The Original Heresy, pt II: The Gnostic Gospels

Discovered near the Upper-Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, the Gnostic Gospels (also known as the Nag Hammadi library, or the Nag Hammadi Codicies) have managed to capture imaginations, and generate heated debate over what biblical canon ought to be, what it is, and why it exists in its current form. This collection is made up of 13 leather-bound Codicies, and contains 52 separate works, most of which are Gnostic treatises. Of the parts that are not, there are three works that are part of the Corpus Hermeticus, and a partially rewritten version of Plato’s “Republic”, complete with Gnostic themes that had not existed prior.

Since their discovery, much of the debate that has surrounded them has focused on whether or not they are to be considered biblical canon. For the majority of Christians, they simply are not considered Scripture for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they are inconsistent with the actual biblical canon. In this post, we will explore why they are inconsistent, and hopefully dispel a few of the more interesting conspiracy theories.


In 1945, a man named Muhammad Ali and his brother were digging for fertilizer near the town of Nag Hammadi, when they unearthed a sealed clay jar. Though they were initially hesitant to open it, fearing that it might contain a Jinn (a type of Arabic demon, and where we get the English word “genie”), they were amazed to find the library carefully hidden within.

Rather than turn it over to local authorities, they chose to hang on to the library, in the hope that they would be able to get a really good price for each piece. The brothers took it home, and kept it there.

Through a series of events, virtually all of the library was eventually acquired by the Egyptian government, and is presently housed in a museum in Cairo. Of the parts that did not make it there, an unknown number were burned by Muhammad Ali’s mother, who feared that the codicies might cause too much trouble, and another part was eventually sold to an organization in the Netherlands, after it had been unsuccessfully offered for sale in the U.S.

The Languages

Though the Nag Hammadi library was written in Coptic, some linguists have suggested that it had been translated to Coptic from Syriac, based on the wording of certain works, like the Gospel of Thomas. The prevailing scholarly opinion is that it was originally written in Greek, but there is a strong case to be made for a Syriac origin.

In his essay, “The Fifth Gospel?”, for example, Nicholas Perrin points to linguistic analysis to suggest that the Gnostic Gospels were in fact Second Century Syriac documents, rather than First Century Judean. He says, “As I have argued more fully elsewhere, the evidence seems to show that the Coptic
gospel is not so much a witness to the historical Jesus, but instead a witness
to early Syriac Christianity. Following a linguistic analysis of the Coptic collection, with particular attention to the use of catchwords, it appears that
Thomas was not written—per the standard and prevailing assumption—in Greek, as an evolving sayings collection, dating back to the first or early second century. Instead, it seems that our sayings gospel was written in Syriac, as a piece, showing dependence on the first Syriac gospel record,
Tatian’s Diatessaron (c. ad 173).”

Perrin’s Findings

A page from Perrin’s “The Fifth Gospel?” showing the comparison between the Gospel of Thomas, the Diatessaron (a Second Century Syriac harmonization of the Synoptic Gospels) , and Scripture.

According to Perrin, the wording in the Gospel of Thomas is more reminiscent of the Diatessaron than the actual Gospel accounts, suggesting that the Gospel of Thomas was derived from the Diatessaron, not from the Synoptic Gospels. What this means for the Gnostic Gospels is that they may well have been written in the wrong time and place, with the wrong content, to be Scripture.

While the Gnostic Gospels themselves were physically dated to the Fifth Century, it is the materials contained within that were dated to the Second Century. This would imply that the Gospel of Thomas was written in the Second Century, never mind the fact that he is not believed to have survived to the turn of the century. Historians place him in India in the late 70’s when he died, yet, the Gospel of Thomas is dated to somewhere between 120-150 AD. That disparity is rather difficult to ignore.

Do bear in mind that I’ve only chosen to focus my attention on one small portion of the overall library because it is so big a detailed analysis would end up becoming a series of its own. The idea is not out of the question, but for now, I plan on sticking with the more skin-deep approach. I trust that the person reading this is more than capable of doing their own research.

The Contents

Going beyond the age of the documents, there are also the contents to be considered. What the Gospel of Thomas contains is a list of sayings attributed to Jesus throughout His ministry. Some are correct, others only partially so, and most find absolutely no correlation with what is found in the Synoptic Gospels. It runs the full gamut of credibility, however, it also completely lacks a narrative.

While some have suggested that the Gospel of Thomas is as old as the document commonly referred to as “Q”, the fact of the matter is that one would be hard pressed to make the case given the similarities between it and the Diatessaron.

Here are a few examples of what is found in the Gospel of Thomas:

#3. Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

#7. Jesus said, “Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.”

#9. Jesus said, “Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn’t take root in the soil and didn’t produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.” (Similar to the Parable of the Sower)

Finally, #14. Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits.

When you go into any region and walk about in the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them.

After all, what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it’s what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.”

Note that much of 14 appears to be the very characterization of Gnosticism, while one small portion actually pertains to something Jesus said. This is an example of what I was saying. It is not difficult to insert an outside influence into Scripture and make it sound good. What simply does not help is that people today seem to be unwilling to sit down and engage with Scripture. People do not want to learn, and will be easily duped when someone comes along with heretical teaching that sounds similar to some half-remembered verse they heard in Sunday school.

How They Fail the Test

In my post on what constitutes heresy, I made the point that biblical teaching must be consistent with what is found in the Bible. The Bible is, in and of itself, the final judge of what is Scripture and what is not. Each of the books in Scripture find corroboration with the other books. Both Testaments support each other, with high degrees of agreement. Anything that does not mesh with this system is not to be considered Scripture. This is why the Gnostic Gospels fail as Scripture. Gnosticism is not biblically supported, it is actually proved false by it.

In Part 3, we will take a look at the Corpus Hermeticus.


Allow me to Introduce Myself…

I am a married carpenter, parent of ten children (six sons, four daughters) and a currently serving Medic in the National Guard. I currently reside in a metropolitan city in the Midwest, though I’m a native Texan.

In case any are wondering, EngMed is short for Engineer Medic. I’m currently serving as a Platoon Medic in a Combat Engineer Company, so that seemed a fitting name, wouldn’t y’all think?

My interests vary between religion, politics, art, literature, hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, music, writing and serving the Lord. Yes, I am an evangelical Christian and I won’t ever shy away from the subject. I invite any to ask questions, debate and will gladly pray for any who ask.

In terms of politics, I’m a Conservative Constitutionalist. No, I’m not a Republican. I’m actually very disaffected with them, given that their commitment to conservative values tend to disappear faster than water on the surface of the sun.

I’m pro-gun, pro-life, pro-death penalty, and pro-limited government. I believe that the Constitution is the law of the land, not social whim.

I’m anti-Islam (a topic I will expand upon in the future), against virtually all forms of gun control, and I’m totally OK with the idea of legalizing marijuana, though I personally detest the stuff.

Well, I think that’s about all I have at this time. If y’all wanna know more, feel free to ask. I’ll just end with this quote:

“Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.” “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.”

Just a quick comment

When I first began this endeavor, I made a point of frequently stating that I welcome dissenting voices, and that has not changed. If you take issue with anything I say in any of my posts, feel free to speak up. I will respectfully respond to your comments. In fact, I will always respond to dissenting voices first.

That being said, for the first time in the years that I have operated this blog, I actually had to delete an entire conversation. Why? The dissenting voice was rude, disrespectful, and uncooperative. My two rules are very simple.

1. If you speak up in dissent, be aware that you bear the burden of proof. I will ask you to prove any opposing views you choose to present.

2. When you speak up, and during the conversation that follows, I ask that you keep things respectful. Rudeness and vulgarity will get your comments deleted, and you will be banned once I figure out how to do that.

The purpose to my blog is to teach, to inform, and to openly exchange ideas. There is no place in all of that for childish behavior. I thank all y’all for your time.

Apologetics Course, Lesson Five: The Existence of God, pt. II

In this lesson, we will be dealing with the design of the universe. In his book, “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins makes a rather telling statement that cannot ever be ignored. He said, “One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.” No matter how much an atheist argues against the existence of God, one of the things they have not been able to explain away is how our universe shows signs of design at all levels.

The Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle was first proposed by Brandon Carter at a 1973 symposium in Krakow, Poland. This event was being held in honor of Copernicus’ 500th birthday, and Carter, an astrophysicist, upset people by proposing a principal that actually contradicts the Copernican Principal, which states that humans do not occupy any kind of special place in the universe. The principal proposed by Carter comes in two forms: strong, and weak, and holds the exact opposite of Copernicus. Carter is quoted as saying, “Although our situation is not necessarily central, it is inevitably privileged to some extent.” (A third variation-Final– was added in 1986 when Barrow and Tipler published The Anthropic Cosmological Principle)

The Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP) stipulates that the observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable, but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that the universe be old enough for it to have already done so. Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) states that the universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history. Final Anthropic Principle (FAP) states that intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out.

What all three of these mean is that our universe seems to be very plainly tuned in such a way as to not only make our existence possible, but inevitable. The conditions in our physical universe are such that intelligent life was going to come about at one point or another, and there is no way such a thing could have come about through unguided means. This speaks even further to the fact that our universe was created by a being who exists outside of our physical world. Only meaningful intelligence could bring such a thing about. That God constructed our universe with us in mind could not be clearer.

These conditions are so fine-tuned that even the slightest variation in the multitude of factors required for complex, intelligent life to exist would result in either no life, or no complex life. For example, David H. Bailey, said in his article “What is the Anthropic Principal of Cosmology?”,

“As a single example of the weak anthropic principle, consider the force of gravitation. It must be balanced very closely to the expansion of the universe to provide a universe that fosters intelligent beings. If it were slightly weaker, then in the early stages of the big bang, matter would have dispersed too rapidly to permit stars, much less galaxies, to form. On the other hand, if gravitation were slightly stronger, then the universe would have reached a maximum extent and then recollapsed in a big crunch long before carbon-based life could have arisen.” (

The Anthropic Principal has caused no small amount of drama in the scientific community, with many scientists dismissing the principle as tautology, a statement with little or no substance. However, some rather weighty names in the scientific community have spoken up in the opposite direction. For example, Stephen Hawking said,

“[T]he Anthropic Principle is essential, if one is to pick out a solution to represent the universe, from the whole zoo of solutions allowed by M theory.”

Andrei Linde, theoretical physicist and the Harald Trap Friis Professor of Physics at Stanford University said,

Those who dislike anthropic principles are simply in denial. This principle is not a universal weapon, but a useful tool, which allows us to concentrate on the fundamental problems of physics by separating them from the purely environmental problems, which may have an anthropic solution. One may hate the Anthropic Principle or love it, but I bet that eventually everyone is going to use it.”

Roger Penrose, co-author of the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorem, also supports the principle, stating,

“The argument can be used to explain why the conditions happen to be just right for the existence of (intelligent) life on the Earth at the present time. For if they were not just right, then we should not have found ourselves to be here now, but somewhere else, at some other appropriate time. This principle was used very effectively by Brandon Carter and Robert Dicke to resolve an issue that had puzzled physicists for a good many years. The issue concerned various striking numerical relations that are observed to hold between the physical constants (the gravitational constant, the mass of the proton, the age of the universe, etc.). A puzzling aspect of this was that some of the relations hold only at the present epoch in the Earth’s history, so we appear, coincidentally, to be living at a very special time (give or take a few million years!). This was later explained, by Carter and Dicke, by the fact that this epoch coincided with the lifetime of what are called main-sequence stars, such as the Sun. At any other epoch, the argument ran, there would be no intelligent life around to measure the physical constants in question—so the coincidence had to hold, simply because there would be intelligent life around only at the particular time that the coincidence did hold!” (Emperor’s New Mind, 1989)

Needless to say, the reason why the appearance of design in our universe is so much of a problem for scientists is not necessarily that there are a multitude of other possible explanations, it is that they simply do not want the solution to be God. Without God, there is no accountability, there is no responsibility, there is only what the flesh wants. For that reason, they dismiss the idea of God, and imply that belief in God somehow equates to a simple complacency that renders us devoid of a desire to better know and understand our universe. Sadly, they ignore the fact that Scripture encourages us to get to know our environment better. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21, KJV)

Next, we will deal with Deoxyribonucleic Acid, or DNA for short. As most of us may be aware, DNA is a self-replicating substance that is present in virtually all lifeforms. It is usually located within the nucleus of individual cells, with another type (Mitochondrial) found in the Mitochondria of the cell. This material is the means by which reproduction in its various forms is carried out. It is made up of four chemicals, adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T), which are coded into chains made up of different combinations depending on what the intended purpose is. This is what gives us two eyes, two hands, two feet, and determines things like our coloring, and even which diseases we may or may not be susceptible to.

According to modern science, DNA came about through a random process which resulted in the evolution of all life from a single ancestral organism. Over time, the DNA of the resultant offspring of this organism experienced changes that led to life branching out into entirely new forms. They argue that things like hands with opposable thumbs, flagellar motors on certain types of bacterium, and even our rather advanced brains all came about due to pressures placed on our ancestors through natural selection.

The problem with this idea is that it does not make sense. If we were to go back to the Law of Cause and Effect, this simply does not add up. When you look at DNA from a different angle, you get a different idea of what you are dealing with. Consider the following dictionary definitions:

Information: the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects. (Merriam-Webster, definition 2b)

Language: a formal system of signs and symbols (such as FORTRAN or a calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions. (Merriam-Webster, definition 1b5)

System: a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. (Merriam-Webster, definition 1)

If we were to take a fresh look at DNA, through the lens of the definitions provided by Merriam-Webster, we can see that DNA is clearly a language-based information system. Definition 2b of information clearly states that DNA qualifies as information. When you look at the four components of DNA, symbolized as A, G, C, and T, you find a formal system of signs and symbols, along with clear rules for how these symbols are to be combined, which means that DNA also meets the definition of a language. Finally, DNA forms into chains that regularly interact with each other in the process of determining what we will all look, sound, and live like, which means that DNA also meets the definition of a system. Now, this brings to mind another type of language-based information system that people give little to no thought about: computer programs.

Merriam-Webster defines a program as “a sequence of coded instructions that can be inserted into a mechanism (such as a computer)”. That looks an awful lot like DNA, does it not? Now, this brings up an interesting point. If DNA qualifies as a program, as a language-based information system, then how did it come about? As far as anyone can tell, programs are not in the habit of writing themselves, and DNA writing itself does not mesh well with the Theory of Evolution. If you go back the definition of information, note that the definition includes both nucleotides in DNA and binary digits in a computer program. The question then becomes, if DNA meets all of those requirements, and is in fact a program, then who is the programmer?

Earlier today, I caught a short video by a blogger I follow and he made a statement that I was momentarily startled by. He said that we cannot scientifically prove or disprove that God exists. While he is technically correct, in the same way that one cannot prove or disprove the existence of muscles by looking solely at an x-ray, there is a point to be made here. Through the laws of science we can not only determine that He is absolutely essential to our existence, but we can also point to the areas where His work is plainly visible and draw out the fact of His existence from that.

One way to tell that He exists is by looking at the copious amount of evidence of design at all levels of our universe, from the micro to the macro. The First Cause has been present and actively involved from the very moment He opened His mouth and spoke out “Let there be…”. He has not only created the entire universe, but He wrote all of the laws by which it is governed. Dr. Hugh Ross, a Cosmologist and Astrophysicist who also happens to be a minister and apologist says that the Lord has two books, the Book of Nature, and the Book of Scripture. In order to show people that the Lord exists, one only needs to turn to those two books to do so. Aside from that, people just need to be willing to listen.

In the next lesson, we will get into some of the math involved. We will return to some of the Messianic prophesies found in the Old Testament, and see what the likelihood is that someone matching the description found within will actually exist and do as it all says it will.

Apologetics Course, Lesson Four: The Existence of God

[Reader’s note, much of the information contained in this post follows the acronym S.U.R.G.E used by Frank Turek and his people at As always, I am not looking to write in great detail on these topics. If you wish to know more, by all means continue to research further.]

The next most common objection you will come across deals with the existence of God. You will encounter people whose entire objection to Christianity is that there is no God, that science has proven that God does not exist, and that there are no scientific explanations for the existence of God. This will be your chance to show them how it is that they are wrong, that science does in fact point to the existence of God. This goes back to the previous lesson dealing with the differing schools of thought. I usually choose a Classical approach, with a touch of Presuppositionalism in order to keep me grounded. Especially if you have issues with pride, like I do, then you have to find something to anchor yourself to in order to avoid getting lost in the argument and wrecking the whole effort.

The Law of Cause and Effect

The law of cause and effect states that every cause has an effect and every effect is the cause of something else. The finite nature of our universe indicates that there has to be a first cause, an eternal cause, an initial causal agent that is uncaused. A cue ball doesn’t roll itself, it takes someone with a pool cue to set it in motion. This law forms the bedrock of all of science. Without cause and effect, you have no scientific growth or understanding. One shining example of this is Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states, “Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.”

Atheism comes with the expectation that we must adhere to the Law of Cause and Effect in every area except this one. They would have us believe that there was no first cause, that the universe simply created itself, and then morphed itself into its present form through unguided means. For obvious reasons, we must look at that assertion through the lens of science, and see if the evidence backs up the idea. From where I stand, it simply does not stack up.

The evidence for a finite universe is so immense, and so well defined that very few scientists will even question the idea that the universe had a beginning. Granted, the scientific community is not monolithic, and there are a few scientists who have clung to the idea of a steady state universe, but they are few and far between. The majority seem to be very content with the idea that our universe is finite, that it had a definite beginning, and will have a definite end. Where they go off the rails is when faced with the idea that these facts dictate that there had to be a beginner that is separate from the processes which govern our physical existence. Logic dictates that blind, unguided processes cannot spontaneously go from chaotic, to organized, and back. A bowl of Alphabits Cereal is not going to spontaneously spell out the opening lines of Shakespeare’s “Othello”, now is it?

What we must then do is show them our interpretation of the available evidence, so that they can choose whether or not to make the logical leap they must make. In order to do that, we must become a bit more familiar with the fields of Cosmology, Astronomy, and Physics in order to accomplish this rather weighty task. We will begin with something I have already mentioned, the Steady State.

What is the Steady State?

For millennia, virtually all of humanity was convinced that the universe was static, that it went on for eternity. This ideology holds that the universe has no end, no beginning, no movement, and no change. This was the dominant belief in the scientific community for thousands of years. In fact, Albert Einstein was an adherent of the Steady State Model, and it was his Theory of General Relativity that caused him the greatest difficulty because it showed that the universe existed in a state of continuous expansion, but more on that in a bit.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This argument was first proposed by Dr. William Lane Craig, and is one that has caused scientists no small amount of angst. The argument itself is said to draw from a mixture of arguments stemming from Greek philosophy (Aristotelianism) and ancient Islamic thought. In fact, Kalam is the Arabic word for speech, and is tied to an Islamic form of scholasticism dating back to the 11th Century. These ideas hold that 1) there must be an unmoved mover, and 2) that the universe came into existence due to the will of the unmoved mover (God).

It has been my experience that atheists will become furiously angry over the use of this argument, which tells me that we are on the right track. The argument holds that everything that has a beginning must have a beginner. This applies to the universe, among a great many other things. When viewed through the lens of cause and effect, the first cause is what creates the universe. We arrive at this conclusion because it is consistent with the Law of Cause and Effect. According to Space-Time Theorems, prior to the moment of the Big Bang, none of the physical laws of the universe existed. That means that there was no time, no space, no matter. This sounds an awful lot like “nothing”, or “without form” (tohu תֹ֙הוּ֙) as it says in Genesis 1:2. Logically speaking, that means that the First Cause had to be:

  1. Spaceless because He created space
  2. Timeless because He created time
  3. Immaterial because He created matter
  4. Powerful because He created from nothing
  5. Intelligent because both the Big Bang and the universe are clearly designed.
  6. Personal because He made a choice to create a universe from nothing. (Courtesy of Frank Turek and his team at

When I first began the process of researching and writing this lesson, it became clear that this would not be easy. I am not a scientist, and my scientific background consists primarily of High School Biology, some College science classes, and whatever I have been able to learn on my own. Make no mistake, while I do have the patience to sit through various forms of media in order to learn what I need to understand the materials I am presenting, I will never make the claim to expertise.

I was initially stymied by how to present this lesson, but a presentation by Frank Turek provided me with what I needed. The acronym S.U.R.G.E is used by apologist Frank Turek to demonstrate five points of evidence that the universe had a definite beginning, which in turn supports the Kalam Cosmological Argument in the statement that whatever has a beginning must have a beginner. The five points in the acronym corresponds with a point of evidence.

S-The Second Law of Thermodynamics

This is a physical law that makes known a few biblical principals that we simply take for granted. First, the law states that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The total entropy of a system and its surroundings can remain constant in ideal cases where the system is in thermodynamic equilibrium, or is undergoing a (fictive) reversible process. In all processes that occur, including spontaneous processes, the total entropy of the system and its surroundings increases and the process is irreversible in the thermodynamic sense. The increase in entropy accounts for the irreversibility of natural processes, and the asymmetry between future and past.

What all of this means in Layman’s terms is that a system that is organized, and isolated, will experience no decay of any kind. Our system, meaning our entire universe, is not an isolated system, which means that our system does experience decay over time, and becomes gradually more unstable as time passes. As the Apostle Paul said,

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21, KJV)

In the original Greek, the word for corruption here, φθορᾶς (phthoras), translates as “Corruption, destruction, decay, rottenness, decomposition” (Strong’s Greek 5356). This is entropy expressed in biblical language.

What is entropy? The entropy of an object is a measure of the amount of energy which is unavailable to do work. Entropy is also a measure of the number of possible arrangements the atoms in a system can have. In this sense, entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness. The lower the entropy rate of a given system, the more stable and organized that system is. The greater the entropy rate of a system, the more disorganized the system, and our system (universe) has an entropy rate that is gradually increasing as can be expected given the circumstances. If our universe existed in a steady state, then our entropy would be equalized, and it is not.

The best way to illustrate this is to look at the universe prior to the fall of Adam and Eve vs the universe after the fall. In Genesis 1 through 3, what we see is a world that was perfectly balanced, that was for all intents and purposes an isolated system. There was no decay, no death, no struggle, no disease. It was perfect in every sense of the word, and the Lord walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. The relationship between humanity and God was perfect, and there was only one law: do not eat from that one tree.

