Apologetics

Addressing PETA’s Connection between Drinking Milk and White Supremacy

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-PETA

I want to make a couple of comments about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This is an organization that is increasingly out of control and out of touch. Now going so far as to say that milk has long been a symbol used by — hard to believe — white supremacists. In other words, drinking milk is not only unethical to animals but also racist.

PETA embraces a worldview that elevates animals to equivalency with humans, which at the face of it ought to be ridiculous, or a reminder that we are far removed from a biblical Christian worldview. From their perspective, the truth is this: animals are fellow beings on a level playing field with human beings. Some, such as bioethics professor Peter Singer, have actually gone even further. From his perspective, a disabled newborn has less value than a chimpanzee.

As an animal lover, myself, I embrace the ethical treatment of animals, but hardly the ethics of Singer and the PETA organization. Instead, in the tradition of William Wilberforce — who fought against the tyranny of slavery, a lot of people do not know this, and founded the Royal Society of the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals — I am deeply committed to the humane treatment of pets and to the sanctified preservation of wildlife. All of that because I hold to a biblical world view, which is there exists a hierarchal structure in God’s creation. Within that construction, animals are to serve human beings, in order that human beings might rightly serve the King of Creation. Therefore, treating animals empathetically is biblically mandated; treating them as equals is blatantly misguided.

Like no other creature, human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), and that should make all the difference in the world. A child is to be cherished on a level that surpasses the cherishing of a chimpanzee. PETA’s rush to ascribe to a chimp the personhood reserved for a child is both wrongheaded and, I might even say, ridiculous.

Commitment to the virtuous treatment of animals is an ethical imperative as sacred to Christians as it is to PETA. They do not have any hold on this issue all by themselves. We say we are created in the image of God; as such we are commissioned to treat nonhuman life with the care and consideration afforded them by the Creator Himself. He is our protector, and we are to be their protectors. While we may eat lamb, as the Lord did during Passover celebrations (Luke 2:41–42; Matt. 26:17–19; cf. Exod. 12:1–28; Lev. 23:4–8; Deut. 16:1–8), we must never treat animals in a way that dishonors their Creator.

This all came up in my mind today reading this idea from PETA that, somehow or another, if you drink milk, there is some tie-in perhaps to White supremacism. Just ridiculous at the face of it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Thy (Animal) Kingdom Come, Our Will Be Done (Wes Jamison)

Is “Animal Rights” A Biblical Concern? (Dan Story)

PETA or Just PET? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Was Noah an Environmentalist? (Elliot Miller)

Film and Pre-Apologetics: How Noah raises Questions Only Christianity Can Answer (John McAteer)

Is the Animal Rights Movement Benefitting African Wildlife? (Dan Story).

Hiding Among the Animals (Harold O. J. Brown)

This blog adapted from the April 5, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Quote of the Day April 13, 2017

crosses-art-2092530 [b]His torment began in the Garden of Gethsemane after the emotional Last Supper. There Jesus experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis. Tiny capillaries in his sweat glands ruptured, mixing sweat with blood. As a result, Christ’s skin became extremely fragile.

The same night, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, disowned by Peter, and arrested by the temple guard. Before Caiaphas the high priest, he was mocked, beaten, and spat upon. The next morning, Jesus, battered, bruised, and bleeding was led into the Praetorium. There Jesus was stripped and subjected to the brutality of Roman flogging. A whip replete with razor-sharp bones and lead balls reduced his body to quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. As Christ slumped into the pool of his own blood, the soldiers threw a scarlet robe across his shoulders, thrust a scepter into his hand, and pressed sharp thorns into his scalp.

After they mocked him, they took the scepter out of his hand and repeatedly struck him on the head. Now Jesus was in critical condition. A heavy wooden beam was thrust upon Christ’s bleeding body, and he was led away to a place called Golgotha. There the Lord experienced ultimate physical torture in the form of the cross. The Roman system of crucifixion had been fine-tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify the horror.

