Daily Archives: October 6, 2021

The Limits of Liberty — Grace to You Blog

Scripture is clear and understandable, but it’s not exhaustive. Throughout the history of the church, believers have faced countless issues that God’s Word is silent about. While the Old Testament law provided detailed instructions and restrictions for most areas of life, believers today are not bound by God’s covenant with Israel—we’ve been set free in Christ. But how do we know what to do with our freedom?

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The Limits of Liberty — Grace to You Blog

5 Reasons Why Sin Is a “Big Deal” from Genesis 3 — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning Beautiful Christian Life LLC may get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through its links, at no cost to you.

Certain words make people feel uncomfortable. For example: “tax,” “coffin,” “debt,” and “hemorrhoids.”  

“Sin” is another uncomfortable word. It reeks of condemnation, judgementalism. We don’t like to hear it; we feel a bit embarrassed saying it. What is sin, this thing that makes us so uneasy? In the garden of Eden, God gave man one command: 

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)

Adam and Eve were surrounded by food-laden plants and trees, so this wasn’t a very difficult command to keep, but…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Gen. 3:1-7)

We learn five things about sin from Genesis 3:

  • First, sin is breaking God’s law. It is crossing a line that God has forbidden us to cross. It is disobedience.
  • Second, sin is making ourselves the law-maker. “Knowing good and evil” means: “You, not God, will decide what is right and what is wrong.” Sin is doing what is right in our own eyes. Sin is not just breaking the rules; it is making them.
  • Third, sin is putting ourselves in God’s place. When we decide that we know better than God, that God’s laws don’t need to be kept, that we can replace God’s laws with our own, then we seat ourselves on the throne that belongs only to God.
  • Fourth, sin dehumanizes us. If we were made to love, obey, and worship God—and each of these three actions is the expression of the other two—then to sin is to descend from our true nature. Sin bestializes us, but worse, for even the beasts act according to their true nature.  
  • Fifth, sin ruins our lives and the lives of those around us. How can we break God’s law, make our own laws, depose God, and deny our humanity without terrible consequences? 

“Sin” makes us uncomfortable, but until we understand it, we can have no idea of how broken we really are, and why we so desperately need a Savior.

Related Articles:


Campbell Markham has been a pastor in the Australian Presbyterian Church for over twenty-two years and lives in Perth, Western Australia. He blogs at Campbell Markham: Thoughts and Letters.

5 Reasons Why Sin Is a “Big Deal” from Genesis 3 — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

October 6 Evening Quotes of The Day

Triumphing in Troubles
1 Corinthians 3:21–23; 15:54–57; Colossians 2:15

Who cares for Caesar when he is dead? But what more efficacious than Christ when he died? He was most practical when he seemed to do nothing. In patience he reigned and triumphed; he subjected the greatest enemies to himself, Satan, and death, and the wrath of God, and all. In the same manner all things are ours, the worst things that befell God’s children: death, and afflictions, and persecutions. There is a kingdom of patience set up in them. The Spirit of God subdues all base fears in us, and a child of God never more triumphs than in his greatest troubles.

RICHARD SIBBES

Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

The Nature of True Evangelical Faith
Psalm 147:3; Matthew 5:44; 10:1; 25:34–40; Luke 6:35; 9:1; 19:10; Romans 8:13; 12:14, 21; Colossians 1:28; 3:16

True evangelical faith is of such a nature that it cannot lay dormant, but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love. It dies unto flesh and blood; destroys all forbidden lusts and desires; cordially seeks, serves and fears God; clothes the naked; feeds the hungry; consoles the afflicted; shelters the miserable; aids and consoles all the oppressed; returns good for evil; serves those who injure it; prays for those who persecute it; teaches, admonishes and reproves with the Word of the Lord; seeks that which is lost; binds up that which is wounded; heals that which is diseased and saves that which is sound. The persecution, suffering and anxiety that befalls it for the sake of the truth of the Lord, is to it a glorious joy and consolation.

Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Extrabiblical Evidence for the Veracity of the Gospel History — Cross Examined

In a previous article, I reviewed several arguments that are typically raised in support of the historicity of Jesus but, upon closer inspection, turn out to be of extremely limited evidential value. In this article, I will discuss an approach to arguing from extrabiblical sources that I consider to be much more robust. Whereas in the previous article, I critiqued appeals to direct testimony to the historicity of Jesus (which, at best, only attest to the broad outlines of the gospel story), in this article I will consider incidental allusions in the gospels that are indirectly and undesignedly confirmed by extrabiblical secular sources.

Extrabiblical Evidence for the Veracity of the Gospel History

The data surveyed in the ensuing discussion are of varying evidential weights, though all are (in my assessment) significantly more probable on the hypothesis of historical reportage than on its falsehood. The case for the reliability of the gospels must also be recognized as a cumulative one, and one should not expect to be able to rest the entire case on any one of these examples. When the numerous lines of external and internal evidences bearing on the gospel accounts are considered together, one has, in my view, an extremely powerful argument for the substantial trustworthiness of the gospels – that is to say, that the gospel authors are shown to be close up to the facts, well informed, and habitually reliable. This is epistemically relevant to developing a case for the resurrection and in turn, Christianity, since, if the gospels can indeed be shown to be grounded in credible eyewitness testimony, then one has to take seriously the purported nature and variety of the post-resurrection encounters with the risen Jesus as coming from the original apostolic eyewitnesses. Having established the original apostolic claims concerning Jesus’ resurrection, we can then attempt to adjudicate whether these claims are best explained by the apostles attempting to deceive their audiences; by them being honestly mistaken, or by Jesus having risen from the dead.

One may object to the style of argument advanced here on the grounds that an individual living in first-century Palestine would presumably be expected to know these facts, or at the very least could have looked them up. However, of particular interest to our purposes here are difficult facts that the authors get right – that is to say, the evangelists betray knowledge (often very casually and incidentally) of specialized information that would have been hard to have access to unless they were close up both temporally and geographically to the events of which they wrote. I am not talking here of facts that would have been widely known and easily accessible, such as who was the Roman emperor of the time. In a world without the internet and easy access to information, writing about historical events that transpired decades before one’s time was a minefield, especially after the events of 70 A.D., when the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans. The numerous points of connection between the gospel history and that written of in secular sources, therefore, provide an important source of evidence for the credibility of the evangelists.

This article will discuss only incidental corroborations of the gospel accounts and will not touch upon the book of Acts, though of course evidence bearing on the reliability of Acts also bears indirectly on the credibility of the gospels since it reflects favorably upon the historical meticulousness of Luke, who authored Acts as well as the third gospel. The historical reliability of Acts will be the subject of a subsequent article (and I have also covered some examples in previous articles, for example here and here). I will also not in this essay offer an extensive discussion of historical objections to the gospels (of which there are many, some of which have been addressed previously on this site) but will instead focus solely on the positive case for the gospel history. However, a few historical objections will be considered that, upon closer inspection, turn out to provide positive evidence for the reliability of the gospels. This short essay is also not intended to provide an exhaustive list of extra-biblical evidences but will catalogue several key examples of external confirmation of the gospel accounts, with a view towards whetting the reader’s appetite for further study of this fascinating topic. For further reading, I recommend starting with part two, chapter six of William Paley’s A View of the Evidence of Christianity, to whom I owe many of the examples discussed in this essay.[1]

Joseph and Archelaus

The gospel of Matthew gives an account of the flight of Jesus and his family to Egypt to escape from Herod the Great’s attempt to kill Jesus by having all infants less than two years of age in the region of Bethlehem put to death (Matt 2:13-18). Matthew 2:19-22 picks up the story of Jesus’ family commencing their return from Egypt following the death of Herod the Great.

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

Since Joseph received news that Herod the Great had passed away, one might have expected him to surmise that Herod the Great’s eldest son, Archelaus, would succeed him to the throne. However, in verse 22, we read that Joseph “heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod,” and consequently “withdrew to the district of Galilee.” The reader, then, may wonder why news of Archelaus’ reign in Judea caused Joseph to revise his plans and travel towards Galilee instead. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus gives us a clue. He tells us that, “he [Herod the Great] appointed Antipas, to whom he had before left the kingdom, to be tetrarch of Galilee and Berea, and granted the kingdom to Archelaus,” (Antiquities 17.188).[2] Josephus also writes elsewhere that Caesar Augustus, respecting Herod’s will (Wars of the Jews 2.93–96)[3],

“…gave the one half of Herod’s kingdom to Archelaus, by the name of Ethnarch, and promised to make him king also afterward, if he rendered himself worthy of that dignity; but as to the other half, he divided it into two tetrarchies, and gave them to two other sons of Herod, the one of them to Philip, and the other to that Antipas who contested the kingdom with Archelaus. Under this last was Perea and Galilee, with a revenue of two hundred talents: but Batanea, and Trachonitis, and Auranitis, and certain parts of Zeno’s house about Jamnia, with a revenue of a hundred talents, were made subject to Philip; (96) while Idumea, and all Judea, and Samaria, were parts of the ethnarchy of Archelaus, although Samaria was eased of one quarter of its taxes, out of regard to their not having revolted with the rest of the nation.” 

Thus, we learn from Josephus that, following the death of Herod the Great, Herod’s territory was divided among three of his sons, with Herod’s eldest son Archelaus reigning in Judea; Herod Antipas becoming tetrarch of in Galilee and Peraea; and Philip becoming tetrarch of territories north and east of the Jordan. This, then, provides some historical background to Joseph’s decision to avoid Archelaus by going to Galilee instead of Judea. We still, however, at this point lack an explanation for why Joseph learning that Archelaus reigning in Judea prompted his change of course.

Josephus elsewhere reports that “There was one Judas, the son of Saripheus, and Matthias, the son of Margalothus,” who, “when they found that the king’s distemper was incurable, excited the young men that they would pull down all those works which the king had erected contrary to the law of their fathers, and thereby obtain the rewards which the law will confer on them for such actions of piety…for the king had erected over the great gate of the temple a large golden eagle, of great value, and had dedicated it to the temple,” (Antiquities 17.6.2).[4] Perceiving that the erection of a golden eagle in the temple violated the second commandment which prohibits graven images, these men therefore “persuaded [their scholars] to pull down the golden eagle; alleging, that although they should incur any danger which might bring them to their deaths, the virtue of the action now proposed to them would appear much more advantageous to them than the pleasures of life; since they would die for the preservation and observation of the law of their fathers; since they would also acquire an everlasting fame and commendation; since they would be both commended by the present generation, and leave an example of life that would never be forgotten to posterity…” (Antiquities 17.6.2).[5] Herod’s response was to burn those who had caused this sedition alive (Antiquities 17.6.4). This was among the last acts of Herod the Great before his death in 4 B.C. (Antiquities 17.8).

Josephus tells us that, following Herod the Great’s death and the succession of Archelaus in Judea, “some of the Jews got together, out of a desire of innovation. They lamented Matthias, and those that were slain with him by Herod, who had not any respect paid them by a funeral mourning, out of the fear men were in of that man; they were those who had been condemned for pulling down the golden eagle. The people made a great clamor and lamentation hereupon, and cast out some reproaches against the king also, as if that tended to alleviate the miseries of the deceased,” (Antiquities 17.9.1).[6] These individuals, Josephus informs us, “assembled together” and petitioned Archelaus to enact revenge against “those who had been honored by Herod; and that, in the first and principal place, he would deprive that high priest whom Herod had made…” (Antiquities 17.9.1).[7] However, Archelaus was “mightily offended at their importunity,” (Antiquities 17.9.1).[8] Josephus tells us of Archelaus’ response (Antiquities 17.9.1)[9]:

“However, he sent the general of his forces to use persuasions, and to tell them that the death which was inflicted on their friends, was according to the law; and to represent to them, that their petitions about these things were carried to a great height of injury to him; that the time was not now proper for such petitions, but required their unanimity until such time as he should be established in the government by the consent of Caesar, and should then be come back to them; for that he would then consult with them in common concerning the purport of their petitions; but that they ought at present to be quiet, lest they should seem seditious persons.” 

Josephus goes on to tell us what happened as the next Passover festival rolled around, and there was an influx of Jewish pilgrims into Judea for the feast of Passover (Antiquities 17.9.3)[10]:

“Now, upon the approach of that feast of unleavened bread which the law of their fathers had appointed for the Jews at this time, which feast is called the Passover, and is a memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt…the seditious lamented Judas and Matthias, those teachers of the laws, and kept together in the temple, and had plenty of food, because these seditious persons were not ashamed to get it. And as Archelaus was afraid lest some terrible thing should spring up by means of these men’s madness, he sent a regiment of armed men, and with them a captain of a thousand, to suppress the violent efforts of the seditious, before the whole multitude should be infected with the like madness; and gave them this charge, that if they found any much more openly seditious than others, and more busy in tumultuous practices, they should bring them to him. But those that were seditious on account of those teachers of the law, irritated the people by the noise and clamors they used to encourage the people in their designs; so they made an assault upon the soldiers, and came up to them, and stoned the greatest part of them, although some of them ran away wounded, and their captain among them; and when they had thus done, they returned to the sacrifices which were already in their hands.”  

Thus, this Jewish mob, who protested the death of Mathias and Judas (who had previously been executed for their part in removing the image of the eagle from the Jewish temple) stoned the soldiers who had been sent by Archelaus to prevent an uprising. Josephus tells us what happened next (Antiquities 17.9.3)[11]:

“Now Archelaus thought there was no way to preserve the entire government, but by cutting off those who made this attempt upon it; so he sent out the whole army upon them, and sent the horsemen to prevent those that had their tents without the temple, from assisting those that were within the temple, and to kill such as ran away from the footmen when they thought themselves out of danger; which horsemen slew three thousand men, while the rest went to the neighboring mountains. Then did Archelaus order proclamation to be made to them all, that they should retire to their own homes; so they went away, and left the festival, out of fear of somewhat worse which would follow, although they had been so bold by reason of their want of instruction.” 

