God: The Source of Morality

By Roger Marshall*

“Religion’s role in the issue of immorality” was the title of Dr. Victor Evelyn’s letter to the editor (Barbados Advocate, Nov. 20th, 2004). In that letter Dr. Evelyn claimed, “Morality exists, has existed and will continue to exist outside of religion.” After asserting that Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah are simply “different names for the same myth in whose honour so much blood is shed and so much hate and invective is unleashed”, he concluded that “Religion has been repeatedly a stumbling block to the development of morals in the communities of men.” To back up his claims and assertions he cited atrocities which were backed by religion (and more specifically “ Christians”) such as the Inquisition, the European slave trade, the displacement of the Native Indians of North America by “The religious Bible-carrying Europeans who tricked, cheated, robbed, massacred and marginalize them” and the Jewish holocaust which was engineered by Adolph Hitler who “regarded himself as doing ‘God’s’ work when as a Christian he brutalised and murdered the Jews.”

In his most recent letter entitled “Compassion and deep thought needed” (B’dos Advocate, Dec. 12th, 2004) he further asserted his belief that “all religions are fundamentally false” and that Christianity in particular has the “worse history of leading society into degenerate behaviours than any other.” In light of these comments it is thus apparent that Dr. Evelyn is either an agnostic or an all out atheist. It would be interesting to know his view on origins, since people of his persuasion are usually evolutionists, I will assume that he is probably one as well. As Nobel Prize – winning biologist of Harvard University, Dr. George Wald once said: “The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation (evolution); the only alternative, to belief in a single, primary act of creation (by God as taught in the Bible). There is no third position…” (parentheses and emphasis mine). In other words one either believes in supernatural creation or naturalistic evolution, and since Dr. Evelyn believes that God is a myth, then his only option for origins is atheistic evolutionism. His letter therefore raises the fundamental question as to what really determines morality. Is morality determined by human government, is it determined by the masses or is it determined by a transcendent moral governor of the universe i.e. God?

If human government determines morality then what gives people the right to dissent when governments legalise atrocious practises. For example, today many years after the events, we still denounce things such as the infamous transatlantic slave trade, apartheid and the Jewish holocaust, just to name a few. Currently many protest the U.S. lead invasion and occupation of Iraq etc. But if government determines morality then according to the rulers who orchestrated these acts of cruelty there was nothing wrong with their actions. On the other hand if morality is determined by the masses then why are governments seeking to crack down on things such as child pornography, the illegal drugs trade and other forms of vice? Because to the masses involved in these practices there is absolutely nothing wrong with their nefarious activities.

If man is just an animal, the end result of a long purposeless series of genetic mistakes (mutations), as the atheistic proponents of Darwinian evolution believe, then where did man get his concept of morality? How could an animal (with its basic animalistic instincts of getting all it can at the expense of the weakest, in the brutal evolutionary “dog eat dog” battle of survival of the fittest) make a transition to become interested in things such as right and wrong, social graces, etiquette, protocol, reverence, truth, honesty, manners, gratitude, fairness and kindness etc.? In fact it is the survival of the fittest philosophy (the get all you can mentality no matter who you hurt in the process, because you only go around once, after all, when “yah dead yah dead”) that is used by many to explain and justify mankind’s history of savagery against his fellowman. This is seen as man just naturally exhibiting his inherent animal instincts (inherited from his wild animal ancestors in the jungles of Africa where human evolution is said to have started) and therefore it is believed that nothing is intrinsically wrong with such actions. It’s just how life is “eat or be eaten.”

In fact, if man is just an animal morality does not really exist, it is only a subjective construct of the human mind (like the concept of God, as the atheist tell us) therefore it all depends on who gets the upper hand in society to impose his or her concept of morality on the others, again in the age old battle of survival of the fittest. If this is the case then why would people of Dr. Evelyn’s persuasion complain about atrocities that have been carried out under the banner of religion (or Communism or Nazism or even Democracy for that matter)? If Darwinian evolution is true then we would have to conclude that such actions, even under the guise of religion, were and are just testimony of the many ingenious ways by which man the animal instinctively carries out his survival of the fittest mentality by any means necessary. In other words we are just witnessing the evolutionary laws of the jungle at work in all spheres of human society.

On the other hand, if there is a moral governor of the universe who sets the rules of right and wrong then men are first accountable to Him for their actions, and secondly they are also accountable to each other (since man is created in the image of God) for whether or not they conduct their lives according to those rules which God has imposed upon the consciences of all men, even though may not of heard about or read the Bible. As the Bible itself says: “For when Gentiles (i.e. non – Jewish people), who do not have the law (i.e. the written law of God given to the Jews in Mosaic covenant), by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them, in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2: 14 – 16; parentheses mine). So more than morality existing outside of religion morality actually emanates from God Himself. The choice is left to man to live his life according to the dictates of his God – given conscience or else stifle his conscience and proceed in his evil deeds. The consequences of the latter, as human history shows, are devastating.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2004

Examining The Five-Fold Ministry

By Roger Marshall*

An integral part of dominion theology or “Kingdom Now” theology is the doctrine of the five-fold ministry. It is based on Eph. 4: 7-13, which reads: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Using these verses those who advocate the doctrine of the five-fold ministry claim that God is restoring to His church the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in order to perfect the saints and prepare them to rule or “take dominion” over cultures, cities, governments, nations etc.

However, on a very important point it should be noted that Eph. 4: 11 is not teaching a five-fold ministry at all since according to the Greek grammatical construction which uses “some” to introduce the words “pastors and teachers” together, it is presenting this gifting as belonging to one group of persons. Hence the pastors are the teachers; furthermore the Greek word translated “and” can mean “in particular.” Therefore it can be translated as follows: “And he gave some to be pastors in particular teachers.” This highlights or emphasises the fact that those who have the role of caring for or shepherding the flock are also responsible for feeding or teaching the flock. They are called to be pastor-teachers or teaching shepherds (see John 21: 15-16; Acts 20: 28; 1 Tim.5: 17; 1 Pet. 5: 1-2). In light of these facts the so-called five-fold ministry identified in Eph. 4: 11 should really be seen as a four-fold ministry.

Nevertheless, I think that since the churches through out the years, especially the evangelical churches, have always had evangelists, and pastor- teachers, we should rather see the so-called restoration of the five-fold ministry as really the restoration of a “two-fold” ministry; that of apostles and prophets. I say this because in past times persons in the evangelical churches did not readily hold the offices of apostle and prophet. What is now intended is that the already existing evangelists and pastor- teachers are to come under the authority of the newly “restored” apostles and prophets. This objective is justified by their interpretation of Eph. 2: 19-21 which reads: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”

However, according to Eph. 2: 19-22 the church universal is already built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets of the first century church. Interestingly enough the Greek grammatical construction used in Eph. 2: 20 is the same as in Eph. 4: 11 about the pastor-teachers. Hence the apostles are the prophets. The church’s foundation is actually the doctrine of the apostles of Christ, which is divine revelation from God preserved for us as Scripture (see Acts 2: 42; Eph. 3: 1-5; 2 Pet. 3: 15-16).
Every time we read the New Testament and quote or correctly preach from it we are preaching and teaching the apostles doctrine. As such we are still subject to their apostolic authority and office, though dead they still speak. Therefore whether we realise it or not the ministry of the apostle-prophets of the early church was never lost that would merit a restoration of their office.

Is the office of Apostles being restored today?

Those who claim to be or may aspire to be apostles, as a unique and distinctive ministry in the body of Christ, need to ask themselves the question; in what sense are they apostles or in what sense could they become apostles?

The answer to this question could either validate or invalidate the claim that God is restoring the office of apostles to the church. I say this because the term apostle was used in basically three different ways in Scripture.

First the term apostle, from the Greek apostello means to “send” and was used in a general sense referring to all believers as “sent” ones (cf. John 17: 18; 20: 21). Since in this sense all believers are already apostles or “sent” ones there is no need for this ministry to be restored to the body of Christ because it never ceased.

The second way the term apostle was used was to describe missionaries/messengers sent out on missions by and subject to the churches (see Acts 13: 1-3; 14: 14; 15: 22; Phil. 2: 25; 1Thess. 2: 6). Again in this sense there is no need for a restoration of this type of apostolic ministry because it never ceased.

The third way the term apostle was used in Scripture was in the unique sense that applied only to the apostles of Christ. These men were personally chosen by Jesus himself and were given authority over the church to instruct and guide it in all aspects of faith and practice. They gave divine revelation that recalled the past, explained the present and unveiled the future ministry of Christ to his church, Israel and the entire world (cf. Jn. 14: 26; 16; 13; Acts 2; 42; 15: 1-29; 2 Pet. 1: 12-16; 3: 2-16; Jude 3-4, 17-18; Rev. 1:1-3).

To be an apostle in this sense a person had to be an eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly ministry, death and resurrection (Acts 1: 21-22;cf. Luke 24: 44-48; 1 Cor. 15: 7-8; 9; 1; 1 Pet. 5: 1).

They demonstrated miraculous sign gifts (e.g. the instantaneous healing of the sick and physically disabled etc.) that confirmed their message was from God (Mk. 16: 17-18; Acts 2: 43; 3: 29-30; 5: 12-16; 19: 11-12; 2 Cor. 12: 12; Heb. 2: 1-4).

Their teachings and writings were regarded as Scripture on par with the Old Testament Scriptures and were, and still are not to be changed, tampered with or altered in any way. To do so was, and still is to be accused (see Gal. 1: 6-9; 2 Tim 3: 16-17; 2 Pet. 3: 15-16; Rev. 22: 18-19).

