraham out and gave him a promise and a promised son in his old age, that Joseph’s vision was from God, that all of the 10 plagues happened just as the Bible says, that the Red Sea parted as told in Exodus, that the fire fell at the dedication of the tabernacle (and at the Temple – and at Elijah’s sacrifice), that the suffering of Christ was really foretold through Isaiah, that a virgin did conceive and bare a son whose name was and is JESUS, that His death, burial and resurrection are the crux of the Gospel and happened just as the Bible tells us it did, that His miracles happened, that the Holy Ghost fell at Pentecost and the people spoke in other languages (tongues) as the Spirit of God gave them utterance, that the lame man was healed at the Gate Beautiful, that miracles were seen at the hand of Peter, Stephen, and more, that I was delivered from hard drugs in a single day (October 1, 1978), that I received the Holy Ghost baptism and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave me utterance, that a man I know named Joe was raised from a death bed when a group of us prayed a simple prayer of faith (doctors said he had a few hours at the most), that God healed a man in my church named Paul from a confirmed bleeding brain aneurism when we prayed, that the Lord still fills people with the Holy Ghost, still cleanses people from sins through the Gospel, still heals, still delivers people from bondage, still casts out demons – and still commands all men everywhere to repent.

    Like

    1. Gary

      Yes, you have experienced some very amazing events in your life, Peter. The problem is, that you are not alone. Muslims claim to experience the same amazing events. Hindus claim to experience the same amazing events. Mormons claim to experience the same amazing events. And guess what, atheists and agnostics claim to experience similar amazing events. (Only we don’t attribute these amazing events to an invisible supernatural being. We call them “rare coincidences”.)

      So, either the Resurrected Jesus is performing amazing miracles for EVERYONE, or, these amazing events are simply rare, but natural coincidences that can and do happen to human beings of all persuasions and belief systems.

      However, I believe that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head.

      You seem to believe in the supernatural claims of Christianity primarily based upon your personal experiences and your subjective feelings/perceptions about those experiences. I would wager that a very high percentage of Christians do the same.

      You believe that the Resurrected Jesus rescued you from a terrible life. But how can you know that this dramatic turn around in your life is due to the supernatural powers of a resurrected first century corpse whom you believe is “God” and not due to the resoluteness of your desire to change? After all, I can post links to you-tube videos of Mormons, Muslims, and even Hare Krishna who can all describe similar dramatic conversions from lives of crime, drugs, and misery.

      And what about the miracle cures you have witnessed or heard of?

      How do you know that these miracles were not simply amazing coincidences? Unless the cure you witnessed was of an amputated leg, arm, (or head) being reattached to a body after prayer to Jesus, you are simply making an assumption. Rare and amazing health cures do occur. Think about how often Christians pray for healing and healing does NOT happen? It has to be a very, very high percentage of the time because the mortality and morbidity rates for Christians is no better than for populations of persons of other religions and even of atheists! So the overwhelming majority of time, people are NOT healed after prayer to Jesus. And since we know that Christians are ALWAYS praying for healing whenever ANYONE is sick, it should come as no surprise that once in a while, some of these people are going to get better, and once in a great while, some very sick people are going to get better very shortly after prayers are said for them.

      It is called: statistical odds!

      As experts often say, humans are very prone to self-deception. There is nothing in your testimony that could not be chalked up to self-deception, Peter: A rare, but natural event occurs and you deceive yourself that it was a “miracle” of Jesus. However, in the real world, self-deception is much more probable to be the cause of extra-ordinary, out-of-this-world claims than that the extra-ordinary claim actually occurred.

      How many Martian abductions have been confirmed to have occurred? Last I checked, none. The people making these claims may very sincerely believe that they had been abducted, but most modern, educated people would agree: They are involved in self-deception.

      The odds strongly suggest that you are doing the same.

      Like

  16. Peter C.

    A few things and I’ll leave it alone:

    You said: “You seem to believe in the supernatural claims of Christianity primarily based upon your personal experiences and your subjective feelings/perceptions about those experiences.” ….”How do you know that these miracles were not simply amazing coincidences? Unless the cure you witnessed was of an amputated leg, arm, (or head) being reattached to a body after prayer to Jesus, you are simply making an assumption.”

    Here you made an assumption – and got the cart before the proverbial horse. I did not say that I believed in the supernatural claims of Christianity because of personal experiences. I believe them because the whole of the Scripture makes sense, and I had and have FAITH in the Word of God. My experience does indeed confirm what I’ve read. Also, I am not merely speaking of “subjective feelings” or “perceptions.” A man with symptoms of a brain aneurism, detailed imaging showing the aneurism, frank blood in the spinal fluid confirming the aneurism, an increase in the frank blood in the spinal fluid by a team of doctors and staff is not a subjective feeling or perception. The prayer that was made at the bedside before a rush into surgery – and what we felt might be considered subjective by some – but the additional imaging with a “mask” to pinpoint where to make the incision–and the fact that the aneurism suddenly “disappeared” is not subjective. It could be that the three neurosurgeons who stood at the foot of his bed were subjective when they said, “when you came in here three days ago we were certain that you had a bleeding brain aneurism, and now—after three days of observation—we are certain that you don’t, so we are releasing you.”

    I could tell you some stories that you could chalk up to coincidence if you wish, but a thinking man could never hear them and chalk them up to coincidence unless they had a great deal of FAITH in amazing “coincidences.”

    ——–

    I can clearly see the handiwork and activity of God in all that I see around me. I see it in His creation (no, I don’t believe in Darwinian evolution or any of the sundry forms of neo-Darwinian evolution including Gould’s “Punctuated Equilibria” non-scientific nonsense), from the heavens to the biochemical complexity of the “simplest” life forms. His eternal power and deity are clearly seen in the things that are everywhere around us.

    The one element that you have misdirected is FAITH. You have faith in your ability to reason, and in amazing coincidences. It could be a coincidence that a young girl in a Costa Rican church service I was in began speaking in tongues in perfect English when she had no knowledge of English, or a multitude of other things I’ve seen that are undeniably miraculous are coincidence. My deliverance from drugs was in no wise coincidence, nor was it my own resolution (I had tried many times). The story behind what brought me to the place to pray for the first time reveals a divine intervention itself. I did not attribute it to God at the time – but after I was converted a year later, I began to see how it was surely divine intervention

    ——-

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
    (Psalms 19:1-3 KJV)

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,”
    (Romans 1:18-22 ASV)

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  17. Gary

    “I could tell you some stories that you could chalk up to coincidence if you wish, but a thinking man could never hear them and chalk them up to coincidence unless they had a great deal of FAITH in amazing “coincidences.” ”

    Have you read the two volume work by Christian apologist, Craig Keener, entitled “Miracles”? I have. It is FULL of thousands of (anecdotal) miracle claims. Keener states that there are hundreds of thousands of miracle cures happening in our very lifetime. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS! So why is it that western medical experts do not list prayer as an effective cure for cancer, tuberculosis, epilepsy and other medical conditions?

    Answer: Since Christians ALWAYS pray for healing, but the overwhelming majority of prayers for medical cures are NOT answered, statistics tell us that the few alleged cures that do occur are no better than random chance. The brain aneurysm case you mention could have a rare, but very natural explanation.

    I am a physician, by the way.

    The last paragraph in your last comment (an angry, judgmental passage from the Bible), obviously directed at me, is the very reason why I speak out against your particular superstition (traditional/conservative Christianity). Your attempt to frighten me with Christian mumbo-jumbo (threats of hellfire and damnation) is no different than the scenario faced by doctors of western medicine who are sometimes confronted in jungle villages by the village medicine man; the village’s “man of god” who feels his power and authority is threatened by the successes of western medical care. He shakes his tom-toms at the western doctor; utters horrific-sounding incantations upon the westerner; and even pokes needles into a voodoo doll of the westerner.

    The western medicine doctor does not shrink in fear of the anger of the god of the furious medicine man. He simply smiles politely and goes on delivering scientifically-based medical care to the inhabitants of the village. He ignores the medicine man. Eventually the villagers learn to ignore the medicine man too. And within a few generations, the ancient superstition dies. I suggest the educated westerners (and everyone else in the world with an education) treat your self-righteous huffing and puffing (religious incantations) in the same manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter C.

      Gary,

      Time will tell who is correct. I’m not huffing or puffing. I believe what I believe and place my confidence in my Bible and the God I believe whose Word is that Bible. I am convinced that the Scriptures I cherish are worthy of that faith.

      In addition to being a conservative pastor, I am also a scientist and earn my living in the scientific fields, often consulting to major healthcare institutions. I find Darwinian and neo-Darwinian evolutionary thought to be theoretical disasters of thought with no basis in the scientific method. Parts of the theories are patently antithetical to the scientific method. To believe them takes unjustifiably great leaps of faith (or willful ignoring of fact). You are a secularist who apparently believes that my faith is in superstition. Again, time will tell who is right and who is wrong. I plan on living my life in a way that I know, through His Word, that pleases my Creator. You feel free to do as you wish, but if you ever get into a jamb and feel the urge to pray — I hope that you will. Take care.

      Like

      1. Gary

        I appreciate the change in tone, Peter.

        Unfortunately time will NOT tell, in my view. You will die and I will die and that will be it. Neither one of us will be able to come back and tell everyone, “Hey guys, I was right!” If however, you are correct, then yes, I will be in big trouble.

        But think of this, Peter. If Muslims are correct YOU will burn for all eternity in the Muslim Hell. If Mormons are correct, you will spend eternity in “utter darkness”. And if the witch doctor in our previously mentioned jungle village is correct, you will suffer terrible diseases in this life and great torment in the Underworld. You see, Peter, Christianity is not the only exclusivist religion. You, Peter are in serious danger, according to many exclusivist religions and cults for not believing THEIR one and only truth.

        Yet, how many hours sleep do you lose worrying about this “fact”?

        I will bet none.

        I simply feel exactly as you…except I add one more religion (yours) to my list of superstitions which I ignore.

        Like

      2. Peter C.

        Gary,

        For the record, my tone never changed. You simply interpreted animosity that was not there. Again, if you find yourself in a jamb sometime and feel compelled to pray to my Lord, Jesus, I hope you do. I had a neighbor who was a confessed atheist who knocked on my door requesting prayer one day when some friends’ private plane went missing over Arizona. Seems sometimes dilemmas can bring out latent understandings (which was the trust of why I inserted those two verses) that I believe God communicates to us through His creation. Best Regards.

        Like

  18. Gary

    Sorry, Peter, but I don’t talk to dead people…even in a jam. I prefer a world of random chance to a world controlled by a capricious god who would kill my children and leave me in ruins, simply over a bet with a devil (eg. Job).

    It’s an ancient superstition. It gave comfort and security to ancient peoples who did not understand how their scary world operated. Modern, educated human adults should not need an invisible (imaginary) friend to make them feel safe and secure.

    Like

    1. Peter C

      Gary,

      It seems to me that you are a man who has fully bought in to the Kantian/ Hegelian philosophy and its offspring that dominates our age—and may not even understand how you acquired it.

      I’ll leave my stated hope the way I wrote it. Again, take care.

      Like

      1. Gary

        I acquired my current position after a great deal of research, Peter. I am a former Christian believer. I loved my faith (which I now believe is a superstition). Superstitions can be very powerful and those who believe them are often spell-bound (and terrorized) by them. I read a long list of NT scholars and came to the conclusion that the evidence for the Christian supernatural claims are very weak. They are dependent upon alleged eyewitness testimony from persons living 20 centuries ago. The problem for Christians is that even the majority of CHRISTIAN New Testament scholars now believes that the Gospels are NOT eyewitness accounts.

        Three day brain dead bodies do not come back to life, Peter. It never happens…except in sci-fi movies and ancient tall tales.

        Like

      2. Peter C.

        You won’t get a convert here Gary. 🙂

        I fully believe that Jesus rose from the dead after three days. You would do as well convincing me that my wife and kids don’t exist as telling me that my Lord does not exist. My relationship with Him is real, vibrant, powerful, consistent and tangible. The direct answers to prayers prayed with great specificity I’ve had are undeniable. The power of His Spirit sweeping through our congregation in a very visible and tangible way – and the many instant physical healings I’ve seen (blindness, cancer, lameness and more cured in an instant – the details of which are incredible) are likewise undeniable. When a woman has metastatic cancer throughout her peritoneal cavity and pleural cavity and is sent out of state to UCSF for what is deemed to be her only potential hope with an experimental treatment – and comes to a service with her niece and is prayed for – and UCSF can find no cancer in her at all after the prayer (three days later when her appointment came) – I call that a healing. You call it coincidence. The moment we prayed, the lady KNEW she had been healed – but had to wait three days for any confirmation. I’m comfortable with calling it a healing – and giving Jesus Christ the glory for it. Not all that calls itself Christian believes in modern day miracles and healing. I suppose much of what goes by the moniker “Christian” has degraded to some sort of deism. I believe in pre-creedal Christianity – and find it to be genuine and powerful.

        I am well aware of modern liberal so-called Christian scholarship that takes biblical criticism to a new level. I’ve read some of their works and use them in some of our graduate level courses dealing with systematic theology, apologetics, etc. I don’t buy it. Again, take care.

        Like

  19. Pingback: Conservative Christian Huffing and Puffing – Escaping Christian Fundamentalism

  20. Gary

    Peter,

    How do you explain the thousands of “miracle” claims in other religions that appear to be just as dramatic as your claims which you say are due to the powers of the resurrected Jesus? If amazing events only happened to Christians, that would be fantastic evidence for the effectiveness of prayers to Jesus. But the fact that thousands of people from many different religions also claim to have been healed after prayers to their god or gods casts serious suspicion on your claim that your healings were due to Jesus, unless, of course, you are claiming that Jesus answers prayers to Allah, Krishna, and the Gum Tree god in the jungle village mentioned above.

