Answers In Genesis Response To Killing Jesus


Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

by Tim Chaffey on November 20, 20Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard have recently produced two best-selling historical books: Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. The third installment of this series is likely to be at least as popular and almost certainly more controversial. In their latest effort, O’Reilly and Dugard attempt to write the history of the most famous person of all time, Jesus Christ.

Introduction

Based on the following transcript of Norah O’Donnell’s interview of O’Reilly, one would expect this book to be fraught with anti-biblical statements:

O’Donnell: You include two quotes from Jesus on the cross, but not the most famous one: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Why not?
O’Reilly: We don’t put in things that we don’t think happened.
O’Donnell: How do you know?
O’Reilly: Because you couldn’t say something like that, audibly that people would hear. He, you die on a cross from being suffocated. That your lungs can’t take in anymore air. You can hardly breathe. We believe Jesus said that, but we don’t believe he said it on the cross, ‘cause nobody could’ve heard it.
O’Donnell: But, Bill, you know what people are going to say. “The Bible says that Jesus said on the cross, ‘Father forgive them,’ but Bill O’Reilly says that’s not true, so I should believe Bill?”
O’Reilly: Well you believe what you want. If you want to take the Bible literally, then that’s your right to do that.
O’Donnell: But you use as your sources for this book the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But you pick and choose.
O’Reilly: Right, but that’s not our only source. I mean, we use Muslim sources, we use Roman sources, we use Jewish sources.
O’Donnell: So is this the Gospel according to Bill?
O’Reilly: This is best available evidence according to Bill. We believe that the oral history in the Bible is largely accurate but we’re not taking it literally.

Does this interview accurately reflect the book? Did O’Reilly and Dugard truly cut words from the mouth of Jesus? These questions and more will be addressed in the following review.

Let me clearly state that Answers in Genesis does not recommend the book Killing Jesus.1 The handful of positive elements mentioned below cannot outweigh the graphic content, erroneous claims, and the number of truths of Scripture that were overlooked or understated. Before highlighting some of the many problems in the critique section, let’s take a look at the book’s stated goal. This will be followed by a brief overview of the book and the short list of its strengths. The critique section will focus primarily on the book, but a few comments will be made about the aforementioned interview.

The Authors’ Goal

In the opening pages of the book, Bill O’Reilly explained their goal in writing Killing Jesus. After citing a journalist who described Jesus as the light in a dark world who offended the men living in darkness, he wrote the following:

And these men succeeded (at least in the short term.) Jesus was executed. But the incredible story behind the lethal struggle between good and evil has not been fully told. Until now. At least, that is the goal of this book. (4)

According to one of the co-authors, the goal of Killing Jesus is to tell the story of Jesus in light of the culture in which He lived. By better understanding the times in which He lived, O’Reilly hopes a person will have a deeper grasp of who Jesus was. He admitted the authors’ bias up front while also explaining part of their methodology:

Martin Dugard and I are both Roman Catholics who were educated in religious schools. But we are also historical investigators and are interested primarily in telling the truth about important people, not converting anyone to a spiritual cause. We brought this dedication and discipline to Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and in these pages we will do the same with Jesus of Nazareth. By the way, both Lincoln and Kennedy believed Jesus was God. (2–3)

As Roman Catholics, the authors believe Jesus was (and is) God. But they aim for their book to be purely historical. That is, they want to simply inform the reader about what Jesus really did and said, and what truly happened to Him, but this introduces one of the greatest problems with the book. While the authors have the freedom to investigate historical figures and tell the truth about them, it is disingenuous at best to ignore vital information about that individual’s beliefs. For example, in their efforts to make sure this was not a theological book that would be seen as an attempt to convert people “to a spiritual cause,” some of the central teachings of Jesus were left out. Jesus taught that He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6), that those who rejected Him would die in their sins (John 8:24), and be judged by Him (John 5:27–30). Jesus did want to convert people “to a spiritual cause” (to use the authors’ words), so to largely ignore this aspect of Christ’s teachings is a serious oversight.

As for the theological implications of His life, the authors leave the reader to decide for himself. For example, they wrote, “But this is not a religious book. We do not address Jesus as the Messiah, only as a man who galvanized a remote area of the Roman Empire and made very powerful enemies while preaching a philosophy of peace and love” (2). Jesus did far more than preach “a philosophy of peace and love.” He did show us the ultimate example of peace and love, but He also preached the truth, excoriating religious hypocrites like the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23) and calling on people to repent of their sin (Matthew 4:17).

Overview

The book opens with a somewhat dramatic retelling of events surrounding the first few weeks after the birth of Jesus. Although the timeline described by the authors may not be accurate, it does follow the traditional order of events, except for the month in which Jesus was born. The authors place His birth in the spring, reasoning that this is when lambs were being born and it would have been an ideal time for shepherds to be out in the fields at night.

Most of the attention is focused on King Herod and his actions. This helps provide the cultural context into which Jesus was born. Herod’s wickedness is highlighted, as are the physical consequences he allegedly suffered due to a life spent indulging in debauchery.

The next two chapters, along with the seventh chapter, provide some more backstory to help the reader understand the ruthlessness of the Roman Empire and the tensions that existed between them and the Jewish people. These fifty-plus pages provide a good deal of information about Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Marc Antony, Octavius (Caesar Augustus), and Tiberius Caesar, although many of these details are not suitable for many readers, particularly younger audiences.

Those familiar with O’Reilly’s top-ranked television program probably realize that he doesn’t shy away from discussing and showing risqué topics. After all, especially in modern America, sex sells. These particular chapters are no different. The authors frequently discuss the various affairs of those in power. Several pages are spent describing, in far more detail than necessary, the sexual dalliances of these ancient leaders, including the reported extreme perversity of Tiberius. While the language is not extremely graphic, the content is unnecessary to understand the wickedness of these people.