This form of apostolic ministry is the only type that we can legitimately say ceased with the death of all those who had fit the criteria. Furthermore their unique office can never be restored since no one today fits the criteria. However, I would add that although the apostles in this last category have all died, their ministry has never ceased since the church today is still founded on their doctrine. Therefore all three categories of apostles and their presence in the church throughout church history, whither in the general sense, the missionary sense, or the unique sense that refers to the irreplaceable apostles of Christ, invalidate the claims of the restoration movement within Dominion Theology that God is restoring apostles to the church. One cannot restore what has never been lost.

Therefore what should we make of the claims within the restoration movement about the restoration of apostles? When we examine the literature these claims amount to nothing more than an attempt to usurp authority over the churches in a sense that belongs only to the first century apostles of Christ. For example restoration apostle Terry Virgo in his book Restoration in the Church says: “The elders often feel trapped within the framework and long for an outside voice to authoritatively proclaim the way forward. Indeed, it is very often the elders who most feel the need for the apostolic ministry…Traditional churches are feeling the pressures of new life. Charismatic gifts are emerging; a desire for freer worship is being expressed. How are leaders to proceed? Many are facing such issues and do not know which way to turn. Conferences for likeminded pastors will not provide the full answer, nor will charismatic organisations. God’s way is to give apostles and prophets. He has simply appointed men with different gifts to do different jobs”(emphases mine).

Of Elders, Bishops and Pastors

However, in New Testament teaching the role of the pastor-teacher is key to the survival of the local church. Whereas we tend to divide up leadership in the contemporary church into separate offices such as elders, pastors and bishops, in the New Testament an elder, pastor and bishop were actually one and the same person.

In 1 Tim. 3: 1-2 a bishop is identified as a pastor-teacher.

In Tit. 1: 3-7 an elder is identified as a bishop.

In 1 Pet. 5: 1-2 an elder, pastor, and bishop is clearly identified as one and the same person. The passage reads: “The elders [presbyteries i.e.presbertery] which are among you I exhort who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed [poimaino i.e. shepherd/pastor] the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [episkopeo; from which we get the term bishop] thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”
This fact is also expressed in Acts 20: 17-18, 28.

Bible expositor John Mac Arthur in his book Answering the Key Questions About Elders p. 8, points out that the term elder emphasises the spiritual maturity of the person, the term pastor emphasises his role in caring, feeding and guarding the flock of God, while the term bishop emphasises his function, which is actually that of an overseer.

Therefore as Pastor Michael G. Moriarty says “an elder is just a different word describing the same office as a pastor or bishop” (cited in The New Charismatics, p.200).

In the days of the early church the churches were lead by a plurality of elders/pastors/bishops (Acts 14: 23; 20: 17; Tit. 1: 5). This something we should probably strive to have restored.

The role of the pastor-teacher is to safeguard the flock from false teachers by teaching them sound doctrine (Acts 20: 28; I Tim.4: 6, 11, 13; 5: 17; 2Tim. 2:15;Tit. 2: 1).

What about prophets?

The concept of New Testament prophets appears to be a signification identifying persons gifted in edifying, exhorting and comforting the church such as Judas (not Iscariot) and Silas (see Acts 15: 32; cf 14: 22). Hence the gift of prophesy in the New Testament context seems to have been the ability given by the Spirit to some to give inspired exhortation, edification and comfort to the church (see 1 Cor. 14: 3, 24-25).

These prophecies or exhortations were to be judged for correctness (1 Cor. 14: 29).

These prophets were subject to authority of the apostles (1 Cor. 14: 37).
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2005

Darwinism the Perfect Rational for Racism

By Roger Marshall*
Theology of racism was the title of Mr. Orlando Marville’s article, which appeared in the October 5, 2003 edition of the Sunday Sun. In that article he sought to lay much of the blame for the ills of modern-day racism at the feet of an erroneous “Christian” theology which permeated vast segments of 19th century European thought. However, while contending (with good grounds) that there was a massive revision of history which de-Africanised the Egyptians and instead Europeanised them, it is amazing that he is so prepared to accept as fact an even greater revision of history which claims that mankind evolved from ape-like soulless animals in the jungles of Africa.

While it is true that the Bible has been used to propagate theories which claimed that the African was an inferior species not imbued with a human soul which in turn gave a rational for enslaving millions of Africans in the Americas, it must be bourn in mind that such theories are no where taught in the Bible neither have they been taught by true Biblical Christianity. The true Judeo-Christian worldview of humanity states that God
“…has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…”
(Acts 17:26). In other words all men regardless of ethnicity are created equal.

On the hand Darwin’s theory of evolution gives the perfect rational for the theories of racial superiority and inferiority. In the fact the full title of Darwin’s book published in 1859 was, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races In The Struggle for Life. In Darwin’s subsequent book The Decent of Man he espoused his belief that different races of people evolved at different levels and that some were closer to ape-like creatures than others. In fact Darwin believed that the Australian Aborigines were the most primitive and the most closely related to our supposed ape-like ancestors.

It was Darwinism, which gave Hitler the “scientific” rational to carry out his atrocities against the Jews and other “lower races.” As Robert Clark observed, Adolf Hitler “…was captivated by evolutionary teaching – probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas – quite undisguised – lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf – and in his public speeches…Hitler reasoned…that a higher race would always conquer a lower”(Darwin: Before and After by Robert Clark, p. 115). In his own words at the 1933 Nuremberg party rally Hitler said that a “higher race subjects to itself a lower race…a right which we see in nature and which can be regarded as the sole conceivable right”(Race and Reich by J. Tenenbaum, p. 211).

Darwinism is also central to Karl Marx’s ideology which inspired the atrocities carried out by communist monsters such as Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung (just to name a few) in which over 150 million people were exterminated all in the name of evolution’s survival of the fittest philosophy.

Thus Darwinism – the hub of much of Pan Africanism’s high self-esteem motivational trust, which proudly proclaims that the Black man was the original man to evolve from the apes in Africa – is in itself an inherently a racist philosophy favouring any subsequent “race”(in this case the white race) which would later subjugate the preceding race as epitomised by the transatlantic slave trade and its many varied after effects which are still being felt today.

Maybe Pan Africanists who embrace Darwinism (like Mr. Marville) have not thoroughly thought through their philosophy, but for them to abandon the Biblical doctrine of origins in which all men are created equal by God (which gives hope and scope for repentance and racial reconciliation) to replace it with an inherently racist, atheistic evolutionary philosophy (which offers no hope or scope for repentance and racial reconciliation) is a sure recipe for perpetuating racial inequality.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2003

Are All Music Styles Truly Appropriate for Communicate the Gospel Message?

By Roger Marshall*


“ The Contemporary Christian Music side would say that music is neutral. Therefore I as a Christian can use any type of music that I want. Jazz, rock, punk, rap, disco, heavy metal, pop, country, rhythm and blues, etc. reggae, you name it; any thing goes to worship the Lord. It is all appropriate and no lines can be drawn except those of personal taste. As long as my music mentions God in some way and it’s useful for evangelism. The critics on the other hand says music is not neutral it has the capability of communicating imbalance and sensuality. It can confuse the spiritual effectiveness of the message therefore I as a Christian must draw a line. Any music that cannot appropriately communicate the message is unfit to use for the worshipping of the Lord. My personal taste is subject to scriptural conviction. Evangelism is a result of my right relationship with God.” (Tim Fisher, The Battle for Christian Music, 1992, p. 56).
The “any kind of music goes” mentality of many contemporary gospel music lovers finds expression in what is known as The Christian Rockers Creed that was published in the November 1988 edition of Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM). It says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all music was created equal, that no instrument or style of music is in itself evil–that the diversity of musical expression which flows forth from man is but one evidence of the boundless creativity of our Heavenly Father.”

However, this argument fails to take into account the fact that mankind is fallen and his fallenness surfaces in every aspect of his culture including the musical styles he creates. Since our fore parents Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it stands to reason that their children in all cultures would be capable of creating both good and evil/bad music, and that has nothing to do with the lyrics which is another equally important subject altogether.

Is music truly neutral? Is good or bad behaviour in listening to music only determined by the lyrics or does the music itself play a significant part in determining behaviour? Which side does the evidence best support?

In seeking answers to these questions one should bear in mind that the use of a piece of music in a secular context is not the determining factor that makes it bad, by the same token music used in a Christian context does not make it good. Secular singers can be praised for using good music for their songs, as well as Christians can be blamed for using bad music for their songs. Music should be judged on the merits or demerits of what it incites people to do, however subtle those actions might be. Many music researchers have known for a long time that music can incite anger and violence, stir up courage, cause tears or excite lustful passion etc., and I must stress these influences are apart from lyrics. In short music creates moods.

For example Kisonians wouldn’t use a funeral dirge or a ballad for a road-march tune on Kadooment day or Carnival time, it wouldn’t create the desired mood. Neither do couples use regimented music for romantic evenings of dinner with the lights turned down low, it just wouldn’t create the right mood! Experiments have shown that the right style of music helps to sooth mental illnesses, increase productivity at the office, relax cows thereby making it easier to milk them and even influence proper plant growth. Music definitely is not neutral!