    Like

  21. Gary

    I strongly advise that any Christian who believes that he (or she) has experienced such unique experiences (“miracles”) that can only be explained by the power and presence of Jesus/the Holy Spirit within them, watch this brief video:

    Like

      1. RWL

        Peter C.,

        Yes! He is trying so hard. Lol! And it is not working!

        I thank God for people like Dan Wallace (especially, his work entitled ‘Reinventing Jesus’), the works of former atheists, both are now Christians: J. Warner Wallace & Lee Stobel; William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, NT Wright, Gonzalez (his 2 volume work on the story of Christianity is a must have. Based on how Christianity survived and thrived, Jesus should not be the most controversial person in the world as of 2017. The Bible is the most written, discussed, and debated about book, and it shouldn’t be based on the history of Christianity. Furthermore, according to an atheist communist newspaper, China will be the largest Christian nation by 2030. Christianity is growing! And this is against the Pew Research Group who did a horrible study based upon low turnouts in traditional denominational,church attendance. A follow up study was conducted only to uncover that Christians were not leaving their faith but attending non-traditional, non-denominational churches: Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Joseph Prince, etc. These churches have experience tremendous growth in the USA and around the world), and even agnostics/atheists Barth Ehrman (his works & ideas revealed during the debates with Wallace & Craig made me proud to be a Christian), Albert Einstein (his work and comments about the existence of God & the beginnings of the universe gave me confidence to keep on believing in Jesus), atheist philosopher Michael Ruse (who believes that our morality is no different than animals, insects, etc-also known as Herd Morality-thank you Jesus, that I am not on the same morality level as a sheep. But Ruse does a great job of eradicating the popular atheist believe in Ethical/Moral Relativism), and Muslims (not the original Muslims before Muhammed came along) who believe that Jesus will return again (if you’re counting, that’s 4 billion people = 2 billion Christians + 2 billion Muslims, out of the 7 billion people who walk this Earth in 2017, who believe Jesus will return, again).

        Keep praying for Gary! God Bless!

        Like

      2. Gary

        The belief in the supernatural is one of the biggest causes of suffering in our world today. People fly airplanes into buildings and slaughter entire villages for the reason that they believe it is pleasing to THEIR invisible being.

        I believe that conservative Christianity is a cult. Any organization that threatens you with eternal punishment for leaving them is a cult. I am a former member of this cult. I am exposing my former cult in the hopes that others can escape it.

        Like

    1. Erin Corrigan

      The video just confirms that the human heart (the seat of reason) is capable of self deception [Jeremiah 17:9].
      Your self deception is just one form.
      In the millennial kingdom Christ will be present and ruling from Jerusalem, the curse God placed on creation at the fall of Adam will at least partially be lifted, peace and prosperity will abound, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, but after a thousand years of this, Satan is loosed and finds a multitude of human rebels willing to follow him in a final rebellion.

      Like

      1. Gary

        So your ancient holy books says. The good news is that the evidence for the veracity of your holy book’s supernatural claims and prophecies are no better than those of Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, and the worship of the gum tree in our aforementioned jungle village.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Gary

    I’m sure that many of you will dispute my last statement and argue that the accuracy of prophecies in the Bible is 100%. Really? If that were the case, we should see this amazing fact listed in every public university world history textbook on the planet. Do we? No. No we do not. This is the best evidence to demonstrate that the prophecies in the Christian holy book are no more accurate that the predictions of the local fortune teller.

    In addition, if we skeptics can demonstrate that even ONE prophecy in the Bible was inaccurate, this proves that the Bible is errant, and that the god of the Bible is not perfect as Christians claim he is. Here is the prophecy: Ezekiel prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Tyre. He did not. He spared the city. The fact that Alexander the Great destroyed the city 400 years later does not qualify as a fulfillment of the original prophecy.

    Bible prophecy fails.

    Like

  23. Gary

    Ezekiel 26:

    For thus says the Lord God: I will bring against Tyre from the north King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, king of kings, together with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a great and powerful army.

    8 Your daughter-towns in the country
    he shall put to the sword.
    He shall set up a siege wall against you,
    cast up a ramp against you,
    and raise a roof of shields against you.

    9 He shall direct the shock of his battering rams against your walls
    and break down your towers with his axes.

    10 His horses shall be so many
    that their dust shall cover you.
    At the noise of cavalry, wheels, and chariots
    your very walls shall shake,
    when he enters your gates
    like those entering a breached city.

    11 With the hoofs of his horses
    he shall trample all your streets.
    He shall put your people to the sword,
    and your strong pillars shall fall to the ground.

    12 They will plunder your riches
    and loot your merchandise;
    they shall break down your walls
    and destroy your fine houses.
    Your stones and timber and soil
    they shall cast into the water.

    13 I will silence the music of your songs;
    the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more.

    14 I will make you a bare rock;
    you shall be a place for spreading nets.
    You shall never again be rebuilt,
    for I the Lord have spoken,
    says the Lord God.

    15 Thus says the Lord God to Tyre: Shall not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan, when slaughter goes on within you? 16 Then all the princes of the sea shall step down from their thrones; they shall remove their robes and strip off their embroidered garments. They shall clothe themselves with trembling, and shall sit on the ground; they shall tremble every moment, and be appalled at you. 17 And they shall raise a lamentation over you, and say to you:

    How you have vanished[a] from the seas,
    O city renowned,

    Gary: Oops! You made a big mistake, Yahweh. This is absolute proof that you do not exist. You are no more real than Zeus or Jupiter.

    I know that Christian apologists have tied themselves in knots trying to harmonize this passage with historical fact, but in order for this prophecy to be accurate, it had to be Nebuchadnezzar (Nebuchadrezzar) who utterly destroyed Tyre, not anyone else, and historians are very certain that Nebuchadnezzar spared the city. He did NOT destroy it. This is a failed prophecy, and one failed prophecy dooms conservative Christianity.

    Like

    1. Erin Corrigan

      Gary:

      You may actually have the opportunity to witness the fulfillment of bible prophecy that is not yet fulfilled according to a dispensationalist view of the scriptures. In Ezekiel 38-39, there is an attack on Israel by a coalition of nations that many commentators identify as Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia), and Turkey (Gomer). Some commentators place the attack before the tribulation, such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Today we see a cooperative relationship between Russia and Iran, and one forming with Turkey. And, with the Syrian conflict, Russia has been able to place itself in Syria, Israel’s bordering northern neighbor. If Dr. Fruchtenbaum is correct that it precedes the tribulation, then the opportunity to witness it would be even sooner than those who place the attack in the tribulation. Furthermore, you have already been a witness to, although unwittingly, the regathering of Israel from among the nations, which Dr. Fruchtenbaum points out is a two phased regathering. One phase before the tribulation, which has been in progress, and the second phase coming after the tribulation. Also, Jerusalem becoming a burdensome stone to the nations. But, then if men are able to rise up in rebellion at the end of a thousand year kingdom, with the Christ ruling from Jerusalem, and the knowledge of the Lord filling the earth, I don’t hold out much hope that you will be able to perceive the fulfillment of prophecy in your day.

      Like

      1. Gary

        Hi Erin,

        I am the son of an independent, KJV only, pre-milleniel, fundamentalist Baptist preacher. I am 56 years old. I grew up being taught that the Second Coming would occur before the generation passed that saw the establishment of the state of Israel. I was told that this event was an absolute certainty. Jesus HAD to come back sometime prior to 1988 because that it was the passage says.

        Guess what?

        Jesus didn’t come back.

        I also grew up hearing about Gog and Magog and that the “ten horns” were the Common Market, etc., etc.. I listened spell-bound to Christian evangelists preaching doom and gloom and that the “End of World is Nigh”.

        My grandmother said that when she was growing up in the 1930’s the fundamentalists would go out and stand on the haystacks expecting the Rapture to occur…only to be disappointed…once again.

        Did you know that in the year 1,000 AD, many Christians believed that the Second Coming would occur. It didn’t…

        It’s a silly ancient tale, Erin. I strongly encourage you to abandon ancient superstitions and embrace Reason, Science, and the Enlightenment.

        Like

  24. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    I understand what you are saying. Edgar Whisenant popularized the 1988 date. Hal Lindsey’s book. “The Late Great Planet Earth”, predicted no later than 1988. There were many predictions before those men, and those dates, and there are a plethora of predictions on the internet today. No doubt you are familiar with the prediction that the rapture is going to happen this rosh hashanah, which is 14 days from now. The logic is that Jesus’ first coming entailed his sacrifice on Pesach, the church began on Shavuot, and if the pattern is to be kept, then the rapture will correlate with the feast of trumpets (rosh hashanah), particularly since it is written that the trumpet of the Lord sounds. And, there are many signs in the heavens, and some compute this to be a jubilee year, so it is a candidate. I don’t expect the rapture in 14 days.

    Next year, 2018, will be a year of great expectation, since some say that the generation that sees the blooming of the fig tree will be the generation that sees the Lord’s coming. Israel is the fig tree, it began blooming in 1948, a generation is 70 years, 1948 + 70 = 2018. His coming can’t be any later than 2018.

    What is funny is that you are the son of a fundamentalist preacher who has now lost faith in what you were brought up to believe, and I am the son of an agnostic, who died as an agnostic at age 93. My dad had faith that science was going to progress and solve all of mankinds problems, and I had that mind set through my undergrad degree in college. I was in my mid twenties before I ever heard the gospel. That is 47 years ago now.

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    1. Gary

      Yes, we have two interesting backgrounds, Erin.

      Prior to 1988, fundamentalist Christians said that a “generation” in the Bible was 40 years. It is interesting that they are now saying 70 years.

      “His coming can’t be any later than 2018.”

      Are you sure about that?? Tell you what, Erin. If Jesus comes back prior to the end of 2018, and you are taken up in the Rapture, I will donate $1,000 dollars to your favorite charity. If it doesn’t happen, and you are still here on January 1, 2019, will you donate $1,000 dollars to my favorite charity?

      Like

      1. Peter C

        I’ve never been one to “predict” His coming. In fact, everyone I knew felt that the whole 1988 this was silly.

        According to the Scripture, no one knows the day/hour of His coming. I believe that so firmly that I believe if someone DID guess the day and hour – the Lord would change it. 🙂

        The Bible also predicts that there would be scoffers in the last days saying “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

        Yet He IS coming back for His church – and while I’m convinced I’m living in the generation that will see His return – I know that I cannot predict when. The Lord is longsuffering, and not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. The context of 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that this is why the Lord appears to delay His coming – it is His longsuffering and love for humanity. It is not His will that anyone would pay the penalty for their own sin – this is why the Lord came in the likeness of sinful flesh – to pay the just penalty for sin on our behalf. He is not the fictitious unjust judge you make him out to be, Gary. Rather, He is the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Our Bible is the story of, as one writer put it, the unfolding drama of redemption.

        Like

      2. Erin Corrigan

        I wasn’t saying I believe the rapture is coming in 2018, I was using a scenario you see on the internet. But, I can see why you thought I did predict 2018, since I didn’t deny it before I did a segway to a comparison between you and myself.

        Another comparison is I would be a type of your father, and my oldest son would be a type of you. My son is a professor of philosophy at U of Miami. My wife and I were hoping he was going to fly out today, but his flight got cancelled. So, it looks like he gets to meet Irma.

        Like

    1. Peter C: 2 Peter 3:9 makes no sense whatsoever. God will have to delay his judgement forever if he wants to avoid punishing most of mankind. That’s because new, unsaved humans are appearing all the time – about 353,000 babies are born each day. The longer God leaves it, therefore, the more unsaved humans there will be, simply because, as time goes on, the more of us there are.

      If God had got on with the judgement in the first century, as Jesus said he would (Matthew 16.27-28; 24.27, 30-31, 34; Luke 21:27-28, 33-34 etc) then the unsaved would have been far fewer: the population of the world then was about 300 million; today it is 7.4 billion. The judgement then might have resulted in only 250 million people being unredeemed; the same percentage today would see 6.3 billion people, whom you say God loves, burning in Hell forever.

      2 Peter 3.9 is an incredibly weak excuse for why the judgement hadn’t occurred when Jesus, and Paul, believed it would. It was concocted by someone (and, no, it wasn’t Peter) who had no conception of how the world’s population would increase over the next two thousand years.

      Like

  25. RWL

    Peter C. & Erin C.,

    I’m a historic premillennialist, (see wiki link for definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic premillennialism), and I kinda sorta don’t believe in the pre-tribulational rapture or the idea of ‘not knowing the day or the hour’ of Christ’s-return-theory (it’s really misinterpreted). I believe before Christ comes back there will be a very dark, period known as the 7 year Tribulation. After these 7 years, then Christ will return (in other words, once the 7 year tribulation starts, then we will know when Christ will return. In the Bible-Matthew 24-25; Luke 21-Jesus tells us the signs when these 7 years start. You can also find more on this in the book of Daniel and Revelation).

    For more please….please… read the following link (or the first 4-5 paragraphs of this massive research on the Coming Tribulation. I’ve read most of it. I couldn’t stop reading it.):

    http://www.ichthys.com/Tribulation-Part1.htm

    Hopefully, you won’t have the same response as my teenage daughter: ‘That’s scary.’

    Like

  26. Gary

    Hi Peter C.,

    You said, ” He is not the fictitious unjust judge you make him out to be, Gary. Rather, He is the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Our Bible is the story of, as one writer put it, the unfolding drama of redemption.”

    Let’s take a look at the alleged facts of your belief system to see if your god is the loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing being that you believe him to be:

    -He is a perfect, all-knowing, eternal, all-powerful being.

    -After existing for countless millennia, he decides at some point he wants to create a universe, and on one small planet in that vast universe, he wants to create little creatures, some of whom he will create in his image (humans).