Thus, Archelaus’ response was to send his entire army upon the Jewish temple. He surrounded the temple with the horsemen (to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the temple) and had his men massacre three thousand Jews inside the temple. Given that these events unfolded around the time of Passover, it would have been a particularly busy time inside the temple. Following the massacre, Archelaus made a proclamation that Passover was cancelled and that the Jewish pilgrims should return to their hometowns from whence they came. It is not difficult to imagine Mary, Joseph, and Jesus making their way back north from Egypt right around this time, encountering this mass of distraught and fleeing pilgrims coming out of Judea, hearing what had just happened, and deciding to change course and go to Galilee instead, where Archelaus’ younger brother, Herod Antipas, was reigning instead.

It may be observed that Matthew does not give the backstory to Joseph’s change in course. Indeed, Archelaus is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Josephus’ incidental and undesigned illumination of the text, therefore, is more probable given that the event Matthew describes is grounded in truth rather than falsehood. This is made all the more the case by the chronological markers (especially the reference to Herod’s death in both accounts) which place these events as happening around the same time as the return of Joseph and his family from Egypt.

Another interesting, though somewhat weaker, point is that Matthew states that Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας (literally, “Archelaus was kinging in Judea”). In concurrence with Matthew, Josephus informs us that His claim to the throne had not been certified by Caesar, and in fact, one of the complaints against Archelaus was that he had already taken the kingship over to himself before it had been formally ratified by Caesar: “Now, Antipater, Salome’s son, a very subtle orator, and a bitter enemy to Archelaus, spake first to this purpose:—That it was ridiculous in Archelaus to plead now to have the kingdom given him, since he had, in reality, taken already the power over it to himself, before Caesar had granted it to him,” (Antiquities 17.9.5).[12] Herod the Great, by contrast, is referred to as “Herod the king” (Mt 2:1,3, c.f. Lk 1:5), which is attested by first-century coins that bear the inscription, ΗΡΩ∆ΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, that is, “King Herod.” In fact, there was never subsequently a formally ratified king at Jerusalem, except during the last three years of the life of Herod Agrippa I (Antiquities 18.6.10 and 19.5.1). This comports with Acts 12:1, which refers to Herod [Agrippa I] the king.”

When Did Jesus Begin His Public Ministry?

John 2:18-20 recounts a dialogue between Jesus and some Jews following the first cleansing of the temple, which occurred towards the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry:

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

The veracity of the saying of Jesus in verse 19 is supported by an undesigned co-incidence, since Mark 14:57-58, describing the scene where Jesus is on trial before Caiaphas the high priest, notes,

57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”

Mark 15:29-30 also reports that onlookers of Jesus’ death on the cross shouted out, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (c.f. Mt 27:40). It is noteworthy that Jesus never said anything about destroying a manmade temple and rebuilding it in three days but not by human hands (as per Mk 14:57-58, c.f. Mt 26:61). Moreover, though both Mark and Matthew make reference to this accusation, neither gives a pretext of the saying, or attempts to clarify Jesus’ original words. It does not, however, appear to be a saying that has been invented out of whole cloth, but is more likely a garbled version of something Jesus in fact said (especially in view of the allusion to three days, often associated with Jesus’ predictions concerning His resurrection). In John 2:19 (quoted above), however, John provides us with the original statement of Jesus, though he does not report the later misrepresentation of Jesus’ words, nor its use as an accusation. Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, report the misrepresentations of Jesus’ words and its use as an accusation, but do not give us the original saying. Thus, neither account appears to independent, neither being copied from the other. This undesigned co-incidence supports the historicity of these accounts.

There is, however, also a way of corroborating this account using extrabiblical sources. Take note of the date given by the Jews – “it has taken forty-six years to build this temple…” We can thus discern the approximate date at which this dialogue must have taken place, since Flavius Josephus helpfully tells us when Herod the Great began to rebuild the temple. It was in the 18th year of his reign, which landed in approximately 19 B.C. (Antiquities 15.11.1). Forty-six years on from 19 B.C. lands us in 28 A.D. Now, according to Luke 3:1, when did Jesus commence His public ministry? It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Augustus Caesar died in 14 A.D., but two years prior to that (the fall of 12 A.D.), according to the historian Suetonius, Augustus appointed Tiberius as co-emperor, in order to ensure a smooth transition of power. This is implied by the following quotation, which refers to Tiberius’ return to Rome following a stint in Germany for two years, between 10 and 12 A.D. (Suetonius, Tiberius 20-21)[13]:

“After two years he returned from Germany to the city, and celebrated the triumph which he had deferred, attended by his lieutenants, for whom he had procured the honour of triumphal ornaments. Before he turned to ascend the capitol, he alighted from his chariot, and knelt before his father, who sat by, to superintend the solemnity…A law having been not long after carried by the consuls for his being appointed a colleague with Augustus in the administration of the provinces, and in taking the census, when that was finished he went into Illyricum.” 

This indicates that Tiberius was “appointed a colleague with Augustus in the administration of the provinces, and in taking the census” after Tiberius’ return from Germany, in 12 A.D. Thus, the fifteenth year of Tiberius lands us in 27 A.D., corresponding to Jesus’ baptism and ministry commencement. The cleansing of the temple would have taken place the following Passover (John 2:13), placing it in the spring of 28 A.D. Thus, by two independent methods, and using information drawn from John, Luke, Josephus, and Suetonius, we have been able to confirm the date on which Jesus cleansed the temple. This sort of co-incidence – in particular, the undesignedness with which the pieces dovetail, is best explained by the sources being rooted in truth.

Jesus’ Teachings on Divorce

In Mark 10:2-12, we read about Jesus’ teachings on the subject of divorce and remarriage:

2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

This last statement in verses 11 and 12 has given rise to a popular objection to Mark’s account, namely, that although Jewish law made provision for a man to divorce his wife, it made no such provision for a woman to divorce her husband. Thus, it has been thought, this might betray the fact that the author of Mark was a gentile who here reveals his ignorance of Jewish law, or that our author has reworked Jesus’ teachings to make it more suitable for a Roman audience. John Donahue and Daniel Harrington, for instance, note that “This sentence is generally regarded as an addition to Jesus’ teaching that was made to address situations related to Roman legal practice whereby a woman could initiate divorce proceedings.”[14] Josephus, however, sheds some light on the significance of Jesus’ words in their original historical context. He writes that “Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorce herself from her husband [that is, Philip] while he was alive, and was married to Herod [Antipas], her husband’s brother by the father’s side; he was tetrarch of Galilee.”[15] This takes on a particular significance when we consider that Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee, which was the very place where Jesus had just been teaching (Mk 9:30, 33). Though Mark 10:1 states that “he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again,” the parallel account in Matthew 19:2 indicates that “large crowds followed him,” implying that he delivered this teaching to Galilean crowds. Furthermore, the verb ἔρχομαι in Mark 10:1 does not necessarily describe a completed action and verse 17 (“And as he was setting out on his journey…”) suggests that he had not yet arrived in Judea. In fact, Jesus did not even reach Jericho, which is on the outskirts of Judea, until verse 46. From these clues, it may be reasonably deduced that Jesus was still teaching the Galilean crowds, for whom a rebuke of Herod Antipas’ adulterous relationship with Herodias (and Herodias’ divorcing of her previous husband, Philip) was of particular relevance.

The surprising nature (given Jewish law) of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:11-12, coupled with the incidental way that Josephus illuminates the gospel account, supports the veracity of Mark’s narrative.

Why Was John the Baptist Imprisoned?

Mark 6:17-18 gives us the evangelist’s understanding of the motive behind Herod’s imprisonment of John the Baptist:

17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.

Mark’s statement of Herod’s motivation in imprisoning John the Baptist contradicts the statement of Josephus, who wrote[16],

“Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.” 

According to the gospels, it was not just Herod’s suspicious temper or his fear of an uprising; it was because of John’s disapproval of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias. Of course, these motivations are not incompatible and it may have been a combination of both. This does raise the interesting question, however, of how the evangelists should know what Herod Antipas’ motives were for having John imprisoned. A plausible answer to this is supplied by Luke 8:3, which indicates that one of Jesus’ female disciples, who had followed Him from Galilee, was “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager.” Thus, evidently, Jesus’ followers had family in the highest ranks of Herod Antipas’ employment.

There is also another interesting feature of this text from Josephus that is of evidential value. Herod Antipas’ previous wife, Phasaelis, whom Antipas had divorced, returned to her father, Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans. This resulted in a military conflict between Antipas and Aretas IV. Josephus explains (Antiquities 18.108–115) [17],

“About this time Aretas (the king of Arabia Petrea) and Herod had a quarrel, on the account following: Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas, and had lived with her a great while; but when he was once at Rome, he lodged with Herod, who was his brother indeed, but not by the same mother; for this Herod was the son of the high priest Simon’s daughter. However, he fell in love with Herodias, this last Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; which address when she admitted, an agreement was made for her to change her habitation, and come to him as soon as he should return from Rome; one article of this marriage also was this, that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter. So Antipas, when he had made this agreement, sailed to Rome; but when he had done there the business he went about, and was returned again, his wife having discovered the agreement he had made with Herodias, and having learned it before he had notice of her knowledge of the whole design, she desired him to send her to Macherus, which is a place on the borders of the dominions of Aretas and Herod, without informing him of any of her intentions. Accordingly Herod sent her thither, as thinking his wife had not perceived anything; now she had sent a good while before to Macherus, which was subject to her father, and so all things necessary for her journey were made ready for her by the general of Aretas’s army and by that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another successively; and she soon came to her father, and told him of Herod’s intentions. So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod, who had also some quarrel with him about their limits at the country of Gamalitis. So they raised armies on both sides, and prepared for war, and sent their generals to fight instead of themselves; and, when they had joined battle, all Herod’s army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives, who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip, joined with Aretas’s army. So Herod wrote about these affairs to Tiberius; who, being very angry at the attempt made by Aretas, wrote to Vitellius, to make war upon him, and either to take him alive, and bring him to him in bonds, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the charge that Tiberius gave to the president of Syria.” 

Thus, Herod lost the war against Aretas IV. According to Josephus, many of the Jews blamed Herod’s defeat on the way in which Herod had treated John the Baptist (Antiquities 18.116–117)[18]:

“Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness… Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.” 

The explanations that the Jews offered of Herod’s defeat at the hands of Aretas IV makes sense in view of the gospel account, which informs us that the reason why Herod had John the Baptist imprisoned was because “John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death.” [19] John the Baptist was a strong critic of Herod Antipas’ adulterous relationship with Herodias, which had led to John’s imprisonment and ultimately to his execution. And it was Herod Antipas’ adulterous relationship with Herodias that led to the war between Herod Antipas and Aretas IV and ultimately to his defeat. Is it any wonder, then, that the Jews blamed the destruction of Herod’s armies on Herod’s treatment of John the Baptist? This undesigned co-incidence between Mark and Josephus again supports the veracity of Mark’s account.

The Execution of John the Baptist

Mark 6 recounts the story of the death of John the Baptist, when Herodias’ daughter, after dancing for Herod’s guests at a banquet, offered her whatever she wished. She requested the head of John the Baptist. According to Mark 6:27-28,

27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.

The Greek word used for “executioner” in verse 27 is σπεκουλάτορα, rather than the more usual term for a civil executioner, which is δήμιος. The word σπεκουλάτορα is a rank of military officer, literally meaning “scout” or “courier” (English cognates include “spectate” and “spectacles”). This rank of officer also served as body guards of the Roman emperor. These officers occasionally acted as executioners (Seneca, de Ira 1.16), though this was not their distinctive office. The fact that Herod used a σπεκουλατωρ (rather than a δήμιος) to carry out the execution dovetails perfectly with Josephus’ account of the same event, according to which John the Baptist “was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.” (Antiquities 18.119). [19] Thus, we learn that Herod Antipas was not during this time at his palace in Galilee, but rather was on a military campaign against his former father-in-law, Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans, and was therefore resident at his military fortress called Macherus. This illuminates why a military officer, rather than a civil executioner, was used for putting John the Baptist to death, and provides some supporting evidence in favor of historicity.

John the Baptist’s Baptizing on the Jordan River

In Luke 3:10-14, we read of various individuals who enquired of John the Baptist what they should do. According to verse 14,

14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

The word translated “soldiers” in this verse is στρατευόμενοι, which is a present participle, literally translated “those soldiering” or “those being soldiers.” This is in fact the only instance of this form in the gospels and Acts out of 29 occurrences of the word στρατιώτης and its inflections. The use of the present participle in Luke 3:14 suggests that these soldiers are on active duty. How, though, does this comport with the fact that this period, near the beginning of Pilate’s decade-long term, is one of peace in Palestine? The only military conflict going on at this time was that between Herod Antipas and his former father-in-law, Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans. As already discussed, Josephus indicates that Herod Antipas had a fortress, called Macherus, located in Jordan twenty-five kilometers southeast of the mouth of the Jordan river, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, “on the borders of the dominions of Aretas and Herod,” (Antiquities 18.111).[20] Antipas hired a mercenary army to carry on the war against Aretas. These soldiers, then, are on their way down to bolster the garrison at the fortress. Thus, the soldiers would naturally pass by where John the Baptist was baptizing on their way to shore up the garrison at Macherus. Again, the subtlety of this co-incidence tends to confirm the credibility of Luke’s account.

The Office of the High Priest

One curious feature of the gospel accounts is that the high priests are consistently spoken of in the plural number (ἀρχιερεῖς) when normally (as per the prescriptions of the Torah) there was only ever a single high priest. In agreement with the gospels, Josephus also speaks of the priests in the plural number (e.g. Wars of the Jews 2.322).

Luke 3:1 indicates that Jesus’ public ministry began “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.” A parallel passage in Josephus, which likewise speaks of two individuals occupying the office of high priest, can be found in Wars of the Jews 2.243: “but he [Quadratus] sent two others of those that were of the greatest power among men, and both Jonathan and Ananias, the high priests…”[21]

William Paley also observes that, though John does not mention that both Ananas and Caiaphas held the office of high priest, “That Annas was a person in an eminent station, and possessed an authority co-ordinate with, or next to, that of the high priest properly so called, may be inferred from Saint John’s Gospel, which, in the history of Christ’s crucifixion, relates [in 18:13] that ‘the soldiers led him away to Annas first.’ And this might be noticed as an example of undesigned coincidence in the two evangelists.”[22] The reason for taking Jesus to Annas first, according to John 18:13, was that “he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,” but no mention is made of him also serving in the capacity of high priest.

