Category Archives: Video

Jesus Loves Religion

Portrait of a Religious Republican

Many of you may have already seen this viral video originally posted by The Resurgence website. A co-worker told me about it and it linked (at that time) to The Resurgence. At that point it had three million views. By the time I got home Friday morning and pulled it up again (about four hours later), it had six million views! Now it’s plateaued at over seven million. It’s effective, because it’s edgy. It’s edgy because it features a misdefinition of the word “Religion.”

Watch the video, before we move on:

Another friend of mine shared it on his Facebook page, with a lengthy discussion in which I just had to participate. Here’s what I wrote:

This forty-something Republican is down with most of this. But the “semantic” issue is that by “religion” he does mean legalism, but I’d like to submit that he’s also talking about hypocrisy. But I guess if he used the right words, it wouldn’t have been nearly as edgy and would have gotten a couple million fewer views on YouTube. At first I thought he was coming too close to advocating “don’t go to church, be the church” like Barna’s “Revolutionaries,” but I rewatched it and retained his clarification about “loving the church” which I suppose means he doesn’t advocate dropping out. He’s just, again, challenging legalism and hypocrisy.

Fortunately, a trained professional has now written a lengthy and helpful critique, which is not uncomplimentary, about this latest YouTube phenomenon. Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (2009?, Moody Publishers) writes “Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda Sorta, Not Really.” Here’s DeYoung’s comments on the poet’s misleading use of the word “religion,”  how religious Jesus was, and how religious he wants his followers to be:

More important is Bethke’s opening line: “Jesus came to abolish religion.” That’s the whole point of the poem. The argument—and most poems are arguing for something—rests on the sharp distinction between religion on one side and Jesus on the other. Whether this argument is fair depends on your definition of religion. Bethke sees religion as a man made attempt to earn God’s favor. Religion equals self-righteousness, moral preening, and hypocrisy. Religion is all law and no gospel. If that’s religion, then Jesus is certainly against it.

But that’s not what religion is. We can say that’s what is has become for some people or what we understand it to be. But words still matter and we shouldn’t just define them however we want. “Jesus hates religion” communicates something that “Jesus hates self-righteousness” doesn’t. To say that Jesus hates pride and hypocrisy is old news. To say he hates religion—now, that has a kick to it. People hear “religion” and think of rules, rituals, dogma, pastors, priests, institutions. People love Oprah and the Shack and “spiritual, not religious” bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.

The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion. This was the central point behind the book Ted Kluck and I wrote a few years ago.

The word “religion” occurs five times in English Standard Version of the Bible. It is, by itself, an entirely neutral word. Religion can refer to Judaism (Acts 26:5) or the Jewish-Christian faith (Acts 25:19). Religion can be bad when it is self-made (Col. 2:23) or fails to tame the tongue (James 1:26). But religion can also be good when it cares for widows and orphans and practices moral purity (James 1:27). Unless we define the word to suit our purposes, there is simply no biblical grounds for saying Jesus hated religion. What might be gained by using such language will, without a careful explanation and caveats, be outweighed by what is lost when we give the impression that religion is the alloy that corrupts a relationship with Jesus.

Update: Poet Jefferson Bethke responds on his Facebook page to those using his video to “bash the church”:

If you are using my video to bash “the church” be careful. I was in no way intending to do that. My heart came from trying to highlight and expose legalism and hypocrisy. The Church is Jesus’ bride so be careful how you speak of His wife. If a normal dude has right to get pissed when you bash His wife, it makes me tremble to think how great the weight is when we do it to Jesus’ wife. The church is His vehicle to reach a lost word. A hospital for sinners. Saying you love Jesus but hate the Church, is like a fiancé saying he loves his future bride, but hates her kids. We are all under grace. Look to Him.

How to make Joel Osteen nervous

Ask him a politically-charged question about biblical sexual morality.

It’s good that Joel was able to get what he’s bound to believe out of his mouth. He would do well to work toward not only believing these things, but also ministering these truths in the way Paul advised Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, which reads,

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For the record, according to Joel Osteen, he believes that the Bible teaches the following:

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” (Leviticus 20:13).