    -He decides he wants to give these little “mini-me”s a free will. Why? If the Bible is correct, believers will live forever as perfect beings (without a free will to sin). Therefore for the overwhelming majority of one’s existence, you will NOT have a free will. So why did Yahweh create a free-will in humans? For our benefit or for his benefit? Being perfect (a robot?) can’t be too bad if Yahweh determined that believers will spend most of their existence in this state, so why not just create us perfect and incapable of sinning in the Garden of Eden??? The answer is obvious: Giving us a free will was for YAHWEH’S benefit: He needed someone to love him, or worse, he needed something to play with.

    -He created the universe and humans knowing full well that within a short period of time he would drown the overwhelming majority of them in a Flood. He created humans knowing that the overwhelming majority would end up in the fires of Hell (“broad is the path to destruction…”). Yet he created us anyway. How can anyone with any sense of rationality believe that Creation was for OUR benefit?

    -He placed a tree of temptation right in the middle of the garden where the humans would have to pass by it frequently and face temptation. Why create the tree to begin with? But why put it in the middle of the Garden?? And why allow an evil serpent (or the devil) to have access to these humans to tempt them? It is almost as if Yahweh WANTED the humans to fail.

    -But we all know what happened, the humans ate Yahweh’s forbidden fruit, and he condemned them to a life of hard labor and the prospect of an eternity burning in Hell fire (or whatever your brand of Christianity claims happens in Hell).

    -This curse is passed down to every human being. Yahweh punishes children for the sins of their great, great, great, etc., etc.,…grandparents. That is not just.

    -After allowing humanity to suffer in misery for thousands of years, most of them presumably going to Hell when they died, Yahweh decides to send himself, in the form of his son, to be born of Jewish virgin, who was impregnated by Yahweh’s holy ghost, to live for circa 33 years as a human, and then die an excruciating death on a tree…to atone for…our ancient ancestor’s sin of forbidden-fruit-eating and for our sins which according to the doctrine of original sin, we couldn’t help but commit. Yahweh had inserted into our “DNA”.

    And you call these deeds the acts of a loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing being, Peter??? By any standard, he is a selfish, sadistic, monster. If this story is true, we must grovel on our knees to him, worship him, and obey him as our Master and Dictator. But no human being with a thinking brain should say that this being is “good”. No thinking human being should call this being “Father”.

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  27. Pingback: God is So Good! (Remember that Sunday School Song?) – Escaping Christian Fundamentalism

    1. Erin Corrigan

      Thank you, Gary. He is now part of the human herd moving north to Georgia by automobile. And, you have probably seen the news about gas shortages hampering travel.

      Like

  28. Joey Henry

    Gary,

    Indeed, in your worldview, God is not worthy to be called “Father” or “good”. But, in your worldview, it does not really matter whether God is worthy of being called “Father” or “good”. All these concepts are merely a product of brain matter banging each other. Goodness or Fatherhood in your worldview are nothing more than a by-product of electric impulses produced by a brain matter. So, I don’t get why you are so passionate on painting a narrative about God — that he is “selfish”, “evil”, “dictator”, etc. In your worldview, why would that even matter at all? “Evil” or “goodness” have no real meaning afterall. How can these ‘concepts’ have real meaning in a purely material world? Are not the concept of good and evil merely a result of atoms banging each other on our brain?

    By judging God’s character or worthiness through a set of “standard” as if “goodness” can be defined and has meaning, you are actually borrowing from a worldview you seek to discredit to make your argument rational and sensible. I suggest to you that the very argument you made to discredit God, is the strongest proof of his existence. The moment you said, “I think…” — that is the end of your worldview.

    Sincerely,
    Joey Henry

    Like

    1. Gary

      The Japanese have moral standards and they are not based on Judeo-Christianity. If you want to attribute humanity’s innate sense of morality to a Creator God, that is fine, but you cannot assign our innate sense of morality to the Judeo-Christian god as other cultures have moral standards and their cultures do not have their origins in Judeo-Christianity.

      Animal studies show that animals who live in herds or packs have “morals”; they have rules of acceptable behavior for all members of the herd. Most mammals are “herd or pack” animals. In chimpanzee troops, for example, it is acceptable to kill (and eat) the infant of another troop, but it is not acceptable to kill the infant of a member of your troop.

      We see this same “morality” in the Old Testament. The Israelites did not allow the killing of infants among the Israelites, but killing the infants of their enemies was perfectly moral.

      Animals studies indicate that many animal species, including humans, have rules of behavior (morals) for the herd, pack, or troop. This is a by product of evolution and natural selection. The herds in which individuals follow the rules of the herd (they look out for the well-being of others in the herd) are more likely to survive than herds in which everyone looks out for himself.

      Morality is biology, not theology.

      I condemn the immorality of your (imaginary) god by the moral standards of my “herd”.

      Like

      1. Joey Henry

        Gary,

        In your worldview, the word ‘condemn’ has no meaning at all. The word ‘morality’ has no meaning also. These are merely by-products of brain matter banging each other. In fact, every word you wrote makes no sense in your worldview as their meaning is illusory. They are merely by products of electrical impulses of your brain similar to an ice melting. And worst of all, in your worldview, your statement about ‘condemning’ God has no significance whatsoever.

        I have not argued that the existence of morality can be attributed to the Christian God, though I believe that. What I have argued is that, the concept of ‘morality’ is inconsistent with your worldview. Atoms banging each other have no moral significance. Thus, the statement you made regarding ‘condemning’ God has no meaning and basis in your worldview. The argument itself borrows from the worldview it seeks to condemn in order for it to make sense and to have significance.

        PS. It is irrelevant to argue about japanese morality and it’s origin. In fact, your materialistic worldview is a direct contradiction of the sun worshippers of Japan. But again, why would that matter anyway? Atoms banging each other worshipping the sun AND atoms banging each other sprouting thoughts that worshipping the sun is silly have no meaning, truth value nor significance in your worldview. To insists that it does is to ask us to believe that there is ‘something’ out there beyond ‘matter’ which contradicts worldview. In other words, the best proof that your worldview is false is the argument you just made regarding the ‘evil acts’ of God. It is saying loud and clear: My worldview is inconsistent.

        Sincerely,
        Joey Henry

        Like

  29. Gary

    I notice that no one has addressed Ezekiel’s failed prophecy.

    So is this failed prophecy something that no Christian apologist has ever dealt with? Is this a SHOCKING revelation to Christian scholars? Well, of course not. There is ALWAYS a harmonization for every contradiction in the Christian holy book. After all, Christians have had two thousand years to concoct these harmonizations. Here is one conservative Christian harmonization for why Nebuchadnezzar did not utterly destroy the city of Tyre as a literal reading of Ezekiel chapter 26 says:

    ““Thus, by taking a close look at Ezekiel’s literary artistry, Newsom has reached the conclusion that Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign is simply one episode out of a continuous succession of nation after nation. She has correctly discerned that Ezekiel is describing a gradual process of one nation after another slowly wearing down Tyre, rather than Nebuchadnezzar doing it all at once. Her insight into this metaphor of waves shows the changes from singular to plural in this passage are not merely random variations, but are intentional and significant to grasping the meaning of the prophecy…”

    Source: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/12/07/Ezekiel-261-14-A-Proof-Text-For-Inerrancy-or-Fallibility-of-The-Old-Testament.aspx#Article

    Gary: Ohhhh! Silly, silly me. Ezekiel was speaking METAPHORICALLY in this passage. When Ezekiel talks about “waves” he was signaling that “waves of conquerors” would attack the city of Tyre; the destruction of Tyre would occur in stages; that Alexander the Great would finish off the city, 400 years after Nebuchadnezzar started the process.

    How convenient.

    It seems that the authors of this ancient holy book are only speaking literally on subjects which science, archeology, and historians haven’t yet disproved. Once science proves a literal interpretation of a text false (such as the earth rotating around the sun instead of the sun rotating around the earth) then the theologians and apologists quickly label that passage as “metaphorical”.

    It’s an ancient superstition, folks.

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    1. Erin Corrigan

      Gary:

      An alternative explanation of the Ezekiel prophecy regarding Tyre, is to see Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction as only the beginning of destruction upon Tyre, and that the “many nations” (Eze. 26:3) would include subsequent attacks by Egypt, Greece, Rome, and others. Thus, to see the prophecies fulfillment requires a hindsight perspective future to Ezekiel’s day, rather than in his day.

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      1. Gary

        I discussed that interpretation above. Hindsight enables one to “reinterpret” the text to fit ones agenda and preconceived beliefs. The simple reading of the text says that NEBUCHADNEZZAR would utterly destroy the city of Tyre. He did not.

        It is a FAILED prophecy, and one failed prophecy, proves:

        -the Bible is NOT inerrant
        -Yahweh’s prediction capabilities are faulty
        -Yahweh is not perfect
        -Jesus was wrong to believe that Yahweh was perfect
        -Jesus was not perfect, therefore he was not Yahweh, therefore he was not God.

        Like

    2. Erin Corrigan

      Other hindsight prophecies would include the virgin birth, and the dispensationalists treatment of Daniel’s 70th week.

      Like

    3. Joey Henry

      Gary,

      Before we can engage about evidences and proofs, we need to establish first on what basis we can rightly interpret and rationalise ‘proof’. We also need to ask the signficance of even asking why we need to ask what we are asking (pun intended). Obviously, you are interpreting your data according to a worldview. I am interpreting data based on a certain worldview also. Although we are looking at the same event, our worldview dictates the way we interpret the evidence.

      So, even before asking Christians for proof and explanation, let me ask you first of all — why should it matter, given your naturalistic materialistic worldview? Is there such a thing as ‘true’ or ‘false’ in your worldview? What is the significance of truth? Or are concepts of truth relative to culture? If not, how then can these be grounded in your worldview? If there is no ground, how then is it relevant to talk about proof and evidences? Why does it matter in your worldview to know the answer to your questions in the first place?

      Sincerely,
      Joey Henry

      Like

      1. Gary

        Nice try, Joey. You are trying to convince me (and others reading this thread) that I have no basis of knowledge or basis for determining what is moral and immoral because I reject the existence of your ancient Canaanite deity. You fail once again.

        Western cultures have selected a preferred method for evaluating truth claims. It’s called the Scientific Method. I nor anyone else can prove to you that the Scientific Method is the one and only truth, but most of us in western culture believe it has the best track record so far, much better than that of your ancient holy book.

        I choose this method for evaluating truth not because I know it is the one and only truth but because that is what my “herd” has selected to use, and I agree with that selection.

        Like

      2. Joey Henry

        Gary,

        I am not even trying to prove my worldview yet. I am asking though how your worldview can make sense. So, your claim is that ‘scientific method’ can determine truth claims. But how so? The so called ‘scientific method’ is merely a by product of atoms banging each other. How is this movement of atoms more relevant than a star exploding? And how is your thinking more superior than a frog? From what I can understand, you are merely asserting a presupposition that don’t have any justification in your naturalistic materialistic worldview. Why would we choose your brand of ‘scientific method’ over ours? And to make it worst, why does it even matter if it is true that there is no reality beyond ‘matter and energy’? Obviously, the brain cells evolved to think that there is God and other brain cells evolved to think that there is no God. Why is the by-product of your brain impulses to be believed than the by-product of my brain cells or a frog’s brain cell?

        Furthermore, whose ‘scientific method’ should determine truth in your worldview? The ‘scientific method’ of the people 50 years ago, current, or 100 years in the future? Are you admitting then that there are ‘scientific methods’ that are absolutes unaffected by time, space and matter? If there are absolutes in your worldview to determine truth, theb you just ditch your whole worldview and threw it in rubbish bin. For how can a naturalistic materialistic worldview account for ‘truth’ and ‘falsity’ and the significance of those concept of it is true that there is no reality beyond matter? Tell me, what is even the point of arguing in your worldview?

        Again, the response above is shouting at me: MY WORLDVIEW IS INCONSISTENT.

        Sincerely,
        Joey Henry

        Like

  30. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    In sequence I see

    26:3 “I … will cause many nations to come up against you”
    26:7 the calling of Nebuchadnezzar
    26:7-11 the damage done by Nebuchadnezzar
    26:12 the damage done beginning in vs 12 following is by the “they” which would seem to be the “many nations”

    Like

    1. Gary

      There is no “they” in verses 7-11, only “he”. Any second grader reading this passage can determine who the pronoun “he” is referring to: Nebuchadnezzar.

      For thus says the Lord God: I will bring against Tyre from the north King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, king of kings, together with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a great and powerful army.

      8 Your daughter-towns in the country
      he shall put to the sword.
      He shall set up a siege wall against you,
      cast up a ramp against you,
      and raise a roof of shields against you.

      9 He shall direct the shock of his battering rams against your walls
      and break down your towers with his axes.

      10 His horses shall be so many
      that their dust shall cover you.
      At the noise of cavalry, wheels, and chariots
      your very walls shall shake,
      when he enters your gates
      like those entering a breached city.

      11 With the hoofs of his horses
      he shall trample all your streets.
      He shall put your people to the sword,
      and your strong pillars shall fall to the ground.

      Gary: So let’s answer these questions:

      Did Nebuchadnezzar break down the towers/walls of the city?
      Did Nebuchadnezzar enter the gates of Tyre?
      Did Nebuchadnezzar trample “all” the streets of Tyre?
      Did Nebuchadnezzar put the people of Tyre to the sword?
      Did Nebuchadnezzar cause the strong pillars of Tyre fall?

      Answer: No. No. No. No. And, no.

      Like

  31. RWL

    Gary,

    As Peter C. stated earlier: ‘You are trying way too hard.’ For what? Why come to a Christian blog with your ideology? So far, noone, on this blog, has decided to give up Jesus for your beliefs. Based on the info that I gave you, the world is becoming more Christian and Muslim by day (and feel free to fact check the info that I provided to you).

