The Minimal Facts of the Resurrection

By Aaron Brake

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.”

—Antony Flew—

Minimal Facts of the Resurrection

INTRODUCTION

The truth of Christianity stands or falls on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul himself said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”[1] Here the Apostle provides an objective criterion by which to judge the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. Show that Christ has not been raised from the dead and you will have successfully proven Christianity false. Conversely, if Jesus did rise from the dead, then His life and teachings are vindicated. The Christian faith, as it turns out, is falsifiable. It is the only religion which bases its faith on an empirically verifiable event.[2]

Christ Himself testified that His resurrection is the sign given to the world as evidence for His extraordinary claims: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”[3] Furthermore, the resurrection was the central message proclaimed by the early church as most clearly demonstrated in the book of Acts.[4] Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that an objective examination of Christianity focus on the most pivotal historical event of the faith: the Resurrection.

THE MINIMAL FACTS APPROACH

The approach I will take in this paper is commonly referred to as the “minimal facts approach.” This method “considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.”[5] It should be noted this approach does not assume the inerrancy or divine inspiration of any New Testament document. Rather it merely holds these writings to be historical documents penned during the first century AD.[6]

Though as many as 12 minimal facts surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ may be examined,[7] the brevity of this paper limits our examination to four: the death of Jesus by crucifixion, the empty tomb,[8] the post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. I contend that the best explanation for these minimal facts is that Jesus was raised bodily from the grave.

Finally, if these facts “can be established and no plausible natural explanation can account for them as well as the resurrection hypothesis, then one is justified in inferring Jesus’ resurrection as the most plausible explanation of the data.”[9]

A MATTER OF HISTORY

Before looking at the facts surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is important to identify a set of objective criteria by which the validity of historical events may be judged. In other words, what criteria may be used to establish the occurrence of an event with reasonable historical certainty? New Testament scholars Gary Habermas and Michael Licona list the following five criteria noting that “a historian who is able to apply one or more of the following principles to a text can conclude with much greater confidence whether a certain event occurred.”[10]

  1. Historical claims are strong when supported by multiple, independent sources.
  2. Historical claims which are also attested to by enemies are more likely to be authentic since enemies are unsympathetic, and often hostile, witnesses.
  3. Historical claims which include embarrassing admissions reflect honest reporting rather than creative storytelling.
  4. Historical claims are strong when supported by eyewitness testimony.
  5. Historical claims which are supported by early testimony are more reliable and less likely to be the result of legendary development.[11]

Therefore, when inquiring into a historical event “the historian combs through the data, considers all the possibilities, and seeks to determine which scenario best explains the data.”[12]

Some skeptics argue that the resurrection of Jesus cannot be investigated historically. But this is mistaken. The facts surrounding the resurrection are of a historical nature and available for anyone to examine. Consequently, “the meaning of the resurrection is a theological matter, but the fact of the resurrection is a historical matter.”[13] Thus either the bodily resurrection of Jesus actually occurred in history, or it did not. Either the resurrection is the best explanation for the known historical data, or it is not. Regardless, what we cannot do is simply dismiss it as “supernatural” or “miraculous” in an attempt to remove it from the pool of live options a priori. Moreover, we need to be careful not to confuse “the evidence for the resurrection with the best explanation of the evidence. The resurrection of Jesus is a miraculous explanation of the evidence. But the evidence itself is not miraculous. None of these four facts is any way supernatural or inaccessible to the historian.”[14] So although the resurrection may be classified as a “miraculous event,” it is a historical event nonetheless and should be investigated as such. John Warwick Montgomery provides helpful insight:

The only way we can know whether an event can occur is to see whether, in fact, it has occurred. The problem of “miracles,” then, must be solved in the realm of historical investigation, not in the realm of philosophical speculation. And note that a historian, in facing an alleged “miracle,” is really facing nothing new. All historical events are unique, and the test of their factual character can be only the accepted documentary approach that we have followed here. No historian has the right to a closed system of natural causation….”[15]

Therefore, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead is really quite straightforward: “If Jesus was dead at point A, and alive again at point B, then resurrection has occurred: res ipsa loquitur.[16]

FACT #1—THE DEATH OF JESUS BY CRUCIFIXION

Perhaps no other fact surrounding the life of the historical Jesus is better attested to than His death by crucifixion. Not only is the crucifixion account included in every gospel narrative[17] but it is also confirmed by several non-Christian sources. These include the Jewish historian Josephus, the Roman historian Tacitus, the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, as well as the Jewish Talmud.[18] Josephus tells us that “Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us…condemned him to the cross…”[19] From a perspective of historiography, Jesus’ crucifixion meets the historical criteria of multiple, independent and early eyewitness sources including enemy attestation. John Dominic Crossan, non-Christian critical scholar and co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, states, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”[20]

Objection #1: Jesus Didn’t Really Die (The Swoon Theory)

Some skeptics argue that Jesus may have been crucified, but He did not actually die. Instead, He lost consciousness (swooned) and merely appeared to be dead only to later be revived in the cool, damp tomb in which He was laid. After reviving He made His way out of the tomb and presented Himself to His disciples as the “resurrected” Messiah. Thus the Christian religion begins. This theory is problematic for several reasons.

First, the Swoon Theory does not take seriously what we know about the horrendous scourging and torture associated with crucifixion. As an expert team from the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes, “Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”[21]

Second, Jesus faking His own resurrection goes against everything we know about His ethical ministry.

Third, a half-dead, half-resurrected “messiah” could hardly serve as the foundation for the disciples’ belief in the resurrection. German theologian David Friedrich Strauss explains:

It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror of death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.[22]

Fourth, this theory is anachronistic in postulating that the disciples, upon seeing Jesus in his half-comatose state, would be led to conclude that He had been raised from the dead within history, in opposition to the Jewish belief in one final resurrection at the end of time. On the contrary, seeing Him again would lead them to conclude He didn’t die![23]

Fifth, Roman soldiers were professional executioners, and everything we know about the torture and crucifixion of Jesus confirms His death, making this theory physically impossible.

Sixth, no early evidence or testimony exists claiming Jesus was merely wounded.

Finally, this theory cannot account for the conversion of skeptics like Paul who also testified to having seen the risen Lord and willing suffered and died for his belief in the resurrection.

FACT #2—THE EMPTY TOMB

Something happened to the body of Jesus. Of this, we can be sure. Not only was Jesus publicly executed in Jerusalem but “His post-mortem appearances and empty tomb were first publicly proclaimed there.”[24] This would have been impossible with a decaying corpse still in the tomb. “It would have been wholly un-Jewish,” notes William Lane Craig, “not to say foolish, to believe that a man was raised from the dead when his body was still in the grave.”[25] The Jewish authorities had plenty of motivation to produce a body and silence these men who “turned the world upside down,”[26] effectively ending the Christian religion for good. But no one could. The only early opposing theory recorded by the enemies of Christianity is that the disciples stole the body.[27] Ironically, this presupposes the empty tomb.

In addition, all four gospel narratives attest to the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and place women as the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.[28] Both of these are highly unlikely to be Christian inventions.

First, with regard to Joseph of Arimathea, Biblical scholar James G. D. Dunn explains that he

is a very plausible historical character: he is attested in all four Gospels… and in the Gospel of Peter…; when the tendency of the tradition was to shift blame to the Jewish council, the creation ex nihilo of a sympathizer from among their number would be surprising; and ‘Arimathea, ‘a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausible.’[29]

Atheist Jeffery Lowder agrees that “the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea has a high final probability.”[30]

Second, just as unlikely to be invented is the report of women followers discovering the empty tomb, especially when considering the low social status of women in both Jewish and Roman cultures and their inability to testify as for legal witnesses.[31] If the empty tomb account were a fabricated story intended to persuade skeptics it would have been better served by including male disciples as the primary witnesses. In other words, both the burial and empty tomb accounts demonstrate a ring of authenticity which lends credibility to the gospel narratives.

As with the crucifixion, the account of the empty tomb meets the historical criteria of multiple, independent and early eyewitness sources,[32] including implicit enemy attestation as well as the principle of embarrassment. In addition, the reports of the burial and empty tomb are simple and lack theological or legendary development.

Finally, there is no competing burial story in existence. Historian and skeptic Michael Grant concede that “the historian… cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb” since applied historical criteria show “the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.”[33]

Objection #2: The Disciples Stole the Body (The Fraud or Conspiracy Theory)

As mentioned above, the earliest recorded polemic against the empty tomb is the charge by Jewish authorities that the disciples stole the body. This is commonly referred to as the Fraud or Conspiracy Theory. This scenario posits that Jesus’ followers stole the body away unbeknownst to anyone and lied about the resurrection appearances, pulling off what has thus far been the greatest hoax in human history. There are several problems with this view.

First, this theory does not explain well the simplicity of the resurrection narratives nor why the disciples would invent women as the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.[34] This is hardly the way one gets a conspiracy theory off the ground.