Interestingly, Acts 4:6 refers to “Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family,” thus referring only to Annas as high priest, even though he is listed alongside Caiaphas. In a similar vein, Josephus writes, “Joseph also, the son of Gorion, and Ananus the high priest, were chosen as governors of all affairs within the city,” (Wars of the Jews 2.563).[23] William Paley comments, “Yet Ananus, though here called the high priest Ananus, was not then in the office of the high priesthood. The truth is, there is an indeterminateness in the use of this title in the Gospel: sometimes it is applied exclusively to the person who held the office at the time; sometimes to one or two more, who probably shared with him some of the powers or functions of the office; and, sometimes, to such of the priests as were eminent by their station or character; and there is the very same indeterminateness in Josephus.”[24]

In Matthew 26:3, we read, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas.” Josephus attests to the fact that Caiaphas was high priest throughout the term of Pontius Pilate (and therefore at this time). Josephus writes (Antiquities 18.33)[25],

“He [Tiberius] was now the third emperor; and he sent Valerius Gratus to be procurator of Judea, and to succeed Annius Rufus. This man deprived Ananus of the high priesthood, and appointed Ismael, the son of Phabi, to be high priest. He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazar, the son of Ananus, who had been high priest before, to be high priest: which office, when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the high priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus; and when he had possessed that dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiaphas was made his successor. When Gratus had done those things, he went back to Rome, after he had tarried in Judea eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor.” 

From clues in Josephus and the gospels, it may reasonably be deduced that, though Ananus had been deposed from his office by Pilate’s predecessor, Valerius Gratus, the Jews nonetheless continued to recognize him as the rightful high priest, even while also recognizing the line of Roman-instituted high priests, the fourth of whom was Joseph Caiaphas. It is also noteworthy that Eleazar, the son of Ananias, and Simon, the son of Camithus, are both said to have held this office no longer than a year before the appointment of Caiaphas. This illuminates the statements in John 11:49, 11:51, and 18:13 that Caiaphas was “high priest that year,” when normally the office of the high priest was a life-long occupation. Note too that this is said of Caiaphas, but not of Ananus, which is consistent with the hypothesis, which I suggested above, that Ananus was recognized as the God-instituted high priest, even while also recognizing the series of Roman-instituted high priests.

Josephus also writes of the removal of Caiaphas from this office after Pilate’s term in office was over, noting that Lucius Vitellius the Elder, Legate of Syria “deprived Joseph, who was called Caiaphas, of the high priesthood, and appointed Jonathan, the son of Ananus, the former high priest, to succeed him,” (Antiquities 18.95).[26]

Do the Jews Wash Their Hands Before Eating?

In Mark 7:1-4, we read,

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)

In his book, Jesus, Interrupted, Bart Ehrman asserts that “Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.”[27] Ehrman has in mind here Exodus 30:18-21; 40:30-32 and Leviticus 20:1-16, in which the priests are called to observe hand washing practices, but the general populace is not. But did the Jews of Jesus’ time, who were heavily influenced by the practices of the Pharisees, engage in this ritual, even though it was not required of them in the written Law? To find out, we can look at some Jewish evidence. According to a letter addressed from an Alexandrian Jew by the name of Aristeas of Marmora (who lived in the second or third century B.C.) to his brother Philocrates, “And as is the custom of all the Jews, they washed their hands in the sea and prayed to God…” Another source is the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20-50 A.D.), who writes that the law “does not look upon those who have even touched a dead body, which has met with a natural death, as pure and clean, until they have washed and purified themselves with sprinklings and ablutions” (The Special Laws 3.205).

Let’s consider some modern scholarly opinion. Susan Haber writes[28],

“The Centrality of impurity to Jewish life in the Second Temple period is supported by archaeological evidence. The discovery of mikvaot in such diverse places as Gamla, Sepphoris, Herodium and Massada suggests that in Palestine the removal of impurity was not a rite reserved only for approaching the sacred precincts of the Temple, but was common practice for Jews of all walks of life. The textual evidence suggests that the Jews of the Diaspora also purified themselves, if not through immersion, then by sprinkling, splashing or hand washing.” 

To Ehrman’s credit, Ehrman has since corrected himself on this particular issue. Nonetheless, that Mark in facts gets this right (despite the apparent discrepancy with the Torah) suggests, once again, that he is well informed and close up to the facts.

Tyre to the Sea of Galilee by Way of Sidon

A curious statement is found in Mark 7:31 that “[Jesus] returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.” At first blush, this appears odd since Sidon is northeast of Tyre, while the Sea of Galilee is southeast of Tyre. Thus, it raises the question of why Jesus would travel north in order to go south. Some critical scholars argue that this reveals that “the evangelist was not directly acquainted with Palestine.”[29] It has even been suggested that “Mark wants to have Jesus move north, then east, and finally south to compass the whole of the southern Phoenician (Gentile) territory prior to his journey to Jerusalem in 8:22–10:52.”[30] However, such conclusions are unwarranted. Inspecting a topographical map reveals that there is in fact a mountain, Mount Meron, three-quarters of a mile high that lies directly between Tyre and the Sea of Galilee. There is a pass from Sidon that leads through the mountains to the Jordan river valley, which would supply fresh water for the journey to foot travelers to Galilee. Thus, far from revealing the evangelist’s ignorance of Palestinian geography, it in fact reveals his intimate acquaintance with it.

The Samaritans and Their Temple

John 4:1-45 recounts Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well. The woman says to Jesus, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship,” (Jn 4:19-20). In agreement with this, Josephus states that the Samaritans “assembled themselves together upon the mountain called Gerizzim, which is with them a holy mountain,” (War of the Jews 3.307)[31]. In verse 22, Jesus makes a particularly odd statement: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” What is the subject of Jesus’ cryptic allusion in this verse? Once again, Josephus may shed some light. He writes of the Seleucid Tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanes’ march against Jerusalem, and the actions undertaken by the Samaritans to secure their own safety (Antiquities 12.5.5)[32]:

“When the Samaritans saw the Jews under these sufferings, they no longer confessed that they were of their kindred; nor that the temple on Mount Gerizzim belonged to Almighty God. This was according to their nature, as we have already shown. And they now said that they were a colony of Medes and Persians: and indeed they were a colony of theirs. So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these:— ‘To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians, who live at Shechem. Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition, had a custom of observing that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath. And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerizzim, though without a name, they offered upon it the proper sacrifices. Now, upon the just treatment of these wicked Jews those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practiced as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we are originally Sidonians, as is evident from the public records. We therefore beseech thee, our benefactor and savior, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the Jews are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation and from their customs; but let our temple which at present hath no name at all, be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius. If this were once done, we should be no longer disturbed, but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee.” When the Samaritans had petitioned for this, the king sent them back the following answer in an epistle:— ‘King Antiochus to Nicanor. The Sidonians, who live at Shechem, have sent me the memorial enclosed. When, therefore, we were advising with our friends about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they are no way concerned with accusations which belong to the Jews, but choose to live after the customs of the Greeks. Accordingly, we declare them free from such accusations, and order that, agreeable to their petition, their temple be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius.’ He also sent the like epistle to Apollonius, the governor of that part of the country, in the forty-sixth year, and the eighteenth day of the month Hecatombeon.” 

Thus, in order to appease Antiochus and secure their safety, the people of Samaria offered to dedicate their temple to Jupiter, the Latin equivalent of the Greek God Zeus. This offer was accepted by Antiochus and he therefore passed through Samaria in peace. Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “You worship what you do not know”?

One may object to this example since these events transpired more than two centuries before the time of Jesus and it was likely that this was widely known at the time, presumably leading to ‘bad blood’ between the Jews and Samaritans as a result. Thus, one might argue, John’s readers would have been expected to immediately understand the reference. However, it seems that it would have been quite improbable that these events would have been widely known to John’s audience, which was comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. John’s gospel was probably composed later than the other gospels and likely after the fall of Jerusalem. The book was almost certainly written in Ephesus in Asia Minor, and it thus seems quite implausible that John would have faked this subtle reference on the assumption that his own audience would recognize it. For Jesus to assume that the woman at the well would understand the allusion would be more probable, from an historical perspective (rather like some sort of subtle cultural reference that someone might make to an audience now that would require people later to dig in order to understand).

Jesus Discloses His Identity

Another interesting feature of this episode is that the Samaritan woman is the one individual in the gospels (outside of his inner circle) to whom Jesus personally discloses His Messianic identity. In verses 25 and 26, we read, “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” Throughout the synoptic accounts, Jesus often sternly warns people not to publicly disclose His identity or speak publicly of His miracles (e.g. Mk 1:43-45; Mk 8:27-30). In scholarly circles, this is known as the “messianic secret.” We also see Jesus frequently seeking to avoid large crowds. Those features of Jesus’ behavior are illuminated by John 6:15, which immediately follows the account of the feeding of the five thousand, in which we read, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” Given the popular Messianic expectation of an individual who would overthrow the Roman occupiers and re-establish a Davidic reign, Jesus naturally feared that public disclosure of His Messianic identity would result in misunderstandings and attempts by the crowds to make Him King by force. Thus, John 6:15 explains the Messianic secret in the synoptics. But why does Jesus disclose His public identity to the Samaritan woman in John 4:26? And why does he not charge her to secrecy, as He does with so many others? Later Samaritan documents explain that their view of the Messiah (whom the Samaritans called the Taheb, or restorer) was different from that of the Jews, and was largely informed by Deuteronomy 18:15-18, which speaks of the Messiah as a prophet like Moses (the Samaritans only accepted the books of Moses as Scripture). Some evidence also indicates that the role of the Taheb included teaching. Jesus therefore had no reason to worry that the Samaritans would misunderstand His claim to be the Messiah, and expect Him to lead a military revolution against Rome.

No Friend of Caesar

In John 19:12, we read of the taunt of the Jewish crowd against Pontius Pilate, when Pilate had sought to release Jesus, against the will of the crowds:

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

The first century Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, gives an account of a previous episode, which may illuminate why this was a sore point for Pilate, in which the Jews had complained to Tiberius Caesar about certain shields that Pilate had had erected in Jerusalem, resulting in Tiberius having written a sharply worded letter to Pilate demanding that the shields be removed (Embassy 299–305)[33]:

“I can quote in addition one act showing a fine spirit. For though I experienced many ills when he was alive, truth is dear, and is held in honour by you. One of his lieutenants was Pilate, who was appointed to govern Judaea. He, not so much to honour Tiberius as to annoy the multitude, dedicated in Herod’s palace in the holy city some shields coated with gold. They had no image work traced on them nor anything else forbidden by the law apart from the barest inscription stating two facts, the name of the person who made the dedication and of him in whose honour it was made. But when the multitude understood the matter which had by now become a subject of common talk, having put at their head the king’s four sons, who in dignity and good fortune were not inferior to a king, and his other descendants and the persons of authority in their own body, they appealed to Pilate to redress the infringement of their traditions caused by the shields and not to disturb the customs which throughout all the preceding ages had been safeguarded without disturbance by kings and by emperors. When he, naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness, stubbornly refused they clamoured, ‘Do not arouse sedition, do not make war, do not destroy the peace; you do not honour the emperor by dishonouring ancient laws. Do not take Tiberius as your pretext for outraging the nation; he does not wish any of our customs to be overthrown. If you say that he does, produce yourself an order or a letter or something of the kind so that we may cease to pester you and having chosen our envoys may petition our lord.’ It was this final point which particularly exasperated him, for he feared that if they actually sent an embassy they would also expose the rest of his conduct as governor by stating in full the briberies, the insults, the robberies, the outrages and wanton injuries, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty. So with all his vindictiveness and furious temper, he was in a difficult position. He had not the courage to take down what had been dedicated nor did he wish to do anything which would please his subjects. At the same time he knew full well the constant policy of Tiberius in these matters. The magnates saw this and understanding that he had repented of his action but did not wish to appear penitent sent letters of very earnest supplication to Tiberius. When he had read them through what language he used about Pilate, what threats he made! The violence of his anger, though he was not easily roused to anger, it is needless to describe since the facts speak for themselves. For at once without even postponing it to the morrow he wrote to Pilate with a host of reproaches and rebukes for his audacious violation of precedent and bade him at once take down the shields and have them transferred from the capital to Caesarea on the coast surnamed Augusta after your great-grandfather, to be set up in the temple of Augustus, and so they were. So both objects were safeguarded, the honour paid to the emperor and the policy observed from of old in dealing with the city.” 

Philo’s account thus provides a backstory that illuminates why the taunt of the Jewish crowd, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend,” was such a sore point for Pilate and why it led to him acquiescing to the crowd’s demands that Jesus be crucified.

