Saturday, March 24, 2018

Easter Ishtar?

“You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto,
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.
Let’s call the whole thing off!”

This is the most popular comparison of differing pronunciations in the famous musical Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.

There’s a similar contrast that many make today that is not as funny though: claiming that since Easter sounds like Ishtar, that they must be the same. Yes, both are pagan goddesses, the name Easter being Germanic and Ishtar being Babylonian. I know memes have been made making this connection, and are spread around the Internet, that the name Easter actually derives from the name of the Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar. Both the function and the name of that goddess sound so compatible to Easter that many consider it to be more than merely coincidental. But we must be careful, for appearances can be deceiving. Denying this would be naive and sensational, traits Christians should avoid in order to reach out to maturity. Thus, claiming that they must be the same as they both sound similar and may share some similar traits would be immature. Rather, any such connection should be solidified by rigorous scholarship instead. Anything less would be amateurish and would ultimately be a disservice to ourselves and others.

With that said, I will share some notes that demonstrate that we must err on the side of caution here. First, for the sake of my Jehovah’s Witness audience, notice what some Awake! and Watchtower articles have said:

Awake! 1992 4/8 What Does Easter Mean to God?, box on page 6: What Is the Origin of the Word “Easter”?
  • “The name, which is in use only among the English- and German-speaking peoples, is derived, in all probability, from that of a goddess of the heathen Saxons, Ostara, Osterr, or Eastre. She was the personification of the East, of the morning, of the spring.”—Curiosities of Popular Customs, by William S. Walsh.
  • “We are told by an ancient English chronicler, the Venerable Bede, that the word ‘Easter’ was originally the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, known as Eostre or Ostara, whose principal festival was kept at the vernal equinox. We only have Bede’s word for it, for no record of such a goddess is to be found elsewhere, but it is unlikely that Bede, as a devout Christian, would have gone out of his way to invent a pagan origin for Easter. But whether or not there was ever such a goddess, it seems most likely that some historical connection must exist between the words ‘Easter’ and ‘East’, where the sun rises.”—Easter—Its Story and Meaning, by Alan W. Watts.
  • “The origin of the term for the feast of Christ’s Resurrection has been popularly considered to be from the Anglo-Saxon Eastre, a goddess of spring. However, recent studies by Knobloch . . . present another explanation.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia.
  • “The English name Easter, like the German Ostern, probably derives from Eostur, the Norse word for the spring season, and not from Eostre, the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess.”—The Encyclopedia of Religion. [This source derives Easter from a word and not a goddess.]
Watchtower 1996 4/1 pp. 3-4 Easter or the Memorial—Which Should You Observe?
The name Easter, used in many lands, is not found in the Bible. The book Medieval Holidays and Festivals tells us that “the holiday is named after the pagan Goddess of the Dawn and of Spring, Eostre.” And who was this goddess? “Eostre it was who, according to the legend, opened the portals of Valhalla to receive Baldur, called the White God, because of his purity and also the Sun God, because his brow supplied light to mankind,” answers The American Book of Days. It adds: “There is no doubt that the Church in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them. As the festival of Eostre was in celebration of the renewal of life in the spring it was easy to make it a celebration of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus, whose gospel they preached.”

[End quotes]

So the connection is not made with Ishtar, but with the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn “Eostre” or “Eastre” (if it is to be derived from a goddess at all). But does Eastre find her origin in Ishtar, or something else? One source states that:
There are a growing number of Christians that think that the [name] “Easter” is rooted in pagan Babylonian tradition. One of the basic assumptions is that the name “Easter” is but a Christian remake of “Ishtar”, a Babylonian goddess. Even though the words sound similar, they probably have no etymological connection. The English word “Easter” likely comes from the Proto-Germanic “austron”, which means “sunrise” – arguably a fitting name for the “rising from the dead.” (Is Easter a Pagan Holiday? by Dr. Faydra Shapiro and Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg.
Please focus on this quotation only, and do not be distracted by anything else on that webpage article, and shift focus to something you may dislike and then ignore what was quoted here for the purpose of dismissing it, as that would be dishonest and thus manifest an immature, shameful, and unchristian demeanor. So if you are mature enough to focus on what I quoted, then you see that Eastre would derive from the Proto-Germanic “austron,” or “sunrise,” not Ishtar. This is good to remember, and does not affect the true statement that Easter has been infused with pagan symbolism.

So while Ishtar is related to her equivalents of Astarte and Ashtoreth, it would be a mistake to apply this to the Germanic goddess Eastre. Lastly, one article on “What Does the Bible Say About Easter?” says:
Name: The Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” Others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar. (
While it admitted that “others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar,” this is not to be adopted dogmatically. I think including this line leans towards being a disservice for having the potential to produce ill-informed fanatics. But that was not their intention.

As we are reminded in Philippians 4:5: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.” Thus, we should be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) and only present information that has been proven to be reasonably true, not basing it on shoddy research that only results in confirmation bias. Scholarly, reasonable, and mature Christians then take the origin of the name Easter to its Germanic roots and leave it at that. Taking it any further would be sensational. To that I say:

Let’s call the whole thing off!


Related blog post:

Additional reading:


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Reading Genesis

Genesis 1:28-30 presents some very beautiful language that is also imbued with just as much controversy. These verses read:
28 God blessed them [nascent humans] and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” It was so. (NET Bible, underscore added)
From this we learn two things:

First, the first humans were told to “subdue” the earth, ruling over the three domains occupied by the animals: the water, air, and land. The Hebrew word here is כבש [kabash]. As the NET Bible explains:
Elsewhere the Hebrew verb translated “subdue” means “to enslave” (2 Chr 28:10; Neh 5:5; Jer 34:11, 16), “to conquer,” (Num 32:22, 29; Josh 18:1; 2 Sam 8:11; 1 Chr 22:18; Zech 9:13; and probably Mic 7:19), and “to assault sexually” (Esth 7:8). None of these nuances adequately meets the demands of this context, for humankind is not viewed as having an adversarial relationship with the world. The general meaning of the verb appears to be “to bring under one’s control for one’s advantage.” In Gen 1:28 one might paraphrase it as follows: “harness its potential and use its resources for your benefit.” In an ancient Israelite context this would suggest cultivating its fields, mining its mineral riches, using its trees for construction, and domesticating its animals.
It also is an invitation to construct crafts that can dominate all three domains. Thus, to “rule over” רדה [radah] was also originally meant to be constructive, not abusive. Unfortunately, while not originally intended to have negative consequences on the animals, following Adam and Eve’s fall, the negative consequences bore their ugly heads with humanity abusing the animals’s realms.

Was Life Created?

