What It Means To Be a Policeman

Police

As a part of our tribute to Police men and women everywhere we present this timeless video of Paul Harvey.

Mario Murillo Ministries dedicates this Christmas blog to the brave men and women in law enforcement.  Many of you will be unable to be with your family on Christmas because you will be on duty protecting our families.  You work long hours and receive very little thanks for the amazingly important job that you do. For that and a million other reasons we want to thank you and tell you that we will stand with you this Christmas and all year long.

We also pray for the families of those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.  No words that any man can say will truly be able to comfort you.  Only God can do that.  We pray that the great comforter, the Holy Spirit will bring you special peace in your soul.  Again, God bless you all.

I am so grateful for the hundreds of thousands of God’s people who regularly read this blog. Take a moment and write a comment or a prayer for our heroes, our finest and their families.  People from all over the world will be able to see your comments and prayers.   God bless you and Merry Christmas.

 

In a related Story:  A national surge of support for the police.

tribute to police

After NYC Deaths, a Surge of Support for Police

 Rocker Jon Bon Jovi donned a New York Police Department T-shirt on stage. Well-wishers delivered home-baked cookies by the hundreds to police in Cincinnati. In Mooresville, North Carolina, police and sheriff’s officers were treated by residents to a chili dinner.

At a time when many in the nation’s police community feel embattled, Americans in cities and towns across the country are making an effort to express support and gratitude.

“I’m showing a little solidarity for my brothers in the NYPD and all of those who protect and serve us every day,” Bon Jovi told a cheering crowd at his concert Monday in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The surge of support is linked to two distinct but overlapping developments.

The immediate catalyst was the killings of two New York City police officers as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday. For many of those making appreciative gestures, there also was a desire to counter the widespread protests ? steeped with criticism of police ? that followed grand jury decisions not to charge white officers for their roles in the deaths of black men Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.

Becky Grizovic, of Walton, Kentucky, helps orchestrate a campaign called Cookies for a Cop that provides treats to officers in more than 200 departments in 23 states. She was joined by her husband, son and a neighbor in delivering cookies to Cincinnati police stations on Monday.

At the District 2 station house, Capt. Jeffrey Butler said the gesture was especially appreciated in light of the deaths of the two officers in New York.

“The reason that this started is that I’ve just been so disheartened by the news,” Grizovic said in a phone interview. “I wanted to do something positive to lift their spirits because this is so hard on all of them.”

Rallies and vigils in support of police have taken place recently in several locations, including Nashville, Tennessee; West Orange, New Jersey; Annapolis, Maryland, and New York City’s Riverdale neighborhood.

Among those gathering Monday night in Nashville was Merri Puckett, a retired police officer.

“The police are really taking a hard hit right now,” she told The Tennessean newspaper. “Ninety-nine percent of the officers out there are doing a good job, and it’s a thankless job and they need to know that the public supports them.”

In Minden, Nevada, there was a one-man rally in support of local officers.

John Munk, a retired sheriff’s deputy, stood in front of the post office with a sign reading, “God Bless Law Enforcement.”

“It’s disheartening how people are treating law enforcement across the country,” Munk told the Record-Courier of nearby Gardnerville. “I wanted to do this to show what a great community we have here.”

Another former officer, Rick Goforth, was the chef and organizer for Monday night’s dinner in Mooresville, North Carolina, for which he served up 30 quarts of chili.

“I told the chief … loosen your gun belt, man,” Goforth joked with a reporter from Charlotte’s WCNC-TV.

The police chief, Carl Robbins, said it’s been a difficult time for officers, particularly after the two deaths in New York.

In New York’s bustling Times Square, several officers reported that people on the street were shouting out words of encouragement ? a sound they weren’t hearing before the weekend killings.

“It’s uplifting,” said one officer, who ? under NYPD rules ? was not supposed to do media interviews while on street duty.

Grief knows no color: Preaching peace on earth and goodwill toward men during a race war.

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Grief knows no color:  Preaching peace on earth and goodwill toward men during a race war.

By Mario Murillo

Matthew 2: 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”

Grief knows no color.  Just ask the wives and mothers of those who have been slain.  They do not care about politicians, race hustlers or racists.  All they know is that someone irreplaceable has been ripped from them.  All they feel is a grief that cannot be cried out our solaced by any human cure.

