Is MLK Welcome in Reformed Circles?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American baptist minister, but is more famously known as a civil rights speaker, leader and activist. For the most part, you don’t see a lot of push back against King, however, for the past two years, I’ve seen snide comments written by Reformed men on the internet against King.

They will usually try to poison the well, discount his great work in the civil rights movement by pointing out some moral failings or some theological errors.

I’m not here to tell you he was theologically orthodox, from what I’ve read he wasn’t. That being said, is that really justification to remove any good thing he has done?

On the other hand, I can see how idolizing a mere man is a bad thing, no matter what that man has done. But the push back seems to not be much about theology or worries of idolization, but more about how uncomfortable people are to talk about race.

I know critical theory is out there, but we need not attack MLK. It is quite possible that if MLK was still alive today, he would be critiqued as racist by some. He wanted people to be judged by the content of their character, not their skin color. All too often, we make legislation and decisions based on skin color.

On this day of honoring MLK, let’s remember the good things and his message that we be judged by the content of our character, when you point out the wrong doings of a man and ignore the good he has done, what does that reveal about your character?

When people honor MLK, they’re not honoring MLK the theologian, they’re honoring MLK the civil rights activist.

Why People Laugh at Neo-Ussherians

Young-Earth Creationism (Neo-Ussherianism) is embarrassing.” – Dr. William Lane Craig

Neo-Ussherianism gets its name from James Ussher, Archbishop of the Church of Armagh. Many who hold to his ideas do not even know who he is, but that is a common thing in theology. I wasn’t aware of who John Calvin was until after I had already accepted many Calvinist ideas. Many Arminians today are convinced they aren’t Arminian because they differ in one area or a few. To continue this trend, if you call someone a Neo-Ussherian, they will probably ask what you mean. For all intents and purpose, Neo-Ussherian can be rightly applied to any Young-Earth Creationist, even if they disagree with a few minor points in Ussher’s chronology or theology.

Ussher popularized the idea of counting back the genealogies to see how old the Earth was. Using this method, he gives us an exact date of the beginning of the world. That date is October 23rd, 4004 B.C.

But here is the most interesting part, Ussher did not think the Bible outright taught the age of the Earth, but merely hinted at it through the genealogies. Ussher used contemporary scientific, chronological, historical and biblical scholarship to arrive at his conclusion. In his day, this was considered a serious piece of scholarship and despite disagreeing with it (hindsight is 20-20) it remains the best defense of the Young-Earth Creationist position as far as totality of argument goes.

That being said, Neo-Ussherians today reject this type of inquiry, for it would lead them away from thinking the world was 6,000 years old. The commitment to this view has become dogma, so much so, that many will say you aren’t Christian if you don’t accept it.

This makes conversation between Christians on this issue rather difficult, because your faith is invalidated because you don’t accept Ussher’s chronology.

Grand Canyon In 5 Minutes

Back in the day, there was a popular Neo-Ussherian Youtuber by the name of VenomFangX. He most notably made the claim in defense of a world wide flood that the grand canyon could have been formed in five minutes. Thankfully, I haven’t heard this claimed by anyone for years, but it’s still worthy to address.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. To travel that distance in five minutes, you’d have to be traveling 5 times the speed of sound.

The Grand Canyon has had a few theories on how it came to form. None of the three major theories support a Young-Earth creation account. At best, the Grand Canyon took six million years to form where it is today. Though currently, It may be older than we thought, as a study has claimed that it could be 17 million years old.

The Search For Water On Other Planets Is Futile

This was another claim made by VenomFangX in particular, but other Neo-Ussherians have used it as well. That is, until  an express probe took pictures of water on Mars. Surely, since people believe the earth is flat and that the moon landing was fake, I’m sure some think the water on Mars is just another myth from Hollywood to discount the Bible.

The popular Neo-Ussherian website “Answers in Genesis” has an article where they talk about ice ages. You may wonder, when did the ice age occur if the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Well, AiG has the answer for you.

AiG tries to squeeze the ice age into the Bible but fails. The Pleistocene Epoch’s events and organisms prevents a real challenge to fit into a YEC timeline, without some special pleading or God of the gaps level of argumentation.

Summarizing AiG’s paper on this topic, the following timeline is their proposal.