Second, we learn about the basis for the food chain. Regarding the last two verses, the Jewish Study Bible presents a note that interprets the text in the most painfully literal way imaginable:
Humankind, animals, and birds all seem originally meant to be neither vegetarians nor carnivores, but frugivores, eating the seeds of plants and trees.
This illustrates what happens if one interprets these verses without getting the point, or, by ‘not seeing the forest through the trees.’ According to this, humans were meant not to just be exclusively herbivorous, but were to be exclusively frugivorous, and animals were not just to be exclusively herbivorous with no scavenging and certainly no predation, but were also meant to be exclusively frugivorous. This of course is completely unhistorical, and ignores that the entire spectrum of vegetables, grains, legumes, as well as mushrooms, all fall into the domain of “every seed-bearing plant.” Also, fauna has always included carnivores, both scavengers and predators. (Compare with Psalm 104:21 where faunal predation is celebrated in song and 2 Peter 2:12 where faunal predation is considered natural.) Fortunately, old-earth creationist and astronomer Hugh Ross explains these verses better:
In Genesis 1:29-30 and 9:2-3 God gave humanity some specific dietary guidelines appropriate to their circumstances at the time. … With reference to animals, who rely on instinct rather than choice in their eating habits, His instructions reflect no change from one passage and time frame to the next. God simply stated and reiterated the importance of green plants. Both humans and animals ingest some nongreen plants, such as mushrooms. However, green plants are the foundation of the food chain. It seems likely that God emphasized to Adam and Eve (and us) that since all life depends on green plants for survival, proper management of these plants would be essential. (A Matter of Days, 2nd edition. 2015. P. 93)
His comments have the advantage of also harmonizing with Genesis 2:15 where God commands Adam to “care for it and to maintain” the Garden of Eden. The NET Bible footnote explains further: “Note that man’s task is to care for and maintain the trees of the orchard.” (emphasis original) It is also not stating that no animals were scavengers or predators: that is just as unhistorical as saying they were exclusively frugivores.

Thus, the original purpose of humankind was to be a benefit for the earth, the precious jewel that God bequeathed to them and us. We were to cultivate the green vegetation as we peacefully occupied the domains previously ruled over by the animals. Only after the entry of human sin did kabash and radah inherit negative connotations.

Additional reading:


Saturday, February 03, 2018

A case of smoke and mirrors

The NET Bible for John 8:58 says:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!”

Its footnote for this states:
I am! is an explicit claim to deity. Although each occurrence of the phrase “I am” in the Fourth Gospel needs to be examined individually in context to see if an association with Exod 3:14 is present, it seems clear that this is the case here (as the response of the Jewish authorities in the following verse shows).
As can be seen, it is presented as a “proof text” for the “deity of Christ,” which is a code-word (sociolect or circumlocution) for “second person of the Trinitarian Godhead.” The “I AM” of John 8:58 is connected to the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. Let’s now explore this popular John 8:58-Exodus 3:14 connection:

1996 New Living Translation:

Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!” F42

F42 Or “Truly, truly, before Abraham was, I am.” link

Exodus 3:14
God replied, “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.F7 Just tell them, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“


New International Version (NIV):

Exodus 3:14
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

[a] Exodus 3:14 Or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE

My comments: Having the Hebrew not be “I AM” is highly significant for ones who think Jesus was calling himself “I AM” in John 8:58. This is especially true as John 8:58 does not necessarily state “I AM.”

Let’s now compare these two scriptures in both Hebrew and Greek:

click to enlarge

Question: If the “I AM” in John 8:58 is the “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 which the Pharisees wanted to stone Jesus for, then why do the Hebrew translations of John 8:58 NOT have the Hebrew of “I AM” in Exodus 3:14? If the Pharisees understood Jesus as saying “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, then why are the same Hebrew words not used in John 8:58?

This is a serious question for Trinitarians in light of what the Trinitarian Dr. Fred Sanders said concerning their alleged “proof texts”:
Some of these proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages.—The Triune God (2016) page 164.
The data just doesn’t add up to support the classic Trinitarian claim as expressed in the NET Bible footnote. The Trinitarian take on John 8:58 is a mirage—smoke and mirrors—nothing more. If you have used this erroneous and falsifiable reasoning before, then now is the time to cease and desist from doing so. Promoting falsehood and error is a disservice to everyone.

Additional reading:

Link to color-coded scripture source:

“Sometimes the footnotes smell like actual feet.”


Friday, January 12, 2018

Items for sale

Ancient Inscriptions CD-ROM
This CD-ROM is highly recommended.

Star Wars posters - Rogue One and The Last Jedi

If interested, please contact me or leave a comment on those links.


Thursday, January 04, 2018

Additional support identifying Ezekiel’s Edenic Cherub

As explained in my article “The Dirge Against the King of Tyre,”[1] Ezekiel 28:13-18 may not be comparing the King of Tyre to Satan in the Garden of Eden, but may be comparing him to Adam in the Garden of Eden, with the “anointed covering cherub” being with him and escorting him out of the Garden, being a righteous cherub. More support for translating the Hebrew text this way comes from a surprising source, the enigmatic book of 1 Enoch. In it, this understanding was accepted and preserved in an elaborate allusion to Ezekiel 28:13-18 in 1 Enoch 24-25. There, the prophet Enoch is being given a geographic tour by Michael, who is called the leader of the angels in 24:6 (and who is elsewhere in 1 Enoch entitled “archangel”). In this special tour, notice the following elements:
24:1 [Michael] showed me a mountain range of fire which burnt day and night. (2) And I went beyond it and saw seven magnificent mountains all differing each from the other, and the stones (thereof) were magnificent and beautiful, magnificent as a whole, of glorious appearance and fair exterior. … (3) And the seventh mountain was in the midst of these, and it excelled them in height, resembling the seat of a throne: and fragrant trees encircled the throne. [Verses 4-5 are about a beautiful sweet-smelling tree.]
Chapter 25 has Michael being with Enoch on this sacred mountain and its garden and explaining it to him, saying in verse 3:
This high mountain …, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when He shall come down to visit the earth with goodness.
Dr. James VanderKam then compared these themes with his translation of Ezekiel 28:13-14:
You were in Eden, the Garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, … With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you; you walked among the stones of fire.
He observes: “From Ezekiel the author [of 1 Enoch 24-25] has taken the stone imagery, the mountain, and the reference to stones of fire.”[2] But he has taken one more salient, defining feature: that of having a person be with the celestial, angelic figure—in the case of Ezekiel: the anonymous cherub, in 1 Enoch: Michael the leader of the angels.

Thus we have another weight on the scales on the side of the “Adam interpretation.”

[1] You will want to familiarize yourself with this first before continuing.

[2] Enoch: A Man for All Generations. 1995. Pages 56-57


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Study Bible Media

There is an exciting new Study Bible gracing the Internet: the online study edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.[1] Regardless of your religious paradigm or persuasion, whether you are Muslim, Mormon, Trinitarian, or something else, this is really good news. For instance, it features study notes that “provide cultural, geographic, and linguistic insight into many Bible verses.” Additionally, it has a Media section that has photos and artwork, along with silent videos and animations that “illustrate various details recorded in the Bible.”[2] One such silent video is from a drone flight showing Bethphage, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem.