“…and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error”(Romans 1:27).

“…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7; cf. Gen. 19).

But this next passage shows Joel should have also qualified his initially reassuring assertion to Oprah that “I think [homosexuals] will [go to heaven].” He does clarify that “they need forgiveness of their sins,” but this was an attempt to evade putting the two together until Oprah had to pull it out of him in uncertain terms. In this, he sounds nothing like the apostle Paul, whose inspired assertion is much clearer:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Fortunately for homosexuals who repent and for Joel Osteen, Paul goes on in verse 11 to proclaim:

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

It is the desire of every loving, right-minded Christian that the homosexuals should, by the grace of the Spirit of God,

  • believe the good news of forgiveness through the sinless life, atoning death and enlivening resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so be justified through faith alone…
  • repent of his sins, including the sin of homosexuality…
  • be washed clean in the waters of baptism…
  • learn to obey all that Christ taught, including his and his apostles’ teachings on sexual morality. Or, as Paul put it above “[be] sanctified.”

Short of this, the regrettable fact remains that the homosexual, as well as the sexually immoral, the idolater, the adulterer, the thief, the greedy, the drunkard, the reviler and the swindler, among other kinds of sinner, will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

What Christmas Is All About

The Christ of the Bible

HT: Cado Odac

Ehrman/Wallace Debate Now Available

The debate between Dr. Daniel B. Wallace and Dr. Bart D. Ehrman on October 1, 2011 at the McFarlin Memorial Auditorium was the largest event of its kind ever, being attended by 1,500 viewers on all sides of the issue of the reliability of the New Testament text. The DVD of the debate is now available for sale by Dr. Wallace’s Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Click here to order a copy for yourself.

Read my semi-review and excerpt from Dr. Wallace’s new book which was released on the night of the debate.

 

Mixing Politics and Religion

Despite the last few posts on the New Apostolic Reformation, I generally reserve my political views for my Facebook page, but the intersection of this current political issue with theological issues commends its appearing on my blog to some extent. You may have heard that the next weekly Republican debate will feature questions submitted by the general population via YouTube. I simply could not resist taking this opportunity to question the logic of this association of Rick Perry with the so-called Dominionists of the New Apostolic Reformation. I’m neither endorsing Rick Perry nor Dominionism, just attempting to point out how the political Left are demagoguing on this issue (at which they are masters, if you ask me), at least in the blogosphere. A prime source of Left-wing blogging on the topic of the New Apostolic Reformation is called NAR Watch. Much of the information is interesting and useful, but I still contend that they engage in too much assumption as it relates to just what members of this movement wants out of any presidential candidates they may endorse. 

The following video is my question submitted for consideration to be used on the night of the debate. I’m not holding my breath that it’ll actually be aired, but I’d like to share it with you. Most of you could probably take it or leave it, but if you either enjoyed it very much, or seriously take issue with it, please take the opportunity to go to the FoxNews Channel’s YouTube page, browse through the hundreds of videos which are apparently organized in no particular order, and click on either the thumbs up or thumbs down icon so others can see whether my question warrants attention.

No jokes about my booming announcer voice 😉

All in all, this whole episode is a great argument for Two Kingdom theology (also see here). 

This Just In! Blind Squirrel Finds Nut!

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

                So God created man in his own image,

                                in the image of God he created him;

                                male and female he created them.

                And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

(Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

To fully understand this passage, one must read the entirety of chapter one. The literary structure can be summarized simply using our key term “dominion.” God created kingdoms: outer space, the sky, the sea, and the land; then God created three kings to exercise “dominion” in each “kingdom”: celestial bodies, birds, sea life of every kind, and the race of Man.  There is a progressive significance in this creation week, with the creation of Man as the climax.

With God’s creation of Man, he gives him a vocation: fill the earth, subdue it, and take dominion over the lesser forms of life. Man lives on the earth as a kind of vice-regent of God.

This passage is applied in many ways by many people, but it can be reduced to something more or less like this. God created Man, then he gave him something to do.  How this idea has been applied varies according to the theological tradition to which the believer subscribes.

Throughout the middle ages, Roman Catholic traditions drove a wedge between the sacred and the secular in such a way that those who were inclined to a vocation of church ministry were seen as inherently superior to everyone else in the ordinary, profane occupations that seemed anything but spiritual. There were priests who worked for God (good), everyone else worked for the world (not so good).

In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformers recovered the biblical truth which they called “the priesthood of the believer.” This doctrine emphasized the fact that Christ was the High Priest who mediates between God and Man, and all believers, ordained minister or not, are priests who may now approach God and offer spiritual sacrifices on the basis of Christ’s mediation and intercession. But the Reformers didn’t leave this truth at this point. Application of the priesthood of the believer was made to every aspect of his life. In short, what are his responsibilities? That is his ministry. This idea brought a renewed dignity to labor and developed what is known as the Protestant work ethic. This work ethic taught each believer-priest to work for the glory of God and the good of his neighbor in whatever way his interests, skills and opportunities allow. Much of the productive, technological and industrial development in the modern world finds part of its roots in this Protestant work ethic, which influenced Western culture for the better.

As the centuries wore on, this truth became less and less clear, and Christians became less aware of the spiritual significance of their secular vocations, and the work ethic largely fell by the way side. While historic orthodox Protestants retained this doctrine at least in their theological volumes, if not always preached and lived in their lives, but others kept it in mind, working for the glory of God in their own personal way as the Reformation doctrine of vocation went largely neglected.

In the great cultural shift that took place in the 1960’s, some Protestant ministers, notable among them, Francis Schaeffer, sought ways to recover this truth by encouraging Christians to “engage the culture,” in order to be used by God to once again be the “Light of the World” and “The Salt of the Earth,” in other words, Christians whom God may use to bring glory to God by enlightening their neighbors to the Light of the truth which is in Christ, as well as by being a benefit to their neighbors in their work and their service.

In the decade of the seventies, a few ministers in the charismatic movement had a similar desire to encourage their congregants and the church at large to live more consistently and more visibly as Christians in a sinful world. They, too, had a sense that evangelical Christians had largely ceased being influential members of society, and wanted to do something about it in their way, according to the understanding of their theological tradition. To put it inelegantly, I consider these efforts by Schaeffer and these charismatics, among others as blind squirrels who found a nut, as the old saying goes. The “nut” being some concept of the historic doctrine of vocation.

Fast forward to 2011. This desire to glorify God and serve and evangelize their neighbors becomes misinterpreted by the Left Wing of the American political system as efforts to “take dominion” over the federal government of the United States and establish a theocratic form of government. Looked at in this light, now, doesn’t it sound silly?

Now let’s engage in a comparative study. First read Lutheran journalist and blogger, Edward Gene Veith’s blog post “Vocation as the Christian Life,” and learn more about Luther’s doctrine of vocation and how it ought to be applied in this generation. Then watch the following video posted at www.the7mountains.com and see if you can detect similar motives. Then stop listening to reactionary political Leftists who think those crazy extremist Right Wing Christians are out to overthrow the government and start stoning adulterers and burning witches.

“Understanding Islam” on 9/11

I just received word that James Walker, former Mormon and founder of Arlington, Texas-based counter-cult evangelism ministry Watchman Fellowship will be speaking this Sunday, September 11 on the subject of “Understanding Islam” at Mansfield Bible Church in Mansfield, Texas. If any of my readers are in the area and are so inclined, I recommend this ministry to you. 

Here’s the text from a page at Mansfield Bible Church’s website introducing you to Watchman Fellowship and the credentials of  James Walker:

 

Event: ‘Worship Services 9:30 & 11am’
  General
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011 – 9:30 am

Duration: 1 Hour

Contact Info:

Church Office 817-473-8980

Email: mbc4god@mbcChurch.com

URL:

 

Guest Speaker: James K. Walker

 

James Walker, the president of Watchman Fellowship, is a former fourth generation Mormon with over twenty years of ministry experience in the field of Christian counter-cult evangelism, apologetics, and discernment. He has been interviewed as an expert on new religious movements and cults on a variety of network television programs including NightlineABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He has spoken at hundreds of churches, colleges, universities, and seminaries throughout the United States and internationally.

 

Education

Rev. Walker holds a BA in Biblical Studies and an MA in Theology (Summa cum Laude) from The Criswell College in Dallas. He serves on the faculties of Arlington Baptist College and The Criswell College as adjunct professor and co-teaches an annual workshop on alternative religions at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an ordained Baptist minister and a member of the Society for the Study of Alternative Religions, the Evangelical Press Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions.

 

Media

In addition to network television, Rev. Walker has been interviewed as an authority on alternative religions and cults on numerous nationwide Christian radio programs. These include Truths that Transform with Dr. D. James Kennedy’s, Hope for the Heart, with June Hunt, Open Line with Kirby Anderson on the Moody Broadcasting Network, and Marlin Maddoux’s Point of View. He also hosted a video training program on witnessing toMormons for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

 

Background

James Walker was born in 1955 to a Mormon family in Jacksonville, Florida. As a fourth generation Mormon, he was trained in their programs. At the age of eight he was baptized and received the “laying on of hands” for the “gift of the Holy Ghost.” In his teens, Mr. Walker participated in the baptism for the dead rituals in the Mormontemple in Salt Lake City. He also received the Aaronic Priesthood in which he served as Deacon, Teacher, and Priest. Mr. Walker left the Mormon Church and in 1976, he received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

 

Ministry

Rev. Walker joined the staff of Watchman Fellowship in 1984 and became president of the organization in 1994. Watchman Fellowship is a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Arlington, Texas, with additionaloffices around the country and in Romania.

 

Watchman Fellowship is an apologetics and discernment ministry that provides research and evaluation on cults, the Occult, and new religious movements from a traditional Christian perspective. Rev. Walker is directly involved with evangelism and apologetics in a variety of related fields including Mormonism, the New Age Movement,Jehovah’s Witnessesthe Way InternationalArmstrongismthe Unification ChurchChristian ScienceSatanismand the Occult.

 

He teaches and preaches throughout the United States and internationally in hundreds of churches, colleges, and universities. He has also spoken at the chapel services of a number of seminaries including

 

 

In addition to teaching, he has also organized and participated in evangelistic outreaches at Jehovah’s Witnesses’ District Conventions, Mormon temple openings and pageants, and New Age events.

 

Because of his background and love for those lost in the cults and alternative religions, James Walker has invested his life into reaching them with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. His desire is to work together with local churches to evangelize those in the cults and to bring them into healthy, Bible-centered churches.

 

Watchman Offices


© Copyright 1994-2008 Watchman Fellowship, Inc.. All rights reserved.

 

 


Wanna See Something Reeeal Scary?

YOU’RE A HYPOCRITE! from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

See also “The Old King James!” and “From Racist Ruckmanism to Reformed Theology.”

HT: Stuff Fundies Like

Ehrman/Wallace Debate in Dallas

Saturday, October 1, 2011, Dr. Daniel Wallace will debate Dr. Bart Ehrman on whether we can trust the text of the New Testament. Wallace is an evangelical textual scholar and founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Ehrman is a former Christian, professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, and the author of books like Misquoting Jesus and Forged, in which he attempts to communicate much about the field of New Testament textual criticism and uses this information to attempt to demonstrate that the New Testament is not, in fact, either inerrant or inspired by God.

This debate is the second between these two scholars. You can purchase the first if you like from this site.

Here’s the website for the upcoming debate.

Shooting Salvationist Author on Book-TV

David R. Stokes speaks before his book signing at the Fort Worth Sundance Square Barnes& Noble two blocks from the site of Norris' shooting of Chipps

This weekend C-SPAN2 is airing a speech delivered by David R. Stokes, the author of The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America (©2011 Steerforth Press) at a recent book signing in Austin, TX. It played last night at 9pm (Eastern), it has replayed once this morning, but you can still catch it one final time this afternoon at 3pm (Eastern). 

The program has already been added to the BookTV online archive, so it may be accessed there if you miss this afternoon’s showing.

Don’t forget to purchase your copy of The Shooting Salvationist at Amazon.com or from the book’s official website

Shooting Salvationist Author’s Video Interview

2011 Steerforth Press--Foreword by Bob Scieffer of CBS News

You’ll see in my blogroll a link to The Shooting Salvationist Blog. In case you missed my post a few weeks ago, there’s a book on the verge of being released focusing on the murder trial of Texas Independent Fundamental Baptist leader and former pastor of First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, J. Frank Norris. My faith in Christ began and was early nurtured in a church founded by a pastor who studied under Norris, and so did David Stokes, the author of the upcoming The Shooting Salvationist–I here in Ft. Worth, and Stokes up in Detroit, Michigan, where Norris would eventually co-pastor Temple Baptist Church with Baptist Bible College founder G. Beauchamp Vick.

Anyway, I just noticed at The Shooting Salvationist site that author David Stokes has posted a video interview about his book. This post is primarily to share the link to this interview which may be watched here. Stokes also just posted today that on July 18, just a few days after the book is released on July 12, 2011, he will be at Book People in Austin for a speaking/signing event which will be broadcast on C-SPAN Book TV (I’ll update this post when I get a date for the broadcast). 

This book had been previously released under a different title, which is no longer available. But if you’d like to see what I wrote about Norris and the story of his notorious public ministry (celebrated by many “Old Fashioned Fundamental Baptists”) and murder trial, click on the category “J. Frank Norris” in my sidebar or here.

Horton on Modern Israel

Don’t miss Dr. Michael Horton’s great blog post responding to many Evangelicals’ negative reaction to President Obama’s recent comments about the borders of Israel. Many Evangelicals react negatively because, due to a largely Dispensationalist method of interpreting Scripture, they see the modern state of Israel in identical terms as the Bible views ancient Israel back when they were actually in covenant with God. Dr. Horton presents a more biblical approach to what happened with ancient Israel and the Mosaic covenant, and applies it to how we ought to view modern Jews in modern Israel in light of the cross of Christ. Read, “Biblical Foreign Policy?

By the way, I dug Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before both houses of Congress yesterday!

Don’t Engage in Anabaptist Handwringing Over Osama bin Laden

There is quite a debate underway online regarding how Christians should respond to the death of Osama bin Laden. Are we to rejoice over the justice in the death of one who is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, most notably the three thousand souls lost on September 11, 2001? Or are we supposed to so major on the fact that “God is not pleased by the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33: 11 ) that we should stoically stand by and not “rejoice with those who rejoice,” even though we’ve been previously weeping with them (Romans 12:15)?

 The book of Proverbs does read, “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness” (Proverbs 11:10). Furthermore, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous, but a terror to evildoers” (Proverbs 21:15). Methinks the instinct to worry about being too happy over Osama bin Laden’s death is a reflection of the influence of Anabaptist pacifism. It’s pervasive in Western Christianity nowadays. Try not to let it unduly influence you. For an example of what I mean, compare this blogger’s dilemma over how to react. Should he listen to the Anabaptist on the one shoulder, or the red-blooded American patriot chanting “U-S-A!” on the other? That he attributes his angst over the death of a mass-murdering terrorist to Anabaptism shows how this is the application of Anabaptist pacifism. For you Star Wars fans, remember Alderaan? They were a peaceful planet with no weapons, weren’t they? Look what happened to them.

While it is regrettable that Osama bin Laden never repented of his sins and trusted Christ for salvation from sin and the wrath of God—none of us are glad because he’s now suffering eternal conscious torment in hell. We’re relieved with the loved-ones of bin Laden’s and al Qaida’s victims that justice is served. There is no contradiction here. 

At Underdog Theology, Warren Cruz takes the approach that our deceitfully depraved hearts may take us down the slippery slope of rejoicing in bin Laden’s eternal destiny though we intended to only rejoice in the temporal justice in his demise. Be that as it may, I’m inclined to take Luther’s approach (HT: Wikiquote):

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sin be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death and the world. We commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13), are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. 

Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from:Dr. Martin Luther’s Saemmtliche Schriften Dr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590

In other words, don’t let the fact that you may imperfectly rejoice in the justice of bin Laden’s death keep you from so rejoicing. Christ’s perfect righteousness covers the imperfect righteousness of those who trust him.

U-S-A! U-S-A! 

Update: For a tad more balanced and scholarly approach to making the same point, try Michael Horton writing for Christianity Today today in “The Death of Osama bin Laden: What Kind of Justice Has Been Done?” Here’s the second of Horton’s three implications of the so-called Reformation doctrine of the Two Kingdoms as it relates to the only event in today’s headlines:

Second, it means that we cannot rejoice in the death of the wicked any more than does God (Ezek. 18:23). We may take satisfaction that temporal justice has been served, but Christians should display a sober restraint. When Christ returns, bringing infinite justice in his wake, his saints will rejoice in the death of his enemies. For now, however, he calls us to pray for our enemies, even for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44). This is the day of salvation, calling sinners to repent and believe the gospel. We may delight in the temporal justice shown to evildoers, but leave the final justice to God. (HT: Riddleblog).

Should We “Pass Over” Easter?

“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4 KJV—emphasis mine). 

Is Easter a valid translation of pascha in Acts 12:4? It is according to Nick Sayers in his video and companion two-part article, “Why We Should Not Passover Easter.” Sayers points to the presence of early forms of the word Easter in pre-KJV translations of the New Testament. He shows how from Tyndale’s use of ester and esterlambe  (haven’t taken the time to check the spelling) and his coining of the English word “Passover” there is a transitional pattern in the intervening translations of the New Testament between Tyndale’s and King James’. Sayers’ ultimate point is that, if you look at Acts 12:4 in context, it would be clear that Herod had the Jewish Passover in mind, but that the KJV translators retained Easter as their translation of pascha because they believed Luke’s pointing out that the events in the passage took place during the days of unleavened bread that his use of the word pascha was also an allusion to the supposed apostolic practice of an annual commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, which in the seventeenth as well as the twenty-first centuries, is called Easter. Ironically, Sayers links to a Trinitarian Bible Society article on Easter in the KJV which states unequivocally that there was no apostolic annual commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, only the weekly Lord’s Day. 

 There is much I find compelling about the presentation in this video, yet I still have some lingering doubts. I do agree with modern version proponents that “Passover” is still the better translation of pascha in Acts 12:4, but given some of the information in Sayers’ video, coupled with the fact that the Venerable Bede is the uncorroborated source of the claim that the word Easter is derived from an ancient pagan goddess, I can see how it may have been that the KJV translators had some decent reasons for wanting to retain the use of the word Easter, if only once, in their version.

 One thing that I appreciate most about the presentation in the video, is that it does a good job of demonstrating the flaws in Alexander Hislop’s claim that the word Easter comes from ancient Phoenician worship of Ishtar on phonetic grounds (“Easter sounds like Ishtar”). Another helpful expression of critical thinking skills is how Sayers points out early in his video that cultists are drawn to old wive’s tales like Hislop’s treatment of Easter in his widely read (among fundamentalists) book, The Two Babylons. A great take-away quote from Sayer is, “If you are a Bible believer, you believe the Bible; if you are superstitious, you will believe Hislop.” Amen!

 I find myself hesitant to latch on to Sayers’ attempt to demonstrate that due to its etymology in the German word oster, Easter basically means “resurrection.”  Until I see more authoritative evidence of this, I think it’s safest to say that this is just a little too good to be true, as much as I would like for it to be. If any of my readers have done some homework on this topic, and is able to correct or corroborate Sayers’ claims in his video and articles, please share your findings with me in the comments. My mind is open regarding these things, and I solicit your input. 

I’m afraid, however, I’m drawn to this line of argumentation because I’m personally so eager to encourage those who think Easter really is an allusion to a pagan goddess to embrace the very real possibility that it actually springs from a Christian source of origin rather than pagan (see my post “Treating Easterphobia“). This just goes to show that I may not be quite as Reformed as I’d like to be. Help me, dear readers, and may you have an edifying Lord’s Day and a happy Easter. 

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