    Since you left your faith simply due your emotional intelligence (and there is nothing wrong with using emotional intelligence, but this should not be your only source of acquiring knowledge to make an informed decision), I think you should try the J. Warner Wallace or Lee Strobel’s challenge. Both were atheists who accepted the challenge of doing there homework to posit that Christianity is ‘faulty’. After doing their homework (using their educational backgrounds..Wallace was a former police detective and Strobel was a legal research investigative journalist for the Tribune & the NY Times) via researching numerous pieces of documents/evidence and interviewing various experts in certain areas as textual criticism, philosophy, science, religion, ancient Greek & Hebrew languages & texts, etc., they found not only enough evidence to state that there is a higher probability for Christianity to be true than ‘faulty’ (William Lane Craig does an excellent job of using/delineating the statistics for the probability factors in his book ‘Reasonable Faith’), but also Strobel & Wallace became Christians.

    I am praying for you every day! God bless.

    Like

    1. Gary

      Hi RWL,

      Below is the list of all the scholars I have read on the topic of the Resurrection and other truth claims of Christianity. Can YOU say that you have read just as many books by skeptics/critics on these subjects??? If not, I suggest that your statement that I left Christianity due to “emotional” intelligence is unfounded. I HAVE studied the evidence, extensively, and found Christianity sorely lacking in good evidence for its supernatural claims.

      1. “The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
      2. “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham
      3. “Making the Case for Christianity” by Maas, Francisco, et al.
      4. ” The Resurrection Fact” by Bombaro, Francisco, et al.
      5. “Miracles” , Volumes 1 and 2, by Craig Keener
      6. “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
      7. “Why are There Differences in the Gospels” by Michael Licona
      8. “The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig
      9. “The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus” by Raymond Brown
      10. “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Gerd Luedemann
      11. “Resurrection Reconsidered” by Gregory Riley
      12. “John and Thomas—Gospels in Conflict?” by Christopher Skinner
      13. “The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor
      14. “Israel in Egypt” by James Hoffmeier
      15. “The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Silberman
      16. “The Resurrection of Jesus in the Light of Jewish Burial Practices” by Craig Evans, (newsletter article) The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, May 4, 2016
      17. “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?” by Jodi Magness, SBL Forum
      18. “Genre, Sub-genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman biography” (article) by Justin M. Smith, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
      19. “Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus” by Asher Norman (not a work of scholarship per se, but it is endorsed by Talmudic scholars for its accuracy in presenting a Jewish perspective of Jesus and the Christian New Testament)

      Like

      1. RWL

        Gary,

        Yes. I have even read and own some of the books on your list. I don’t know if I have read more than you have (does it really matter since neither one of us are Biblical Scholars, and even Biblical Scholars have made mistakes, like some of the ones on your list?). I see that you only read books/articles in Theology. You need to read books in the field of science, philosophy, and watch some of the debates between atheist and Christians. You will see that Christians win most of the time:

        http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=392

        Here is my list that I have read (I am only including books, since some of these books are a collection of essays/research):

        Paul and the Faithfulness of God by NT Wright
        The New Testament and the People of God by NT Wright
        Jesus and the Victory of God by NT Wright
        Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham
        The Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright
        The Faith of Israel by William Dumbrell
        An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown
        The Resurrection of Jesus by Michael Licona
        Reinventing Jesus by Dan Wallace, Komoszewski, & Sawyer
        Contending with Christianity’s Critics by Paul Copan & William Lane Craig
        Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
        New Wine for the End Times by Philip Brown
        The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
        Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith by J. Warner Wallace
        The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology by Thomas Flint & Michael Rea (I have read several essays/research articles in this book, but not the entire book).
        Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen Meyer
        The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom by George Schroeder

        Currently, I am reading ‘The First Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Greek Testament Commentary) by Thiselton, Anthony C.

        Like

      2. RWL

        Gary,

        I forgot to add the NIV Study Bible 2011 edition, Zondervan publishers. I read this everyday via a bible schedule. For anyone who needs a bible schedule: Biblestudytools.com has several options

        Like

    1. Gary

      Yes, in verse 12 the author starts talking about “they” after spending many verses talking about “he” (Nebuchadnezzar).

      The opening verses speak of many nations coming against Tyre. Then the author starts a new discussion about Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign against Tyre. In this discussion, the pronoun “he” is repetitively used. If you read verse 11 and then verse 12 there is no obvious change of subjects. In verse 10 and 11 the author discusses Nebuchadnezzar and his horses. But in verse 12 he does start using the pronoun “they”.

      Why?

      You are saying that in midstream, without advising his readers that he has changed subjects, the author is using “they” to refer to “the many nations”, way back at the beginning of the chapter. I suggest that a more logical reading is that the “they” in verse 12 is Nebuchadnezzar, his horses, and his soldiers.

      I suggest that all readers of this thread read Ezekiel 26 with an open, unbiased mind and see which interpretation you feel is the more logical reading of the passage.

      Like

      1. Erin Corrigan

        Gary:

        Let’s assume you are correct, that the “they” in 26:12. refers to the plurals in 26:11.

        The prophecy against Tyre in Ezekiel 26 comes in the 11th year, but 16 years later in the 27th year Ezekiel says that (Ezekiel 29:18) though Nebuchadnezzar came against Tyre strenuously, they never were able to extract any booty. Later, Nebuchadnezzar comes against Egypt, prevails, and takes a booty. It doesn’t seem reasonable to say that Tyre utterly fell to Nebuchadnezzar, but he carried away no booty.

        Ezekiel is indicating Tyre did not utterly fall to Nebuchadnezzar in Ezekiel 29.

        A subtle transition, such as the “they” in 26:12, following the “he” in 26:11, is similar to the transition from the Prince of Tyre to the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. Most commentators note that they are not the same individual, but it is one seemless narrative.

        Like

  32. RWL

    Gary,

    I also forgot to add: if you did do your homework (and it’s obvious that you didn’t), then you are very immature (for lack of better words) to come on a Christian blog (or any blog, email, phone, etc.) and state that Christianity is superstitious (are you here to increase your faith in whatever you believe in or to recruit new members to your ‘cult’.?…are you here because you need someone to pray for you so that you can get your faith in Christ back? I am sure everyone is scratching there heads, wondering why you would come to a Christian blog and denigrate Christianity. It’s like me going into a Muslim mosque and start telling everyone that Muhammed the Prophet never existed, and that he was a Jew.

    Even atheist-turned-agnostic philosopher Paul Draper, in his article “The Problem of Evil”, stated:

    ‘Logical arguments from evil are a dying (dead?) breed. . . . even an omnipotent and omniscient being might be forced to allow evil for the sake of obtaining some important good. Our knowledge of goods and evils and the logical relations they bear to each other is much too limited to prove that this could not be the case.’

    Like

    1. Gary

      Is this blog a Christian-only blog? Are only Christians allowed to comment? My comments have been on topic: Mike Licona’s new book, which I read, and then a discussion of why Licona’s reasoning (that the alleged discrepancies in the Gospels are not really discrepancies; they are permissible variations in a Greco-Roman biography) doesn’t really help the principal goal of his book: to increase Christians’ confidence that the Gospels contain accurate, historical facts.

      Like

      1. RWL

        Gary,

        Your comments started on track, but then they went off the rails. You went into a rant about how Christianity is ‘faulty’, ‘superstitious’, etc.

        Like

  33. RWL

    Gary,

    Here is more research for your ‘superstitious’ comment. I encourage everyone to look at the chart/research conducted by a secular group, Pew Research:

    https://winteryknight.com/2014/08/24/pew-survey-evangelical-christians-least-likely-to-believe-superstitious-nonsense/#comments

    ‘The least superstitious people are conservative evangelical Republicans, while the most superstitious people are Democrat liberals who don’t attend church. I think there is something to be learned from that. It’s consistent with the results of a Gallup survey that showed that evangelical Christians are the most rational people on the planet.’

    Like

    1. Gary

      What is the definition of “superstitious” in this study? That makes a big difference.

      If “superstitious” is defined as believing that black cats, stepping on cracks, walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, and opening umbrellas indoors, all bring bad luck, then liberal Democrats will probably be “more superstitious”.

      If your definition of superstitious is “any belief in supernatural forces, powers, and beings” (which is my definition of that term) then I believe that conservative Republicans would win hands down because most atheists, agnostics, and other skeptics are not conservative and not Republican.

      Definition of terms matters.

      Like

    2. Gary

      “evangelical Christians are the most rational people on the planet.”

      Rational, modern, educated people do not believe that virgins can be impregnated by ghosts. Rational, modern, educated people do not believe that a man can walk on water. Rational, modern, educated people do not believe that a three-day-brain-dead corpse can exit its sealed tomb and fly off into outer space…UNLESS…they have grown up in a culture that continues to consider these beliefs socially acceptable as part of the predominant religion of the society, but rejects all other supernatural claims.

      Like

      1. RWL

        Gary,

        You didn’t read the study (you read my comments and/or the article about the study). Please read the study. Changing the definition to fit your perspective will not help. It is only evidence that you have not read the study.

        Remember: 4 billion people and counting (according to secular, liberal statics) believe that a ‘three-day-brain-dead corpse’ (Jesus) will return back to Earth. It seems like most of the planet is becoming rational (or irrational in your view?).

        You still didn’t review the History of Christianity. If you read the books, that you claim to have read, then you should be scratching (as any rational person would?) your head as to why Christianity became the most dominant religion in the world? Why the vast majority of people, and growing, who are currently, alive believe that a ‘three-day-brain-dead corpse’ (Jesus) will return?

        I already know what you are going to say: ‘they are all irrational.’ Right?

        Like

  34. Gary

    “Your comments started on track, but then they went off the rails. You went into a rant about how Christianity is ‘faulty’, ‘superstitious’, etc.”

    Any comment of mine to that effect was in response to something another commenter said. I did not make such a comment “out of the blue”.

    Like

    1. RWL

      Gary,

      Please scroll back up, and review how you made comment after comment about how Christianity was untrue. You went on for a couple of days, with this same line of reasoning, without anyone responding to you.

      Don’t worry. I am encouraging everyone on this blog, if they haven’t done so, to pray for you.

      God bless

      Like

  35. Gary

    RWL: “Remember: 4 billion people and counting (according to secular, liberal statics) believe that a ‘three-day-brain-dead corpse’ (Jesus) will return back to Earth. It seems like most of the planet is becoming rational (or irrational in your view?).”

    Argumentum ad Populum

    At one point in time, it was a near universal belief that the sun revolves around the earth. Guess what? Everyone was WRONG.

    Just because most or all people believe something does NOT make it true.

    My advice is this: Use science and reason to investigate truth claims, not ancient holy books.

    Like

    1. RWL

      Gary,

      You didn’t answer my question.: Are the 4 billion people, not even including those who have died and those who will become Christians, irrational? I didn’t say that ‘just because most or all people believe something…..’ I asked you a question based upon your statement. If you can’t answer it, then I will understand.

      ‘My advice is this: Use science and reason to investigate truth claims, not ancient holy books.’

      Didn’t you see the list that I gave you?

      Included in this list is several books:

      Wallace’s Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith

      Craig’s ‘Reasonable Faith’
      ,
      Meyer’s ‘Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design’,

      The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel,

      The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom by George Schroeder.

      In each book, ‘science & reason’ (philosophy, mathematics, statistics, & science: I hoping that is what you are comprehending when you say ‘science & reason’) are utilize to posit support for not only the existence of God, but also Christ’s resurrection.

      Please take time to do your homework before commenting on something.

      Like

      1. Gary

        Yes, anyone who believes that a three-day-brain-dead corpse can come back to life is irrational (at least on this one truth claim), even if the number of people who believe this is in the millions or billions.

        Like

      2. RWL

        Gary,

        You are not thinking before you write/speak. Think about the number of well-educated people that you are calling irrational. I will just name a few: Dan Wallace (blog owner), William Lane Craig (and I even gave you an atheists’ link, admiring Dr. Craig for his intellect), George Schroeder, Gary Habermas, Mike Licona etc..

        When you engage in name calling [calling people irrational without looking at all the evidence, including the examining/reading the books & debates that I mentioned to you, (and according to you, you read one of Licona & Habermas’ book-even well-educated atheists who have debated Habermas or Licona haven’t stoop to your level of name calling)], this shows your lack of intelligence and maturity.

        This conversation is finished. I will continue to pray for you.

        God Bless.

        Like

  36. Gary

    Dear Erin,

    You still haven’t addressed why the early part of the passage says that HE (Nebuchadnezzar) will breach the walls of Tyre, fill the streets with his horses, and slaughter the inhabitants of the city…but historians say this NEVER HAPPENED.

    I believe we should call your attempt to reinterpret this passage for what it is: Spin.

    Like

    1. Erin Corrigan

      Gary:

      We know from secular history that Nebuchadnezzar waged a 13 year siege against Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar did capture the mainland city of Tyre, but he never succeeded in taking the island.
      You are contending that Ezekiel prophesied Nebuchadnezzar would utterly destroy Tyre.
      To support that point of view you have to do two things: 1) ignore Ezekiel 29:17-18, 2) make the whole narrative of 26:7-21 apply to Nebuchadnezzar.
      Clearly, 29:17-18 shows that Nebuchadnezzar did not utterly destroy Tyre, and Ezekiel is saying as much.
      And, when you refuse to recognize the transition from “he” to “they” in 26:12, you fail to recognize that the “many nations” mentioned in 26:3 wouldn’t come into play if that was the case.
      Why then mention the “many nations”?
      Historically, Tyre never came to an utter end until after the decline of Rome.
      However, it could be said that the downfall of Tyre began with the 13 year siege of Nebuchadnezzar, as she never attained to the wealth and power she had before that time and ultimately
      disappeared as a power from the world stage.

      Like

      1. Gary

        The big problem for your argument, Erin, is that the prophesy states that Tyre would be completely destroyed and never rebuilt. Problem is: You can jump on an airplane and visit the city of Tyre today!