As far back as the 1960’s and into the 1970’s musicologist and neuroscientist Professor Manfred Clynes conducted experiments that showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that music is not neutral. It was in the 1960’s that Dr. Clynes invented the original CAT computer that measures the brain’s responses to particular sensory stimuli. He used it to discover that people’s brains produce remarkably similar patterns when presented with the same colour and SOUND stimuli. From his experiments, which involved people of both sexes from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds from several places around the world, he discovered that there are musical tones for inducing different emotions such as love, hate, grief, joy, reverence, anger and sex.

In light of Dr. Clynes’ findings it would serve gospel artists well to be very careful that the musical styles they employ are not in any way inducing anger and hate or exciting erotic passion.

Dr. Clynes does not stand alone in his analysis of the psychoactive nature of musical sounds. They are many other professionally trained musicians who through the years have attested to the non-neutrality of music, a few examples are as follows:

Max Schoen, 1940 – “Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses. The medical, psychiatric and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming that it frankly amazes me that anyone should seriously say otherwise” (Dr. Max Schoen, The Psychology of Music, 1940).

Howard Hanson, 1942 – “Music is a curiously subtle art with innumerable, varying emotional connotations. It is made up of many ingredients and, according to the proportions of these components; it can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarising, philosophical or orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for good” (Dr. Howard Hanson, American composer, conductor, and teacher, Director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 99, p. 317)

Dimitri Tiomkin, 1965 – “The fact that music can both excite and incite has been known from time immemorial. … Now in our popular music, at least, we seem to be reverting to savagery … and youngsters who listen constantly to this sort of sound are thrust into turmoil. They are no longer relaxed, normal kids” (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Aug. 8, 1965; Dr. Tiomkin is a famous composer and conductor).
William J. Shafer, 1972 – “Rock is communication without words, regardless of what ideology is inserted into the music” (Dr. William J. Shafer, Rock Music, 1972).

Steven Halpern, 1978 – “Words are incidental at best, or monotonous and moronic as usual. But the point is, that they don’t matter. What you dance to is the beat, the bass and drums. And with this mix and volume, not only is the beat sensed, but literally felt, as this aspect of the rhythm section takes precedence over melody and harmony” (Dr. Steven Halpern, Tuning the Human Instrument, 1978, p. 14).

Simon Frith, 1981 – “Most rock records make their impact musically rather than lyrically. The words, if they are noticed at all, are absorbed after the music has made its mark” (Simon Frith, sociology professor at University of Warwick in England, Sound Effects, 1981, p. 14).

Eddy Manson, 1983 – “Music is a two-edged sword. It’s really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits or make you sick without knowing why” (Eddy Manson, Oscar-winning film composer, quoted by David Chagall, Family Weekly, Jan. 30, 1983, pp. 12-15).

Adam Knieste, 1983 – “Music is a two-edged sword. It’s really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits, or make you sick without knowing why. Whereas mellow tones can relax you, loud grinding music can cause blood pressure to rise, leading to headaches and an anxious feeling” (Family Weekly, January 30, 1983; Dr. Knieste is a musicologist who studies the effects of music on human behaviour).

David Tame, 1984 – “Music is a form of language … music is more than a language. It is the language of languages. … Like human nature itself, music cannot possibly be neutral in its spiritual direction” (David Tame, musical researcher, The Secret Power of Music, 1984, pp. 151, 187).

Carol Merle-Fishman and Shelley Katsh, 1985 – “Music is a form of non-verbal communication” (Carol Merle-Fishman and Shelley Katsh, music therapists and instructors at New York University, The Music Within You, 1985, p. 206).

Gilbert Rouget, 1985 – “… what we need to remember is that music has a physical impact upon the listener and that it produces a sensorial modification in his awareness of being. This physical impact, of course, is what pop music is consciously striving for” (Gilbert Rouget, Music and Trance, 1985, p. 120).

Bob Larson- “…There is evidence, for instance, to suggest that when the beat overrides the other elements in a song the communication level is significantly changed to one which is primarily physical and often specifically sexual” (Bob Larson, cited in John Blanchard, Pop Goes The Gospel, 1983, p. 17).

Leonard Bernstein, 1990 – “Music is something terribly special … it doesn’t have to pass through the censor of the brain before it can reach the heart … An F-sharp doesn’t have to be considered in the mind; it is a direct hit, and, therefore, all the more powerful” (Leonard Bernstein, cited in Katrine Ames, “An Affair to Remember,” Newsweek, Oct. 29, 1990, p. 79).

Robert Shaw, 1998 – “I believe all the arts are moral. I can’t see how any of the arts can be neutral” (Kurt Woetzel, “Is Music Neutral? An Interview with Robert Shaw,” distinguished choral music director, FrontLine, September-October 1998, p. 11).

Having established the fact that music is not neutral it would be instructive for the seeker of truth to honestly look at the impact which utilising certain contemporary musical styles has had on the gospel music arena. Even the secular world has been realising the conflict of interest, one wonders why many Christians cannot.

Time Magazine once observed: “In a sense all rock is revolutionary. By its very beat and sound it has always implicitly rejected restraints and has celebrated freedom and sexuality.”(Time January 3, 1969, emphasis mine). Bearing this in mind consider a Newsweek article which did a feature on contemporary gospel music some years ago. The artist being featured at the time was Britain’s Sheila Walsh. Following is what the article had to say about one of her stage performances: “Your love has taken hold and I can’t fight it’ – keeping it unclear whether or not the lover is Jesus. At the Estes Park concert Britain’s Sheila Walsh – who has her own BBC television show – artfully mixed the sacred and sexy. Emerging from clouds of machine make smoke on a darkened stage … Walsh held her arms out to form a shadowy crucifix. But when the beat quickened, bright lights suddenly revealed a strutting Walsh in shinny white spandex pants, an oversized white shirt, white lace gloves and glittered hair.” (Newsweek, August 1985, emphasis mine).

Sixteen years later Newsweek carried another article featuring the gospel band Pillar. Following is what the article had to say about one of their performances: “ Are you ready to rip the face off this place screams the lead singer of Pillar. A hyped up crowd of teens 6000 strong goes nuts. The aggressive rap/rock band launches into a pummelling kick off number. The surly singer pounds the stage with his steel toed boots sweating right through his baggy army fatigues and black bandana. He jesters like the member of some vicious street gangster as he screams and roars into the mike his arms swinging low as if on the way to some rude phallic move. This crude move is as integral to rap-rock as a blown kiss is to a lounge act and is usually accompanied by a testosteroned explosion of expletives. The singer’s hands slaps down on his thigh and it stays there and gripping his pants leg with conviction he screams ‘Jesus Christ is he in your heart!’…” (Newsweek, July 2001). By the way Pillar is a group that has been favourably identified by CCM Magazine as sounding much like the secular group Rage Against the Machine a group that promotes rape, rebellion and incites anger and destruction.
Speaking of rebellion, lead singer of the ‘gospel’ rock band Audio Adrenalin which has sold more than 2 million albums since 1992, Mark Stewart said: “I think rebellion and Christianity go together…singing about sex and drugs is the easiest thing you can do its old by now. So pretty much the most rebellious rock and roll person you can be is a Christian rock front man because you get people from every side trying to shut you down.”

These images of sensuality and rebellion are further portrayed on several gospel music album covers and in the music videos where the artists, as in the case of some of the women, sometimes express themselves with very sultry face, lip and eye expressions (see for example the cover the album The Kiss by Trin-I-Tee 5:7) and with the sultry voice to go with it just like their sexy secular counterparts, or some times, as in the case of some of the men the artists may look more like thugs, rebels, or rude boys rather than ministers of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. There is even a group that calls themselves the Gospel Gangsters!

What is the reason for these kinds of developments in the gospel music arena you may ask? The answer lies in an uncritical acceptance of any and every music style, all the while ignoring or downplaying the intrinsic peculiar cultural baggage that inevitably goes along with the art form. Charisma magazine traced the origins of these developments in an article written by Dr. Richard Lovelace, a Pentecostal minister and professor of church history at Gordan Cornell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton Massachusetts. He said: “As I worked to bring teenagers to Christ I began to encounter the new rock culture. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and the rest. I was fascinated by the skill and creativity of these songs the most popular music since Johann Struss…I began to pray that God would some how give us a Christian Woodstock. Since the late 60’s, God seems to have been answering”(Charisma, Feb. 1985). For those who may be unaware, the 1969 Woodstock concert has been described as 3 days of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. People made love right in the open on the grass as they partied day and night.

I don’t suspect that Dr. Lovelace wanted to see that kind of activity being conducted in his vision of a “Christian Woodstock” but there can be no denying that there is a moral decline being witnessed in contemporary gospel music circles, and a lot of it has to do with certain music styles that are being employed as well as the decline of clear Biblically based lyrics. Musician Danny M. Sweatt made a very insightful statement when he said: “The obscure meaning of most gospel music is both a symptom of and a contributor to the general decline in our nation” (Church Music: sense and nonsense, 1981, p.11).

He also said: “Some churches that would never allow heresy to be preached from the pulpit allow it to be included in the lyrics of songs. Error is no less damaging when it is sung. Falsehood so couched may actually be more damaging because of its subtlety”(Church Music: sense and nonsense, p.7).
Of course, as pointed out before, they are those who will argue that the adaptation of all musical styles and even the employment of ambiguous lyrics (known as cross over music) in gospel music is all about “redeeming the culture” and converting the lost. But in light of the effects being witnessed in the gospel music arena one is forced to ask, as one researcher did, “Who is really converting whom?” I think the evidence speaks for its self.