As surely as Herod ordered the death of baby boys in Bethlehem Satan has ordered the deaths of young black men and police officers in America.  After he has done his dirty work the devil sits back and laughs at how we choose sides and ignore him altogether.

The best way, the fastest way and the only way to destroy America is set herself against herself in ravenous hate…hate that will eat us up alive, hate that will blind us to the one thing we should be doing right now.

Why is all of this happening near Christmas?  To discredit its power and to seal our doom by cutting us off from the only hope we have.

Satan mocks Christmas!  “Hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”.    These words from the Christmas Carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is  based on the 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The song tells of the narrator’s despair, upon hearing Christmas bells that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”.

Hate starts by hating God.   Hatred of God is essential for evil to prevail.   We have elected leaders who hate God.  We have exalted celebrities that hate God.  Cultural elites tell us that those who believe in God are mentally inferior.  We were ordered to leave God out of virtually everything.  Our children cannot even mention Him in school!

So what has our national crusade to abolish God done for us?  It takes courage to declare the truth. There is an unambiguous correlation between our misery and our lack of God.  To the degree that we have moved away from Him is the exact degree that we have moved away from peace, joy and goodwill.

King Hezekiah had that courage!  2 Chronicles 29: 6 “For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the Lord our God; they have forsaken Him, have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the Lord, and turned their backs on Him. 7 They have also shut up the doors of the vestibule, put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore the wrath of the Lord fell upon Judah and Jerusalem, and He has given them up to trouble, to desolation, and to jeering, as you see with your eyes. 9 For indeed, because of this our fathers have fallen by the sword; and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity.”

How can you miss the eerie comparison to America in those verses? WE ARE IN TROUBLE.  WE ARE DESOLATE.  WE ARE JEERED BY THE WORLD.  OUR SONS AND FATHERS ARE BEING KILLED.  OUR PEOPLE ARE TAKEN INTO CAPTIVITY TO DRUGS AND PERVERSION! OUR INHERITANCE IS BEING GIVEN TO STRANGERS.

Many ministers may feel that they are at a loss of words this Christmas. “I don’t know what to preach on in such a time of hatred, division and chaos.”   How is that possible Pastor?  How can you not know what to thunder from your pulpit this Christmas?

Stand before the people like King Hezekiah.  Offer dynamic hope!  Hezekiah said in verse 10, “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.”  Lead your people into a covenant with God to save America!

If America repents of her sin and repudiates the God haters, God’s wrath will turn away from us.  Do not be shy or vague and do not fear that man will reject you.  You are not on this earth at this time to compromise or draw back.

Let every believer who reads this repent before God and seek His mercy.  Truly judgment must begin at the house of God.  I know that a shocking turn toward the better awaits us if we sincerely fall before God in unrestrained humility and confess our great sin to Him.

The days of murder in Bethlehem gave way to the voice of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness.  This voice was then overshadowed by the golden words of Jesus of Nazareth who had the Holy Ghost without measure.  He destroyed the works of Satan on all levels from poverty to disease to hatred.

To return to that work and to see that work repeated in our day must be the unrestrained passion of every minister and the hope of every believer. Our day of race baiters, God haters and Bible traitors can melt before national revival if God’s generals and soldiers return to their first love.

Will Satan win against the message of Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men?  The Christmas carol ended with these words:

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Joe Scarborough: “Avalanche Of Hate Speech” Against Cops Inspired Killer

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JOE SCARBOROUGH, MORNING JOE: Sadly, these assassinations were too predictable. We’ve seen many protesting the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We’ve heard them chanting black lives matter. Of course they do. This weekend, we heard supporters of the NYPD responding to these assassinations with the hashtag #copslivesmatter. And they of course do to all of us.

The tragic consequences of the past few months should remind everyone on both sides that in the end, words matter the most. I say that because the cop killer’s hatred was fueled by an avalanche of hate speech that was directed at law enforcement officers in general over the past four months.

To listen to protesters, editors and left wing talking heads go on and on since the shooting of Michael Brown, you would be led to believe that white police officers were randomly driving through black neighborhoods searching for young black males to shoot down. And despite my own views that America’s criminal justice system is too unfair to young black males, and I have said it repeatedly for decades, I was blasted on social media as a racist for calling out the St. Louis Rams players. And United States Congressmen for recklessly promoting the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot.”

