Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Face of Apologetics
07/29/2008 - Summer WhiteThe face of apologetics is changing (I should know, I've watched Dr. White's beard grow with my own two eyes). As a generation that is being taught it is impossible to know anything for certain, one of the most recent attacks upon Christianity has been launched, packaged, and peddled to my peers brilliantly.If you are unaware of the movie Zeitgeist, you need to become aware; it is spreading like the plague on the internet, YouTube, and across college campuses, and it will challenge your beliefs in an entirely new way. Although its attack is weak, and very few accredited scholars in the area of mythology or history would vouch for its credibility in any way,its simplicity and eagerness to destroy the God of the Bible has begun to romance far too many of my acquaintances.
The premise is simple, and far from new: the Bible is a conglomeration of plagiarized myths that pagans had already come up with ages before Christ.I would beg Christians to not dismiss this absurd assertion. It isgoing to be a field in which Christians are going to be forced to be knowledgeable of within the next few years because it is the grounds upon which colleges and "academics" today will turn a blind ear to a good witness. We must understand that the arguments found in Zeitgeist, to the unschooled and the unbelieving, are extremely convincing.
For example, the movie asserts that:
Mithra, of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as "The Truth," "The Light," and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.This is a very shiny assertion, and, for the ignorant, probably a very convincing one. However, unless one believes that rocks can be virgins, this is an outright lie. In the story of Mithras, he is born from a rock, fully grown, naked, and holding a dagger, torch, or globe, depending on which version of the story you read.
Secondly, despite how often it is asserted that the pagan celebration of December 25th preceded the Christian use of the date, the historical evidence is not so clear. What we know about Mithraism comes from after the time of Christ, and there is good reason to believe it was the Mithra story that was borrowing from Christianity, not the other way around. Who is more likely to be willing to borrow from someone else: a mystery religion lacking any kind of bedrock theology, or the Christian faith with its very historical, dogmatic, and Jewish roots?
Thirdly, the myth of Mithras does not say that he was a teacher with disciples, but that he was a god. He would have had more than 12 followers, and "miracles" or supernatural acts are implied when referring to gods, so that being a parallel, or even an act of "plagiarism" on the Bible's part is quite a stretch...and a little shady.
As for Mithras's supposed death and resurrection, no textual evidence exists. Zeitgeist forgets that Mithraism was a secret religion that gained popularity largely in the second and third century AD. Their secret meetings were held mostly in caves and are rarely discussed without being labeled as "demonic." Richard Gordon, who received his PHD on the topic of Mithraism in the Roman Empire points out in Image and Value in the Greco-Roman Worldthat there is no record of Mithras ever dying, thus negating the possibility of resurrection.
Many scholars suggest that Mithras being referred to as "the Truth" or the "Light" would be a serious act of borrowing fromthe Christian scriptures, not the other way around.
Zeitgeist takes a great deal of time to twist the myth of Horus, the god of the sun, into the story of Jesus, pointing out that Horus exemplifies goodness and light, and his enemy, the god of the night named Set, represents darkness. The assertion is that Christianity stole this idea and created Jesus versus Satan. One may kindly suggest in response to this ridiculous idea that maybe the ancient Egyptians were pagans and had to come up with some way to explain why bad things happened, and why the sun rose and set every night. Nowhere in the story of Horus is there redemption of a special people or atonement through the sacrifice of the Son of God. If anything, the story ofHorus is a sad commentary on pagan religions and their need to create their own gods, as close to the true Creator as possible, minus the acknowledgment of His singularity and holiness.
Zeitgeist goes on to mention Attis and Dionysus:
Attis, of Phyrigia, born of the virgin Nana on December 25th, crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days, was resurrected.Once again, the story of Jesus is being read into these stories. In the myth of Attis, he got love-sick and castrated himself and died. The part of the story where he is resurrected does not occur in the literature until AD 150. As for the "resurrection" of Dionysus, none has ever been found---unless you want to try to connect his being birthed out of the thigh of Zeus a "resurrection." The alleged stories of gods dying and rising again have nothing to do with the salvation of the world, or bringing peace; they are stories of the cycles of vegetation, used to teach young children whose entire lives would depend on whether or not their family could raise and sell crops. What a monument to our day and age when we have more information available to us than anyone in the history of the world and yet we can be so ignorant of simple history. And need we point out again that the insertion of the date of December 25th is a-historical and just a bit of an over-kill?
Dionysus of Greece, born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the 'King of Kings,' 'God's Only Begotten Son,' 'The Alpha and Omega,' and many others, and upon his death, he was resurrected.
Wherever these people are getting their information, it's not from scholars, history, or historical texts. To quote the movie directly:
You would think that a guy who rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven for all eyes to see and performed the wealth of miracles acclaimed to him would have made it into the historical record. It didn't because once the evidence is weighed, there are very high odds that the figure known as Jesus, did not even exist.Zeitgeist is truly an offensive work of fiction, if not a complete joke on a scholarly level. Ironic, then, that it will be your college campuses and your professor's classrooms that these inane, baseless assertions will be force-fed to you. Be prepared as possible. God has given you the tools. Know your enemy. Light up the darkness.
Further reading from the A&O webstore.
