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-Is Jesus Merely a Myth Like Santa Claus?

by Dr. D ~ December 14th, 2017

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok,_2010220px-20121123_SantaClaus-Chicago

Is Jesus merely a myth like Santa Claus?

This is the season when millions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and millions of children believe in a ‘magic’ coming of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Adults all know that Santa is a fun myth perpetrated on young children this time of the year but lately atheist billboards have claimed that the story of Jesus is in the same category.

Also in the last 10 years or so a number of articles and books have championed the idea of a non-historical ‘mythical Jesus’– that there never was a real man called Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore they contend that the whole Nativity story is nothing more than an elaborate hoax or myth?

However, there is ample historical evidence supporting the existence of a real man called Jesus of Nazareth- the real ‘reason for the season’ after all. Whether he was actually born on December 25 is a different question entirely but the story of his birth can be found in Matthew (Mt 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Lk 1:26-56, 2:1-40).

The fact remains that most actual scholars in the related historical fields about  Christian origins and 1st century Roman Judea continue to accept that there was a real historical man called Jesus who lived in 1st century Judea. Though there are major disagreements over what he actually might have done, what he said, and who he really was— just a man, a religious leader, a prophet, The Messiah, or the Son of God.

Here’s a great article about what real scholars in the field actually think about the historicity of the man Jesus and those who claim he is nothing more than a myth. I found it on Dr. Ben Witherington’s blog:

    “Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars” by Larry Hurtado

Here’s the opening paragraph from the article:

The overwhelming body of scholars, in New Testament, Christian Origins, Ancient History, Ancient Judaism, Roman-era Religion, Archaeology/History of Roman Judea, and a good many related fields as well, hold that there was a first-century Jewish man known as Jesus of Nazareth, that he engaged in an itinerant preaching/prophetic activity in Galilee, that he drew to himself a band of close followers, and that he was executed by the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.  …

<Read the whole article>

Note:   Dr. Larry Hurtado is a New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity and Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland

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(Reprinted from the Apologetica page)

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-Atheists Call Christmas Story ‘Fake News’

by Dr. D ~ December 8th, 2017

atheist-billboard

                                                                                        (Image: American Atheists)

The American Atheists like to stir up controversy with billboards during the Christmas season each year. Usually the message is anti-Christmas and anti-church and this year is no exception. The American Atheists have borrowed a page from politics and the main stream media calling the birth of Jesus Christ, the real reason for the season, nothing more than ‘fake news.’  See their 2017 billboard above.

I find it interesting that the placement of the billboards is in the ‘Bible Belt’ this year. Also I wonder why they only pick on Christian holidays and do not dare to attack other religions like Islam for example? I guess it is always safe to challenge Christians.

Since they are obviously doing this for publicity, can you imagine all of the world- wide attention they would receive if they called anything from the Quran ‘fake news’ and told Muslims to skip going to the mosque?  It would probably be called ‘hate speech’ and ‘Islamophobic’ for sure.             *Top

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-Supreme Court ‘Bake-Off’ For Religious Freedom

by Dr. D ~ December 5th, 2017

Oblique_facade_2,_US_Supreme_Court

              (Supreme Court Building: Wikipedia)

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case: Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The importance of this case for the future of religious freedom in the USA cannot be overstated. From Christianity Today:

The case of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding gets its big day in court today. …

Advocates on both sides anticipate Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will set a nationwide precedent for whether the government can require businesses, organizations, and individuals to act against their own sincerely held religious beliefs—particularly following the legalization of same-sex marriage and equal rights granted to LGBT Americans.

As CT previously reported, Phillips’s refusal to bake the same-sex wedding cake in 2012 violated Colorado’s antidiscrimination law, and a state appeals court denied his free speech and free exercise claims.  …

During oral arguments, the court’s conservative justices challenged the gay couple’s counsel, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director David Cole, over how Colorado’s law applies to people of faith.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked if Catholic Legal Services would be forced to choose between “not providing any pro bono legal services or providing those services in connection with the same-sex marriage,” and Cole said if it were operating like a retail store, yes, the Washington Examiner reported.

Justices Samuel Alito and Gorsuch asked about accommodations for same-sex couples at religious schools, but Cole saw the example of schools’ free exercise as separate from public accommodations.

<Read the whole article>

Here’s another article detailing some of the comments of the Justices:

SCOTUS Justices Divided in Case of Christian Baker Who Refused to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake

Response: SCOTUS will not give us their ruling until June 2018 and the decision is expected to be close but also ground breaking when it comes to religious freedom in the context of the same-sex marriage decree.

The presence of Neil Gorsuch brings a new face to the court and he is supposed to be a champion of Religious liberty. Then Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems to be the ‘swing’ vote more time than not, expressed some concerns on both sides of this case but hopefully the following quote gives us some idea where he may finally lean:

“Tolerance is essential in a free society. It seems to me that the state in its position here has neither been tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”

Also brought out in the arguments today was the fact that Colorado ruled entirely different in another bakery case and actually sided “with bakers who were charged with anti-religious discrimination for refusing to bake a cake with a message condemning homosexuality.” So the state of Colorado has had a ‘bake-off’ of their own and cannot claim the highroad of impartiality since they have demonstrated a preference for affirming LGBT rights over religious freedom.

According to the Constitution and the 1st Amendment, religious freedom has a special unique place in American law and society and has from the very beginning. The decision in this case could continue to support that place or it could define a lessor priority for religious liberty in the context of a new expanded interpretation of discrimination and civil rights.                *Top

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-China: Christians Forced to Worship Xi Jinping Instead of Jesus?

by Dr. D ~ November 30th, 2017

220px-Xi_Jinping_March_2017

            (Xi Jinping: Wikipedia)

Chinese authorities have begun a new campaign to target Christians and force them to acknowledge the supremacy of the Communist Party over their religion. in some cases Christian families have been required to replace crosses and pictures of Jesus in their homes with posters of the Communist leader Xi Jinping. Here’s the story from PJ Media:

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s Communist Party is cracking down on religious freedom in rural areas. Christians in southeast China have complained that the local poverty relief program will withhold funds unless families remove posters of Jesus, crosses, or gospel couplets and replace them with pictures of Xi.

