Archive for December, 2010


Critics at Christmas time

December 19, 2010

Was The Virgin Birth And Other Christian Ideas Ripped Off From Pagan Mystery Religions?

This is a common objection raised in pop culture today. This information, however, is based on several erroneous assumptions.

1. Old Testament Prophecy

The virgin birth was prophesied 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This prophecy pre-dates any of the pagan stories.

2. Skeptics Are Misreading Both Accounts While Mixing And Matching

Many of the popular writers who argue that Christianity borrowed from paganism are taking Christian theology, and reading it into the pagan mystery religions. For example, some claim that the pagan God Mithras sacrificed himself for peace just like Jesus. The actual teachings about Mithras, however, don’t say that. All they mention is the practice of sacrificing a bull, and being bathed in its blood. It was apparently part of the initiation rights underwent by new converts into the cult. This practice has nothing to do with what Christians believe the blood of Jesus accomplishes for believers. It is reading Christian theology into the stories about Mithras.

3. The Bible Was There First

The third mistake made by some of those writers who claim that Christianity copied its belief’s from other mystery religions is this: many of the Pagan religious texts, where vague parallels between their teachings and Christianity exist, are written over a hundred years after the Christian Gospels were written. Now think about that for a minute. If the pagan religious texts were written after the teachings of Christianity, who would be copying whom? The pagans were copying the Christians, not the other way around.

4. Christian Doctrine And Pagan Mythology Don’t Mix

Some of the apparent similarities are just plain fiction often propagated by those who haven’t read the Christian teachings or the pagan teachings very closely. For instance, some claim that the pagan God Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave, just like Jesus. When you actually read the story of Mithras’ birth, you find that he was actually born out of a rock and a shepherd had to pull him out. How that relates to the virgin birth of Jesus, I don’t know. I guess the rock was a virgin….

Researcher, Gretchen Passantino, says that the birth of Christ is radically different than various mythological tales.

“Instead of a virgin willingly conceiving by the invisible power of God, the myths give us lurid tales of lusty gods having forced sex with women… instead of the incarnation, the myths gave us half human, half divine super heroes subject to the same weaknesses, sins, and frustration as we are.”

5. Devout Jews Were Not Allowed To Mix Their Stories

Jews wrote the biblical Gospels. The Jewish people at the time of the writing were, for the most part, fiercely resistant to pagan ideas and concepts.

If you’ve heard that critique of the Christmas story before I hope the above helps.

Happy Christmas.


The world of babies

December 17, 2010

I own a book called, ‘Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti’. The book is about marriage and the differences between men and women. Sometimes the differences lead directly to conflict.

This is us in South Africa having a fight. I’m not sure what the fight was about but this I know…I was right.

Men are like waffles. We compartmentalize. According to the book our manly lives are arranged into little boxes. The work box, wife box, kid box, hobby box etc, etc.

There is also the nothing box. Ladies this is important to note.

‘Honey, what are you thinking’?

‘Nothing’. The reply comes.

‘No, seriously what are you thinking about. Share with me’. After all, her mental gears are always churning, why would he be any different?

This is where the guy panics. He really was thinking about nothing. His mind was blissfully blank. Now he scrambles to think of something to say or she’ll think he is hiding things from her.

He fears that conversation.


There are certain compartments of a guys live that he finds stressful. As a general rule he prefers to spend as little time in these ‘boxes’ as he can. He likes to spend time in boxes where he can feel confident, successful, respected and fulfilled.

If he is winning at work and constantly losing at home where do you think he is spending most of his time?

The compartments of his life where he feels foolish, naive, disrespected or out of control with no possibility of success are avoided like the plague.

Maybe, this is why men can be reluctant to enter into the world of babies.

New babies is a world traditional reserved for women. God has seen to that. Babies need breast milk. Men have the hardware but it is non-functional. As much as my boy desperately tries to latch onto me when he’s ‘famished’ he is always turned away disappointed. Mom and baby have this connection that dad and baby are denied.

Honestly, I’m not up at night mourning the fact.

The world of breast milk, diapers, formula, sleepers and wet wipes can be an alien world. He can’t distinguish between all the different cries. He’s worried he’ll break the kid if he holds him or her. He doesn’t know how to make the baby stop crying.

Mom doesn’t always help the situation, ‘you’re doing it wrong’! When there is no pay cheque involved a man only needs to hear that a few times before he stops doing it at all. It’s not a box he wants to live in.