At the “the place of the skull,” the Roman soldiers drove thick, seven-inch iron spikes through Christ’s hands and feet. Waves of pain pulsated through Christ’s body as the nails lacerated his nerves. Breathing became an agonizing endeavor as Christ pushed his tortured body upward to grasp small gulps of air. In the ensuing hours, he experienced cycles of joint-wrenching cramps, intermittent asphyxiation, and excruciating pain as his lacerated back moved up and down against the rough timber of the cross.

As the chill of death crept through his body, Jesus cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46). And in that anguished cry was encapsulated the greatest agony of all. For on the cross, Christ bore the sin and suffering of all humanity. And then with his passion complete, Jesus gave up his spirit.

Shortly thereafter, a Roman legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium, and into Christ’s heart. From the wound rushed forth blood and water, demonstrating conclusively that Jesus had suffered fatal torment.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Apologetics

Grieving the Palm Sunday Terrorist Attacks in Egypt

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Palm Sunday Attacks in EgyptI came into the studio today (April 10, 2017) with a great deal of sadness. As I was worshiping on Palm Sunday, in Egypt there were more than forty-four people killed and over a hundred injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Orthodox Churches, each carried out by Islamic jihadists. They were at Saint George’s Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, and then at Saint Mark’s in the coastal city of Alexandria. The attack came just after the leader of the Orthodox Church in Alexandria finished services.

An Islamic State affiliate released a video on Monday vowing that Egyptian Christians are their favorite prey. “God gave us orders to kill every infidel,” cried one of the militants.

Of course, this is nothing new. I think back to a short while ago in Syria. Muslim militants tried to force two Christian women and six Christian men to convert to Islam. Upon refusal, the women were brutally raped and then they were beheaded alongside the men. The same day, militants cut off the fingertips of a twelve-year-old boy in a failed attempt to force his Christian father to convert. When the father refused the forced conversion, he was tortured and subsequently crucified in adherence to the Qur’anic command “Cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” (Surah 8:12).

This has been going on in a place that was once won by the Word. The early Christian church was willing to do all because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They left their sacred fortunes, all that was dear to them, because they loved Jesus Christ. As a result, Asia Minor became Christian. But what was gained by the Word was retaken by the sword, the sword of Islam. Today, the mass genocide of Christians in the Middle East is squarely in the blind spot of so many Christians.

I suppose I start of the broadcast today by simply saying, Pray for the persecuted church, particularly in the Middle East, but all over the world, pray for the persecuted church. Pray. Prayer ultimately is firing the winning shot.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the April 10, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Sounding the Alarm for Transgender Regrets

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Sound the AlarmI was reading an article before I came into the studio, and quite frankly got emotional. The article was written by Sophia Lee. She is writing for World Magazine. The title of the article is “Sounding the Alarm,” which is subtitled: “Many transgender persons regret what they did to their bodies and souls, and some are pleading that others not repeat their mistake.”

Sophia writes as follows:

Robert Wenman was four years into being a “full-time” transgender woman in Ontario, Canada, when a police officer asked him: “You got all your legal rights by now. Why don’t you just enjoy life as a woman?”

The question left the then-LGBT activist stuttering: Here he was, training a group of law enforcers on transgender rights, yet he couldn’t answer a basic question: Why? Why was he still campaigning, still fighting?

The Canadian healthcare system, after all, had paid for his sex reassignment surgery and 10-day postoperative stay. The court changed his birth records from Robert John to Rebecca Jean. He had a secure job at the Canada Post with full access to female facilities, and his family accepted him. Wenman was the textbook case of a successful transgender woman—so why, he wondered, did he feel he was constantly battling something?

For days, Wenman stewed on the question and thought about all the ways he had blamed “intolerant society” for “the destruction in our souls.” Yet the deeper he searched his heart, the clearer he reached a painful acknowledgment: He had said he was fighting for transgender rights, but he was really fighting an internal battle. “I’ve been trying to fix things on the outside without fixing the inside,” he said.