The instant our first parents broke that singular law, death, decay, disease, and struggle came into the picture. In other words, the system ceased to be isolated, and the entropy rate began to increase. Think of it as a countdown timer, and what it is counting down to is a system reset that will result in humanity returning to that perfect state once again, which is what we will see after the Day of Judgment.

U-The Expanding Universe

As I mentioned earlier, the idea of an expanding universe was not a well-known idea in the scientific community. Until the early 20th Century, the consensus was that the universe was infinite, ageless, non-expanding, unchanging, and totally steady. In 1929, things began to change. Edwin Hubble was working at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, when he noted that there was a noticeable red-shift in his observations of distant galaxies. This red-shift phenomenon indicates that the galaxies in question were in motion. When he compared the red-shift of the galaxies with their distances relative to each other, he noted that they were gradually moving away from each other. This indicated to him that the universe was expanding, and prompted him to contact Albert Einstein and invite him out to have a look for himself.

Since that time, the idea that our universe is finite, expanding, and moving from stable to unstable has become all but guaranteed. There are very few dissenting voices within the scientific community, with most finding the evidence more than compelling enough to agree that the Steady State model is no longer valid. Speaking from a biblical perspective, all one can say is, “It’s about time.”

For nearly 3,000 years, the only document on this planet that had definitively referred to the universe as expanding has been the Bible. The prophet Isaiah, for example, makes the statement that the universe is expanding.

It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:” (Isaiah 40:22, KJV)

In the original Hebrew, the root word used for “stretcheth” is natah (נָטָה) which translates as “To stretch out, spread out, extend, incline, bend” (Strong’s 5186). This word is a reference to the expansion of the subject, which in this case is the heavens (Samayim שָׁמַ֔יִם ). This is a clear statement that the heavens (the universe) are expanding, and was made roughly about 2,800 to 3,000 years before the modern scientific community caught on. Given that humanity had no way of knowing that in and of itself, it lends credence to the idea that the only way the prophet Isaiah could have known that was if someone with higher knowledge either imparted it on him, or showed it to him.

R-The Radiation Afterglow of the Universe

Also known as the Cosmic Background Radiation, this phenomenon is the left over heat from the Big Bang that occurred when the universe was created. Scientists have described it as a “baby photo” of the universe, showing what it looked like shortly after the universe came into being. The significance of this was not lost on Stephen Hawking, who called it “the discovery of the century, if not all time”. George Smoot, a Nobel Prize winning experimentalist, and co-discoverer of the Great Galaxy seeds, said that it was “like looking at God”. It was so compelling that Robert Wilson, one of the co-discoverers of the afterglow said, “Certainly there was something that set it off. Certainly, if you’re religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”

This leads us to the next point:

G-The Great Galaxy Seeds in the Radiation Afterglow

When the universe came into being, there were ripples in temperature and gravity that caused certain areas to condense, which in turn would cause the formation of galaxies. They are known as Galaxy Seeds. These areas had been mathematically predicted, but were not confirmed until NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) in 1989. Its primary purpose was to find those ripples, and measure them. Their findings were published in 1992, and they caused tremendous excitement. George Smoot, the lead astronomer for the project was quoted as saying, “If you’re religious, it’s “like looking at God.” Another astrophysicist, Michael Turner, called it the “Holy Grail of Cosmology”.

The images captured by COBE showed clear proof that the universe had a beginning, and was able to show what the universe looked like at various points in its growth and development, all of which shows not only how well tuned our universe is to our existence, but also clearly demonstrates the hand of God in His efforts to take the whole chaotic mess and turn it into an orderly existence complete with all of the physical laws required to keep it that way.

E-Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

I think we would be hard pressed to find someone over the age of ten who has not heard of this rather famous theory. Owing almost entirely to the equation E=MC2, most people have at least a passing awareness that this theory has had an absolutely tremendous impact on their lives. The most amazing part is that most people are not aware of just how much.

As I mentioned before, when Einstein first completed the equations for this theory, he was a proponent of the Steady State model. The math involved in this theory caused him no small amount of panic because it only worked if the universe were in a constant state of expansion. It was such a profound shock to his system that his first instinct was to assume he had made a mistake and rework the math to fit a Steady State. It would be years later, in 1929, when he would travel out to Pasadena, CA at the behest of Edwin Hubble.

When faced with the evidence that his math had actually been right, Einstein was forced to discard the Steady State model in favor of a new model, one which came with very heavy implications for many in the scientific community. Now, they had to determine how the universe came into being, and by which agent. It seemed that the religious, especially Christians, were the only ones not very surprised. As I said, the Bible had been making these statements about the universe for nearly 3,000 years. All that was left was to say, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

In the next lesson, we will continue to examine the argument for the existence of God. We must be convinced of it ourselves if we are to argue it to others, and we must know what we are talking about in order to get there.

Apologetics Course, Lesson Three: Common Objections

What we will cover here are some of the more common objections you will face. While this list is not exhaustive, it will most certainly equip you to answer when someone seeks to silence you. All it takes is a bit of knowledge, a lot of guidance from the Holy Spirit, and you can successfully defend the faith. Always remember that the majority of objections to Christianity simply come from the desire to avoid accountability. If there is no God, or if Salvation can be obtained through our good works and good thoughts, then there is no need of Salvation through Jesus Christ. If there is no need of Jesus as Lord, then they get to remain ignorant of the wrath of God that awaits them. As for the other objections, the Enemy has spent a lot of time spinning webs of deception, he knows Scripture better than anyone on this planet, knows human nature better than any human could ever know, and has endless patience. While he is not creative, he certainly has the time and energy necessary to twist and contort every inch of the Truth to his own purposes.

