Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Above image by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay

In 2001 Yann Martel published the book Life of Pi, which became a hit film in 2012. One of the themes in the book claims all religions are true and it is enough to love God. 

At the movie’s beginning, we are introduced to a kind-hearted young man named Piscine Molitor Patel, or (Pi), the son of a zoo-keeper. As a young man, Pi earnestly seeks truth, looks for the good in all things, and decides to become a Christian, Krishna, and Muslim. 

One day, when walking in town with his parents, they run into Pi’s Christian priest, his Muslim imam, and his Hindu pandit. An awkward to say the least, as each in turn claims Pi is a devoted Christian, Muslim, and Hindu follower. Finally, they demand he choose one religion. Pi in his wisdom which surpasses his teachers, says, “Bapu Gandi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.”1

Fast forward, and we find Pi with his family on a cargo ship heading to Canada, but in a storm, the ship sinks, and Pi is stranded in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra, and a tiger named Richard Parker. Pi and Richard Parker survive on the open sea for seven months until they float to Mexico, where the tiger runs off into the jungle. 

When Pi is rescued, officials interview him on what happened to the ship. An accounting has to be made, and the owners of the ship who have lost a fortune want to know what took place and why the ship was lost. 

Pi shares the story of the animals in the lifeboat and how they survived, but the officials say that is complete nonsense. Pi then offers another version. He recounts the story, but this time the hyena is the ship’s cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mom, the zebra is a crew member, and Pi is the tiger. 

Pi explains the cook cut off the injured leg of the zebra and used the meat to catch fish. In time the cook kills his mother, and Pi, in turn, kills the cook. Pi ends the story with a choice for the interrogators; they are to choose which story they prefer. Pi points out it is irrelevant; they can’t prove one story over the other. The facts of either account can’t be proven, so it does not matter which they one choose. 

The officials choose the story with the animals, and Pi responds, “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”2

The point Martel makes is that, like the two stories that Pi told, it is with religion. No religion has the whole truth, and all are subject to various interpretations and conflicting stories. 

In today’s culture, religious claims are not truth claims, but cultural or preferred flavors and subjective (opinion) claims. In fact, making the claim that your religion is the correct religion is considered intolerant and unloving. However, Paul Gould points out in his book, Cultural Apologetics, “It does not follow that disagreement entails intolerance. We [as Christians] should tolerate-show love and respect to people, not ideas.”3

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, many on the left demand we show respect for their ideas and beliefs. Beliefs such as the right to choose an abortion must be not only tolerated but respected. Yet, I have no respect for that worldview and find it contemptible. Yet I understand and believe those people who hold such views should be respected and loved. Christian philosopher Peter Kreft wrote, “We ought to be egalitarian with people and elitist with ideas.4

Truth claims, by nature, are exclusive. For example, as I write this, it is raining outside my window. That is a truth claim, which correspond to reality and the world as we understand it. Truth claims hold a belief, thought, or statement that harmonizes with reality. 

If I tell my Jr high students 1/2 is an equivalent ratio to 25/50, that is either true or not; there is no in-between. It is not true some of the time or most of the time, nor is it possibly true or potentially true; it is true all of the time. Christians claim that Jesus is divine, but Muslims say Jesus was not divine, both can’t be correct, and both can’t be true. 

((Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″))

In recent years as the gender identity storm has ravaged our cultural landscape, decisions about sexual orientation or gender identity are based entirely on feelings. There is no denying individuals struggle with gender identity, but gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and surgery, were decided on feelings, not facts. Only in the last couple of years have some begun to acknowledge the devastation this has caused a generation. 

Nancy Pearcy pointed out in her book Total Truth the struggle C.S. Lewis had when he abandoned his childhood faith for atheism. Lewis wanted the truth, “He became desperate to find a truth that satisfied the whole person, including his longing for meaning and beauty.”5

The turning point for Lewis came from the most tenacious atheist he knew, who shared how the Gospel accounts were surprisingly good. That is to say, they seemed plausible, possibly true. “All that stuff of mythology about the Dying God. Rum Thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.”((Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy, Harcourt Brace, 1955, pg 170)) Pearcy explains, “There is no division into contradictory, opposing levels of truth-therefore no division in a person’s inner life either. Christianity fulfills both our reason and our spiritual yearnings.”((Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 121))

Ask yourself if the world we live in is an illusion. Or is it a product of chance, an accident that happened over millions or billions of years? Was God just a human invention, or is there a higher power somehow involved with this theatre we call reality? Who is right in their view of the world and reality, Jesus, George Carlin, or Oprah Winfrey? What you decide matters considerably and will determine how you will live your life. 