The idea that anything needs fixing inside a transgender person is anathema to big media. Time calls transgender rights “America’s next civil rights frontier.” The New York Times has, in its own words, “forcefully” advocated a transgender “crusade,” with former Times editor Andrew Rosenthal calling those who question the transgender movement “ignorant, stupid people.” This year, National Geographic joined the crusade, dedicating its first issue to the emerging “gender revolution.”

What’s missing from these stories, however, are the silent laments of individuals who now see their transgender experience as psychological and physical mutilation.

I cannot read the entirety of the story, but let me just progress a little bit with what Sophia Lee wrote. She talked about how

Many underwent irreversible surgery and now regret it….

When a psychiatrist told Robert Wenman he had gender dysphoria and advised him to transition into a woman, every loose piece of his life seemed to lock into place: “Oh yeah! Of course that’s it: I’m really a woman in a man’s body” ….

So in 1991 when a transgender expert told him to transition into a woman, Wenman thought that would solve all his problems…He…began hormone therapy, and he changed his legal documents…he flew out to England and he underwent sex reassignment surgery, and then returned home to Canada in euphoria.

But, there was a problem.

At 6 feet tall with big, manly hands and a masculine voice, Wenman struggled to “pass” as a woman and dreaded being in public. One stranger’s weird look would provoke days of anguish…and kids…gaped at him…

Outwardly, Wenman…giggled with fellow trans “sisters” at local bars, and preached that gender is a psychological construct.

But after seventeen years as living as a woman, Wenman, now sixty years old, has transitioned back to a man. His surgery, unfortunately, is irreparable. Now hearing the stories of husbands who come out as transgender then leave their families he grieves. He says, “I want to shake them and scream, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing!’”

All of this and more in an article “Sounding the Alarm” by Sophia Lee. I tell you it is a very courageous thing that she did to chronicle these stories in face of the preponderance of the narrative in a different direction. Time magazine, New York Times, National Geographic, and it goes on and on. This is an unending narrative. It is very, very shrill. If you say anything counter to this narrative, as demonstrated in the article, you are called “ignorant” and “stupid.” “Be quiet! We have this under control.” But, in the meantime there is a silent holocaust. We are sowing to the wind while reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Tragic circumstance.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Apologetics

On the Necessity of Confessing Sin

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Confession of SinI was thinking, before coming into the studio today, about how we have lost the ability to think biblically. Having lost that critical ability, post-truth moderns are being quickly transformed from cultural change agents and initiators to cultural conformist and imitators. The problem is pop culture is always beckoning and, all too often, postmodern Christians are taking the bait. Instead of proper spiritual formation rooted in historic Christianity, believers are increasingly enamored with incessant novelty, ahistorical immediacy, spiritual impatience, and an immature exposition of biblical mandates. Here is just one example.

I am hearing it over and over again, as Christian leaders on television, radio, and print have embraced this new fad of telling devotes that continual confession of sin is not only unnecessary but it is tantamount to cheapening God’s unmerited favor or even worst it is kind of like mocking Him.

This of course despite the clear urging of John the apostle that his “dear children” (1 John 2:1 NIV) (so he is talking to believers) in the faith, those who have been forgiven on account of Christ’s name, are to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:8–10). Far from cheapening God’s grace, confession purifies our hearts; it restores the joy of our salvation.

By the way, the prayer of Jesus — this was the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray — includes the petition: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 NIV) (i.e., forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us). That kind of a petition, like the contrition of King David (2 Sam. 11:1–12:25; cf. Ps. 51), brings with it grace and peace.

Remember what David said? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17 NIV).

Think about James; he explicitly exhorted believers to “confess your sins to each other” and also to God (James 5:16).

