After much internal debate, I have decided for my first official adventure into my Apologetics series on World Religions, I would take a closer look at Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) and their beliefs. I keep seeing and hearing discussions about JWs all over the place.
I recently had a special-needs friend make an announcement that she was now attending a Jehovah’s Witness meeting, after a lady knocked on her door and warned her she was going to hell if she didn’t join them at one of their meetings. This made me realize, even more, the importance of being able to understand these other worldviews.
Think long and hard about the last interaction you had with a JW when they knocked on your door or hit you up at the Walmart. How did you respond? Did you simply tell them you had a church and send them away? Or did you do something to plant that seed with them?
It’s my hope that by the end of this article you are able to engage in a healthy, hopefully productive conversation with them. Armed with a better knowledge of their basic beliefs, you should have a better idea of how to plant the seed with them during your short conversation!
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses actually believe?
First, some history! The Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded in the USA in the 1870s by Charles Taze Russell. Raised in the protestant church, Russell decided to take what he liked about the Christian faith and leave what he didn’t. In 1884 he founded the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) and these little pamphlets that they distribute door to door are held in the same esteem as the Holy Bible (of which they have their own translation, the “New World Translation”).
Russell first predicted Armageddon would begin in 1914. (Although he passed away in 1916, despite Armageddon’s failure to happen!) Several of his successors would also falsely predict the end of the world, occasionally leading to an exodus of JW members upon their failed predictions.
Russell’s successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, had a moment of panic when his prediction of a 1925 Armageddon failed to happen and the church was approaching 144,000 members. This number is significant because, according to their belief, 144,000 faithful JWs will be admitted into heaven. Once their following surpassed that number, the beliefs switched a bit. Now, 144,000 will be admitted to heaven. The rest of the faithful members will live on Paradise Earth (The new Earth referenced in Revelation 21) where they will be allowed to live peacefully until they fall from grace and are booted. (Yes, you read that right – even in the “afterlife” JWs believe that we are able to lose our salvation and be kicked from Paradise Earth into the abyss.)
So here we are in 2018, several failed Armageddon dates later, and many more than 144,000 members. So what else does the JW faith believe?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe in one God, much like Christianity. However, that’s about where our similarities end. They do not believe that the Holy Trinity is scriptural. They do believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in that God created him. But he was not God on earth.
In fact, they believe that Jesus was actually Michael the Archangel. That his spirit was implanted in Mary, making him human.
They do believe that Jesus was born, lived, and died (on a stake, not a cross). They also believe that he was resurrected, although only spiritually and not physically. (This is important, because everyone else who has died is in a state of unconsciousness – awaiting the Armageddon when they will awaken and take up residence of the New Earth.)
Another variance between the JWs and Protestant Christians? JWs do not believe in hell. They believe that all spiritual beings who have passed are in a slumber, and those chosen to live on Paradise Earth will be awakened at the end of the world, and those who are not awakened will just rest in an eternal slumber.
So the next time a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on your door, what should you do?
Greet them with kindness! Like my mom always told me, “You get more flies with honey.”
Also, don’t bombard them with negative facts! No one wants their belief system to be attacked with anger, and made to feel less than. Sure, there are many discrepancies – but that’s NEVER a way to lead into a discussion!
One thing I have found true about nearly all of my interactions with JW members? They are scripted. Once you appear to be open to talking to them, chances are good that this will set them up for their memorized speech. This speech will often cover the depressing events around the world, God’s plan for Paradise Earth and that God’s name is indeed Jehovah.
One of my favorite approaches is to turn this into a dialogue and share with them some of the amazing ways I have seen God act in my life. What I was like before I was truly following God, how Jesus came into my life, how my life has changed, how much I enjoy my daily time with God.
This is giving them a glimpse into a reality that they don’t often learn about. (They learn that all those outside the JW organization don’t have hope, that we are all sad and striving to live up to an unattainable lifestyle.) You are giving them hard proof of God acting OUTSIDE their norm.
If you feel comfortable, and that the seed you’ve planted is starting to grow? Agree to take their literature – you can tell them you’re interested in learning a little more about their beliefs. (Hopefully you are! I know it fascinates me!) You can even invite them to come back and share more with you once you’ve had your chance to study!
Now here’s the hard part: Actually study! Take their literature and study it. Come up with solid questions, doctrinal differences. And be prepared to discuss those with them! Hopefully you’ll be watching seeds grow within them, as they discover more outside of their current view.
It’s my hope, that within this post I have introduced you to a few of the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and encouraged you to have a productive conversation the next time they knock on your door! We are, after all, called to be ready always to give a defense to our faith!
It was a grim and gruesome scene there on Golgotha. Two common thieves, caught in their crime and paying the price with their lives, were being crucified on either side of the sinless Son of God Who was also hanging on a cross. Blood dripped from their wounds into the dirt at the foot of the three crosses and groans came from nearer the top of these cruel instruments of death. Conversation swirled around the top of the hill and also between the men hanging there.
People standing around and passing by had cruel comments to make about the trio hanging on the crosses. Of course they had to be the worst of criminals to warrant being crucified; that would be a given in the minds of those at the scene. Then the Jewish leaders were there in all their pride and pomp. They had much to say against the Man on the middle cross. They accused Him of blasphemy: “If You are the Son of God, as You claim, come down from the cross!” “He saved others, but cannot save Himself. Come down now, and we will believe.” Let God save His Son, if, indeed, He is His Son, they scoffed. The thieves also repeated the things they heard from the throng at the foot of their crosses.
Suddenly evidence that the Holy Spirit was at work on that hill of desecration and death flashed out among those hanging there. Conviction lay hold on one of the thieves. Despite what he could hear the churchmen and priests and soldiers saying about Jesus, and the fact that Jesus was also being crucified, the thief rebuked his partner in crime for mocking the Man on the middle cross. “Hey, wait just a minute. We’re hanging here for crimes we committed. This is our just punishment. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” Recognizing and confessing his sin, he agreed with the sentence. In other words, he repented.
Then came one of the most amazing professions of faith recorded in the Holy Bible. Despite the sacrilege flowing on that hilltop, the thief recognized something holy. Someone like no one he’d ever come into contact with was bleeding to death on that next cross. Faith took hold, and he believed in the Man hanging beside Him. “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He believed and confessed Jesus. Salvation washed him white as snow. “This day you’ll be with Me in Paradise.”
Charles Colson observed that the two thieves who died on either side of Jesus represent you and me – all of mankind. We’re one or the other. “We either recognize our sinful selves, our sentence of death, and our deserving of that sentence, which leads us to repent and believe – or we curse God and die. What is your response?”
And make no mistake, a response is demanded of every human being. We each have a solemn spiritual choice to make that will determine the conduct of the rest of our lives and our eternal destination. The tale of two thieves is the tale of each of us. We’re either for Jesus, or we’re against Him, He told us. When we’ve believed in the saving power of the Man on the middle cross Who died to set us free, we are compelled to take the good news of the gospel to the lost among us. The answer we have to give is good news. Indeed, there is no other news or Name whereby we can be saved.
All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Have you ever been asked a question about God that you couldn’t answer? For many of us, that question is, “If God is love, then why did He command Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in the Canaanite nations?” Skeptics point to the 6th commandment and claim that God is a hypocrite, telling His people not to commit murder in one verse and then commanding them to murder in another. If we are honest, we will admit that this is a perplexing event. There are many different proposed explanations, but we are going to look at the two theories that I believe have the most biblical support.
The first possibility is that God used the Israelites to execute His judgment against these nations because of their great sin, which is based largely on God’s word to Abraham in Genesis 15:15-16…
Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
In the verses preceding this promise, God gave Abraham an outline of future events. God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land where they would be afflicted for 400 years. Then, He would judge that land and Abraham’s descendants would leave with great possessions and return to the land that He had given them. The reason for the delay was that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete. (The Amorites were one of the Canaanite tribes and the name was probably used in this context to refer to all of the Canaanite people.)
The Canaanites were an utterly wicked and immoral people. Their culture was defined by child sacrifice, witchcraft, divination, sorcery, necromancy (consulting with the dead, aka demons) and debauchery of all kinds, including bestiality, incest and temple prostitution. God required the death penalty for every one of these practices. Yet, because God is patient and long-suffering, He waited several centuries to send His judgment. In other words, the sin of these people did not come to the point of warranting God’s judgment until the time of the Exodus and by that time, the Bible implies that every single person in the culture was corrupted.
Scripture clearly demonstrates that God uses nations to judge other nations – even nations that are not righteous themselves. For example, God describes Assyria as the rod of His anger in Isaiah 10:5-6…
Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath
I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Then, in Jeremiah 25:8-9, God declares His intentions to use Babylon in judgment against Israel…
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the Lord, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.
Ironically, God sent Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel for the very same reasons He used Israel to destroy the Canaanites.
For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God… and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made… the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities… They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols…they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
2 Kings 17:7-17, abridged
When we see the destruction of the Canaanites as judgment, we can understand that it was not genocide. God was not sending Joshua to kill a certain race or ethnicity of people, but was employing Joshua and his army as a sword of judgment on a society who had permanently rejected Him and plunged headfirst into unrestrained evil. Despite what skeptics allege, God’s love was shown to humanity in this instance and others. He knew that if evil was left to continue to spread, more people would be lost for eternity and He could not allow that to happen. It was a cleansing of the land similar to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the global flood of Noah’s time. Yet, it is likely that had they repented, God would have spared them, just as He did for Rahab and all that she brought into her home.
The second explanation is referred to as the “angel view.” While it is controversial in some circles, it is certainly not a fringe theory. The angel view was universally accepted doctrine in the early church up until the 5th century A.D. At that time, critics used anything they could to attack and mock the church. Because of this, many Christians began to discard certain beliefs in exchange for new, more palatable theology. In recent times, many respected Bible scholars have subscribed to this belief, including:
M. R. DeHaan, founder of Our Daily Bread Ministries
Merrill Unger, author of various works including Biblical Demonology
Henry Morris, founder of the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research
Hal Lindsey, best known for his books on the end times
Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel founder
Chuck Missler, founder of Koinonia House
So, what exactly is the angel view? To fully explain, we must go back to Genesis 6:1-7, which says…
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
A basic reading of these verses does not aptly convey the meaning of the words. I am grateful to the late Chuck Missler for his teachings on this subject, which served as a springboard for my research. Much of my explanation comes from his messages.
The word that is translated “giant” in our Bibles is actually “Nephilim.” Nephilim means, literally, “fallen ones.” The word giant came about as a translation of the Greek word used in the Septuagint, “gigantes.” While the word giant is derived from gigantes, that was not the original meaning of the word. Missler taught that the original meaning of gigantes was “Earth-born.” Greek and Roman mythology support that definition as the Gigantes were said to be the offspring of Gaia and Uranus.
The Hebrew words for “Sons of God” are bene ha’elohim, a phrase which, as Chuck Missler explains, is reserved in the Old Testament for direct creations of God, like angels or Adam, the first man created from the earth by the hands of God. In fact, even in the New Testament, Adam is the only person in Jesus’ genealogy who is called a son of God.
Finally, “daughters of men” is literally “daughters of Adam.” In contrast to what some who oppose the angel view teach, there is no indication that these women who bore the Nephilim were specifically descendants of Cain.
So, if we take the Bible literally, the text says that the Sons of God (fallen angels) took wives from the daughters of Adam and produced offspring called Nephilim (fallen ones). Those who hold to this view believe that except for Noah’s line (Genesis 6 says that he was perfect in his generations), all of humanity was contaminated with these Nephilim genes and God sent the flood to wipe them out in order to preserve a pure line through which Jesus could come as our Messiah. There are many other indications that this theory could be true, including in the New Testament. In his article, “Mischievous Angels or Sethites? Textual Controversy” Chuck Missler point to 2 New Testament verses that seem to confirm the angel view:
“In the mouths of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” In Biblical matters, it is essential to always compare Scripture with Scripture. The New Testament confirmations in Jude and 2 Peter are impossible to ignore.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2 Peter 2:4-5
Peter’s comments even establishes the time of the fall of these angels to the days of the Flood of Noah.
Even Peter’s vocabulary is provocative. Peter uses the term Tartarus, here translated “hell.” This is the only place that this Greek term appears in the Bible. Tartarus is a Greek term for “dark abode of woe”; “the pit of darkness in the unseen world.” As used in Homer’s Iliad, it is “…as far beneath hades as the earth is below heaven`.” In Greek mythology, some of the demigods, Chronos and the rebel Titans, were said to have rebelled against their father, Uranus, and after a prolonged contest they were defeated by Zeus and were condemned into Tartarus.
The Epistle of Jude also alludes to the strange episodes when these “alien” creatures intruded themselves into the human reproductive process:
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 6,7
The allusions to “going after strange flesh,” keeping “not their first estate,” having “left their own habitation,” and “giving themselves over to fornication,” seem to clearly fit the alien intrusions of Genesis 6. (The term for habitation, oivkhth,rion, refers to their heavenly bodies from which they had disrobed.)
These allusions from the New Testament would seem to be fatal to the “Sethite” alternative in interpreting Genesis 6. If the intercourse between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” were merely marriage between Sethites and Cainites, it seems impossible to explain these passages, and the reason why some fallen angels are imprisoned and others are free to roam the heavenlies.”
The connection between the pre-flood Nephilim and the Canaanite destruction can be found in verse 4, “There were giants (Nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward…” So, there were Nephilim in the Earth after the flood, but, who were they and where did they live? Deuteronomy 9:1-2 tell us that the people of Canaan were descendants of the Anakim and Numbers 13:33 explains that the Anakim came from the Nephilim. They were numerous and included:
The Rephaim, Emim, Horim & Zamsummim of Genesis 14-15
Arba, the father of Anak, Joshua 14:15, 15:13
Anak and his 7 sons, the Anakim from Numbers 13:33
Og, King of Bashan, mentioned in Deuteronomy 3:11 and Joshua 12
Goliath and his 4 brothers, 2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 (“giant” used in these verses is literally, “Rephaim”)
The Canaanites were descendants of the Nephilim and, if the angel view is correct, then it would indicate that the human line in this area was corrupted. According to this view, God commanded Joshua and his army to kill every man, woman and child in Canaan in order to prevent them from corrupting the people that He had chosen to become the lineage of the Messiah.
Whichever view is correct, it is clear that the destruction of the Canaanites was not genocide, but judgment of pervasive sin. God made clear that He was the one that would be dealing with the inhabitants of Canaan and that He was not doing any of it because of Israel’s righteousness, but only because of the wickedness of the Canaanites.
“Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you.
“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Throughout the Bible, God judged nations that rejected Him and embraced wickedness, including His own people Israel. This does not make God evil, but instead demonstrates His perfect righteousness. Just as we would not expect a murderer or rapist to be spared justice, so we cannot condemn God’s actions against wicked people. In reality, all of us deserve the sword of God’s judgment. Yet, through His amazing grace, God Himself came, the seed of the woman, to take that judgment on Himself at the cross. Just like Noah’s great Ark and the home of Rahab with the scarlet cord hung from her window, Jesus is our escape hatch. He is coming back one day to judge all people and nations who have rebelled against Him, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will not have to face that judgment. As long as the Earth remains, there will be things we don’t understand, but we can take comfort in these words….
Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Before I jump feet first into this newest series here on the FWC Apologetics Blog, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Jacque, and I am a member of the FWC Tech team – you can almost always find me in the sound booth at church! I grew up in the church, spent many years pushing away from my faith, and came back to the church when my daughter (now 10) was born.
I found my home at Family Worship Center in 2008, and have been an active part of this community ever since! Aside from serving in the sound booth and the technical side of the office staff? I am also active with the Apologetics and Women’s Ministries, as well as leading a life group.
Now, let’s jump into the basics of what I am hoping to share with you over the coming months.
I can’t count high enough to tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Aren’t all religions basically the same thing?” It’s one of the reasons I have been passionate about understanding and debating other religions, especially those that closely resemble Christianity.
As I begin this adventure in blogging with the FWC Apologetics team, I will be looking at many of the world religions and cults. A few examples are Buddhism, Christian Science, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, Scientology and more. I will be focusing on both the similarities and differences, as well as how you can defend the Christian Faith when you encounter these other world religions.
Understanding these other religions is so important, and passing that knowledge to our loved ones, will help us all to better understand the broader world-views. I have found that as I study other religions, my own convictions grow stronger.
My fascination with world religions started early in life. I was raised in the church, but all of these other religions were one big mystery to me. In high school, I befriended a Buddhist – and it led me to seriously question my faith. I firmly believe that if I had been well educated in other religions, I may not have wandered as far and for as long as I did. (And I thank God every day that he kept drawing me back to him!)
My goal with my series of posts on this blog is to help us all to get to know these other religions, understand exactly what they believe, and be able to engage in a friendly conversation with members of these faiths in hopes that we plant seeds to lead them to the one true God!
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
These beautiful lyrics have impacted me deeply from the first moment they came through the speakers of my car stereo. It is so worshipful and really helps me to visualize the power and glory of God at the creation of the universe.
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
God was there from before the beginning of time, He created everything and everything exists to worship and exalt Him.
God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
God’s promises come to pass! His Word will accomplish His purpose and will not return to Him void.
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die
Despite all of the failures and pride and sinfulness of humanity, God came to Earth and became a man to die for people created by His own hands on a hill created by His very Word. It is simply amazing that the God of the universe would do that for you and me.
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
God’s plan of salvation culminated in the resurrection of Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, as He left the grave behind Him to sit at the right hand of the Father on our behalf. Everything He created, everything He did for us on the cross was out of His never-ending love for His creation. He orchestrated His own execution and then in His human form, surrendered to the cross for us. Knowing all that He did for us, we should willingly and happily surrender to Him.
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I
Every single person is created by God and so precious to Him that He died to save them! Because of His great love for humanity, we should give our lives to love people by proclaiming His gospel.
These are all such breathtaking verses about our awesome God and Creator!
After a few times listening, I decided to Google the lyrics. What I found was disheartening.
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I don’t really follow Hillsong, so it came as a surprise to me that they would insert theistic evolution into one of their worship songs like this. Apparently, however, this is nothing new for the Australian megachurch. In a 2010 article entitled, “A Sad Day for the Assemblies of God Denomination,” Ken Ham* addresses the connection between AOG changing their official position on the Genesis creation account and this 2005 statement from Hillsong’s founder, Brian Houston. (Note: Hillsong is an Assemblies of God church.)
I believe in creation. The Bible starts in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. If I waver on the first 10 words of the Bible I think I’m going to have problems properly representing the rest of the Bible. However, timeframes, over what period of time that was, whether there was room for any evolving in some areas of life as well, I’m more than open to that. I’m happy to leave that to the experts. – Brian Houston
(Quoted in the above referenced article, originally posted here.)
Theistic evolution is the attempt to reconcile the Bible with Darwinian Evolution. Most Christians want to shake the notion that Christianity is in conflict with science. Some do this through the study of apologetics while others simply rewrite their doctrine to fit the “science” of the day. That is what theistic evolution does. It takes a little bit of evolution and a little bit of God and mixes it all together in an “origins of life stew” that teaches some version of, “God created the world through the process of evolution and the Big Bang.” This theory cannot be found within the pages of the Bible and it is, in fact, wholly incompatible with Christianity.
Millions/Billions of Years
Christians who believe in evolution all accept the modern “scientific” claims that mammals, including the ancestors of modern humans, have existed for millions of years and that the Earth is billions of years old. They will either place eons of time between each day in Genesis 1-2 or claim that the 6 day creation is literal but Scripture does not say how long ago it took place. This is one of their most glaring mistakes since genealogies and timelines throughout the Bible clearly demonstrate that approximately 6,000 years have passed since the creation. John D. Morris of the Institute for Creation Research said this…
… every honest attempt to determine the date, starting with a deep commitment to the inerrancy of God’s Word, has calculated a span of just a few thousand years, most likely close to 6000 years, since creation. The largest figure I’ve ever seen from a trustworthy scholar is approximately 15,000 years, but even this seems to stretch the Biblical data too far.
Answers in Genesis explains the method of calculating 6,000 years in their article, “It All Adds Up,” by Roger Patterson. You simply cannot fit millions or billions of years into the Bible and the evidence for such a length of time is severely lacking.
In the opening scene of the movie, “Is Genesis History,” Del Tackett explores a canyon with a small stream running through it and wonders how long it must have taken for that little stream to carve the massive canyon. He then picks up a rock and begins to explain its history. The rock that he holds and others from the area have been dated to be anywhere from 350,000-2 million years old. Eventually Del reveals that he is standing at the site of Mount St. Helens and that the rocks and everything there (including the canyon and the geological formations) are younger than he is!
The layers were formed quickly and a couple of years after the initial eruption, more volcanic activity caused a mud flow that cut the canyon out in a couple of days. The dating method used to arrive at these highly inflated figures was radioisotope dating. It is the same method scientists use to this day to “prove” that the earth is billions of years old. The Mount St. Helens experiment should have been reason enough to reevaluate their methods, but instead scientists just make excuses to fit their narrative.
Biblical Timeline vs. Evolutionary Timeline
Another major problem for theistic evolution is that the evolutionary timeline contradicts the biblical timeline. For example, Genesis records that God created grass, herbs and fruit trees on the 3rd day and all living creatures in the water on the 5th day. Evolution, however, claims that water creatures existed before any land vegetation. The Bible says that God created birds on the 5th day and land animals on the 6th day, while evolution contends that dinosaurs (land animals) evolved into birds. According to evolution, land mammals evolved into whales, but the Bible teaches us that water creatures were created the day before land animals. There are many more discrepancies between the biblical creation timeline and the evolutionary timeline – so many that it is impossible to reconcile the two.
The Cause of Death
The most significant deviation between evolution and the Bible is the cause of death. Evolution teaches natural selection or survival of the fittest. The strong survive and the weak do not. Life is made better through death. In absolute contrast stands the gospel which teaches that everything – people, animals, and all life – was perfect from the moment of creation. God created Adam and Eve with free will and forbade them from only 1 thing. They were warned that doing that 1 thing (eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) would result in death, but they did it anyway. Just as God promised, death resulted – spiritual death was instantaneous and physical death would come later. But, God had a plan in the works. In fact, according to Revelation 13:8, His plan was in the works since the foundation of the world. That plan was to come to Earth Himself, in human form as the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) and dwell among men in order to give His own life for all of mankind. Thus death as the result of sin was the reason Jesus came. He told His disciples that He came to give us life. So, what happens to the gospel in evolution’s scenario of death as a natural process that came before sin?
The truth is, rejecting the Genesis creation account as a literal and historical event is a dangerous practice that will lead only to the dismantling of the Christian faith. The Virgin Birth, Incarnation, Resurrection and miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, raising the dead and walking on water all defy science in an arguably more profound manner than does a literal 6 day creation and it won’t be long until they too are tossed onto the garbage heap if Christians continue to compromise on scriptural authority. God’s Word is our basis of all truth and should be treated as such. When Scripture disagrees with science, we must not back down. Instead, we wait for the day when the Bible is vindicated by science as true. It has happened before and it will continue to happen until Jesus returns. Until then, instead of falling prey to false doctrines as Hillsong and others have done, let us heed the words of Paul…
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
– Colossians 2:8, NKJV
* There was a bit of a back and forth between AOG and Ken Ham. Please refer to his second article on this topic, “Assemblies of God Denomination Responds…but What Does It Really Mean?”
On Monday, 6/4/18, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the Masterpiece Bakeshop case. The case was about a Christian baker in Denver, CO who refused to custom-make a wedding cake for a gay marriage. Jack Phillips, the owner of the shop, had offered to sell the couple any of the ready-make cakes in the shop, but stated that, because of his belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman, he would not comply with their request for a custom-made cake.
The case was taken before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) who found that the baker had violated the anti-discrimination laws in CO and, therefore, should either make the cake or be fined. The case then went through the federal legal system with the courts affirming the CCRC’s decision. In January of this year the case was heard by the Court and, on Monday, they issued their ruling.
The majority (7 to 2) found that the CCRC did not take into consideration the religious rights of the bakeshop owner and were in some instances hostile to those beliefs. The Court therefore ruled that the CCRC would need to take another look at the case. Left out of their decision was to what extent a business or individual selling services to the public can refuse those services to a customer, because of the business owner’s religious beliefs.
Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in which he stated:
“Some of the commissioners at the formal public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried in to the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust…The comments thus cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commissions adjudication of Phillip’s case.”
Justice Kennedy also stated that,”When the CCRC considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.”
Supporters of Masterpiece Bakeshop point to the ruling as a win for Christians, as they see in it that the government cannot treat them differently than others, and must take into serious consideration the beliefs of Christians when deciding what course of action to take. Those who support the government forcing current societal beliefs on Christians point to the fact that the Court did not say the baker could legally refuse to make the cake. Instead it declared that when someone demands a Christian baker make a cake, that person must first seriously consider the the baker’s beliefs and be respectful of them before then forcing him to make the cake.
In truth, the latter position, unfortunately, is one which may prevail in government going forward until other similar cases are decided upon by the Supreme Court. The point is that the Court did not say the baker could refuse to make the cake, it merely said that the lower courts or commissions cannot be hostile to the religious beliefs of either party in the case.
In 1952 the Supreme Court ruled on one of the many religious freedom cases that have come before over the years. The case was Zorach v Clausen. This decision, like several previous ones, argued that the government should not merely permit the free exercise of religion, but should actively cooperate with religious authority. The decision, reads in part:
“The First Amendment does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. Otherwise the State and religion would be aliens to each other, hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly. We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
The Supreme Court could have used this case as a guide, however it was not mentioned. The Court stated plainly that they did not want to rule on the broader issue of to what extent religious beliefs take precedent over civil law. So Christians need understand that they may still be subject to persecution for their beliefs and may continue to be subject to the whims of the judicial system.
A law passed in California in 2015 has required Pro-Life Planning Clinics to advertise state-funded abortion services. Pro-Life groups sued the state and on Tuesday, March 20th, the Supreme Court heard arguments in this case. A decision on this case will come later in the year. Many Pro-Life groups are watching this case as other states might institute similar requirements, should the Court rule in favor of California.
The argument from the California side is that many of the women who have “un-wanted” pregnancies do not know that the State provides low-cost or no-cost abortion services. They argue, therefore, that any clinic or family planning, or pregnancy center must advertise the State’s services regardless of their beliefs about abortion.
The Pro-Life clinics and pregnancy centers see this law as a violation of their right to religious freedom under the First Amendment. That is, the right not to advertise for services they object to on religious grounds. Additionally, the Pro-Life groups believe that the new law is one which “compels speech”, which in this case means that regardless of beliefs, the clinics must “speak” about abortion services. Historically, the Court has ruled that individuals and groups cannot be “compelled to speak” beliefs with which they do not agree. The Pro-Life groups also realize that this new law is a desperate attempt by the Pro-Abortion groups because the Pro-Life movement has gained broader acceptance within the population across the country.
For Christians, the issue should be clear. Life begins at conception and God is “knitting you in the womb”. From that point forward, any termination of life is murder. Many Pro-Lifers get caught up in the arguments such as, “What about rape or incest?” Such arguments are distractions when you stick to the Truth as stated above. There are many remedies in rape and incest cases after the child is born. But until that time, any termination is murder.
What is missing from the arguments on behalf of California is the answer to the question: “What are the consequences from the broader concept that once the government can compel speech in one instance, what is to stop them from compelling it in others?”
A similar case was argued before the Court earlier this year in the Masterpiece Bake Shop being required to participate in a gay wedding when it violated their Christian beliefs about the definition of marriage. While the outcome of this case will come later this year and while this case of not coerced “speech” but “action”, the concept is the same. It is the government requiring actions by Christians which are against their beliefs.
While the Court, over recent years, has moved far away from the original intent of the First Amendment, there is always hope that they will show common sense in this and the Masterpiece Bake Shop case to protect Christians from what amounts to religious discrimination.
The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment (the very first of all amendments) to emphasize that the government should not interfere with religious practices, nor should they “establish” a state sponsored religion (as had been the case in England). Today, America has “Secular Humanism/Anti Christianity” as its state sponsored religion. Christian principles, which are the bedrock of this country’s founding, are no longer welcome in the public square. It is time for us to begin the long road to restoration of those principles so as to not continue to lose favor in the eyes of God.
Spontaneous combustion. What else would have caused the bush to suddenly burst into flames in the middle of the desert? Well, perhaps the breath of the One Whose breath brought the stars into being. Alright, point well made. At any cause, the flames caught the shepherd’s eye. The Lord’s question, “May I have your attention, please?” was answered with a yes.
Duh, you say? Of course a bush burning in the middle of the desert would get him to look and explore. He must have been bored nearly to death out there herding sheep after his high life at the center of Egyptian government. Almost anything would have gotten his attention at that point.
The Lord saw that He had Moses’ attention. Wow. That statement in Exodus 3:4 caught my attention. God asked for Moses’ attention by starting a bush ablaze, and when He had it, He spoke to him of an approaching lifestyle change. God wanted to use Moses to get Pharaoh’s attention and then lead His people to freedom. I AM, within a burning bush, asking “may I have your attention, please?” Mission accomplished.
God tried to get Saul’s attention, but he wouldn’t heed. “May I have your attention, please?” God asked once more, and knocked him off his horse with a blinding light from heaven. It worked. Speak of an approaching lifestyle change. God used Paul to get the attention of the Gentiles across the then-known world, and ours, today.
God has had a plan in place to arrest the attention of the world since before its foundation. The basics of that plan are that Jesus is God, Jesus came to earth as a human born of a virgin, He lived a pure and sinless life, He died for our sins on the cross, He rose again to life, He returned to heaven, and He’s coming again to judge the earth. Believe with all your heart, and you’ll be saved.
“May I have your attention, please?” He asks of those whose hearts are right with Him. He wants to use you and me to get the attention of the lost just as He once attracted us. No burning bush, most likely, and no blinding light from heaven. But the still, small Voice still whispers, “May I have your attention, please?” A yes response could be an approaching lifestyle change. What will the answer be?
Skeptics can’t seem to come to an agreement about which aspects of Christianity to attack. As addressed in my previous post, some admit that Jesus was a real historical figure, but allege that He never claimed to be God. Others, however, want to throw the baby out with the bathwater by claiming that He never even existed. The proponents of such intellectual dishonesty are even denounced by those on their own side. For example…
“The consensus of scholars, including non-Christian scholars, is that a historical Jesus most likely existed and the later stories about “Jesus Christ” were told about him. The idea that there was no such historical person at all and that “Jesus Christ” was a purely mythical figure has been posited in one form or another since the eighteenth century, but is not taken seriously by anyone but a tiny handful of fringe scholars and amateurs.”
~ Tim O’Neill, History for Atheists
“This billboard for poor method, we are now asked to believe by freethought’s bad boy, PZ Myers, has cold-cocked a senior New Testament scholar for saying something as reasonable as “Jesus existed.” Only in the age of instant misinformation and net-attack is this kind of idiocy possible. Only in the atheist universe where the major premise– “religion is a lie so the study of religion is a study of lying”—infects everything is this kind of lunacy possible. Unfortunately, we have Richard Dawkins to thank for the original formulation of that premise.”
~R. Joseph Hoffmann, The New Oxonian
Even though the, “Jesus Myth Theory,” is not taken seriously by most serious scholars, it is important to be equipped to respond to challenges such as these. Just like everything else presented in the Bible, there is ample evidence for the existence of Jesus. An article published on carm.org entitled, “Did Jesus Ever Exist,” outlines, “over 42 sources within 150 years after Jesus’ death which mention his existence and record many events of his life.”
It is clear that the claims that no evidence of Jesus exists outside of the pages of the Bible are false. I want to spotlight a few of the writings here (I have displayed some parts in bold for emphasis), but as always, I encourage you to investigate them for yourself. Links are provided at the end of this article to help you get started. There are also hyperlinks within the text that will point you to articles referenced here.
While others might conclude with the biblical evidence since it is not necessarily trusted by those outside of the faith, I have chosen to open with it. The Bible is God’s Word and as followers of Christ, we should not be ashamed to refer to it first and often. More than that, the Bible is an extremely reliable historical document that was finalized before the end of the first century (not canonized, but all books were written), and likely before 70 AD. The 27 books of the New Testament were written by 4 close friends who were eye witnesses to virtually every event in Jesus’ life, 2 of His brothers who had previously been hostile to His ministry, a physician who painstakingly interviewed eyewitnesses, a Pharisee who was killing Christians prior to his conversion, and a young man who was close to the apostles and wrote his Gospel from the testimony of Peter. We have more and earlier manuscripts for all of these books than for any other trusted historical document. But what is even more significant is the fact that these men and others were all willing to be tortured, imprisoned and murdered for what they believed about Jesus. It is inconceivable that anyone would do that for a fictional person.
Other Christian Writings
Aristides was a second century philosopher and Christian apologist who wrote, “The Apology of Aristides,” between 120-130 A.D. It was a defense of the Christian faith written and delivered to Emperor Hadrian. Among other things, he confirms the virgin birth to a Jewish woman, the fact that Jesus chose twelve disciples, that he was crucified, died and buried and subsequently rose from the dead after three days.
“The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews, and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians, and they are become famous.”
The Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, was written very early between 50-120 A.D. and referenced by Eusebius, Athanasius, the Epistle of Barnabas and likely Origen. It is highly respected and considered helpful, though not canonical. The entire Didache is based on the teachings of Jesus, but mentions His name specifically in the context of the Eucharist or communion.
“Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken bread: We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.
But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”
But after you are filled, give thanks this way: We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever.”
Secular, Jewish and Other Sources
Flavius Josephus, or Josephus as he is more commonly known, was born in Jerusalem in 37 A.D. He was a Jewish historian who wrote volumes on Jewish history. His work, Antiquities of the Jews, includes a section called the “Testimonium Flavianum,” which confirms the existence of the Jesus of the Bible. While there have been some disputes about this section, they do not negate the fact that he did write about Jesus as a real person who existed in the first century. This is one translation of his account.
“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And 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. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”
Tacitus was a Roman senator and historian who lived from 56-120 A.D. and is greatly renowned for his works. He wrote about the Christian persecution by Nero, the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate, as well as explains that Christianity got its name from its founder, Christ.
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the Bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements Which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero From the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he Falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were Hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was Put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign Of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time Broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief Originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things Hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their Center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first Made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an Immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of Firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”
Pliny the Younger lived from approximately 61-113 A.D. and was governor of Bithynia around the turn of the century. In 106 A.D., he mentioned the worship of Christ as a god in a letter to Emperor Trajan.
“They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.”
While some may consider the debate of his existence to be of little value, the apostle John would have a different view.
“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
1 John 4:2, NKJV
According to John, the very spirit of the Antichrist is to deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, which makes it one of the most significant issues of our time. The sources that I have listed are really just the tip of the iceberg. An examination into the divinity of Jesus or His resurrection might be a reasonable pursuit, but it is so abundantly clear that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who existed in the early first century that the only way to believe the “Jesus myth theory” is to simply refuse to examine the evidence.
1. “Did Jesus Really Exist?” By Paul L. Maier, Emeritus, Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University
2. “Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?” By J. Wallace
3. “Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible” By Lawrence Mykytiuk
4. “What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?” By Simon Gathercole
5. “Was Jesus a Real Person?” published by y-jesus.com, author unavailable
6. “Darkness at the crucifixion: metaphor or real history?” By Daniel Anderson
7. “Historical Evidence” published by reasonsforjesus.com
It’s hard to believe in anyone today. Do you take the word of the used car salesman that the vehicle is in triple-A condition? The politician who only wants what’s best for the little guy? The company that’s only in business for your business success? The professor who pushes evolution though there’s no evidence? Or the preacher who says a Man named Jesus rose from the dead? Who do you trust? What do you trust? To believe or not to believe: that is the question.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Believe me, this was not an era of easy believism in Rome. Christians were dying like flies for acknowledging any competition to the mastery of Caesar who had elevated himself to deity. If they were going to confess and believe in Jesus as living and Lord, they knew they could very well be signing their own death warrant. But if He indeed died for them so they could be saved, would, should they not be willing to live and even die for Him? To believe, and confess that they believed, became the testing question.
Actually the “confess and believe” requirement Paul presented was a strong one, a life-or-death issue. When he wrote “confess”, these Roman Christians understood that he meant they were to declare publicly, speak out freely, of their allegiance to Christ as their Master and Lord. This same Jesus Who was the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, no less, Who professed to be the Son of the Living God. The same One Who died to deliver everyone from their sins and give them eternal life – if they would but confess and believe. Their deep conviction of the facts of His life and death and return to life were to be a cause of celebration. Public celebration.
And to believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Well, this is the part where the Athenians laughed and walked out on Paul at Mars Hill, right? Now, not only must I confess that the humble Judean is my Master and Lord, demoting Caesar, I must believe that the One Who hung on a Roman cross, crucified by Roman soldiers for competing with Caesar, was indeed the Son of God and shown to be so with great power, Almighty power, through His resurrection from the dead. To believe, and confess my belief, in a crucified, resurrected Jew from Nazareth, and so be saved from sin and eternal death, though the confession may cost me my life – to believe or not to believe: that is the question.
And the question hasn’t changed. We must still be willing to publicly confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. To stake our eternal life, and maybe this life, on these truths. To so firmly believe that our daily celebration of life declares that Jesus is our living Lord. “Neither is there salvation in any other.” To believe or not to believe: that is the question. He IS Lord! He IS alive! Believe! And be saved.