When you look at two little white pills, both the same size, color, and weight in grams, you can tell yourself they are basically the same. So on the surface, it really wouldn’t matter which one you choose, but if one was aspirin and the other arsenic, which one you choose will matter greatly. So choose wisely; all religions can’t be true. 


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Life of Pi by James William Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://christianapologetics.blog/.

  1. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 66 []
  2. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 69 []
  3. Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″ []
  4. Kreeft, Peter. San Francisco, The Snakebit Letters, Ignatius, 1998, pg 94 []
  5. Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 120 []
Coincidence? I Think Not.

Coincidence? I Think Not.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Above Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay

David Bokovoy on Patheos.com shared, “It doesn’t take too careful a read to determine that from start to finish, the Gospels contain inaccurate historical reconstructions—stories about Jesus’ life and ministry that simply could not have taken place the way they’re depicted.”

An online blogger I came across stated, “I believe the Bible was a collection of stories and nothing more. Kinda like our modern-day sci-fi.”

Richard Carrier from Columbia University wrote, “We have no trustworthy evidence of a physical resurrection, no reliable witnesses. It is among the most poorly attested of historical events.”

Separate Confirming Accounts

Over the years, New Testament scholars have noted instances of ‘undesigned coincidences’ within scripture. What are undesigned coincidences? They are gaps within one writer’s account of an event that are filled in by another writer’s account.

Stealing From God by Christian apologist Frank Turek, lists three examples I will share.

Pilate Enters the Stage

In Luke 23:2-4, the Jews led Jesus to Pilate and accused him of perverting the nation, not paying taxes, and claiming to be Christ the King. In Luke’s account, Pilate asked Jesus directly, “Are you King of the Jews?” and Jesus replied, “It is as you say.” Pilate then turns to the accusers and says, “I find no fault in this Man.”

What? How is it that Jesus admits His guilt, but then Pilate turns and says, “I find no fault in this Man.”? He just admitted it to Pilate’s face. Image in a court of law, the accused admits to stealing, then the judge slams the gavel and says, “Not guilty, case dismissed!”

Take a moment and read John’s account of this event. John 18:33-38

Pilate entered the governor’s courtroom (Praetorium) and asked Jesus if he was King of the Jews. Jesus asked if Pilate wanted to know this or if others had told him. Pilate replied, probably with some disdain, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary put it this way, “Jewish questions I neither understand nor meddle with.”1

Jesus explained that His kingdom is not of this world and was not from here. Pilate asked if he was a king, and Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate replied somewhat rhetorically, “What is truth?” and went outside announcing, “I find no fault in Him at all.”

Frank Turek writes, “John offers information not provided by Luke: Since Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world, He was not challenging Caesar’s rule as accused. Therefore, Pilate found no guilt in Him.”2

Why Fear Archelaus?

Another example of undesigned coincidence is found in Matthew’s account of Joseph’s dream, and when he returned to Israel from Egypt. We will find that Josephus, the Jewish rebel who turned Roman historian, shed light on this some 40 years later.

Matthew 2:22-23 explains that after Herod died, Joseph had a dream while in Egypt to return home to Israel. Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea, and he was afraid to go there. Then he was warned in a dream and turned to the area of Galilee, settling in a town called Nazareth. So why was Joseph afraid of Archelaus? 

Archelaus is only mentioned this single time in all of scripture, so we have no way to answer this question unless we explore outside the Bible.

In the Antiquities of the Jews, written by Josephus, we find in book 9, section 3, that Archelaus sent a regiment of armed men to put down a disturbance. But unfortunately, these men were all attacked, and most were stoned to death by the Jews. 

A few of these men escaped to report what happened, so Archelaus then sent a much larger force, “Now Archelaus thought there was no way to preserve the entire government…so he sent out the whole army upon them, and sent the horsemen to prevent those that had their tents without the temple from assisting those that were within the temple…”3 Josephus writes that 3,000 Jews were killed in this attack to put down a rebellion.