Going into this, understand that you are not going to change a single mind, or a single heart, with your arguments. No amount of sound logic, eloquence, or solidly proven scientific facts are going to win you a single convert, so get that idea out of your mind. There is only one thing that will change their hearts and minds, and that is the Lord God Himself. It is from Him that all knowledge comes, and it is to Him that we must all turn. When sharing the Gospel, remember that you are not the one in charge, He is. This means that you cannot for one second allow your pride to get in the way. When someone outright rejects you to your face, bear in mind that they are not rejecting you, but the architect of our universe, Jesus Christ. He is the one, not you, who will call them to account for that rejection. We are commanded to share the Gospel, not force people to accept it. You can lead a human being to knowledge, but you cannot make him think.

The Reliability of Scripture

One of the areas that anti-Christian opponents will most often seek to hit you from is Scriptural reliability. Jewish opponents will tell you that the New Testament is full of antisemitic lies, that it has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism, and will deny the fact that Jesus fulfilled even a single Messianic prophecy. Muslim opponents will tell you that someone, either the Apostle Paul or Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea, corrupted the text of the New Testament and turned Jesus from a mere prophet into a Greek-style god-man. They may even share a quote or two from one of Bart Ehrman’s books, in order to drive home the idea that you should not place any trust in New Testament Scripture. It is important to know how to answer their objections and questions.

When I was going through Basic Training, there was a point when we had to put on our protective masks, what you would call “gas masks”, and go into the gas chamber. Why? Because we needed to know that we could trust our equipment. We were told that this would be imperative on the battlefield, should we ever need to use our masks.

On that day, we donned our masks, walked into a chamber filled with a dense cloud of riot control gas, also known as CS gas, and stood in there. Our masks protected us from the effects of the gas, as predicted. No one had a moment of discomfort. Then we were instructed to take our masks off, and recite whichever piece of anything they instructed us to recite. Most of us were unable to complete the first line of what we were supposed to, and we all dissolved into extreme pain, screaming, coughing, and gagging. It was so unpleasant that I can still remember the smell of CS gas, and have not forgotten how to don my mask when called upon. (Must be done in eight seconds or less) That was the intent of the exercise, to drive home the point that our equipment works by showing us what it feels like without it.

In this lesson, we will deal with the first of the objections we will encounter. We will enter into the gas chamber, and come out knowing that our primary weapon, the Bible, is utterly reliable. We will know that we can trust the Bible on the battlefield. Think of this as walking into the gas chamber, taking off your mask, and taking in a deep breath of CS gas. You will learn things that will shock you, amaze you, and even scare you. Then you will have to go out and share this information with any who will stand still long enough to listen.

Textual Criticism

In order to demonstrate that the Bible is utterly reliable, in spite of the objections of opponents, one area that you will need to become familiar with is Textual Criticism. Textual Criticism is the process of attempting to ascertain the original wording of a text through the study of later copies of that text. Typically, historians consider a body of work accurately preserved if they have at least two copies for comparison. The more we know about what the original text of the New Testament said, the more precise we can be in our doctrinal pronouncements.

Do we have the originals?

No, what we have are later copies that make up the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, much of which is presently being researched and studied by the people of the Center for the Study of the New Testament Manuscripts ( Their Director, Dr. Daniel Wallace, has dedicated decades to the study and translation of these manuscripts, which were written in Greek, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin. Do you recall where I mentioned that historians regard a document as accurately preserved with a mere two copies of a body of work? At present, there are more than 25,000 copies of the New Testament housed in museums, archives, monasteries, and libraries all over the world. They come in the form of scrolls, codices, and fragments of papyri, carefully preserved and painstakingly translated on a daily basis. The body of work is so extensive, the New Testament is easily the most accurately preserved of all ancient documents. What this means is that the Lord is quite capable of preserving His Word, and we need to make sure that people understand this fact.

What’s more is, if we were to lose each and every copy of the New Testament on the planet, we would be able to reconstruct virtually the entire thing from the Patristic writings; the letters, sermons, and homilies written by the early Church fathers, dating back to the earliest disciples of the Apostles themselves. These men wrote so extensively that there is very little of the New Testament they did not cover. Not only did they provide us with nearly the entire text of the New Testament, they provided the proper context to it as well. It is through this body of work that we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that nearly any Bible we pick up can be trusted.

What are textual variants, and why are they important?

Textual variants in the New Testament are the subject of the study called textual criticism. Textual variants in manuscripts arise when a copyist makes deliberate or inadvertent alterations to a text that is being reproduced, and can be pretty serious. When the originals were being copied, there arose minor variations in the copying, due to things like regional dialects, the lack of a standardized form of spelling in Greek, personal preferences of the scribe, etc. All told, these variations account for approximately 400,000 textual variants. For point of reference, that is more variants than there are words in the New Testament. I know this might sound like a large number, but it really is not.

As I mentioned, there are more than 25,000 ancient copies of the New Testament, which accounts for millions of pages worth of text, or billions of lines of text. Of those variants, more than 95% of them are utterly meaningless. Nothing more than spelling differences that change nothing of the pronunciation or the meaning of the words contained. In other words, the differences found in this category come down to the difference between favor and favour. While both spellings are technically correct, depending on the dialect of English you are speaking, and change nothing of the meaning, that one letter difference is a textual variant.

People will tell you that the New Testament is full of errors because of those textual variants. You will have people ask you how it is that you can be so certain of the truth of Scripture given that such a huge number of errors can be found in the text. Now you know, it only seems like a huge number. It is an illusion caused by an incomplete picture that disappears when someone sheds light on the whole thing. This is where Bart Ehrman comes in.