Islamic Ministry in London and Elsewhere
07/25/2008 - James WhiteI announced a few weeks ago plans to get to London in November for some exciting debates, preaching, and even an opportunity to get to Speaker's Corner. Since I am in essence inviting myself, rather than responding to an invitation from the kind brothers and sisters in London, I truly want to make sure that they are in no way inconvenienced by the trip. Hence, I want to make sure every bit of my costs are covered. Some have been asking about what costs we have yet to cover, etc. It is hard to say, but here is what we are asking the people of God to help us with: obviously, the flights to and from; I would like to stay where I stayed the first time I went to London so as to not be a burden on my brothers and sisters with whom I have stayed before; I wish to cover all transportation costs, video taping, etc., for the various events. I may need to "hire a car" as well (see, that's the British way of putting it). Obviously, I could use some food while I'm there, and it would be good to stay in contact, maybe even do another "All British" Dividing Line (Rich wants to set up a special fund to pay me NOT to use a British accent!). There are still resources to be obtained in preparation for the debates, of course.
Just this morning it struck me that it would be tremendously useful to have some tracts available as well. I have asked my Arabic tutor if he could translate The Christian Message into Arabic, and I would like to have another tract, possibly on Surah 4:157, in both English and Arabic as well. I will have to jump on these projects immediately.
It would be wonderfully encouraging if some churches, as well as the faithful individuals who so often step up to the plate, would assist us in fully funding this effort. I know of one current church, and one church that has in God's providence closed its doors, yet, is seeking to dispose of its final possessions, that have expressed interest in helping. I know that I am tremendously excited about this opportunity, and I truly believe the topics I have proposed will add to the body of apologetic material designed to encourage the people of God around the world.
Please prayerfully consider helping us to make the end of 2008 a banner time for advancing the claims of Christ!
The Misuse of Isaiah 29 by Various Religious Groups
07/24/2008 - James WhiteThough this video is a little longer than normal (20 minutes), you will note that after examining Isaiah 29, I provide some video from a Speaker's Corner debate that should be most interesting to our readers.
Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Graeca, Part 1, Coming from Logos
07/22/2008 - James WhiteOne of the regular questions I receive from believers is, "Where do I find resources to do the kind of study I need to do to answer in-depth apologetic questions?" With the "data fog" we exist in today (i.e., tons and tons of information, so much so that we struggle to keep up with it all), it can be difficult to get really good, usable sources.
Many years ago we obtained the Thesaurus Linguae Graece CD-ROM for my doctoral studies. The programs available to access this database have never been overly friendly, but I learned to use them anyway. The resource has proven invaluable over the years. But, one would have to know Greek, and know it well, to use the TLG CD-ROM. Yet, being able to verify citations in the underlying printed text (Jacques Paul Migne's work) is still very valuable, especially for those checking patristic citations and the accuracy of the renderings offered in apologetically relevant works.
For those looking for this kind of resource, light is on the horizon! For those using the Libronix Library engine from Logos Bible Software, the first 18 volumes of the Greek portion of Migne are on "pre-publication." Details can be found here. Evidently, these first 18 volumes will provide some of the most important materials from the ante-Nicene period. I have the Logos software and use it often, especially as a research tool. I also have the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible so that I can access the textual data for the Old and New Testaments. The addition of the Migne set (and especially this first set) will be invaluable for those seeking to verify citations (something those who have followed this blog over the years know is quite important), and for those doing reading in patristic sources, you will now have a full context something not often included in secondary sources.
Keep an eye out for new developments!
The John Bunyan Theology Conference Videos
07/15/2008 - James White···I am in Houston speaking for Grace Reformed Baptist Church (what a great fellowship!). I decided to use my little Casio Exilim to record the sessions now that I can post videos longer than 10:59 on YouTube. So far the first two nights are available, and I will be posting the next two evenings as time allows. I have placed them in a playlist, available below. So far I have addressed Scripture, and the Trinity; tonight I will address salvation, and Wednesday night I will respond to the sermon on Calvinism delivered at First Baptist, Houston just a few weeks ago. I hope these are helpful for folks.
Chris Arnzen Interviews Ravi Zacharias Today
07/14/2008 - James SwanToday on Iron Sharpens Iron, Chris Arnzen will be interviewing Ravi Zacharias, internationally renowned Evangelical Christian apologist, author, radio evangelist and founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He will address the theme of his book, New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna. Listen to the show live today, 3 - 4 P.M. (Eastern Standard Time). Join Chris and Dr. Zacharias on the air as a part of the live broadcast by calling in with your own questions at:1-631-321-WNYG (9694). Here's your chance to talk to Ravi Zacharias!
In Dr. Zacharias's book, which is the latest volume in his "Great Conversation Series," you will take a journey into India's holy city of Mathura. This is the birthplace of Krishna, the name revered and worshiped by millions of Hindus. The teachings of Krishna in the Gita are often referred to as being closest to those of Jesus. But as you walk through the streets and visit the temples, in this imaginary conversation between Jesus and Krishna you will soon see where the message comes close but where the differences lie. Questions of human dignity, Karma, and reincarnation are faced head-on. What is the teaching of this most popular of Hindu books? How does the Gospel differ? New Birth or Rebirth gets to the heart through the mind of these two, both of whom claimed to give the ultimate answers. Jesus and Krishna will engage your intellect and emotions in life's soul- searching struggles. Test for yourself and see where the real answers lie.