Considering the turmoil and the number of Jews killed by Herod’s son Archelaus, it should be no surprise that Joseph did not want to return there and was afraid of Archelaus.

Philips Stomping Grounds

Another example of an undesigned coincidence involves the feeding of the 5000. Read John 6:5. Jesus and his disciples were near the Sea of Galilee when a great crowd began to follow them. This is because of the miracles Jesus had been performing on those who had diseases. Sitting with His disciples, Jesus asked Philip where they could purchase bread for the crowd to eat. Why would Jesus ask Philip? He had a dozen disciples, and He could have asked them all that question, as He had done before, but John records He specifically asked Philip. Why?

Earlier in John 1:44, we learn that Philip was from Bethsaida. What is significant about Bethsaida? In Luke and only Luke, we find that Bethsaida is where the feeding of the 5000 took place. So, of course, Jesus would ask Philip because Philip was in his own stomping grounds. When you put together the accounts of John and Luke, you see another coincidence that would only have occurred if these historical narratives had been written by men who not only knew Jesus but knew each other. Men who ate together worked together and lived together.

Did John the Baptist Rise Again?

The final example comes from Lydia McGrew and her book titled Hidden In Plain View. In Matthew, we find Herod had been hearing about Jesus and was concerned it was John the Baptist who had returned from the dead. Not only may he had been feeling guilty, but his fear got the best of him. Matthew wrote, “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'” Matthew 14:1-2

I can remember reading this passage as a young Christian and thinking to myself, how is it that Matthew would know what King Herod had been saying to his servants. This passage is similar to Mark 6:16, where Mark wrote that King Herod was concerned that Jesus was John who had risen from the dead. 

The answer to this is found in Luke 8:1-3 “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

Joanna, the wife of Herod’s manager, was a close follower of Jesus and obviously shared some of the things Herod had said or was saying about Jesus, and she heard these things through her husband who was Herod’s household manager.((McGrew Lydia. Hidden In Plain View. Chillicothe: DeWard, 2017. Print.))

These examples and so much more point to the reliability of the Gospel accounts. Undesigned coincidences score high in giving authentic accounts of the life and times of Christ. These overlapping isolated facts from the disciples and others point to an accurate representation of Jesus and His followers. 

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Undesigned coincidences by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Jamieson, Robert., Fausset A.R., Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Print. []
  2. Turek, Frank. Stealing From God. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2014. Print. []
  3. Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print. []
Stealing Jesus

Stealing Jesus

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

The resurrection story has several theories that you might hear from those who don’t embrace the Christian view. One of the more common ones is the stolen body theory. When you consider the possibilities of who would have stolen his body, it falls into three categories: the Romans, the Jewish authorities, and the disciples. 

The Romans

After the crucifixion, Pilate ordered that Jesus’ tomb be guarded so someone would not steal the body and claim he came back to life. He did this because the chief priests and Pharisees were worried someone would steal his body. They had recalled that Jesus said He would rise again after three days, they shared their concern with Pilate. “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:65 

So the question is, what motive would the Romans have for stealing the body? Indeed, they did not want any more trouble with the Jews than they already had. Besides, after the resurrection claim, the disciples began to preach the Good News boldly and without fear. Obviously, this angered many Jews. The Romans were in charge of keeping peace in Palestine, and had the Romans been the ones to steal the body, they certainly could have produced it. The evidence of the body would have shut up the claims of the disciples.((Story, Dan. The Christian Combat Manual. Chattanooga: AMG, 2007. Print.)) The problem was, the Romans could not produce a body.  

The Jews

What would motivate the Jewish leaders into stealing the body of Jesus? They were the ones who approached Pilate with concerns about someone stealing the body. The Jews were the ones who ensured the tomb was secure with a posted guard. Matthew 27:62-66 The Jewish leaders did not want anyone, least of all the disciples, making claims that Jesus had risen from the dead after three days.  

After the resurrection, many Jews became Christians, and if the chief priests and Pharisees had stolen the body, possibly so the disciples could not steal it first and claim He rose, they would have produced it to end the foolishness of this new cult. 