Remember the grammatical construction used with the verb “confess” in 1 John 1:9? Not to get too technical, but this is a present active subjunctive. That is important because it denotes continual confession.

Each time we partake of the Eucharist, we are to examine ourselves and confess our sins so that we will not come under judgment (1 Cor. 11:27–32).

Continuous confession brings with it the certain promise that God is faithful, He is just, He will forgive our sins, He will purify us from all unrighteousness. Perhaps in place of embracing incessant novelty and instant gratification, we do well to look back to the early apostolic church and how they embraced a faith by which they overcame the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8-9 and the Forgiveness of Sins (Steven Parks)

Joseph Prince: Unmerited Favor (Warren Nozaki)

Thanksgiving and the F-A-C-T-S on Prayer (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apologetics

The Miracle Myth Debunked

CRI-Blg-Hanegraaff, Hank-Debunking Miracle MythOn yesterday’s broadcast, I spoke about the Jesus Game. The rules are you have to begin with an antisupernatural bias. Then you have to present a portrait of Jesus Christ that is wildly divergent from the biblical Christ. If your picture even remotely resembles the historical Christ, then you lose. On the other hand, if you present a Jesus who bears absolutely no resemblance to the Christ of the gospels, then you win. The more sophistry, sloppy journalism and sensationalism that you throw in, the better.

All that on yesterday’s show. Today, in light of yesterday’s show, I came across a book published by Columbia University Press. Catch this carefully; it is titled, The Miracle Myth: Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified. The title says it all. The author is a philosophy professor. His name is Larry Shapiro. And of course, he wins the Jesus Game by presenting a portrait of Christ that closemindedly rules out the supernatural because, by rule, only naturalistic explanations are allowed.

As far as history and archeology are concerned, violate them as wildly as possible. Whatever pseudohistorical input Shapiro provides is garnered extensively either from Bart Ehrman or Richard Carrier.

Now Bart Ehrman is well known for teaching that Jesus Christ was a false apocalyptic prophet. Why did he think that? Well, he reads Matthew 24, and he sees that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky” (v. 29 NIV), all this is going to take place within a “generation” (v. 34), it did not, and therefore, no amount of obfuscation can absolve Jesus Christ from being a false prophet. Of course, the problem with professor Ehrman is that he does not know how to read literature. In fact, he certainly does not know how to read the Bible in the light of the Bible because if he did, he would know that Jesus is simply using the apocalyptic language of the Old Testament prophets applied to cities in ancient times and now applying it directly and specifically to the fall of Jerusalem.

Then there is Richard Carrier. He is a fringe scholar who believes that the historical Christ never existed. Now this is a very, very novel notion because all credible scholarship today concedes that Jesus Christ was a historical being. Whether or not you believe He was the Christ, the Messiah, theanthropos, the God-man, He was a historical being. This is underscored not just by biblical manuscripts but by extrabiblical manuscripts.

Here you have Shapiro getting his material on history and archeology from these kinds of sources and quite concedes he does not know a whole lot about history, but he does know how to play the Jesus Game. Predictably, he ignores the apostle Paul as well as the famed creed that is codified in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7. This is a creed most Christians know. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living [available to be cross-examined], though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (NIV). Then he appears to the apostle Paul (v. 8). What is significant about that creed is it can be traced to mere months of Messiah’s murder. The short time span between the crucifixion and composition of the creed precludes legendary corruption. It has been very well documented. The creed is early. It is free from legendary contamination. It is unambiguous. Specifically, it is ultimately rooted in eyewitness testimony.