I understand the hesitancy of men to enter into the world of babies. I don’t know what I’m doing half time. My inadequacies are exposed on a daily basis. Just when I think I’ve gotten it figured out the boy changes.

It’s like working at an office where the boss changes the computer operating system weekly. Oh, and there is no pay cheque but you love the boss and can’t quit. Until your dead.

Newborns are stressful.

Most parents say they don’t know what their doing either. That humble admission doesn’t totally comfort me. It still seems like the know what they’re doing. Usually they offer a lot of advice which is mean if they have no clue about parenting.

Or maybe we’re all like patients in a doctor’s waiting room writing one another prescriptions. ‘Try this or try that’, but we don’t have a clue. We’re pooling our ignorance hoping to high heaven that God transfigures it into parental wisdom.

He often does. He is good like that (Js. 1:5).


Back to the confusing, disorientating world of babies. I don’t always know how to enter into it.

Here is what I do know. The incarnation is fact. The Son of God took on human flesh. He left a world where his glory, goodness, wisdom and infinite value where duly noted. He entered into a world were he was rejected, scorned, and vulnerable (Phil 2).

Imagine a ‘box’ in your life called heaven. It’s a place where your value is never overlooked, your worth is never underestimated, your achievements are always acknowledged, and your golf game is constantly on par.

There is another ‘box’ of your life marked ‘earth’. Earth is a stressful place. On earth you are often discouraged, repeatedly rejected, and notably neglected.

Which box would you choose to live in? Heaven. Obviously.

God made a different choice through Jesus. The son of God made the choice to leave the treasure of heaven for the poverty of earth to make you and I his treasure. He did this for the purpose of intimacy and connection with His creation. He didn’t stay aloof. He didn’t love us from a distance. He entered into his-story.

The world of babies is stressful. It’s not a box that I’m always inclined to live in. Mom and Kaeden have a special connection that can be intimidating for me. But I have to enter into that world. I need to move towards my wife and child for the purpose of intimacy and connection.

God help me.


Jesus’ genealogy

December 8, 2010

Differences between Matthew and Luke’s Genealogy:

Many critics of the Bible, as well as many Bible believing Christians, have noticed that the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1 is different than the genealogy in Luke 3.

For example, Jesus has a different grandfather in Matthew than he does in Luke. In Matthew’s genealogy Jesus’ grandfather is Jacob. In Luke his grandfather is Heli.

How do we explain these differences?

Firstly, by stating that they should be expected. Matthew and luke are tracing two different lines of ancestors. One line is traced through his legal father Joseph, while the other is traced through his actual mother.

Matthew gives the official line through Joseph because he was writing for a Jewish audience that was concerned about whether or not Jesus was the messiah who was required to come through the line of Abraham and King David.

Luke is writing for a greek audience so he traces the lineage to Adam . His goal is to show Jesus as the perfect man which was the constant preoccupation of greek thought.

The suggestion that Matthew is recording Jesus’ paternal/legal lineage while luke is recording his maternal lineage is supported by several others facts according to theologian Norman Geisler.

He writes,

“While both lines trace Christ to David, each is through a different son of David. Matthew traces Jesus through Joseph (his legal Father) to David’s son, Solomon the King, by whom Christ rightfully inherited the throne of David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff). Luke’s purpose, on the other hand, is to show Christ as an actual human. So he traces Christ to David’s son, Nathan, through his actual mother, Mary,through whom he can rightfully claim to be fully human, the redeemer of humanity”.1

Geisler also points out that Luke never says that he is giving Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph. Instead, Luke adds that people thought Jesus was the biological son of Joseph, while he was actually the son of Mary (Luke 3:23). Luke tracing Jesus’ genealogy through the mothers line, also fits with one of his main emphasis in his Gospel; Jesus’ concern for women and his elevation of their worth in a culture that was often unconcerned about equal rights for women.

Another interesting fact

Matthew cuts out several generations that we know of in his genealogy. For example compare Matthew 1:8 with 1 Chronicles 3:11,12. Matthew cuts out three generations.

Matthew 1:8


Compare with 1st Chronicles 3:11,12

Uzziah (also called Azariah)

It is important to note that the word ‘son’ in the Bible can also mean grandson. In the same way the word ‘begot’ can also mean ‘became the ancestor of’ or, ‘was the descendant of’ in the scripture.

Therefore, what Matthew is offering us is not a complete chronology but an abbreviated one. This practice was not uncommon in Jewish Genealogies. It was often done for the purpose of highlighting certain descendants, for stylistic reasons, or for making the genealogies easier to memorize and repeat.