The remaining chapters are a fairly straightforward, mostly chronological telling of the life of Jesus. The information is drawn primarily from the Gospel accounts with supplemental data about the rulers provided by the records of Josephus and other ancient historians. The retelling is not an exhaustive presentation of His life (nor are the Gospels for that matter), but the authors do recount a fair amount of the life and teachings of Jesus.

The final third of the book revolves around what has traditionally been called the Passion Week. A few details are overlooked, including the statement from the Cross discussed in the interview, but this section is somewhat thorough. Chapters are devoted to the Triumphal Entry, the second temple cleansing, conflict with religious leaders, as well as the betrayal, arrest, illegal trials, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus.

The Afterword explains the scriptural teaching of what happened to the body of Jesus. It was not stolen; instead, the New Testament teaches that He rose from the dead and appeared to many of His followers. The authors then proceed to summarize some of the impact Jesus had on His immediate followers, and ultimately, on the world itself.

Strengths

Killing Jesus is not your typical “dry” history book—although I happen to enjoy reading history. O’Reilly and Dugard’s narrative style makes this book more readable than many history books, since it reads more like a novel than a listing of facts and dates.

It was refreshing that the authors do not follow the extreme skeptics who doubt or deny the existence of Jesus. Nor do they follow the demythologizing practices of the Jesus Seminar and other liberal theologians.2 They do not reject the miracles Jesus performed, although they do treat them in a curious fashion, as will be explained in the next section.

I enjoyed reading many of the peripheral details provided by the authors. Reading about some of the land’s features (i.e., its topography, roads) and descriptions of various buildings helped to make the places where Jesus walked and talked “come alive.” Learning about the historical details of the Roman Empire and some of the peoples mentioned in the Gospels was also helpful in setting the scene onto which Jesus arrived.

Keeping in mind that the Bible is the best and only infallible source one can use on the life of Jesus, the other sources cited by the authors are largely respected among evangelical scholars rather than relying on some of the demythologized versions of Christ’s life often used at the popular level.

On areas where Catholics and most Protestants typically differ, the authors do not automatically adhere to the Roman Catholic position. For example, on page 79 a balanced footnote explains the various positions regarding those identified as the brothers and sisters of Jesus in the Gospels (e.g., Matthew 13:55–56; Mark 3:31–32). However, on page 228, they specifically refer to James as a sibling of Jesus. On the other hand, on a couple of occasions, they tend to favor, or at least mention, the Roman Catholic position. For example, in the Afterword, they identify Peter as “the rock” on which Jesus would build His church (263), and briefly mention the Catholic teaching called the Assumption of Mary—that Mary’s body was assumed into heaven so that it didn’t decay (265).

Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is that many of the details are taken right from Scripture. So whether he realizes it or not, the reader is often reading the Bible (or at least a paraphrase of Scripture), although no other writing should be a replacement for reading the Holy Spirit-inspired Gospel accounts.

Critique

Many of the major issues with Killing Jesus are not to be found in what is said, but in how some things are said, and what is left out.

As mentioned earlier, the book contains some graphic description of sexual activity. Also, the “story” style of narrative leads to some minor problems. For example, the authors frequently set the scene of a pericope by describing the weather on that particular day. However, unless Scripture revealed such information, there is no way to know whether or not it was sunny or rainy on a given day. The same point can be made about the authors’ tendency to ascribe feelings to individuals when we aren’t given such information. Also, we do not know if the women heading to the tomb on the first Easter morning stared at the empty cross before turning their attention to walking toward the tomb. These types of details are helpful in telling a story, and in some cases they may have happened, but they cannot be demonstrated from any ancient records so they do not help the book’s claim to present authentic history.There are a number of factual errors in the book. Here is a listing of a handful of these (page number in parentheses):

  • Philistines are said to have conquered Israel in 722 BC (14). It was the Assyrians.
  • 26 generations between Abraham and Jacob (58). This is based on Matthew’s genealogy which intentionally skips several generations.
  • Gospel of John written in AD 85 at latest, which is said to be as many as 70 years after the death of Jesus (103). Conservative scholars generally place the Lord’s Crucifixion sometime between AD 30–33. If He died in AD 30, as described in the book, then this would be 55 years before the Gospel of John was written.
  • The Prophet Isaiah is said to have lived 800 years prior to the time of Christ’s ministry (98), but this is a little too high. 700–750 years would be more accurate.
  • Mary Magdalene is identified as a prostitute (144), but there is nothing definitive in Scripture about this. The authors are slightly tentative on this subject, including a footnote in an effort to bolster their claim.3
  • The disciples of Jesus attempted to persuade Him to go to the feast in Jerusalem in John 7 (171), but the Bible indicates that it was his brothers who did this and are even distinguished from His disciples in this passage (John 7:3). Furthermore, John 7:5 indicates the brothers did not believe in Jesus’s claims. Therefore, the book’s authors incorrectly portray this advice as a sincere effort to have Jesus make His claims public (171).
  • Only Mary Magdalene and another Mary are described as visiting the tomb on the first Easter morning (258), but Luke mentions at least five women went to the tomb that morning (Luke 24:10).

While there are many more minor problems that could be examined, many of the major issues with Killing Jesus are not to be found in what is said, but in how some things are said, and what is left out.