Second, this also doesn’t explain why the disciples would perpetuate a story that they stole the body (Matt. 28:11-15) if, in fact, they stole the body! Propagating an explanation which incriminates oneself is again at odds with a conspiracy theory.

Third, as will be discussed below, this theory does not account for the fact that the disciples of Jesus had genuine experiences in which they believed they saw the risen Christ. So convinced were these men that their lives were transformed into committed followers willing to suffer and die for their belief. Liars make poor martyrs.

Fourth, this theory runs opposite to everything we know about the disciples. As J. N. D. Anderson states, “This would run totally contrary to all we know of them: their ethical teaching, the quality of their lives, their steadfastness in suffering and persecution. Nor would it begin to explain their dramatic transformation from dejected and dispirited escapists into witnesses whom no opposition could muzzle.”[35]

Fifth, this theory is completely anachronistic. There was no expectation by first century Jews of a suffering-servant Messiah who would be shamefully executed by Gentiles as a criminal only to rise again bodily before the final resurrection at the end of time: “As Wright nicely puts it, if your favorite Messiah got himself crucified, then you either went home or else you got yourself a new Messiah. But the idea of stealing Jesus’ corpse and saying that God had raised him from the dead is hardly one that would have entered the minds of the disciples.”[36]

Finally, this theory cannot account for the conversion of skeptics like Paul who also testified to having seen the risen Lord and willing suffered and died for his belief in the resurrection.

FACT #3—THE POST-RESURRECTION APPEARANCES

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul recounts what biblical scholars recognize as an early Christian creed dating to within a few years of the crucifixion. Notice the creedal nature and repetitive structure of this passage when broken down in the following form:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, in which also you stand,

that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures,

and

that He was buried,

and

that He was raised on the third day

                        according to the Scriptures,

and

that He appeared to Cephas,

then to the twelve.

After

that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time,

most of whom remain until now,

but some have fallen asleep;

then He appeared to James,

then to all the apostles;

and last of all, as to one untimely born,

He appeared to me also.[37]

Included in this creed are three of our minimal facts: the death of Jesus, the empty tomb, and the post-resurrection appearances. Furthermore, our fourth minimal fact (the origin of Christianity) is easily explained given the first thee facts. Paul not only mentions the multiple post-resurrection appearances but includes himself as having seen the risen Lord. Several indicators in the text confirm this to be an early Christian creed.

First, as shown above, the passage uses stylized wording and parallel structure common to creedal formulas.

Second, the words “delivered” and “received” are technical terms indicating a rabbinic heritage is in view.

Third, the phrases “He was raised,” “third day,” and “the twelve” are unusual Pauline terms making this unlikely to have originated with Paul himself.

Fourth, the Aramaic term “Cephas” is used for Peter indicating an extremely early origin.[38] New Testament scholar and skeptic Gerd Lüdemann assigns this passage a very early date stating, “the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus…not later than three years…the formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 C.E.”[39]

The early date of this creed rules out the possibility of myth or legendary development as a plausible explanation and demonstrates that the disciples began proclaiming Jesus’ death, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances very early. Christian philosopher and theologian J. P. Moreland elaborates:

There was simply not enough time for a great deal of myth and legend to accrue and distort the historical facts in any significant way. In this regard, A. N. Sherwin-White, a scholar of ancient Roman and Greek history at Oxford, has studied the rate at which legend accumulated in the ancient world, using the writings of Herodotus as a test case. He argues that even a span of two generations is not sufficient for a legend to wipe out a solid core of historical facts. The picture of Jesus in the New Testament was established well within that length of time.[40]

Again Lüdemann acknowledges, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”[41] There is no dispute among scholars that the disciples experienced something.

But there’s more. The disciples not only proclaimed that Jesus was raised, but they sincerely believed the resurrection occurred as demonstrated by their transformed lives. Eleven early sources testify to the willingness of the apostles to suffer and die for their belief in the resurrection.[42] For example, we know extra-Biblically that Jesus’ brother James was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin and that the apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero.[43] Many people will die for what they believe to be true but no one willingly suffers and dies for what they know to be false. Again, liars make poor martyrs. This important point should not be confused by an appeal to modern-day martyrs who willingly die for their religious beliefs. Making this comparison is a false analogy: “Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false.”[44]

As with the crucifixion and empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances meet the historical criteria of multiple, independent and early eyewitness sources, as well as the testimony of a former enemy of Christianity: Saul of Tarsus. Nine early and independent sources testify to the disciples’ proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.[45] To list just one example of this, the appearance “to the twelve” mentioned by Paul above is also attested to in Luke 24:36-42 and John 20:19-20. “The evidence,” says William Lane Craig, “makes it certain that on separate occasions different individuals and groups had experiences of seeing Jesus alive from the dead. This conclusion is virtually indisputable—and therefore undisputed.[46]

Objection #3: The Disciples Experienced Hallucinations (The Hallucination Theory)

The most popular theory offered by skeptics to explain away the post-resurrection appearances is that the disciples experienced hallucinations. This is the position taken by Gerd Lüdemann (quoted above) among others. However, appealing to hallucinations as an explanation simply won’t work for the following reasons.

First, the testimony of Paul along with the Gospel writers is that the appearances of Jesus were physical, bodily appearances.[47] In fact, this is the unanimous consent of the Gospel narratives. This is an important point because if “none of the appearances was originally a physical, bodily appearance, then it is very strange that we have a completely unanimous testimony in the Gospels that all of them were physical, with no trace of the supposed original, non-physical appearances.”[48]

Second, hallucinations are private experiences (as opposed to group experiences). A group of people “may be in the frame of mind to hallucinate, but each experiences hallucinations on an individual basis. Nor will they experience the same hallucination. Hallucinations are like dreams in this way.”[49] Therefore, hallucinations cannot explain the group appearances attested to in 1 Cor. 15, the Gospel narratives, and the book of Acts.[50]

Third, ironically, the Hallucination Theory cannot explain the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection! Just like in today’s modern world, “for someone in the ancient world, visions of the deceased are not evidencing that the person is alive, but evidence that he is dead!”[51] This is a crucial argument to grasp:

Hallucinations, as projections of the mind, can contain nothing new. Therefore, given the current Jewish beliefs about life after death, the disciples, were they to project hallucinations of Jesus, would have seen Jesus in heaven or in Abraham’s bosom, where the souls of the righteous dead were believed to abide until the resurrection. And such visions would not have caused belief in Jesus’ resurrection.[52]

In other words, a hallucination of the resurrected Jesus presupposes the proper frame of mind which the disciples simply did not possess.

Finally, hallucinations cannot explain such facts as the empty tomb, the conversions of skeptics like Paul, nor the multiple and varied resurrection appearances which defy a purely psychological, naturalistic explanation.[53] “To be perfectly candid,” concludes Craig, “the only grounds for denying the physical, corporeal nature of the postmortem appearances of Jesus is philosophical, not historical.”[54]

FACT #4—THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

No scholar denies the fact that the Christian religion exploded out of the first century Israel. Within one generation of the death of Christ, this movement is known as “the Way” had spread to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Christianity is an effect that needs an adequate cause and explanation. Where exactly did the Christian faith come from and what best explains its origin?

The most obvious answer to this question is that the disciples truly saw the resurrected Christ. Only an event of this magnitude could turn scared, scattered, and skeptical disciples, with no prior concept and expectation of a crucified and risen Messiah, into courageous proclaimers of the gospel willing to suffer and die for their belief that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. This is what Peter boldly declared: “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses… Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”[55] The origin of the Christian faith is best explained by the disciples’ sincere belief that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Anyone who denies the resurrection itself as the explanation for the origin of Christianity must posit some other explanation. Only three possibilities seem to exist. If the resurrection did not occur, then Christianity was either the result of Christian, Jewish, or pagan influences.[56] Obviously, the disciples could not succumb to Christian influences since Christianity was not yet in existence. But just as unlikely is the idea that the disciples’ belief in the resurrection originated from Jewish influences. The Jewish conception of the resurrection was one final, general resurrection of all mankind (or all the righteous) occurring after the end of the world. Nowhere in Jewish thought do we find the idea of a single individual resurrecting within history never to die again.[57]

Objection #4: Christianity Borrowed From Pagan Religions (The Copycat Theory)

Perhaps then Christianity finds its origin in paganism. Popular internet movies such as Zeitgeist have made ubiquitous the belief that there really is nothing unique about the Christian Savior. Jesus is simply a conglomeration of past dying and rising “messiahs” repackaged for a first-century audience whose zealousness eventually grew into the Christian religion we know today. Despite the pervasiveness of this belief, it suffers from numerous problems.