The Test of Personal Names

What can the naming patterns of the gospels tell us about their historical credibility? In his ground breaking work, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, British New Testament Richard Bauckham lays out an array of evidences for the trustworthiness of the gospels.[34] Though I do not endorse all of the arguments of the book, it is a scholarly treatise of the evidence for the gospels as eyewitness testimony that is well worth reading. Among the arguments adduced in this volume is the test of personal names, which is covered in chapters three and four of the book. Bauckham’s analysis is based upon a lexicon compiled by Tal Ilan and containing three thousand Jewish names derived from ossuaries and documentary sources.[35] Bauckham explains that “The chronological period it covers begins at the Hellenistic conquest of Palestine and concludes at the end of the Mishnaic period. Thus its sources include the works of Josephus, the New Testament, the texts from the Judean desert and from Masada, ossuary inscriptions from Jerusalem, and the earliest (tannaitic) rabbinic sources.”[36] One may complain that the range of the lexicon’s coverage is from 330 B.C. to 200 A.D. is too broad. Bauckham responds to this concern by noting that “this possible disadvantage for the New Testament scholar in Ilan’s collection of data is offset by the facts that in many respects the practices of name-giving seem to have remained fairly constant over this period and also, importantly, that a large proportion of the data actually comes from the first century CE and early second century (to 135 CE), just because the sources for this shorter period are much more plentiful than for other parts of the whole period.”[37] Bauckham further remarks, “It may come as a surprise to many readers that we know the names of as many as three thousand Palestinian Jews who lived during the five centuries covered by Ilan’s Lexicon. In most cases we know at least a little more about these persons, even if it is only their relationship to another named person. This material obviously provides a very rich resource for the history of Jewish Palestine and, among other specific parts of that history, the history of the beginnings of Christianity. The availability of the information in the comprehensive and systematic form of the Lexicon now makes the use of this resource much more possible and accurate.”[38]

Bauckham argues that there is a remarkable correlation between the frequency of names found in the Gospels and Acts and the frequency of names found in writings outside of the New Testament. This argument is also developed by Peter J. Williams, of Tyndale House in Cambridge, in his popular book, Can We Trust the Gospels?[39] The top 2 men’s names (Simon and Joseph) in first century Palestine outside the New Testament have a frequency of 15.6%. The frequency of those two names in the gospels and Acts is 18.2%. Taking a slightly bigger data set, the frequency of the top nine men’s names outside the New Testament is 41.5%; whereas the frequency in the Gospels and Acts is 40.3%. The frequency of the top two women’s names (Mary and Salome) outside the New Testament is 28.6%; the frequency in the Gospels and Acts is 38.9%. The frequency of the top nine women’s names outside the New Testament is 49.7%; and 61.1% in the Gospels and Acts.

The top 6 male Jewish names in first century Palestine are:

1) Simon/Simeon

2) Joseph/Joses

3) Lazarus/Eleazar

4) Judas/Judah

5) John/Yohanan

6) Jesus/Joshua

The frequency of New Testament individuals with those names, according to Bauckham, is 8, 6, 1, 5, 5 and 2 respectively, which he claims represents a correlation between the naming frequencies in the New Testament and those external to it.[40] Bauckham also observes that the rankings of names in Palestine does not correspond with the rankings of those names in other regions. For example, the rankings of male Jewish names in Egypt during that same period are:

1) Eleazar (ranked 3rd in Palestine)

2) Sabbataius (ranked 68= in Palestine)

3) Joseph (ranked 2 in Palestine)

4=) Dositheus (ranked 16 in Palestine)

4=) Pappus (ranked 39= in Palestine)

6=) Ptolemaius (ranked 50= in Palestine)

6=) Samuel (ranked 23 in Palestine)

Bauckham concludes[41],

“The evidence in this chapter shows that the relative frequency of the various personal names in the Gospels corresponds well to the relative frequency in the full database of three thousand individual instances of names in the Palestinian Jewish sources of the period. This correspondence is very unlikely to have resulted from addition of names to the traditions, even within Palestinian Jewish Christianity, and could not possibly have resulted from the addition of names to the traditions outside Jewish Palestine, since the pattern of Jewish name usage in the Diaspora was very different.” 

I am afraid that, in my assessment, Bauckham overstates this part of his argument. My main concern is that too few names are used in the gospels to make the results of a statistical analysis meaningful. Furthermore, there are important anomalies that Bauckham fails to acknowledge or account for. For example, according to the data cited by Bauckham, the name Jesus is the sixth most popular Palestinian male Jewish name. However, besides Jesus of Nazareth, no other Jesus is named in the gospels. In Acts 13:6, there is a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus (“son of Jesus”) but he is not in Palestine but on the island of Cyprus. Moreover, the name Lazarus is ranked #3 in Palestine but there is only a single individual by that name in the gospels and Acts (I am not counting the individual by that name who appears only in a parable). Similarly, Matthew is ranked #9 in Palestine but there are only two individuals by that name in the gospels and Acts. On the other hand, James is the eleventh most popular Jewish male name in Palestine but there are five individuals by that name in the gospels and Acts (more than for higher ranking names such as Matthew, Ananias, Jesus, or Lazarus).

Thus, in view of the foregoing considerations, the argument, as Bauckham offers it, I believe to be overstated. I would, however, argue that the very fact that we have such a small sample in the gospels and Acts entails that the exact relative proportions with which these names appear do not have to be precise. If one finds that the Gospels have none of those distinctively Egyptian names (such as Sabbateus) and that the large majority of their names come from the most frequent names in Palestine at the time, for such a small sample, that does carry evidential force. This is all the more the case when one finds that, when the gospels mention several people by the same name (Simon and Mary being two notable examples), which were very common names in Palestine at that time.

Furthermore, a more promising argument, I think, lies in a related feature of the text, also discussed by Bauckham [42] and by Williams[43]. Consider the following excerpt from Matthew 10 (verses 2-4) where we are given the names of the twelve disciples. Where these names feature in the top eighty names, their ranking is given in brackets:

Simon (1), called Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James (11) the son of Zebedee, and John (5) his brother; Philip (61=) and Bartholomew (50=); Thomas and Matthew (9) the tax collector; James (11) the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus (39=); Simon (1) the Cananaean, and Judas (4) Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Notice that there is correlation between those names that have a high ranking and those names that are assigned a qualifier, a pattern that is sustained throughout the gospels (consistently in quoted speech, though not always in the narration after characters have already been introduced). The lower-ranked names do not have a qualifier. Thus, this correlation between the frequency of a name and the use of a disambiguation to distinguish them from other people bearing the same name reflects what we would expect if they were written by eyewitnesses with a close connection to the time and place of the events that they narrate. This is not a pattern that would have been at all easy for a forger to create.

Conclusion

To conclude, there is ample evidence from extrabiblical sources that the gospels and Acts were composed by individuals who were close up to the facts, well informed and habitually reliable. This is epistemically relevant to the resurrection of Jesus since, if the gospels and Acts do indeed go back to the earliest apostolic eyewitnesses, then we have strong reason to believe that the nature and variety of the post-resurrection encounters with the risen Jesus reflects the testimony of Jesus’ original followers. We may then evaluate those claims to determine whether they are best explained as a result of the claimant being honestly mistaken, deliberately deceptive or truthful and informed. Readers who are interested in further investigation of the claim of the resurrection may wish to check out my writing on this subject, which you can find here.

Footnotes

[1] William Paley and Edmund Paley, The Works of William Paley, vol. 2 (London; Oxford; Cambridge; Liverpool: Longman and Co.; T. Cadell; J. Richardson; Baldwin and Cradock; Hatchard and Son; J. G. & F. Rivington; Whittaker and Co.; Hamilton, Adams & Co.; Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.; Smith, Elder and Co.; E. Hodgson; B. Fellowes; R. Mackie; J. Templeman; H. Washbourne; Booker and Dolman; J. Parker; J. and J. J. Deighton; G. and J. Robinson, 1838).

[2] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 463.

[3] Ibid., 603.

[4] Ibid., 461.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 465.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., 465-466.

[11] Ibid., 466.

[12] Ibid.

[13] C. Suetonius Tranquillus, Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars; An English Translation, Augmented with the Biographies of Contemporary Statesmen, Orators, Poets, and Other Associates, ed. Alexander Thomson (Medford, MA: Gebbie & Co., 1889).

[14] John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, ed. Daniel J. Harrington, vol. 2, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 295.

[15] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 485.

[16] Ibid., 484.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid., 613.

[22] William Paley and Edmund Paley, The Works of William Paley, vol. 2 (London; Oxford; Cambridge; Liverpool: Longman and Co.; T. Cadell; J. Richardson; Baldwin and Cradock; Hatchard and Son; J. G. & F. Rivington; Whittaker and Co.; Hamilton, Adams & Co.; Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.; Smith, Elder and Co.; E. Hodgson; B. Fellowes; R. Mackie; J. Templeman; H. Washbourne; Booker and Dolman; J. Parker; J. and J. J. Deighton; G. and J. Robinson, 1838), 210.

[23] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 633.

[24] William Paley and Edmund Paley, The Works of William Paley, vol. 2 (London; Oxford; Cambridge; Liverpool: Longman and Co.; T. Cadell; J. Richardson; Baldwin and Cradock; Hatchard and Son; J. G. & F. Rivington; Whittaker and Co.; Hamilton, Adams & Co.; Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.; Smith, Elder and Co.; E. Hodgson; B. Fellowes; R. Mackie; J. Templeman; H. Washbourne; Booker and Dolman; J. Parker; J. and J. J. Deighton; G. and J. Robinson, 1838), 210.

[25] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 478.

[26] Ibid., 483.

[27] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 287.

[28] Susan Haber, “They Shall Purify Themselves”: Essays on Purity in Early Judaism (Society of Biblical Literature, 2008), 130-131.

[29] Dennis E. Nineham, The Gospel of St. Mark (Harmondsworth, Middlesex [England]; New York: Penguin Books, 1963), 40.

[30] John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, ed. Daniel J. Harrington, vol. 2, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 239.

[31] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 653.

[32] Ibid., 324.

[33] Philo, Philo, trans. F. H. Colson, G. H. Whitaker, and J. W. Earp, vol. 10, The Loeb Classical Library (London; England; Cambridge, MA: William Heinemann Ltd; Harvard University Press, 1929–1962), 151–155.

[34] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017).

[35] Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Palestine 330 Bce – 200 Ce (London: Coronet Books, 2002).

[36] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017), 68.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Peter J. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? (Illinois: Crossway, 2018), 64-77.

[40] Richard Bauckham, Jesus, and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017), 85–88.

[41] Ibid., 84.

[42] Ibid., 78–84.

[43] Peter J. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? (Illinois: Crossway, 2018), 66-68.

Recommended resources related to the topic:

The New Testament: Too Embarrassing to Be False by Frank Turek (DVD, Mp3, and Mp4)

Why We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth by Frank Turek (DVD, Mp3 and Mp4)

Oh, Why Didn’t I Say That? Is the Bible Historically Reliable? by Dr. Frank Turek DVDMp4Mp3 Download

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Jonathan McLatchie is a Christian writer, international speaker, and debater. He holds a Bachelor’s degree (with Honors) in forensic biology, a Masters’s (M.Res) degree in evolutionary biology, a second Master’s degree in medical and molecular bioscience, and a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. Currently, he is an assistant professor of biology at Sattler College in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. McLatchie is a contributor to various apologetics websites and is the founder of the Apologetics Academy (Apologetics-Academy.org), a ministry that seeks to equip and train Christians to persuasively defend the faith through regular online webinars, as well as assist Christians who are wrestling with doubts. Dr. McLatchie has participated in more than thirty moderated debates around the world with representatives of atheism, Islam, and other alternative worldview perspectives. He has spoken internationally in Europe, North America, and South Africa promoting an intelligent, reflective, and evidence-based Christian faith.

Original Blog Source: https://cutt.ly/LEXQYZJ

Extrabiblical Evidence for the Veracity of the Gospel History — Cross Examined

Our True Home, Our Refuge from Change (Thinking Through the Life of Moses) — Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon

Home is the one place where we are sheltered from the onslaught of change, right?

Everything else changes, our world changes, our society changes, people change, we change. Recently upon standing and seeing my hair on the floor I wondered why my barber has started only cutting the grey hairs. We change and we may not like it. We may not like any change.

Home is a refuge from all that change, it is the most stable thing in our lives, the one thing we can depend upon to not change, right?

Unless you are Moses.

Actually, unless you are most of us!

Let’s think about Moses’ sense of home for a moment. If we could ask Moses what he considered “home” what would he say? He might say it was his family and people of origin, among whom he was born. Or he might say that home is where he had his first memories, among the Egyptians that he grew up with. He might say that home is in Midian where he settled down with a wife and family from yet another people, having fled Egypt. Yet God called him from that new home, and that new people, to be at home among his clan of birth, God’s people, who had made a home in Egypt, to lead them to a new home, the Promised Land, a new home that Moses would never step foot in. Instead Moses spent the last forty years of his life leading the people around the wilderness.

You could say that Moses spent most of his life pitching tents, and never really settled in one home. His life was a journey to his true home.

How would Moses have answered that question “where is your true home? Where does your sense of stability come from?”

There was one constant in Moses’ life, one thing that remained the same throughout, and remains the same for Moses even now; God.

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

Exodus 3:1-4 (NLT)

God first appeared to Moses in a bush which was burning, but not consumed by the fire. Is there anything in our lives that cannot be consumed by fire? Take a look around, in the event of a massive fire, would anything be left untouched and unchanged? There is a hint here, that everything in our lives can be taken from us or destroyed, but only with the presence of God can there be any hope of something that endures. Only with God can we find a home that cannot be destroyed or taken from us.

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

Exodus 3:13-14 (NLT)

As we read through the Old Testament we often see the word “LORD,” written with all capitals, but not many people know why. It stands in for God’s divine name, which in Jewish tradition, would not be pronounced out of respect. When coming across the divine name in the Hebrew Bible, Jewish people say the word for “Lord” instead. We more or less carry on that tradition as Christians. The point is, God’s name has the idea of existence built right into it.

Only God has existence as part of His essence. God just is. Everything else and everyone else has been created. Everything that is created can also be destroyed. God cannot be destroyed because existence is part of God’s essence.

What is the the one thing we can depend on, the one thing that is not subject to change or can be destroyed, or taken from us? Only God can be our true home, the one constant in our lives.

God was, and continues to be even now, the one constant along Moses’ journey, his true home. Everything else was pitching tents. We may think we are building a home, some might even think they are building, or buying, a “forever” home, but we are always just pitching tents. Whatever home we think we are building will only last for the a season of life, for however long that lasts.

Being at home with God means that this life is a journey home. Being on a journey means saying goodbye, a lot. 

Being on a journey home means saying goodbye to places. Having lived in eighteen different dwellings I am amazed when I meet someone who still lives in the home they were born in. This is now the longest I have lived in any one dwelling, at nine years. Yet whether nine months, nine years, or ninety years, these are nothing compared to being at home with God forevermore. This raises the question, how much do we really want to invest our lives in something we will be saying goodbye to? How much more do we want to invest our lives in being at home with God?