John Fisher and Richard Taylor were also men of great insight when they said: “Some art forms have been created to express certain philosophies and are so wedded to those philosophies that they convey that kind of out look…we can’t assume that we simply plug in a Christian message and every thing will be okay”(John Fisher and Richard Taylor, Solid Rock)

Richard M. Taylor said it this way: “We cannot foster an erotic type of music and expect to succeed in avoiding the erosion of standards and ideals. Rock music has a message and it is the message of sexual permissiveness. As music affects your body you instinctively want to put motions to it. So what kind of motions fit rock music? Basically sensual motions. If the message of rock produces that sort of response, then it’s not good music for the Christian”(Richard M. Taylor, A Return to Christian Culture).

He further said: “We cannot change the basic effect of certain kinds of rhythm and beat simply by attaching to them a few religious or semi-religious words. The beat will still get through to the blood of the participants and the listeners. Words are timid things. Decibels and beat are bold things, which can so easily bury the words under an avalanche of sound. … There are music forms, whether secular or sacred, which create moods of pensiveness, of idealism, of awareness of beauty, of aspiration, and of holy joyousness. There are other forms of music that create moods of recklessness and sensual excitement. Surely it doesn’t take much judgment to know which forms are most appropriate for religious functions” (Dr. Richard M. Taylor, The Disciplined Lifestyle, 1973, pp. 86, 87).

Almost two decades ago the Assembles of God in the U.S.A. took a stand against the slide into sensuality that is persistently occurring in the contemporary music industry. It was in 1987 that delegates to the General Council meeting of the Assemblies of God voted to express “concern and disapproval of certain Christian artists whose appearance and stage performances contradict in form, substance and spirit that for which the Pentecostal movement stands.”

The resolution that was adopted at their annual meeting for that year stated further: “The church of Jesus Christ has come under special attack from Satan through the entertainment media and has been provoked to emulate the world in its degraded art form.” Delegates said that the spread of Rock music to the Christian community poses a direct threat to the holiness required by Scripture.

Evangelist Joseph Pyott, an ordained Assemblies of God minister originated the resolution as the result of a Stryper concert in his area. Pyott said the “so-called Christian rock group…dress like devils and wear Spandex costumes…I thought their performance was inappropriate and contradicted everything the Gospel stands for.’ Such performers ‘may use the right words, but in my opinion their performance and their dress contradict the things they say.”

The resolution was passed at the 2 million-member denomination’s General Council meeting in Oklahoma City in August of that year. Over 10,000 church members attended the meeting including 4,673 voting delegates (cited in Battle Cry Nov/Dec. 1987).

Contemporary gospel music lovers would do well to take a leaf from those ministers who had the courage, and the guts to call a spade a spade, as they drew the line as to what was appropriate or in appropriate in gospel music. There is need for all of us to seriously and rationally analyse the merits or demerits of what is taking place these days in the name of gospel music. The copout excuse that sometimes people get saved (which is often used to squelch the concerns raised by the “conservatives”) is really no excuse at all, for as Frank Shafer once said: “…People have been saved in concentration camps because God can bring good from evil but that does not justify the evil.”

While it is true that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which we stand is a gospel of liberty, it is also true that with liberty goes great responsibility. As the apostle Paul, under divine inspiration said: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. But by love serve one another” (Gal.5: 13).

Criterions for judging gospel music

Lastly let us consider some criterions that should be used to help us to be more discerning in the area of gospel music.

1. Is it Scriptural? Check the message content to see if it falls in line with what the Bible teaches about sin, redemption and sanctification etc. For example the song Praise On by the group Spiritual Pieces conveys the message that going to church and by extension Christianity is akin to a big party/fete. That surely is not scriptural.
2. Is the message clear? Crossover music that obscures the gospel message whereby the lyrics can mean anything the listener wants them to mean is equally unscriptural (cf. 1Cor. 14: 8).
3. In which direction does the music lead? If the music style is leading the listener to adopt a worldly outlook or attitude e.g. party-hearty, jump and wave revelry type Christians, hip-hop sexy Christians, rude-boy, gangster-rapping type Christians, Rasta/dance-hall type Christians etc. then it is not good music.
4. Does the music agree with the words? The lyrics may be saying one thing but the music could be suggesting something else completely different. For example the song Kadooment Must Go by Vibert Lowe, a song speaking out against wining/wukking-up, has a beat that could very well qualify it for a Road March song to which you could jam and wine down Spring Garden, and mind you the music is still very tame in comparison to many other so called “goscalypsoes.”
5. Is the style of the lyrics suitable for communicating the Gospel? In other words “street talk”, semi-religious words or catchy clichés etc. that may represent an unscriptural message should not be in cooperated into gospel music. For example words such as “Yaga” and “Jah-Jah” are Rasta chants to Haile Selassie as a god. The word “Babylon” in the Rasta/dub culture represents the police and the established order of things in society. Used in this context it is therefore an anti-social term and should not be associated with the Gospel. The ghetto slang phrase “boo-yah-ka”, boo-yah-ka” refers to lickin’ shot or shooting.

The Bible also says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”(Ecc.3: 1,NIV). Gospel artists ought to avoid any potentially violence-inducing music styles, as well as sensual music grooves and jams, and those sultry voice tones that could confuse the gospel message with other undesirable or out of context activities. The gospel message is not vicious neither is it sexy. The gospel message is one of pure love, joy (not to be confused with revelry) and reverence. Since, as Dr. Clynes’ experiments have shown, there are musical tones that can induce these joyous and reverential emotions, then gospel music should embody those tones. That may mean hard work for the gospel artiste to research, isolate and then use the said kind of tones, but it will be hard work worth the while as it brings out his/her own creativity, and hopefully brings ultimate glory unto God and not to the artiste, as tends to be the case these days in the gospel music arena.
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2004

Divine Healing: Keeping it in Biblical Balance

By Roger Marshall*

A lot of emphasis is being made in Charismatic and Evangelical Church circles on the fact that God is a healer, who can heal every disease, but very little is being said about the Sovereignty of God in this vital Christian doctrine. Instead of being told that God can heal us if it is according to His will, we are being told that God will heal us once we exercise our faith. Yet after being encouraged to exercise all the faith they can muster, and after the binding and loosing of various sicknesses, and decreeing and declaring people to be healed it appears that many Christians in our churches today are still going back into the prayer lines with the same ailments. Interestingly enough why is it that internal and for the most part unobservable diseases/ailments such as arthritis, cancer, tumours, headaches, backaches etc. are the majority of problems being prayed for these days? Why don’t the faith healers decree and declare healing over the more obvious and observable ailments with which some Christians and non-Christians are afflicted, such as multiple sclerosis, or more commonly impaired vision that results in people having to wear glasses etc. What is the reason for the avoidance of praying against these types of diseases? Surely in the early days of Jesus’ and the Apostles ministry people with these kinds of observable diseases would have been healed instantly.

I believe that God is a healer and that He can heal any and every disease, instantly or progressively, if He so wills. The Bible says: “This is the confidence we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5: 14-15; emphasis mine).

However, there are several verses of Scripture that are often quoted out of context to prove that physical healing is guaranteed to us here and now. A few of these verses in question are: Isaiah 53: 4-5; Matthew 8: 17; 1 Peter 2: 24 & 3 John 2.

In context the correct interpretation of Isaiah 53: 4-5 and the correlating verse 1 Peter 2: 24, refers to spiritual healing and not to physical healing. Let’s look at these two texts and see what I mean.

Isa. 53: 5 is structured according to what is known as “Hebrew parallelism”, where the same point is made using different words. For example:
1. “But he was wounded for our transgressions” (this has to do with sins, and is thus spiritual in nature relating to our souls).
2. “He was bruised for our iniquities” (this also has to do with sins, and is thus again spiritual).
3. “The chastisement of our peace was upon him” (this has to do with our peace with God through Jesus’ suffering for our sins. As Romans 5: 1 says: “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus again Isaiah is making the same spiritual point in relation to our sins and our souls reconciliation to God).
4. “And with his stripes we are healed” (If in this last phrase Isaiah now switches from a spiritual theme to a physical theme in relation to healing of our bodies that would not be in keeping with the structure of Hebrew parallelism. The fact is that this phrase is also spiritual and has to do with healing of our souls and not our bodies).

This fact is further made very clear in 1 Peter 2: 24-25 which says: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Thus the healing in view of these passages of Scripture is healing of the sin-sick soul, which is our reconciliation to God after having gone astray (see Isa. 53: 6).

With regard to Matt. 8: 14-17 the context of this passage has to do with the fact that Jesus fulfilled the first clause of Isa. 53: 4 during his healing ministry to the Jews (cf. Matt. 10: 5-8). It is not teaching that all believers are guaranteed physical healing today. It should be noted that Matthew did not quote the entire verse of Isa. 53: 4 due to the fact that the last clause was not fulfilled until Jesus went to the cross where he suffered and died for the healing of our souls which is the theme of verse 5 as I’ve already pointed out. In short the same one who bore the griefs and carried the sorrows of the Jews by healing them of their diseases during his earthly ministry, is the same one who was later “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” He is the same one who was wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities to secure the healing of their souls, a healing which was graciously extended to all people (cf. John 3: 16; 2 Cor. 5: 19). Therefore Matt. 8: 17 is actually about what Jesus did before the atonement which was actually only accomplished by his death on the cross (cf. Rom. 5: 6-11).

As for 3 John 2 this is not a guarantee/command for health or wealth but simply a wish in John’s course of greeting, much like what we do today when we wish other people well in our written correspondence to them.