First, pagan mythology is the wrong interpretive context considering that “Jesus and his disciples were first-century Palestinian Jews, and it is against that background that they must be understood.”[58]

Second, the Jews were familiar with seasonal deities (Ezek. 37:1-14) and found them detestable, making it extremely improbable that they would borrow mythology from them. This is why no trace of pagan cults celebrating dying and rising gods can be found in first-century Palestine.[59]

Third, the earliest account of a dying and rising god that somewhat parallels Jesus’ resurrection appears at least 100 years later. The historical evidence for these myths is non-existent, and the accounts are easily explained by naturalistic theories.[60]

Fourth, the Copycat Theory begs the question. It assumes the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are false (the very thing it intends to prove) and then attempts to explain how these accounts originated by appealing to supposed parallels within pagan mythology. But first, it must be shown that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are false! In other words, even if it could be shown that parallels exist, it does not follow that the resurrection of Jesus is not a historical event. The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection must be judged on its own merit because “the claims of resurrections in other religions do not explain the evidence that exists for Jesus’ resurrection.”[61]

Finally, to put to rest this outdated and unsubstantiated theory, the late Dr. Ronald Nash summarizes seven important points that completely undermine the idea that Christianity derived its doctrine from the pagan mystery religions:

  1. Arguments offered to “prove” a Christian dependence on the mysteries illustrates the logical fallacy of false cause… Coincidence does not prove the causal connection. Nor does similarity prove dependence.
  2. Many alleged similarities between Christianity and the mysteries are either greatly exaggerated or fabricated. Scholars often describe pagan rituals in a language they borrow from Christianity…
  3. The chronology is all wrong. Almost all of our sources of information about the pagan religions alleged to have influenced early Christianity are dated very late. We frequently find writers quoting from documents written 300 years later than Paul in efforts to produce ideas that allegedly influenced Paul. We must reject the assumption that just because a cult had a certain belief or practice in the third or fourth century after Christ, it, therefore, had the same belief or practice in the first century.
  4. Paul would never have consciously borrowed from the pagan religions…
  5. Early Christianity was an exclusivist faith…
  6. Unlike the mysteries, the religion of Paul was grounded on events that actually happened in history…
  7. What few parallels may still remain to reflect a Christian influence on the pagan systems…[62]

Nash offers this final word regarding the copycat theory: “Liberal efforts to undermine the uniqueness of the Christian revelation via claims of a pagan religious influence collapse quickly once a full account of the information is available. It is clear that the liberal arguments exhibit astoundingly bad scholarship. Indeed, this conclusion may be too generous.”[63] Therefore, it is safe to conclude that “the birth and the rapid rise of the Christian Church…remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.”[64]

CONCLUSION

If Jesus was dead at point A, and alive at point B, we have a resurrection. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best explanation for the known historical data: His death by crucifixion, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection fits the context of his life, vindicating His teachings and radical claim to be the unique, divine Son of God. Paul says that Christ “was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.”[65] Naturalistic explanations (swoon theory, legendary development, fraud, hallucinations) fail to account for all the relevant data and in some cases (copycat theories) are outright false and ahistorical. Conversely, the Resurrection Hypothesis accounts for all of the known facts, has greater explanatory scope and power, is more plausible, and less ad hoc.[66] Only if one is guided by a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism will the conclusion “God raised Jesus from the dead”seems unjustified.

Notas

[1] 1 Cor. 15:14, NIV.

[2] Clay Jones, Lecture Notes: In Defense of the Resurrection (Biola University: School of Professional Studies), Spring 2010).

[3] Matt. 12:39-40.

[4] Acts 1:21-22; 2:22, 24, 32; 10:39-41, 43a; 13:30-31, 34a, 37; 17:2-3, 30-31; 24:21; 26:22-23.

[5] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 44.

[6] For more information on the historical reliability of the New Testament see Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2007), and F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, 6th ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981).

[7] See Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, Rev. ed. (Joplin: College Press, 1996), 158-167.

[8] Habermas and Licona note that “roughly 75 percent of scholars on the subject accept the empty tomb as a historical fact” (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 70).

[9] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 361.

[10] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 36.

[11] Ibid., 36-40.

[12] Ibid., 32.

[13] Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1945), 386, as quoted in Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 211.

[14] William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?: A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman (Worcester: College of the Holy Cross, March 28, 2006), http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/DocServer/resurrection-debate-transcript.pdf?docID=621 (accessed May 2, 2010).

[15] John Warwick Montgomery, History, Law and Christianity (Edmonton: Canadian Institute for Law, Theology, and Public Policy Inc., 2002), 61.

[16] John Warwick Montgomery, “The Jury Returns: A Juridical Defense of Christianity,” in Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, ed. John Warwick Montgomery (Probe Books, 1991), http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissart1.htm (accessed May 1, 2010).

[17] See Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:33, and John 19:18.

[18] Josephus Jewish Antiquities 18.3.3; Tacitus Annals 15:44; Lucian of Samosata The Death of Peregrine 11-13; Talmud Sanhedrin 43a.

[19] Flavius Josephus, The New Complete Works of Josephus, Rev. ed., trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 590.

[20] John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2009), 163.

[21] William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association 255, no. 11 (March 21, 1986): 1463.

[22] David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus for the People (London: Williams and Norgate, 1879), 1:412, as quoted in Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1977), 91.

[23] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 373.

[24] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 70. See also Acts 2 and Tacitus Annals 15:44.

[25] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 361.

[26] Acts 17:6, NKJV.

[27] See Matt. 28:12-13; Justin Martyr Trypho 108; Tertullian De Spectaculis 30.

[28] See Matt. 27:57-61, 28:1-8; Mark 15:43-16:7; Luke 23:50-24:12; John 19:38- 20:18.

[29] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 782.

[30] Jeffrey Jay Lowder, “Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story: A Reply to William Lane Craig,” in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, ed. Robert M. Price and Jeffrey Jay Lowder (Amherst: Prometheus, 2005), 266.

[31] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 367.

[32] For example, 1 Cor. 15:3-5, Acts 13:28-31, and Mark 15:37-16:7

[33] Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (New York: Scribners, 1976), 176.

[34] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 371.

[35] J. N. D. Anderson, Christianity: The Witness of History (London: Tyndale Press, 1969), 92, as quoted in Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1977), 92.

[36] Craig (citing N.T. Wright), Reasonable Faith, 372.

[37] 1 Cor. 15:3-8, NASB.

[38] Jones, In Defense of the Resurrection, Spring 2010.

[39] Gerd Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 38.

[40] J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 156.

[41] Gerd Lüdemann, What Really Happened to Jesus?: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, trans. John Bowden (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 80. Lüdemann appeals to hallucinations as an explanation.

[42] Luke, Paul, Josephus, Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, Polycarp, Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Origen, and Hegesippus. See Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 56-62.

[43] Josephus Jewish Antiquities 20.9.1; Tertullian Scorpiace 15.

[44] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 59.

[45] Paul, Creeds (1 Cor. 15:3-8), Sermon Summaries (Acts 2), Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Clement of Rome, Polycarp. See Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 51-56.

[46] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 381.

[47] 1 Cor. 15:42-44; Matt. 28:5-6, 9; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5-6, 22-24, 30, 39-43; John 20:1-20, 27, 21:13.

[48] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 383.

[49] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 106.

[50] Matt. 28:9, 16-20; Mark 16:7; Luke 24:33-36; John 20:19-30; 21:1-22; Acts 1:3-9.

[51] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 385.

[52] Ibid., 394.

[53] See The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 104-119, and Reasonable Faith, 384-387, for more on the hallucination theory.

[54] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 384.

[55] Acts 2:32, 36, NASB.

[56] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 390.

[57] Ibid., 392.

[58] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 391.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 90.

[61] Ibid., 91.

[62] Ronald Nash, “Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?” Christian Research Journal (Winter 1994), http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0169a.html(accessed May 2, 2010).

[63] Ibid.

[64] C. F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament, Studies in Biblical Theology 2/1 (London: SCM, 1967), 13, as quoted in Craig, Reasonable Faith, 394.

[65] Rom. 1:4.

[66] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 397-399.

 


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33 replies
  1. Brent Hurst says:

    Dear Sir,

    You have said, “The truth of Christianity stands or falls on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.” and yet you have clearly noted that the resurrection is a “sign”. A sign, by any definition, POINTS to something other than itself.

    In this case the resurrection reaffirms to mankind that the nature (being) which was in Christ, as it is different from us (created beings, including even the angels), is capable of transforming that which is created (His flesh), into the same divine nature as is His Being.

    For clarity let me restate. A divine soul, the seed of God’s nature in the creation (Jesus), incarnated into a body of flesh (created nature), and by His connection with the flesh could change its very nature in a divine one.

    Thus that same nature that is within the Christ is capable of lifting up the created nature of our soul to eventually inherit God’s divine presence. Mystically it could be said that “The Kingdom of Heaven must enter into a man before that man can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”.

    One of the fallacies presented by modern Christian doctrine, namely the immortality of the soul, despite the fact it is obviously created, has secured the REALity of the Spiritual birth into a metaphorical mold, and replaced the Spirit with such doctrines as substitutional theology, whereby a TRUE Spiritual birth is no longer necessary.

    If you ASSUME life (immortal soul), then you end up with a God that you need to supplicate to avoid punishment.
    If you assume death (soul destroyed in the Lake of Fire), then we have need of a God who can bring to us that true eternal life which only God Himself possess as it is His very Being.