Significantly, it also showcases what it calls the “Nail in a Heel Bone.” In part, the explanation for this artifact explains why this is significant: “It provides archaeological evidence that nails were likely used in executions to fasten the person to a wooden stake. This nail may be similar to the nails employed by the Roman soldiers to fasten Jesus Christ to the stake. The artifact was found in a stone box, called an ossuary, into which the dried bones of a deceased person were placed after the flesh had decomposed. This indicates that someone executed on a stake could be given a burial.” (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; 24:39; John 19:18)[3]

Let me elaborate. The discovery of this artifact is absolutely amazing—it’s one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th Century, after the Dead Sea Scrolls. Additionally, there are remains of a wooden washer under the nail head, showing that the executioners went to great pains to secure the victim with nails. However, just looking at this heel bone may be confusing. Therefore, a restoration may be helpful:

Here, the heel bone is mirrored from the first image, and the rest of the foot bones are added along with the wooden washer. Thus, it can be more clearly seen now that this victim’s feet were nailed at the sides of the stake and not on top of each other through the metatarsals.

Now, while it’s possible that this nail was pounded directly into the vertical stake, as typically shown in restorations of this nailing, I suppose it is also possible that, in the spirit of wanting to preserve the stake from repeated nailing, that the heel was nailed to the end of a replaceable footrest attached to the stake. Such a location would also position the legs better for delivering the coup de grâce with the iron club, setting up a shear plane facilitating breaking the lower leg bones. The initial report explaining this discovery displayed another heel bone, not found in that ossuary but an actual one for comparison, with a nail hole through it for the purposes of illustration, which was not shattered.[4] This all shows that the Roman executioners knew how to nail a heel bone without breaking it: This would solidly secure the victim and would also reduce blood-loss. This proves that they were experienced, efficient, and equally brutal.

Considering this naturally invokes the question: Could Jesus’ feet have been nailed in this manner? The only scripture weighing in on this is Psalm 34:20 that John identified as a messianic prophecy, that “not a bone of his will be broken.” (John 19:36) However, considering that the heel bone was pierced, and not broken, may allow for this type of nailing to be permissible in Jesus’ case.

Be sure to also read about the “Sahidic Coptic Translation of John 1:1,” by navigating to John 1 and scrolling down on the right-hand side under the gem to its Media section, to see how its final clause may be translated as “the Word was a god.” This would be consistent with Biblical monotheism which is monolatrism. Displayed and discussed there is the Chester Beatty 813.

[1] This can be accessed by navigating to the Bible from and

[2] As announced in the December 2017 Our Christian Life and Ministry—Meeting Workbook, “New Feature of the Midweek Meeting.”

[3] The Greek word typically translated as “crucified” (or loquaciously in the RNWT as “nailed him to the stake”) is σταυρόω (stow-ro’-o), which by itself does not necessarily imply nailing, but merely fastening the condemned by some means to the σταυρός (stauros), and could include ropes only. (BDAG, σταυρόω no. 1) Thus, the importance of this “Nail in a Heel Bone” artifact is emphasized due to it specifying nails, as specifically mentioned in Jesus’ case at Luke 24:39 (where nails are implied in Jesus’ “see my hands and my feet” directive) and at John 20:25 where Thomas said “nails” in accordance with eyewitness observation.

[4] N. Haas. Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Exploration Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (1970), Plate 21A p. 63.

Additional reading:


Thursday, December 14, 2017

A theology in crisis?

“the doctrine of the Trinity stands today at a point of crisis”
“the Trinity is a local phenomenon in the realm of systematic theology, with no provenance in the territory of New Testament scholarship”
“Some [Trinitarian] proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages.”
“Many arguments that once seemed foundational to Trinitarianism no longer apply.”

That is how the Trinitarian Dr. Fred Sanders appraised his theology in his 2016 academic tome The Triune God. This situation was showcased by Dr. Dale Tuggy in his podcast site where he read from The Triune God in “Review of Sanders’s The Deep Things of God – Part 2” ( There he read from pages 162-164 and 179, where Dr. Sanders expressed his call of alarm. What he said is worth repeating. Beginning on page 162, under the heading “The Shifting Foundation of Biblical Trinitarianism,” he wrote:

Although there has been no change in the material content of the doctrine of the Trinity, the epochal shifts in biblical interpretation in the modern period have greatly altered the available arguments for Trinitarianism. Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity stands today at a point of crisis with regard to its ability to demonstrate its exegetical foundation. Theologians once approached this doctrine with a host of biblical prods, but one by one, many of those venerable old arguments [163] have been removed from the realm of plausibility. The steady march of grammatical-historical exegesis has tended in the direction of depleting Trinitarianism’s access to its traditional equipment, until a prominent feature of the current era is the growing unpersuasiveness and untenability of the traditional proof texts that were used to establish and demonstrate the doctrine.

[Dale Tuggy then mentioned that he skipped some quotes. I will not. These are:]

“Most theologians no longer expect to find in the New Testament a formal Trinitarianism, only and elemental Trinitarianism,” remarked conservative Jesuit theologian Edmund Fortman in 1972. The heightened historical consciousness of modern scholars has made the very idea that Trinitarian theology has a foothold on the documents of the New Testament seem laughable: “Whatever Jesus did or said in his earthly ministry,” wrote R. P. C. Hanson in 1985, “he did not walk the lanes of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem laying down direct unmodified Trinitarian doctrine .” [R. P. C. Hanson, Studies in Christian Antiquity (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1985), 296.]

[Dale continued reading:]

The presupposition has become widespread that the doctrine of the Trinity is a local phenomenon in the realm of systematic theology, with no provenance in the territory of New Testament scholarship.

[Again, Dale skipped over a quote that I will not:]

So deep has this presupposition sunk into the practices of the field that Ulrich Mauser could write in 1990, “The historically trained New Testament scholar will today proceed with the task of interpretation without wasting a minute on the suspicion that the Trinitarian confessions of later centuries might be rooted in the New Testament itself, and that the Trinitarian creeds might continue to function as valuable hermeneutical signposts for a modern understanding.” [Ulrich Mauser, “One God and Trinitarian Language in the Letters of Paul,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 20:2 (1998): 100.]

[Dale continued reading, but I will skip ahead to this part:]

Perhaps no development in biblical studies has left the foundation of Trinitarianism [164] unaffected, partly because the long Christian exegetical tradition had at various times delighted to find the Trinity in nearly every layer and every section of Scripture. If the doctrine of the Trinity had come to be at home in every verse of the Bible, it was more or less implicated in revisionist approaches to every verse.

At any rate, the overall trend of sober historical-grammatical labors has been toward the gradual removal of the Trinitarian implications of passage after passage.

[Dale paused and noted that only one example of a “removal of the Trinitarian implications” of a passage was cited, 1 John 5:7. This skipped-over part reads:]

Some of these proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages: 1 John 5:7’s “three that bear witness in heaven,” for example, withered away at the first touch of “the lower criticism,” textual criticism. By overwhelming consensus, the comma johanneum is judged not to have been in the original manuscript, and therefore it should not be used as biblical support for Trinitarian theology, though it has some value as early Christian commentary on John’s letter. The discarding of the Johannine comma is perhaps the clearest example of the helpful, clarifying, and destructive work of biblical scholarship. … Nor is this cutting-edge research; it was seen and affirmed in the eighteenth century and disseminated in the early nineteenth. … [T]he complex clashes of premodern, modern, and postmodern modes of interpretation have left the field of Trinitarian exegesis in extensive disarray. Many arguments that once seemed foundational to Trinitarianism no longer apply.