        Come Christians will counter that the prophesy was specifically about “Old Tyre”, not the island fortress that Alexander later conquered. Here is evidence proving this claim false:

        “A number of Christians maintain that this portion of the prophecy is talking about the mainland portion of Tyre, because we know that Alexander took the ruins from the mainland and used them to build his causeway. As we discussed in the last post, this mainland portion was called “Paleotyrus” by the Greeks, meaning “old Tyre,” but historical records actually indicate that this was a misnomer. These mainland settlements more commonly went by the name “Ushu.” Even in the time of Hiram, about 400 years before Nebuchadnezzar’s time, when people spoke of Tyre, they were discussing the wealthy, prominent trade hub and political power, which was the island city. Even further back, the Amarna Letters, which were written around 800 years before Ezekiel’s prophecy, clearly refer to the island as “Tyre” and the mainland as “Sazu.” It doesn’t appear that the mainland portion ever went by the name Tyre, while the island is never referred to by any other name.”

        https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/08/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-3/

        Like

  37. Gary

    I recently pointed out Ezekiel’s failed prophecy to my former pastor (who teaches theology at a local university). His response was (with a smirk): “How could such a mistake get past the Jewish redactors? If such a glaring error existed in Ezekiel, a later Jewish scribe would have scrubbed this obvious historical error out of the text prior to allowing it to circulate and become known among the people. The fact that this “error” persists in the Jewish Bible, and eventually the Christian Bible, is proof that no error exists in this prophecy.”

    Wrong!

    A “scribe” DID scrub the error made by Ezekiel in chapter 26, the error of predicting that Nebuchadnezzar would utterly destroy Tyre. And that scribe was …EZEKIEL himself in chapter 29! In chapter 29, Ezekiel admits that Nebuchadnezzar did not destroy Tyre, and gives the excuse that essentially, Yahweh changed his mind, and gave Nebuchadnezzar the land of Egypt as a consolation prize!

    Can you say: “Spin!”

    Oops! So why didn’t Ezekiel just delete chapter 26? Answer: Because this prediction was already in circulation!!! He COULDN’T “erase” it. So he had to “spin” it. And that’s what he did circa fifteen years later when he wrote chapter 29! See the excerpt below:

    Like

    1. Gary

      “Ezekiel says that Nebuchadnezzar would break down Tyre’s walls and towers, trample Tyre’s streets, kill its people with the sword, and tear down its mighty towers. None of that happened.

      But why did Ezekiel include this prophecy against Tyre at all if he had to come back later and say it didn’t come true? Why not just remove it? We might be tempted to think that Ezekiel must have meant something else in chapter 26 — something that didn’t fail so completely — since the prophecy remained in place. However, this assumes that none of Ezekiel’s writings were distributed until they were all completed, and I think that’s a faulty assumption. Instead, if Ezekiel’s pronouncements were being passed around as he made them, then it makes sense that he would need to address the failures of chapter 26 once they didn’t come to pass. Consider this table:

      (Gary: You will need to click on the link below to see this table. It will not copy and paste.)

      Image credit: Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel, 1990, p. 4

      According to this chart, the prophecy of Tyre (chapter 26) was written in 586 BCE, while Ezekiel’s admission that Nebuchadnezzar failed (29:17) was written 15 years later. And these dates aren’t just arbitrary, because Ezekiel dates them himself.

      Source:
      https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/09/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-4/

      Gary: Did you read that, folks? By Ezekiel’s own dating, he wrote chapter 29 fifteen years after writing chapter 26. There was no way to “take back” the prophecy in chapter 26. Ezekiel was forced to “spin” it.

      Like

  38. Gary

    So what about Erin’s claim that the prophecy was not about Nebuchadnezzar destroying the city of Tyre, but of “many nations” destroying Tyre over a period of time, in a succession of attacks?

    Ok, it’s possible. But if you look at the verses preceding verse 12 in Ezekiel 26, what was the last plural subject discussed before Ezekiel switches from using the pronoun “he” and starts using the pronoun “they”. Answer: His army. I believe that the pronoun “they” which starts in verse 12 is referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s army. I encourage everyone to read Ezekiel chapter 26 in its entirety and decide which explanation for the sudden change in pronouns makes sense.

    An excerpt on this subject from the same source as the link in my preceding comment:

    “the pronoun switches from “he” to “they”. Verses 7-11 were all talking about Nebuchadnezzar. Now that it switches to “they,” what is the antecedent? Christians say that “they” refers back to the “many nations” of verse 3, and maybe they’re right. But the most recent plural noun that it could refer to is Nebuchadnezzar’s army. As we discussed in the last post, there’s always the possibility that the two groups are synonymous. Nebuchadnezzar’s army would have been multi-national since he was the head of an empire. So “many nations” could easily have referred to his army.

    There’s really no way to know for sure, as the writing’s ambiguous enough to work both ways. It’s a shame Ezekiel wasn’t clearer. Seems strange to imagine that God would inspire someone to be so vague. Regardless, we’ve already seen that the portion of the prophecy that unquestionably deals with Nebuchadnezzar fails, so whether “many nations” refers to Nebuchadnezzar or to later conquests of Tyre isn’t a question we necessarily have to answer for the purposes of this series.”

    Like

  39. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    This is a piece of real estate, that is in a location that to this day functions as a trade route. Would it ever be totally uninhabited? No. But, there is an historical discontinuity between the civilization then and now.

    This is like the headline not long ago claiming the bible was in error saying that the canaanites were utterly wiped out, but that DNA shows descendants of canaanites alive today. No doubt these are descendants of the canaanites, but there is no canaanite civilization. We can’t say that modern Lebanon is Canaan.

    The Jews were finally expelled from Jerusalem and the land by 135 AD. However, several thousand remained in the land throughout the ages. Does this mean the Jews weren’t dispersed throughout the nations?

    “… It doesn’t appear that the mainland portion ever went by the name Tyre, while the island is never referred to by any other name.”

    Apparently the Greeks applied the misnomer to it.

    It’s like Persia changing its name to Iran in 1935. It took 40 years for people to quit referring to it as Persia, including government officials, and ambassadors.

    Like

    1. Gary

      Ezekiel was not Greek. He was writing his prophecies in Babylon during the Babylonian Captivity.

      He made a mistake. Nebuchadnezzar never breached the walls of the city. Tyre was never destroyed and uninhabited.

      Like

  40. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    There are ruins there today that the archaeologist investigates, and tourists travel to see. These are of the long conquered empire, which began with Nebuchadnezzar’s 13 year siege, followed by Alexander’s island siege years later.

    Ezek 26:21 `I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again,’ says the Lord GOD.”

    Ezekiel is speaking of a once wealthy kingdom that is no more. This doesn’t mean no humans will ever occupy the real estate round about it again. Even Hiroshima and Nagasaki have robust human habitation today.

    And, even though Ezekiel was not Greek, this doesn’t mean Greek influence on calling the continental land based city Tyre, even though it be a colonial conquest of the island based city, could not be used when referring to it.

    You sound like those fundamentalists that absolutely insist that the scriptures must be preserved letter perfect, even though we know that they haven’t been.

    Like

    1. Gary

      And you sound like a typical moderate or liberal who reinterprets a very clear statement to make it mean whatever you want it to mean at the moment.

      Nebuchadnezzar did NOT break down the walls of Tyre.
      Nebuchadnezzar did NOT slaughter the people of Tyre.

      Think about this, folks. Ezekiel wrote his “prophesy” about Tyre DURING Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Tyre! Nebuchadnezzar had conquered and destroyed every other people whom he had attacked, so Ezekiel ASSUMED he would do the same to Tyre.

      It would be like someone making a prophesy during the Battle of Britain that the Germans would destroy the British air force and then conquer Britain. Historians say that this is what almost happened. In fact, the American ambassador to Britain told President Roosevelt at one point that the British were very close to defeat. So if someone “prophesied” at that moment in time that Britain would fall to the Germans, chances are that prophecy would come true.

      But that assumption would have been wrong. The British defied the odds (primarily by taunting Hitler into bombing cities instead of airfields) and the Germans did NOT conquer Britain.

      This is what most probably happened with Ezekiel. The fall of Tyre seemed inevitable. However, when Tyre did not fall, Ezekiel had to come up with an explanation for why his previous prophesy, made 15 years earlier, did not pan out. He therefore did some damage control and his new “spin” was that God had changed his mind and given Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as a consolation prize.

      Dear Christians: If this exact same scenario happened in another religion you would agree with me that my explanation is the most probable and NOT that a human being could see into the future. And this is occurs with multiple claims in the Bible. A natural explanation is more probable. Open your eyes, guys. If the prophesies in the Bible were as good as your apologists say they are, we should see this fact mentioned in public university world history books. But we do not. THAT should tell you something.

      Like

    2. Gary

      What Erin is trying to convince us of is that the literal reading of the Bible cannot be trusted IN THIS PASSAGE. Yet for other passages of the Bible, we absolutely MUST interpret the passages literally.

      So when the Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination, we must believe this literally. When the Bible says that women are to keep silent in the church, we are to believe this literally. When the Bible says that Jesus rose from his tomb and bodily appeared to his disciples, we must believe this literally. But when the Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar would utterly destroy Tyre, knock down its walls, slaughter its people, and that the city would be uninhabited forever…GOD WAS SPEAKING METPHORICALLY; the simple, literal reading of the text is not the correct interpretation of what God REALLY meant.

      Ridiculous.

      Read this summation regarding the prophecy of Tyre from the source quoted above: “Ezekiel was merely being figurative. He didn’t really mean that the city would never be rebuilt. He simply meant that they would be punished in some way (this is where Alexander the Great fits in) and never come back to their former glory. I guess we can see why Ezekiel didn’t phrase it this way because it does seem to lose some of its grandeur. Of course, even then it’s hard to put your finger on exactly when this was fulfilled, because Tyre still enjoyed some prominence for a long time after Alexander took it.

      But the benefit of saying that the prophecy is just figurative is that you can’t disprove it. Ezekiel could have said almost anything and it wouldn’t matter – whatever reality actually occurred would be the prophecy fulfillment. Everything is vague and non-specific so that we have no problem reading the fulfillment into whatever happens. It’s much like the fortune from a fortune cookie. They give a vague pronouncement that’s supposed to happen over an unspecified time so that if you really try, you can find the fulfillment to your fortune. The problem with this view is that there was no point in Ezekiel’s prophecy at all. The specific things he mentioned don’t really happen in the way he described. And even though he seems emphatic in at least 3 different places that Tyre would never be rebuilt, people just say that he didn’t mean that. What else could he have said if his true intention was that the city would never be rebuilt in any fashion at all? People who use this excuse in order to maintain the inerrancy of the Bible aren’t viewing this prophecy as any kind of proof (which is at least part of the reason it would have been given). Instead, they’ve made up their mind that it must be true, regardless of the facts. So there was really no point in even recording it.

      This is one of the most blatant and obvious examples of a failed prophecy in the Bible. It is clear and specific, yet it did not come to pass. The conclusion is obvious: at the very least, Ezekiel was not a true prophet. At most, the entire Bible is uninspired. If you’re a firm Bible-believer (as I was), are you honest and brave enough to accept it for what it is? I hope you’ll think about it.”

      Like

  41. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    “He therefore did some damage control and his new “spin” was that God had changed his mind and given Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as a consolation prize.”

    God didn’t change His mind, nor does Ezekiel say that He changed His mind in regard to Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar started the decline of Tyre, Alexander and others finished it. Within a few hundred years they were a has been. That’s not a change of mind.

    As far as the veracity of Ezekiel:

    37:21 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 “and I will make them one nation in the land, …

    The Jews are back in the land and once again a nation. Stay tuned for further developments.

    Like

    1. Gary

      “37:21 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 “and I will make them one nation in the land, …”

      Although the people of Judah were eventually allowed to return to their homeland, the ten tribes of ISRAEL were never repatriated to their homeland. This is another failed prophesy.

      Like

  42. Gary

    You see, Ezekiel believed that both the House of Israel AND the House of Judah would be restored.

    He was right about Judah, but not about Israel. So either (the Christian) God is not 100% accurate with his predictions…or…Ezekiel got lucky and got one prophesy correct.

    From Ezekiel chapter 4:

    This is a sign for the house of Israel.

    4 Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it; you shall bear their punishment for the number of the days that you lie there. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, three hundred ninety days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment; and so you shall bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah; forty days I assign you, one day for each year. 7 You shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and with your arm bared you shall prophesy against it.

    Gary: Notice that even though Ezekiel was correct in predicting that Judah would return to their homeland, he was wrong about the number of years in which they would be in captivity in Babylon. They were in Babylon longer than 40 years (and shorter than 70 years as some Christians believe.)

    Like

  43. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    NKJ James 1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

    So, you see, even in James’ day, there were still members of the 12 tribes scattered abroad.

    There was to be an even greater scattering by the Romans in 70, and then 135.

    By 135 essentially all the Jews were scattered. However, several thousand remained in Israel so that there has always been a Jewish presence in the land.

    The final regathering brings them all back, so there will be some from each of the twelve tribes.
    But, rather than being divided into two houses, they will be united under the one King.

    Like

    1. Gary

      Ezekiel predicted that the punishment for the House of Israel would end after 390 years and that the punishment for the House of Judah would end after 40 years. Neither prediction occurred as predicted. (The House of Israel has never been restored.)

      Two more failed prophecies.

      You can keep trying to spin these failures if you wish but anyone without a bias can see the simple truth.

      Like

      1. Erin Corrigan

        Gary:

        Jewish historians point out that after Assyria was conquered by Babylon, the Jews from the northern kingdom became slaves in Babylon. When the return from Babylon took place, it included both northern kingdom Jews, and southern kingdom Jews. The return, however, was only a portion of Jews, as some chose to stay in Babylon, like Daniel, just as some Jews chose to stay in Egypt rather than leave at the time of Moses.

        Like

  44. Erin Corrigan

    Gary:

    The regathering from Babylon is different from the two regatherings from the nations.
    The regatherings from the nations are in the latter days. Phase 1 is to judgement, the judgment of the tribulation. Phase 2 is after the tribulation into the Kingdom.