Being on a journey home means saying goodbye to possessions. I have seen pictures of a motorcyclist being buried on his motorcycle. He won’t be riding that where he is going! We have possessions that may be very meaningful to us now, but when we stand before the Lord in the hereafter, when we realise how meaningful Christ is to us, the significance of much we invest in and concern ourselves with now will fall away. How much do we want our lives wrapped up in things we will say goodbye to? How much do we want our lives to be wrapped up in Christ?

Being on a journey home means saying goodbye to people. People come in and out of our lives. Saying goodbye can be very difficult when close relationships are involved. Saying goodbye can be particularly painful when those goodbyes are unexpected and happen far too early. Grief is something we can depend upon experiencing in our journey. Let us learn how to manage it and lean into God through it.

Being on a journey home means saying goodbye to particular ways of thinking.  To give an example, some people are raised, or come to Christianity, with the understanding that every word of the Bible should be taken as historically and literally true. However this does not give space to the fact that there are different genres of writing found in the Bible. Different genres require different approaches in understanding. To give an example, there are those who see a big gap between science and faith based on a very literal and historical understanding of Genesis chapter 1. Some of us, however, have an interpretation of Genesis 1 which sees no war between faith and science (please see this post from the past for more on that). While we make space for those who think differently, a life of faith is a journey of understanding, which means sometimes saying goodbye to ways of understanding that we may have treasured in the past. That can be difficult.

Being on a journey home means saying goodbye to this life as we know it, these poor old bodies as we know them. There are those who get to the point of “goodbye and good riddance.” I remember one dear elderly saint who often said “I’d give anything for a slice of toast.” She lost her home, her health, her independence, and even the ability to eat. She was ready to say goodbye and told me so.

The apostle Paul was also ready to say goodbye:

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NLT)

When we think of our home being with God in the here and now, we have courage for the journey, even that final journey home in the hereafter.

In conclusion,

Knowing that our home is with God means being on a journey, and a journey entails much change and many goodbyes. So let us hold onto everything lightly. Let us grasp onto God tightly, knowing that in Christ and through His Holy Spirit, God has a firm grasp of us.

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (MSG)

(This sermon can be seen preached here)

Our True Home, Our Refuge from Change (Thinking Through the Life of Moses) — Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon

Pray Yourself Joyful — The Master’s Seminary Blog

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  —Philippians 1:3-5 

As Paul expresses his love for the believers in Philippi, he is overcome with thankfulness. Whenever his mind turns to these dear brothers and sisters, his immediate emotion is gratitude. What a powerful testimony! The love and commitment of the Christians in this church were so genuine that, each time Paul remembered them, he felt a flood of thankfulness. It is a lovely thing when remembrance and gratitude are bound up together.

Paul’s words are encouraging. They are also challenging. They call you, as a believer, to consider: what comes to mind when others remember you? Do you live in such a way that others are thankful for you? As Christians, our lives should radiate the fragrance of Christ. If we have His aroma, we become a welcomed and anticipated part of the lives of those around us. They are thankful for our presence and, as a result, they praise the Lord.

As Paul nurtures gratitude in every circumstance, he obtains a joy that is rooted firmly in Christ. This is not the counterfeit joy of wealth, power, or popularity. These can quickly and inexplicably evaporate…see the book of Job. Instead, true joy only comes from our Creator. Paul tells his readers that he is saying a prayer on their behalf, and he is fueling his prayers with the joy that only comes from his heavenly Father. Are your prayers fueled by joy? Or are they often driven by fear, frustration, and complaining? Prayer and joy go hand-in-hand. Those who pray fervently are fueled by a life of joy this world cannot extinguish. Remember Paul’s circumstances when he prayed. He is in jail for the crime of following Christ. If anyone could be excused for a bitter spirit, it’s him. But despite his distress, his prison cell prayers are filled with joy. That was possible because Paul prayed in all circumstances. For him, consistent prayer was the path to joy in prayer.


If you and I do not pray consistently, it shouldn’t be surprising that our sporadic prayers lack genuine joy.


Do you struggle with love or respect for your spouse? Cry out to God until your heart is filled with gratitude. Your consistent prayers will produce joy and plant a desire to serve rather than scrutinize. Is your relationship with your child fractured? Pray for their spiritual growth and deepened love for the Lord. In so doing, your joy transcends the pain. Pray yourself joyful!

As Paul communicates a spirit of thankfulness, prayerfulness, and joy, he also commends this dear church for their partnership in the gospel. What a great word. All true believers are working together in the Kingdom of God for the glory of Christ. We must remember that we are working together with other Christians and other churches. Failure to understand this principle will cause us to view other churches and ministries as competition. God forbid! We are to be partners, not competitors, as we rejoice in each work of God and give thanks for every spiritual victory. 

The word partnership not only communicates that we are to work together, but it also clarifies that each of us should take part in ministry. As the work of God is the constant mission for all believers, Christians cannot sit on the sidelines and simply cheer other servants on. No! We are partnering in the work of the gospel, each with a role to fulfill. The body of Christ functions best when believers shoulder a share of the load.

Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with action. He is mindful, thankful, and prayerful for this church family. In all of this, God is his source of joy. Please note that when Paul speaks of God, he adds something personal. The word is found in verse three when Paul says, “I thank my God.” A simple, two-letter word that carries so much meaning. In reality, this simple word is what connects all of Paul’s thoughts, emotions, and actions together. Why is Paul so joyful even though he is in jail? Because he knows the Lord is with him. How can Paul remain so thankful when he has experienced so much heartache? Because he lives in the blessing of a personal relationship with God. For Paul, God is “my God.” 

The great “prince of preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, once wrote about the impact of this small word in Scripture. Through his monthly publication, The Sword and the Trowel, Spurgeon examined David’s psalm of praise in an 1866 edition. Of the first line of Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he noted:

“The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, ‘My.’ He does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock,’ but ‘The Lord is my shepherd;’ if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer’s position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.”

Is your life characterized by gratitude, prayer, joy, and partnership in the gospel? Do you live each day recognizing that you belong to God? Though your circumstances be dire, they need not change in order to live in joy! You need only to live in the sweet assurance of the truth that David and Paul both knew: every true believer can boldly say, “He is mine.”

Pray Yourself Joyful — The Master’s Seminary Blog

Following Jesus — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NCV)


Father in Heaven,

I need You in my life. Forgive me for going my own way without acknowledging You. Thank you that You sent Jesus to die for my sins. Thank you that You forgive me. Cleanse my heart and come into my life today. Please help me to grasp Your ways so I can walk securely in them even in insecure places. I need Your perspective in my life.

Guide me in Your truth, Lord God. Help me to make time to read my Bible. Thank you that Your Word will guide me as a beacon and a light.

You are my Savior, my Rescuer and my Redeemer. Thank you that it is You alone who restores and renews my spirit and brings meaning to my life.

Today I put my trust in You. Thank you that You will give me the hope and help and peace I need in my journey through life. Thank you that You are my Savior.

In Jesus’ strong name I pray, amen.

By Gail Rodgers
Used by Permission


Further Reading

•   Bloom Where you are Planted – the Diane Willis story
•   A Thought about Gratitude
•  Salvation Explained

Following Jesus — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

A Secure Future — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

In an increasingly insecure world, people are living in tension and anxiety.


In an increasingly insecure world, people are living in tension and anxiety. Horrific scenes of death and destruction can be seen every day.  However, in such troubled times, the child of God can rest assured that our future is always secure in God’s hands!

In John 14, the disciples of Jesus were troubled because He had hinted that He would be leaving them soon (John 13:31-38). Although they couldn’t grasp all that Jesus meant, what they heard was enough to get their stress levels to rise rapidly.

In the midst of this scenario, the Lord highlighted the following powerful facts to bring reassurance to their troubled hearts.

•    He was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2)

When we take a journey, we generally like to have proper accommodation at our destination. If not, we may even postpone our trip for another day. How encouraging it is to know that the Lord has prepared a better place for us! The scriptures show us that it will be something beyond our present imagination and vision!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

•    He is coming back for His children (John 14:3)

The second coming of Jesus is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. That’s a lot of scripture! Since Jesus has been true to all His promises so far, we can be assured that He will be more than true to this one as well!! When that great event takes place, He will receive us to Himself, to enjoy His blessings forever!

Someone said, ‘We do not look for the undertaker, but for the upper taker’.

Illustration – It is said that the territory held by a famous General in World War 2 was overrun by enemy forces. As he departed with his soldiers, he made a promise to the people that he would come back to liberate them soon. They held on to that promise and true to his word, the General did return with his army to liberate the land from the opposing forces.

If a human General could fulfill his promise so effectively, how much more would the King of Kings do so? Are you waiting in anticipation for the day in which the clouds will be rolled back and our Savior will appear in all His glory?

•    He gives peace to our troubled hearts (John 14:27)

God has promised to give us a peace that passes all understanding. Therefore, the Apostle Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything…” (Philippians 4:6). The Lord Jesus Himself told the Disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27). His peace will sustain us in the tumultuous times ahead!

Illustration – When faced with an unbearable tragedy that involved untimely deaths in the family, Tom Dorsey, in the midst of heartbreak and a shattered world, penned down some lyrics that have touched thousands of lives over the years.

Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the Light,
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

Let’s remember that the Lord Jesus is coming back to take us to a prepared place. Till then, His peace and grace will sustain us.

Prayer – Lord, may your peace and the promise of your return sustain me in these troubled times. Amen.

By Pastor Palitha Jayasooriya
Used by Permission


If you don’t know Jesus in a personal way and would like to, you can start today by surrendering your heart to him.  Jesus can transform you from the inside out and be your anchor during times when life seems shaky. His love is amazing. You can start by praying a prayer like this:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to You and ask You to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

If you prayed this prayer, we would love to hear from you. If you want to learn more about the Christian life, we can connect you with a mentor (by email) and send you some helpful reading materials.


Further Reading

•  Reading the Bible – Where to Start?\

•   How To Be Sure You Are a Christian

•  Salvation Explained

A Secure Future — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

October 6 Afternoon Quotes of The Day

All Have a Claim to Our Courtesy
Deuteronomy 15:7; Proverbs 14:31; 19:17; Matthew 25:40

See that you are courteous toward all men. It matters not, in this respect, whether they are high or low, rich or poor, superior or inferior to you. No, not even whether good or bad, whether they fear God or not. Indeed, the mode of showing your courtesy may vary, as Christian prudence will direct; but the thing itself is due to all; the lowest and the worst have a claim to our courtesy.

JOHN WESLEY*

Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

The Best Form of Government
Psalm 72:1; Proverbs 8:15–16; Daniel 2:37–38; Matthew 22:17–21; Romans 13:1–7

The best form of government is in a state or kingdom wherein one is given the power to preside over all, while under him are others having governing powers. And yet a government of this kind is shared by all, both because all are eligible to govern, and because the rules are chosen by all. For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom, since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, i.e., government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen from the people, and the people have the right to choose their rulers.

THOMAS AQUINAS*

Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Why Every Spiritual Seeker Should Start with Jesus (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast S7E25) — Cold Case Christianity

Is there something unique about Jesus when compared to other alleged gods? Why do so many other world religions acknowledge Jesus in some way? Should people who are interested in the existence of God start with an investigation of Jesus? J. Warner answers these questions in this episode of the NRBtv Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast.

Be sure to watch the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast on NRBtv every Monday and Saturday! In addition, here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):

https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/20519285/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/174dbd/

For more information about the impact Jesus and His followers had on science, read Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World That Rejects the Bible. This unique and innovative book makes a case for the historicity and Deity of Jesus from history alone, without relying on the New Testament manuscripts. It contains over 400 illustrations and is accompanied by a ten-session Person of Interest DVD Set (and Investigator’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

Why Every Spiritual Seeker Should Start with Jesus (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast S7E25) — Cold Case Christianity

6 Oct 2021 News Briefing

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There’s a financial crisis Every Sabbatical year: This year primed to be mother of them all, Israeli economist warns
The current Hebrew year, 5782, began on Rosh Hashanna one month ago, beginning a new shemittah (sabbatical) year. Most people believe that the shemittah has implications only for farmers based in Israel however in Biblical times, all debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted. One Israeli economist has chronicled a correlation between the seven-year shemittah cycle and major economic events. If his theory is correct, the world is about to enter a major crisis.

Secret Yom Kippur War documents have just been declassified
The material now open to the public “makes it possible to follow the inter-governmental dynamics and consultations held by Prime Minister Golda Meir … and to delve into the exchanges, arguments and relations between the heads of state that led to the heavy fighting … to teach us a lot about the historical event that affects the State of Israel to this day,” the ISA said in a statement.

A little-known spaniard saved five times as many Jews during WW2 as Schindler: Now Spain wants to reward his descendants
Spanish officials are releasing the names of the Hungarian Jews who were shielded from the Nazis by Ángel Sanz Briz, a Spanish diplomat known as the “Spanish Schindler.” Briz was recognized as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum back in 1966. The award acknowledged a brilliant legal maneuver he used to save over 5,200 Jews from being deported to Auschwitz from Hungary in 1944.

Now That You Have Survived The Facebook “Mini Apocalypse”, Are You Ready For A Real One?
A mini social media apocalypse unfolded Monday morning, and people were freaking out. With Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all hit by a massive global outage, everyone flooded Twitter to complain, commiserate and, of course, share memes. Even officials from Facebook and Instagram were using Twitter to update everyone on the crisis, and a lot of people found that to be quite humorous.

Minneapolis residents plead for state assistance as officer exodus continues
A group of north Minneapolis residents said they feel like they live in a “war zone” in an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz this week. “North Minneapolis, the most diverse part of the state, is a war zone, with a child murdered, a man killed when a barbershop was shot-up in broad daylight, a school teacher executed by fully automatic gunfire, a drive by shooting across an elementary school playground with children at recess, a bus evacuated after being shot at. All this in little more than a week,” says the letter. The 26 residents feel like they have been “left to twist in the winds of violence” for more than a year while the mayor and City Council have failed to act.