In case some of you have not heard of this man, he is one of the world’s foremost Bible scholars. Along with Dr. Daniel Wallace, and Professor Bruce Metzger, he has a long and storied career in the realm of biblical scholarship. Sadly, he is also an atheist who has used his credentials to make money selling books that are geared toward robbing people of their faith. He has written books like “Misquoting Jesus” in which he has taken the time to lay out a case for Scriptural unreliability that has been gleefully seized upon by atheists, Muslims, and even Jews, as proof that Christianity is false. Sadly, most of them have not been paying close enough attention to what Ehrman says.

In the appendix section of his book “Misquoting Jesus”, Ehrman makes a rather profound admission about the reliability of Scripture. He says,

Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

There is a difference between what Ehrman writes in books intended for the non-scholarly audience and what he says when working with his colleagues. That difference is why I will always regard him as a fraud, and why I will always hang on to that quote. People who try to quote Ehrman’s work are often shocked and shaken when I point out this admission, and it has caused more than one opponent to break stride and reevaluate their position.

In the end, it is the evidence that clearly shows that the New Testament is as close to perfectly preserved as an ancient body of works can be. This demonstrates that we can safely trust in the fact that these works were not only written when they are believed to have been written, that they haven’t been altered, and that those events were related as they were heard and witnessed. It also clearly demonstrates the power of the Lord, who preserves His Word throughout thousands of year of history.

In the next lesson, we will delve more into the objections aimed at the reliability of Scripture, and clear up a lot of the misinformation that surrounds certain moments in history.

Headlines and how messy they can be

While shopping for dinner supplies yesterday, my wife and I happened across the current edition of a local bilingual newspaper, and my attention was immediately caught by the headline: “Trump announces a rule targeting legal immigrants”. (For personal security reasons, I will not divulge the name of the paper. That would give away which metro area I live in. Thank people on the Left, and their habit of doxing people they disagree with for this.)

The story that followed began with, “The Trump administration released a regulation Monday (Aug. 12) that could make it easier to reject green card and visa applications, thus reducing the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the United States.” Upon further investigation, I found that the Trump administration had in fact done just that, but there is a lot more to the story, and my searching has turned up some interesting facts that did not make it into the article for some odd reason; facts that I believe have a lot of bearing on the story.

The article says, “Under the rule, many green card and visa applicants could be rejected if they have low incomes or little education, or have used benefits, such as most forms of Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.”

According to Ken Cuccinelli, the acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, the goal is to bring in people who are capable of standing on their own two feet. He says,

“We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet, so if people are not able to be self-sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident”.

Thus far, all is true, but what they are leaving out is the most important. What they are leaving out is that this is not a new rule. They are, in fact, choosing to ignore the fact that the administration has chosen to enforce an existing rule, one that numerous previous administrations have chosen to ignore, for one reason or another.

One of the relevant statutes is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), which says in part,

Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible[…] Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes. In determining whether an alien is excludable under this paragraph, the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum consider the alien’s-(I) age; (II) health; (III) family status; (IV) assets, resources, and financial status; and (V) education and skills . . . .[Section 212(a)(4)]

According to U.S. Code, Title 8, Section 1601, self-sufficiency is the goal of U.S. immigration law. It says in part,

(1)”Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes.”

The next section really goes into the intent of the law.

(2) It continues to be the immigration policy of the United States that—
(A) aliens within the Nation’s borders not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations, and
(B) the availability of public benefits not constitute an incentive for immigration to the United States.

Next, we have 8 USC 1182, which states that inadmissible people are people who have certain health issues, who have committed certain types of crimes, to include acts of terrorism, and those who would be a “public charge”.

In Section 4 of 1182, the language of the INA is echoed in its general definition of a “Public Charge”,

A. In General

Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.

As you can see, this is already established Federal law, which means that the Trump administration has simply chosen to enforce laws that are already on the books. This hardly constitutes targeting legal immigrants.

What is happening here is that our government is taking the patently responsible step of ensuring that any immigrants to this country will be able to support themselves without dependence upon the social safety net that so many tax dollars disappear into. Nor is this without precedence.

Many other countries will not consider an application for immigration unless the applicant has some form of job skill, and money set aside to help them survive once they have been granted entry and are settled. One example of this is Canada.

Of their six main immigration categories, the only one that does not require a potential resident to have a job offer or six months worth of funds on hand is the Family Class Sponsorship, which allows Canadian citizens to sponsor close relatives such as parents, children, and siblings. The remainder have very strict skills and jobs requirements that must be met, and it is all done on a points-based system, with a set number of points required just to enter the country as an immigrant.

It is not right or fair to object to the government decision to enforce existing laws, while keeping silent when other countries do the exact same thing. In fact, it is downright stupid to take that position.

President Trump is not targeting legal immigrants. No legal immigrants already here will be impacted in any way by this rule. He is not targeting political asylees, as they are exempted under Federal law.

Where the impact will be felt will be among foriegn nationals seeking to immigrate. This means that a great many applying for entry will not be allowed in, because they will likely end up living on government assistance, and be unable to survive on their own.

What does this do for us? It cuts down the immigration bottleneck that presently has people waiting anywhere between 10 and 20 years to get in, allowing us to bring in skilled workers who can fill many of the positions that presently are not being filled. It also goes a long way toward freeing up much of the funding found in social programs like the food stamps and Medicaid

Now, to finish, I will tie this in with Scripture. Exodus 20:16 says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, it simply is not right to lie about or misrepresent something someone says or does. In this case, the person who wrote the article chose to misrepresent the decision made by President Trump, and they chose to write in such a way as to create the wrong impression. In other words, their intent was to continue to paint President as an anti-immigrant racist, and they have failed.

As we have seen, all that has happened here is that he has done something other presidents chose not to do, and he did so for the benefit of this nation.

Apologetics Course, Lesson Two: Schools of Thought

As with any other system of belief or practice, there are a variety of methodologies, schools of thought, and differing philosophies. Given that people tend to have frequent differences of opinion, it isn’t really a surprise that differing schools of thought would emerge. Here, we will take a look into some of the different approaches that apologists take in order to defend the faith. As you read through this, do bear in mind that each one of the apologetic methods listed has its own pros and cons. Some like to adhere strictly to one or another, but others (like me) see merit in them all and will use them interchangeably, or all at once.

Classical Apologetics- “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1

Classical apologetics is a method that employs a variety of theistic arguments in order to establish the existence of God. These arguments come from a variety of areas of study including, but not limited to, cosmology, biology, genetics, engineering, along with ontological and moral arguments to prove God’s existence. The idea is to create at least a reasonable doubt in the mind of your opponent, so that you may move forward with presenting the Gospel. Once they have established the existence of God, they will follow up with evidence from fulfilled prophecy, mathematics, the historical reliability of Scripture, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus to distinguish Christianity from all other religions. The idea is to show people the way in which the heavens declare the glory of God. This approach is highly effective when dealing with atheists, agnostics, and to a certain degree, Jews and Muslims.

Evidential Apologetics- “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess. 5:21

Evidential apologetics, sometimes called “Evidentialism”, is an approach to apologetics that emphasizes the use of evidence to demonstrate that God exists. This is evidence that is supposed to be shared by both believer and unbeliever alike. It uses the New Testament’s historical documents first, then at Jesus’ miracles, especially the Resurrection, which point to Jesus as the Son of God. This is highly useful when speaking with Atheists, especially when using a Classical approach.

Presuppositional Apologetics- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

A method that believes that Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews. Presuppositionalists maintain that many of the classical arguments are logically fallacious, or do not prove enough, when used as arguments to prove the existence or character of God. This position is valid, but complicated. I tried to use it with an atheist once, and he was highly amused.

This argument is more likely to be called reductio ad absurdum, or “reduction to absurdity“, which is a form of argument that attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible. They claim that by accepting the assumptions of non-Christians, which fundamentally deny the Trinitarian God of the Bible, one could not even formulate an intelligible argument.

In his book, “Van Til: The Theologian”, John Frame says Presuppositional thought is,

a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition… This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.”

This method is highly effective against Jewish and Muslim opponents due to the fact that they already believe in the existence of YHWH. There isn’t anything to convince them of in that area, so this method effectively creates a shortcut. Beginning with the point that God exists, the Presuppositionalist can then demonstrate the folly of continuing on with belief in Judaism or Islam by showing where their belief systems are wrong and why Christianity is right.

In the coming posts, we will cover some of the more common objections to Christianity, and how to answer them. If you see something I include, and feel like you would like to learn more, I absolutely encourage you to research beyond this. All I am providing is a bare bones overview of the subject.

Those funny moments

Tomorrow, my wife and I celebrate our third wedding anniversary. A little bit ago, I was teasing her and she was killing my joke. What does this tremendously marvelous woman say to me when I give her a hard time about killing the joke? Happy “Haha, you’re stuck with me forever” day. Yes, folks, I give you, the love of my life. 😂😂😂

On the most recent shootings

As always, I have to urge caution. No one needs to make a single decision while emotions are running high, as those types of decisions often lead to unintended and very negative consequences. What also needs not happen is the politicization of human tragedy. To anyone who believes that we shouldn’t allow a tragedy to go to waste, sit down, shut up, and let adults deal with it.

What we have is situations that appear random, but something is amiss. We have had three mass shootings within a week, in three different areas of the country, with two separated by a few hours and several states. What we don’t have is an absence of evidence that this was if fact a series of coordinated attacks.

I want y’all to take a moment, take a breath, and look back on mass shootings of the past. The shooters were loners, isolated, mentally unstable, and they didn’t appear to have any political motives. When you factor in the guy in New Zealand, and the guy who shot up the Synagogue in California, what you have is a series of attacks that had an identifiable political motivation. In case y’all missed it, the common thread is white supremacist ideology.

Now, I don’t mind saying that I don’t believe in any race beyond the human race, but I’m obviously in the minority there. Most people, whether they care about race or not, regard race as an actual thing, but I degress. These attacks were coordinated, aimed at a certain political ideology, and obviously calculated for maximum effect. It’s also safe to say that these guys didn’t plan on surviving, in spite of the fact that a few of them have. In case y’all were wondering, that’s the definition of terrorism.

What we have here isn’t your garden variety acts of mass violence. These were terrorist attacks, plain and simple. The only difference here is the terrorists aren’t Muslim for a change. Regardless of the ideology, it’s still the same old human evil. It still involves someone who has surrendered their humanity. It is still utterly contemptible, and beyond comprehension.

If any were seeking my advice on how to handle this, I would say someone’s cyber division ought to be tasked with tracking down anyone who has even had a tangential involvement in these attacks, and remove them so quickly that their existence is wiped from the space-time continuum. They’ve made their statement, now it’s time we hit back with the full weight of a fleet of Mac trucks. They’ve demonstrated that they are a definite threat to the general public, and it would behoove us to do everything within our power to neutralize that threat.

As always, gun control isn’t the answer. We already have too many gun control laws on the books, not that they’ve been the slightest bit effective. It’s time for our society to grow a backbone, and flatten the threat that has been presented to us. Find the domestic terrorists responsible for this, and make sure that they can’t do it again. Plain and simple.