[Dale then jumped over to page 179, which I will include the most succinct parts:]

There is something disconcerting in maintaining a doctrine while replacing many of the arguments for it. If Trinitarian theology can arise using one set of arguments, but then discard many of those and set about seeking better ones by which to maintain its claims, does this imply that Trinitarians intend to go on believing what they are believing, no matter what? … Proof-switching could signal that a system of orthodoxy is functioning like what Marxist analysis calls an ideology: a set of power relationships concealed behind ideas that really defend them by rationalization. … Buildings that have always stood firm can, on inspection, be found to have less than optimal support, and undergo seismic retrofitting without ever coming down. After the tectonic shifts of biblical criticism, Trinitarian theology is due for some seismic retrofitting.
[End quote.]

As noted, the reason for saying that “after the tectonic shifts of biblical criticism, Trinitarian theology is due for some seismic retrofitting,” is that “the overall trend of sober historical-grammatical labors has been toward the gradual removal of the Trinitarian implications of passage after passage. Some of these proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages.” The sole example of a “Trinitarian mirage” was 1 John 5:7. However, he likely also had in mind another Johannine scripture, the Trinitarian favorite John 8:58. He may also agree that another Trinitarian favorite of Jeremiah 23:6 is nothing more than a Trinitarian mirage. Resources explaining how these are Trinitarian mirages, scriptures stripped of their “Trinitarian implications,” (more like Trinitarian accretions) are:
  1. Articles here:
  2. YouTube videos from the Ask an Apologist channel:
(For the record, Dr. Hugh Ross is aware of these resources and has offered no rebuttal at all.)

The last video gives a more detailed explanation for Jeremiah 23:6.

So how extensive is Dr. Sanders’ call for a “seismic retrofitting”? After quoting Athanasius’ book On the Incarnation, he states that there has to be a “shift in register” to follow what Athanasius prescribes: “a good life, a pure soul, virtue, holiness, purity, and imitating the good deeds of the sacred writers.” That is, “a spiritual and ascetical training that will result in communion with the mind of Scripture’s authors … and promises hermeneutical insight.”[1] The problem with this approach though is that it does not demand that Trinitarianism be the outcome. For instance, ones who have indeed pursued “a good life, a pure soul, virtue, holiness, purity, and imitating the good deeds of the sacred writers” and ‘a spiritual and ascetical training resulting in communion with the mind of Scripture’s authors and producing hermeneutical insight,’ have arrived at a Patritheistic theology where the Father alone is the “only true God.” (John 17:1-5) Thus, claiming that a pious life can only result in adopting Trinitarianism is actually an act of hijacking and is quite unreasonable, and also reduces piety to intellectual snobbery. It is also a call to abandon the scriptures and rely on one’s own supposed piety, an act proscribed at 2 Corinthians 10:12. Christians are not to “measure themselves by themselves,” but rather are to “explain spiritual matters with spiritual words,” or “matching spiritual with spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13, NWT, Byington) This is accomplished by becoming “doers of the word” (James 1:22), studying the Bible objectively and honestly to not have a deceptive heart.

Thus, Christians are instructed differently by “the sacred writers.” Indeed, David, Isaiah and James all urge us to search for God by drawing close to him with clean hands and pure hearts. (Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; James 4:8) This calls for humble objectivity to question the Trinitarian groupthink and transcend it, outwitting confirmation bias to find the true God that Scripture reveals. Trinitarianism is indeed “a theology in crisis.”

Questions for Dr. Fred Sanders:
  1. What other Scriptures do you think no longer support Trinitarianism and were just Trinitarian mirages (or, examples of Trinitarian confirmation bias) the entire time? John 1:1, 8:58, 20:28?
  2. Have you done any objective research into the life and character of Athanasius? Are you sure he was as savory and pious as you are portraying?

[1] While Dr. Sanders quoted Athanasius as stressing the importance of piety, Athanasius himself was known for being extremely impious, as a slanderer and wicked schemer. On this outrageous hypocrisy, see Dr. Dale Tuggy, “Assessing Athanasius and his Arguments” and Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993), 37.

Additional Reading:

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Friday, December 01, 2017

With what sort of body?

With what sort of body was Jesus resurrected in? The position I will call “Christological Physicalism” maintains that Jesus was resurrected in the same body that he sacrificed, and currently has it now in heaven, outside of earth’s human-life sustaining atmosphere, where his Nazarene body is continuously and miraculously preserved.

Captivatingly, the introductory question was rhetorically asked and answered by the Apostle Paul. He wrote:
Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” You unreasonable person!
Here he used the word ἄφρων (aphrōn), meaning “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.” He then continued:
What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies. … Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, there is another flesh of cattle, another flesh of birds, and another of fish. And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort. (1 Corinthians 15:35, 36, 39, 40)
While the next verse uses the illustration of how different astronomical bodies differ in their observable glory, his point about the dichotomy between heavenly bodies, including spiritual bodies as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:44, and earthly bodies is unmistakably clear. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 he contrasted the corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical with the incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. Thus, while the Christian bound for heavenly life was once earthly—corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical—upon being resurrected to heavenly life he would now be incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. The same principle would be true of Jesus their Lord, would it not? While Jesus’ Nazarene body birthed from Mary was not corrupted with Adamic sin, Paul agrees in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Jesus was resurrected, not as a Nazarene from Mary, but as “a life-giving spirit,” one who was incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual.

Pressing this contrast further, Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 states that “the first man is from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven,”[1] As humans are made from “dust,” being carbon-based, like Adam was, Christians in heaven will not be made of “dust”—they will no longer have carbon-based bodies—but will now have spiritual or heavenly bodies “like the heavenly one,” Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21) This contrast proves conclusively that Christological Physicalism is in error, and is guilty of deflating Paul’s powerful ontological contrast. Paul then can be seen condemning ones “clinging”[2] to Jesus’ Nazarene body that he willfully sacrificed as being ἄφρων (aphrōn), “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.”[3]

There is also a very good reason why Jesus could not take back his sacrificed body: his perfect human body was his perfect human life. By sacrificing his perfect human body, he sacrificed his perfect human life. He died. He sacrificed that entire package that corresponded to what Adam lost. (Romans 5:18-19; Hebrews 9:22, 10:10; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. He sacrificed his perfect-human-body-life and thus could not be resurrected as a man again, and certainly not in his sacrificed body. It only could have been an entirely different body, a spirit body, which is incidentally the only type of body that can exist in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Confirming this is Hebrews 5:7, which says that Jesus was resurrected due to his godly devotion. Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. This is why Jesus said at John 10:17 “I surrender my life, so that I may receive it again.” This “life” transcends his earthly sojourn, so he sacrificed his earthly life but received his resurrected life as a spirit.[4] It was a reward for completing his mission.