Here Shapiro wins the Jesus Game, but in the end loses the week that changed the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? (Daniel B. Wallace)

Jesus as “God”: Scriptural Fact or Scribal Fantasy? (Brian J. Wright)

Defending the New Testament Jesus (Lee Strobel)

How Christianity Led to the Rise of Modern Science (James Hannam)

Apologetics

Talking about the Week That Changed the World

CRI-Blog-Maier, Paul-Week that Changed the World

Hank Hanegaaff: We have a special broadcast on tap. It has to do with the resource available for those who support the ministry all this month. It is called The Week that Changed the World (DVD) by Dr. Paul Maier. This week, The Week That Changed the World, is a week in which Jesus Christ suffered fatal torment. It is a week in which He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It is a week in which we know that He was going to appear and give many convincing proofs that He had risen from the dead. In fact, it was a week that resulted in an absolutely transformed world. This is not called The Week That Changed the World in the sense of just one epic week but this is called The Week That Changed the World in the sense that this is the quintessential week in all of human history.

To talk about that, Dr. Paul Maier, his is a professor of ancient history. He has written some of the most exquisite books. I love his two novels, particularly Pontius Pilate and The Flames of Rome. He has written many nonfiction works, including Josephus: The Essential Works and Eusebius: The Church History, a book on the first Christian historian. He has also penned a lot of children’s books, and he was the author of The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction? Glad to have you on the broadcast!

Paul Maier: Coauthored with you, I might add. Good to be back, Hank.

Hank: We did that one together, didn’t we?

Paul: We certainly did.

Hank: You know that was a book that had a lot of significance because the subject never went away.

Paul: How true. We documented absolutely all the errors that Dan Brown made. It was an incredible book (The Da Vinci Code), I tell you. I’ve never seen a book where every time where Jesus or Christ or the church is mentioned is a lie either in whole or in part. I’ve never seen a book like that.

Hank: Well, let’s talk about the DVD. I mean, it is absolutely splendid. I’ve watched it a number of times. You know, I mentioned this in the opening of the broadcast, but this is not just a week, this is the week.

Paul: Indeed. It is the most carefully documented week also in the gospels. I’m glad for that because Jesus didn’t make a move, I think, during that week that hasn’t missed countered aside by some critic somewhere. I’m so glad we have such detail, especially in the gospel of John, as you well know.

Hank: Paul, I want you to talk about what leads up to Holy Week because, for many Christians, the thought of Lent raises the question: I’ve heard about that, but I’m not sure exactly what that’s all about and why it might be significant? Why is Holy Week, the forty days, so critical for Christians?

Paul: Well, because it’s one of the earliest church festivals. Easter, of course, was celebrated before Christmas was, and then, of course, what caused Easter and what led up to it, the church had to prepare for it. Indeed, this was one of the earliest festivals of the early church. It is the Paschal Season, they call it. Indeed, we have here the culmination of Jesus’ ministry. What happened from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is very critically important for the Christian faith and everyone else’s eternal fate.

Hank: You have gone through some very, very difficult situations in your life overall, as all of us have, but recently you suffered a stroke. I suppose when you suffer a stroke, you get a true evaluation of things in terms of what really matters not just for time but for eternity. Talk about that.

Paul: How very true that is. You realize you’re mortal after all. Yes, it was on Election Day, November 8; I had a mild stroke. I didn’t think I had a stroke at first. I wasn’t going to call a doctor, and I said, “No.” Then, I heard myself say “No,” and the way I talked with this slight slur that I’m using right now. I’m not fully over it. I hope to God that I could finally say, “Goodbye,” to this strange speaking ability of mine, but this is a problem right now, and I hope you hearers can be very generous and listen anyway, despite my attempts at handling the English language from a complicated vantage point.

Hank: You know, Paul, it’s interesting to me. I remember this with respect to my father as well. He was a speaker, then he got a fibrosis of the lungs, it encroached on his ability to assimilate oxygen, and so the very thing he had done all his life became very, very difficult for him. You’re one of the most eloquent speakers I’ve ever heard, and the proof of that is in The Week That Changed the World. The job you did in that DVD is absolutely unbelievable. It’s superb. It’s spectacular. How difficult is it to lose the very skill that God has given you, that you have used to teach so many students and lecture around the world?