In Acts 4:1-3, Peter and John were arrested because they claimed Jesus had been resurrected. The elders and chief priests were amazed at how bold yet uneducated Peter and John were but were unable to persuade them to stop announcing the resurrection of Christ. Acts 4:13 

David Limbaugh, author of Jesus On Trial wrote concerning the stolen body theory, “Also, Matthew 28:11-15 relates that the Jews proposed an alternative theory for the empty tomb (“tell the people the disciples stole the body”), which proves they didn’t dispute that it was, in fact, empty.”1

If the body remained in the tomb, then the Jewish leaders would have simply had the Roman guards roll the stone and deliver the body of Jesus as decisive proof that He was still dead. If there was a body, history has not recorded any debate or dispute over the identification of Jesus’ body. Quite the contrary, the discussion revolved around the disappearance of the body, not its identification. 

The Disciples

Many have claimed and still do, that the disciples stole the body to gain power, influence, and celebrity status. Limbaugh wrote, “The disciples had nothing to gain by staging some elaborate hoax in order to start a new religion; in fact, they all faced ridicule, hardship, persecution, and many suffered martyrs’ deaths.”((Limbaugh, David. “Truth, Miracles, and the Resurrection of Christ.” Jesus On Trial, Regnery Publishing, 2014, p.282)) So for some reason, the disciples stole the body of their Lord so they could be beaten, abused, insulted, stoned, beheaded, and crucified.

There have been claims that Romans blamed the disciples, but how would they know? How would he know who took the body if the guard was sleeping? How could the disciples have gotten past him if he was not sleeping? The penalty for either would have been death for the Roman guard. 

We have accounts of Christian martyrs who have died for their faith in Christ over the centuries, but in recent years, we have had evidence of others dying for their faith. For example, the Taliban and the suicide bombers have made headline news hundreds of times since the 911 attacks. They obviously believe and are willing to die for their belief. But there is a significant difference between dying for what you believe to be true, and dying for what you know to be true. 

The disciples knew they did not steal the body and also knew no one else had a reason to. They experienced firsthand evidence in seeing, talking to, and touching their resurrected Lord. Mary Magdalene saw, heard, and touched Christ. John 20:10-18. In Luke 24:36-49 and John 20:19-23, other disciples saw, heard, and touched Christ. In John 20:24-31, eleven apostles saw, heard, and touched Christ.((Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway 2004, Print.)) These close followers knew their Lord and were willing to die for him. Not for what they believed to be true, but for what they knew to be true. 

William Lane Craig wrote, “One of the most remarkable facts about the early Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection was that it flourished in the very city where Jesus had been publicly crucified. So long as the people of Jerusalem thought that Jesus’ body was in the tomb, few would have been prepared to believe such nonsense as that Jesus had been raised from the dead.”2 

The burden of proof was on the Romans and the Jewish leaders, and apparently, no one could produce a body because He had risen. Craig continued, “The disciples could not have believed in Jesus’ resurrection if His corpse still lay in the tomb. It would have been wholly un-Jewish, not to say stupid, to believe that a man was raised from the dead when his body was known to be still in the grave.”2 Even if the disciples had boldly professed the resurrection out of ‘blind-faith’ once someone produced the body, this new religion would have died right then and there.  

Finally, in his book, Know What You Believe, Paul Little points out that people will die for many things they believe to be true. I have already pointed out the 911 attacks and the belief of those terrorists but flip the coin. How many people do you know that will die for something they ‘know’ is false?((Little, Paul. Know What You Believe. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2003. Print.))

The Roman and Jews could not produce the body, but the disciples would have wanted to, if doing so would have saved them from beatings, stonings, and crucifixions. 

Have you talked about the resurrection with your children beyond Easter eggs, ham, and family gatherings? Or the church activities that go beyond children making little paper tombs that represent the empty tomb? How much more impactful would it be if you sat down with your young children and gave them something beyond what seems to be the annual Easter bedtime story and shared the evidence of the resurrection with them?

Since birth, today’s teens and young adults have been saturated with market media. They recognize, but may not be able to articulate, the world’s sales pitch to purchase everything from cereal to shoes. Religion, specifically Christianity, markets ideas as much as Ford selling the F150 and General Mills selling Lucky Charms. So if you don’t want the Christian ideas to end up in the ‘junk mail’ folder or being ‘unfriended,’ you better give them reasons for the sale beyond what is typically offered. 

Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, wrote, “We must make truth touchable. The Good News must be as tangible as the wood of a cross. Without a visible expression, words like transformation, grace, and radical discipleship will be quickly dismissed as just another hyperbolic sales pitch.”3

The apostles were not adverse to giving reasons or evidence for their faith. 1John 1:1-2 With some guidance, our children can move beyond the Walmart end caps full of colorful eggs and white bunnies to explain why they celebrate what we recognize as the truth of the resurrection to their unchurched or unbelieving peers at school. Go beyond the Easter egg hunt and give them reasons for believing. 

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Stealing Jesus by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Limbaugh, David. “Truth, Miracles, and the Resurrection of Christ.” Jesus On Trial, Regnery Publishing, 2014, p.282 []
  2. Craig, William L. On Guard. Colorado Springs: David C Cook Publishing, 2010. Print [] []
  3. Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me – Why Young Christians are Leaving Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. Print. []
Did Jesus Really Exist?

Did Jesus Really Exist?

Reading Time: 9 minutes
Above Image by 165106 from Pixabay

My daughter-in-law Annie posted about the historicity of Jesus, addressing the question if Jesus was a ‘real’ historical figure or simply a myth or legend that developed over time so the early church could gain power and influence.

One of the comments on her Facebook page stated they had never heard of such a thing. That is, questioning if Christ was a real historical character. I smiled when I read that because it is a common claim online in the atheist and skeptic circles I visit occasionally.

I decided to take a look online to see what I could find. After a quick search, I found a Washington Post article by Raphael Lataster, who lectures at the University of Sydney. Below is a clip of his piece I wanted to address.

“The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith. These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify. Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.”((Lataster, Raphael. “Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.” Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, 18 December. 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/18/did-historical-jesus-exist-the-traditional-evidence-doesnt-hold-up/))

Wow, what do you say to something like that? So many claims and assertions that undermine what we believe to be true. Of course, many think the only sources we have about Jesus are in the scriptures, and those can’t be trusted. The best way to tackle a series of claims like this is to break it down into smaller pieces. Let’s parse this out.

Lataster says, “The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith.”((Lataster, Raphael. “Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.” Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, 18 December. 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/18/did-historical-jesus-exist-the-traditional-evidence-doesnt-hold-up/))

Lataster is making a claim but does not back it up with any evidence and is dismissive of what evidence there is. Nevertheless, the early sources are significant; let’s look at the Gospel of Mark, which most scholars agree is the earliest written of all the Gospels.

Documents outside the Bible state that Mark was an eyewitness account of the apostle Peter. An early church bishop, Papias, born around 70 A.D., wrote that Mark was an interpreter of Peter and accurately put down what was remembered. Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp, who in turn was a student of the apostle John, wrote, “Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”((Irenaeus. The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writing of the Fathers down to A.D.325. Eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885. Print.)) Clement of Alexandria, another early church father, said those who heard Peter’s teachings asked Mark to write them down so they could study, share, and pass the instruction from Peter on orally.

Mark, by all accounts, was close to Peter. He not only acted as a scribe and interpreter at times for Peter, but he was also a close friend and confidant. Because of their close relationship, the Gospel of Mark has some peculiarities that indicate this close relationship. Those peculiarities would not be present had the gospels been written hundreds of years later. 

For example, Mark often paid Peter respect and significant prominence compared to the other gospel writers. For instance, Mark referred to Peter 26 times, compared to Matthew in his much longer account, referred to Peter only 29 times. Keep in mind that Matthew has 28 chapters, Mark had 16, and the total number of verses for Mark is 678, while Matthew had 1,071.((Just, Felix. “New Testament Statistics” Catholic Resources. Catholic-resources.org, 2 Sept. 2005. Web. 17 June 2015.))

Mark also avoided some of Peter’s more embarrassing moments. Do you remember Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water like Jesus was doing? (Matthew 14:22-33) Interestingly, Mark does not even mention Peter’s attempt. (Mark 6:45-52) Another example is when Luke describes the miraculous catch of fish on the sea of Galilee. (Luke 5:1-11) Peter says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (NKJV). In Mark’s version (Mark 1:16-20), this is omitted.((Wallace, James Warner. Cold-Case Christianity. Colorado Springs: David C Cook Publishing, 2013. Print.))

There are other examples where Mark omits Peter’s name and instead uses ‘the disciples’ for various accounts. This aspect of favoring Peter and attempts to save him some embarrassment would not be present had the Gospel of Mark been written by someone other than a close and personal friend of the Apostle Peter.

