Jesus’ Genealogy — Answering a Skeptic

This is a companion piece to the previous post, Can You Answer this Bible Stumper? I was actually doing research on another topic when I came across several atheist websites that post alleged contradictions in the Bible. The discrepancies cited are irrelevant to God’s greater plan of redemption, but I brought it to your attention for the simple fact that the devil is often in the details.

Bart Ehrman — professor, author (Misquoting Jesus), and James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — was once a seminary student, but he stumbled over the details and became an agnostic/atheist. His books have planted seeds of doubt in the hearts of unsuspecting souls which is why we must remain ever vigilant.

He could not understand, for example, why the genealogies in Matthew and Luke differed. I know many people gaze over the genealogies because, frankly, it bores them; but the information provided is very important in Judaism as it establishes birthright. More importantly, the ancestral record follows the line of David to the Mashiac.

It may be news to those whose eyes glaze over this portion of Scripture, but the gospel writers clearly diverge on the important genealogy of Jesus. This information causes many people to stumble, or even lose faith. As a seminary student, Ehrman learned why the accounts differ, but was not satisfied with the explanation.

Do you know why the genealogies differ?

Ehrman came to the simplistic conclusion that if the Bible was the inerrant Word of God then it shouldn’t be difficult to understand. As I noted previously, this attitude reflects intellectual dishonesty and academic indolence. The professor is not qualified to chair a religious studies department at any scholastic institution.

The Bible must be understood in the context of an ancient language and culture. We can’t be so ethnocentric as to disregard who wrote the Bible and to whom it was written. What might appear to be a contradiction may simply be a reflection of our ignorance. It can be worthwhile to unplug the television and study the Word of God.

We have about 5700 copies of the Greek New Testament. Including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic versions there are over 24000 manuscripts (MSS) of the B’rit Chadasha. In comparison, there are less than 200 fragments and MSS of Herodotus’ History of the Ancient World. In other words, there is more extant evidence for the Bible than any number of ancient MSS including Homer’s Iliad.

Ehrman claims that there are hundreds of thousands of discrepancies in the New Testament alone. As a seminary student, Ehrman should have learned that these textual variants are typically an error in spelling or grammar. Considering that thousands of manuscripts were hand-copied it is not difficult to understand a copyist error. For example, a scribe may have penned “Jesus” rather than “Jesus Christ”, and Ehrman counts this as a discrepancy. If the “error” is repeated by a thousand scribes it is counted as 1000 discrepancies thus inflating the actual numbers.

The eight-minute video will present a brief overview of what we have discussed here. Oh, and to answer the question of the disputed genealogies, Matthew presented Jesus’ ancestry through Joseph while Luke presented the birth line through Mary. Both led back to David through his sons Solomon and Nathan. This was to fulfill the Davidic covenant and establish Christ’s authority to sit on David’s throne.

Ehrman’s objections are simply a distraction, but this is what Satan does best — deceive the unwary.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

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Can You Answer this Bible Stumper?

This may or may not be a trick question. Atheists point to this seeming contradiction to disprove the Bible. The answer to the question — Jesse had how many sons? — is a stumper for many Christians who are unprepared to defend what they believe.

Of course, there are no contradictions in the Bible that cannot be properly explained within the context of Scripture itself. Most of these so-called discrepancies are nothing more than grammatical errors.

Copies of ancient text were printed by hand. It was tedious and labor intensive. The copyist might misspell a word or, in the case of Solomon’s horses, drop a digit. In 1 Kings 4:26 we read that Solomon had 40000 stalls of horses, but in 2 Chronicles 9:25 it reads 4000 stalls. There are similar errors like this in the various manuscripts, but the key point to remember is that these textual variants neither disprove the Bible nor debunk Judeo-Christian theology.

I studied grad school text books that had misprints, but the errors did not invalidate the underlying course material. Solomon was the richest man who ever lived, and a copyist error does not alter that fact nor does it change my relationship with God. With that in mind see if you can correctly answer the question posed. A detailed explanation is posted in the feedback section of the correct answer.

References:

1 Samuel 16:7-11

1 Chronicles 2:13-15

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Jesus or Santa?

I was reading about a childless couple who opened a foster home, but because they didn’t celebrate Halloween, Christmas or Easter their licensing credentials were revoked; and the children living at the home were removed by the state.

The foster parents (who are Christian) suggested that the children not be permanently removed, but that they might spend the holidays in a secular foster home. The social worker denied their request on the grounds that the Christian couple may disapprove if the temporary home is managed by a same-sex couple.

This story opens up a whole range of topics — moral, ethical, legal and spiritual — but what I want to discuss here is in the context of Christian parenting. What do you tell your children about Santa Claus?

The social worker told the foster parents that they were required to affirm the existence of E.B. and S.C. because it was the right of children to be reared in a home which followed the customs of society.

Socialization brings to mind herd mentality. Why do we follow social customs? By way of mass media, social media and public education children are indoctrinated with the values of a Godless world system.

Think of it in terms of the herd of swine that ran into the sea and perished (Matthew 8:28-32). This will be the fate of all people who live by the code, “Every one is doing it!” Not one of those pigs saw the danger and broke from the herd.

Consider, also, that parents are called to bring up their little ones in the way of the LORD (Proverbs 22:6). There was a time when children were homeschooled and their grade-level reader was the Holy Bible. Public education was instituted in the 19th century by fascists, communists, socialists and progressives to reeducate a nation’s youth. A high school graduate knows more about sex, drugs and alcohol than how to live as a responsible, productive, moral citizen.

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. Vladimir Lenin

A child does not have the right to believe in Santa Claus (nor the Easter Bunny). In fact, the evidence suggests that to instill such beliefs causes psychological harm. I was listening to a Christian family counselor who recommended that parents not lie to their children. She shared her own personal story:

I remember when I first learned that there was no Santa Claus. My girlfriends made fun of me because I still believed. It was really hurtful and embarrassing, but what was even more devastating was that my parents had deceived me. I began to question everything my parents had taught me. If Santa Claus was a lie then maybe Jesus was a lie, too. So I stopped believing in God. It wasn’t until I was 29 that I sensed an urge to return to the church. I felt like I was home again, and regretted all those faithless years. 

A youngster’s cognitive development is acute at a very early age. Their mind is like a sponge. What are they being taught in preschool or grade school? Are they learning things that uphold or reject the values taught by their parents? Are parents being honest and forthright with their children?

The prevalent anti-Christian worldview is ubiquitously disseminated through every type of gadget and device. Children are victimized by a secular methodology that advances progressive socialization. In other words, the child grows up faithless and leftist — seeking refuge in a college safe-room (stocked with crayons and Play-Doh) whenever they hear the name of God, or Donald Trump.

Children will retain whatever values have been stored in their neurons. Alcohol and drugs can kill those receptors which is why the left pushes for drug decriminalization, and public schools advocate that rambunctious kids be medicated. It’s so much easier to rewrite the program of a person who is dependent.

Parents, do not lie to your children. Santa Claus is a substitute for Christ. When St. Nick proves to be a myth don’t be surprised if your child no longer wants to attend church. It will be difficult, but you must rethink the tradition of gift-giving. What is the gift of Christmas — that 60″ plasma you scored on Black Friday? No, the gift of Christmas is …

Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

This is the joyful gift — that God gave his Son to the world. All of the other trappings of Christmas are a deception and a distraction. The hustle and bustle takes our eyes off of Jesus, and leaves many feeling lonely and depressed.

Satan counterfeits all that is pure and lovely. Will you go on being deceived (and your children), or will you take hold of the one, true gift?

Salvation … which is found only in the eternal Son of God.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