Finally, the fact that divine healing is not ultimately dependent on our faith but rather is dependent on the sovereign will of God is bourn out by a number of incidents in Scripture. In fact some of the people healed in Scripture did not exercise any faith at all! For example:
1. The lame man at the Temple gate was not expecting healing, he did not ask for healing, he was not earnestly seeking God for his healing, his faith was not involved yet he was miraculously healed (Acts 3: 1-8).
2. The widow of Nain was not expecting the miraculous resurrection of her dead son. Her faith was also not involved yet a mighty miracle occurred (Lk. 7:11-15).
3. Malcus, one of the men who arrested Jesus was healed after Peter cut off his ear. He too was not expecting healing (Lk. 22: 50-51; Jn 18: 10).
4. Lazarus was raised from the dead after four days even though his sisters (Martha in particular) were not exhibiting great faith for this miracle to occur on that day. Martha expected Lazarus’ resurrection to be at the “last day” (Jn. 11: 24), after all Lazarus was dead for four days so this fact alone would have dashed all hopes for an immediate resurrection as far as many Jews were concerned. You see in that time many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body only for three days after death in the hope of returning to it. So if this idea was in the minds of these people, they obviously thought all hope was gone-Lazarus was irrevocably dead (Jn.11:39).

5. This raises the question as to how much faith does it really take for God to act on our behalf. Faith healers often encourage believers to turn loose their faith, muster all the faith they have. However, the Bible says that it only takes a mustard seed amount of faith for God to honour it (Lk. 17: 5-6). The same simple faith that brings salvation also brings healing in accordance with the will of God. Mark 10: 51-52 and Luke 7: 48-50 bears out this fact, in both passages, one dealing with divine healing (Mk. 10) and the other with salvation (Lk. 7), the exact same Greek grammatical structure is used: “he pistis sou sesoken se.” Translated: “…thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mk. 10:52),“Thy faith hath saved thee…”(Lk.7:50).

While the Bible teaches that God honours faith in Him for our healing it also teaches that God is not always obligated to honour that faith for reasons best known to Him and it doesn’t mean that we lack faith or that we are living a life that displeases God.
A classic example of this is Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2Cor. 12; 7-10). While the Bible does not explicitly say what it was it was nevertheless an affliction of some kind yet Paul’s great faith in God could not get it removed.

Other Scriptures that clearly show that God is not obligated to always heal His people are as follows:
1. Out of a multitude of sick folk at the pool of Bethesda Jesus only healed one man (Jn. 5: 1-9).
2. Timothy had frequent stomach related illnesses for which Paul encouraged him to use wine as a medicine to help with his ongoing condition (1Tim.5: 23).
3. Paul left Trophimus, one of his close companions, sick in Miletus (2Tim 4: 20).
4. Epaphroditus another one of Paul’s close companions was sick and nearly died. Paul appeared helpless in the whole ordeal (not powerful like many faith healers today who arrogantly “decree”, “declare” and “speak things into being”) and explained that his companion’s life was only spared because God had mercy on both of them (Ph. 2:25-27).

Nevertheless, the Bible does teach that ultimately healing is guaranteed to our bodies and in fact to all creation because of the atoning work of Christ, but this is to come in the new heaven and earth when sickness and its inevitable end result, death, will be forever banished from existence. That’s when our bodies (and not just our souls as is now the case) will be redeemed (cf. Rom. 8: 18-23; Rev.20: 4).

Is God a healer? He sure is! Does God still miraculously heal today? He sure does! But in accordance with his Sovereign will just as He always has either in the presence of faith or in its absence. The buck does not end at our faith but at God’s sovereign will. God has and reserves the right to grant our earnest requests or refuse our requests for purposes best known to Him, yet always for our good even when we don’t understand (Rom. 8: 28).

In light of these facts lets keep the message of divine healing in Biblical balance.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006

Capital Punishment and The Bible

By Roger Marshall*

Shall mortal man be more just than God?
Shall a man be more pure than his maker? (Job 4: 17).

The ongoing objections to capital punishment and calls for its abolition, coming from several influential quarters in this country and abroad, on the grounds that capital punishment is inhumane and a violation of human rights, raises a fundamental question: can human beings really be more humane than the creator of human life Himself?

It was God (not man) who instituted the death penalty for murder. Genesis chapter nine verses four to five reads: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

It should be noted that capital punishment for murder was ordained in the days of mankind’s ancient progenitor Noah (whose family, as we probably all know, repopulated the earth after the great flood) thousands of years before the unique Mosaic Covenant that was established specifically between God and the Jews. That covenant enunciated other sins that were dealt with as crimes for which the death penalty was also applicable. Those crimes included things such as kidnapping, cursing one’s father or mother, bestiality, idolatry, breaking the Sabbath, adultery, homosexuality, incest, blasphemy etc.

Some time ago during a “Down to Brass Tacks” radio programme the moderator, Mr. David Ellis, cited those other violations of Old Testament law and their accompanying death penalties apparently to lay a charge of inconsistency at the feet of those persons who persistently cite the Bible for the maintenance of capital punishment while on the other hand they ignore the other crimes that also carried that sentence under the Mosaic Covenant. He seemed to suggest that since such persons no longer demand the death penalty for those other Old Testament crimes then their demand for the death penalty for murder would appear to be unjustified. He also seemed to propose the notion held by some in Christendom that the Old Testament doctrine of capital punishment was nullified by the advent of the New Testament with its emphasis on “love and forgiveness.”

While Mr. Ellis’s line of argument may seem reasonable at first glance, the person who is willing to probe the Bible further will find that, although many of the peculiar ordinances of the Mosaic/Siniatic Covenant and their accompanying death penalties (if violated) were superseded by the advent of Jesus Christ (who ushered in the New Testament/Covenant through suffering the ultimate death penalty for all our sins), the universal judicial system of human governance ordained by God back in the days of Noah that included the death penalty for murder, is still applicable even under the New Testament/Covenant.

Jesus himself affirmed this fact when he told Peter (who almost killed a man involved in Jesus’ arrest): “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword”(Matt.26: 52). In this statement Jesus was reaffirming God’s command in Exodus 21: 12 that says, this in itself was a reaffirmation of God’s command to Noah “…Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

The point is God never changed this ordinance. God ordained the death penalty for murder before the Mosaic Covenant, it was also a part of the much harsher Mosaic Covenant itself, and it is still applicable today even under the New Covenant of grace through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reiterated this fact in Romans 13: 1-4.

It is interesting to note that in Judaism, while the Jews recognise themselves as the “people of the covenant”(i.e. the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants) they believe that non-Jews are accountable to God on the basis of the seven commandments given by God to Noah as recorded in Genesis chapter nine, one of which as noted before is the death penalty for murder.

Of course my own line of argument may seem like poppy cock to many in our secular Western world who do not adhere to the Biblical account of human origins but rather embrace the Darwinian/naturalistic evolutionary worldview (which sadly has also penetrated the Church). However, if life is just an accident without purpose and man is only an animal (as the naturalists say) involved in the age-old battle of survival of the fittest then no life (either that of the victim or the criminal) can truly be regarded as a “sacred thing”(as one opponent to capital punishment recently put it) so why the objections to the death penalty? Could it be that the godless philosophy of evolutionary naturalism has so impacted Western culture that even the law itself has now been geared to make sure that the fittest (in this case cold blooded murderers) do survive? That is something to think about.

We need to get back to the Biblical view of origins and purpose that informs us that man is not an animal but rather is created in the image of God. If this is truly the case then God ordained capital punishment for murder should not be abolished.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006

A CLOSER LOOK AT ISLAM

By Roger Marshall*

Jesus said that one of the signs of His return and of the end of the world would be a proliferation of false prophets (Matthew 24:4-11). The apostle John reiterated this fact when he wrote, “ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [i.e. Jesus Christ is God incarnate; cf. St. John 1: 1-3, 14] is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [i.e. the claim that Jesus Christ is not God incarnate] is not of God: and is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4: 1-3).

The religion of Islam which had its birth around AD 622 is just one of the many religious systems which denies that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Today Islam is the world’s fastest growing religions. Many Muslims sight the phenomenal growth rate as “proof” that Islam is the true religion. However, Jesus said that a great following is not ultimate proof that a movement is on the right road. In his own words he said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, ad broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it” (Matt 7: 13-14)

While some of us may know and work either for or with Muslims, who we may find and know to be pleasant people, we shall see that many of these fine people are unfortunately trapped in an extremely antichrist religious system.

The Historical Background

To the Muslim God is “Allah” the most great. According to Dr. Robert Morey in his book Allah: The Moon-god of Pre-Islamic Arabia the word “Allah” comes from the compound Arabic word, al-ilah which means “the god”, and was a reference to the moon god of pre- Islamic Arabia. In those days Allah had three daughters: Al-lat, Al-uzza and Manat. The symbol of the crescent moon which is very important to Islam is a throw back to moon worship of the pre-Islamic Arabians.

Muhammad the prophet of Islam was born in A.D. 570 in Mecca. He was a member of the Quraysh tribe. Their favourite god, out of the 360 gods worshipped by the Arabs, was al-illah (Allah) the moon god.