Lataster also writes, “These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them.”

Lataster claims the New Testament events were compiled long after the life of Christ, and they were written by Christians, which gives us reason to doubt their validity before we even get out of the gate. Do we dismiss research and accounts of astronauts concerning NASA because they are astronauts? That kind of thinking is silly and points to the obvious bias held by Lataster and other liberal bible scholars. To dismiss the historical validity of scripture because Christians wrote it would mean we should ignore the accounts of every religion written by its followers, which would be absurd.

But I will not defend that; rather, let’s look at the non-Christian sources concerning the life of Christ.

Anyone familiar with biblical history has heard of Flavius Josephus (ca. 37- ca. 100). He was a historian for the Roman Emperor Domitian. Josephus wrote, “At this time [the time of Pilate] there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive, according he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”((Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print.)) This account comes from a Jew who became a Roman and had nothing to gain from promoting Jesus and His life.

Pliny the Younger was a Roman senator and lawyer in Rome. He was a prolific letter writer and we have copies of most of his writings. In one of his letters, he asked for advice on dealing with Christians who refused to deny Christ. He wrote, “They had met regularly before dawn on a determined day, and sung antiphonally a hymn to Christ as if to a god. They also took an oath not for any crime, but to keep from theft, robbery and adultery, not to break any promise, and not to withhold a deposit when reclaimed.”((Van Voorst, Robert, Jesus Outside the New Testament, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000. Print.))

I mention the Pliny example (one of many outside the New Testament) to point out the durability of eyewitness testimony decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Romans considered Christianity nothing more than a cult, yet it was growing and spreading all over the Mediterranean and into Rome despite frightful persecution. Pliny the Younger would give Christians three chances to deny Christ, yet time and time again, they would refuse, and he would have them taken away to be executed.

Finally, in the first 150 years after the birth of Christ, if we include Josephus, we have ten non-Christian writers who mention Jesus in their works. Looking at and then piecing together what the non-Christian sources say about Jesus, we have the following list:

1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.

2. He lived a virtuous life.

3. He was a wonder-worker.

4. He had a brother named James.

5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.

6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.

9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.

10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.

11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.

12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.((Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Crossway, 2004. Print.))

Lataster continues, “The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify.”

He is right; none of the authors of the Gospels name themselves. It is only in the book of John that there is any suggestion to the author. The author says it is someone whom Jesus loved. (John 21:24)

Nevertheless, there are context clues throughout scripture that suggest who they may be, and we have church traditions that should not be outrightly dismissed.

Starting with the book of Matthew, some of the arguments in favor of his authorship are:

*Papias mentioned that Matthew had composed an account.

*It is organized in a way that a tax collector would likely write.

*Matthew’s account talks about gold and silver 28 times. The author also has parables about money that the other Gospels don’t.

*The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew says, “And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” In Luke it says, “Forgive us our sins…”

*The early church ascribed the book to Matthew.((“Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?” Zondervan Academic, zondervanacademic.com, 20 September 2017. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels/))

The early church almost unanimously agreed that Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark and other church authors claimed the same, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Jerome.((“Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?” Zondervan Academic, zondervanacademic.com, 20 September 2017. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels/))

Who wrote Luke? Again the early church fathers name Luke as the author of Luke and Acts. It is in Paul’s letters we find out that Luke was a doctor. Most scholars believe that the same person wrote Luke and Acts. Both Luke and Acts had very similar writing styles, both were addressed to Theophilus, and both expressed the same theology.((“Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?” Zondervan Academic, zondervanacademic.com, 20 September 2017. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels/))

Who wrote John? This gospel claims to be written by an eyewitness; he was likely Jewish because many of his described events were attached to dates significant in Jewish culture. He also describes events that would only be accessible to an eyewitness. For example, the number of Jars in John 2:6; how long the man in Bethesda had been a cripple, John 5:5; the name of the man that had his ear chopped off by Peter, John 18:10; and the number of fish caught in Galilee, John 21:11.((“Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?” Zondervan Academic, zondervanacademic.com, 20 September 2017. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels/))

Finally, Lataster writes, “Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.”