Paul: Well, certainly it’s tough indeed. By the way, the DVD, however, was filmed before I had the stroke. I talk normally on that one. Again, it’s an odd coincidence it was Election Day, November 8. I think — a little joke here — it may have been my response to the options we had for presidential candidates, but I don’t want to get into politics at this point. Yes, it is very difficult. Again, there’s something satanic about the nature of hitting a person where he’s at his strongest. I think public speaking was my gift, following in many ways the work of my dad, who founded the Lutheran Hour years ago, Dr. Walter A. Maier, and then to find out that I have this slight speech handicap is very unnerving. Fortunately, people have been very generous. They claim they can understand me. I hope that goes for your hearers also.

Hank: I can certainly understand you. One of the first things that I want to drive home is the fatal torment of Jesus Christ. Your comments would be very helpful because there are many people that deny that Jesus Christ suffered fatal torment. For example, the Muslims will say that Jesus was not crucified, God made someone look like Jesus, and the lookalike was crucified in place of Jesus. How can we be certain from a historical and archeological perspective that Jesus did in fact suffer fatal torment?

Paul: When you find dispassionate, non-Christian, secular sources saying the same thing that the New Testament does in terms of Jesus suffering on the cross and dying, then, for goodness’ sake, that pretty well clinches the case for me. Whenever I find people claiming that somebody took his place, I say, “Wait a minute. This sounds like it comes from the Qur’an. This, of course, comes six centuries after the fact.” So, I always ask, “Which is the more reliable source of information: eyewitness testimony or something that happened six-hundred-plus years later?” Of course, the answer is obviously you have derivative material in the case of Islam, and by the way, we can now trace where that material came from. Unfortunately, the prophet Muhammad was in touch only with heretical Christianity in his formative years. It was a Gnostic heresy of Egypt under a Gnostic teacher, Basilidies was his name, who claimed that somebody else took Jesus’ place. This kind of remained with him. If only we would have had Muhammad in touch with normal Christianity, and if only there had been a good Arabic translation of the Old and New Testament available to him, and if only Christian missionaries had dealt more directly or kindly with him during his formative years, I cannot tell you how changed the world would be today. It is such an incredible shame that Muhammad was who he was and was not an Eastern martyr for Christianity or Eastern witness to Christianity. That’s one of the great might-have-beens of history.

Hank: Paul, there is a lot of conjecture on what the cross looked like. I was listening to Bill O’Reilly the night before last. He said of certainty that the cross Jesus was crucified on looked like a capital “T.” Jehovah’s Witnesses say that it was a torture stake. A lot of different forms of the cross. Is there any historical or archeological clue in terms of what the shape of the cross actually was that Jesus was specifically crucified on?

Paul: I don’t know how Bill O’Reilly can say of a certainty. There’s certainly not certainty. But, it is pretty clear that the regular looking cross (†), the so-called crux immissa, which is the typical cross we’re used to is the one because there is a titulus over Jesus’ head, which says, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” This would be very appropriate in a placard placed over Jesus’ head. I know in the tau cross, the T-shaped cross, they would have had this strung out along the top of the cross beam, that’s very unlikely, and by the way, you find a lot of evidence of mistaken logic in some of Bill O’Reilly’s material there. He claims that he spent all of ten months researching the life of Jesus. Well, you know, others of us spent our whole life times and don’t come up with pat answers. There’s a lot of picking and choosing in terms of cherry-picking the evidence there in that book. No, the regular cross we’re used to best answers all the problems.

Hank: This is one of the things you’ve given your life to. You have given your life to actually doing the first-rate primary research. This is very, very significant when it comes to the life of Jesus Christ, and most particularly when it comes to The Week That Changed the World.

