The Righter Report

Jesus and first century historians

May 24, 2019

Skeptics of the historical Jesus often question why we don’t see more first century references to Jesus from early historians.

“New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg, who served as an editor and contributor to a large scholarly work on the Gospels (‘Gospel Perspectives’), provides four reasons why more was not written on Jesus in his time: “the humble beginnings of Christianity; the remote location of Palestine on the eastern frontiers of the Roman empire; the small percentage of the works of ancient Greco-Roman historians which have survived, and the lack of attention paid by those who are extant to Jewish figures in general.” We know that about half of what the Roman historian Tacticus wrote is no longer available. Only a fragment of what Thallus wrote in the first century about ancient Mediterranean history has survived. Seutonius was aware of the writings of Asclepiades of Mendes, yet his writings are no longer available. Herod the Great’s secretary, Nicholas of Damascus, wrote a Universal History in 144 books, none of which have survived. Livy, the great Roman historian, has suffered a similar fate. Only his early books and excerpts of the rest survived.” 1

“We also know of several early Christian writings that are no longer available. For example, an influential church leader of the early part of the second century named Papias wrote five books that are quoted by several early church fathers. However, none of these books survived. Only a few citations and slight summary information remain. Quadratus was a Christian leader who wrote a defense of the Christian faith to the Roman Emperor Hadrian around 125. However, if Eusebius had not quoted a paragraph and mentioned his work, we would be totally unaware of its composition. The five books of ‘Recollections,’ written by Hegesippus in the second century, have likewise been lost.” 2

One other thing, it’s entirely likely that numerous other historical works were lost when Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans in 70 AD. But we do know of at least forty-two authors, nine of whom were secular, who mentioned Jesus within 150 years of his death. Scholar Gary Habermas, in his Book “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” (p.233), listed the following: 9 authors from the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Author of of Hebrews, James, Peter, and Jude. 21 early Christian writers outside the NT – Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Didache, Barnabus, Shepherd of Hermas, Fragments of Papias, Justin Martyr, Aristides, Athenagoras, Theophious of Antioch, Quadratus, Aristo of Pella, Melito of Sardis, Diognetus, Gospel of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Epistula Apostolorum. 4 heretical writings – Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth, Apocryphon of John, Treatise on Resurrection. And 9 secular non-Christian sources, including Josephus, Tacticus, Pliny the Younger, Phlegon, Lucian, Celcus, Mara Bar-Serapion, Seutonius, and Thallus.

References:

1. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, page 127
2. Ditto

Recommended reading on the historical Jesus:

“The Historical Jesus,” by scholar Dr. Gary Habermas;
“New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” by former skeptic Josh McDowell;
“Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics,” by Dr. Norman Geisler;
“The Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel,” and
“The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus,” by Dr. Gary Habermas.

God bless!

– The Righter Report

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May 24, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Three Little Trees

The Three Little Trees – a Christmas Story

Intently studying the new Christmas tree that her mother and father had just erected in their foyer, little Christina slowly walked up to it and was immediately taken with the wonderful aroma of pine cones and winter frost that still lingered on its branches.

“Mommy, why do people have Christmas trees,” Christina asked? “Oh, I suppose that the Christmas tree means different things to different people, honey,” the mother cheerfully replied, as she worked the string of Christmas lights through the branches of the tree. “But mommy, what does it mean for us – for you and me and for daddy?” The child-like innocence of Christina’s question made her mother hesitate and stop what she was doing. She turned around and sat down on the floor, crossed her legs and gently lifted little Christina into her lap.

“Christina, honey, I don’t know what the Christmas tree means to other people, but I can tell you about all the wonderful things I think about when I see one.” Let me tell you a little story. And starting with the birth of Jesus, she told Christina all the wonderful news about his birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection, and what it all meant. And then to put it into a child’s perspective the mother smiled and said, “You see, long ago on a mountain top, far, far away, there were three other little trees. And as they started to sprout their branches and reach for the sky, they each dreamed about what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first tree looked up to the stars and said, ‘I want to be a treasure chest. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I want to be the most beautiful treasure chest the world has ever seen.’

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean and said, ‘I like the water. I want to be a mighty sailing ship carrying kings on their journeys across the seas. Why, I’ll be the strongest ship in the whole world!’