He assumes the Gospels are mythical, and J. Warner Wallace addresses this in his blog post

Virtually all scholars consider Luke’s account as historical. Even a 5th grader could see that. Chapter one of Luke reads… “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4

Eyewitnesses, accounts, investigated, orderly, draw, carefully, certainly, are just a few of the words Luke uses to make clear he is giving us history and to suggest they are non-historical is foolishness. Not only that, he addresses it to a specific person for the precise reason of giving him assurance and confidence in what he has been taught concerning Christ.

If you were to read the whole article by Lataster, he is dismissive of Bart Ehrman, who thinks it is foolishness to claim that Jesus was not a real person in history. Bart Ehrman is one of the most respected New Testament textual critics alive today and is no friend to Christians.

In his book Misquoting Jesus Bart Ehrman wrote about his mentor Bruce Metzger and the reliability of the New Testament. Ehrman wrote, “Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”((Ehrman, Bart. “Appendix” Misquoting Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, 2007, p.252.))

Jesus was an actual figure in history. Persecution, torture, and death awaited those who were “eager to promote Christianity,” as Lataster put it. It is foolish to suggest it was done for wealth, power, and influence. Not only can Jesus be found outside the scriptures, but the claims about Him within scriptures can also be trusted. Those that wrote about Him had nothing to gain and everything to lose. All but John lost their lives to share the gospel, which is not much of a vocational perk.

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Did Jesus Really Exist? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Jehovah Witnesses & Christians

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I asked a Jehovah’s Witnesses once if she was a Christian, and she said yes. I replied I was a Christian also, and then asked if I was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she said no. I agreed, then pointed out that there must be significant differences in what I believe and what they believe. I then questioned how she could be both a Christian and a Jehovah’s Witness, but I could not. That question gave her pause. 

Of course, you can decide for yourself, so here is some information that solidified my opinion that Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) are not Christians. 

This following began in 1872 when Charles Taze Russell founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. His followers grew, but then in 1913 his wife filed for divorce for the reasons of “…his conceit, egotism, domination, and improper conduct in relation to other women.”1 That resulted in many followers walking away from this new edition of Christianity. A few years later Russell passed away, and Judge Rutherford took the helm. Rutherford made many discreet alterations to some of the prophecies of the Watch Tower Society. Most significantly were the statements that Christ would return before 1914. Rutherford passed away in 1942, and Nathan Knorr became the chief officer. Under Knorr, the Watch Tower Society continued to grow along with the frequent and anonymous publications they would hand out. 

Bruce Metzger, one of the most respected Bible scholars of the 20th century, wrote concerning the JW’s, “It is manifestly impossible to attempt to refute in one brief article even a fraction of the distortions of Biblical interpretation perpetrated in the voluminous writings of this sect. It is proposed, rather, to give consideration to one of the fundamental errors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, namely, that which concerns the person of Jesus Christ.”1

So who is Jesus and why is it important we believe in who He says He is?

The salvation of everyone depends on their belief in Jesus as God’s son. Jesus made that clear in John 8. “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24. So who do the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is? Not God.

For example, In 1959, the Watchtower magazine wrote, “Do not erroneously conclude that Christians are to worship Christ; that is not what he taught.”2 In 1964 the same publication wrote, “It is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.”2

The Watchtower Society teaches its followers that salvation is based on works, not Christ. They emphasize total obedience to the Watchtower Society, and distributing Watchtower pamphlets and literature is an essential part of their salvation process.3

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was an angel before he came to earth; in fact, he was the archangel Michael and was the first being created in the universe. 

They consider themselves Christians but not Protestants. They don’t believe in the Trinity. They believe Jesus was a created being and not part of the Trinity.

JW’s believe that Jesus began ruling in heaven as King in 1914 (when World War I began) and that a small number of people, 144,000 will actually be saved. 

JW’s believe they will be saved (if they are one of the 144,000) by works. Salvation by works is the major them of every other major religion in the world today, and Christianity is the single exception. Ephesians 2:8-9

The JW’s believe in the inspired word of God, but they have their own translation of the Bible, which was published in 1961. They call their translation the New World Translation (NWT), and it has been widely criticized for changing the meaning of words to fit their beliefs and tenets. The most popular and widely respected translations are:

  1. New International Version (NIV) 
  2. King James Version (KJV) 
  3. New Living Translation (NLT) 
  4. English Standard Version (ESV) 
  5. New King James Version (NKJV) 
  6. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) 