His prophethood began when he began to teach his fellow tribesmen that they were only to worship Allah and not his three daughters or any other god. This led to hostile resistance from the Meccans. After realising that the Meccans would not convert by peaceful persuasion Muhammad decided to use force beginning with attacks on rich caravans and later a failed attack on the city of Mecca. After his second battle at Mecca a 10year peace treaty was signed between Muhammad and the Meccans. It was during this period that Muhammad committed himself and his followers to spreading Islam not by violence but by peaceful persuasion. This period is reflected in Sura 2:56. However, within one year Muhammad broke the treaty and with an army of thousands of followers he forced Mecca to surrender to his leadership. Those who resisted Islam were slain, those who renounced their former religions were spared and became instant Muslims (cf. Sura 9:5). Thus Islam(“sub-mission to Allah” was born.

Islamic Duties (a.k.a. The Five Pillars of Islam)

i. Kalima or Shahada- The creed of faith, which states, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet/Apostle/Messenger.
ii. Salat-Daily prayers at sun rise, at noon, at mid afternoon, after sunset, and before retiring at night. Also included is Friday Public Service.
iii. The fast of Ramadan- A time of abstinence from food, drink, sex, smoking and other pleasures from sun rise to sunset for one month.
iv. Zakat- Almsgiving.
v. Hajj- The pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime.
vi. Jihad- Holy War. This is a sixth religious obligation which is almost invariably associated with the five pillars of Islam.
The Quran/Koran

The Quran itself claims that it is a continuation of the Bible and it will not
Contradict it (Sura 2: 136). However, this claim does not stand up to close
scrutiny as the following examples show.

The Bible says that God created the world in six day (Gen 1: 1-131, Ex 20:11). The Quran on the other hand says that God created the world in EIGHT days (Sura 41: 9,10,12) cf Sura 32: 4.

The Bible says that all three sons of Noah went into the ark with him and were saved from the flood (Gen. 7: 13). The Quran says that one of the sons refused to go into the ark and was drowned in the flood (Sura 11: 41-43).

The Bible says that the ark came to rest on Mountains of Ararat (Gen 8: 3-4). The Quran says the ark came to rest on Mont Judi (Sura 11: 44)

The Bible says Abraham lived and worshipped in Hebron (Gen 13: 18). The Quran says that he lived in Mecca (Sura 14: 35-37).

The Bible says that it was Isaac whom God instructed Abraham to offer up to him in sacrifice (Gen 22: 1-2) The Quran says that it was Ishmael (Sura 37: 100-112).

The Bible says that it was Potiphar who bought Joseph down in Egypt (Gen 39: 1) The Quran says that it was a man by the name of Aziz who bought him (Sura 12: 21).
The Bible says that it was Pharoah’s daughter who adopted Moses as her son (Ex 2: 5-10). The Quran says that it was Pharoah’s wife who adopted Moses (Sura 28: 8-9).

The Bible says that Jesus was born in a stable (Luke 2: 1-20) The Quran says that he was born under a palm tree (Sura 19: 16,22-27).

The Bible says that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (Luke1: 30-31, 34-35) John 3: 16). The Quran says that God doesn’t have a son (Sura 9: 30). Of course we know by know that Jesus could never be the son of Allah, because Allah is not God!

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified (Matt 27: 33-37), Mk 15: 22-25), Luke 23: 33-34), John 19: 13-19). The Quran says that he as not crucified (Sura 4: 157).

The Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity Matt 28: 19, 2 Pet 1:17. Heb 1:5-8, John 8: 54-58), John 10: 30-33, Acts 5: 1-4. 1 Tim 2:5). The Quran says there is no Trinity (Sura 4: 171).

From these few quotes it is very clear that the Quran is not true in its claim that it will not contradict the Bible.

Self Contradictions

The Quran also contradicts itself in many instances. Two examples are as follows:

Sura 2:56 it says that Islam should not be enforced upon people. Yet in Sura 9: 5, 29 it says that Islam should be enforced upon people by violence.

Sura 4: 157 says that Jesus was not crucified, neither did he die but just ascended into heaven to Allah (Sura 4: 158). However in Sura 19: 27-34 it says that Jesus did die and that he was also resurrected from the dead!

The Quran even contradicts science. In Sura 18: 86 it says that a man by the name of Zul-qarnain was allowed by Allah to discover where the sun sets. He followed it until he found that it sets in a muddy/murky spring.

Thus from these few comparisons we see that the Quran is not true in its claim that it does not contradict God’s word the Bible. We have also seen that Allah cannot be equated with the God of the Bible; therefore Muhammad could not have been the prophet of God.
References

Islam Unveiled, The Islamic Invasion, and Allah: The Moon-god of Pre-Islamic Arabia by Dr. Robert Morey, Islam Revealed by Dr.Anis Shorrosh, An English Interpretation of The Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006

The Resurrection: Engaging Mind & Spirit

by

Rev. Clinton Chisholm

Any analysis of the Easter story from a New Testament perspective must grapple with 1 Corinthians 15. 1 Corinthians is almost universally accepted as written by Paul about AD 55/56 and therefore earlier than Acts and some, if not all, of the Gospels.

From the details of Acts—18.12, which mentions Paul in Corinth with Gallio as proconsul of Achaia—and the Gallio inscription, we know that Paul visited Corinth in AD 50 and departed there AD 52. The gospel he preached in Corinth (1 Cor. 15) was already in creedal form and contained critical elements surrounding the resurrection doctrine: literal death (v.3), literal burial (v.4), literal resurrection (v.4), literal multiple post-mortem sightings by people, most of whom were still alive (vv.5-8).

So as early as Paul’s writing was, the content/structure of the gospel he preached, pre-dated his own writing and conversion as he merely passed on what he had received. The words in italics are technical terms used of passing on an entrenched tradition in Jewish circles. This is accepted by a wide and theologically divergent group of scholars such as Reginald Fuller, Oscar Cullmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Martin Hengel, Rudolph Bultmann, Hans Conzelmann, A.M. Hunter, Raymond E. Brown, Norman Perrin, George Ladd, et al.

Owing to the use of the Aramaic term Cephas for Peter (v.5) and several non-Pauline expressions like ‘for our sins’ (v.3), ‘according to the scriptures’ (vv.3-4), ‘he has been raised’ (v.4), the ‘third day’ (v.4), ‘he was seen’ (vv.5-8) and ‘the twelve’ (v.5), along with the triple usage of ‘and that’ (vv. 4, 5), scholars like Ulrich Wilckens and Joachim Jeremias, conclude that the tradition goes back to the oldest phase of primitive Christianity, about 3 to 8 years after the death of Jesus.

To appreciate the full force of the historical nature of the resurrection in this passage one has to remember the audience as Corinthians who had good reason to boast about their intellectual traditions in the university city, Corinth. The common Greek-based Corinthian view—similar to the modern one—was that dead people stay dead, period, they do not rise from the dead at all. This view was also held by some even in the Corinthian Church.

1 Cor. 15. 12, queries, “Now since it is being preached that Christ was raised from the dead how are some among you saying there is no resurrection of the dead?”

There is no way that one can sustain an argument that what is at issue in the text is some non-historical or figurative ‘resurrection from the dead’, the kind of ‘being alive’ that comes from keeping alive the memory of someone.

There is a clash in the text of two truth-claims, the one, informed by normal history and an a priori position, says explicitly, ‘dead people cannot rise from the dead’, which implied that Jesus could not have been raised from the dead. The other truth-claim, informed by a historical reality, says explicitly, ‘Jesus was raised from the dead’, which implied that the dead can rise, literally.

The historical, the corporeal is both patent and latent in the text and context. In fact, Paul goes on to explain some of the logical, theological and practical consequences of holding to the truth-claim that resurrection from the dead is nonsense.

There is something of special note in this passage. If Paul countenanced a non-historical, non-physical resurrection of Jesus then he could not have argued, without some qualification, that denial of resurrection stripped the Christian message of the things he mentioned in vv.13-19.

One could, like so many clergypersons today, hold that Jesus did not rise from the dead literally but he lives, he is raised spiritually, and because he was raised spiritually—a theological belief—then one could by faith hold to certain beliefs even though they were not historically grounded.

Paul’s philosophical starting point and logic are radically different; hence, he could categorically and with forceful logic declare what he said in vv. 13-19. What did he declare in these verses? That if, philosophically, resurrection of the dead is non-sense, not an ontological reality, then seven critical consequences follow, logically: 1) Christ is still dead (vv.13, 16); 2) kerygmatic preaching lacks content (v.14); 3) faith in the kerygma lacks content (v.14); 4) kerygmatic preachers misrepresent God (v.15); 5) the sins of the Corinthian Christians are unpardoned (v. 18); 6) Christian dead people are doomed (v.18) and 7) living Christians who expect life beyond death are arrant fools (v.19).

1 Cor. 15.3ff then, as German historian Hans von Campenhausen has said, “…meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text.” A.M. Hunter says similarly, “The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability.”

It should be noted as well that the truth-claim of a historical bodily resurrection continues in 1 Cor. 15.29 (‘if the dead are not raised actually/at all [Greek: holos]’). Also in v.32, Paul suggests the nonsense of endangering one’s life for nothing, if the dead cannot be resurrected. In v. 32, Paul’s option to a literal, bodily resurrection is neither existential liberalism (‘Jesus is still dead but I have met the risen Christ’) nor fideistic conservatism (‘you ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart’) but unbridled hedonism – “…if the dead rise not let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”

The truth-claim of a historical, bodily resurrection continues as well in vv. 35-44, in the issue of the nature of the resurrected body.