First, in treating the miracles wrought by Jesus, the book almost always portrays them as secondhand accounts. That is, the authors discuss some of His miracles, but they are nearly always mentioned as though someone heard about a particular miracle, or it was reported that Jesus performed a miracle. They never come right out and say something like, “Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.” Instead, they state the following:

Jesus is reported to have left Galilee, destined for parts unknown. Witnesses say he is performing miracles once again. In one startling account out of the town of Bethany, a man named Lazarus came back from the dead. And Lazarus was not recently deceased. He was four days dead and already laid in the tomb when Jesus is said to have healed him before a great crowd. (175–176)4

There are multiple instances where the authors ignore a miracle and mention the other details. Two examples will suffice. First, in highlighting the faith of a Roman centurion, the authors wrote the following: “There, soon after entering the city, a most amazing thing happens: the Roman military officer in charge of Capernaum declares himself to be a follower of Jesus” (143). No mention is made of the fact that Jesus miraculously cured the centurion’s gravely ill servant (Matthew 8:5–13). Second, at the time of Christ’s arrest, Peter cut off the ear of a man named Malchus. This is specifically mentioned (223–224), but no mention is made of Jesus healing the man (Luke 22:51).

So why would the authors refuse to directly acknowledge many of the miracles that were such a large part of the Lord’s ministry? The Bible states, “Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them” (Matthew 4:24). As Roman Catholics, the authors should certainly believe that Jesus performed miracles, so I don’t think unbelief is the reason miracles are only handled in an indirect manner.5

Earlier it was mentioned that the authors claimed not to refer to Jesus as the Messiah in this book. The rationale given is that Killing Jesus is a history book, rather than a religious one. Presumably, one reason to avoid calling Him the Messiah would be that to make such a theological claim would offend Muslims and unbelieving Jews. While I disagree with the approach, the authors may have thought they were acting on good intentions. However, intentions aside, they did not really neglect to identify Him as the Messiah. Much of the book’s buildup to the Lord’s execution is centered on whether or not Jesus will publicly declare Himself as the Christ (“Christ” means the same as “Messiah”), and the authors do not shy away from showing Jesus proclaiming Himself to be God. In the book, Jesus is indirectly called the Christ multiple times in the chapters on the Triumphal Entry and the scheming of Judas to betray Jesus. Here are a handful of examples where He is identified as the Christ:

  • . . . these are the lucky few who can tell their children and their children’s children that they witnessed the grand moment when Jesus the Christ rode triumphantly into Jerusalem (186).
  • He has been very specific with the disciples that he is more than just an earthly Christ (187).
  • Jesus has made it clear that he is the Christ but that his kingdom is not of this world (187).
  • He allowed himself to be anointed like the Christ, and yet he was predicting his death (209).
  • [Judas] knows that if he takes the money, one of two things will happen: Jesus will be arrested and then declare himself to be the Christ . . . (211).6

So it isn’t really accurate to say that the authors avoided calling Jesus the Messiah.

Another significant problem in the book is that Jesus is sometimes portrayed as a victim of circumstances rather than being the one in control of the situation. Once again, it isn’t necessarily that the authors come right out and say that He wasn’t in charge, but the way things are stated or left unstated often gives that impression. For example, in describing the actions and concerns of Jesus while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest, the authors wrote:

It would be so much easier if Jesus could just escape. He could keep on climbing the hill and walk straight back to Bethany. In the morning, he might journey home to Galilee, there to grow old quietly and raise a family. His words have accomplished just enough to give the people hope, but he never planned to lead them in rebellion. Jesus does not believe that is his earthly purpose. So he accepts his coming fate and makes no effort to flee. (221–222)

While Jesus clearly was greatly troubled with all that He would go through (Matthew 26:38), He was always in control of the situation. He knew that He had come to give His life, and He repeatedly told the disciples this during His ministry (Matthew 16:21; 20:17–19). Prior to allowing the soldiers to arrest Him, Jesus secured the freedom of His followers (John 18:8) and demonstrated His power over the guards (John 18:6). He informed Pilate that he would have no power over Him unless it was not granted to him from above (John 19:11). Make no mistake; Jesus was not a victim of circumstances. He was on a divine schedule and He kept it perfectly.

Earlier in the book, the authors also stated that Jesus did not make the “smart move,” as if avoiding controversy and trouble were more intelligent than following God’s plan.

The smart move would be for Jesus to avoid controversy, to remain peaceful, and to let the status quo hum along as smoothly as during every other Passover. A jarring public display of temper would be most unwise.
Jesus doesn’t care. Without warning, he flips over a table and sends coins flying. Then another. And another. . . . He is angry but not out of control. His actions are methodical and every movement shows that he fears no soldier or guard. (192)

The authors may simply be trying to emphasize that what Jesus did was “most unwise” from a human perspective. However, what is truly unwise is to give readers the impression that what the Son of God did was not smart.

The Interview

Let’s revisit the interview cited at the beginning of this review.

O’Donnell: You include two quotes from Jesus on the cross, but not the most famous one: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Why not?
O’Reilly: We don’t put in things that we don’t think happened.

It’s true that O’Reilly and Dugard do not mention these famous words. They do cite His words, “I thirst,” and “It is finished,” but they do not mention the conversation with the two criminals crucified with Jesus, His words to His mother, of His cry about being forsaken. These omissions could have been written off as being due to the abridged nature of the book’s reporting. However, O’Reilly specifically mentioned that he did not think Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”—at least not while on the Cross, since, according to him, one could not say such things loud enough for others to hear.

O’Reilly’s response brings up some interesting points. The two statements that are included in the book are short statements, which according to the authors, “His voice [was] not more than a whisper” when he said “I thirst” (250). So this does seem to truly be O’Reilly’s rationale for leaving the longer statements out of Christ’s final hours.