The third little tree looked down into the valley below and saw the hustle and bustle in the streets and the hectic pace of the people in the village and said, ‘I don’t want to leave the mountain top. I really like it here. I want to grow up and be so tall that when people look at me, they’ll raise their eyes and look up to heaven and think of God. Why, I’ll be the tallest tree in the whole world!’

Years passed. The rains came and the winds blew, the sun shone bright, and the little trees grew tall and strong. And then one day three woodcutters climbed up the mountain .

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, ‘This tree is beautiful. I have something special I want to make from it, and it’ll be perfect for me.’ And with one mighty swoop of his woodcutter’s axe, the first tree fell.

‘Now, the time has come for my dream to come true,’ the first tree thought. ‘Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, and surely I shall hold wonderful treasures!’

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, ‘This tree is strong. It will be perfect for me.’ And with a swing of his powerful axe, the second tree fell to earth.

‘Now my dreams also will come true,’ thought the second tree. ‘I will be hewn into a mighty ship to sail the seas, and great kings will ride my bow!’

But then the third tree felt her heart sink when the third woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to the heavens. ‘Remember, I want to stay on the mountain top, she cried.’

But the woodcutter never looked up. ‘Any tree will do for me,’ he muttered. And with a powerful swing of his shining axe, the third tree thundered to the earth.

The first tree continued to rejoice when the woodcutter brought him into the carpenter’s shop. But his joy was turned to sorrow when the carpenter fashioned him into a simple feed trough for animals. Instead of being covered with precious gold and jewels, he was now covered with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals to eat.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her into the shipyard. ‘Now, my dreams will also come true!’ she thought.

But no mighty sailing ship was christened that day. Instead the once mighty oak was whittled, hammered, and sawn into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and frail to sail the mighty oceans, or navigate the raging rivers. Instead, crestfallen, she was taken to an inland sea, and there she would spend her days.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut into her strong and weathered timbers, and left her in a cluttered woodpile in the lumberyard. ‘What happened?’ asked the tree that once pointed to the heavens. ‘All I ever wanted was to grace the top of the mountain and point to God.’

Again, the years passed by. The dreams the little trees once had were nearly forgotten. But then, something wonderful happened. In the distance, the angels were heard singing to the shepherds. A bright and shining star began its transit across the heavens, and came to its place of rest above the hewn out timbers of the first tree, where a beautiful young mother placed her newborn son into the feedbox.

‘I wish I had time to make a cradle for him,’ the father whispered. The mother gently squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight glistened off the smooth and sturdy wood.

‘Why this manger is beautiful,’ she said. ‘There is no need for another.’

And suddenly, the first tree knew that God had honored his dream, and that he was now holding the greatest and most precious treasure in the whole world.

‘God sure works in mysterious ways,’ he thought, ‘but this is better than anything I could have ever imagined.’

Some years later, a kindly stranger and his friends crowded into an old fishing boat. The weary traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out upon the moonlit sea. But soon, a terrible storm arose. The rains came, the winds grew fierce, and time after time the waves crashed into the little boat, sending it reeling from side to side. The little tree shuddered and grew afraid. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers through such a raging storm. Then, the kind but tired traveler awoke. He took hold of the mastline and stood up on the bow of the little vessel, stretched out his hand, and said, ‘Peace, be still.’ The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly, the second tree knew that she was carrying the greatest King who had ever lived, and that in some mysterious way, God had also made her dreams come true.

Shortly thereafter, early on a Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched when she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when the soldiers nailed the arms and feet of a weary and bleeding man to her cross timbers. She felt ugly, cruel, and harsh. In the middle of the day, the sky turned dark. And when it was over, a terrible earthquake shook the ground, and made the third little tree long for the peace and serenity of its favorite mountain top, and the now-forgotten dreams that seemed so real, not so long ago.

But early on a Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third little tree looked upon the risen Savior, and rejoiced that God’s mysterious love had now changed everything. The third tree remembered her dream – ‘I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God.’ It made the tree glad. Now, whenever people think of that third little tree, they think of God. And surely that was better than being the tallest tree in the whole world.’

“So you see, Christina, God really does make dreams come true, though not always in the ways we expect. When I look at a Christmas tree, I remember the birth of Christ. I see the first little tree that was made into a manger. I remember the second little tree that our Savior rode in and calmed the great storm that rose up. And I remember that last little tree upon which our Lord was crucified, and how precious it also was. These are the things I think about when I see a Christmas tree.”