    Consider that within the Subjective experience of the flesh, we experience pain and pleasure, both experience as if they are real. After all pain feels as real as pleasure. But the TRUE reality of the universe around us is one of something and nothing, light-darkness, heat-cold, sound-silence, truth-lies, life-death. If you cannot get out of the flesh even to understand the Creation itself, how will you understand God’s viewpoint where only God possess eternal Being, and it was through Christ (His Seed) that man has been given the ability to share in that nature.

    Reply
  2. Susan Tan says:

    Thank you for caring enough to present such a detailed article to a hostile world that likes to assume carelessly and jump to wrong conclusions and attack God with their nonsense.

    Have a blessed day in spite of this world because in the end God controls all circumstances and He knows who came to His defense and who didn’t.
    And He knows who all the people throwing spitballs at His son from a position of incognito on the internet are. He knows everybody and everything going down here on Earth. He always has.

    So some people are going to listen to God’s reasonable representatives on Earth like you or they will be explaining to God later on why they didn’t give people like you a reasonable shot at making God’s case on their behalf.

    May His Grace Abound to You!

    Reply
  3. Jeff C. says:

    Susan: Great comment, highly relevant.

    Brent: Incoherent jumbled mess. There may be some biblical value in what you said, but try actually commenting in a way that actually makes sense & has a point within the topic.

    I like articles like this – they provide a way for me to enter a real world conversation with a simple yet thorough defense of the historicity of what I believe as a follower of Christ. The Word is stronger than any two-edged sword, yet we are also called to provide a reason at any time for what we believe in Christ (in the book of Peter) and articles like this help advance that cause.

    My only critique would be to go into more depth on the alternative sources such as the Greek, Roman, Pagan, etc. and what the takeaway from that is in Christian apologetics.

    Reply
    • Brent Hurst says:

      Dear Jeff,

      Do we not understand what it means to be “conditioned”, thus experiencing a “limited” frame of reference. Are we not all conditioned by the flesh, thus distorting our view and understanding of scripture. The “sources” that you desire would do me no good, you would still be limited in your very paradigm of the Creation and would by nature force such facts to fit your preconceived notions. So it is that first I must address your ability to perceive, rather than debate endlessly over doctrinal viewpoints often from those who themselves possess such limitations. That being said, lets first address you (and others), we begin our conscious lives in this body we call the flesh, we have a “subjective” experience at every minute of every day within our bodies. That experience entails the duality of “Pain and Pleasure”. The soul, consciousness, mind, grows up under such influence, but their is a built in deception to this subjective experience, that deception is in the fact that “Pain and Pleasure” impact us in such a way that our reality is divided into a duality that implied “Being”, or “realness” on either side of that duality. Pleasure is real, we experience it and thus it exists. Pain likewise is experienced with the same level of realism, thus our minds tend to always view this Creation though those eyes. This is to experience God’s Creation through the mind of the flesh, and when we sit to read the scriptures, that same frame of reference directs or infects our interpretation. So can you see how if I quote scripture to you it would be useless as your mind is not trained spiritually. …………….And so, now lets look at the Creation with our pure or “objective” mind and understanding, that which is superior to our subjective emotional experience, and when we do you see a different structure of the universe, one that is composed of a duality that expressed itself in a duality of “Something verses Nothing”. Such “sources” as you mentioned might be the authoritative witnesses to you, but my witness lies in the very Creation itself, namely that of “light-darkness, heat-cold, sound-silence, truth-lies, life-death. God, the same God who created this Creation and as such “reflects” something of His glory, is the same God who wrote (inspired) the scriptures………….Just as we can see the Creation through the eyes of a Pain and Pleasure duality, so we tend to interpret the scriptures though those same eyes…………….Now lets test your intellectual honesty as we consider an example of how doctrine (created though the eyes of the flesh) compares with what the scriptures actually same. Do we not agree that to receive Christ is to receive eternal life, even as we are raised from death to life, being a NEW creature, not merely born from Adam who was to return to the dust but rather born from above….And yet the church teaches that the so called wicked shall “LIVE ETERNALLY’, even if it is in Hell. God has placed before man life and death, but the doctrines of men has divided the Creation into one of eternal pleasure (Heaven) and eternal pain (Hell). Do you think if God actually meant eternal pleasure He could not find a way to say that, pastors, ect… will say “eternal life MEANS” and go off on some vicarious definition, and people follow along blindly and never stop and say, but does not eternal life simply mean eternal life, as if God actually knew how to use our language to mean what He says and say what He means………If you wish to find scriptural evidence that in any way states simply that man will live eternally in pain and torment I am willing to address each individually but let me start you off. “Where the worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched” Mark 9:44. sounds a lot like an idiom does it not, perhaps Jesus is quoting something of scripture (OT) here, perhaps Isaiah 66:24, going there we can see a PICTURE of what that idiom refers to and it has nothing to do with suffering or torment……………I am sorry that I am difficult to understand, my thinking tends to be much higher than most or of a deeper sort, and it takes a while and possible study to even begin to understand where I am coming from since I see through the eyes of a different paradigm, one that is indicative of the Creation as God has formed it rather than simply through the eyes of our subjective fleshly experience. And surely we don’t want anyone “jumping to conclusions” or inferring hostility and or troll-ism onto others just because they are difficult to understand, those kind of knee jerk reactions can get people crucified, metaphorically of course:-)

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “If you wish to find scriptural evidence that in any way states simply that man will live eternally in pain and torment I am willing to address each individually but let me start you off.”
        .
        Revelation Chapter 20 in its entirety.

        Reply
        • Brent Hurst says:

          Dear Mark,

          Yeah, we might as well go to the most symbolic and mystical book of the bible, one that was not even available to the early, early, church. You know what seems so strange, the one thing to which salvation is supposed to address, the very thing we are supposed to be saved from, in fact the very reason salvation would exist, namely to save us from the eternal existence of eternal torment, and yet there is NO clear description of that eternal fate…………Read carefully Mark, such a fate might be applied to the Beast and the False Prophet, that is if such can even be considered actual Beings such as us, but only by “assumption” might they be applied to those thrown in later………… Not to mention once again we have a God who seems not to understand the language that we use as our fate is referred to as the “second death”. No doubt you might quote how the word death means
          “separation” as the soul is separated from this physical world in what we would think of as the first death. But lets think carefully here, the first death, that one which consists of our departure from this physical world, concerns only the body, and the body will dissolve, losing its very identity, and the elements from which it is created dissolve back into their elemental pools, iron returns to iron, carbon to carbon, etc… Metaphorically dust to dust as it were……..The “separation”, so highly touted is in the fact that the soul is separated from LIFE, as in this present existence. Basically the soul no longer has any experience or consciousness of this life at all…………Now what can I say of the second death, Perhaps Christ Himself said it best “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28, BTW there is no ambiguity to the word “destroy” here. Or second Peter where he references the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah as they stand as “examples” of what, namely the destruction of those living, and surely there would have been weeping and gnashing of teeth as the waters rose or the fire fell, until the judgment was complete, and poof! they were gone while Lot and Noah lived on………..Life or death, existence or non-existence, so has the context been played out in scripture from the beginning, whether the angel of death is slaying the first born of everything, to the red sea swallowing those who sought to cross without God’s protection, or the ground opening up to swallow those at the foot of Sinai, so do the scriptures, from the beginning I guess all the way up the Rev 20 expound that Life and Death are set before man, not heavenly pleasure and Hellish torment………………………….But let me not stop there, lets consider Punishment itself, I fathered 3 kids and raised 6, Punishment, at least as I practiced it, always consisted of having a “positive intent”, if after telling my child not to, they ran towards the road and I snatched them then swatted their rumps, I was not RETALIATING for their disobedience, because they disobeyed ME, that would be abuse. I swatted them so that that pain might save their lives at a later time. If I am merely a human being, and I can refrain from a simply retaliatory assault, how much less God who is beyond any such ego, and furthermore how much more positive and loving is He. So even at this level such retaliatory punishment does not work as eternal conscious torment serves no purpose to those being punished………………Now lets go even higher, God alone possessed eternal being, and this eternal being is ONE, neither does He share this Glory with another. And man ONLY attains to eternal life as it is effectual through God’s Spirit that is given to us by the NEW Birth………..Return to the dust from which you were created, try to understand that simply concept. But let me add one final point if even evident reason as not been enough to override how the doctrines of tradition that have clouded your eyes, God knows most people, mankind that is, are as dumb as an ox, they cannot respond to goodness but only to the whip, in this case the threat of Pain (Hell), so perhaps God allows this misconception to linger on us, perhaps even the threat of possible punishment might save some of the pain and suffering we inflict upon each other in this world, even as so called Christians. But a thief who does not steal only because he is scared of getting caught is still a thief, and his lack of stealing does not make him good but in thinking himself good he is definitely a hypocrite, possibly even a religious one (Pharisee). So the idea of Hell as eternal torment might still serve a purpose to God, keeping evil men in line as it were, but since I have been Born of God, His Spirit within me draws me towards Him, sometimes even what would seem against my will as the earthly man is still a part of me, when I was immature spiritually the whip might have been effective, but because I sought truth and not self validating doctrines, God has given me eyes and ears to understand the deeper realities concerning Him. Please don’t mistake my determination and self assurance as if I am merely belittling you, you might very well be a younger brother so I am simply being straight forward.