While it is true that crucifixion victims endured extraordinary pain and often suffocated, such torture would not necessarily prevent people from speaking. If it was common knowledge in the first century that crucifixion victims could not speak loudly enough to be heard or long enough to carry on a brief conversation, many of Christianity’s critics would have jumped all over these statements contained in each of the Gospels. However, to my knowledge, no ancient writer accused the apostles of inventing Christ’s words because people couldn’t speak while being crucified.7 This would have been an easy way to discredit the Gospels, so why didn’t the ancient opponents of Christianity do this? Because people could talk while enduring crucifixion, just as described in the Gospels. O’Reilly is simply wrong on this point.

As it turns out, the interview was more offensive in regards to distorting claims of Scripture than the book was as a whole. To be sure, the book had many problems, but in two short minutes, O’Reilly made several large blunders. He derided those who believe Jesus spoke the famous words on the Cross as those that “read the Bible literally” (read: who are too ignorant to know better). It isn’t about reading the Bible “literally,” but reading the Bible properly. Since the Gospel accounts were written as historical narrative (more specifically, they are like biographies) then they should be understood in a straightforward manner.8

There were plenty of eyewitnesses at the Cross who could have heard anything Jesus had to say, including the Apostle John. The other Gospel writers could have interviewed some of the women who were there, such as Mary (the wife of Clopas), Mary Magdalene, or Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:25). Perhaps Roman soldiers could have been interviewed too, particularly the centurion who acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54). These people would have a far more accurate view of what happened that day at the Cross than Bill O’Reilly or any other person alive today who refuses to take God’s Word seriously. Since the author took a jab at those who do believe the divinely inspired Gospel writers over a 21st century journalist, it is safe to say that O’Reilly does not treat the text with as much respect as he should.

While there is much more that could be said about his interview performance, this review is supposed to focus on his book. That being said, in response to O’Donnell’s question about why he picks and chooses which parts of the Gospels he believes are accurate and which are not, O’Reilly replied with a strange answer. “Right, but that’s not our only source. I mean, we use Muslim sources, we use Roman sources, we use Jewish sources.”

When writing a book about Jesus and the time in which He lived, I think it is perfectly appropriate to use (in addition to Scripture), Jewish and Roman sources. But what Muslim source is going to shed light on whether Jesus did or did not speak certain words on the Cross? Islam did not exist until nearly six centuries after Jesus died. In other words, there were no Muslims until the time of Muhammad (c. AD 570–632). So what good would Muslim sources be in determining what Jesus said on the Cross, especially when Muslims don’t even believe Jesus was crucified? As far as I can tell, the only statement derived from a Muslim source in Killing Jesus was in the Postscript where the authors describe the impact of the life of Jesus in this world. There, a quote from the Koran about Jesus is given. If this is indeed the only statement from a Muslim source, then it is disingenuous at best for O’Reilly to respond to the question by claiming that they used Muslim sources in the book.

I have a strong suspicion that O’Reilly knew exactly what he was doing in that interview. Perhaps I am being a little too cynical, but my guess is that he wanted to stir up controversy and sound provocative. It’s good for business when one is trying to sell a book.

Conclusion

Overall, the book was not as troublesome as it seemed it would be based on O’Reilly’s interview. There were some strengths and it could serve as a decent introduction to some of the historical and cultural setting in which Jesus lived and died (and rose again). However, there are far too many areas of concern for me to recommend it as suitable reading. The perversity and brutality of the Caesars is described too graphically for younger readers, and I certainly would rather not read something like that again. The other problems mentioned above are not exhaustive, but should give interested readers a good idea of what to be wary of if they decide to read this book.

If someone wants to learn more about the life of Jesus, I would encourage them to read and study the Bible. Yes, there are helpful books out there to help us gain a deeper understanding of certain aspects of the time and culture in which He lived. For example, Alfred Edersheim’s highly respected The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah has been a tremendous resource in this area for more than a century. But no matter how helpful a work like Edersheim’s book is, nothing can compare to God’s inspired and infallible Word, which does not shy away from telling us the whole truth about Jesus. He is the Son of God who gave His life for our sins and rose from the dead three days later, and, according to Him, He is the only way by which we can be saved.