Minneapolis criminals seem to have machine guns now
There have been 78 instances of criminals firing fully automatic weapons in Minneapolis so far this year, according to ShotSpotter data. Machine guns account for about 0.1% of the 393 million guns in the U.S. However, in the grand scheme of things, the amount of fully automatic gunfire in Minneapolis pales in comparison to the amount of regular gunfire. In January through September of 2019, the city’s ShotSpotter technology detected 5,402 rounds fired across 1,533 activations.

IDF chief: Israel will pursue operations against Iran on all fronts
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi stresses the importance of quality intelligence in the battle against the Iranian regime’s nuclear aspirations and says Israel’s operational plans “will continue to evolve and improve.”

Ancient Hebrew document could reveal why Dead Sea Scrolls were placed in Qumran
The Damascus Document is named after its many references to the Syrian capital, which was once governed by the ancient Hebrew King David. The document has been stored in the Cairo Genizah, a storeroom in a synagogue in the Fustat neighborhood in Cairo. New research now suggests that the Qumran region served as the site of a large annual ceremony of the Essenes, a mystical Jewish sect. According to this theory, members of this sect gathered at Qumran from cities and villages all over the land of Israel to practice an important ritual known as the Covenant of Renewal.

As alliances shift in the Middle East, Christians and Israel are increasingly less portrayed as enemies
Many leaders in the Middle East once thought that Christians and Israel were their primary enemies, but there is a “tectonic shift” taking place in the region, according to ALL ARAB NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg. And with these shifting alliances and emerging threats, the Arab world is reassessing who is an enemy and who is a foe. “Look, Christians have always been thought of in the region as the problem,” Rosenberg said in a recent interview. “This is not the case currently. People see Iran as the main enemy, rightly so.”

Are winds of war brewing on the Iranian border with Azerbaijan? And how are Israel, Turkey and Russia involved?
Late in September Iran decided to hold its largest military exercise in two decades on its border with Azerbaijan setting the Azeri military on high alert and launching a ripple wave of concern through Turkey, Russia and south to Israel. But this Iranian display of artillery, drones and helicopters seems to be less about Azerbaijan and more about Israel. While Baku and Tehran have historically maintained good relations, Iran is becoming concerned with an apparent Israeli presence in Azerbaijan.

Key takeaways from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony
“Facebook has not earned our blind faith,” said former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower Frances Haugen in her opening statement before lawmakers. “There is a pattern of behavior that I saw [at] Facebook: Facebook choosing to prioritize its profits over people.”

One Democrat Senator is Standing Firm for Life
..US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is refusing to back …Biden’s massive, $3.5 trillion spending bill unless it includes the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion. The Biden reconciliation bill is, said the Senator, “dead on arrival” unless it includes the Hyde language.

Wars And Rumors Of Wars – Two Major Conflicts On The Horizon
Historically, the start of most wars has not been a surprise. Usually, there is a very clear build up before hostilities begin, and we are seeing the same pattern today. A “shadow war” has already been going on for quite some time, and at some point missiles will start flying back and forth between the two countries. Likewise, by now it should be exceedingly clear that China very much wants to invade Taiwan.

Facebook Says Major Outage Due to ‘Configuration Changes’
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication,” Facebook said in a blog post of the global outage on Monday.

Newly-found Iranian cyber-espionage may pose ‘real threat’ to Israel
Iranian threat actors are running a highly-targeted cyber-espionage operation against global aerospace and telecommunications companies, stealing sensitive information from targets around Israel and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, Russia, and Europe…

Hamas pushes for prisoner swap, warns of ‘explosion’ during Egypt visit
A Hamas delegation headed by the movement’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, continued efforts to reach an agreement of calm and prisoner swap, while warning against “violations” of Jerusalem and Palestinian prisoners, during a visit to Egypt on Tuesday.

Is Iran threatening Azerbaijan over Israel ties?
Iran’s media has begun to up the rhetoric against Azerbaijan, with a headline claiming that Baku has “denied the presence of the Zionist regime near the border with Iran,” a claim that appears to contrast with its insinuation that Israel’s close relationship with Azerbaijan is a threat to Tehran.

Facebook harms children and weakens democracy: ex-employee
A former Facebook employee has told US politicians that the company’s sites and apps harm children’s mental health and stoke division in society. Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former product manager turned whistleblower, heavily criticised the company at a hearing in the Senate. Facebook has faced growing scrutiny and increasing calls for its regulation.

Flash floods hit Marseille after 2 months’ worth of rain overnight, France
Flash floods hit parts of the city of Marseille in southern France on October 4, 2021, after 173 mm (6.8 inches) of rainfall fell overnight, with most of it in the space of 2 hours. The amount represents 2 months’ worth of the city’s average October rainfall. Travel was disrupted in the region and a number of train services were suspended.

Italy breaks national 6-hour rainfall record with 496 mm (19.5 inches)
A weather station in Cairo Montenotte, Province of Savona in the NW Italian region of Liguria, recorded 496 mm (19.5 inches) of rain in just 6 hours on October 4, 2021, breaking the country’s 6-hour rainfall record of 472 mm (18.6 inches) set in 2011. While rain was recorded across the country yesterday, the storm unloaded most of its power in the Savona area.

Robots Take Over Italy’s Vineyards as Wineries Struggle With Covid-19 Worker Shortages
Last year’s grape harvest was a harrowing scramble at Mirko Cappelli’s Tuscan vineyard. With the Italian border closed because of the pandemic, the Eastern European workers he had come to rely on couldn’t get into the country. The company he had contracted to supply grape pickers had no one to offer him. He ultimately found just enough workers to bring the grapes in on time.

Congressional Report: Baby Food Industry Knowingly Sold Products Contaminated With Heavy Metals 
A new congressional report released Wednesday revealing the baby food industry has failed to keep products with heavy metals off the shelves spurred calls for federal authorities to enact swift action and tough limits on toxin levels.

Pope Francis Holds Special Gaia One World Religion Meeting With Chrislam Co-Founder Grand Muslim Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb At Vatican Today
Back in February of 2019, we showed you how Pope Francis flew to Abu Dhabi to present the end times covenant of Chrislam to Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, how both men signed this document and then sealed their pact by a kiss on the mouth. Today, Ahmed al-Tayeb was present and accounted for at the Vatican as part of Rome’s preparation for their upcoming participation in the COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in November.

Melbourne cases hit record despite two months of lockdown
Melbourne’s COVID-19 cases surged to record levels on Thursday with officials blaming illegal home gatherings to watch a key sporting event for the spike as a hard lockdown to combat the spread of the Delta variant neared two months.

Canadian Police ARREST Mother in Front of Crying Children After Failing to Show Proof of Vaccination
Footage out of Canada shows Canadian police arresting a mother in front of her children for the crime of not showing her Covid vaccine passport.

School boards want national anti-terror laws used on parents!
A group representing school boards across the country asked President Joe Biden to enforce federal statutes that combat terrorism to address violence and threats directed toward school board members and public schools in a Wednesday letter.

Australian Deputy Premier: Those Declining Vaccines Will “Lose Their Freedoms”
John Barilaro continues to mandate and enforce stay-at-home orders in the former penal colony, years after the arrival of the coronavirus to Australia and mass circulation of the disease.

Israel just nullified vaccine passports for all double jabbed people… now only the triple jabbed get “freedom”
After earlier claiming that only two injections would be necessary in order to obtain a “green pass,” the government of Israel is now forcefully demanding that all Israelis received a third jab of the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to maintain the “privilege” of buying and selling.

China PCR test orders soared before first confirmed COVID case
Purchases of PCR tests in China’s Hubei Province surged months before the first official reports of a novel coronavirus case there, according to a report by Australia-based cybersecurity company Internet 2.0.

Denver Police Officer Forced to Take COVID Vaccine, Now He Says He Lost the Ability to Walk
In early August, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. He declared that all city employees, and even some private-sector employees who worked in “high-risk settings,” must be vaccinated by Sept. 30, according to the government’s website.

Company that Handles Billions of Text Messages from Major Cellular Carriers Says its Database was Hacked for Years
Syniverse, a company that handles billions of text messages from cellular carriers, quietly admitted during its filing dated September 27th with the US Security and Exchange Commission that its database was hacked for 5 years.

VERITAS: Pfizer Scientists Admit Natural Antibodies Beat COVID-19 Vaccine, Call Company ‘Evil’
Project Veritas has obtained video of Pfizer scientists admitting the massive pharmaceutical corporation is “evil” and questioning the efficacy of the experimental jabs.

Denver Police Officer Forced to Take COVID Vaccine, Now He Says He Lost the Ability to Walk
In early August, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. He declared that all city employees, and even some private-sector employees who worked in “high-risk settings,” must be vaccinated by Sept. 30, according to the government’s website.

Dr. Francis Collins Stepping Down as Head of NIH
The head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is stepping down amid lingering questions regarding his agency’s funding of research in China.

Students Sue St. John’s University Over Vaccine Mandate, Citing Use of Aborted Fetus Cells in Testing
A group of students at St. John’s University (SJU) in New York are suing the school over its COVID-19 vaccination requirement, which they say violates their religious belief regarding abortion.

Source: https://www.raptureready.com/2021/10/06/6-oct-2021/

We have now entered a dangerous time in our historyPosted: 06 Oct 2021 08:31 AM PDT(OPINION) If you feel like global events are about to hit a dramatic turning point, you are definitely not alone. Lately, I have been hearing from so many people that are feeling such a sense of dread about the days that are ahead of us.It kinds of reminds me of the waning days of 2019. If you go back and review my articles and my interviews from that period, you will see that I repeatedly warned that I had such a bad feeling about 2020.Continue reading We have now entered a dangerous time in our history at End Time Headlines.
Colorado health system is now denying transplants for unvaccinated patients in ‘almost all situations’Posted: 06 Oct 2021 08:23 AM PDTA Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in “almost all situations,” citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get covid-19.According to KHN News, The policy illustrates the growing costs of being unvaccinated and wades into deeply controversial territory — the use of immunization status to decide who gets limited medical care.The mere idea of prioritizing the vaccinated for rationed health resources has drawn intense backlash, as overwhelmingly unvaccinated covid-19 patients push some hospitals to adopt “crisis standards of care,” in which health systems can prioritize patients for scarce resources based largely on their likelihood of survival.Continue reading Colorado health system is now denying transplants for unvaccinated patients in ‘almost all situations’ at End Time Headlines.
RIDICULOUS: Twitter fact checks an obituary attributing a young mother’s death to vaccinePosted: 06 Oct 2021 05:55 AM PDT(OPINION) Critics are slamming Twitter after the social media company fact-checked an obituary of a young mother that attributed her death to a rare blood disorder induced by the coronavirus vaccine.“This obituary is ‘misleading’ says Twitter. ‘For [on Twitter] we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead,’ unless of course, it contradicts what Dr. Fauci or the enlightened government and tech overlords say you must do for your healthcare,” Republican Texas Rep.Continue reading RIDICULOUS: Twitter fact checks an obituary attributing a young mother’s death to vaccine at End Time Headlines.
Electricity shortages in China mean empty shelves ARE comingPosted: 06 Oct 2021 05:49 AM PDT(OPINION) On the “Glenn Beck Radio Program,” Glenn explained why he wouldn’t be surprised to see our supply chain collapse and empty shelves in America in the near future.Shortages are already wrecking our economy, China (where many of our goods are still made) is facing an energy shortage, and the Biden administration sure seems to be doing everything it can to make things worse. Glenn noted a serious warning from American CEO Mike Beckham:“There’s a major storm brewing in the supply chain,” Beckham wrote on Twitter.Continue reading Electricity shortages in China mean empty shelves ARE coming at End Time Headlines.
NASA set to launch November mission to deflect ‘devastating’ asteroid from hitting Earth by NUDGING it with a spacecraftPosted: 05 Oct 2021 01:57 PM PDTNASA said on Monday that its mission to deflect an asteroid in deep space using a spacecraft is targeting a late November launch. Known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission,the U.S. space agency will send the DART spacecraft to a pair of asteroids – the Didymos binary – at 1:20 a.m. EST on November 24 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART will smash in one of the two asteroids, known as Didymoon, at roughly 13,500mph on October 2, 2022.Continue reading NASA set to launch November mission to deflect ‘devastating’ asteroid from hitting Earth by NUDGING it with a spacecraft at End Time Headlines.

Mid-Day Snapshot · Oct. 6, 2021

“From The Patriot Post (patriotpost.us)”

THE FOUNDATION

“There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superiour to all private passions.” —John Adams (1776)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Facebook ‘Whistleblower’ Frances Haugen: What Is Her Motive?

“The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart.”

Michael Swartz

Social media behemoth Facebook has been rocked by a series of Wall Street Journal reports about its internal operations and motives. One of those reports was built on thousands of documents provided by an insider who exposed some of Big Tech’s worst secrets. Facebook stands credibly accused of hiding its own research showing the social media platform “amplifies hate, misinformation, and political unrest,” while its sister site Instagram faces its own charges of harming teenage girls concerned with their bodily image. But the elephant — or should we say donkey — in the room is the issue of social media censorship.

The degree of that censorship reared its ugly head in the unprecedented suppression of information damaging to Joe Biden in the last presidential election. It demonstrated the depth of collusion between Democrats and both their Leftmedia propagandists and Big Tech speech suppressors. This is, as Mark Alexander has framed it, the political “redlining of free speech.”

In a lot of ways, this whole story only confirmed what we have known all along, but having an insider come forward to expose the process in the national media puts a face to the story and gives it additional human interest. The whistleblower’s identity was revealed by The Wall Street Journal and a CBS News “60 Minutes” interview to be 37-year-old Frances Haugen, a Harvard-educated Iowa native who joined the company in 2019 to work with a now-shuttered department of Facebook called Civic Integrity. She was interested in working in that capacity because of a former friend, according to a Journal “Facebook Files” podcast in which Haugen was the guest:

I joined Facebook because someone I was incredibly close to, who was really important to me, I lost them to misinformation on the internet, and I never want anyone to feel the pain that I felt. …

In 2016, he was a little disillusioned after Bernie [Sanders] lost the nomination, and he was susceptible to misinformation on the internet. He got really, really radicalized, and I don’t blame Facebook for what happened to him. I blame more 4chan and Reddit. But he was making crazy claims about George Soros running the world economy and things like that. Things that are just super easy to invalidate. When I would send him these things, to give you a sense of how much misinformation on the internet can twist people, he would say things to me like, “Do you read your own citations? All of these references are to the mainstream media. How can you possibly believe them?”