Christological Physicalism may use the “raised up in glory” of 1 Corinthians 15:43 as a basis for the concept of having Jesus being a “glorified human,” thus making it sound scriptural. However, this would contradict Jesus’ own declaration at John 14:19-20, that “the world will see me no more,” but that only his followers in heaven would see him. Therefore, it is a certainty that nothing of Jesus’ resurrected, glorified body can be physical and occupying space in our universe. So while the term “glorified” in “glorified human” may sound scriptural, it actually is a word devoid of any meaning, and falls into the category Peter warned of in 2 Peter 2:3 of “counterfeit words,” or “feigned words.” Peter also warned that such ones using their own fake words would speak abusively of the scriptures, unwittingly or not.—2 Peter 2:2.

In response, some Christological Physicalists may mention that God preserved the clothing and feet of the Israelites during their Wilderness wandering (Deuteronomy 8:4, 29:5) and protected the three Israelites from the merciless flames in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25-27), or Jonah’s preservation in the aquatic beast (Jonah 1:17), etc. as proof that God can preserve people in inhospitable environments; consequently, God could preserve for all eternity Jesus’ flesh that he sacrificed. However, some disconnects are observable here. First, those acts of preservation and protection served a purpose and were acts of kindness. Second, they were temporary, not eternal. Third, there were no legal transactions at work to take into account. Thus, this objection actually betrays a lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another response is to ask for a scriptural definition of a materialization. This can be delivered by referring to the brief account in Genesis 6:4-5, where the “sons of God,” or angels,[5] had relations with women to produce the Nephilim. In order to accomplish this, each spirit creature or demon must have manufactured a functional male body of their own design and then possessed it, like a puppeteer controlling a puppet—thus, a puppet ontology. This is certainly not hard to imagine, considering the “let us” language used in creation of mankind (Genesis 1:26), or even as seen in the collaboration of the divine council at 1 Kings 22:19-22. At the time of the Noachian Deluge, those materializations ceased being practical (or ceased being tolerated) and must have been discarded, perhaps by rapid dematerialization. Thus, materializations in and of themselves are not speculative, but are deeply rooted in scripture to discerning ones.[6]

Others mention Moses and his effulgence, and point out that he was still a human. (Exodus 34:29-35) A comparison is then made to Jesus’ effulgence to Saul (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:13-17), with the conclusion being that Jesus could still have been human, as well. However, while both instances were certainly miraculous, there are some notable differences between the two events. First, Moses’ radiance was the result of close contact with Jehovah’s angelic representative at Mt. Sinai, and if from that angel, then it was illustrative of that significant event. Jesus’ radiance, on the other hand, was delivered from the sky. Thus, his was illustrative of his actual effulgence in the spirit realm, and was thus a visionary experience (as in Revelation 1:16). Claiming that Jesus’ radiance was from himself as a “glorified” human is a contradiction, for it contradicts the laws of physics to have a human body being able to radiate that much illumination. Contradicting the laws of physics is to contradict the word of God in nature per Romans 1:20. Alternately, claiming then that God was holding the human Jesus in the sky and making him radiate light beyond the brilliance of the sun would make God into a foolish micromanager. No, it was really Jesus positioning himself in the sky and using light rays to illustrate his actual effulgence in the spirit realm.

Another objection is to question the usefulness of 1 Corinthians 15:45 in identifying Jesus. Here, Jesus is identified in many translations as a “life-giving spirit” in contrast to Adam who was a man. The question is, should this phrase, “a life-giving spirit,” be understood ontologically or functionally? However, aside from not appreciating that a functional role would still put Jesus in the class of spirit, this question continues to ignore the contrast Paul made conspicuously clear in 1 Corinthians 15, that Jesus is now different than Adam. Adam was carbon-based and is our human father. Jesus, on the other hand, manifestly cannot be a carbon-based man now—if he was, then Paul’s conspicuous contrast collapses like a house of cards. (Compare with Galatians 1:1, 11-12, where Paul again contrasts “a man” with Jesus.) Again, this objection betrays a glaring lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another objection may be to claim that Hebrews 5:7 does not put Jesus’ humanity in the past; however, this objection is betraying an amateurish bias against the notion that Jesus is a spirit now. What could possibly be the motivation otherwise?

Therefore, these objections, and any others like them, really betray ignorance and mockery of the scriptures, shallow thinking, a bigoted complaining mentality, and sinful ingratitude for the ransom.

[1] As Adam was created in the earthly realm, so it would naturally, logically follow that Jesus was created in the heavenly realm. The Christological preexistence-denying camp (ie. Socinian or “Biblical Unitarian” camp) glaringly misapplies this contrast as seen in Sir Anthony Buzzard’s commentary, where he states that Jesus being from heaven is eschatological: “the now immortal Jesus will arrive from heaven at his return.” (The One God, the Father, One Man Messiah Translation, footnote 1080) This comment betrays a bias against Christological preexistence, a preconceived anti-preexistence bias.

[2] Used in reference to John 20:17, where Jesus stated that he did not want people to cling to his flesh, in this case the physical body he was materialized in that was going to be discarded or dematerialized. In principle, the same can be said with his Nazarene body: Jesus willingly sacrificed that and therefore he would most clearly also not want people to cling to that either. In the same spirit, Jesus admonished people to not cling to the past with this principle: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Combining these points, ones clinging to Jesus’ sacrificed body, ‘looking at the things behind,’ are not “well-suited for the Kingdom of God.”

[3] As shown above, he issued this denunciation against ones who could not follow that a physical man was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Thus, the same negative situation exists for ones who are not following that the physical Jesus was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Later, when writing to the Galatians, he used a similar condemnatory word ἀνόητος (anoētos) “not understanding, unwise, foolish” twice against them for underestimating the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death.—Galatians 3:1, 3.

[4] This point is emphasized with Jesus having a prehuman existence as a spirit creature.

[5] For a conclusive explanation for why they were angels, see Reversing Hermon by Dr. Michael Heiser. See also Who Were the Nephilim?

[6] Elaborating further, first, a spirit creature would manufacture a human body that had all its relevant parts intact—whatever suited the needs of the spirit. However, it would not be operative until the spirit creature began to exercise its influence on it, possessing it like a hand in a puppet. While the spirit creature would be animating the materialization, it would not be conscious or sentient; it would still function as a biological automaton under remote control. Then the materialization would have any function that the designing and possessing spirit creature desired. Refer to Figure 2 and Appendix C in Jesus: a Spirit Born on Earth.

Regarding the process of dematerialization, this may have been accomplished in a variety of manners, like atomization. This would pose no difficulty for the transcendent and controlling spirit being. None of the foregoing is very deep or complicated, certainly not scandalous, and it should be very easy to envision a spirit being having this power and ability.