          Reply
          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “If you wish to find scriptural evidence that in any way states simply that man will live eternally in pain and torment I am willing to address each individually but let me start you off.”
            .
            Revelation Chapter 20 in its entirety.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            OK then let’s start over; as my question and your response may have been a bit presumptuous on both our parts.
            .
            Let’s start with the first two verses of Revelation as printed in The Berean Study Bible.
            If you are using a different translation please provide the information so I can verify it.
            .
            Revelation 1:1-2 1 This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon come to pass. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw. This is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
            .
            Do you think that these two verses should be taken literally. A straight “YES” or “NO” answer will be quite sufficient. Then if you feel it necessary to further explain why you think “YES” or “NO” is the correct answer feel free to expand but at this point it is really not necessary.

        • Susan Tan says:

          Mark, the wages of sin is death. Not eternal torment. The scriptures specifically say death and since the death penalty was adjudged on Adam in the Garden of Eden all people die.

          Some say eternal torment is a paganistic idea that attached itself to early Christianity during periods of upheaval when certain parties within the church sought doctrinal supremacy over the lay people.

          A lot of books are being written today showing the doctrinal errors committed by eternal torment theology but the correction in understanding is such a big one for so many people that we may not see it corrected.

          When Rob Bell came out with his book Love Wins the backlash was huge. Bell was right. Love does win but Bell didn’t make a good enough case utilizing the scriptures clearly outlining God’s position that everyone will be saved. As the scriptures say “each in his own order”. Instead he provided an analysis of God’s revelation to him but everyone had already bought the traditional consensus and didn’t go back and check the scriptures personally.

          There are many people who have written on this with the scriptural basis for a universal restoration but they haven’t gotten mainstream like Bell did and Bell was silenced.

          Hannah Whitehall Smith wrote of her revelation from God that all would be saved in the last chapter of her book The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life but publishers decided to censor her work and publish it without the last chapter in which she discusses the revelation she received.

          It seems the children of God do engage in theological battles inside the church though personally I suspect the church has been infiltrated by unspiritual people i.e. false prophets for a long time now as the Apostle John mentions in the New Testament and eventually some of these people tried to change church doctrine and that is the reason why Wycliffe, Tyndall and Luther (just to name a few) had to fight so hard to reform the church for God.

          Most Christians are at the mercy of the translators. That is why checking for translation errors is key.

          The Jehovah Witnesses today are propagating a mistranslated version of the Bible.

          But someone early in the Church mistranslated the key Hebrew word olam and the Greek word aion and now we have this doctrine of condemnation in the church when the Gospel is suppose to be reconciling people to God.

          God doesn’t need to stand over spiritually blind people threatening them. He is all powerful and threats are not exhortation or encouragement.

          God may be taking a people out for Himself first as Acts mentions but it doesn’t mean that eventually He won’t save everyone.

          I am increasingly aware of what a privilege it is to be a believer. I no longer believe the Bible is God’s writing to the world. It is His writing to believers. The world has never en masse received God. But as good children and trying to be disciples of Christ we keep going out insisting on delivering the Gospel but a good portion of this world continues to refuse to receive it.

          So is the Book really written for the world or did God write it for His friends and family? The book says you have to love God to receive Him. It says a lot of other things too to the personal intimates of God.

          You can’t force intimacy on people through threats. Nor does it encourage them to think about God appropriately.

          John the Baptist said it.

          “Lo, this is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

          The world. That includes everybody.

          But clearly not everyone is seeking to serve God in bringing His Kingdom to Earth. Many in each generation even oppose it.

          Still God is not bound by human limitations and we can limit Him through doctrinal misunderstanding and that misunderstanding can get magnified in the general populace and throughout the world.

          But if God says He will be ALL in all. Then why doubt that statement? Only because we were taught to by false or biblically illiterate teachers in the past and now that false doctrine has become a tradition continuously propped up by a fear of man.

          God never says we can’t think for ourselves. But He likes to help illuminate His children’s thinking by giving us the scriptures and the personal tutoring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given as a wonderful counselor, tutor and friend to all of God’s children but following His Leading isn’t always easy or obvious. Mysteries never are. Especially not personal mysteries.

          God is in control and Christ says not to worry spiritual why don’t we believe Him? Do we really have to run around threatening people with hell fire and damnation or is that a trick of the devil via false prophecy?

          God Bless. I don’t want to shake your faith by upsetting a core wrong belief.

          But God is all powerful and all loving and all forgiving. Unconditionally. He even loves sinners and His enemies.

          Nothing is impossible with God. He has saved the whole world already.

          It is people with their limited, finite understanding trying to limit God and dole out punishments early to people that God would never allow to happen because He is too loving and powerful to permit it to happen.

          May His Grace Abound to You!

          What the whole world needs is a call to repentance and a more perfect understanding of exactly who God is.

          God will be All in all. HE says so in His Word and He won’t go back on His Word. It stands firm for forever so we can be assured enough to depend on Him through all life’s trials and tests.

          Remember the religious people of this world today aren’t all perfect. They censored Hannah Whitall Smith. imagine if they had censored Mary Magdalene. Where would we all be today?

          Reply
          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Dear Susan Tan
            .
            “God’s position that everyone will be saved”
            .
            2 Peter 3:7 And by that same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
            .
            Revelation 20:15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
            .
            This is Jesus speaking :
            .
            Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’
            .
            .
            “As the scriptures say “each in his own order” ”
            .
            You have said this other places.
            Can you please supply the Translation, Chapter and Verse so I can verify for myself what is written?
            .
            .
            I no longer believe the Bible is God’s writing to the world
            .
            If that were true then how would anyone who was a non’believer ever become a believer? The Old Testament was GOD’s covenant with Israel. The New Testament is GOD’s covenant with the whole world. Now I grant you that the unbelievers view is that The Holy Bible is foolishness but that does NOT change the fact that it is written to them as well.
            .
            .
            “Do we really have to run around threatening people with hell fire and damnation or is that a trick of the devil via false prophecy?”
            .
            Please explain how this could possibly be a false prophecy from the devil? As this is his fate as stated in Revelation. Seems much more logical to think that the “everyone will be saved scenario” is the lie from the devil.
            .
            Revelation 20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, into which the beast and the false prophet had already been thrown. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
            .
            .
            “Nothing is impossible with God.”
            .
            Logical contradictions by their very nature are impossible. Otherwise you get trapped into the conundrum of “Can God make a rock so big that He can not lift it scenario?”
            .
            GOD has given man free will to accept or reject Him.
            Otherwise, we are just puppets on a string or moist robots. Because without free will we could not truly love Him. It is not so much that GOD is sending unbelievers to eternal punishment; as it is Him honoring their free will to reject Him. The people who in the rejection of Jesus’ Virgin Birth, sinless life, death by crucifixion, and resurrection are in fact condemning themselves. GOD is just honoring their choice.
            .
            .
            “I don’t want to shake your faith by upsetting a core wrong belief.”
            .
            “Wrong” is a massively big assumption here on your part. I can assure you that unless you can prove it through Scripture beyond a shadow of a doubt then I am NOT going to be moved. Just provide Translation, Chapter, and Verse so I can verify it myself.

  4. Brent Hurst says:

    Dear Mark,

    My name is Brent, it is the simplest of courtesies to actually address the person you are speaking to. Secondly, I would think if you hit the “reply” in my post I would get an email notification. But I am new to this site and I can only assume that is the case, of course such notifications would run through this site and I would never actually have your direct email just as I don’t believe you can see mine.

    Thirdly I have already address your first response, (supposing it was directed at me), in the first part of my post, along with other arguments from several different levels. Since you have refused to answer my arguments, I’m not sure why I should answer you again, especially since you seem determined to lead me through some kind of recipe theology to compose doctrines from various verse strung together like a popcorn necklace. Mark, the great truths communicated from scripture are contained in something called “context” and these contexts will be repeated over and over throughout scripture. In this way faulty translations do little to distort these truths, think how many words one would have to change in the story of the tortoise and the hare before one could lose the moral of the story. From God’s judgment that Adam would return to the dust from which he was created to the second death where Christ plainly stated that God will destroy both body and soul, so it is that God ALONE possesses eternal life and Being, and only those to whom He has granted such of His nature (Spiritual Birth) shall escape the coming judgment.