After joining Facebook, Haugen detailed her panic attacks from the constant struggle to procure enough resources to do the job she believed Civic Integrity could do, only to see the department disbanded after the 2020 election. The final straw for her, though, was January 6.

Facebook turned off all sorts of protections that it had turned on for the 2020 election right after the election. … These are things around like, how reactive is the platform? Is it viral? Those things about ranking, right? Some of those signals that make it easier for angry things to go out, they got tamped down a little bit for the election because they didn’t want to have riots at the election. But all as things make Facebook grow a little slower. They turned off all those safety mechanisms after or they went back to their old settings after the election. And the insurrection happens and immediately they throw them back on.

Obviously, Haugen is not even a political moderate trying to buck the trend at Facebook. In fact, according to public records, she is a serial supporter of Democrats and the orchestration of her current outing of Facebook is tied to an Obama activist.

Thus, her motives should be considered with due caution.

Mark Alexander believes the Democrats will use her “revelations” to further suppress conservative speech across social media platforms, which he believes may actually be Haugen’s motive. He has detailed how that targeted suppression, social media “shadow banning” of conservative speech, has deliberately restricted The Patriot Post’s social media reach by more than 80% in the last year.

Facebook’s Director of Policy Communications, Lena Pietsch, said in response to Haugen’s remarks, “It’s been 25 years since the rules for the internet have been updated, and instead of expecting the industry to make societal decisions that belong to legislators, it is time for Congress to act.”

And there is the setup.

After Haugen’s “60 Minutes” performance, she went up to Capitol Hill to repeat her claims in three hours of Senate testimony, which The New York Times gleefully declared “United Democrats and Republicans in Calling for Regulation of Facebook.” Despite appearances that Facebook is firing back at Haugen, appearances can be deceiving.

Her bias is particularly evident in her loaded language. For example, she claims that Facebook’s tamping down of what company censors would consider “angry” content made the difference between smoothly run voting and “riots [after] the election.” What aggravated many people most prior to and after the election was the systemic election fraud resulting from the Democrat bulk-mail balloting and blatant media bias, like that exhibited in the cover-up of Hunter Biden’s laptop revelations about Joe “Big Guy” Biden’s schemes to collect big bucks in return for meetings with the Red Chinese.

(By the way, we’re still waiting for the first “insurrection” conviction in Nancy Pelosi’s inquisition.)

Haugen is essentially blowing the whistle on algorithms because they’re not as ruthless as knowledgable activists like herself could be. Had Haugen’s desire for a much larger Civic Integrity division been realized, the censorship would be even more blatant.

So, will Congress step in this time? Caveat emptor! Getting government involved in regulating entities like Facebook potentially creates a slippery slope of its own given government’s track record. Does the “Fairness Doctrine” ring a bell? Yet as Haugen told the Journal, she supports such involvement:

I think there’s, like, different tiers of [government] interventions that I think are necessary. At a minimum, we need radically more transparency and we need to, as a society, think about how can we not be dependent on whistleblowers like me to get basic information out of the company. Facebook has told us, “You can either have growth or engagement. If we make it safer, it won’t be as engaging.” … The second thing is we need to have different regulations on engagement-based ranking. Engagement-based ranking is always going to prioritize the sensational. It’s always going to prioritize misinformation. And we need to take interventions to reduce virality, to make things less growth optimized. Because we could have social media that was about our family and friends that we really enjoyed, that was less toxic. It’s just Facebook would grow slower. People would spend shorter sessions on Facebook. Facebook would make less money. We have to regulate it to get that world.

While we agree that additional content from family and friends, instead of the “sponsored content” that now dominates the site, would make Facebook a more enjoyable platform (and bring it closer to its roots), we also think the politically motivated systemic suppression of free speech must stop. Social media companies have long existed on straddling the line between content curator and content provider, and the time is now to make them make a choice and take the responsibility that goes with it.

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A Not-So-Warm Welcome for Joe Biden

He wanted to talk about his Build Back Better plan, but a whole lot of hecklers had other plans.

Douglas Andrews

Welp, that didn’t go as swimmingly as he’d hoped. On a Tuesday visit to what’s traditionally been friendly territory for Democrats, Scranton Joe Biden came to Michigan to pitch his beleaguered Build Back Better plan. Instead, he got a good sense of what regular folks are feeling toward him and his feckless administration.

Executive summary: Not good, Joe. Not good.

Our one-term president was visiting an Operating Engineers training facility in Howell, a largely blue-collar and conservative town some 60 miles northwest of Detroit. In addition to pitching the so-called merits of his plan, he also tried to drum up support for the two spending bills upon which the future of his administration rests: a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a budget-busting $3.5 trillion obscenity that “invests” in child care, housing, higher education, pre-kindergarten education, and combating climate change cradle-to-grave entitlements and leftist boondoggles.

Biden spoke outside at Local 324 of the International Union of Operating Engineers’ Construction Career Center, where a massive crowd of about 40 local Democrat dignitaries and hand-picked friendlies hung on his every word — especially when he recognized his authoritarian “friend,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the state’s lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist, whom Biden bizarrely said “covers [Whitmer] in every way, both in terms of physically and mentally and every other way.” Really. We can’t make this stuff up.

Oh, well. At least he didn’t call her “Jennifer” this time.

By contrast, hundreds of decidedly anti-Biden demonstrators were gathered along the road about a mile from where the president spoke. Some held those delightfully derogatory signs and flags, while others helpfully reminded him that he didn’t get all those 81 million votes on the up-and-up — not when he spent the campaign season in his basement, and not when he couldn’t draw flies to one of his unicorn-rare live events.

To be fair to Biden, though, he should at least get some credit. After all, his former boss, Barack Obama, would never have set foot in a town like Howell. When in Michigan, Obama much preferred visiting the hard-left enclave of Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, where his pal Bill Ayers learned how to become a domestic terrorist and how to wipe his feet on American flags.

“These bills are not about Left versus Right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another,” Biden laughably lied. “These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally [sic] happening.”

Biden said the country was at an “inflection point,” and here we think he’s onto something. As he barnstorms the nation on his #FJB Tour, the American people will be deciding whether to let him serve out the next 40 months of his lone term without at least enduring the colorful, if vulgar, protests spreading like the brushfires of freedom.

He’s not doing himself any favors.

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Weaponizing the IRS to Invade Americans’ Privacy

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin defends Joe Biden’s plan for expansive reporting requirements.

Thomas Gallatin

As more Americans have become aware of and begun ringing the alarm bells over the Biden administration’s plan to have the Internal Revenue Service effectively monitor every working American’s bank account, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin was sent out to do damage control.

“It’s just a few pieces of information about individual bank accounts,” Yellin contended in a CNBC interview. “Nothing at the transaction level that would violate privacy.” Really?

According to the Biden administration’s plan, banks would be required to report to the IRS every individual account with more than $600 or transactions of more than $600. And the dubious justification for this massive intrusion on Americans’ privacy rights, according to Yellin’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Natasha Sarin, is to catch wealthy tax cheats: “[The IRS] … needs access to information about opaque income streams — like proprietorship and partnership income — that accrue disproportionately to high-earners.”

How does tracking virtually every working American’s bank account target wealthy tax cheats? Where is the evidence that the wealthy are engaged in such small-dollar workarounds? Would it not be more legitimate to go after, say, Joe and Jill Biden for schemes to avoid paying payroll taxes on $13 million in income?

The Biden administration’s leftist worldview is that the money Americans have labored to earn and collect is not really the property of those individual Americans, but instead ultimately belongs to the federal government. It’s the socialism in their blood that screams “injustice” whenever they see any disparity in income. Their “logic” boils down to this: The wealthy must be tax cheats, or how else could they be wealthy?

In a way, who can blame them for thinking this is widespread? Many of these very Democrat politicians have accumulated great wealth by working to rig the tax system in their favor. Now, Americans are supposed to believe that this latest Biden administration plan is aimed at targeting wealthy tax cheats? The truth is, its real target is the American working class.

This is why 41 industry groups have warned that Biden’s plan “is not remotely targeted” at major tax cheats, and it’s why 23 state treasurers recently signed a letter condemning it as “one of the largest infringements of data privacy in our nation’s history.”

Nebraska Treasurer John Murante contended: “This could lead to a tremendous invasion of privacy the likes of which our country has never seen. Millions of law-abiding Americans would suddenly have their bank accounts opened to federal investigators for no more reason than buying a refrigerator. This is simply unconscionable. To make matters worse, under this proposal, saving for college could put an American family on the IRS’s radar, costs that most likely will be passed on to the public.”

Biden is following Barack Obama’s modus operandi, which is to weaponize every federal government agency — and the IRS in particular — against the American people. We noted yesterday how Biden’s DOJ is threatening to go after parents who object to schools indoctrinating their children in the radical leftist ideology. Here we have Biden seeking to expand the ability of the IRS to monitor every single American’s finances and spending as if we’re all a bunch of criminal tax cheats.

It sure seems like the Democrats’ objective is to radically transform America into a socialist authoritarian police state.

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How FISA Was Used to Bring Down Trump

More abuses of the system by FBI investigators pale in comparison to the big one.

Nate Jackson

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz recently released a major report auditing the FBI’s practices in 7,000 applications for surveillance warrants submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. He came up with more than a few errors, and the whole thing is a reminder of how the FBI operated as part of the attempted coup to take down Donald Trump.

Indeed, Horowitz’s 2019 report on the Carter Page surveillance fiasco, and the 17 errors he found, all of which favored Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was the impetus for this larger probe. Here’s how his latest report began:

The FBI’s Woods Procedures [factual accuracy review procedures] are designed to ensure FISA applications are “scrupulously accurate” and require agents to document support for all factual assertions contained in them. However, our audit found numerous instances where this did not occur. In March 2020, we issued a Management Advisory Memorandum (MAM) to report that our audit had identified Woods Procedures non-compliance in all 29 FISA applications we reviewed, which were approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) between fiscal years 2015 and 2019. DOJ thereafter notified the FISC of 209 errors in those applications, 4 of which DOJ deemed material. Our further audit work identified over 200 additional instances of Woods Procedures noncompliance — where Woods Files did not contain adequate supporting documentation for statements in the 29 applications — although the FBI and NSD subsequently confirmed the existence of available support elsewhere. We also identified at least 183 FISA applications for which the required Woods File was missing or incomplete.

Humans make errors, which the report fully acknowledges, but it appears Horowitz has uncovered an FBI culture of deliberate failure to comply with the rules. Errors in all 29 applications reviewed? Some were typographical and others were wrong dates, but many were misidentified sources and unsupported facts. Four such errors were “deemed material,” meaning they had a consequential impact on the approval of the warrants.

Horowitz himself says there has been “a significant lapse in the FBI’s management of its FISA program.” And he whips FBI leadership, including Director Christopher Wray, for not just the “tolerance for error” but the feigned efforts at reforming the reform.

The fundamental problem, however, might be the FISA Court itself. Inserting judges into the process of collecting intelligence actually undermines the typical accountability structures that should govern law enforcement surveillance so as to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens. If the FBI can’t be trusted to submit honest, accurate, and complete information, then the FISA Court can’t function properly. Both can blame each other rather than face true accountability.

That brings us back to the aforementioned Carter Page, who was used (illegally) by deep state FBI actors to get to Donald Trump. That abuse began four years of surveillance, lies, harassment, electoral shenanigans, and ultimately impeachment of a U.S. president, all over the hoax of “colluding with Russia.”

Hillary Clinton may have lost the election, but she succeeded in undermining Donald Trump and in laying the groundwork for Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, thousands of rank-and-file FBI agents do their jobs honorably each and every day. They should be as outraged as anyone that a few bad apples are so thoroughly besmirching the name of the Bureau with constitutionally dubious political games like the Page warrant. And if those practices are as widespread as they now appear to be, it’s high time for some real accountability at the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency.

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Fake Hate Crime Spree

Real racism is cheapened by hoaxes and a biased media that has an ax to grind.

Emmy Griffin

There’s been a rash of hate crime hoaxes over the past year and a half. Some of them were committed by infamous celebrities such as Jussie Smollett. But three additional incidents have taken up headline space in recent days.

In Douglasville, Georgia, residents of a black neighborhood were terrorized with poison pen letters. The letters asserted they were from a (ahem) six-foot tall white man with a red beard who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which should have been the first tip-off that this was nothing but a hoax. Since when do criminals go about describing themselves at all, much less as a racist lumberjack? (No offense to lumberjacks.) The last letter was received on September 6, after which point police were able to catch the perpetrator: 30-year-old Terresha Lucas, a black woman. She was arrested for eight counts of “terroristic threats.”

At Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, students staged a walkout and even cursed at the school administration due to racist graffiti that contained slurs and death threats toward black people. This is the second time graffiti like this has appeared on campus. The students — about half of whom are minorities — were outraged because, from their perspective, the school was doing nothing to stop these crimes. The school did eventually catch the perpetrators — two black students.

At Emory University in Georgia, burglary and racist graffiti were found marring the Emory Autism Center. The graffiti, which included slurs and swastikas, were seemingly directed toward the two African American women and Jewish man who worked in the nearby workspace and office. The man apprehended was a former part-time employee by the name of Roy Lee Gordon Jr. The school deliberately and carefully did not state the race of the culprit in prepared statements. It was only when the arrest photo was published that people figured out he was black.

Perhaps calling these incidents fake hate crimes is a misnomer. After all, they are hate crimes of a sort that take advantage of the current cultural war against systemic racism allegedly committed by white supremacists and their institutions. They are hateful against everyone because they pit neighbor against neighbor. No one wins.