Their New World Translation is not listed as only the JW’s use this translation, which has been translated to support their views. One example of this is John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. JW’s believe that because there is no definite article (the) in the Greek reference to Christ that it should be translated that Christ is “a God” not “the God the Father”. This reasoning is incorrect for multiple reasons. There are many references to Christ as God the Father in the New Testament. Take a look at John 8:58; John 10:30; John 20:28; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 1:15-16; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8 are just a few examples. Ron Rhodes explained linguists have pointed out that it is not necessary to translate Greek nouns that have no definite article with an indefinite article because there is NO indefinite article in Greek.4

JW’s do not celebrate Christmas or Easter because they believe his death, not His birth, should be celebrated. They also think these holidays are rooted in ancient pagan customs, and our celebrations of these holiday’s offended God. 

JW’s do not go to war and quote Matthew 26:52 to support that belief. 

Finally, JW’s do not participate in politics. They don’t belong to any political party and do not vote in any local, state, or nationwide elections. 

Today, many people use “Christian” to describe their basic cultural behaviors, religious observances, or family traditions. Christianity is something they do, not necessarily believe. For example, if they were raised in a religious home, have some generic belief in God, go to church at least on the major holidays, try to treat others as they would want to be treated, and their good deeds outweigh their bad, they are a Christian. Being kind to others, believing in God, and attending church are good things, but that does not make a Christian any more than going to a garage makes a mechanic. 

A standard definition of a Christian is “…a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day.”5 Simply put, a Christian is someone who believes in the work of the cross and whose heart and behavior reflect Christ. Acts 11:22-26 Early followers were first called Christians in Antioch because of their Christ-like behavior, and that behavior came about because of their accurate view of who Christ was.

Does that mean Christians don’t lie, lose their temper, are cruel, self-serving, and have a laundry list of shortcomings, bad habits, or addictions? Romans 7:15-20 Of course not. Christians are forgiven, not perfect. Should Christians be forgiving and gracious toward others? Should Christians be loving and pray for those who are unkind or cruel to them? Should Christians care for those in need, the poor, abused, sick, widowed, elderly? 1John 4:9 Of course, but being a follower of Christ goes beyond the outward expressions we can see but includes the condition of the heart, which only God can see. 

Ultimately God looks at our hearts. Our deeds may have an outward appearance of charity and compassion, but the motives behind such behavior are what God looks at. Isaiah 64:6. Believing in Christ, the Person, and work of Jesus is what will save us. John 8:24 Charity and putting others before ourselves is a natural outcome for Christians, but God can peek behind the scenes and see what is going on backstage. Charity and putting others before ourselves is a natural outcome for Christians. But God can peek behind the scenes and see what is going on backstage and what goes on backstage is determined by someone’s worldview.

John Stonestreet wrote, “Is the world we live in a creation, an accident, or an illusion? Do we live in God’s world, or was God an invention we brought into our world? Is the world we live in the one described by Jesus, Richard Dawkins, or Oprah? Are we nothing more than biological by-products of time plus chance plus matter? Is the world nothing more than a fabrication of our minds?6

John went on to explain those different religions, different views of how the world works, matters. It matters because depending on what we believe will determine how we act. For example, some may say they believe in God, believe in Jesus, but does it matter to them? Does it alter their behavior? Was Jesus just a wise man? Was He a God, was He one of many or is He the God of the universe worthy of worship?

What we think is real, what we think is accurate matters significantly. Is it possible to say you believe in God and Jesus and get other fundamental details wrong that are essential to an accurate worldview?

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Peter 2:1


Are Jehovah Witnesses Christian? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Metzger, Bruce. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal. Bible Researcher. April 1953. http://www.bible-researcher.com/metzger.jw.html [] []
  2. Rhodes, Ron. “The New World Translation is Inaccurate and Misleading,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 26 [] []
  3. Rhodes, Ron. “Salvation is by Grace Through Faith, Not by Works,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 75 []
  4. Rhodes, Ron. “The New World Translation is Inaccurate and Misleading,” The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To a Jehovah’s Witness, Harvest House Publishers, 2001, pg 29 []
  5. “What is a Christian?” GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-Christian.html []
  6. Stonestreet, John, Kunkle, Brett. “Keeping the Moment and the Story Straight” A Practical Guide to Culture, David C Cook, 2017, p. 51 []

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