    • 2350 B.C.—Noah’s flood
    • 2350 to 2250 B.C.—Antarctica becomes covered by forests, then gets covered by its ice cap.
    • 2250 to 2000 B.C.—Ice age on the rest of Earth.
    • approx. 2300 B.C.—First mastadons.
    • 2250 B.C.—First human tools in archeological record. Tower of Babel.
    • approx 2200 B.C.—First woolly mammoths.
    • approx 2200 to 2100 B.C.—Age of the Neanderthals.
    • approx 2150 B.C.—Humans migrate into Australia.
    • approx 2100 B.C.—Humans migrate into North America.
    • 2000 B.C.—End of the Ice age. Abram born.

You can read an in-depth analysis of this timeline here.

There are several problems with this timeline.

Their hypothesis does not account for the rapid melting of the ice caps, it also doesn’t account for several things. I will paraphrase some of the research done by Kelvin Nelstead. You can read his critique of the timeline here.

Ancient Soils– In the Pleistocene there are instances where there are multiple, stacked paleosols. Some exposures of the wind-borne Palouse deposits have as many as 19 soils on top of each other, this implies alternating periods of silt accumulation and development, this would take time. The horizons include animal burrows and root casts, which also indicate to us that it was a long time.

HyperEvolution–  According to the Neo-Ussherians, there was a  rapid diversification of life after the flood. There may have even been a few thousand kinds on Noah’s Ark, but these evolved into the tens of thousands of species that were on Earth during the period. They even give an example of diversification of the “elephant kind” into elephants, mastodons, and woolly mammoths. Just how long would that have taken? This all happened between 2350 and 2200 B.C? Such an evolutionary explosion that  would make a punctuated equilibrium advocate blush. This is especially true for mastodons, who have a very different tooth structure from elephants. The Young-Earth Creationist unknowingly argues for a level of Evolution that doesn’t seem to be physically possible.

Pre-Historic Humans– The Neo-Ussherians pack in all of human prehistory such as the Neanderthals, into the time from the flood (2350 B.C according to their time chart) to Abraham (2000 B.C.). If you look at the poster I linked, Neanderthals were around for roughly 100 years according to them.  The Neo-Ussherians in this case would have to  completely ignore archeological sites with multiple levels of habitation.

This is just a few examples of Neo-Ussherians making wild and inaccurate claims, which is a reason why people laugh at them.

Presuppositionalism Over Science

Presuppositionalism becomes a blinder to new scientific discovery when used improperly. An example of this is Dr. Jason Lisle, who wrote a book titled “Taking Back Astronomy.”

It is no wonder that Neo-Ussherians look up to him, he has some hefty credentials. He recieved his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado Boulder. He earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University summa cum laude with a double-major in physics and astronomy and a minor in mathematics. His postgraduate research was on solar dynamics, utilizing NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) to monitor the surface of the sun. His dissertation “Probing the Dynamics of Solar Supergranulation and its Interaction with Magnetism” is available from the University of Colorado and he has also published numerous papers in legitimate scientific journals concerning convection cells in the sun.

With such an impressive resume, you’d expect nothing but the best. Dr. Lisle is an amazing scientist, however, I think he lets presuppositionalism get in the way of his scientific thinking. I will show you what I mean.

Dr. Lisle argues that we shouldn’t change what scripture says in light of new scientific evidence (pg.37) because in reality, that evidence would not be actual evidence, because the Bible is true.

Ironically, Dr. Lisle says that the majority of Geology and astronomy textbooks are guilty of circular reasoning because they don’t have a standard. (pg. 41) He even goes on to say “Many scientists believe the world is old because they believe most other scientists think the world is old.” This is remarkably simplistic and a silly line of argumentation.

Maybe if you said that most laymen simply believe the earth is old because they went to COSI once, I’d believe you. But to say that scientists are just going with the flow of the other scientists seems unlikely. Dr. Lisle has peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, he should know that scientists don’t just try to prove things they also try to debunk them. If the age of the earth was so easy to debunk, someone besides a fringe group of scientists would have done it.

Here’s the thing, let’s say the Earth is 6,000 years old. Why would scientists hide it or not believe it? Just because the Earth is young doesn’t necessarily mean Christianity is true. If there was evidence of a young-earth, any respectable scientist would accept it as true. I think Neo-Ussherians honestly assume that secular scientists either are dishonest people or are blinded to the truth.