    Like

  45. Gary

    Are you saying that the majority of the people of Israel removed from Palestine by the Assyrians eventually returned home or simply a small number of these people did? There is a big difference.

    If you believe that the majority of the people of the ten northern tribes of Israel taken away by the Assyrians eventually made it back to the “Promised Land”, please give me a source, Jewish or otherwise.

    Like

      1. Wondering why dispensationalism is being discussed. I consider it a bankrupt hermeneutical system anyway, but what does it have to do with Gospel differences or the resurrection?

        Like

  46. Gary

    We are currently down a proverbial “rabbit hole”, but not of my choosing.

    I read Mike Licona’s book discussed in this post. I believe that your father-in-law is spot on regarding the (alleged) discrepancies in the Gospels. The Gospels are Greco-Roman religious biographies and in that genre of literature, variations and even inventions in the DETAILS of the life of an historical figure were permissible. The central facts of the story must remain intact in this literary genre and that is what we find in the Gospels: Jesus’ preaching and other activities irritated the Jewish authorities; he was accused and tried for treason; he was crucified; he was buried; shortly thereafter his followers believed that he appeared to them.

    Like

    1. Erin Corrigan

      Gary:

      ” The central facts of the story must remain intact in this literary genre …”

      I think the resurrection would be one of the “central facts”.

      Like

      1. Gary

        The BELIEF of the disciples—that Jesus had been raised from the dead and that he had appeared to them—I would agree, is a central fact of the story.

        I believe that the central “facts” of the Resurrection Story can be found in the Early Christian Creed found in First Corinthians chapter 15:

        Jesus was executed.
        Jesus was buried.
        Jesus rose from the dead—based on the evidence of appearances to multiple (primarily) male members of the early Church.

        The million dollar question is: Are the other details found in the Resurrection Stories in the Gospels, books which scholars across the spectrum agree are Greco-Roman religious biographies, historical fact or literary invention?

        Like

  47. Erin Corrigan

    So, you are saying you believe Jesus rose from the dead is fact, or just “fact” in the story as a Greco-Roman religious biography?

    Like

    1. Gary

      I should have used a better term, such as “core alleged facts”, or even better, “core elements of the story”. In a Greco-Roman biography as long as the core elements of the story remained consistent, variations (and even additions) to the details was permissible.

      Like

  48. Gary

    “The question is not about the rest of the Gospels. The case for the resurrection does not depend on inerrancy. The question is “Was the early church right about Jesus?””

    I agree with you. I don’t think it depends on inerrancy at all. The fact that one author says that there was one angel at the tomb and another says there were two is not important. Such a variation in story telling was perfectly acceptable in Greco-Roman biographies.

    But I think Licona’s research points out that it is POSSIBLE that much of the detail in the four Resurrection Stories in the Gospels could be literary invention. The Gospel authors started with the basic story as found in the Early Creed and then “fattened” the bare bones story with interesting (invented) details. That is all I am saying.

    So, did Pilate really wring his hands over the fate of Jesus or this detail an invention for dramatic effect? Was there really a Barrabas, or was this detail an invention to make the story more interesting? What did Jesus really say on the cross, if anything? Was there really a three hour eclipse and an earthquake? Did dead saints really rise up out of their graves to roam the streets of Jerusalem?

    And was Jesus really buried in a rich man’s tomb or simply in a common criminal’s grave??? In Jesus’ appearances, did he really speak, eat food, and allow people to touch him, or are these details literary inventions???

    We can only guess.

    Like

    1. Erin Corrigan

      I don’t have a problem with New Testament harmonizations in regard to things like the one vs two angels at the tomb, or the cause of Judas’ death. Frame of reference comes into play. I don’t have a problem with the conversation at the cross or Pilates’s wife warning him. There were witnesses, and people don’t keep these things to themselves. I don’t have a problem with the temple veil being torn, as it wasn’t a physical tearing, or the Jews would have mentioned it in the Talmud, or elsewhere. It is symbolic. Much more difficult are pericope sequence differences between the synoptics. But, the issue that Licona’s book is primarily dealing with is historiography.

      I accidently came to this page from another page on danielbwallace dot com, not really intending to do anything more than a quick read of this page, and now I’ve gone over to amazon and bought a kindle version of Licona’s book for $14.39, and now I have to read it. In the words of General McAuliffe, “aw nuts”.

      Like

    2. Then once again, look at the scholarship on each of these issues. Saying something is possible does not show it is actual, and Licona’s resurrection case does not depend on the Gospels.

      Like

      1. Gary

        I believe that Nick was speaking to me, Erin. Maybe I’m wrong.

        It’s been quite some time since we last talked, Nick. I HAVE read the scholarship. I have read NT Wright, Habermas, Licona, William Lane Craig, Craig Evans, Bauckham, Raymond Brown, Francisco and Bombaro, and others.

        You are correct, just because something is possible doesn’t mean it actually happened. For any claim about a past event, especially an event in Antiquity, we can only look at the evidence and make a probability assessment. Did __________ PROBABLY happen or did it probably not?

        Mike Licona (and yourself) may not base your belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus on the Gospels, but I would gamble to say that many Christians do. Many Christians believe in that a three-day-brain-dead, first century corpse really did come back to life because a group of women found his empty tomb; reported it to the disciples who viewed the same empty tomb; and later that very day, both the women and the disciples received appearances of Jesus in bodily form but with heavenly (supernatural) powers. This resurrected, supernatural body then made other appearances over the course of days or weeks, to multiple people at the same time, depending which Gospel you read, in which he spoke, ate food, cooked food, and allowed people to touch him.

        However, if you completely ignore the Gospels, all you are left with as far as details of the Resurrection of Jesus is the Early Creed in First Corinthians 15. And this creed never speaks of Jesus being buried in Joseph of Arimethea’s rock tomb; women finding an empty tomb; disciples coming to an empty tomb; or, detailed appearances in which Jesus talks, walks, eats food, and allows people to touch him. And there is no witnessed ascension into the clouds!

        Without the Gospels, all Christians have is a collection of dead person (ghost??) sightings, received as second hand information (hearsay) by Paul, a man who was NOT an eyewitness to the Resurrection, just one of the persons claiming to have received an appearance by a dead person…and he himself gives us ZERO details of his experience.

        Without the details of the Gospels, the evidence for the Christian claim of a science-defying first century resurrection of a dead body becomes very, very scant and very, very weak.

        Like

      2. Actually, even with just the creed, there is still a very strong case and one that I have not seen a convincing better explanation for. What I see mainly is a strong opposition to miracles, but I wonder what this is based on? Can it be shown that miracles have never happened or cannot happen? If not, then we should be open.

        As for the Gospels, if we have to go the route of Gospel reliability, that is also very much doable. For the burial account, there is no competing tradition, it is multiply attested, it is a shameful event, and it is in line with the customs of the time. Consider what a Jewish NT scholar like Jodi Magness says who specializes in Jewish burial practices.

        “Jesus came from a modest family that presumably could not afford a rock- cut tomb. Had Joseph not offered to accommodate Jesus’ body his tomb (according to the Gospel accounts) Jesus likely would have been disposed in the manner of the lower classes: in a pit grave or trench grave dug into the ground. When the Gospels tell us that Joseph of Arimathea offered Jesus a spot in his tomb, it is because Jesus’ family did not own a rock- cut tomb and there was no time to prepare a grave- that is there was no time to dig a grave, not hew a rock cut tomb(!)—before the Sabbath. It is not surprising that Joseph, who is described as a wealthy and perhaps even a member of the Sanhedrin, had a rock-cut family tomb. The Gospel accounts seem to describe Joseph placing Jesus’ body in one of the loculi in his family’s tomb. (Jodi Magness, Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, pg 170)

        “There is no need to assume that the Gospel accounts of Joseph of Arimathea offering Jesus a place in this family tomb are legendary or apologetic. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’s burial appear to be largely consistent with the archeological evidence” ( Magness, pg 171)

        When Ehrman writes on this in his book on How Jesus Became God, he does not interact at all with Magness or any of the other specialists in the field of Jewish burial practices. What happened in the crucifixion was what normally happened in peace-time in Palestine.

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  49. Gary

    Yes, I have read Magness’ article you mention. She states that whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark correctly described Jewish burial in a rock tomb. I agree that this is evidence in favor of the historicity of this story.

    However, it is still possible that the Empty Rock Tomb story is a literary invention. Just because the author could correctly describe proper Jewish burial in a rock tomb is not proof that the story is historical fact. It is possible that Jesus was buried in a dirt grave, as was the custom for people of his class according to Magness, but the author of Mark changed the story to a rock tomb, the tomb of a rich man, to make for a more interesting read. This would be perfectly acceptable in a Greco-Roman biography.

    By the way, Magness specifically states in her article that the fact that the story is consistent with Jewish burial practices is not proof that this story is true. I agree that we should not assume that the Joseph of Arimathea Tomb Story is legendary based solely on the fact that it would be unusual for a man of the lower classes to be buried in a rock tomb in first century Palestine. However, the fact that this is a very atypical burial should make us pause.

    There are other reasons to question the history of the Arimathea Rock Tomb Story, such as the lack of evidence of subsequent Christian pilgrimages to this site.

    Bottom line, Mike Licona’s research is excellent evidence that many of the details in the Gospels could be literary invention. Even arch-conservative scholar Richard Bauckham admits that there are invented details in the Gospels. If the Arimathea Rock Tomb Story is an invention, it deprives Christians of a very significant piece of evidence for their very extra-ordinary claim.

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  50. Gary

    I believe that a more important issue is whether or not the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are literary inventions. The original story as told in the Early Creed says nothing of a Jesus who speaks, moves, eats food, etc. For all we know the appearance claims in the Early Creed were of a static image, such as those seen by Roman Catholics of the Virgin Mary. The authors of the Gospels simply “fattened up” these bare bones stories for more interesting reading. This would have been perfectly acceptable in a Greco-Roman biography.

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  51. Gary

    Back to the Arimathea Rock Tomb Story for a minute:

    During my time studying the evidence for the Resurrection claim, one issue really stood out to me regarding Arimathea’s Rock tomb: Why wasn’t the Sanhedrin prepared for the burial of Jesus and the two thieves?

    The Sanhedrin knew that once Pilate condemned Jesus, to be crucified on the day prior to the Sabbath, there would necessarily be the issue of the disposal of the bodies, and, the need to get them off the crosses before sunset (the beginning of Passover Sabbath). Why, at the moment Jesus was condemned to crucifixion, did the Sanhedrin not order some laborers to dig three DIRT graves??? It would have been so simple. Why the panic at the last minute to bury the body (bodies?) SOMEWHERE, forcing (?) Arimathea to use his nearby tomb? Very odd.

    How long does it take a couple of guys to dig a hole in the ground?? To me, this smells of LITERARY necessity, not practical necessity. According to Magness, there was no dishonor for a Jew to be buried in the ground, and as a commoner, burial in a dirt grave would have been the usual custom for the overwhelming majority of the Jewish population of the first century.

    The story of Arimathea has many hints of literary invention. In Mark, Arimathea is just a devout Jew doing a good deed, but by the time we get to the last Gospel, John, he is a secret disciple of Jesus.

    And what is the likelihood that the Romans would have given the body of Jesus to the Sanhedrin? This issue has been hotly debated among scholars, but without going into detail, a good argument can be made that persons tried for treason (as Jesus was) would NOT be given over for a proper burial. Secondly, if the body was given to anyone it was typically the FAMILY. Why did the Sanhedrin get involved? However, if the Sanhedrin did have jurisdiction over the disposal of the body as some apologists claim, why not dispose of it in a dirt grave?

    And how likely is it that Pilate would allow a man who had been executed for treason against Caesar to be given a proper burial among the notables and the honored of Jerusalem?

    There are just so many oddities to this story.

    The existence of oddities do not, of course, exclude the possibility that this story is historical. The fact that the story is consistent with first century Jewish burial practices is certainly a factor in its favor. But putting it all together with the fact that this story is placed in a Greco-Roman biography, in which fictional details were perfectly acceptable, I believe that we should be skeptical to believe this very unusual first century burial really occurred.

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    1. Ah Gary. You have a very fertile imagination. You talk about the Sanhedrin being in a panic to bury the bodies. Where on Earth do you see that? The text says nothing about what the Sanhedrin said about the bodies. What we do see is Joseph coming forward, which is fitting as a representative of the Sanhedrin.

      Why would Pilate give the body up? Simple. Pilate would not care and in peace time, Joseph coming up as a member of the Sanhedrin could easily receive the body. The Sanhedrin was responsible for Jesus being up there. They are responsible for his burial as well in Pilate’s mind.

      And buried among the honorables of Jerusalem? Where on Earth are you seeing this? Joseph buries him in a tomb where no man had been laid. Nothing is said about who was in the next adjoining tomb. It is also barely a band-aid on the whole shamefulness of the burial. Jesus’s family wasn’t even allowed to mourn for Him.

      You really should read real authorities in the field more like Craig Evans in “Jesus and the Remains of His Day” and see the work of Greg Monette who is doing his Ph.D. on the burial of Jesus.

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      1. Gary

        Since there are so many Christian positions/explanations for why Joseph of Arimathea was allowed to take possession of the body, let me make sure I understand yours:

        You believe that the Romans intended to dispose of the body themselves, and this is what would have occurred, if Joseph of Arimathea, representing the Sanhedrin, had not gone to Pilate and requested that he, representing the Jewish authorities, be given the body. Pilate consented.

        Therefore you agree with Bart Ehrman and other scholars (and disagree with Craig Evans and many evangelical scholars) that the typical Roman custom in this situation was for the ROMANS to dispose of the body, not give it to the family or someone else. Have I summarized your position correctly?

        But then you say this: “Why would Pilate give the body up? Simple. Pilate would not care and in peace time, Joseph coming up as a member of the Sanhedrin could easily receive the body. The Sanhedrin was responsible for Jesus being up there. They are responsible for his burial as well in Pilate’s mind.”