There is need to press home a linguistic and philosophical point here. In 1 Cor. 15, it should be noted that the critical elements of the gospel are not simply, ‘Jesus died, was buried, was seen’ (because that could be amenable to a non-literal resurrection). The critical element that we left out just now is, ‘was raised’, coming before ‘was seen’. We are emphasizing the linguistic passive construction ‘was raised’ because the passive requires an agent being acted on by another. That activity is independent of a third person who happens to see the person raised. If he simply died, was buried and then was seen the one seeing may be hallucinating or engaged in wish-fulfillment.

However, the fuller construction ‘was raised on the third day’ followed by ‘was seen’ is linguistically and philosophically tighter. ‘Was raised’ here is temporally, logically and metaphysically prior to ‘was seen’. Put differently, ‘was seen’ is dependent on ‘was raised’.

The theological notion of Jesus being Lord, the doctrine of sins being forgiven or justification being imputed, the assurance of victory over death all rest on the historical truth-claim that the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2.24, 29-32, 36; Rom. 4. 24-25; 1 Cor. 15.52-57; 2 Cor. 4.14).

From the standpoints of literary intent and literary content the New Testament writers that treat with the resurrection of Jesus Christ were writing history. The clear or veiled didactic or ethical purpose that may emerge in these writings in no way militates against the basic historicity of the documents as this was a common technique in ancient historiography, as classical historian Colin Hemer urges.

It is our contention that the New Testament writers that deal with the resurrection of Jesus Christ intended to convey, and were successful in conveying to readers, what really took place in the history of the last days of the earthly life of Jesus.

Craig Blomberg’s dictum adequately sums up the issue. “Unless there is good reason for believing otherwise one will assume that a given detail in the work of a particular historian is factual…The alternative is to presume the text unreliable unless convincing evidence can be brought forward in support of it…[this method] is wholly unjustified by the normal canons of historiography. Scholars who would consistently implement such a method when studying other ancient historical writing would find the corroborative data so insufficient that the vast majority of accepted history would have to be jettisoned.” (The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, 1987, p. 240).

Professor Nettleford and the Jesus Ossuary

By Rev. Clinton Chisholm

If you watched or just heard about the recent Discovery Channel program on ‘The Lost Tomb of Jesus’ I hope you have not lost any sleep over it. This is just another late but failed attempt at sowing seeds of doubt about the resurrection of our Lord. The Caribbean intellectual giant Professor Rex Nettleford in 1996 — relying somewhat uncritically on a Sunday Times News Review piece titled ‘The Tomb That Dare Not Speak Its Name’ (March 31, 1996) written by Joan Blackwell and dealing with the same basic material from the Talpiot tomb in Jerusalem— made snide remarks about the accuracy of the synoptic Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark and Luke).

Prof. Nettleford in his essay ‘Discourse on Rastafarian Reality’ in Chanting Down Babylon:The Rastafari Reader (edited by Nathaniel S. Murrell et al, pages 311-325, said “In any case, goes the Rastafarian argument, the lineage and divinity of the Christian deity and his final abode in heaven are matters of faith to believers, not of historical verity or incontestable empirical evidence…Archaeological digs are suggesting the recent discovery of an ossuary containing the bones of one ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’, casting doubts on the Resurrection itself…” (pg. 318, my emphasis). When, as consulting editor of Chanting Down Babylon, I read the Professor’s essay in 1996, I immediately wrote to Dr. Murrell strongly suggesting that an editorial note be added to Prof. Nettleford’s essay concerning his uncritical or intellectually dishonest use of Blackwell’s article from the Times. Dr. Murrell did not agree with me. Let me now attempt to justify these strong charges against Prof. Nettleford.

The Talpiot tomb was discovered in 1980 and contained ten ossuaries (bone boxes). All of the ossuaries except one bore inscriptions. None of the ossuaries contained the bones of anyone when Blackwell and her colleagues visited the Israel Archaeological Authority in 1996 because as Blackwell pointed out in her article, “The ossuaries were empty when they were found…” (my emphasis). If Prof. Nettleford was drawing on a source other than Blackwell that stated that someone had found “an ossuary containing the bones of ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’” he forgot to cite it in his essay. If he was drawing on Blackwell then at best, his reading was poor and uncritical, at worst, his use of her was intellectually dishonest. But even if the ossuary with the inscription ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’ really contained bones and bearing in mind that another ossuary from the same Talpiot tomb had Mary on it, would this prove that the Jesus, son of Joseph mentioned on the one ossuary was Jesus of Nazareth mentioned in the Gospels? Hardly and Blackwell’s article, if read properly, says as much.

Blackwell writes, “Indeed, Tal Ham, one of Israel’s foremost experts on Jewish and early Christian history, left no doubt. She has collected all the names that appear on ossuaries, on inscriptions on papyri and other written sources, from the 2nd century BC to about the 2nd century AD…She told us: ‘Mary is the most common name for women. Joseph is the second most common name for men, after Simon. Jesus is also one of those very typical names. So I would say the chance that this is the cave tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family is not very likely’.” Blackwell sought the opinion of Amos Kloner, the distinguished Israeli archaeologist who oversaw the archaeological work at the Talpiot tomb in 1980 and published the findings in an academic journal. Kloner told Blackwell “…I think the possibility of it being Jesus’s family very close to nil.” Kloner has not changed his opinion over the years. In a recent interview with Jerusalem Post’s David Horowitz (February 27), Kloner said of the claims in the Discovery Channel’s documentary, “It makes a great story for a TV film. But it’s completely impossible. It’s nonsense.”
Ponder two additional points about the insignificance of the alleged inscription ‘Jesus son of Joseph’. First, in the words of New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III, in a recent blog (February 27)“…so far as we can tell, the earliest followers of Jesus never called Jesus ‘son of Joseph’. It was outsiders who mistakenly called him that! Would the family members such as James who remained in Jerusalem really put that name on Jesus’ tomb when they knew otherwise? This is highly improbable.”
Secondly, there is some doubt about what the inscription actually says owing to the documentary’s own admission that the inscription was ‘informal’, ‘messy, ‘cursory, ‘graffiti’ and overall difficult to read. Blackwell calls it “ragged Hebrew lettering”. Stephen Pfann, president of Jerusalem’s University of the Holy Land and an expert in Semitic languages, appeared in The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Pfann, after viewing high-resolution images of the ossuary inscription said, “I don’t think it says Yehoshua [Jesus]. It says Hanun or something,” Pfann told National Geographic News that he, like other scholars, has doubts about the movie’s claims.
The witness of the New Testament is unanimous and strong that Jesus was buried in a private unused tomb near the crucifixion site at Golgotha. This tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. This tomb in which Jesus was buried was found to be empty three days later (John 19.38-42;20.1-8; Lk. 23.50-55; 24.1-12).

The empty tomb and the associated notion of the resurrection of Jesus were central elements in the gospel proclaimed by Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem, let it be noted, and concerning which several of them gave their lives. Dying for a lie which you believe to be true is understandable but it is highly unlikely and well nigh impossible that the early Christian preachers would die for their belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus when they knew that Jesus’ bones were gathered together in a bone box or ossuary somewhere in Jerusalem.
Professor Nettleford’s reading and use of Blackwell’s article may be a pardonable blunder on the part of an eminent scholar but it highlights the need for us to read everyone critically.
Rev. Clinton Chisholm can be reached at clintchis@yahoo.com.

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Fiction? Notes from Metropolitan Baptist Church Bible Study

By Rev’d Clinton Chisholm

Part A

TWELVE KNOWN HISTORICAL FACTS CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION EVENT
(Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence For the Life of Christ, College Press, 1996)

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion (Mt. 27.50; Mk.15.37, 44-45; Lk. 23.46; Jn.19.30, 33-34)
    Josephus (Antiquities 18.3) ‘Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die…’
    Tacitus (Annals 15.44) ‘…Christus….suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of…Pontius Pilate…’
    Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) ‘On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged…’ [=put up on a cross, cf. Lk. 23.39; Gal. 3.13]
  2. Jesus was buried (Mt. 27.59-60; Mk. 15.43,46; Lk. 23.52-53; Jn. 19.40-42)
  3. Jesus’ death caused his disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life was ended (Mt. 28.17; Mk. 16.11;Lk. 24.11, 21)
  4. The tomb was discovered to be empty just a few days later (Mt. 28.6-7; Mk. 16.5-6; Lk. 24.3,12; Jn. 20.6-9)Nazareth Decree , believed to be issued by Claudius. ‘It is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain perpetually undisturbed…If, however, anyone charges that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried…or has displaced the sealing on other stones…In case of violation I desire that the offender be sentenced to capital punishment…’
  5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (Mt. 28.9-10, 16-18; Mk. 16.9, 13-14; Lk. 24.30-31; Jn. 20.[14, 16], 19-20, 25, 27, 21.1, 14; Acts 1.3, 9-10; 1 Cor. 9.1, 15. 3-8/Acts 9.1-9, 22.5-11, 26.12-18)
  6. Because of these appearances the once doubting disciples became bold proclaimers of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 1.22; 2.22-24, 32; 3.15; 4.2, 10, 13; 17.18, 31, etc.)
  7. This resurrection message was the center of preaching in the early church (Acts 1.22; 2.22-24, 32; 3.15; 4.2, 10, 13; 17.18, 31, etc.)
  8. This resurrection message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before (Acts 1-8)
    Tacitus (Annals 15.44) ‘…a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea…but even in Rome…’
    Suetonius (Nero, 16) ‘After the great fire at Rome…Punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief.’
  9. As a result of the resurrection message the church was born and grew in Jerusalem (Acts 2.5, 41, 47; 8.1, etc.)
  10. Sunday became the primary day of worship for the growing church (Sunday being ‘resurrection day’ and the day on which Jesus made some post-mortem appearances, and as well the day on which the Church was born, Jn. 20. 26; Lev. 23.15-16/Acts 2.1ff; 20.6-7; 1 Cor. 16.1-2)
    Pliny the Younger (Letters 10.96) ‘[the Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang…a hymn to Christ, as to a god…’
  11. James (Jesus’ brother), who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he also believed he saw the resurrected Jesus (Mk. 3.31-35; Jn. 7.5; 1 Cor. 15.7)
  12. A few years later, the Christian-persecuting Paul was converted by an experience which he believed to be an appearance of the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9.3-6; 22.6-10; 26.12-18; 1 Cor. 15.8)

Any theory which seeks to counter or compete with the resurrection must deal with and fit these twelve facts.
Part B

When did Jesus die and when was he resurrected?