But this results in unproveable claims and conspiracy theories, rather than rigorous scientific research.

Dr. Lisle also says that “the big bang is secular speculation….an alternative to the Bible”

This is nonsense. The Big bang isn’t speculation, it’s a theory. Lisle paints it as if it’s just a hypothesis. Some atheists may use the Big Bang as an excuse to not believe the Bible, but the Big Bang isn’t a competitor to the Bible, the Big Bang is a competitor to Neo-Ussherianism, the longer you conflate the two, the more trouble you get yourself in.

The most astonishing claim and why I can understand why some would laugh at even an otherwise respectable scientist like Dr. Lisle is when he says “According to the Big Bang, the universe is nearly 14 billion years old…The Bible indicates the universe is about 6,000 years old. For those who claim to believe the Bible, this difference alone should be sufficient reason to reject the Big Bang.” (pg.43)

This is not scientific nor was this conclusion derived from the scientific method, this is just presuppositionalism. Dr. Lisle again begs the question (Bible = Neo-Ussherianism) and assumes his conclusion to defeat the imaginary opponent.

Even intelligent well-reasoned scientists can be laughed at when they do flops like this.


Why do people laugh at Neo-Ussherians? Scientists laugh at them because their claims are not scientific. Atheists laugh at them because they make Christianity seem dumb. Philosophers laugh at them because they establish a dogma and then interpret everything in the lens of that dogma. Christians laugh at them because they equate their tradition with scripture.

All things being said, Neo-Ussherians are our brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a sibling rivalry, not a contest of who’s going to heaven.

No Dick, No Discussion

Imagine having your opinion on a matter automatically invalidated because of your gender. Imagine if someone unironically thought you needed some type of “penis perception” to understand a problem.

Sure, experience can provide insights that someone may have not thought of, however, it seems absurd to say that because someone hasn’t gone through an experience that they’re incapable of coming to the right conclusion on the subject.

My gentalia doesn’t give me the in on the gnostic knowledge, so why then do some act like it does?

I’m talking about those who in all seriousness reject someone’s argument with “No Uterus, No Opinion”.

Of course, this is just sexist rhetoric, because if someone with a uterus came with the same opinion as the man, they would be accused of just trying to impress men or that they’re brainwashed by the patriarchy to be self-hating.

These radical idealogues seem to promote diversity everywhere, except intellectual diversity. If a black man doesn’t agree, he’s an Uncle Tom. If an Asian doesn’t agree, he’s an honorary white. The list goes on and on. Gender Gnosticism as James White so aptly named it, is the eternal shifting of the goal posts.

If we drop sexist litmus tests for discussions, we might reach a middle ground.

Shouting Your Abortion Until No One Listens

Regardless of your political affiliation, your idea of personhood, whether or not you view abortion as something that should be legal, I think we should call into question celebrating such a thing.

With the popularity of the social media hashtag “shout your abortion” came lots of responses, must of them could be rightly characterized as “I wouldn’t have been where I’m at in my career” or “I didn’t like the father.” (I’m not suggesting there aren’t any other reasons, but this seemed prevalent to me.)

In any case, what mindset would you have to adopt to view abortion as something to be proud of? Because even if I accept the pro-choicer’s presuppositions, I don’t see how it is something worthy of celebration. I am more sympathetic to the view that abortion is a necessary evil, that some people aren’t able to provide for their children and don’t want to bring them into a cruel world. Even though I disagree with their conclusion, I can resonate with that type of thinking because it’s realistic and doesn’t come across as inherently selfish.

But when you have people making a mockery out of it, that it was a “quick way to lose 10 pounds” and other social media edgelord type comments, I think even pro-choicers should see a problem with this type of rhetoric towards the unborn.

It is not as if all pro-choicers are against babies, I know with some arguing for us to stop having children to save the environment, countries aborting down syndrome babies to eliminate down syndrome and abortion by convenience policies throughout the world, It could seem that way to a pro-lifer.

With that said, I don’t assume that is the position of the random pro-choicer I encounter online or in person.  It is wise that you do not, putting words into people’s mouths is a sure way to have to them not listen to what you have to say.