Paul: This is so terribly important. We call it Holy Week of course, but what happened from Palm Sunday to Easter are momentous events in the life of Jesus, the culmination of His ministry, and really the beginning of the Christian faith as we know it. If it had gone any differently, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, we wouldn’t be talking, you wouldn’t have a program today, and nobody would be listening to me, either. It would be a different world. But, instead of that, we have the most successful single phenomenon in the history of humanity, namely the Christian church. There’s never been any other movement on Earth which has the loyalties of over two-and-a-half-billion people or three-billion people in the present generation alone. This could not have developed from a vacuum. This developed from situations that are well known in history and can be verified in the use of secular materials, which is my particular specialty. I love to compare what is explained in the New Testament gospels and epistles, then see what the outside sources for the ancient world say. Do they contradict what we have in the gospels, or do they agree? They agree magnificently again, and again, and again.

This blog adapted from the March 24, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast. Listen to the full interview here.

Apologetics

Speaking About Flawed Climate-Change Models

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Climate Change Models FlawedI want to mention an article I read in the Boston Globe, a very progressive Boston Globe. If I am not mistaken, it is owned by the New York Times. This article is by Jeff Jacoby, who I think has been a columnist for the Globe since 1987. The article is entitled “Why Are Climate-Change Models So Flawed?” And the answer: “Because Climate Science Is So Incomplete.”

The gist of Jacoby’s article is that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new director, Scott Pruitt, says we just do not know whether “CO2 is the primary control knob for climate.” Well, of course, hysteria broke out in the media and the broader American community.

Jacoby thought, “Well, let’s add a little discernment to the mix,” and starts explaining that “CO2 is certainly a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, but hardly the primary one.” This is about thinking. A lot of people don’t allow thinking; you have to lockstep march. But Jacoby is thinking out loud in this article, as it were, saying, “Water vapor accounts for about 95 percent of greenhouse gases. By contrast, carbon dioxide is only a trace component in the atmosphere: about 400 ppm (parts per million), or 0.04 percent. Moreover, its warming impact decreases sharply after the first 20 or 30 ppm.”

At any rate, Jacoby goes on to write that “Earth’s climate system is unfathomably complex. It is affected by innumerable interacting variables, atmospheric CO2 levels being just one.”

The list of variables that shape climate includes a whole bunch of things including:

Cloud formation, topography, altitude, proximity to the equator, plate tectonics, sunspot cycles, volcanic activity, expansion or contraction of sea ice, conversion of land to agriculture, deforestation, reforestation, direction of winds, soil quality, El Niño and La Niña ocean cycles, prevalence of aerosols (airborne soot, dust, and salt) — and, of course, atmospheric greenhouse gases, both natural and manmade. A comprehensive list would run to hundreds, if not thousands, of elements, none of which scientists would claim to understand with absolute precision.

The bottom line, according to Jeff Jacoby, is that “Pruitt got it right: Measuring human impacts on climate is indeed ‘very challenging.’ The science is far from settled. That is why calls to radically reduce carbon emissions are so irresponsible — and why dire warnings of what will happen if we don’t are little better than reckless fearmongering.”

Again, I was very, very surprised to see this article in the Boston Globe. The point, I guess, by Jacoby is that science is not about consensus, and the present policies are things that we ought to examine very, very closely, because one thing we know beyond a peradventure of a doubt: they harm the poorest of the poor. As I wrote in an article, which is available in The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated, you need to learn to ask the right questions, and ask the right questions in the right sequence. Overall, we all need to learn discernment skills. This is a discernment ministry, teaching people those very skills, hopefully, by modeling those skills in many of our outreaches around the world. —Hank Hanegraaff

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Prov. 18:17 NIV).

Apologetics

Evidence for the Historical Jesus in Non-Christian Sources

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Historical Evidence of JesusEvery now and then, I want to start the broadcast — I do not do it as often as I should — with an email question, or a Facebook question, or someone that texted in a question. A good example is a question from Jesse, who writes, “My faith has been shaken for doubt as well as for personal reasons because I read that there is historical and archeological evidence of Jesus being mentioned by Josephus and by Pliny and by other people of history but I read of evidence of Jesus being debunked due to the writings of historical figures having been altered in the process. So, is there really such evidence for Jesus?”