     "Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their saviour. … After our cadres’ work, they’ll realise their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help"

said Qi Yan, chairman of the Huangjinbu people’s congress in southeastern Yugan county and the person in charge of the poverty relief drive.  …

This is far from the first time China under Xi has cracked down on religious freedom. … In September, it became clear that the party had effectively banned performances of Handel’s "Messiah."

In 2015, China’s Communist Party removed crosses from atop Christian churches for "safety reasons." …

In October, Xi told the Communist Party Congress that religion should be "Chinese in orientation." At that congress, Xi’s communist doctrine became enshrined in the party’s constitution, putting him on the same level as notorious Communist dictator Mao Zedong.

<Read the whole article>

New rules on practicing religion and forcing churches and pastors under government control have been put in place by Xi Jinping. See the following article on this new crackdown which began in 2016:

Red Tape: China Wants to Constrict Christian Activities with 26 New Rules

Response: This reminds me of the persecution of Christians under the Roman authorities in the first 3 centuries who did not mind Christians worshipping how they wished as long as they bowed down and acknowledged the supremacy and ‘divinity’ of the Roman emperor over God and Jesus. It did not work out for the Romans despite the Lions and the crosses and it will not work in China.

In fact it already has been proven to be futile in the past in China. The Communists closed down all of the churches in 1949 and Christians went underground and started secret house churches instead. At one point Mao’s wife claimed that there were no longer any Christians in China but she was wrong. The Christian community actually grew under the persecution from 900,000 in 1949 to over 100 million today.

This latest crackdown of the Communist party against the church will also fail regardless of what the officials demand. They may force crosses and pictures to be taken down but that does not mean that the Christians will stop worshipping God and Jesus over Xi and the party.               *Top

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-Christmas Ad Rejected Because It’s ‘Religious’?

by Dr. D ~ November 29th, 2017

Find the Perfect Gift

                                                                                                (Image: DC Archdiocese)

The DC Metro Transit Authority rejected the Christmas ad above because it promotes Religion. Really? According to the Transit Authority’s legal counsel the ad  "depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion."  From The Blaze:

The Archdiocese of Washington filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday after the D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority rejected a diocese Christmas ad depicting shepherds and sheep under a starry night sky, the diocese said in a news release.

The reason for the ad rejection?

It “depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,” …

“Our ad was designed to be placed on metro bus exteriors to reach the broadest audience and to invite everyone to experience the well-accepted joyful spirit of the season, or to share their many blessings with others less fortunate through service opportunities,” Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, said.

<Read the whole article>

Response: So a generic scene taken from the Christmas story is too ‘religious’ and promotes religion? Obviously a Nativity and the Wisemen would have also been rejected. But what if the shepherds and star were replaced with Santa Claus and his reindeer or a tree with gifts? Is anything culturally related to Christmas in any way tantamount to ‘promoting religion.’?

This should be an interesting ‘church and state’ lawsuit.

It really is amazing to me how we have gotten to the place where ‘Christmas’ is such a religious name that schools and government offices have banned its use for the generic ‘holidays.’ Even more crazy is the ban on cultural things connected to the Christmas celebration like tress, decorations, and in some places even Santa. All in the name of the First Amendment that was originally written to give us religious liberty not strictures and limitations in the public square.               *Top

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-Church of Sweden to Clergy: Stop Calling God ‘He’ or ‘The Lord’

by Dr. D ~ November 24th, 2017

300px-P_religion_world.svg

                            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Church of Sweden (Lutheran) has instructed its clergy to stop referring to God as a ‘he’ or as ‘The Lord.’ Here’s the story from the UK Telegraph:

The Church of Sweden is urging its clergy to use gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity, refraining from using terms like "Lord" and "He" in favor of the less specific "God."

The move is one of several taken by the national Evangelical Lutheran church in updating a 31-year-old handbook setting out how services should be conducted in terms of language, liturgy, hymns and other aspects.

The decision was taken Thursday at the end of an eight-day meeting of the church’s 251-member decision-making body, and takes effect May 20 on the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

<Read the whole article>

Response: When does a ‘Christian’ church stop being Christian? When it denies the cardinal doctrines of the faith-  the chief of which is the divinity of Jesus Christ and The Trinity of God The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I believe that this is just the beginning of actually creating a new syncretistic religion that no longer recognizes Jesus as God and part of the Trinity. The fact that God really has no gender as such is not new but to discontinue the use of ‘The Lord’ is actually an attack against the divinity of Jesus Christ.  

I have been following this ‘de- mythologizing’ trend in Europe for at least 35 years or so. A dirty little secret known among theological scholars is that a majority of the trained clergy in the liberal state churches in Europe no longer believe in the authority of the Bible nor in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

In the article above the head of the Swedish church-  Archbishop Antje Jackelen is quoted:

"Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human, …"

Make no mistake, this is a direct attack on the divinity of Jesus Christ and the cardinal Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

The following are a few of our earlier articles on the changes happening in the ‘Christian’ churches in Europe which are actually trending towards accommodating Islam in the process and maybe towards forming a new syncretistic world religion:

-Sweden: Lesbian Bishop Wants to Take Crosses Down and Make Space for Muslims 

-The ‘Chrislamization’ of Europe?

-Does God Have a Gender? (My theological exploration of this issue in light of the Bible and the Doctrine of The Trinity)

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