Which is exactly what “shout your abortion” is. I question the rhetorical device used, it doesn’t seem to be an argument for why women should have complete bodily autonomy, even over other persons in her body (I realize personhood is part of the debate, however, let’s say for countries that approve late-term abortions.) Shouldn’t we be trying to convince each other? I’m sure to the women involved, “shout your abortion” feels empowering, because there is a stimga against women who have aborted, even those who have aborted and later have become pro-life deal with these issues. I’m not going to pretend the pro-life side is without sin, we’ve done an awful job at supporting single mothers or single fathers, we can come across as judgemental and mean, we are often too concerned with how right we are instead of meeting you where you are at and actually talking about this.

However, “shout your abortion” comes off as a victory lap for a race you never took part in. I think an apt analogy is when in conservation you have a disagreement and the other person says “I am now more proud/confident in my beliefs because you disagreed with me”.

You can shout your abortion in celebration, but what are you really celebrating? Perhaps you might say you are not celebrating the act of abortion itself but the rights given to women to have autonomy over their bodies. But again, this isn’t useful because we don’t believe it has to do with *your* autonomy when another person is involved. So we are stuck begging the question.

Even putting the personhood argument for aside for a moment, what is so empowering about telling strangers on social media that you don’t have a son or daughter? It comes across similar to someone who has no children and gloats about it on social media. “22 dollars for diapers? Ha! That’s why I didn’t have kids.” It just seems like pointless paristan posturing, rather than “standing up for women’s rights.”

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life both seem like misnomers. Pro-Lifers are not against choices and pro-choicers are not against life. On the pro-life side, generally speaking, we believe in the choice of using a condom, birth control, abstinence, etc. as methods for not having a child when you don’t want one or aren’t ready for one. We also support adoption and many wonderful people in the pro-life community are willing to adopt your babies and support you while you carry the baby to term.

Pro-Choicers don’t just abort every time they’re pregnant, I’ve met many pro-choicers who call themselves “personally pro-life” that is to say, they’d never abort, but think the state should maintain the right for women to be able to.

If we are to seek unity, it has to be honest. We are both humans who believe we are supporting what is right. That’s why shouting your abortion, much like shouting at someone in an argument, isn’t helpful.


In Defense Of William Lane Craig

Knowing that to many, my defense of William Lane Craig will inevitably have my Calvinist card revoked, however, I cannot go by without saying anything about this issue any longer. Time after time, I see mind-numbing simplistic dismissals of Craig’s work for very silly reasons. This would encompass the first type of detractors that I see. The second, those who seek to find heresy under every bed of Christian apologetics and make video clips taking people out of context. The third are the well-meaning people who still dismiss Craig for reasons I do not find sufficient. I will be addressing these three categories of objections in this post.

Craig Thinks Young-Earth Creationism Is Embarrassing

Dr. Craig, in the context of a question that was asked of him, responds that the idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old is an embarassing idea. Those who want to assume the Bible details the exact age of the Earth through their counting of incomplete genealogies will say Craig is simply rejecting scripture to make his message more palatable to man. This type of fake piety is annoying and not conducive to discussion. When I say fake, I’m not saying this person doesn’t actually think or feel this way, but the misusing this to be dogmatic about every pet doctrine is not actual biblical piety.

Dr. Craig is an Old-Earth Creationist with some sympathies towards Evolution, however, when he called Young-Earth Creationism embarrassing, he didn’t question the salvation or honest belief of the adherents. He simply implied that most scientists, despite a few fringe ones, will laugh at your claim that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

And they will. Here’s the thing though. Couldn’t you just take the verse out of context that the natural man can’t understand the things of God and leave it there?  Like when a Theologian gets stuck on maintaining consistency and she says it’s a “mystery” in order to save face.

William Lane Craig Has A Bad Apologetic Methodology

This claim usually comes from the presuppositional apologetic crowd, hater of middle grounds and concessions. The general critique of Craig’s apologetic is Craig’s insistence on removing as many hurdles as he can for the unbeliever so that leap of faith to Christ is not a large one. So when Craig gets in a debate and doesn’t explicitly defend the entirety of Christian theism he is screamed at by internet apologists.

Narrowing the scope of the debate makes it more clear not only to the debaters but also the audience. We need to pop our bubbles inside our apologetic chambers and interact with other worldviews without hitting them in the head with our own.

If Christianity truly is the best possible worldview, it will inevitably win in the marketplace of ideas, while I think Presuppositional apologetics has some good arguments, I also think it makes some Christians lazy. What I mean is something Sye Ten Bruggencate said and what some Christians have told me. One of the main things that attract them is the simplicity of it, it is the easy staples button of Christian apologetics. Click the button, a voice comes out saying “By what standard?” and you’re done. That was easy!

I’m not saying that every presup proponent narrows their apologetic to gotcha lines and goalpost moving, but it is a side effect of it for sure.

William Lane Craig Is A Molinist

Molinist has become the new “Calvinist” in the sense that any mention of Molinism is accompanied by shierking men on the internet sharing inaccurate theological memes.

I didn’t understand Molinism until I made friends with one and discussed it with him on several occasions. I think this is a luxury that many did not have, but I fear even worse, that some do not care to actually understand what Molinism is, but rather stay in the dark and say a few one-liners recycled from polemics against Arminians.

Whether you just use the genetic fallacy “Molina was a counter-reformer! A Jesuit!” or you use the “God is sovereign” one-liner that is bound to close off any possible discussion, Molinism has become a topic that has to be at least as misunderstood as Calvinism if not more.

William Lane Craig Has An Unorthodox Christology

This one tends to be the most infuriating due to the nature of this accusation. To make a grave christological error would be to possibly invalidate your claim to the orthodox Christian faith. So what did Craig say that got the christian blogosphere’s panties in a twist?

If you googled, watched a video or read one or two articles on the subject, do not say that you’re informed about Craig’s christology. I’m not saying you have to read and watch everything he’s ever done, but christology is not something you can pick up on so quickly and if you’re going to call someone a heretic, you often need to be thorough, unless they’re outright heretical, like saying Jesus isn’t God.

Dr. Craig has been accused of espousing what is called “Neo-Apollinarianism”, which, if you saw this accusation and then googled the meaning, you might come to a conclusion that is not reality.

In order to show you what Dr. Craig actually believes regarding Christ, I will quote him in his own words.  In Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, Dr. Craig states

The New Testament affirms both the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ” (pg. 597)

He goes on to talk about the Council of Chalcedon and says

[The Chalcedonian formula] does not seek to explain the Incarnation but sets up as it were, channel markers for legitimate christological speculation. Any theology of Christ’s person must be one in which the distinctness of both natures is preserved and both meet in one person, one Son, in Christ.” (pg. 601)

Another hole in the theory of internet heresy hunters is that Craig critiques Apollinarianism and doesn’t seem very sympathetic to the view at all. He writes:

Two deficiencies of Apollinarian Christology seemed especially serious. First, a body without a mind is a truncation of human nature… Second, if Christ lacked a human mind, then he did not redeem the human mind.” (Page 599) He continues his critique later by saying  “Unfortunately, Apollinarianism was radically defective as it stood. For a complete human nature involves more than a hominid body, so that on Apollinarianism’s view of the Incarnation was really a matter of the Logos’s assuming, not humanity, but mere animality…. [His] opponents rightly charged that such a view undercuts Christ’s work as well as his person, since Christ did not have a truly human nature, but only an animal nature, and so, could not have redeemed humanity.”

So any accusation that Dr. Craig is favorable towards this view is false. Now, you could say his proposed view is similar or perhaps falls into the same problems as Apollinarianism, but that is a different claim and requires nuance that many of Craig’s detractors simply haven’t shown him.

Dr. Craig’s proposal wasn’t an irrational one, like saying the Trinity is contingent. Rather, Craig is trying to avoid both Apollinarism and Nestorianism, as he correctly acknowledges them both as serious errors. (Like when he says “The church seems in danger of dividing the person of Christ,” (pg. 602)

Dr. Craig commits the cardinal sin in the heresy hunting community, he tries to apply nuance to someone well-known for heresy and not much else. He suggests that it is possible that though Apollinarius was very much wrong, that maybe he was on the right track. That perhaps he didn’t actually claim the flesh of Jesus was pre-existent, but was referring to an archetypal man. These suggestions are not arguments, they’re philosophical speculation on theological disputes in history. However, Dr. Craig’s detractors seem to act as if this was his solid position that he was arguing for.

So what is Dr. Craig’s actual view on this matter? Well, look no further than his actual words on the subject.

We suggest what William James called the “subliminal self,” is the primary locus of the superhuman elements in the consciousness of the incarnate Logos. Thus Jesus possessed a normal human consciousness, but it was underlain, as it were, by a divine consciousness. This understanding of Christ’s personal experience draws on the insight of depth psychology that there is vastly more to a person than waking conscious. The project of psychoanalysis is based on the conviction that some of our behaviors have deep springs of action of which are only dimly aware, if at all. … Similarly, the incarnation, at least during his state of humiliation, the Logos allowed only those facets of his person to be part of his waking consciousness which were compatible with the typical human experience, while the bulk his knowledge and other cognitive perfections, like an iceberg beneath the water’s surface, lay submerged in his subconscious. On the model we propose, Christ is thus one person, but in that person, conscious and subconscious elements are differentiated in a theologically significant way,” (pg. 610-11).

I will grant the objector that Craig’s view does have some similarities to Apollinarius’ ideas, this however does not make him incorrect. In the same way the Trinity being similar to Tritheism doesn’t make the Trinity incorrect.

There is nothing heretical about what Craig says here, the heresy has to be squeezed until assumptions come out about where Craig takes this idea.

William Lane Craig is a Misogynist

These claims against Craig are typically not from the same crowd as the other objections but I found it useful to talk about this attack on his character here. Now, if you read about Craig on nearly any free internet blog written by a random atheist, you will find that Craig is indeed no scholar, but a dumb-dumb who commits basic fallacies, it’s a wonder he even get’s published in peer-reviewed journals! Anyway, the reason why those types of objections don’t deserve refutation besides mockery is because they’re angsty emotional try-hard-to-be-edgy-on-the-internet objections and not serious ones.

However, because of our current political climate, labeling someone as a misogynist can be a very serious issue. Why is Craig a misogynist you ask? Well, because he complained about the feminization of Christianity in a newsletter once. I’m not kidding. Thankfully, Craig himself has answered this question on his website, so I don’t need to go into much detail but I wanted to add something that he didn’t cover.

Irrelevant mud-slinging at someone’s character does not disprove their argument. Picture for a moment, a possible world in which Dr. Craig was a misogynist beyond a shadow of a doubt. How would that effect his Kalam Cosmological argument or 90 percent of his contributions to philosophy? There are many men of old who are now deemed too unfit socially for today’s climate, great minds like Freud, Jung and Nietzsche are bombarded by 21st century revolutionary cosplayers who seek to discredit anyone who doesn’t fit this hammer and sickle box. Craig is just another name on the long list of thinkers who will be discredited in some minds, not just because of his defense of Christian theism, but because of alleged misogyny or whatever social virtue is at the forefront of politics at the time.

Dr. William Lane Craig is a gentleman, true scholar and excellent philosopher and I’m happy that God has used such a man to contribute to the defense of the Faith and leading people to Christ.

Jesus Wasn’t Born On December 25th

Your average cultural christian might be shocked by this statement, but any Christian who pays attention to their faith will not be surprised. Many, like myself, are agnostic about the exact date of Jesus’ birth, since it seems so hard to determine with any confidence as scripture doesn’t tell us.

I don’t see anything wrong with setting out a day to remember the birth of Jesus if you’re unsure of the day (Calm down, RPWers), that being said, there have been some persuasive arguments for an exact month, an exact day even, for Jesus of Nazareth’s birth.

I remain agnostic on this issue myself, however, I think if I were to take a side, I’d choose this one. Let me explain why.

The main source of research that is used for this view is a book by Dr. Ernest L. Martin titled “The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished The World.”

I read this book once I saw Dr. Michael Heiser recommended it on his website regarding the date of Jesus’ birth.

Dr. Martin spends the first chapter explaining astrological data suggesting the the star that the Maji may have seen which they thought indicated the birth of Jesus.

Roger Sinnot writes in an astronomical journal about the unusual collision between Jupiter and Venus stating that “The fusion of two planets would have been a rare and awe-inspiring event.”i

Such an event, we could reason, could have been very important to the Magi as they were professional astrologers. Do not confuse astrology with the type of “astrology” you may see today, like getting updates on your horoscopes from some website that gives your computer adware.

The Maji were not only astrologers but professional astronomers, not exactly the status quo of a new-age astrologer you may be thinking of. Matthew’s mentioning of the Magi and their symbolic interpretation of the star linking to the King of the Jews being born was Matthew showing scientific confirmation of his claims. ii The opinion of the Magi was clearly persuasive, as it troubled Herod and the people of Jerusalem in general. (Matthew 2:3)

The Star that the Magi presumably followed was called the Regulus, otherwise called “The Star of the Messiah.” The way the Regulus is positioned about the Leo lion constellation, seems to coincide with some biblical prophecy. (Genesis 49:10)

The overall claim is that the star does not necessarily have to be supernatural in origin, as if it was a star that appeared out of nowhere, but was a natural event that God used to signify the birth of the Messiah.

Though this view is accepted by platenieruims and the scientific community in general, there are some theological objections to this view that need to be considered.

In defense of the December 25th as the day that Jesus was born, I found one particular article that I found as a good defense against Martin’s claims in general regarding the day of Jesus’ birth. I have sought to bring forth the best arguments I could find for both sides of this argument, to start you on your journey of consideration and out of apathy towards the general time Jesus was born.

On this website, Martin’s work is critiqued as a biased and exaggerated opinion piece, who omits several important facts and “reads like a tabloid rather than serious academic work.” Clearly, the rhetoric is there, but how about the argumentation?

The author argues that Martin is guilty of special pleading, puts too much faith the science of astronomy knowing how the constellations would look 2,000 years ago and questioning the biblical interpretation of Martin on Revelation chapter 12.

Dr. Michael Heiser, in analyzing the critics has stated:

Martin’s thesis has, of course, been critiqued in some detail. There are problems, but none of them are insurmountable and can be rebutted with good evidence. This reality, along with the comprehensive explanatory power Martin’s work, as well as the date’s remarkable synchronicity with Jewish messianic symbolism and calendar, make Martin’s work persuasive to me

I will summarize the argument that is accepted by Martin, Hesier etc. by quoting Robert Rowe, Christian Apologist and a student of Physics at Edith Cowan University

  1. On the 12th of August in 3 b.c., Venus and Jupiter are in their first conjunction, visible low in the eastern twilight before sunrise. Both are moving eastward against the stars. This is what the Magi described when they met Herod [Matthew 2:1-2].
  2. On the 11th of September in 3 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the first time. It is on this date that Jesus was born. Thus, as Jesus began his ministry in October / November of 28 a.d., he was ~2 months past his 30th birthday, precisely as in Luke 3:23.
  3. On the 17th of February in 2 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the second time, as Jupiter is in retrograde motion.
  4. On the 8th of May in 2 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the third time.
  5. On the 17th of June in 2 b.c., Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction. They appear to merge into a single star low in the west at sunset. This is the Star of Bethlehem! By this time, Jesus is 9 months old.

Again, I do not think the evidence is strong enough to be dogmatic on this issue, It it quite possible that neither of us are right, that it’s not December 25th or September 11th. However, I find Martin’s arguments persuasive and if forced to choose a side I will defend Jesus being born on September 11th, though I have no problem with us celebrating it on December 25th for tradition sake.

i. Sky and Telescope, December, 1968, 384–386.
ii. The Star of Bethlehem, Chapter 2

Saving Christmas From Christians

It seems that every December we see an influx of anti-Christmas posts, whether it be from fundamentalists or strict RPW proponents. Usually they will make arguments against Christmas from their strict view, by saying that either celebrating Christmas isn’t biblical or that Christmas is pagan and therefore should not be celebrated. 

Such argumentation cannot be logically consistent, however, because pagans throughout history have co-opted many things, a good example is the triquetra. Some conspiracy theorists think that the triquetra  is three 6’s rather than something early Christians used to represent the Trinity. (To be fair, a 2CV argument against the Triquetra would be different.) 

The days of the week you observe are all based on pagan names, the planets that you acknowledge are based on pagan names, we cannot escape the pagans. That being said, there is a difference between taking a pagan concept, renewing it to the glory of the Lord and participating in outright paganism, though the detractors seem to say that they’re one in the same. 

My assertions are 

1.) Christmas is not a clear-cut case of pagan origins. 
2.) Even if it was, it is not necessarily a sin to observe it.

We will start in order. How good is the evidence for Christmas having pagan origins? Well, it’s about as good as the atheist memes that compare Horus to Jesus. 

The Anti-Christmas argument is framed like this

1. Pagans did X 
2. Christian Practice Y is similar to X
3. Therefore, Y is Evil.

An example given by InspiringPhilosophy in his video is a bonfire. Odds are, you or your church groups have started a bonfire, roasted some marshmallows and had a good time. However, if someone were to come up and say “You need to put that bonfire out, because pagans used bonfires for their rituals.” How would you respond? Hopefully you would say that your bonfire is not built with the intent to worship a pagan god, rather it was for other reasons, like fellowship or just a night to hang out with friends. This response recognizes that sometimes motivation matters more than the act itself. 

Another point is that pagans adopt all types of symbols in their worship throughout the time of their existence. Even in the time the Bible was written, they used “King of Kings” a term given to Jesus, to apply to secular kings in royalty worship among other things. (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16) 

What is it about symbols that brings about an inherent evil in their use because an evil person used them? We even see this in secular society. The Swastika, used by Hitler and his Nazi Regime is widely recognized as a hate symbol now, because he co-opted it. However, the swastika predates Hitler, he didn’t invent it. It actually was a symbol belonging to the Hindus. In fact, swastika comes from sanskrit and means “conducive to well being”. In the Hindu belief system, it is a reference to a clockwise symbol, representing the sun, prosperity and good luck while the counterclockwise part of the design represents night. A similar idea is that of the Yin Yang, so imagine if Hitler co-opted the Yin-Yang instead of the Swastika, we’d have a lot less 40 year old men and women with yin yangs tattooed on them, that’s for sure. Instead, we’d have people, not affiliated with nazi ideology, with swastikas, because it’d be a religious/mystical tattoo rather than a hate symbol at that point.  

Now, this doesn’t mean I think we can take back the Swastika and act like Hitler never happened (though in places where Hinduism is the majority this should be fine) but to recognize that the symbol itself is not evil, it’s what you mean when you represent that symbol that matters. Typically, at least in america, when sporting the Swastika as a tattoo or T-shirt, this usually refers to some white pride, white power nationalism and racist beliefs. This is not what the Hindu means. The anti-Christmas argument, if it were consistent, would have to condemn the Hindu for using the Swastika, even though they predated Hiter’s use of it and don’t mean the same thing when they use it. 

We also see that biblical writers used pagan books in their writing of scripture. Scholars, such as Paul Overland, in his work “Structure in the wisdom of Ammennope and Proverbs” shows that the writer of Proverbs was clearly influenced by the writings. Now, does this matter? No, not really. But it should matter to the anti-christmas crowd, if they were being consistent with their argumentation. 

It reminds me of when Augustine cautioned the people to stop ignoring the pagan scientists, because despite their rejection of Yahweh, they understood some of his truths about the universe. 

It shouldn’t be controversial to say that you agree with a pagan when they get something right. If a Pagan, who is otherwise heretical, says that Jesus is the savior of the world, you wouldn’t disagree with them because they said it, would you? Rather, you would find out their motivation for saying that in the context of the rest of their theology. 

Paul’s use of the term “subjugation” in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 was seen by the early Christians as partly to due with reclaiming God’s creation as his own. InspiringPhilosophy mentions an example of the obelisk at the Vatican, the obelisk was moved to Rome in 37 A.D. by Caligula and in 1586 Pope Sixtus christianized it by adding a cross to it and giving it a different meaning, that meaning being of man reaching up his hand to God, much like Peter, thinking he was going to drown before Jesus pulled him up. (Rome, Marcia B. Hall pg. 282) 

Another argument made is the day itself, December 25th, was chosen as “Jesus’ birthday” in relation to the pagan celebration of Sol Invictus, which was only celebrated on December 25th. However, there are two problems with this. The first being that the earliest inscriptions of Sol Invictus do not mention a date that it was celebrated. The second problem is the first mention of it being dated was in 394 A.D. when Christians were already in power. It could be, that pagans moved their holiday to December 25th to combat the Christians. In fact, Scholar Thomas Talley argues just that, he argues that It is more likely that the Roman Emperor Aurelian placed Sol Invictus on December 25th to compete with Christianity  (Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Calendar (pg. 88-91)  

A few side notes that I found interesting was that John Chrysostom says celebrating Christmas on December 25th was a long-time tradition (Homily on Christmas)  and that the Philocian calendar lists Christmas as a church holiday 

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas, put let’s put the fake piety away and be a little joyful. 

Have a Merry Christmas!