I love this question because there is really historical archeological evidence for Jesus the Christ. But, I also think this question is astute in that it evidences the fact that there is spin that has been produced by second and third century documents as well as credible evidence. In fact, from early external evidences provided by credible historians, historians like the Jewish Josephus, or the Roman Tacitus, or Suetonius, or Plinius, through those evidences, it is actually possible to piece together highlights of Christ and Christianity completely apart from the internal biblical evidences themselves. But, the contrast between these credible first-century external evidences and then later less credible sources could not be more stark.

Tacitus is rightly regarded as the greatest first-century historian of the ancient Roman Empire. While the Talmud rarely mentions historical details surrounding second temple Judaism, and where it does, it consistently muddles them. There is a big difference between Tacitus and the Talmud. Just two examples.

I think it is incredible to think that Tacitus — by the way, when we are talking about him, we are talking about a person who is widely considered to be the greatest first-century historian of the ancient Roman Empire — that he would provide credible external evidence for the biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and that at the hands of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Or for that matter, that the Jewish Josephus — I said this many times on the broadcast, he was writing to please the Romans — that he would provide ancient authoritative attestation to the authenticity of the sacred text, but that is precisely the case.

Therefore, I would say to Jesse, the words of the hymn writer still echo through the ages: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.” But, not only in His excellent Word but also in external credible evidences by which you can piece together highlights of the life of Christ, wholly apart from the biblical text itself.

—Hank Hanegraaff

“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whiter all things horrible and disgraceful flow, from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly, first those were seized who confessed they were Christians: next, on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of hating the human race” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44).

“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day” (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63–64).

For further related study, please consult the following books:

Has God Spoken (Thomas Nelson) by Hank Hanegraaff

Josephus, The Essential Works (Eerdmans) by Paul Maier

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (InterVarsity Press) by Michael Licona

This blog adapted from the March 14, 2017, Bible Answer Man Broadcast.

Apologetics

The Literal and Metaphorical Use of Fire in the Bible

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Fire MetaphorI begin today’s broadcast with just a word about metaphors. A good example is fire. You know fire can be very, very real, or it can be used, as it is many times in the Bible, in a metaphorical sense. When the Bible speaks of God’s throne as flaming with fire (Dan. 7:9), we intuitively recognize that an implied comparison is in view.

When we read of the lamps of fire before God’s throne, we apprehend that there is more going on than mere physical fire, because John actually tells us that what he is describing when he says the lamps of fire are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5).

Consider James; he described the human tongue as being set on fire by hell. Remember when he said, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body”? He goes on to say “it corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NIV). Now, James obviously does not intend for us to think that the tongue, which in itself is a metaphor for human language, is a literal fire that literally sets on fire the course of one’s life. Nor are human tongues or languages literally set on fire by hell. James is using the language of fire as a metaphor for the destructive power of words and, in the same way, uses the language of fire as a metaphor for the destructive nature of hell.

The Bible over and over again uses the metaphor of fire in different ways to describe jealousy (Deut. 29:20; Ps. 79:5), sexual lust (1 Cor. 7:9), unbridled passion (Rom. 1:27), and the like.

I think it is safe to say that figurative language is the principle means by which God communicates spiritual realities to His children. Why do I mention this at the beginning of the broadcast? Simply to reinforce in your mind that when you read the Bible literally, it means you take what the Bible says in the sense in which it is intended. Golden bowls full of incense. What are they? They are the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8).

—Hank Hanegraaff

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NIV).

For further related study, please access the following:

What Does it Mean to Interpret the Bible Literally? (Hank Hanegraaff)

When Literal Interpretations Don’t Hold Water (John Makujina)

This blog adapted from the March 15, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.