Answers in Depth

2013 Volume 8

Footnotes

  1. The sensationalist, crass title may indicate that the authors view Jesus more as a victim rather than the Son of God who was in complete control of every circumstance, even those surrounding His arrest and Crucifixion. We recognize that they use “Killing” to have it fit with their two other historical books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy.See all footnotes
  2. See also How Do We Know the Bible Is True? Volume 2.See all footnotes
  3. Although Mary Magdalene is often thought of as a former prostitute and it is possible that she was one, the Bible never identifies her as such. This tradition apparently started when Pope Gregory announced this idea in a homily in AD 591. This may have been an honest mistake made by conflating the sinful woman who washed Christ’s feet with her tears at the end of Luke 7 with Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned early in Luke 8.See all footnotes
  4. The raising of Lazarus is mentioned later in the book too. “The legend of Jesus’s raising of Lazarus from the dead became so widespread that it was a main component in the Temple priests’ plotting against Jesus” (199).See all footnotes
  5. Perhaps the reason miracles are handled this way is based on O’Reilly’s claim that Killing Jesus “is not a religious book” (2). In their effort to write a book on history, the authors have apparently misunderstood what is and is not historical when it comes to miracles.
    The Bible records numerous miracles as having occurred in the past. While many today would scoff at such a notion, and some have argued that these cannot be part of history, this really says more about their presuppositions than it does reality. For example, a modern skeptic can deny that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, or that Jesus Himself was raised from the dead. But these denials do not make these events non-historical. In both cases, multiple eyewitnesses affirmed that the person was dead, and many of these same eyewitnesses saw the person alive again.
    Now, when it comes to the historical recording of such an event, it is not outside the realm of history to claim that Lazarus was dead for four days before Jesus arrived and called to Lazarus, commanding him to “Come forth!” (John 11:43). Moments later, the man who had previously been dead, exited the tomb alive and well.
    If those events truly occurred (which we can be sure that they did since God’s infallible Word tells us they did), then the events can be reported as such. What may possibly be beyond the realm of historical investigation is the how or the why of the miraculous. Claiming that Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead because He was and is God, or that God’s Spirit empowered Jesus to raise His friend from the dead are theological statements, and are perhaps beyond the realm of historical investigation. However, when Jesus Himself states before the event that He is going to raise Lazarus, claiming to be “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:23–26), then the historical fact that a dead man was raised to life now has the how attached to it. That is unless Jesus was just lucky that shortly after commanding Lazarus to come out of the tomb, the man just happened to come back to life. Of course, claiming that such as set of circumstances was merely coincidental would be more than absurd, since such would have to be said for every miracle witnessed by others. The why of this miracle is also provided in the Gospel of John. Jesus said that Lazarus would be raised so that His disciples would believe (John 11:14–15), and many other believed in Jesus as a result (John 11:45). In fact, this miracle had such a profound effect on the people who saw the formerly dead Lazarus that the Jewish leaders sought to kill him too (John 12:9–10).
    So O’Reilly and Dugard could certainly have mentioned the miracles in a direct manner and still been perfectly historical, since the witnessing of miracles is not beyond the reach of historians, even if the how and why may be in many circumstances.See all footnotes
  6. Killing Jesus uses a popular idea behind Judas Iscariot’s decision to betray Jesus—to force the Lord’s hand to act and free the Jews from the Romans. This is not stated in Scripture, nor is it out of the realm of possibility that this was one of the reasons Judas used to rationalize his treachery.See all footnotes
  7. When I first heard O’Reilly deny that Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, I thought that he would appeal to the dispute whether the first half of the verse was part of the original. Most Bibles include a textual note indicating the questionable nature of the statement’s inclusion since many early manuscripts do not have it, which is found only in Luke. The NET Bible includes a helpful translator note explaining the dilemma. After citing the many early manuscripts that do not have the verse and those that include it, the note states that the verse “also fits a major Lukan theme of forgiving the enemies (6:27–36), and it has a parallel in Stephen’s response in Acts 7:60. The lack of parallels in the other Gospels argues also for inclusion here. On the other hand, the fact of the parallel in Acts 7:60 may well have prompted early scribes to insert the saying in Luke’s Gospel alone. Further, there is the great difficulty of explaining why early and diverse witnesses lack the saying. A decision is difficult, but even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically.” Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition, (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Luke 23:34.See all footnotes
  8. The precise classification of the Gospels is disputed, but scholars generally acknowledge that they are usually meant to be taken in a straightforward manner, and bear many hallmarks of the ancient Greek bioi. Bioi is the Greek term for “lives” and it is used to describe a general category for ancient biographical accounts that are largely composed of a person’s own words and deeds.See all footnotes

Recommended Resources

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.

   

Killing Jesus ~ Preview (Part I)

The movie, Killing Jesus, was just released and shown on the National Geographic channel for the first time.  The story was originally written by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.  I read the book, and it greatly reminded me of Thomas Jefferson’s “Bible”  that he wrote.  Mr. Jefferson took out all of the miracles from the Bible, and the book ended at the tomb after Jesus was crucified!  How would you like to stand before God in the judgment after performing such deeds?  The only thing in the book that impressed me was the graphic narration of the history in the Roman Empire.  Bill O’Reilly did a great job with the backdrop, but his Jeffersonian style cherry picking of only the parts of the scripture that appealed to him, like Thomas Jefferson’s “Bible” itself, made me ill.  Have you read the warning at the end of Revelation for those who add to and take away from the Word of God?  This movie comes out on the threshold of holy week, of course, by design.

I taped the movie and will give a complete assessment when finished.  I watched only twelve (12) minutes, and already notice several instances how the writers of the movie ignore the Bible, and trust their own mental acumen.  The movie totally omits Jesus’ miraculous and prophesied birth in Bethlehem, witnessed by the angelic host, their familiar choruses, and the shepherds in their fields at night.  The movie opens with the troubled Herod, concerned over bad dreams and a potential rival to his throne.  The wise men leave Herod and simply “show up” in Bethlehem, riding their camels into the hamlet in broad daylight, with absolutely no explanation of how they found the house in the town where Jesus was staying.  Remember, this is a movie where miracles are purged, along with any concept that conflicts with the author(s) mindset, hence there was no star to follow to the house, as the Bible tells us.  The wise men show up before the baby Jesus, and they show Him an ornate necklace full of beads as He plays with them, and everyone is smiling for this Kodak moment.  The worship by the wise men for the Christ child is totally ignored, as is the giving of the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  The three famous gifts do seem to make an appearance for a brief moment in the dark next to Mary and Joseph.  To add insult to injury in the early going of this movie, Joseph tells Mary that they must take the baby Jesus and go, because he has a bad feeling about the adulation and pomp poured out upon Jesus, the Son of God.  Incredibly, Joseph says he does not know where they will go!  The scriptures tell us that the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream and told them to go to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of King Herod.  Please read Matthew 2: 1-15 for the truth.  [How ironic that the movie recognizes Herod’s demonic driven dreams and thoughts, and ignores Joseph’s divinely inspired dream.  This sets the secular tone perfectly, and lets one clearly know where the authors of the book and movie are coming from.]   Why do these people rewrite the Bible for us during holy week leading up to Resurrection Day?  I personally find this fascinating, nefarious, distasteful, and sinister.  When something was certain to be absolutely true, we Americans use to call it the Gospel (the Gospel is the good news, found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and all of the scriptures).  Now, newscasters have the audacity to rewrite it according to their own “private interpretation,” all the while bragging how the proceeds will go to charitable organizations.  As time permits in the coming days, I will watch this movie and assess the entire picture in accordance with the scriptures, and place a lengthly entry(s) on this blog site.