    To continue with you would be a waste of your time since I am a man of actually understanding, there are plenty of others here with cupcake doctrines but my understanding is based upon the knowledge of God’s own nature, but if I were to answer you, Yes, I can see John’s Revelation of Christ as valid, just not your pretense in thinking you understand it.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Dear Brent,
      .
      My name is Mark. I will attempt to respond to you post by highlighting your comments and then giving my responses.
      .
      “it is the simplest of courtesies to actually address the person you are speaking to”
      .
      I agree with this. It is also what I would term an open forum so people jump in and out of the conversation all the time.
      .
      .
      “Secondly, I would think if you hit the “reply” in my post I would get an email notification. But I am new to this site and I can only assume that is the case,”
      .
      I have only been here for a few months myself but have never received an email notification when someone has responded to one of my comments. I would therefore conclude that it is not how the site works.
      .
      .
      Thirdly I have already address your first response, (supposing it was directed at me), in the first part of my post, along with other arguments from several different levels. Since you have refused to answer my arguments, I’m not sure why I should answer you again
      .
      Yes, it was directed to you. I have re-read your comment in its’ entirety now for the third time. The first time I read it it read just like a statement not much of an argument. Now after the third reading I am beginning to see where your arguments are coming from and how you view them as arguments instead of just statements. I will respond to that reply in my next post. For now I am going to finish responding to this one. And yes the venue of “blog comments” can get pretty clunky.
      .
      .
      especially since you seem determined to lead me through some kind of recipe theology to compose doctrines from various verse strung together like a popcorn necklace
      .
      I am confused as to where you draw this conclusion. My jumping back to Revelation 1:1-2 is an attempt to try and understand your frame of reference. I agree with you that Revelation is by far the most symbolic and mystical book in The Bible. I try to interpret things literally where they are meant to be interpreted literally. That being said I realize that the trick is to know when to do that and when not to. And “context” of the passage you are interpreting is critical as well as agreement with the rest of The Bible message as a whole.
      .
      .
      To continue with you would be a waste of your time since I am a man of actually understanding, there are plenty of others here with cupcake doctrines but my understanding is based upon the knowledge of God’s own nature,
      .
      Since it is my time and I do NOT view it as a waste then hopefully this conversation will continue. And no I am not looking for “cupcake doctrines”. And now one of my two questions for this section: Where does your knowledge of GOD’s own nature come from?
      .
      A side note here: You will notice that I put “GOD” all in caps as opposed to “God”. This is due to misunderstandings that have occurred during previous discussions here and elsewhere. And to be totally clear my definition of “GOD” is that of the Christian Triune Godhead i.e. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
      .
      .
      Yes, I can see John’s Revelation of Christ as valid, just not your pretense in thinking you understand it.
      .
      My question was do you take Revelation 1;1-2 as literal or not. You seem to be reading a lot into that single question to say “your pretense in thinking you understand it.” Now for question two: How can you possibly know whether I understand it or not as I have told you nothing about what I think about those two verses or Chapter 20 either?
      .
      All that being said I take Revelation 1:1-2 as LITERAL. I would add that it could be slightly more straight forward by naming the angel that was sent to John from Jesus Christ in verse 1. But as it does NOT change the message I can also see that as an unnecessary detail.

      Reply
      • Brent Hurst says:

        Dear Mark,

        >>>>I agree with this. It is also what I would term an open forum so people jump in and out of the conversation all the time.<<<>>>I have only been here for a few months myself but have never received an email notification when someone has responded to one of my comments. I would therefore conclude that it is not how the site works.<<<<>>>Where does your knowledge of GOD’s own nature come from?<<<>>>>>my definition of “GOD” is that of the Christian Triune Godhead<<<<<>>>>>All that being said I take Revelation 1:1-2 as LITERAL.<<<<<<<

        Then do you also take the whore sitting upon the waters, Is Christ actually a lamb, did God create the universe out of H2O, sometimes things are just literally symbolic, yet still they refer to something REAL, perhaps simply unseen or too expansive to grasp, so then to speak of such things it is easier to congeal them into a symbolic form. That "FATE" to which God is saving us from, should be clearly seen THROUGHOUT the scriptures, not lost in a vague reference in the back of the last book in the bible. God uses the scriptures to REVEAL the truth, not to obscure it.

        DEATH, (not screaming but simply emphasizing), appears from the beginning all through, its as obvious as the morning sun in a cloudless sky, and yet you can see it. The blindness in the world, including Christianity, is overwhelming depressing to me, why should I bother to speak to this world, Christianity claims to be reformed but they cling to the fictional imaginations of a spiteful Dante or the attempted intimidations of the early Catholics as they sought to become a power broker in Rome. Do you see why it hard for me to be dragged to the back of the bible and the most symbolic book as if to prove a "literal" spiritual reality.

        There is only life and death, light and darkness, truth or lies, there is either Something or NO-thing, this is the universe that God has created, and it is the Universe that He uses to teach us something about Himself as ultimately He is the true Something, the Infinite Being, and we and all of creation are nothing, unless His Spirit, His Being, makes its home in us we shall dissolve back into the same nothingness from which we arose.

        When God ceases to speak, and His breath no longer vibrates over this formless void, all of Creation will dissolve into the formless nothing from which it arose. It is good that you have read John's Revelation but you are not ready for it, I know much more than any of my teachers and yet I don't want to read it anymore, the darkness of this world is sad enough in my day to day experience, the keepers of the Good News are not much more than peddlers, couple years in Seminary then they are off to build their businesses, CEOs of the gospel. Mark, LITERALLY, all though the scriptures, God never punishes with pain unless He expects a positive result, He is a good father, not a vindictive king, Death is punishment enough, and it is also eternal if that death is of the soul which is the seat of our very consciousness.

        Reply
        • Susan Tan says:

          Can you moderators ban me? I see my last post was deleted so I don’t want to post here any more.

          I am suspicious of censorship. The delivery of
          the Gospel depends on freedom of speech.

          Thanks for your help.

          Reply
          • Brent Hurst says:

            Dear Susan,

            Could be a filter, I just posted using the word “su” followed by a “cks” in reference to the poor software formatting of this site as it took my use of angle brackets (higher-less than signs) to move entire paragraphs within my post, but that post I never saw come up. If you actually saw your post, and then it disappeared, well you might be right.
            .
            .
            Java script strikes again;-)

  5. Susan Tan says:

    Did you read the Aion-Aionios essay by Hanson, Mark?

    Because you are trying to validate a majority’s interpretation by cherry picking verses without looking at word meanings.

    If John Wesley Hanson is correct and aion means age of the ages not eternity then the eternal torment view is based on a mistranslation of key words.

    You can check a literal translation of the Bible like the YLT or the Concordant Bible and see aion is age not eternity.

    We are all at the mercy of the translators and the Catholic Church held a lock on the translations for a very long time by insisting for 1400 years that the Vulgate was the only inspired version of the Bible and the only one people should hear. That was what sparked Wycliffe’s reform of the church more than a hundred years before Martin Luther. He fought to get the Bible out of Latin and into the vernacular language. That is why he is known as the Morningstar of the Reformation.

    Some universalists claim fire can be spiritual in many passages based on analysis of various passages of the Bible but others have insisted on a literal interpretation of fire.

    You can read the order of Resurrection passage in 1 Corinthians 15 for the statement each is saved in his own order. It also says all die in Adam and all are made alive in Christ.

    Some people like Hanson went the extra mile and checked the etymology in the ancient languages. They didn’t just assume they were told everything accurately. They verified the truth by going back and looking at word meanings, history and biblical symbolism.

    This is a critical question worthy of the most detailed research and some people have done it like Hanson. The universalist position is an ancient one. Some of the most famous theologians have held it and there are claims that all the early church fathers held it but it changed when Jerome provided the Vulgate translation and passed his eternal torment ideology on to Augustine.

    Karl Barth even favored universalism but when asked on it said he could neither confirm or deny it.

    But this is not a point of doctrine where fence sitting should be tolerated.

    That is why I checked the universalist position the best I could without fluency in the ancient languages and their position is not weak. It is in fact quite strong.

    That’s why I suggested you read becomingone.org and Dr Ernest L Martin and mercifultruth.com and other works by others who believe God will save all.

    It’s up to you whether you want to research it or not. I think the universalist case is best researched before you argue it.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Based on the time stamps of your comments it appears that this is the post that got “deleted”. Obviously, something strange happened with the way in which it got posted.
      .
      “You can read the order of Resurrection passage in 1 Corinthians 15 for the statement each is saved in his own order.”
      .
      I agree that 1 Corinthians 15 is talking about the order of Resurrection – what I do not see is anything about being “saved in his own order”. Clearly all believers and unbelievers must be resurrected before you get to Revelation Chapter 20. And then the question still stands:
      .
      Is there someplace in scripture that shows that those who are thrown into the lake of fire ever get out?
      .
      Revelation 20:15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

      Reply
  6. Susan says:

    The comment said it was awaiting moderation and now is gone. So it was deleted.

    It was a response to Mark’s post and I don’t think I wrote anything bad nor was there a diatribe.

    I am not angry over it but I see no point in debating in a place where one’s views can be censored because someone unseen in moderation doesn’t agree with you.

    This is the Gospel and it depends on free speech because faith comes by hearing. But internet blogs and forums are never free. There is always someone behind the scene enforcing against minority opinions.