Glory be to God. And Merry Christmas to all.

– The Righter Report

December 11, 2018 Posted by | America, Entertainment, Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology | | Leave a comment

Satan’s Copycat Imitation of God

June 10, 2018

Satan is a copycat. In the Old Testament Satan bragged, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High God” (Isaiah 14:14). Below are 19 examples of Satan’s copycat imitation of God:

1. Satan has a throne (Revelation 2:13).
2. Satan has his own doctrines (Revelation 2:24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 2:10).
3. Satan has a synagogue (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).
4. Satan has a communion table (1 Corinthians 10:21).
5. Satan has people sacrificing at his altar (Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Corinthians 10:20).
6. Satan has a counterfeit cup (1 Corinthians 10:21).
7. Satan gives his doctrines to men to teach (1 Timothy 4:1).
8. Satan is an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
9. Satan has demonic and human messengers (2 Corinthians 11:13).
10. Satan has a kingdom (Matthew 12:26).
11. Satan does counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (Revelation 16:14; Exodus 7:8-12).
12. Satan has false prophets, apostles and teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 2 Peter 2:1; Mark 13:22; Matthew 13:38).
13. Satan has a city, Mystery Babylon, to oppose the city of God in New Jerusalem (Rev. 17:5).
14. Satan has his own harlot church, to counterfeit the Bride of Christ (Revelation 17:5).
15. Satan and his demons seek worship (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 9:20; Matthew 4:8-10).
16. Satan has his false Christ, the rival of Jesus, the Christ (1 John 2:18-22).
17. Satan has his own Trinity (Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet (Revelation 16:13-14; John 5:43).
18. Satan inhabits some human bodies, counterfeiting the Holy Spirit living in the redeemed (John 13:27 with 1 Corinthians 6:19).
19. Satan seals his followers with a name on their foreheads, which is counterfeit of God’s name on His people’s foreheads (Revelation 13:16 with 7:1-3).

Source: The Foundations of Christian Doctrine

God bless!

– The Righter Report

June 10, 2018 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology | Leave a comment

Matthew’s ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’

By Pete Righter

In the Book of Matthew (2:13-18) there is an account of the “slaughter of innocents” in Bethlehem, in ancient Judea, which is recorded as follows:

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah (31:15) was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

Skeptics of Christianity and the Bible argue such an occurrence is highly unlikely, and that there are no confirmations from any other 1st century sources of the massacre. Of course, their argument is a logical fallacy – known as an “argument from silence.” But that’s another subject altogether.

In response, the following should be noted:

First, King Herod the Great (73/74 BC – 4 BC) was no stranger to having people murdered, including three sons in his own family. According to the Associates for Biblical Research,

“The first two, Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Mariamme, were strangled in Sebaste (Samaria) in 7 BC and buried at the Alexandrium (Antiquities 16:392-394; LCL 8:365-367; Netzer 2001:68-70). The last, only five days before Herod’s own death, was Antipater who was buried without ceremony at Hyrcania (Antiquities 17:182-187; LCL 8:457-459; Netzer 2001:75; Gutfeld 2006:46-61).”

Also, according to the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, during the last four years of his life Herod had some 300 military leaders executed (Antiquities of the Jews, 16:393-394; LCL 8:365).

And that’s the short list.

So, we see that King Herod was a psychotic murderer and very familiar with commanding individual and mass executions. The “slaughter of the innocents” now doesn’t seem quite so unlikely.

Next, how many children age two and under would have been murdered?

Bethlehem was known by the Biblical prophet Micah as one of the smallest communities in all of Judea. Micah 5:2 (which in Christianity is also a Messianic prophecy about the birthplace of Jesus Christ) states:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

So, just how many infants 2 years old or younger were actually slaughtered? Skeptics argue up to 3,000, though neither Jeremiah or Matthew records a specific number. A much, much lower number is likely, though, based on the research of Archaeologist William F. Albright:

Professor William F. Albright, the dean of American archaeology in the Holy Land, estimates that the population of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth to be about 300 people (Albright and Mann 1971:19). The number of male children, two years old or younger, would be about six or seven (Maier 1998:178, footnote 25). This would hardly be a newsworthy event in light of what else was going on at the time.” Source: Associates for Biblical Research

Conclusion: Considering all the butchery King Herod was involved in, even murdering multiple individuals in his own family, it’s highly unlikely that the Bethlehem massacre of the innocents would be a major news story in ancient Judea, especially since CNN, FOX and today’s other news networks didn’t even exist back then. The skeptic’s argument is thus of no avail.