Should a Christian watch this?  If you are like me and enjoy exposing error then I would say yes you should.  If you are mature in your faith and want to know what is in the movie in order to help others who may be beguiled by it, I would say watch it.  If, on the other hand, you are a baby Christian and drinking milk rather than eating meat, I would say do not watch it unless you can see it with a Christian friend(s) who is mature in the faith and can point out the plethora of errors in this movie.

Have A Blessed Holy Week And Resurrection Day,    Pastor Steve

2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Part 7

Bill Federer: Islam, Isis, The Caliphate, And The Muslim Brotherhood

~  Why do Muslims persecute Christians and Jews?  ~

Mohammed was born 570 A.D.  He lived in the environment of the former Persian Empire.  Koran means recitation.  The Arabic theology of “genie” comes from the former pantheon of Persian and Babylonian gods as does Allah, the moon god, symbolized by the crescent moon.  Mohammed and the Arabic people had very distorted and convoluted ideas of Christianity, believing in the Apocrypha and Heretical teachings.  They thought the Trinity consisted of the Father, Mary and Jesus. 

Mohammed started with 70 converts in Mecca in 610 A.D.  In 622 A.D. he was chased out of town and went to Medina.  [The part of the Koran written in Mecca is peaceful, the later part written in Medina is violent].  Mohammed was a religious, political and military leader.  Julius Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered.”  Mohammed started the similar Islamic strategy of “Immigrate, Increase, Eliminate.”  The Islamic theme of “Hudna” says that when you are weak, you make treaties until you are strong.”  Islam has a 1400 year history.  Muslims invaded Spain in 711 A.D.  In 732 A.D. they attacked France, and at the command of Pope Gregory, Charles Martel known as the “Hammer,” stopped them at Tours, France.  Charles Martel was grandfather to Charlemagne, king of the Holy, Roman Empire.

World Peace = World Islam.

Islamic Logic:  “It is wrong to kill the innocent, but those who reject Allah are guilty.”

In 846 A.D. the Muslims trashed Rome.  (Earlier they destroyed Jonah’s tomb).  Their philosophy is the same throughout their 1400 years.  They destroy the artifacts of other cultures, and when in power, murder anyone who refuses to bow to Allah. 

The Three Springs:  1)Arab/Persian Spring, 2)Turkish Spring, 3)Arab Spring 1928 to present. 

More Islamic Logic:  “It is all right to deny Mohammed to get elected, just so you do not deny his teachings.”

In the aforementioned Turkish Spring, Islam persecuted and destroyed the seven churches of Asia Minor mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3. 

The Crusades stopped the Muslims for two centuries.  They saved Europe.

In 1453 the Muslims sacked Constantinople and renamed the great city Istanbul.  The Muslims then attempted to attack Europe from the east.  Vlad Dracul (Known to Americans as Count Dracula, known in history as Vlad The Impaler) impaled 20,000 Muslims and placed their stakes in the open for all to see.  The psychological effect worked.  The Muslims saw this and turned back, leaving Romania.

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For an in depth and comprehensive history of Islam, refer to the blog category “Radical Islam, Where It Came From And Where It Is Going.”  Keep scrolling back, and strike “older posts,” until you come to several articles on the history of Islam.

 

Quotable Quotations

There has been a lot of talk through the years as to what Barack Hussein Obama’s faith really is.  If you are in doubt, here is a quotation that may help you to understand what he truly believes:

Note what B. Hussein Obama says in his own words. They are from his books entitled “Dreams of My Father” and “Audacity of Hope.”

In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.”

Do not forget, a Muslim can lie and say absolutely anything to anybody in order to advance their cause.  They must support their god Allah, however, when the situation(s) present themselves as expedient to do so.

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Other noteworthy information that Obama is a Muslim is the interview on U Tube with George Stephanopoulos, whereby Obama mentions his “Muslim faith.”  George corrects him by saying “Christian faith.”  Listen to it.

In other lengthly  speeches currently available on U Tube , he refers to the “holy Koran.” over and over and over.  That is a strange adjective for a Christian to use when describing that book.  Listen to it.

His statement that “America was no longer a Christian nation,” during his first inaugural, spoke volumes to anyone with ears to hear.

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This is merely scratching the surface.  Similar information is available world without end.

America, Is This Weather We Are Having A Permanent Thing?

~The following article is from the Peace River Shopper, March 17, 2015, page 35.  These articles are warning America to repent and get right with God before His wrath is unleashed upon our nation.  This particular article alludes to how God changes weather patterns in order to judge a people, and how He will do this in a major way at the end times Great Tribulation.

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This last year 2014 and now the new one 2015 are showing major weather storms.  We are breaking records right and left in snowfalls and wind.  Many people have been killed in traffic, especially freeways- interstates and turnpikes, and yet it is not over, for the seasons will be changing and bringing on more severe weather with tornados and hurricanes.

When the weather warms up, all the snow that has piled up will bring major floods.  Many people are having a tough time handling all of these weather problems including the loss of electricity.  Are these natural disasters the workings of mother nature, or might they be a vital message from God?  God’s holy word the Bible talks about weather disasters at the end of this age we are living in.  These weather conditions are becoming more frequent and more forceful.