  1. πνευματικός
  2. Jesus’ Nazarene body
  3. Aquinas’s disservice
  4. Ignatius’s testimony
The Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says the following about the word πνευματικός (pneumatikos) in 1 Corinthians 15:44: “pertaining to not being physical—‘not physical, not material, spiritual.’” This resource adds the following observation: “In some language the concept of ‘spiritual body’ can only be expressed negatively as ‘the body will not have flesh and bones’ or ‘the body will not be a regular body.’” (semantic domain 79.3). Thus, this presentation has academic support.

Jesus’ Nazarene body
Figure B1: braided crown of thorns
It is sobering to meditate on what injuries Jesus suffered during the crucifixion process. After the scourging, reducing his back to ribbons of bleeding flesh, the crown of thorns was placed on his head, and then beaten down with multiple, merciless blows with a rod. Those thorns would have been long, firm, and sharp. (See Figure B1.) They would have produced numerous lacerations scraping against his cranium wherever the rod hit his head, possibly piercing his outer ear cartilage as well. Did any thorns actually pierce his skull during any of those blows? Then the purple robe of mockery was torn off of him, reopening any coagulating injuries and starting more bleeding. The blood loss was so extensive that he could not even carry the torture stake for very long, even though the other condemned men evidently were able to carry it the entire distance. When the nailing began, it is possible that nails were driven though his heel bones, one nail per heel, thus nailed at both sides of the stake. This would leave both heel bones with a hole through them, but not shattered. (See Figure B2.) Lastly, while his legs were not shattered, a spear was thrust up into his side, piercing the region of his heart. In short, his Nazarene body was destroyed. In order for it to be rejuvenated and resurrected, it would need massive healing on multiple points—including the replacement of lost flesh. Thus the conclusion becomes inescapable that a healed body would not be his sacrificed body. It appears to me then that ones claiming that Jesus was resurrected with the same body that he sacrificed are not appreciating what happened to that body! They show room to grow in their appreciation for what the ransom sacrifice entailed.

Figure B2: a heel bone with a Roman nail hole.

Aquinas’s disservice
The Roman Catholic scholar and “saint” Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-1274) wrote about Jesus’ “glorified body.” As one Roman Catholic source reports:
Christ’s body, though real, was “glorified” (i.e. in a glorified condition). … It means that a glorified body is still a body, but it is not subject to corruption.

As we would say in modern scientific terminology, the glorified body is not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry. Human bodies, made of the elements on the periodic table, belong to rational souls.
At this point it sounds like they actually have a spirit body in mind, one incorruptible and “not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry,” not being assignable to any one of the elements of the periodic table. However, we are then reminded that this is not what they have in mind:
St. Thomas maintains that all glorified bodies are still made of the elements. This was of course in the pre-periodic table days, but nevertheless element refers to matter and energy. St. Thomas asks whether the elements composing a body stay the same? Do they act the same? How can they really remain the same substance if they do not act according to their nature? St. Thomas concludes that matter does persist, does retain its properties, but becomes more perfected. (italics original)
Due to him writing on this matter “in the pre-periodic table days,” he was speaking outside of his field of expertise. He was using his own agenda-driven “folk-science” devoid of any real scientific credibility—and was thus engaging in an exercise of speculation that also blissfully ignored Jesus’ clear declaration at John 14:19-20 as discussed above. It was the “science fiction” of his day, analogous to describing how “lightsabers” of Star Wars fame operate, or how “transporter beams” of Star Trek fame function. The Star Wars and Star Trek gurus are purposefully speaking outside their field of expertise for entertainment sake. Thus Aquinas’s claim about matter becoming perfected is an unscientific absurdity, and one far less convincing than the explanations for “lightsabers” and “transporter beams.” Nevertheless, he has evidently inflicted a colossal disservice to the Roman Catholic community, for that report concluded: “The same principle that creates elements and forms bodies is the same principle that perfects them—that is, God.” This is a classic “God can do anything” fallacy. Just appeal to God’s omnipotence and call it a day. Such reasoning only convinces people who are already convinced, and does nothing for objective truth-seekers.

The report continued, operating under Aquinas’s disservice: “It makes sense that if real bodies are made of elements, then so are glorified bodies.” It only makes sense if you think Aquinas’s explanation makes sense, which to objective minds does not. Nor could it possibly make any sense, as he was—as admitted—writing “in the pre-periodic table days,” writing before any credible comments could be made! Thus his “perfected matter” comment is nothing more than lame science fiction of a B-movie. It’s similar to how the Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated Egyptian Hieratic before that knowledge was available to him. One cannot make credible claims before the scientific knowledge is available.

Source: What Was Christ’s Resurrected Body Made Of?

Ignatius’s testimony
Ignatius of Antioch was an early 2nd Century Christian leader, allegedly a disciple of the Apostle John, who wrote a series of letters. One was addressed to the Christians in Ephesus. In 7:2 of that letter he wrote in part: “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit.” (Lightfoot and Harmer translation.) Or, as the Hermeneia Commentary for Ignatius presents: “There is one physician, both fleshly and spiritual.” This commentary explains:
The first component of the striking list of antitheses that follows may ultimately be rooted in a semi-credal pattern that contrasted what Jesus was “according to the flesh” with what he became “according to the spirit” (Rom 1:3-4; cf. Sm. 1.1). In Ignatius, however, flesh and spirit represent two spheres or two dimensions that refer to human and divine reality respectively. We have here the kernel of the later two-nature christologies. (Page 60.)
Then it says:
The series of antitheses in Eph. 7.2 appears to move from the historical to the exalted Christ. This is emphasized in the last antithesis by the words “first” and “then.” … Note that the expression “from Mary” in Ignatius likewise emphasizes the true humanity of Jesus. (Pages 61-62.)
A parallel is noted in his letter to Polycarp at 3:2, where “the Christological attributes of Pol. 3.2 find their closest parallel in Eph. 7.2.” (Page 267.) Polycarp 3:2 in the Hermeneia Commentary says:
Look for the him who is above time—non-temporal, invisible, for our sakes visible, intangible, impassible, for our sakes passible, one who endured in every way for our sakes.
Or, by Lightfoot and Harmer:
Wait expectantly for him who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way.
Thus, Ignatius is not saying Jesus is simultaneously flesh and spirit, but was flesh and is now spirit. While he was fleshly, tangible and visible, he is now a spirit, invisible and intangible. While he was once in the human sphere or dimension, he is now in the spirit sphere or dimension.

Source: William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, ed. Helmut Koester, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).

  1. Verbal pummeling
  2. Enoch and Elijah
Verbal pummeling
Paul was not concerned about hurting anyone’s feelings at 1 Corinthians 15:36 and Galatians 3:1, 3, nor was Jesus with his verbal bashing at Luke 9:62. Neither was Jeremiah for that matter, if we are to imagine him literally fulfilling the command in Jeremiah 6:11 to vent his searing wrath on everyone in the street. In fact, Paul’s audience even complained that Paul’s words were ‘weighty and forceful,’ possibly in reaction to his argument starting in 1 Corinthians 15:36. (2 Corinthians 10:10) But he did not recoil in fear of their sniveling grievance. This was not cruel—it merely expressed a wake-up call of righteous indignation fortified with integrity for the truth.