God bless,

– The Righter Report

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Theology Articles | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Biblical Minimalism

by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.
Originally published by Apologetics Press

It is a good time to be a Christian. Information is more readily available and accessible than ever before. Whether it appears in books, in articles in print and on Web sites, or in podcasts and other media formats, Christian apologists are producing vast amounts of material in defense of the Christian Faith. In the field of archaeology alone, new discoveries are unearthed every year, adding to our body of knowledge about the biblical world. Because of new information, old theories are being continually revised and refined. In some cases, this information is completely overturning critical theories.

The May/June 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is an exciting one. On the cover, some of the topics of the issue are listed, at the top of which are the words, “The End of Biblical Minimalism.” Minimalists are those who believe that only the barest minimum of the Bible is true, and then only if it can be incontrovertibly corroborated by extrabiblical evidence. This perspective is one that is eminently skeptical of the Bible. This is not how ancient documents are generally treated, which naturally raises suspicion that the Bible is being treated with a double standard for no other reason than that it is the Word of God. Speaking a little more generously than usual, minimalist Philip Davies claims that the Bible is indispensible for the historian, even though its “stories may be false, true, or a mixture of fact and fiction” (Davies, 2008, p. 5). For those who see the biblical text as a purely manmade production, the Bible is a mixture of a few facts and mostly fiction. As senior Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein puts it,

The historical saga contained in the Bible—from Abraham’s encounter with God and his journey to Canaan, to Moses’ deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, to the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah—was not a miraculous revelation, but a brilliant product of the human imagination (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001, p. 1).

The article, “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism” written by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkle, traces the biblical minimalist position from its inception 30 years ago to the present time, where discoveries have undermined it to the point of it becoming untenable. He focuses on one of the hot-button issues in archaeology: the existence of the United Monarchy.

For biblical minimalists, the United Monarchy is very nearly a fiction. They believe that if David and Solomon existed, they were nothing more than petty chieftains. Hoffmeier summarizes the minimalist position this way: “[I]f David and Solomon did exist, they were simply pastorialist chieftains from the hills of Judea, and the military exploits of David and the glories of Solomon were gross exaggerations from later times” (Hoffmeier, 2008, p. 87). In other words, there were no grand palaces and no royal inscriptions. In short—no kingdom.

Garfinkle focuses on one particular archaeological site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, where he serves as co-director of the dig. In ancient times, it was a heavily fortified town on the Israelite/Philistine border in Judah. This one site, as small and out-of-the-way as it is, has done a great deal to dismantle biblical minimalism. Garfinkle states: “The argument that Judah was an agrarian society until the end of tenth century B.C.E. and that David and Solomon could not have ruled over a centralized, institutionalized kingdom before then has now been blown to smithereens by our excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa” (Garfinkle, 2011, p. 50). Discoveries at the site clearly demonstrate that a large bureaucracy was needed to construct the town. The site had massive walls, far beyond the ability of a couple of petty chieftains to construct. Also found at the site was the earliest example of Hebrew (although it is written in a different kind of script). This kind of writing could only be produced by a scribe who had been trained for government service. Since the site was in a remote location, it must have been important enough to justify sending a scribe from Jerusalem. That could only be done if there was a government of sufficient size with the resources and ability to train professional scribes. As Finkelstein himself states: “The power of the chief was limited…. The economic and military capacity of a chiefdom was severely limited” (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2006, p. 99). Khirbet Qeiyafa could not have been built, fortified, or administrated by a chieftain. It required a king.

As one of the chief proponents of the idea that the United Monarchy is largely fiction, Israel Finkelstein has developed what is called the “Low Chronology.” This approach states that whatever evidence that exists that might point to a tenth century B.C. kingdom under David and Solomon has been misinterpreted. Instead, the credit for building activity thought to have taken place during the time of the United Monarchy should go to the ninth century king Ahab instead. Though architecture can be difficult to date accurately at times, Finkelstein has yet to win many converts. With the information being unearthed at Khirbet Qeiyafa, he may even find himself losing what support he already has.