Jesus Christ predicted that many natural disasters would be one of His signs preceding His return to our earth.  Unless America repents of her sins against God, He is going to bring about the most horrifying storms and natural disasters in modern history.  Folks, you can see normal weather cycles are changing.  Folks, God is punishing us through various natural disasters.  As our personal and national sins increase, so are the floods, tornados, severe snow storms and earthquakes.  What hurts your hearts is that the good will also suffer with the bad.

Folks, all of these disasters are just the beginning, and will get worse.  Our new year 2015 is off to a bad start already.  Weather forecasters are saying there is something unusual going on.  Most scientists are beginning to realize that the normal weather patterns are not holding and that something they have never experienced seems to be building up in the weather cycles.  They all agree that they are seeing climate change on a scale unprecedented in recorded human history.

God tells us that because our national sins increase, His wrath upon us will increase.  Should we be angry at God as He intervenes in our world to get our attention?  God wants to wake us up for our own good.  God uses the weather and other natural phenomena to humble us and make us realize just how weak we really are.  Folks, we can expect more severe weather and natural catastrophes to affect America because of our sinful ways.  Pray to God folks, to lift His curse on us.  Thank you!

WAKE UP AMERICA

2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Part 6

Jeff Swanson, The Mystery Of The Three Harvests Of Israel.  Matthew 24:21  “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever shall be.”  (KJV)

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The Great Tribulation will be seven years long.  The 144,000 will be God’s evangelistic tools during the first three and one half years.  God will use the angel and two witnesses during the later one half to proclaim the Gospel. Revelation 20:4  “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”   (KJV) Why Will There Be A Pre-Tribulation Rapture? 1)Israel is God’s prophetic time piece.  Israel will have the 144,000, while there is no church. 2)John is taken to heaven in Revelation 4:1. 3)The following scriptures suggest a pre-tribulation rapture:  Revelation 3:10, 17:12b, I John 2:18b, Luke 21:36. 4)The authority of the Church will not allow the Antichrist’s deception.  II Thessalonians 2:7b, 8a.

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The Seal, Trumpet And Bowl Plagues- The Seals last seven years.  The Trumpets last three and one half years.  The Bowls last one and one half months.

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Jesus will come as a thief in the night.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17.  There will be a ten day difference in the following:  1)The appearance seen by all.  Matthew 24:30.  2)The return.  Zechariah 8:3a. Barley Harvest.  144,000.  Revelation 7:9,14b (Second Rapture). Revelation 14:1-5.  Revelation 1:7  The Glorious Appearing. Matthew 24:30-31.  Third Rapture. Revelation 14:14,16.

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Three Raptures/ Three Harvests/ Three Resurrections The Greek word “parousia” means “His coming.”

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Note:  Part of Jeff Swanson’s seminar was beyond my previous knowledge.   For instance the multiple (3) raptures, harvests, and resurrections, hence the somewhat disconnected notes that I share with you.  He gave a very good talk; some of it was simply new to me.  Pastor Steve

How To Become Saved

The most important question that we all face this side of eternity, is how can I know for sure that I am going to heaven?  Can I be absolutely certain that I am bound for the streets that are paved with gold?  Yes you can know.  There is only one road to salvation and it is through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  All roads lead to Rome but only one road goes to heaven.  Man tries to perform good works in order to make himself pleasing in the sight of God.  All of man made religions are like this.  This mindset goes back to Cain in the book of Genesis chapter four.  Cain did not obey God and bring a sacrifice that was pleasing to Him.  Cain worked hard from the fruits of the ground (Cain was a tiller of the ground), but this is not what God asked for.  We are justified through God’s mercy and grace, solely through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Titus 3:4-7  “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Ephesians 2:8-9  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Jesus said many would come in my name.  How true that is.  Many claim a Jesus who is not eternal God.  False Christs and Messiahs abound in our day.  The real Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Godhead and the only begotten Son of the Father.  He is the only way to the Father:

John 3:36  “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

John 14:6  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Acts 4:12  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

(There is no one else who can save.  Mohammad, Buddha, Allah and Confucius cannot save.  They represent a few of the many false religious systems invented by man.  Allah is NOT another name for the Father.  Allah has no Son!  Allah is not true God.  Only Jesus Christ can save.  Jesus is Lord and the only path to the Father.)

When we truly trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we repent from sin and turn away from it.  The first words of Jesus’ earthly ministry were to encourage repentance in order to prepare people’s hearts for His kingdom:

Matthew 4:17  King James Version (KJV)   “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John the Baptist preached solely on repentance in order to prepare people’s hearts for Jesus.  All of the prophets in the old testament and apostles in the new testament preached repentance.  We repent (turn) from our sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  We must repent in order to be saved.  Jesus said:  “Repent or parish” in Luke 13:3,5.  A true born again experience (John 3:3) will give us a new heart and we will no longer like our former sinful life.  This is evidence of our salvation. 

II Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

When Christ truly enters our hearts, we have entirely new priorities and have the mind of God when we submit to Him.  Yes, Jesus’ righteousness is engrafted into us and His blood atonement on the cross makes us perfect in God’s sight.  Let me close with my favorite scripture about salvation: 

2 Corinthians 5:21  King James Version (KJV)  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

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Perhaps you are on this blog site for other reasons.  Maybe you “accidently” stumbled unto this article.  This is God’s Providence, as He died for your sins and wants for you to hear how to become saved.  If you know this message is true, respond in conviction to the prodding of the Holy Spirit.  Pray in repentance to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Trust for Him to do for you what you can never do for yourself.  Once Jesus truly resides in your heart, then you are saved, redeemed, born again, and a blood washed believer.  Read your Bible and pray daily.  Find true born again Christians to grow with.  You need to find a Christ exalting and Bible believing church and join it.  The first thing a born again Christian needs to do is to be water baptized in obedience to the divine commandments.  When you become saved, you will want to share your faith with others so that they can have what you have!  Learn a few key scriptures and learn how to share your testimony.