    So if you are in the minority which will eventually be silenced why even post?

    Have a good day Brent. I am done here. I know some Christians dislike universalism but in my
    opinion universalists are the ones who fulfill
    the command of God for Christians to love everyone the best as we are told to do in the famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians. We’re the ones spreading a universal love and reconciliation method free of intimidation. Eternal torment is an implied threat but if God is in control He doesn’t have to threaten anyone.

    People sometimes want to control things as if they are God themselves.

    That is why we must individually check the scriptures for ourselves.

    Why should someone who might be making an interpretive doctrinal error be allowed to reign unchecked over another who might reason better than they?

    God Bless everyone reading. The one thing Apologetics taught me was to use my own mind and never let other people control me like I am incapable of reasoning and making my own judgments. To stop being a milk fed Christian.
    If I hadn’t started to use my own mind I would have continued under the blind literalist interpreters sexism and never come to know that women were actually some of the first teachers in the New Testament church.

    Doctrine impacts a lot of things. Among them: freethinking and freedom of speech.

    We need both in order to maintain the Gospel in this world.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Dear Susan
      .
      “The comment said it was awaiting moderation and now is gone. So it was deleted.”
      .
      I have had this happen on 3-4 occasions to me already and I have only been here a few months. At least twice I know that it was my fault as something was “new” in either the Name field or the email field from below. A couple of other times I am not sure what actually happened. All of the comments showed up within 24 hours though just as I had typed them. And I agree very frustrating when it happens. Hopefully your post shows up soon. And I hope you are around to actually read this.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Lol or it could have been an act of God that the post was deleted. Maybe It is privileged info and He is testing who is paying attention.

        Have a good day🌈.

        Reply
      • Susan says:

        Here’s a short read, Mark that explains God ordained HImself under the law to be the redeemer of all men.

        Just because people have lots of issues spawned by sin don’t let it distract you from an understanding of how powerful and perfect the will of God is and that that will is based on an unconditional love for all of humanity in spite of our sinful wretchedness. People even have attachment issues as Dr. Curt Thompson, M.D. explains in his book The Anatomy of the Soul.

        Here is the essay for you to read. It is written for laymen. Professional clergymen should google and read The Restoration of All Things.

        Free will is erroneous and gives much too much weight to men’s judgment. Who is the senior acting person in the whole salvation process? Why God is, of course, and is He going to be so irresponsible as to let a lot of blind, evil willful people who are mere children in relation to Him destroy themselves for all eternity in their blind ignorance of exactly who He is?

        Of course not. There is a very long purification process awaiting these people who refuse to get their hearts right with God called the lake of fire.

        Read up on sulfur. The Greeks used it for purification not to stoke fires.

        EssY here:
        https://gods-kingdom-ministries.net/teachings/books/if-god-could-save-everyone-would-he/chapter-1-if-god-could-save-everyone-would-he/

        Have a blessed day!

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          ” There is a very long purification process awaiting these people who refuse to get their hearts right with God called the lake of fire.”
          .
          Revelation 20:15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
          .
          No mention of anyone getting out of this lake of fire. It is referred to as the second death. If you think there is then please provide Translation, Chapter, and Verse so that I may verify it myself.
          .
          John 14: 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
          .
          .
          “Free will is erroneous and gives much too much weight to men’s judgment.”
          .
          Free will has nothing to do with men’s judgement. Tell me if Adam and Eve did NOT have free will then why did they eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? If there was NOT free will then why did Lucifer rebel against GOD himself?

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I see you are firm on this belief Mark so peace be with you. We’re done with this one sided arguing. My beliefs are not subject to revision by some faceless person on the internet who never studied all the positions as closely as I have. I revise my own beliefs after careful consideration under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.

            The most important thing about God is that He is love.

            And the Scriptures must agree with His all loving divine nature in my estimation because the scriptures are all about HIm.

            Only the Universalist restoration view gives an accurate depiction of love triumphant.

            Take care. I am not changing. Like many universalist Christians I believed the eternal torment doctrine then I started to research for myself.

            Some of the universalist christians have even come out of charismatic backgrounds. Who believes more strongly than a charismatic? Probably not many.

            So take care and enjoy defending the Gospel. I always enjoyed the research of it more. So I was good at locating who I thought was the most expert on the scriptures.

            And it isn’t always the guys with the letters after their names or the fundamentalists who are so emphatically zealous. You really have to use your God-given discernment and read everybody as closely as possible because everybody knows something and everybody makes mistakes.

            You better believe I tried to get all this down perfectly because I tend to have perfectionist tendencies but I finally figured out that I didn’t have to be so perfect and there is freedom in realizing that and to leaving somethings up to God’s control.

            The future destiny of people is one of those things.

            Teaching people how to get the relationship with God and maintain it is challenging enough without people trying to predict other people’s eternal destinies in order to control their personal convictions.

            If only the Holy Spirit can convict someone then why does a human being have to threaten another human being with eternal torment? That is control freaky.

            I always loved and respected God. No one had to threaten me into a relationship with HIm because I recognized and acknowledge HIm for who He is so this eternal torment doctrine does not compute for me.

            God said Himself in the book of Jeremiah that He wasn’t Molech. And God does not change.

            Sorry you don’t agree but I will respect your personal autonomy in believing what the majority believes because I only have to tell the truth as I understand it and they can pray for revelation on it instead of getting into a battle for control on the internet.

            May God bless you and keep you!

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “We’re done with this one sided arguing. My beliefs are not subject to revision by some faceless person on the internet who never studied all the positions as closely as I have.”
            .
            I really do not think that we are arguing. I am only asking you to provide Scriptual evidence to back up your comments. I am not asking you to revise your beliefs based on anything I have said. Again, I am only asking you to provide Scriptual evidence to back up your comments. You have said that you have studied both sided of the argument “closely”.
            .
            .
            “If only the Holy Spirit can convict someone then why does a human being have to threaten another human being with eternal torment? That is control freaky.”
            .
            Not sure how you can equate quoting Scripture with one person threatening another with eternal torment. The Scripture stands on it’s own merit.

  7. Susan Tan says:

    Well Mark this is a hard format for me. It’s hard to read everyone without my reading glassses plus I might be increasing in some type of ADD. So that impacts my ability to argue these days. I used to try to read everyone but my attention span just is not as great as it once was for me to be able to do that.

    I have been banned from several unbelievers forums and blogs for delivering the Gospel and repentance messages in a strong minded manner. I also was banned from Christian chat for being a universalist. I was banned from an ex-Jehovah’s witness blog by an atheist moderator for trying to bring the right message to them. There have been a few others like Patheos where I attempted to correct the Progressive Christians and the atheists as well as correct the Wiccans. I have evangelized a bit on the Muslim and Hindu forums as well.

    Each group is different and has it’s own problems in understanding the Gospel.

    So leaving another forum will be ok for me. I
    don’t take setbacks as personally as I once did but just chalk it up to the will of God. If times are against me is that the will of God or some other spiritual force coming against me? So I look for the doors God opens now and He does use some strange circumstances and people for me at times.

    I am learning to love and respect everyone better because all are made in the image of God no matter how twisted their thought processes have become. But some of these people are so toxic that you have to learn when to distance yourself and end the conversation hoping you at least started them thinking along more godly lines for a future day when they might be ready to receive God as their savior.

    1 Corinthians 15 mentions people are saved in their own order.

    If you research into universalism and the restoration of all things then you can build a big picture view of this doctrine if you want to understand it.

    Several sites like becomingone.org, mercifultruth.com, God’sKingdomministries.net, and Tentmaker show in detail why over time God is saving the world.

    Creation’s Jubilee by Jones and The Sacred Secret of the Sovereignty of God by James Bruggeman are good works to read.

    I think those works elevate the sovereignty of God’s will in the whole salvation process. Free will is a faulty man made doctrine so check how these very able students of the Bible connect the scriptures to show everyone will be saved and see the view before you take it apart by hyper focusing on certain verses that seem to contradict.

    I do believe universalism restoration is God’s view but we had impious popes and a lot of mistaught people passing on the nefarious torment doctrine for a long time now and these people get used to their power. This is similar to what the Pharisees did in Christ’s time. They knew he was from God from His works/miracles but they challenged him anyways because they had grown set in their ways. If they had been set in God’s way like a Levite priest was suppose to be then they would have acknowledge Christ and sought to be his students but they were set in the world’s status quo.

    I hope this helps. Everyone is made in the image of God but our carnal minds are very malleable and like vessels can be filled with the wrong ideas to overflowing.

    That is probably one reason God gave us His Word. To clean our minds out before He sets our feet on the right course in this world.

    Take care Mark. God Bless!

    Reply
  8. Susan says:

    “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a REFINER’S FIRE and like fuller’s soap. He will sit as smelter and purifier of silver, and He will PURIFY the sons of Levi and REFINE them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2, 3 NAU)

    Google “Our God is a Purifying Fire” by Kenneth Greatorex.