Finkelstein is commonly labeled a minimalist, although he denies that label. He does share many things in common with biblical minimalists, such as a skeptical attitude toward the Bible and a clear bias in interpreting the archaeological evidence. This goes against standard procedure among scholarship. Generally, ancient texts are given the benefit of the doubt unless sufficient reason exists to doubt their veracity. Since the Bible has a long track record of accuracy, to dismiss it out of hand shows a clear bias against it. Second, evidence should drive interpretation and lead to conclusions—not start with conclusions and interpret all the evidence to support those conclusions. Finkelstein’s skepticism points to a preconceived conclusion that seeks evidence to justify itself, which, naturally, can only be done poorly.

Radiocarbon dating provides a solid link between the ancient evidence and the biblical text. Garfinkle states: “Independent dating suggests that the kingdom of Judah rose in approximately 1000 B.C.E., as indicated by the radiometric results from Qeiyafa. The northern kingdom of Israel, on the other hand, developed around 900 B.C.E., as indicated by the radiometric dates obtained from that region. The Biblical tradition and the radiometric dating actually support each other” (Garfinkle, 2011, p. 52). [EDITOR’S NOTE: For a discussion of the weaknesses of radiocarbon and radiometric dating techniques, see DeYoung, 2005.] The radiometric dating of wood fragments and olive pits at the site indicates that the site was built in the late eleventh century and destroyed in the early tenth century. Since this is precisely the time of the reign of king David, it would appear that David ruled a well-organized kingdom.

This small site has yielded a wealth of evidence that clearly demonstrates the shortcomings of biblical minimalism, although it remains on life support thanks to the hyper-skepticism of a few noted archaeologists. Even William Dever—who is no friend to the traditional interpretation of Scripture—has fiercely opposed the minimalists, whom he calls “revisionists.” He says, “the ‘revisionists’…declare that ‘the Hebrew Bible is not about history at all,’ i.e., it is mere propaganda. For them, if some of the Bible stories are unhistorical, they all are—a rather simplistic notion” (Dever, 2001, p. 97). It is the typical case of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”: the Bible is a religious book, therefore it cannot be historically accurate. Ongoing excavations argue otherwise.

There are many other discoveries besides those at Khirbet Qeiyafa that argue for the presence of a centralized government in ancient Israel at the time David ruled. The Izbet Sartah Inscription is an example of writing dating to the time of the judges (Hess, 2002, p. 86). The inscription seems to be a practice exercise used to learn the alphabet. This is particularly noteworthy, since Izbet Sartah was a small village in the hill country in the eleventh century B.C. Even in this small village, at least one scribe was practicing his alphabet. The same goes for tenth century inscriptions, such as the Tell Zayit Inscription and the Gezer Calendar, which also appear to be practice exercises used in training scribes. These examples of writing would never have appeared without considerable governmental organization.

In his book On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Kenneth Kitchen surveys the history of minimalism over the past two centuries. He notes that “our present-day minimalists are not a sudden, new phenomenon without precedent. It all began a long time ago, and the present efflorescence is merely a development of some 150/200 years that has in a way come to a head, but simply more scathing of others and more extreme in its views than were its precursors” (Kitchen, 2003, p. 449, italics in orig.). Emerging at a time when the study of the ancient Near East was in its infancy, it could only be expected that time would prove the minimalist’s assumptions false. As mountains of evidence have come to light, minimalism is looking more and more like a thing of the past. Biblical scholarship has a long track record of confounding the critics, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Though much of the minimalists’ work is respected by other scholars, they are supremely guilty of allowing their biases to dictate their interpretation of the evidence. They make selective use of the facts and ignore or reinterpret evidence that disagrees with their position. Some of them grew up in fundamentalist homes, giving the impression that their interpretations are more the result of rejecting the faith of their early years rather than sound scholarship. This approach can be maintained only so long before the body of evidence will get to the point of being beyond their ability to manipulate. The archaeologist’s spade will continue to unearth more evidence season by season, year after year. It is only a matter of time before the minimalist position will become a relic enshrined in the museum of discarded ideas.

REFERENCES

Davies, Philip R. (2008), Memories of Ancient Israel: An Introduction to Biblical History—Ancient and Modern (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press).

Dever, William G. (2001), What Did The Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York, NY: Touchstone).

Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2006), David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (New York, NY: Free Press).

Garfinkle, Yosef (2011), “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 37[3]:46-53,78, May/June.

Hess, Richard S. (2002), “Literacy in Iron Age Israel” in V. Long, D. Baker, and G. Wenham, Windows into Old Testament History: Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of “Biblical Israel” (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), pp. 82-102.

Hoffmeier, James K (2008), The Archaeology of the Bible (Oxford: Lion Hudson).

Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

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– The Righter Report

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Sun Darkened during the Crucifixion

March 9, 2017

In the video are ancient references to the strange darkness that occurred during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Matthew 27:45.

God bless,

The Righter Report

March 9, 2017 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , | Leave a comment

Christian Scholar answers Jewish Skeptic about Jesus

Renowned Messianic Christian scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown responds to a Jewish caller about Jesus

As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Dr. Michael L. Brown is active in Jewish evangelism, debating rabbis on radio, TV, and college campuses, as well as teaching the Church about God’s eternal purposes for Israel and the Jewish people. He is also a published Old Testament and Semitic scholar, holding a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity.

See Dr. Brown on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AskDrBrown

God bless,

– The Righter Report

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , | Leave a comment

The Incoherence of Atheism – Dr. Ravi Zacharias

– The Righter Report

August 25, 2016 Posted by | America, Entertainment, Evangelical, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , | Leave a comment

Was Jesus a liberal?

(Updated June 11, 2016)

By Pete Righter

“The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” – Ecclesiastes 10:2

Was Jesus a liberal? Regularly, on talk shows, in speeches, in the liberal media and in Hollywood, we hear all across America that “Jesus was a liberal.” He ate with prostitutes, he opposed the religious establishment, he helped the poor, he didn’t cast stones and judge sin (i.e. the adulteress), and assuming there is a Hell in the liberal mind, he wouldn’t send anyone there. Jesus would also surely embrace (illegal) aliens.

Really?

We’ll take a closer look at some of these claims, but first we need to recognize some of the major influences of modern liberalism:

“So, I think we  need to clarify that modern American liberalism, or ‘progressivism,’ is a particular ideology informed by the social, political, religious, and sexual philosophies of guys like Machiavelli, Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx — the ‘pillars of unbelief,’ as Peter Kreeft calls them. Contemporary Western liberalism — with its defense of abortion, gay ‘marriage,’ relativism, forced wealth redistribution, pornography, massive government, and its attacks on the family, faith, life, and liberty — is truly a unique abomination.

When you claim Jesus as a liberal, you are putting him under the same umbrella as these men. But if The Lord were to come back, call you up into the mountain like Peter, James, and John, and bless you with another scene like the Transfiguration, somehow I doubt that, instead of making Moses and Elijah appear before you, He would summon the souls of Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Marx.” – Matt Walsh Satan is a Liberal

Now, let’s look at some of the claims that Jesus was a liberal.

Jesus ate with prostitutes and sinners:

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. – Matthew chapter 9

Here we see the reason Jesus ate with sinners – Jesus was a spiritual doctor attending to sinners. The context shows they were not well – they were in fact “sick” with sin. He wasn’t there to condone or embrace their sins, but to lead them to righteousness. And just what exactly do you think would happen today if Jesus (or even better, one of his followers) attended a liberal dinner party and started telling them to give up their worldly pursuits and attitudes and live for Christ and righteousness? You’re right. They would quickly escort him out the door.

Jesus opposed the religious establishment:

This argument would have you believe Jesus would not approve of today’s churches and religious organizations.

The reason Jesus was so opposed to the Sadducees and Pharisees (the religious “establishment” of his day) is that they were teaching the doctrines of men, vs. the truths of God. This is evident in Matthew chapter 23 (Jesus speaking):

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are…you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness….you are full of greed and self-indulgence…. You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

So it wasn’t the religious establishment, per se, that Jesus condemned, but a corrupt and hypocritical power structure that taught and practiced principles contrary to what God and the Bible embrace. Logically, then, Jesus would not disapprove of churches or a modern religious establishment that embraced, taught, and practiced righteous, Biblically-based principles. And that is exactly what a great many of today’s churches do. We should also not paint with a broad brush of condemnation all churches, because some are unbiblical.

Jesus helped the poor, so he must be a liberal!

What!? Conservatives are opposed to helping the poor?