        Wait. If everyone including Pilate knew that the Sanhedrin was responsible for the burial, why did the Sanhedrin (in the person of J. of Arimathea) need to trot down to Pilate’s HQ and ask for the body??? Once the centurion had confirmed that Jesus was dead by having a soldier drive a spear into his side, why not allow the Sanhedrin to take possession of THEIR body? Why the need to make the special trip down the hill to Pilate’s HQ to make the request???

        I don’t buy it.

        What makes sense is that the author of the story had J. of A. trot down to Pilate’s HQ to request possession of the body because the author knew it was NOT the Sanhedrin’s to take possession of. Whoever was going to receive the body (either the Romans or maybe the family) didn’t get it because the Sanhedrin asked for a favor from Pilate and he consented.

        Now, you don’t think that Pilate would have cared what was done with the body due to the fact that it was peacetime. Again, I don’t buy it. If Jesus had raised the commotion that the “Palm Sunday” passage indicates, the Jewish people would calling for Jesus to be their king and to drive out the Romans. Jesus was the leader of a potential uprising; a rebellion against Rome! He was a usurper to Caesar. Jesus was executed as a usurper to Caesar. And you want us to believe that Pilate could have cared less what happened to the body of this traitor and threat to the peace and stability of the empire?

        Not believable.

        Either Jesus WASN’T the big deal the Gospels make him out to be (which in that case, I agree, Pilate wouldn’t have cared) or he WAS a big deal and Pilate would have very much cared. So which is it, Nick? Is the “Palm Sunday” story with great crowds of Jews demanding Jesus’ immediate ascension to the throne of David and the removal of the Romans just more LITERARY INVENTION? I think it is, but I would love to see you agree with that position here in front of your evangelical friends. Is the Palm Sunday story a fabrication, Nick?

        Bottom line: I don’t think that Pilate would have given over the body of a Jew who was executed for instigating a rebellion against Caesar and the Roman Empire…to the JEWS…so that they could give him a proper burial in a fancy rock tomb, a rock tomb that every angry, rebellious Jew could then visit as a national shrine of defiance!

        Pilate would have been an idiot to have allowed this and Philo does NOT paint Pilate as an idiot.

        You said: “And buried among the honorables of Jerusalem? Where on Earth are you seeing this? ”

        Are you telling me that Joseph had built his tomb out in the boonies where there were no surrounding tombs? That wasn’t the custom, Nick. And anyone in the first century buried in a rock tomb was a member of the upper class, the rich, the elite members of Jewish society. This whole story was probably written for theological purposes based on one passage in the OT (Isaiah, I believe) which says that “he will be buried among the rich”, which Christians took to be a prophecy of the messiah, so they shoehorned Jesus into this prophecy.

        I personally don’t believe that this story happened. I believe that Jesus was crucified and probably was buried in some fashion…most likely in a hole in the ground, either by the Romans or by his disciples. But this far fetched story about a guy from a town we still aren’t sure existed, “Arimathea”, just has so many traces of “legend” or literary invention for me to believe. That is probably why Paul never mentions this story. Ever. Think about that. The Resurrection is probably the most important theme in Paul’s writings and he never once discusses one specific detail of the J. of A. story.

        Odd. Very odd.

        By the way, Magness is an authority in the field, Nick. I have read Craig Evans and listened to him debate. I am not impressed. He has an agenda: to prove the traditional claims of Christianity as historical fact. Magness doesn’t have an obvious agenda in her examination of the evidence related to the alleged tomb of Jesus. She agrees that the author of Mark correctly portrays first century burial but she also states that this fact does not prove the story true. That is my kind of scholar. “Just the facts, Ma’am.” There is too much special pleading in Evan’s work and in his debates.

        Just to let you know, of all the evangelical scholars, I have the most respect for your father-in-law. He has proven he is not afraid to buck the “evangelical establishment” when his research points him in a direction that seems contrary to the status quo of evangelical Christian teaching. That is a sign of a good scholar.

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      2. In comes Gary once again!

        So let’s see. Nothing said about the supposed panic that Gary read into the text. That’s brushed aside.As for my position on who would have charge of the body, I think the Sanhedrin would each time. This was in the holy land after all. You don’t want to risk it being polluted by the body of a dead man. Again, as Magness says, this is entirely consistent with Jewish burial practices at the time in Palestine. Anywhere else in the Empire and this would be a different story.

        The text also doesn’t say where Joseph spoke to Pilate. Again, this is read into the text. What would have happened had Joseph not come forward? We don’t know and we really can’t because that’s just the way historical investigation works. What does matter is that Joseph did.

        Pilate might have heard about Jesus. He might not have. In the text, He doesn’t indicate much interest and the size of the crowd is not specified. Now you ask if Jesus was an unpopular figure or not. In reality, my stance is that Jesus for most people back then was just not worth talking about. He would be seen as a flash in the pan. Why would Pilate not pay attention to Him? Because Jesus had no indication of raising up an army and put up no resistance in an arrest. It’s not a shock either that the Pharisees speak in hyperbole with the world. This was the way Jews spoke.

        You also ask about where Jesus was buried. There are two possible locations, although my understanding is that the Church of the Holy Sepluchre is the best spot. Do you want to demonstrate you know that there were great local tombs around and there were several rich people there? He was in a tomb no one had been laid. We have no indication of mourning going on at the burial of Jesus. It’s all shameful.

        And as for Evans, it’s quite fallacious to reject someone because they have an agenda. I could do the same with someone like Bart Ehrman for instance. What matters is that these things are passing peer-review. If an agenda is cause of dismissal for data, then we can all dismiss all you say here based on agenda.

        So again, I find your claims here quite weak. Saying you find something unbelievable is not much of a criterion.

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  52. Gary

    So Nick. What do you think of the possibility that the detailed appearance stories in the four Gospels are literary inventions, perfectly acceptable in first century Greco-Roman biographies? After all, the core store is not changed: Jesus is tried and convicted. He is crucified. He is buried. Shortly after his death, his disciples claim that he appears to them.

    All the other details are simply literary “fluff”. That is why there are so many “discrepancies” if one tries to read them literally.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Gary

    “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” —Isaiah 53:9

    Is this the source of the Joseph of Arimathea Tomb Story in the Gospel of Mark (with variations of this story appearing in the subsequent Gospels)? Did the author of the Gospel of Mark, writing a Greco-Roman biography in which literary embellishments were perfectly acceptable, choose to add to the rather boring, bare-bones resurrection account found in the Early Creed, a fascinating, tantalizing, (fictional) tale of Jesus’ burial with the rich???

    We will never know…

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  54. Gary

    Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem:

    The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

    “Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”

    14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

    15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
    Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

    16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17 So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify.[a] 18 It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19 The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

    Gary: It must have been a really “great” crowd if the Pharisees described it as “the world” going after Jesus.

    Are we really to believe that Pilate, the military ruler of Judea, treated this man (and his corpse), whom “the world” was proclaiming as the new King of Israel, with the non-chalant indifference that Nick wants us to believe? Or is this another piece of literary fiction in a Greco-Roman biography?

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  55. Gary

    Nick: “So let’s see. Nothing said about the supposed panic that Gary read into the text. That’s brushed aside.”

    I have no problem addressing that issue, Nick. YOU may not believe that Jesus’ burial arrangements were made in a hurry (panic?), but many other apologists use this excuse for why Jesus’ was buried in Arimathea’s tomb: “The Sabbath was approaching so Arimathea offered his own tomb so that the Jews could get the body down and buried before the sun set.”

    Why not just dig a dirt trench and bury him there? That would have been the easiest solution to the problem. And why wasn’t the dirt grave dug during the three or so hours that Jesus was hanging on the cross, so that the minute he died, they could toss his body in the ground. Boom. Done. Problem solved. But no, Arimathea has to trapse down the hill to ask Pilate (Pilate was not in proximity of the cross if this story is true, as the text says Pilate asked his soldiers if Jesus was dead already. If he had been in the proximity of the cross, surely Pilate would have been informed of the death of Jesus prior to J. of A.), in person, permission to take the body. Then he has to trapse back up the hill to collect the body and take it to his rock tomb. If the Sanhedrin really was responsible for the body, why all the unnecessary hassle??? Magness clearly states that the overwhelming majority of Jews at that time were buried in dirt graves; there was no dishonor of being buried in a dirt grave. So why all the fuss to put a man that they hated; that they had just executed, in a rock tomb, a tomb that could serve as a shrine for Jesus’ followers.

    NOT believable!

    You and I could go on and on debating the historicity of the J. of A. Rock Tomb Story, Nick, but since SCHOLARS are still debating this issue and have not reached a consensus, you and I are not going to resolve it.

    So, Nick, would you kindly answer this question: Do you believe that it is possible, within the genre of a Greco-Roman biography, the genre in which scholars agree the Gospels were written, that the J. of A. Rock Tomb Story is a literary invention?

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  56. Gary

    Nick: “Pilate might have heard about Jesus. He might not have. In the text, He doesn’t indicate much interest and the size of the crowd is not specified. Now you ask if Jesus was an unpopular figure or not. In reality, my stance is that Jesus for most people back then was just not worth talking about. He would be seen as a flash in the pan. Why would Pilate not pay attention to Him? Because Jesus had no indication of raising up an army and put up no resistance in an arrest. It’s not a shock either that the Pharisees speak in hyperbole with the world. This was the way Jews spoke.”

    Wow. If the author of the Gospel of John is correct in the passage above (the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem), a GREAT crowd came to greet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, proclaiming him as the King of the Jews. The Pharisees described this crowd as “the whole world” and because of the size of the crowd bemoaned the fact that they could do “nothing” against Jesus.

    Are we to believe that both the author of John and the Pharisees were speaking in “hyperbole”??? Did just a handful of Jews secretly greet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey? Did they quietly whisper their desire for Jesus to be the King of Israel instead of shouting it out as they laid palm branches at this feet?

    My goodness, if we are to read this passage as “hyperbole”, what else in the Gospels should be read as “hyperbole”??? The virgin birth? The miracles? The healings? The Resurrection? The Ascension???

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    1. *In comes Gary still struggling with reading comprehension!*

      Yeah. The only part I said was hyperbole was the phrase the Pharisees said. Was there a great crowd that welcomed Jesus? Yes. Could Pilate have noticed him? The text doesn’t say. What we do see in the text is that Jesus puts up no resistance to arrest, comes willingly, and doesn’t make any threats to Pilate. Why would Pilate see someone like this as a serious contender?

      As for the church of the Holy Sepluchre, that actually goes back even further than the article you state. This happened when the mother of Constantine was looking for where Jesus was buried. Some people go with the Garden Tomb.

      ORdering that the body be buried before sunset on Passover does not show a panic. That’s your very vivid imagination again.It shows they were following procedure. It could have been expected that Jesus would last longer. Most people did not die within a few hours.

      When you say the account is not believable, I think you simply mean you don’t believe it. The case for Jesus’s shameful burial is quite solid And Joseph is not the kind of figure to be made up as being part of the Sanhedrin. That’s too easy to make up.

      I also like how you say scholars are debating the issue so we won’t settle it. Well every issue is debated by scholars so if you want to take that route, we might as well all sit down and say nothing.

      Could it be possible the story is fiction? Sure. Possible is not the question though. Historians ask if it is probable. I don’t consider it that probable at all.

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      1. Gary

        So you agree that it would have been perfectly acceptable within the literary genre of Greco-Roman biography for the author of the Gospel of Mark to have invented the J. of A. Rock Tomb Story for literary or theological purposes? It was pure fiction.

        You don’t believe this is the case, you believe the story is historical, but you agree it would have been acceptable within that literary genre to make it up?

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      2. Peter C

        Gary,

        I do not believe that the Scriptures, including Mark’s gospel, “fit” into any “literary genre.” Regardless of what else may have been written in the timeframe in which Mark was written, and regardless of the common uses of literary license at the time—no fictional tale or embellishment was written into the gospel, for it was written by inspiration of God (God-breathed) by a God who cannot lie.

        What you disregard as myth, I cherish as the Word of life; what you openly criticize as folly, I value more than life itself.

        Unlike you, I was raised knowing nothing of the Bible. For years I thought the sign I saw on the side of a building advertised a savings bank (it said, “Jesus Saves”)—for I had never heard the terms saved or saves in a religious sense. The Word is now my meditation, my delight, my charter and more.

        I came into a church in my early 20’s that was full of the demonstration and power of God. The Lord “comfirmed the Word.” He still does.

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  57. Gary

    Nick: “You also ask about where Jesus was buried. There are two possible locations, although my understanding is that the Church of the Holy Sepluchre is the best spot. Do you want to demonstrate you know that there were great local tombs around and there were several rich people there? He was in a tomb no one had been laid. We have no indication of mourning going on at the burial of Jesus. It’s all shameful.”

    I would encourage you to read “The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor who states that during the excavation of the current site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, under the orders of Emperor Constantine, MULTIPLE graves were found at the site. One of them was empty. How do they know that this was JESUS’ grave?

    Answer: Jerome Murphy-O’Connor believes that there was POSSIBLY graffiti on the grave that indicated it was the tomb of Jesus.

    That’s it, folks! That is the evidence upon which the venerated grave in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be the site of Jesus’ tomb. Good grief. (And the evidence for the Protestant site alleged to be the tomb of Jesus is even worse.)

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  58. Pingback: Can Christians Rely on the Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony for the Resurrection of Jesus? – Escaping Christian Fundamentalism

  59. Peter C

    Gary,

    Early on in this posting campaign of yours you posted how Paul’s accounts of his conversion contained patent contradictions – then described those supposed contradictions—and indicated that their explanation was acceptable literary license.

    I demonstrated (yes – demonstrated) that the accounts were not contradictory as you had said. You simply deflected. How about – instead of deflecting all the time – owning up to the fact that you’ve bought a bill of goods that is bankrupt. You’ve read a great many dedicated nay-sayers—but I wonder if you would take some time to read with open mind other views.

    If you would, I’d like you to start with reading Francis Shaeffer’s “The God Who is There.” If you would promise to read it with some level of openness – I’ll send it to you if you send me your address.

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    1. Gary

      Thank you for the kind offer of sending me a Christian book, Peter, but I will pass.

      It seems that even though I have read a very long list of books by Christian scholars and theologians, practically every Christian I discuss the topic of the Resurrection with believes that if I would just read ONE MORE Christian book, I will finally see that a first century three-day-brain-dead corpse really did come back to life and fly off into outer space.

      Here is the thing, Peter: Unlike Nick above who bases his beliefs primarily on evidence, your belief in the truth claims of Christianity are based primarily on your personal perceptions and feelings. You believe that you have experienced God and that these experiences are the only proof you need to believe. But extensive research demonstrates that personal perceptions and feelings are NOTORIOUSLY unreliable.

      Here is a Youtube video of a very large crowd of Christians in Ireland who believe that a woman who has been dead for twenty centuries is appearing right before their very eyes.

      Do you see her, Peter? These Christians are very devout and very sincere, but I will bet that you will agree with me that there is NO dead woman appearing to this crowd. It is an illusion. These very devout Christians sincerely BELIEVE that they see this dead woman but I will bet that you will agree with me that they are WRONG.

      And this is what we skeptics believe is the most probable explanation for the “appearance of Jesus” stories in the New Testament. We suspect that individuals and even large groups of Christians in the first century, just as this large crowd in Ireland, saw things which they believed was Jesus…but was not.

      That is why Michael Licona’s research is so important! It demonstrates that the detailed stories in the Gospels about the burial and the alleged appearances of Jesus COULD BE literary fiction…and NO ONE IN THE FIRST CENTURY WOULD HAVE COMPLAINED…because they knew the author was writing a Greco-Roman biography and such “embellishments” were perfectly acceptable in that genre of writing!!! The core elements of the Jesus Story were still there: his crucifixion; his death; his burial in a grave; and the claims by his disciples that he appeared to them after his death.

      If we read the EARLIEST accounts of the appearance stories, found in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15, there is NO mention of a walking/talking/fish-eating Jesus. For all we know Jesus’ appearance to the earliest Christians were no different than the Virgin’s appearance to Christians today: a static image in a cloud formation, a rock formation, a reflection on a hilltop…or a bright light as in Paul’s case.

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    2. Gary

      Peter said, “Early on in this posting campaign of yours you posted how Paul’s accounts of his conversion contained patent contradictions – then described those supposed contradictions—and indicated that their explanation was acceptable literary license.
      I demonstrated (yes – demonstrated) that the accounts were not contradictory as you had said.”

      World renowned and highly respected New Testament scholar NT Wright, who no one can accurately describe as a “liberal scholar”, says that the apparent discrepancies in the three accounts in Acts that detail what the companions of Paul allegedly saw or heard on the Damascus Road are DELIBERATE DISCREPANCIES, a literary technique meant to increase the interest of the reader of this story. He makes this statement in his landmark work, “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”

      Only fundamentalists believe that every detail in every story in the Bible is historically accurate. Nick doesn’t believe that. Michael Licona doesn’t believe that. And I will be that Daniel Wallace doesn’t believe that.

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      1. Peter C

        I pointed out in my detailed post that there are no discrepancies in the accounts – regardless of what Wright, you or anyone else says. One has to do a bit of grammatical and mental gymnastics to come up with the idea of discrepancies here. Simple rules of hermeneutics—properly and consistently applied—render no supposed discrepancies.

        You toss the inflammatory term “three-day dead corpse” around for its shock value. Shock of shocks—I am singularly unimpressed by your acumen. Doctor Gary, how long, in your opinion could a man in his early to mid thirties have no heartbeat, no respiration, and no administration of CPR or any other medical intervention before you would say there is no chance for him to revive having no cognitive disfunction resulting from such a condition? Five minutes? Fifteen? Thirty? Forty? Forty-five? An hour? Three hours? A day? Three days? How long?

        I fully believe that Jesus raised a man who had been stone dead for four days. His name was Lazarus. I fully believe that Jesus rose from the dead after three days dead and buried. I was not there (and neither were you), but I believe it fully.

        So – how long before there was no medical chance for recovery. Is it POSSIBLE that a man without respiration and heartbeat—and with no medical attention of any kind for — let’s say an hour — to suddenly have his heart beat again – to suddenly start breathing again – to be busy and talking and eating and working with no apparent ill effects over the next several weeks? Is that possible or impossible? I say it is possible.

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  60. Gary

    Dear Readers of this blog:

    I believe that Michael Licona’s research demonstrates that it would be well within the standards of Greco-Roman biography, the genre in which the overwhelming majority of NT scholars believe the Gospels were written, for the Joseph of Arimathea Rock Tomb Story and the detailed Resurrection Appearance Stories to have been literary embellishments (fiction).

    However, all or almost all scholars agree that the earliest Christians sincerely believed that Jesus had appeared to them after his death. The veracity of the Christian religion rises or falls on the veracity of the Resurrection and the veracity of the Resurrection rises or falls on the historicity of post-death appearances of Jesus to his followers. Christians believe that the appearance stories in the Gospels and in the Early Creed are historical fact based primarily on the following:

    —there were so many alleged eyewitnesses to these appearances, sometimes in large groups.
    —these alleged appearances had a dramatic effect on the character of those who witnesses them.
    —these alleged appearances were the impetus for many early Christians to be willing to be tortured and painfully executed for their belief in the veracity of these appearances.
    —these Resurrection appearances were the primary reason for the rapid growth of Christianity.

    Question: Are these facts sufficient evidence to believe that a three-day-brain-dead first century corpse really did come back to life possessing supernatural powers; supernatural powers which allowed him teleport between cities, walk through locked doors, and levitate into space?

    Before you answer that question I ask you to watch the Youtube video in my previous comment above. In this video, HUNDREDS of very devout, sincere people believe that a woman who has been dead for 20 centuries is appearing to them. I have no doubt that at least some of these “eyewitnesses” would be willing to suffer great persecution and even death defending their belief that this event really happened. Based on the large number of eyewitnesses to this event and upon their very intense, sincere belief that this very extra-ordinary event really occurred…should we believe them?

    Answer: Absolutely not!

    Why? These people are experiencing an illusion and this is very likely what happened in the first century. The appearance stories in the Early Creed make no mention of a talking, walking Jesus. If the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are literary embellishments, perfectly acceptable in a Greco-Roman biography, it is quite possible that the actual early Christian appearance claims were based on illusions, similar to the one seen in the Youtube video above.

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  61. Gary

    “You toss the inflammatory term “three-day dead corpse” around for its shock value. Shock of shocks—I am singularly unimpressed by your acumen.”

    I do not use that term for shock value I use it for clarification. Many thousands of persons have “come back to life” by artificial or natural resuscitation. I do not believe that Jesus was one of these persons. I believe that Jesus was truly dead in the strictest medical sense of that word: brain dead. I believe the Romans would have made sure he was dead before taking him down from the cross. And if the J. of A. Rock Tomb story is historically accurate, Jesus’ body was left in an oxygen-deprived, sealed tomb for three days. I believe that Jesus was TRULY dead. Brain dead. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no possibility of a “resuscitation” as an explanation for the early Christian belief that Jesus had returned from the dead.

    I believe that there then are only two explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief:

    —Jesus was supernaturally resurrected from the dead in defiance of the laws of science and medicine.

    —Jesus was truly brain-dead and brain dead people do not come back to life…ever. The supernatural is not real. Supernatural stories, such as the Resurrection Story, are simply tall tales—superstitions. The fact that Jesus’ followers believed he had come back to life is most probably explained by illusions, mistaken identity, false sightings, or some other natural cause…as is the case with the hundreds of people in Ireland, seen in the Youtube video above, who believe a dead woman is appearing to them in the sky.

    Superstitious people see what they want to see.

    If Jesus had been predicting his death and resurrection for some time prior to his death, as all four Gospels claim, this concept was firmly planted in the minds of Jesus’ followers. Therefore, just like the Christians in the Youtube video above who think they see a dead woman appearing to them in the sky because someone has taught them that such events are possible and that the dead woman has made similar appearances before to others, the disciples were primed and ready to “see” the resurrected Jesus…and given the right cloud formation, shadow on a hillside, or BRIGHT LIGHT, they sincerely believed he had truly appeared to them.

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      1. Gary

        In normal circumstances, I would say less than five minutes, but there have been exceptions, in particular if someone has been in cold water. Do a google search on “amazing medical resuscitations” and you will hear some amazing stories.

        There are several important factors to look at when anyone presents an amazing resuscitation story. First of all, had the person’s heart really stopped beating? Is there proof of that. Unless the person was on a heart monitor, that is difficult to prove. For instance, maybe the person’s pulse was difficult to palpate but the heart was still beating. Second, how old was the person? Children and teens seem to have a higher chance of resuscitation in cold water recoveries than older adults, for example. Were there any unusual circumstances, such as submersion in cold water or drugs in the blood system?

        You mention “one hour”. I would say that a person whose blood circulation has ceased to flow for one hour could not be revived. The question is: How would you know if there is no blood flow unless the person was hooked up to a heart monitor?

        Bottom line: One can find amazing stories of recovery/resuscitation, but the key issue is: had the person’s heart truly stopped the entire time that they were believed dead?

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  62. One could conceivably make up a story, but one would need to have evidence that this was done in the case of the Gospels. One has to show not what is possible but what is probable.

    And also, I don’t think reading another Christian book will get Gary to come to Jesus again. I think the historical case is strong, but it won’t convince someone who rules out a priori the miraculous.

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    1. Gary

      Nick,

      I am not trying to prove that the J. of A. Rock Tomb Story and the Resurrection Appearances are fiction. I am simply trying to demonstrate that it would be ACCEPTABLE for them to be fictional details in a first century Greco-Roman biography. That’s it.

      As for the miraculous (the supernatural), I do not a priori rule out miracles, gods, and devils. I am not an atheist. I am an agnostic. These entities and events may be real, but I have not seen enough good evidence to convince me that they are. Just as is the case with leprechauns, unicorns, and fairies—I will believe they exist when good evidence for their existence is provided.

      So far we have discussed two of the three pillars of Christian belief in the pivotal claim of the Christian religion: the Resurrection.

      1. Eyewitness testimony

      I have demonstrated above that most scholars do not believe that the Gospels were authored by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses. I have also demonstrated that large groups of people can believe they see a dead person and be very obviously mistaken (as the Youtube video above shows). Therefore even if the Gospels contain eyewitness testimony that approximately 500 people in the first century claim to have seen Jesus in some fashion (Paul does not give us any details), we should be just as skeptical of this claim as we are of the claim by hundreds of people in 2017, shown in the Youtube video above, who claim to see a dead woman.

      2. Personal perceptions and feelings.

      Extensive research demonstrates that personal perceptions and feelings are notoriously unreliable when it comes to truth claims.

      3. Miracles.

      Christians, such as Nick Peters, will point out that there are millions of miracle claims all around the world. How can they ALL be wrong? I would point out that at one point in time EVERYONE on the planet believed that the sun revolved around the earth. They were all wrong, weren’t they?

      The problem for Christians when it comes to miracles is that alleged miracles happen in other religions. Christians do not have a lower accident rate, morbidity rate, or mortality rate. So Christians cannot point to prayers to Jesus as being superior to prayers to Allah, Lord Krishna, or the Mormon god. In addition, amazing events happen to atheists. So the best that Christians can claim is that supernatural events happen to people of all belief systems at approximately the same incidence rate.

      Is this proof of the supernatural?

      I do not believe so, and here is why: very odd events do happen. Why assume they are due to invisible beings, why can’t they simply be odd, random, rare, but very natural events? And if it is true that Christians ALWAYS pray for healing, we should not be surprised if occasionally a healing occurs shortly after a Christian prayer. That is simply “statistics”.

      The best proof to me that miracles do not occur is the fact that certain types of injuries are NEVER healed by prayer, such as amputations of a major limb, decapitations, and the victims of bombings whose bodies have been blown into a thousand pieces. Why is it that Jesus never heals THESE people???

      Use your brains, folks. If there is a Creator he/she/or it gave you a brain to THINK: The universe operates by inviolable laws. Miracles are simply rare, random, but NATURAL events.

      Believe in a Creator if you wish, but don’t believe in the existence of Yahweh, Jesus the resurrected Christ, Allah, Lord Krishna, etc. These entities are the products of superstitious, scientifically-ignorant, human imagination.

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      1. Gary, I have allowed these exchanges to go on for a long time now, and perhaps will allow them to continue for a short time more. But I want to reign you in on one thing. You have been using my comments section as a bully pulpit for your own apologetic purposes. And you frequently get beyond the discussion with your opponent and turn to the readers of this blog-site. Comments like “Use your brains, folks…” are a departure from direct discussion and have turned into your own propaganda agenda.

        I know you link to your own blog-site, and that’s fine. That’s really the place where you can use your own bully pulpit. I think if you want to continue the conversation with others, that’s the place to do it.

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  63. Gary

    If anyone wants to come to my blog they can simply click on the avatar (the image) by my name next to any of my comments and they will find my blog address. I am not here to direct traffic to my blog. I am here for a discussion on the consequences (fall out?) from Michael Licona’s recent book, the topic of this post.

    I apologize for the “preachiness” of some of my comments. I do see myself as an evangelist but that is not the purpose of THIS blog.

    If Dr. Wallace feels that this topic has run its course, he is certainly free to shut it down at any time of his choosing.

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  64. No, I’m not quite shutting it down; I’m redirecting it. I think you’ll get more traffic that way anyway, Gary, because it’s your blog-post rather than a comments section on someone else’s.. But frankly, there was very little of substance that interacted directly with Licona’s claims for the scores of comments on this site anyway, and quite a few comments were way off topic.

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