Questions?  I would be glad to try to answer them.  Just leave a comment at the end of this article.  If you desire privacy, I would leave my e-mail address as well.  Because Of Him, Pastor Steve 

 

 

Apostasy, A Great Falling Away Will Precede The Coming Of The Lord

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  King James Version (KJV)  “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 

 

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has joined the ranks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Of America, changing their doctrine in accordance with our culture, sanctioning sodomy, and stomping on their Bibles.  The aforementioned Lutheran denomination allows for active “gays” to serve as pastors in their churches.  The Bible calls this lifestyle not only sin, but an abomination.  Let it be known that in the entire history of man, homosexual marriage unions have never existed, and they not only exist now, but brazenly enter the church of those who call themselves Christians!  [What would the late Dr. D. James Kennedy think if he were still alive?  He was pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale.  Would this have happened if he were alive and serving as pastor?  I believe that if he were still living and could not keep the Biblical doctrine of marriage for one man and one woman ONLY, that he would have pulled his church out of that denomination  Their current pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, has said absolutely nothing about this ruling].

 

 

 

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Quotable Quotation

“Netanyahu is a Churchill in a world full of Chamberlains and I applaud his victory today and hope that it will result in the formation of a strong government.  As an American, I am embarrassed that the Obama Administration trusts Iran yet undermines and undercuts Israel.”

~Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)

2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Part 5

Bob Cornuke, New Findings In Biblical Archaeology

When I saw Bob’s name on the list of conference speakers, I wondered why he was addressing a prophecy conference.  After all, he calls himself an explorer and amateur archaeologist  …That is, until I noted he was studying and researching the site of the temple in Jerusalem.  The exact location of the temple is of the utmost importance in reference to the Israelites and their plans to rebuild it.  Prophecy students realize that this is all going to come into play during the Great Tribulation.

Bob thinks outside the box.  He throws tradition to the wind, and follows the Bible.  I purchased his book “Temple” and asked him to sign it.  He put the verse in the book that was his legacy, and represented his strategy throughout his career:  Mark 7:13  “Thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have   handed down; and you do many things such as that.”  (NASB)  Bob realizes that there is often a large time gap from the time of the Biblical historical events, and the time that they are “located.”  This gap is usually several hundred years!  Hence the facts become distorted and totally lost, and false traditions and guess work take priority.  Bob shared the following quotation in order to add even more clarity:  “Evidence is not the proof, the proper interpretation of evidence is the proof.”  Bob has studied the site of the original temple for over twenty five years, and received a lot of his information from Earnest Martin, the original scholar of Solomon’s Temple.  [Never one to leave his audience bored, he furthermore shared that there is yet another HUGE discovery on the bubble!  Stay tuned.]

The following passage reveals volumes of why historians, researchers and archaeologists do not have the correct site of either the temple of Solomon or Herod.  (Herod’s temple replaced Solomon’s temple).  Matthew 24:1-2   “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.  And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  Hence according to Jesus Christ, the Wailing Wall is NOT the temple, it is the part of the Fortress of Antonio!  In 70 AD, the time of the destruction of the temple, Josephus said:  “The temple was so destroyed, no one would know a temple was there.”  The Bible plainly tells us that the temple was built in the Stronghold of Mount Zion (II Samuel 5:7), the City of David, originating at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (II Chronicles 3:1).   *Modernists have messed up the location of Zion in Jerusalem.*  The scriptural key is that the temple is in Zion, the City of David (Psalm 2:6, 20, 138; I Kings 1:38-39, Joel 3:17, etc.).  A concept that further leads to clarity is the realization that from 400 A.D. onward, the temple site was located via mere speculation and tradition. 

Another important point made by Bob is that the Roman Forts that housed their soldiers looked exactly like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  That is, the huge rectangular slab of concrete upon which the Dome of the Rock (also known as the Mosque of Omar) sits was previously the Fortress of Antonio!  The Temple Mount was built by the Romans as the base of the Fortress of Antonio and has nothing to do with the temple of Jerusalem.  Bob and his team also found a Roman coin dated about 20 A.D. at the base of the Temple Mount area, adding further credence that this site was a Roman stronghold and not the site of the temple.

How ironic that orthodox Jewish rabbis are wailing at the wrong wall and that the wall to the temple does not even exist at the present.  But do you think they would trust the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:1-2) or an American archaeologist?  This is exciting to behold, and it does not get any more cutting edge than this.  The news is dramatic to the student of prophecy.  If Bob’s assertions about the location of the temple are true, then there is absolutely no conflict whatsoever about the Dome of the Rock being in the way of the Israelite’s desire to rebuild the temple.  The challenge is for the nation of Israel to understand this.  Interestingly, Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) toured the tunnels underneath the City of David with Bob, so that is indeed a start!  Why is all of this so important?  Because as soon as the Israelites break ground to build the temple, that is another sign of end times prophecy, the Great Tribulation period and eschatological events.

I would recommend every serious student of prophecy to purchase a copy of “Temple” by Bob Cornuke.  I am 60 pages into this 200 page book and it is excellent.  This book will further elucidate and clarify what you just read here.

Maranatha, Pastor Steve