That’s not what the studies show. In the following article there’s example after example of how conservatives out-give liberals in both time and money: Conservatives are More Liberal Givers

Liberals are generous, though, WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY. They also consider Obama’s socialistic “Redistribution of Wealth” economic scheme to be just what the doctor ordered for the poor. But as is documented in Obama vs. the Bible – Redistribution of Wealth, that’s ridiculous.

Although giving and charity are commanded by the Lord, nowhere in the Bible does it say that giving must first be filtered through a bloated and inefficient government bureaucracy. The Bible says that a man shall reap what he sows, but it doesn’t say we should live off of what other people sow. What’s more, Scripture teaches that if a man does not work, he shall not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Redistribution of Wealth is, at its core, a radical left wing economic scheme centered in greed for other people’s money, rather than exercising personal responsibility and earning it one’s self.

Redistribution of Wealth actually COVETS what other people have, and make. Scripture commands us not to covet what belongs to our neighbor:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

From religion to our founding fathers to our Constitution we are taught that coveting others property is wrong. The Constitution guarantees us equal opportunity – not an equal outcome.

Next, Jesus didn’t make judgments about people’s sins.

Well he sure did with the scribes and Pharisees (see examples above)!

But the scripture most often referenced in this argument is the sin of the adulteress in John chapter 8.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.

The kicker, of course, is the following verse, which the liberals love to ignore. Jesus said to the adulteress,

“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Now, what happens if people don’t obey Christ’s command to turn from their sins? One of the answers can be found in John chapter 5. Jesus had just healed an invalid and then said to him,

“Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

In another example, Jesus said the following in Revelation chapter 2:

“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.”

So, Jesus did make judgments regarding people’s sins, and what’s more he assigned either a warning of judgment, or a judgment itself, as a consequence. All this is before the final judgment after a person dies.

Here’s another liberal mantra:

“Jesus / God loves everyone and would never send anyone to Hell.”

Another fallacy. Jesus had many teachings concerning Hell and Judgment.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” – John 3:36

“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” – John 8:24

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

“But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” – Luke 13:3

Need more? What did Jesus say about Hell?

One more, from Luke 16 – The Rich Man and Lazarus:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”

‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Here’s another liberal fairy tale: Jesus is fine with alternative lifestyles such as homosexual relations and shacking up.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, fornication (including “shacking up”) and homosexual relations are identified as sins that will assuredly keep the violators from entering heaven.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Other scriptures identifying gay sexual relations as being sinful can be seen Here

Some argue that Jesus never spoke out against homosexuality. That’s not really true. Jesus is God. As God, Jesus is the one who gave Moses the Levitical law against gay sexual relations to begin with; and he’s the one who inspires all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), including prohibitions against gay sexual relations in Romans 1:26-27 and I Corinthians 6:9-10, etc.

It’s also worth noting that Jesus didn’t mention wife beating or other sins such as pedophilia either, and there are not many folks who would argue he approved of those behaviors. So Jesus was under no obligation to reiterate the moral laws against homosexual sin that already existed, unless there were clarifications to be made.

But the liberals will protest, and argue that these are loving relationships, and God embraces those who love.

Does that mean that God embraces adulterous relationships where the participants are in love with each other? Not a chance. Adultery is condemned in the Ten Commandments. Also see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 above.

In addition, 1 Corinthians 13:6 makes it real clear that love and sin do not go together:

“Love does not rejoice in iniquity.”

And one more from Romans 13:10:

“Love does no harm to a neighbor.”

Love does no harm to a neighbor, such as enticing one’s neighbor into a sinful relationship that has negative temporal and/or eternal consequences.

What does the Bible say about transgenderism and “transgender bathrooms”?

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 22:5

Then we have this claim:

Jesus would certainly approve of (illegal) aliens coming to America.