Preamble: Groups like the Church of God International, the Church of God (7th day), The Assembly of Yahweh hold that the crucifixion was on Wednesday and the resurrection on Saturday because three days and three nights require 72 hours of entombment.

The Arguments for a Wednesday Crucifixion

1. Matthew 12.40
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

1.1 Christ’s entombment (time in the grave) would be “…a full three days and three nights which is equal to 72 hours.”
1.2 ‘Days’ and ‘nights’ are not idiomatic but literal time frames.

2. John 19.14, 31
“And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, ‘Behold your King’.”

“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.”

2.1 ‘Preparation’ was not the day before the 7th day Sabbath but the day before the annual Passover Sabbath, which in that year, it is alleged, occurred on a Thursday. ‘Preparation’ then, was on Wednesday.
2.2 John, wishing to differentiate the Passover Sabbath from the 7th day Sabbath, calls it a ‘high day’.

Responses to the Argument for a Wednesday Crucifixion

1. The main point of the ‘sign of Jonah’ (Mt. 12.40) is not a literal 72-hour entombment but the miracle of deliverance.
1.1 In the same gospel of Matthew (16.4), the ‘sign of Jonah’ is mentioned but without any time reference. The same is true in Luke 11.29-32, where Jonah and Christ themselves are regarded as signs or marvels designed to convince, because both were participants in starkly miraculous events of deliverance.

“Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, because he appeared there as one sent by God after having been miraculously saved from the great fish (as it were raised from the dead) as a proof that he was really sent by God. So also Jesus will by His resurrection prove conclusively that He has been sent by God as the Christ, the Messiah, the promised Redeemer.” (Norval Geldenhuys, The New Testament Commentary (Luke), 334)
1.2 In John 2.19, the Jews request a sign and Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” As in Matthew 12.40 a sign is requested and given—the resurrection.
1.3 “It is important to note that in biblical times a fraction of a day or of a night was reckoned inclusively as representing the whole day or night. This method of reckoning is known as ‘inclusive reckoning’.” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Time of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, 23)
1.3.1 ‘A day and a night’ then in Biblical and rabbinical literature refers “not to an exact number of hours or of minutes but simply to a calendrical day, whether complete or incomplete.” (Bacchiocchi, cited above, 22)
1.3.2 In Esther 4.16, we have an example of ‘inclusive reckoning’. Esther declares, “…fast ye for me and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise: then will I go in unto the King.”

In Esther 5.1, Esther went in unto the King ‘on the third day’. If the ‘three days and three nights’ fast was intended to be a literal 72-hour fast, Esther would have to go in unto the King ‘on the fourth day’.
1.3.3 In 1 Samuel 30.12 the abandoned Egyptian is said to have had nothing ‘for three days and three nights’ yet in v.13 he declares that he had been left behind ‘three days ago’. If the ‘three days and three nights’ were intended to be a literal 72-hour period, the servant would have had to say he was abandoned ‘four days ago’.
1.3.4 Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who lived about AD 100, stated, “A day and a night are an Onah (‘a portion of time’) and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it.” (Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbath 9, 3)

2. Close examination of the ‘three days’ passages pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus confirms the biblical method of inclusive reckoning. The same statements of our Lord which in Mark’s gospel contain the phrase ‘after three days’ are reported in Matthew and Luke with the phrase ‘on the third day’ showing sameness in meaning.

Mark 8.31 =Matthew 16.21 =Luke 9.22
‘after three days’ ‘on the third day’ ‘on the third day’

Mark 9.31 =Matthew 17.23
‘after three days’ ‘on the third day’

Mark 10.34 =Matthew 20.19 =Luke 18.33
‘after three days’ ‘on the third day’ ‘on the third day’

3. The crucial verse that demolishes the arguments for a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday resurrection is Luke 24:21.
3.1 It is the first day of the week (Luke 24:1, 13), two of Jesus’ disciples are discussing the events of the past days and Jesus joins the conversation/asks them about their discussion. They began to explain to him that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, and in disappointment they said, v. 21, “we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this TODAY IS THE THIRD DAY SINCE THESE THINGS WERE DONE.”
3.2 The third day then was Sunday, the first day of the week, and as Luke 24:29 hints, the statement in Luke 24:21 was made sometime ‘toward evening’ when the first day was ‘far spent’. We again quote the seventh day Adventist scholar, Samuele Bacchiocchi, “It is obvious, then that if Christ had been crucified on a Wednesday afternoon, those two disciples could not have referred to that event on a Sunday night, saying; ‘it is now the third day since this happened.’ According to the Jewish inclusive day-reckoning it would have been the fifth day and not the third.” (p.28)

4. The sequence of the Passion weekend are clearly described in the Gospels as Preparation day (crucifixion/entombment), Sabbath (entombment), First Day (Resurrection)
4.1 Mark 15:42 shows that Jesus was crucified the day of ‘preparation’, that is, the day before the Sabbath. The next day for Mark is the Sabbath (Mark 16:1), followed by the ‘first day of the week’ (Mark 16:2)
4.2 Luke 23:54 says the same, Jesus was crucified and entombed ‘that day (which) was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.’ After the Sabbath came the first day of the week (Luke 23:56 and 24:1)
4.3 By linking the beginning of the Sabbath to the end of the preparation, and the beginning of the ‘first day of the week’ to the termination of the Sabbath both Mark and Luke LEAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ROOM FOR TWO FULL DAYS TO INTERVENE BETWEEN THE CRUCIFIXION AND THE RESURRECTION.

5. In John 19.31 we read, “…that Sabbath was a high day” not “…that was a high Sabbath”, and in 19.14 we read, “And it was the preparation of the Passover”.
5.1 Both passages affirm that the Friday was the Friday of the Passover week and that weekly Sabbath was a high day because it fell in Passover week.
• “The Sabbath about to open was a ‘high-day’—it was both a Sabbath and the second Paschal Day, which was regarded as in every respect equally sacred with the first, nay more so, since the so-called wavesheaf was then offered to the Lord.” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 613)

6. Matthew 28.1 seems to contain a contradiction as it is normally translated in the King James Version, because ‘in the end of the Sabbath’ is not ‘as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week’. The troublesome word in Greek is opse, translated in the KJV as ‘in the end’. The word can mean ‘in the end’, ‘long after’ or ‘after’.
6.1 By virtue of the companion passages dealing with the visit of the women to the tomb (Mark 16.1-2, “when the Sabbath was past…at the rising of the sun”; Luke 24.1, “very early in the morning”) and the Jewish restrictions re Sabbath travel, the meaning of opse must be ‘after’ or ‘long after’.
6.2 Even though the Greek word translated ‘to dawn’ in Matthew 28.1 has a figurative sense of ‘drawing close’ its literal meaning is ‘to grow light’, ‘to shine forth’ or ‘to dawn’, pointing to the early morning of a day.
6.3 The traditional reading of Matthew 28.1 then would be “after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning”.
6.4 Another legitimate proposal made by Ralph Woodrow —which I prefer—is to see the time reference that normally begins Mt. 28.1 as really belonging to the time of the posting of the guard in Mt. 27.66. So the reading would be, “So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard in the end of the Sabbath.”

Conclusion

• The testimony of the early Christian writers (after the Apostles) reveals unanimous acceptance of a Friday crucifixion, Sunday resurrection. No early Christian writer ever disputed or doubted this sequence.
• The Biblical record, properly understood in its historical context, clearly affirms a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection.

Resources

Clinton Chisholm, The Resurrection of Jesus: Saturday or Sunday, Fact or Fiction? Cassette.
Clinton Chisholm, The Historicity of the Resurrection (featuring William Lane Craig), CD.
Gary Habermas & Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, 2004.
©Rev’d Clinton Chisholm, August 25, 2004

1.Written between AD 90 and 95. After AD 70 he became court historian for Emperor Vespasian.
2.Written c. AD 115.
3.Written c. AD 115. Suetonius was chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138).
4.Discovered in 1878 at Nazareth, written in Greek, as an ordinance of Caesar.
5.Written c. AD 115. Suetonius was chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138).
6.Written c. 107. Pliny was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
7.Dr. Frederick Pryce (seen on TBN, Thursday, April 24, 2003) holds a similar view with one modification; Jesus completed the 72 hours up to 6.00 pm on Saturday evening and rose on Sunday but not early Sunday morning as most Churches believe. He re-punctuates Mk. 16.9 to read, “Now when Jesus rose, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…” For Pryce Jesus rose sometime between 6.01 pm on the Saturday and the time when he appeared to Mary Magdalene on the Sunday morning.”
“Three Days & Three Nights”—Reconsidered in Light of Scripture, 1993, 21-23.