Unfortunately, black-on-black crime is nothing new. This is just a sneakier way of doing it by attempting to implicate “racist whites” in the process. The lengths to which these criminals go to agitate the anti-white climate is mind-boggling. The fact that they have to make up racism to justify their hate really is the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, there was an actual hate crime committed recently by a white person against a black man, and it was even caught on camera. Of course, we’re speaking of Larry Elder, who, while visiting a homeless encampment in Venice, California, was assaulted by a woman in a gorilla mask who threw an egg at his head. Why wasn’t this crime circulated far and wide as proof of racism? Simple: Larry Elder was running in the hopes of replacing dictatorial California Governor Gavin Newsom in the recall election. Elder is a conservative Republican. As a result, leftists dubbed him — no joke — “the black face of white supremacy” and revoked his blackness, even though, if he had won, he would have been the first black governor of California. This racist incident didn’t fit the narrative that the media wants to portray.

Real racism is alive and well, but the seriousness of it is cheapened by hate crime hoaxes and a biased media that has an ax to grind.

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About That ‘Hostile’ Joe Biden Chant

However offensive, this viral expression of discontent has significant implications.

Mark Alexander

If you missed it, you’re not a college sports fan — or maybe you’re a quick draw with the TV remote mute button.

It started as a college football stadium chant, but “F*** Joe Biden” has now gone viral.

The implications are significant because it has its origin on college campuses — amid all the leftist cancel culture. These are supposed to be Joe Biden’s most blind loyal supporters. You know, those gullible young people who have yet to enter the real world and, thus, are largely unable to discern the implications of their vote. This is precisely why some leftists have proposed lowering the voting age to 16.

The first chants were heard in early September from the crowded stadiums of a Texas A&M vs. Kent State matchup, and a Coastal Carolina game against the Citadel. And now at many games since.

Recall that the Leftmedia has heralded disrespect for our flag — and by extension all those who have died in service to our country — at nationally broadcast sporting events over the last five years, promoting the Marxist “Black Lives Matter” radicals’ “systemic racism” lie. Now, however, the MSM is pushing the condemning narrative that the Biden chant is “aggressive” and “hostile” toward poor Joe.

It did not take long for that chant to spread to other nationally broadcast events, including even the Ryder Cup golf championship and, last weekend, NASCAR.

In what was an award-winning interview this weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway, NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast’s live conversation with NASCAR driver Brandon Brown fell victim to the stadium chant. “Award-winning,” I say, because in a valiant attempt to save the interview, Kelli declared, “As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go, Brandon…’” Good try but, uh, no.

Don Trump, who has not yet been banned by Big Tech speech suppressors, posted, “I’m pretty sure they’re not chanting ‘Let’s go Brandon.’” Trump added of Biden’s abject failure as a president, “Honestly, it’s gotten so bad that the media can’t run cover for him anymore.”

Now the chant is emerging at pro sports games, including the New York Jets’ game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday — in New Jersey, which is not considered hostile territory for Biden. But Biden’s polling is tanking, even among what Demos insist are his most loyal constituencies.

“FJB” even took center stage at a concert in another place sympathetic to Biden — his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where young concert-goers expressed their opinion about Biden.

So, what to make of this viral “aggressive hostility” toward Biden?

Well, as a parent, I cringe for all the pre-teens who are exposed to these chants while on family outings to a game, leaving parents having to explain what that was all about. But peer pressure among college students is significant, and these spontaneous outbreaks of outrage against Biden have opened the door for more dissent, and it will empower more young people to take a stand against the leftist domination on their college campuses.

(Follow @MAlexander1776)

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The Worst of Us Attack Casey DeSantis

The breast cancer diagnosis of the wife of Florida’s Republican governor brought out the best in most and the worst in some.

Douglas Andrews

Our coverage of Ron DeSantis so far this year has focused on his abilities as a governor and, perhaps, as a future president. We can forgive him if those trivialities are the farthest things from his mind right now.

“I am saddened to report,” Governor DeSantis said in a statement Monday, “that Florida’s esteemed First Lady and my beloved wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer.” He continued:

As the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as First Lady. As she faces the most difficult test of her life, she will have not only have my unwavering support but the support of our entire family, as well as the prayers and well wishes from Floridians across our state. Casey is a true fighter, and she will never, never, never give up.

His announcement brought out the best in most of us, with well wishes flooding in from across the political spectrum. That’s just as it should be.

“Sending so much love to Casey DeSantis and her family,” tweeted Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who’s been battling multiple sclerosis since 2005. “Sometimes being diagnosed with an illness uncovers the strength we never knew we had and I hope all the prayers from others lift her spirits up to fight with all her might.”

“Our hearts are with Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis and her family,” tweeted Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who hopes to unseat her husband in next year’s gubernatorial election. “We are all praying for you!” Fried tweeted the same message in Spanish, and then, no doubt sensing the partisan political climate and the ugliness that lurks on the fringes of her party, she then tweeted this: “If you choose to reply to this tweet, please show some empathy. Casey is a mother of three and deserves our support in this difficult fight.”

Again, that’s as it should be. And that’s as it mostly was. But still:

“Gonna be really hard to offer thoughts and prayers to Casey DeSantis, wife of a man who botched a pandemic that led to the deaths of 55,000+ Floridians.”

That tweet came from a pathetic and misguided soul calling himself Death Metal Viking. As we write, his message has 567 likes, 68 retweets, and an assortment of likeminded awfulness below it. (For comparison, Nikki Fried’s tweet has 10,300 likes and 1,100 retweets, which makes clear that the haters are in the tiny minority.)

We can all agree that these hate-filled folks are sick. But at the same time, we can draw a distinction between liberals and leftists: Nikki Fried and those like her are liberals; Death Metal Viking and his ilk are leftists.

Casey DeSantis doesn’t deserve our thoughts and prayers because she’s young, and talented, and beautiful, and a mother, and the wife of a rising Republican star. Nor does she deserve them because she’s doing good works for Florida and its people. She deserves them for the same reason that every other cancer warrior deserves them: because we’re her fellow human beings, and because anything less would be an affront to God.

God bless this young wife and mother, and may she get well soon.

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On the Web

EXECUTIVE NEWS SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Spendapalooza

  • Joe Biden broaches nuclear option in spending standoff with GOP (Politico)
  • “I’m not ruling anything out”: Mercurial Joe Manchin now open to spending bill above $1.5 trillion (Fox Business)
  • Manchin: Reconciliation DOA if it doesn’t include Hyde Amendment (National Review) | Biden says he’d sign bill that includes Hyde Amendment (National Review)
  • We’re shocked — shocked! George Soros bankrolling far-left groups harassing Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (Washington Times)

Politics

  • Joe Biden faces hostile Michigan protesters as he arrives to promote stalling agenda (Fox News) | “Covers her in every way, both in terms of physically, and mentally, and every other way”: Biden makes bizarre gaffe while introducing Gretchen Whitmer (Washington Examiner)
  • Janet Yellen defends intrusive IRS proposal requiring banks to report all transactions over $600 (New York Post)
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen urges senators to regulate social media (Courthouse News) | “Just not true”: Mark Zuckerberg hits back at whistleblower claims (Guardian) | Haugen is working with a former Obama operative (PM)
  • More abuse: DOJ watchdog reveals over 200 errors in FBI FISA applications (Fox News)
  • Supreme Court rules in favor of Trump’s plan to use $3.6 billion for border wall (Newsweek)

Heartland

  • Oklahoma judge blocks pro-life laws including measure similar to Texas heartbeat ban (National Review)
  • Eating their own: Mayor Lori Lightfoot and prosecutor Kim Foxx exchange war of words over no charges filed in gang gunfight (Fox News)
  • Judge sides with Loudoun County parents, against prosecutor on school board recall (Daily Wire)

Notables

  • Unwoke ESPN anchor Sage Steele taken off air after questioning why Obama identifies as black when “he was raised by white mom,” calling vaccine mandates “sick,” and saying female reporters “know what [they’re] doing” when they wear revealing outfits (Daily Mail)
  • China-Taiwan military tensions “worst in 40 years” (BBC)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Biden’s environmental plans aren’t serious solutions (National Review)
  • Humor: Disney+ to release separate Dr. Anthony Fauci documentary for each time he’s changed his mind (Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit Headline Report.

The Patriot Post is a certified ad-free news service, unlike third-party commercial news sites linked on this page, which may also require a paid subscription.

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VIDEOS

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “In such a strait the wisest may well be perplexed and the boldest staggered.” —Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

“One of the great principles of socialism is division. If everything is racist, then nothing is racist. In our culture today, we have many racial issues that need to be dealt with. And in my estimation, we were making some progress, and growing and dealing with those things. But when all of the discussion now is, ‘Everything is racist,’ the real issues never get touched.” —Rev. David Jeremiah

“It is not ‘part of the process’ for legislators to be stalked and filmed as they try to use the bathroom. If this tactic ‘happens to everybody,’ then where is the video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being chased into a restroom by conservatives upset with her voting record? No such video exists because any activist behaving in such a manner would be immediately arrested and universally condemned.” —Washington Examiner

“Just months ago, the Democratic leader won new powers to reuse reconciliation over and over. They don’t even need our consent to set a vote at 51 instead of 60. They need even less help raising the debt limit than majorities needed in the past. So … if Republicans were sitting on a hidden veto power to stop reconciliation bills, you would have heard about it way back in the springtime.” —Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell

Non sequitur: “The Fed is trying to sort through the implications of … supply bottlenecks … that have caused inflation. I believe that they are transitory, but that doesn’t mean they’ll go away over the next several months.” —Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

Grand delusions: “This party, the Democratic Party, looks like America. The diversity of this great country is the diversity that you see in the Democratic Party. And with diversity, you got strength, but you also have challenges sometimes bringing folks together on the same page to make sure that the priorities are the same.” —DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison

D’oh! “It’s great to be with [Governor Gretchen Whitmer] … and her lieutenant governor who covers her in every way, both in terms of physically and mentally and every other way.” —Joe Biden

Nope: “White evangelical theology projects Jesus as not only white … but a white Savior of people of color … because we, apparently, according to this theology, were a backward, uncivilized, sort of savage race. … Black liberation theology is like, no, Jesus was … a radical revolutionary that came to free the people from the clutches of Babylon and oppression, and from the clutches of empire, whether it was the Roman empire or the American empire.” —Ibram X. Kendi

And last… “Joe Biden’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. Joe Biden voted against debt ceiling increases three times in the Bush era. That’s something he conveniently omitted [this week], or maybe he’s just forgotten it. … Democrats for years have called Mitch McConnell the Grim Reaper of the Senate. They shouldn’t be surprised when the Grim Reaper of the Senate kills their terrible ideas.” —Senator Tom Cotton

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TODAY’S MEME

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

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For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

“From The Patriot Post (patriotpost.us)”

Wednesday Briefing, October 6, 2021

download(size: 14 MB )
DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING
PART 1 (0:0 – 8:28):
──────────────────
New Bipartisan Alarm Over Facebook and its Dangers — Secrets Revealed and Investigations Gain Momentum

WALL STREET JOURNAL (JEFF HORWITZ)
Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt.

THE ATLANTIC (ADRIENNE LAFRANCE)
The Largest Autocracy on Earth

PART 2 (8:29 – 15:7):
──────────────────
The Most Serious Danger of Facebook: Instagram’s Negative Effects On Teenage and Young Adult Mental Health — Facebook Knows the Extent of the Problem, But Can’t Do Without Your Kids

WALL STREET JOURNAL (GEORGIA WELLS, JEFF HORWITZ AND DEEPA SEETHARAMAN)
Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

PART 3 (15:8 – 19:25):
──────────────────
So, What Is the Christian Responsibility — But Human Dignity Is At Stake Of The Social Media Crisis

WALL STREET JOURNAL (JUSTIN SCHECK, NEWLEY PURNELL AND JEFF HORWITZ)
Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show.

WALL STREET JOURNAL (KEACH HAGEY AND JEFF HORWITZ)
Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead.

WASHINGTON POST (JENNIFER RUBIN)
It’s Time to Stand Up to Facebook

PART 4 (19:26 – 24:26):
──────────────────
Technology Will Demand Our Soul — A Technological Crisis Is a Theological Crisis

Source: Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Numbers do matter: 10 signs of a disturbing trend in churches

We are in a historical cycle in the evangelical world where the mood is to disparage counting, attendance, and other numerical metrics. Consequently, we are in danger of losing accountability that is inherent with the following numbers.

Source: Numbers do matter: 10 signs of a disturbing trend in churches

Across America, Parents Refuse To Be Intimidated By Biden’s Attorney General Labeling Them Domestic Terrorists

Instead of recognizing a mom as the hero that she is for protecting children from porn and pedophilia in school libraries, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a declaration of war on America’s parents.

Source: Across America, Parents Refuse To Be Intimidated By Biden’s Attorney General Labeling Them Domestic Terrorists

PARENTS ON THE WATCH LIST Dinesh D’Souza Podcast Ep 190

In this episode, Dinesh shows how the Biden administration has gone from targeting January 6 protesters as domestic terrorists to targeting parents opposing Critical Race indoctrination in the same way. A Facebook whistleblower reports nefarious goings-on at Facebook, but Dinesh reveals how the Left is using her to promote an expansion of digital censorship.

Source: PARENTS ON THE WATCH LIST Dinesh D’Souza Podcast Ep 190

CrossTalk | Information Dystopia – YouTube

Can continued Internet censorship and freedom of speech co-exist? This all-important question is being tested. How should misinformation be defined? Who should be allowed to make this determination? Today it’s about vaccines. Will it stop there?

— Read on www.youtube.com/watch

Double standards | Jailed for criticizing Biden vs praised for slamming Trump – YouTube

While US Marine Stuart Scheller, who criticized the US Afghanistan withdrawal, is facing a trial, Republicans have accused the Biden administration of hypocrisy – not so long ago Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was celebrated for doing quite the same thing.

— Read on www.youtube.com/watch