Here I differentiate between LEGAL immigration (which I favor) and ILLEGAL immigration. Would Jesus approve of illegals breaking American laws by entering America in the first Place? Would Jesus approve of the liberals bankrupting America when providing illegal aliens with trillions of dollars in benefits, some of which aren’t even available to American citizens or our beloved Veterans? Would Jesus approve of the mayhem caused by illegal alien criminal activity: murders, robberies, rapes, DWI manslaughter, etc.? And where does it say in the Bible that Jesus won’t love and bless illegal immigrants if they stay in Mexico? Would Jesus approve of illegal sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, where a beautiful young lady by the name of Kate Steinle was murdered by an illegal alien who had amassed numerous felony convictions? I don’t think so. God created borders in the Old Testament, and he did that for a reason, so that tribes and nations would know the limits of their boundaries. And it doesn’t seem proper for tens of millions of illegal aliens wanting to turn America into the same kind of third world Hell-hole from which they came.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero put it this way:

“Nor did the Bible request that the decency we extend to strangers result in national suicide. It never encouraged a virtual open-border situation where the host country is overrun and loses its indigenous culture, suspends its laws, invites disarray, or forfeits its ability to flourish as a unique and sovereign entity.”

Many in the liberal left want to abolish our borders and make America into an “International Community”. However, they disregard or abrogate the laws of American immigration, as does Barack Obama when he issues unconstitutional executive orders. America is either a nation of laws or we are an anarchy state. If people want different border laws they should go through the United States Congress, which has power to make or change our immigration and border laws.

Does Leviticus 19:34 justify illegal immigration?

“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:34

Answer:

“Modern nations are not expected to adopt Israel’s civil law. It is hoped that authorities will enforce laws that provide peace and security to the citizens (Romans 13:1-7) and be founded on a respect for God’s ethical law, such as no murder, no stealing. But God leaves the specifics to each nation. The biblical view of illegal immigration, therefore, is that an immigrant is illegal if they break the law. In many countries, it is illegal to immigrate outside of proper channels. Romans 13:1-7 says that residents of a nation are required to obey the laws of that nation. If it is illegal to immigrate, God’s view is to not do it.”

http://www.compellingtruth.org/illegal-immigration.html

Romans 13:1-5 – “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Finally, conservative commentator Ann Coulter does a nice job of laying these arguments out in her article Beware of liberals who come in evangelicals clothing.

Beware of Liberal Facism / Fundamentalism

Rather than truly embrace “freedom,” liberal fundamentalists seek to control virtually every aspect of the lives of the masses that are unfortunate enough to be under their fundamentalist rulership. They seek to outlaw SUV’s, impose smoking bans while advocating marijuana use, prohibit freedom of religious expression in government and public schools, advocate compulsory training in politically correct opinions and attitudes, seek to enforce Bible bans in schools and the workplace, embrace a de-facto litmus test against pro-life judicial nominees, seek to criminalize pro-life demonstrations through the RICO racketeering statute, try to squelch legitimate religious speech via “hate-speech” laws, and generally engage in a wide range of behaviors designed to subvert the U.S. Constitution and traditional American values. They violate the 2nd Amendment by legislating gun bans and other unconstitutional restrictions; dictate school lunch menus and what kind of light bulbs you can use; impose a horrendous, bureaucratic healthcare program on people who are otherwise happy with their current choices; use the IRS to target conservative groups who apply for non-profit, free speech status, and violate the rights of free press individuals and organizations under the guise of protecting national security. They also have their own politically correct liberal lexicon, which changes Good Friday to “Spring Break,’ and Christmas to “Winter Holidays.” And those just for starters.

Conclusion: Jesus may not have been a right-wing fanatic, but he sure as heck wasn’t a left-wing liberal. Keep in mind that liberalism is a worldly philosophy that takes liberties with the Word of God, twisting or abrogating the principles and commandments of God and replacing them with the subjective tenets of mankind. Liberalism is a scourge to mankind and an affront to God. As Carl Henry noted,

“America has turned its back on God. It mocks God. Instead it worships a twentieth century Baal, incarnated in sensuality, materialism, and immorality of every kind.”

America needs to turn from its liberal, anti-God agenda and return to traditional American values before we lose our country.

– The Righter Report

May 31, 2016 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, Government, Human Interest, Politics, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

In 2003, scientists Arvind Borde and Alexander Vilenkin and Alan Guth published a paper documenting that the universe cannot be infinitely old (the universe is expanding). It had to have a beginning. Dr. William Lane Craig, a doctor of philosophy and theology, quoted Vilenkin in defense of his Kalam Cosmological Argument:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place (that the universe had a beginning), cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

No longer can men argue that the universe has been around forever. Be thinking about a divine Creator.

Jesus is Lord!
– The Righter Report

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Science, Theology, Theology Articles, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment