Thursday, September 20, 2012

God is in Control; Steady Your Heart in Him

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast."  Psalm 57:7

After listening to the silly arguments that Muslims Zakir Hossein and Sami Zaatari make, and the way they tried to argue their case in their recent debates [Sept. 17 and 19, 2012] with Dr. White (, it was amazing at how they rely on western liberal scholarship, and then just deny and say "no" in the face of evidence. This was especially true with Sami Zaatari, who kept saying "It doesn't matter, because the Qur'an says so and so", etc.   His tone and demeanor reminded me of "Baghdad Bob" (Saddam Hussein's spokesperson when the USA invaded Iraq in 2003), who kept saying "No!; where are the soldiers?  They are not here."  Yet he was just denying reality.    Sami just seems to deny reality.  The way Muslims use liberal anti-supernatural scholarship and Gnostic gospels (Paul Bilal Williams, Shabir Ally, and many others) is truly amazing.

Also, Islam, as a political/social/militaristic force is seeking to overpower the west by many other Muslims and their seemingly faith in the political and military might of Islam, whether it be by "stealth Jihad" like CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood; or whether it will be when or if the Caliphate is restored, or other extremist Muslims who are not waiting for that and taking matters into their hands now; (Al Qaeda and other Jihadist/Salafi/Islam-ist types) - they seem to have methods of using whatever they need to in order to gain power.  That is why, it seems to me, that one Muslim recently even wrote an article noting the parallels of Islam to Neitzsche's philosophy of "the will to power".  (But they took down the article later.  It seems they are embarrassed to admit the obvious parallels.)

Without faith in the true God, the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, the God of love, it can be disturbing to see the way Muslim apologists use liberal western scholarship and freedom of speech to do their apologetics in the west, but at the same time, other Muslims use the political powers and general culture in their countries and deny the same opportunity for Christians to debate in their societies without persecution and Dhimmi-ism and honor killings.  (with a few exceptions in early Islamic history and in recent years in Dubai.  (the debates between Thabiti Anyabwile and Bassam Zawadi were especially good, in my opinion. One is here.  The other one here.)

It has been helpful for me to read and meditate in Psalms 46,  56-57, 86, and Romans 8 and James chapters 3-5 in light of some of the big issues going on the world today.

Steady your heart in God, in the face of the above and three other things, yea, even four:
A.  the sensationalism around the pro-Gnostic hype over "the Gospel of Jesus' Wife"
B.  The tension in the Middle East and Muslim countries.
C.  The upcoming Election in the USA for President.
D.  The ongoing homosexual/gay agenda that seeks to destroy marriage, decency and culture.

A.  At least 3 good articles that steady the situation of the recent Gnostic Gospel promotion of the mainstream media and liberal pro-Gnostic scholars like Karen King and Elaine Pagels.

1.  Simon Gathercole points out the parallels and similarities between the fragment that was named "the Gospel of Jesus' Wife" by pro-Gnostic scholar Karen King, and the Gospel of Thomas:  Interesting that he also points out that the fragment was named by King "the Gospel of Jesus' wife" for sensational effect and should not have even been named that.

We believe this to be a largely reliable translation. But is it evidence that Jesus had a wife? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. Not even Karen King is claiming that it is, though it’s inevitable that some of the news outlets will present it otherwise.
What we have here is a typical sort of text which arose after Christianity had become very popular and when derivatives of Christianity began to emerge. The language of the text is very similar to the Gospel of Thomas, sayings 101 and 114, and the Gospel of Thomas saying 101 shows influence of Luke 14:26, as the Gospel of Thomas does elsewhere. This way of speaking belongs to the mid-second century or later, in other words generations later than the books of the New Testament.
We asked Dr Simon Gathercole, an expert on apocryphal gospels and Senior Lecturer in New Testament in the University of Cambridge, for his comments. (See his analysis below).

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife - This piece of papyrus has been authenticated by two reputable scholars, Profs. Roger Bagnall and AnneMarie Luijendijk. There are doubts, however, which have been raised about its authenticity, especially by scholars at the International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome, where there is a good deal of scepticism. This is a tiny fragment of text, but which has something unprecedented in it, namely a reference to Jesus addressing someone as “My wife....”:
1 ] not. My mother has given me [life]
2 ] The disciples said to Jesus, [
3 ] deny. Mary is worthy of it [
4 ] Jesus said to them, “My wife... [
5 ] She will be able to be a disciple to me, and [
6 ] Let evil man ??? [...
7 ] As for me, I am with her because [
] an image [

Relation to other gospels - What is interesting about the relation of this fragment to other gospels is that it is closest to the Gospel of Thomas:
Line 1:
Gos. Thom. 101.3:
My mother has given me [life].
My true Mother has given me life.
Line 3:
Gos. Thom. 114.1:
Mary is worthy of it
Simon Peter said to them, ‘Let Mary come out from us, because women are not worthy of life.’
Line 5:
Gos. Thom. 101.1-2:
She will be able to be a disciple to me
Whoever does not hate his father and his mother as I do cannot be a disciple to me. And whoever does not love his Father and his Mother as I do cannot be a disciple of mine.
There is obviously ongoing debate here about the role of Mary, and by extension. What is not paralleled elsewhere is that Jesus addresses someone – probably Mary Magdalene – as his wife. There are two possible implications of this:

1. This could be like the special relationship that Mary Magdalene and Jesus have in the Gospel of Philip. There, Mary is closer to Jesus than the other disciples are, as Mary Magdalene is an important symbol: the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is an allegory of the soul’s meeting with God in the bridal chamber, i.e. salvation.

2. It could reflect debates about marriage and sex in the early church. Tertullian (c. 200, the time of this fragment), discussed marriage a lot, in particular re-marriage after death of a spouse (which he said was wrong), and his view of marriage was that the ideal marriage was without sex. Others at the time, like Clement of Alexandria, report opponents using Jesus’ celibacy as an argument for Christians remaining celibate. Some, he says, “say outright that marriage is fornication and teach that it was introduced by the devil. These arrogant  people say that they are imitating the Lord, who neither married nor possessed anything in this world, boasting that they understand the gospel better than others.” (Clement, Stromateis3.49.1).  The use of such a striking motif as Jesus being married obviously had a point to it: it may have been that Jesus’ marriage was invented as a reason to justify marriage.

3. It could be a text like the Gospel of Mary, where Mary has become an alternative channel of revelation. She is given a place very close to Jesus, so that she can be a mouthpiece for an alternative treatment of salvation.
Other references to Jesus in similar relationships - Jesus has female disciples in the canonical gospels, who support his ministry (Luke 8), and who are part of his entourage generally. There is no reference to marriage of any kind, which is striking in a biography. (Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, for example, mentions wives and fiancées of all 12 of his subjects.) Other apocryphal gospels develop some of these relationships. So, for example, Salome who is a very minor character in the gospels (mentioned only twice, only in Mark’s gospel), but she becomes significant in the Gospel of the Egyptians, and especially in the Gospel of Thomas, where she shares a couch with Jesus: it was a dining couch rather than a bed, but sharing a dining couch was still a louche thing to do, and effectively meant being married or lovers. The Gospel of Philip might refer to Jesus kissing Mary, but the manuscript has some holes in at the key point! In a later text called the Greater Questions of Mary, Jesus even – in front of Mary Magdalene - has sex with a woman whom he has produced out of his side.
Harvard Professor Karen King, who is the person who has been entrusted with the text, has rightly warned us that this does not say anything about the historical Jesus. She is correct that “its possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus”. But she is also right that this is a fascinating discovery which offers us a window into debates about sex and marriage in the early church, and the way Jesus could be adapted to play a part in a particular debate. If it is genuine.
Simon Gathercole

2.  Michael Kruger brings us back to the bottom line in this issue:

"When it comes to these sorts of questions I like to remind my students of a simple---but often overlooked---fact: of all the gospels in early Christianity, only Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are dated to the first century.  Sure, there are minority attempts to put books like the Gospel of Thomas in the first century---but such attempts have not been well received by biblical scholars. Thus, if we really want to know what Jesus was like, our best bet is to rely on books that were at least written during the time period when eyewitnesses were still alive. And only four gospels meet that standard. "   Michael Kruger

3.  Al Mohler points out the sensationalism of this that masquerades as scholarship:

Even without these extra excellent articles, and information, we can calmly re-affirm with David, the inspired writer: 

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast."  Psalm 57:7

With all this extra reasonable apologetic defense of the Bible and the true God, our witness is emboldened in being equipped to answer the critics.


B.  with all the turmoil in the Middle East and from radical Muslims who stir up many other Muslims - 

Psalm 46:1-11

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble . . . "

"Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change;
though the mountains slip into the sea . . .

"cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

C.  And, whatever the USA election brings, steady your heart in God and His Word, with His people, humble yourself under His mighty hand.  (James 4:10; I Peter 5:5-10)

"This I know, that God is for me" - Psalm 56:9

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)  see larger context of Romans 8:28-39

Further doubt on the "Jesus' wife" fragment:

Addendum # 2 (Sept. 26, 2012)
The "Jesus Wife" fragment judged a total fake.

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