    Reply
  9. Susan says:

    Mark I keep trying to explain to you that an indepth comparison of the positions is required in my opinion to draw a conclusion.

    I named several articles and sites to read that provide the etymology, history and symbology to examine.

    We are not just examining the surface words. We are examining the interpretations of those words.

    At one point when I was examining everything I realized that God didn’t have a problem with me doing that and maybe even expected me to use my mind to investigate.

    He never says we can’t use our own minds. It is people who interfere and try to curtail other people’s reasoning to suit their own limited reasoning.

    I wasn’t going to be a casualty of other people’s thinking so I examined multiple positions.

    The scriptures say the Holy Spirit is our tutor but we still need certain skills like ancient language word meanings to understand.

    Well I found Hanson’s essay disputing certain key word translations and I think he is right.

    From there I read others writings and discoveries on the question. What I found confirmed what I always suspected in my heart. That God is not out to punish anyone forever. Sin has already done enough damage to people.

    So if you are interested in this question put in the research on it.

    Free will could be a man made conjecture because I have never seen the word “free will” in the text.

    Read Creation’s Jubilee. It mentions problems with free will and discusses the thelema and boulema which are the will and the plan of God which are separate and distinct things.

    Jesus Christ said his brothers were the people who do God’s will. Where is the free will in doing God’s will over our own?

    The Bible says every good deed a Christian does is spiritually motivated. Where is the free will in that?

    I am not really an advocate for or against free will. I think it may be a crutch people use to explain things to themselves.

    I am happier with knowing God is in charge of the whole salvation process. Then everything is in better hands than human hands. Of course, we have problems understanding God. It is always easier to maintain one’s own perspective than to
    see another’s.

    But that is what the Bible is. God’s perspective.
    if there are spiritual forces at work on us to what degree are people really free and why do Christians submit to God’s will if we have free will? Maybe we submit because our old sinful free wills are broken and God will give us a better will. His.
    Doesn’t Christ compare God’s will to a yoke but says it is light. So some type of exchanging of wills takes place.

    Well I am just rambling now. Read aion-aionios.
    If aion doesn’t mean eternal then eternal
    torment doesn’t exist in the scriptures. So why do
    we keep pedaling the error? We’re suppose to be ambassadors of reconciliation so why toss a monkey wrench of error into that message.

    God’s perspective is Hebraic not Latin and not
    the Roman Empire’s punishment mentality that transferred over into Christianity when the Roman emperors made Christianity the state religion.

    Your words have to line up with your deeds as a Christian because God always lines up
    HIs Word with His deeds and God made a promise to save the world to Abraham. He swore by Himself and He is able so he will do it in spite of men’s limited understanding. That is my belief. Jesus said nothing is impossible with God and I believe He will get every one who ever lived because He’s God and our limited finite interpretive abilities aren’t going to
    stop God from performing His will. We
    may over rely on our own senses and think there is an insurmountable division but God is The Overcomer of overcomes and man’s will is no obstacle at all to Him. He overcame Saul’s will on
    the Road to Damascus and can do it any time He wants to and it says every knee will bow so if not in this life or on the deathbed then at the Great White Throne of Judgment. I don’t believe God will punish anyone who bows to Him and ultimately everyone will bow one way or another.

    Thanks for reading and feel free to use your mind and investigate. God likes us meditating cf. Psalm 1.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “I don’t believe God will punish anyone who bows to Him and ultimately everyone will bow one way or another.”
      .
      Again, I would ask you to provide Scripture to back up your opinion. I think that there are multiple verses that show this is NOT true; however I may have missed something so please provide if you know of one.
      .
      John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        The scripture is all in the book. But you have to have the perspective to understand.

        Perspective affects interpretation.

        Have a good day. I think you are still trying to force me to accept the mainstream interpretation but I don’t have to.

        I only have to abide in Christ.

        No where does the Bible say I have to settle for other people’s interpretations. The Holy Spirit is my tutor and my guide.

        If I had settled I could never have done anything for God.

        People will make copies and clones out of you while God will turn out an original every time.

        Just be still and start listening to God and tune out people’s disinformation more.

        God says the most important things like: be not afraid, peace be still, etc.

        You don’t hear this from most people.

        God’s voice is a voice of empowerment that comes with encouragement.

        There is nothing empowering or encouraging about eternal torment so I don’t think that doctrine came from mind of God. It came from the mind of a fearful person. Someone with a fear demon who taught a doctrine of condemnation to millions of people across generations. So they have to continually look over their shoulder like God is out to get them. Is that living a life of freedom?

        Start using your own mind for a change and ask yourself exactly who God is and what He will actually do as God.

        There is freedom in that in an evil insanity promoting world.

        I am trusting in Jesus who is perfect not in the doctrinal perfection of man because man is never doctrinally perfect.

        People don’t all interpret perfectly so start reasoning from the Scriptures for yourself and you might find that the Holy Spirit does indeed indwell you with the voice of God and prophecy.

        Don’t be afraid to take the Holy Spirit out for a spin.

        Ready 1st Corinthian’s. The spirit is higher than the letter.

        Peace be with you!

        A life with Jesus is supposed to be transforming we’re not clones of the world or even of other Christians. So don’t be afraid to tap into the Holy Spirit in you and start encouraging people because it enables them to have a real genuine life which very few people have because most people are so busy trying to survive that they never really live with the blessed assurance that Jesus promises to his people.

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          Quick question about the post that you thought was deleted. Is it above with a date and time stamp of: “March 16, 2018 at 6:24 pm”?
          .
          Just trying to see if it was actually deleted or just very slow to post.
          .
          .
          “The scripture is all in the book. But you have to have the perspective to understand.
          Perspective affects interpretation.”
          .
          This is along the lines of what Bart Ehrman teaches that the reader determines the meaning.
          The writer by definition as the owner/creator of the piece of writing had a specific purpose for using the words that they used. I would say that it is the reader’s job to figure out what the writer meant. A single sentence should be considered in the context of the meaning of the whole. And this of course is difficult to do with such a large volume such as The Bible.
          .
          2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
          .
          .
          “I think you are still trying to force me to accept the mainstream interpretation but I don’t have to.”
          .
          Nope, you would be wrong on this point. You say you believe as you do because you have spent much time studying and trying to gain understanding of this subject. Not trying to change your mind.
          What I am asking for since you say you have already done a lot of the research is to provide me with all of the Scriptual evidence that you have accumulated on the subject with Translation, Book, Chapter, and Verse data so that I can verify them myself. I am trying to verify that I have NOT missed something important.
          .
          1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt, 21 but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.
          .
          .
          “There is nothing empowering or encouraging about eternal torment so I don’t think that doctrine came from mind of God.”
          .
          We have already been over this. I asked you if you knew of any verses that show that anyone thrown into the lake of fire ever gets out? Because for me personally I take these two verses as ABSOLUTELY LITERAL. That what these verses say is going to happen is ACTUALLY going to happen. That is the very definition of the word “prophecy”.
          .
          Revelation 20:14-15 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
          .
          And yeah we are not talking about any human doctrine here. I am looking for Scriptual evidence only that you may have.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I gave you the scriptural evidence but you haven’t googled and read the works.

            Read Hanson on aion. He’s a reverend who wrote an essay dissecting the ancient word meanings.

            Read “Creation’s Jubilee” by Jones the son of missionaries and with a doctorate in the Old and New Testament. Jones backs every writing with the scriptural verses.

            Read Dr. Martin on the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge site.

            These doctors all assembled the scriptures in detail.

            I don’t have to rewrite in this unstable format what they have detailed articles on on their own websites.

            There is no reason for me to post on this when you can easily google all these people and read their books and articles online for free.

            have a good one. Fear demons are still around today and people communicate them all the time. Look at Hitler. A xenophobe. Xenophobia is just an irrational spirit of fear and people even teach their lies to others.

            I would rather live with a spirit of love then under a spirit of fear. Most rational people if they consider completely would, too but people keep elevating the literal over the spiritual confusing everybody.

            How can the Bible be a multilevel meaning book if it isn’t spiritual? It is spiritual but we have to grow up on it and learn to handle it rightly dividing the truth or the world will handle us.

            God says Be not afraid in 389 ways in the Bible so why don’t we believe Him?

          • Susan says:

            Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore he sons of Jacob are not consumed.

            Jeremiah 32:25
            35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

            I miscited Jeremiah 9 as the chapter. It is actually Jeremiah 32 where God says He commanded people not to go into fire.

            And God does not change. God is not a man that He should change His mind.

            Now I am not quoting any more scripture for you because that has already been done and you can look it up if you are really interested in the alternate scriptural interpretation.

            Whatever you do I am not returning to this thread because I already checked alternate interpretations while you are arguing trying to vindicate your own from a position of ignorance.

            There is no burden of citing scriptures on me because I already named several freely available works that contain the scriptures assembled to correct the false eternal torment doctrine yet you continue to parrot your view without checking them.

            I can’t do any better than the cited sources so you check them or opt for ignorance. The burden of doing the checking is now on you.

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