While such verbal pummeling was found on the lips and pens of those servants and messengers of God, Christians who are not of such divine appointment should rather display, for the most part, “mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Of course, we should not mince our words either, if righteous indignation allows for it, even if the response is similar to what Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:10, knowing that we cannot please everybody, as Paul feared in Galatians 4:16. Supporting that we should not mince or dilute our words when the situation calls for it is Ecclesiastes 12:11, which says that “the words of the wise are like oxgoads, and their collected sayings are like firmly embedded nails.” The Message paraphrase relays the meaning as “the words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.” These oxgoads and hammered nails, while not feeling good at the time of contact, are meant to have a corrective and then stabilizing effect.

Enoch and Elijah
Jeremiah reported that Elijah ‘ascended to the heavens in a windstorm’ in Israel, whereas Ezra reported that he was still on earth a number of years later sending a letter to wicked King Jehoram of Judah. (2 Kings 2:11; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15) Thus, for both accounts to be accurate, he must have been transferred to another prophetic assignment, in agreement with Jesus’ own conclusion at John 3:13, that no one had ascended to heaven. (See: “Elijah”

Similarly, while Enoch was somehow “taken” by God (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), he too per John 3:13 never ascended to heaven. Instead, God may have put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated his life while he was in the trance so that he would not experience the pangs of death.—Hebrews 11:13. (See: “Enoch”

Additional reading:

  • The crown of thorns: The Crown of Thorns by Meadow.
  • Heel bone with Roman crucifixion nail hole: N. Haas. Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Exploration Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (1970) Plate 21A page 63.
  • Periodic table: Screen shot from the EMD periodic table iOS app.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Jesus’ body now: flesh or spirit?

The following scriptures are typically used in support of a spirit-resurrection for Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15:45, 1 Peter 3:18, along with Galatians 1:1, 11, 12 where Paul says his appointment and teaching is not from any man, and Hebrews 5:7 where Jesus’ physical body is spoken of as being in the past (literally “in the days of his flesh”). Additionally, and not any less significant, Hebrews 10:10 reports that Jesus sacrificed his physical body—thus for him to take it back would be to cancel the salvific transaction to God. Another issue which cannot be stressed enough is the Atonement Day drama where the High Priest passed though the curtain from the Holy to the Most Holy on Atonement Day with only the blood and not the body of the sacrificed animal, thus, in fulfillment, Jesus presented the value of his sacrificed life and not his body when he passed though the greater spiritual curtain in the presence of the Almighty God Jehovah.—Hebrews 10:19, 20.

Conversely, scriptures used to support Jesus being resurrected with his sacrificed body (not just with a new fleshly body, but his original Nazarene body), taking back his sacrificed body, are: Acts 17:31, 1 Timothy 2:5 and Colossians 2:9. However, the “man” expression in Acts 17:31 and 1 Timothy 2:5 refers to Jesus’ historical existence of being a man on earth. Thus Jesus is a man experientially, not ontologically. Colossians 2:9 rightly says he has a body, but does not specify a physical one, thus it may be a spirit body being referenced. An additional scripture popularly employed is Luke 24:39, where the resurrected Jesus said he is not a spirit but has “flesh and bones” after miraculously appearing inside a locked room (according to the parallel account in John 20:19). Ones who conclude this means that Jesus was ontologically not a spirit also conclude that he also had no blood, and must therefore ignore this palpable and absurd contradiction of being alive as a man without any blood. However, when Jesus appeared in the locked room he indeed had blood as confirmed in Luke 24:39 and at 1 John 1:1 where his invited followers felt his flesh to confirm that he was not a vision. By feeling and examining his flesh, they could doubtlessly confirm blue veins and that he had blood (which is liquid flesh) and was not bloodlessly blanched. This only makes sense if he was a spirit being materializing into the locked room. Supporting this as a materialization event is the context of Luke 24:39, for Jesus had earlier instantaneously vanished in Luke 24:31. He then reversed that in Luke 24:36-37, making a frightening appearance among them inside the locked room. (John 20:19) Jesus being understood as materializing into the locked room addresses his miraculous and startling appearance, whereas the other interpretation does not and leaves it as an unresolved mystery of preposterous proportions.

To summarize:
  • Jesus instantaneously vanished from sight in front of two people.—Luke 24:13, 30-31.
  • Jesus appeared inside a crowded locked room and startled everyone.—Luke 24:36-37; John 20:19.
  • Thus, he miraculously disappeared and reappeared, consistent with a spirit being materializing and dematerializing.

Thus, ones who believe that Jesus has a physical body now in heaven must clarify if it is the one he received during his earthly sojourn or another physical body received at his resurrection. They must also specify how Jesus is able to exist with a physical body outside of earth’s protective atmosphere, which is a direct violation of the decree in Psalm 115:16. Additionally, ones who insist that Jesus is able to retain his original physical body due to it being “glorified” in some undefined sense are unable to cite any supporting scriptures specifying how his physical body is glorified and thus preserved.

One significant scripture that must be showcased is John 6:63, where Jesus answers his question in verse 62: “Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?” The “before” is defined for us previously in John 6:38 as being heaven. He then answered that the spirit is life-giving but that “human nature is of no help!” (NET Bible) If that’s Jesus’ view of human nature in heaven, then why would he have one? Therefore, I am left with little choice but to conclude that Jesus being called a “man” must be experiential, and that he now exists as a mighty spirit person.

It appears to me that ones insisting otherwise, that Jesus retained his sacrificed Nazarene body are clinging to Jesus’ body when he said “Stop clinging to me,”[1] and are contradicting Jesus when he said that “the flesh is of no use at all” (NWT) “the flesh doesn’t help at all” (HCSB) “the flesh counts for nothing” (NIV) in heaven (per John 6:38). (John 20:17; 6:38, 62-63) He sacrificed his flesh (blood and the rest of his body) during the crucifixion, and by his own admission it is not currently needed in heaven. Thus, in order to obey Jesus’ direct command, we should not cling to it.

Jesus also stated that his human audience could not go to heaven on their own: “Where I am going, you cannot come.” (John 8:21; see also John 7:34 and 13:33) Jesus clarifies that this is because his audience is “from the realms below,” the earth, but that he is “from the realms above.” (John 8:23)[2] Thus, if Jesus was not resurrected as a spirit person, he could not enter heaven, “the realms above,” either! Jesus here called it a transcendent realm that humans cannot survive in, being beyond earth’s atmosphere. To enter that place, it is clear that you have to be a transcendent spirit person. Paul supported this arrangement in 1 Corinthians 15:50 where he said in so many words that human nature cannot enter heaven. Therefore, that interpretation of a fleshly Jesus in the transcendent heaven mocks Jesus and needlessly makes Christianity look hopelessly absurd on a colossal scale. It has wrought incalculable damage to Christianity’s credibility, and is thus a “doctrine of demons.”—1 Timothy 4:1.

