Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         February 15, 2015                                                                                                                            NO. 49



With metronomic precision each year the national press corps begins running columns by “religion scholars” who wish you to know that Jesus Christ is a fictional character. Mind you, no newspaper of note in the world is brave enough to run a similar story about the Prophet Mohammed.

The latest comes from a “lecturer in religious studies” from Australia named Raphael Lataster. The Washington Post felt compelled to run this so the godless heathens in Washington, D.C., can continue on with no consequence.

According to Mr. Lataster, “There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased.” These biased, non-eyewitness accounts include the writings of the Apostles Matthew, Peter, and John all three of whom were standing near the cross on which the magical mythological Jesus was nailed. They were just, one might suppose, looking in a different direction.

Then, of course, there are the books of James and Jude in the Bible, written by the brothers of Jesus. There are also the several letters written by Paul, who claims Jesus appeared in physical form to him after Jesus’s death. Lastly, there is Luke, a doctor, who interviewed many eyewitnesses including the imaginary Mary, mother of the imaginary Jesus.

Mr. Lataster must write out of history many people we know existed in order to write Jesus out of history. His dismissal of all scholars who disagree with him is pretty staggering. One must wonder if he is also prepared to write out of history Socrates who, like Jesus, never wrote anything himself. Others wrote about him after he died.

That the Washington Post and other news outlets feel compelled, each year, to point out that Jesus is a myth is telling in and of itself. They lack the bravery to do it about Islam’s top prophet because Christians will turn the other cheek whereas Muslims would kill them. For any who disagree, just review the book stores bombed for carrying Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses or the riots against cartoonists who drew Muhammed.

The only really remarkable thing about the media effort to cast doubt on Jesus’s existence is that the press usually finds an Episcopalian priest or Jesuit scholar to do it. They first attack the virgin birth as an interpretation then end up at Jesus dying and his resurrection being only metaphor. Rarely do they go straight to the atheist religious scholar.

The common thread of all these columns, articles, and expositions are unbelievers writing to reassure other unbelievers at a time of year billions of people are celebrating either the miraculous burning of oil for eight days or a virgin giving birth to a child. The secular left can abide no miracles.

For the rest of us, it is worth reflecting on what did happen two thousand years ago. A virgin gave birth to a child fulfilling a prophecy made at the beginning of time in the fifteenth verse of the third chapter of the first book of the Bible. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

The prophet Isaiah, nearly 750 years before the birth of Jesus, said God told him, “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Apostle Matthew, a friend of Jesus, wrote that Mary was a virgin and Jesus’s birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophesy.

Non-Christian scholars and poseurs within the faith argue over Isaiah’s word choice, but the Christian’s scripture gives no choice. It is a fundamental belief of the faith that Christ was born of a virgin and rose again from the dead. Take away either and we are left with just a man, not a God.

Several billion people around the world believe Jesus is real. We can also hold with equal certainty that a century from now several billion will still believe that and no one will remember the name of Raphael Lataster.

Matthew 24:35:Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

John 12:48:He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

1 Peter 1:23-25:Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

—Erick Erickson




“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19)

  Among Christians, often a new group will pop up teaching and practicing things vastly different from the apostles’ doctrine taught in the congregation(s) from which they came. We are shocked and rightly so. But in most cases these folks were “not of us” long before “they went out from us.” It usually happens after they have failed to win enough support within the congregation(s) where they formally attended to take over. They have now shown the world where their hearts had been for sometime.

All of this demands diligence on the part of overseers and other knowledgeable Christians to begin to deal with the problems when there are initial signs that they are “not of us” in their thinking. Often the church’s leadership, instead of dealing forthrightly with it by corrective teaching and discipline, they prefer to not rock the boat, thus allowing the leaven enough time to work its way through a larger portion of the whole lump.

The Lord gives the responsibility to elders to shepherd the sheep and to watch for their souls. Instead, in too many cases, elders are mostly concerned with balancing the church’s budget and directing the church various “programs.” They have neither the time nor knowledge to spot and correctly deal with the wolves among them. They resent and/or ignore warnings from knowledgeable Christians outside their congregation who are aware of what “is going on” with some of their members. These elders and other knowledgeable men should be able to get a handle on the problem long before it becomes self-evident that they “are not OF us” when they “went out FROM us.”  

—Edward O. Bragwell

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In last week’s bulletin, I reprinted the article “Max Lucado On Baptism” written by Larry Ray Hafley. Five times in the article reference was made to Max Lucado as “brother”. Not wanting to change the article by leaving off the word “brother”, I nevertheless was uncomfortable with referring to Mac Lucado as a brother since he has gone so far off the steep end concerning the truth of the gospel. So, this “editor’s note” should have been in last week’s bulletin. Therefore I do apologize. ERH]

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