(Please excuse my specific and repetitive writing style seen here. This issue needs to be presented in an unusually clear manner.)

[1] In principle only, of course. I am obviously not claiming that this post-resurrection body was his original one.

[2] The New Testament – A Translation by William Barclay has “world below” and “world above.”

Additional reading:
Opening graphic from the Israel Study Center.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Raising Cain... lowering standards. Epic facepalm.

The Biblical Cain was the first human murderer and was forced into exile from Eden, to wander the earth in the Middle East,[1] eventually founding a city named Enoch. (Genesis 4:8, 11, 12, 16, 17)[2] While there is no direct mention of Cain eventually dying, it is certain that he did from a Biblical point-of-view, for at least three reasons:

  1. There is nothing stating that he was to wander forever.
  2. As a child of Adam, he inherited a death sentence. (Romans 5:12-14)
  3. Lastly, the Noachian Deluge wiped the earth clean of prior wickedness, including Cain’s legacy.

However, as early as 1835 it was reported that one of the first apostles of the Mormon Church came “face to face with Cain” and had an “interview with Cain.”[3] This was David W. Patten (1799-1838) who converted to Mormonism in 1832 and who was appointed as a Mormon apostle in 1835. He was killed in October 1838 as an outlaw during a firefight with the Missouri Volunteer Militia.[4]

David W. Patten, the Mormon apostle who “raised Cain.”

Being described as “one of the most remarkable experiences of his life,” while traveling by mule on a country road near Missouri, he described seeing a tall, naked, dark, hairy humanoid who claimed he “was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro” who most significantly “could not die.” Patten concluded that this was “a very remarkable personage who had represented himself as being Cain,” and told this to other Mormons.[5] However, it could not have been Cain due to the three scriptural issues above, as well as the geographical anomaly of being far from his Middle Eastern associations. He lived and died there. (Claiming at this point that it was Cain’s “ghost” is merely an undocumented assertion crafted for the sole purpose of solving this dilemma.) Therefore, Apostle Patten did the Mormon community a great disservice by claiming to have conversed with Cain, which exposed his shallow grasp of the scriptures. Interestingly, this geographical anomaly was repeated later on May 19, 1838 when Joseph Smith, the Mormon founding prophet, identified a plot of land in Missouri as being “the place where Adam blessed his posterity after being driven from the Garden of Eden,” with the Garden of Eden logically being close by.[6] This claim also did the Mormon community a great, incalculable, disservice—producing a crazed fanaticism of then having to maintain that Noah’s ark traveled from this locale all the way across the world to the “mountains of Ararat” in the Middle East. (Genesis 8:4) It is the wrong location for both Eden and Cain’s habitation.

Thus, bolstered by this highly unfortunate misidentification by Joseph Smith, Patten’s claim did not die with him. In fact, it reared its ugly head again in a very unexpected place years later in 1921, across the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii. There, the president of the Hawaii Mission, E. Wesley Smith, reported a frightening encounter with a giant, naked, unkempt ruffian entering his office the night before the dedication of their Mormon temple at Laie. His prominent brother Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith identified his unwelcome visitor as none other than Cain, “whose curse is to roam the earth seeking whom he may destroy.” Cain was thus presented as being “an incarnation of supernatural evil sent by Satan, whose primary role was to undo the work of the [Mormon] Church.”[7] Interestingly, this same “Cain” was also reported to have struck again in the 1920s in Mexico, disturbing “an unnamed [Mormon] apostle.”[8] Such occurrences blissfully detached from one another, hailing from disparate places on earth, can only make the Mormon Cain appear to be a demonic figure who can manifest himself at will anywhere in the world, a satanic “incarnation of supernatural evil.”

Maintaining a folklore psychology such as this, that Cain is alive and travels the world menacing Mormons, is contrary to the spirit of 2 Peter 1:16, 1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7, and 2 Timothy 4:4. As this unscriptural and demonic folklore began with a Mormon apostle, and was supported by the Mormon founder, it should be laid to rest by the highest powers of the Mormon Church. It began with them, and it should end with them. Will it? Frankly, like with other oddities that have accumulated in Mormonism, I highly doubt it will, as that would by extension call into question the accuracy of their founder in his outrageously absurd misidentification of Eden in Missouri. Belief systems that harbor colossal absurdities of astronomical magnitude are simply not worth being associated with.

Raising Cain in the minds of people as a frightening agent lowered the standards a religion professing to be Christian should set for its members. A Christian religion should be directing its members to study the Bible and should lead them to fear God and Christ, not bogeymen.—Proverbs 1:7, 8:13, 9:10, 19:23; Colossians 3:22.[9]

[1] Eden was in the Middle East as attested by the Bible. Significantly, Mormon scriptures unwittingly both agree with that and contradict that by placing Eden in Missouri, a state in America. This sobering situation is presented here in detail: Mormonism and the Eden Direction Dilemma

[2] Additionally, in order to found a city, one wonders if he eventually settled down and stopped being a wanderer. Now, while Mormons have a lot more to say about the Sethite Enoch than what’s found anywhere else, they seem to have nothing to say about Cain’s city Enoch, as noted here in their online reference: “Enoch.” Bible Dictionary.

[3] Wilson, Lycurgus A. The Life of David W. Patten, the First Apostolic Martyr. The Desseret News. Salt Lake City. 1900. Pp. 6, 45.

[4] Patten, David W. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism.,_David_W.

[5] Supra note 3. Pp. 49-51. Compare this wandering description of Cain with Satan in Job 1:7, 2:2 and 1 Peter 5:8.

[6] Adam-ondi-Ahman Temple

[7] Bowman, Matthew. A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore. Journal of Mormon History. Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 2007), p. 69.

[8] Ibid. Pp. 69-70.

[9] By way of contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses are commendably counselled this way:
[B]y circulating stories about the exploits of the demons, one promotes the interests of Satan. … Such ones may sincerely believe that they saw and heard certain things and may relate their experiences as truth. In time, their stories become exaggerated by constant retelling. If a Christian were to spread such stories, he would, in effect, be doing the bidding of the Devil—“the father of the lie.” He would be spreading Satan’s propaganda.—John 8:44; 2 Timothy 2:16. … [I]f a Christian had some real encounters with wicked spirits in the past, he would refrain from repeatedly entertaining fellow believers with stories about such things. … [W]e are to focus our attention on Christ, not Satan. It is noteworthy that while on earth, Jesus did not entertain his disciples with stories about wicked spirits, although he could have said much about what Satan could or could not do. Rather, Jesus focused on the Kingdom message. Therefore, in imitation of Jesus and the apostles, we want to center our conversations on “the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:11; Luke 8:1; Romans 1:11, 12.
(“Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” (2008, 2014): Oppose the Devil and His Crafty Acts, When Stories About Demons Abound
So when Mormons spread their stories about encountering a demonic Cain, they are “doing the bidding of the Devil,” “spreading Satan’s propaganda,” and not imitating Jesus Christ.

Additional resources:

Nothing to fear here. Dead is dead.

Gravestone is computer generated.