I was worried in real time for good reason that using those inflammatory words told anybody listening to them that Michael Brown was gunned down by a white cop while his hands were raised in surrender. I was angered at the inflammatory phrase and warned that using a phrase that the grand jury itself reported was never used, slander SL cops and would make the situation worse for cops across America, and it did. Why? Because words matter. Words matter. I was worried after the tragic shooting, it was such a tragic shooting in Cleveland…

cops who were shot

That the New York Times putting up a caption that read “police kill child with toy” again painted police officers as beasts. And it also conveniently ignored 911 calls that those cops got from concerned residents saying a suspect was waving a gun around, pointing it at park visitors, and, quote, scaring the hell out of them.

Words matter. The looting and the rioting in Ferguson were so bad that man of us, many of us congratulated New York protesters for remaining mostly peaceful while overlooking ugly words. Ugly elements of those marches, those marches in New York, show just how much hatred against police officers has been stirred up over the past four months of constant anti-police propaganda online and newspapers and, yes, on cable news.

Giuliani condemns anti-police ‘propaganda’ he says Obama started

Lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani comments on a lawsuit filed against video game giant Activision by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega outside Los Angeles Superior court in Los Angeles Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Noriega claims his likeness was used without permission in
AP Photo
 

Giuliani condemns anti-police ‘propaganda’ he says Obama started

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is condemning President Barack Obama for anti-police “propaganda” in the wake of the murders of two New York City police officers in Brooklyn.

When asked on “Fox News Sunday” if he had ever seen the city he once governed so divided, Giuliani shook his head and said, “I don’t think so.”

Giuliani said blame rests on “four months of propaganda,” which he said started with Obama, “that everybody should hate the police.” He said the nationwide protests against several recent police-involved deaths lead to one conclusion: “The police are bad. The police are racist. They’re wrong.”

Police, Giuliani said, are “the people who do the most for the black people in America, in New York City and elsewhere.”

On Sunday, Obama spoke out against the killing of the police officers Saturday, saying there is no justification for the slayings.

“The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day — and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day,” Obama said in a statement. “I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal — prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.”

Guiliani recently made controversial remarks about black-on-black crime on “Fox & Friends” that vaulted him into the national spotlight.

While arguing with Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson about black-on-black crime, he said he “probably saved more black lives as mayor of New York City than any mayor in the history of the city” and that “93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks.”

SHOCK VIDEO: Ferguson Protesters Chant “Pigs in a Blanket” After Two NYC Police Officers Executed

Ferguson protesters were back out on the street Saturday night in St. Louis.

The protesters chanted “Pigs in a blanket” after two NYC police officers were shot execution style in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon.

One Ferguson protest leader Bassem Masri, who was leading the chants in the above video, posted this tweet after the shootings.

The police have no1 2blame but themselves4the cops getting murdered inNY

Bassem Masri was invited to meet with Eric Holder’s DOJ in November to discuss police reform

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Koran connection to the execustion of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.  These officers ere working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant when they were shot point-blank in the head by lone gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who had addresses in Georgia, Maryland and Brooklyn.  It turns out that Isamaaiyl had plastered verses from the Koran all over his facebook page.  It was Jihad.

cops who were shot

Plenty of blood and blame to go around: Obama’s remarks about racism and his insistence that Islam is a religion of peace, Mayor Bill De Blasio’s anti police rhetoric, Al Sharpton’s race baiting have all led to ongoing escalation of violence in America.

MUSLIM AUTHOR’S ‘ZEALOT’ BOOK RILES CHRISTIAN CRITICS WITH CLAIMS JESUS NEVER CONSIDERED HIMSELF GOD, SOMETIMES PROMOTED VIOLENCE

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Author Reza Aslan never got a degree in history as he claimed.   He never got a degree in primitive Christianity.  Giddy liberals were all too willing to hear any “former Christian”  who could provide damaging evidence against Christ.  Aslan deliberately kept his Muslim faith in the background.  It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.
And by lying about his education and hiding his faith he is practicing Islam: 

Muslims are allowed to lie to unbelievers in order to defeat them.  The Qur’an:

Qur’an (16:106) – Establishes that there are circumstances that can “compel” a Muslim to tell a lie.

Qur’an (3:28) – This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to “guard themselves.”

Qur’an (9:3) – “…Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters…”  The dissolution of oaths with the pagans who remained at Mecca following its capture.  They did nothing wrong, but were evicted anyway.

Qur’an (40:28) – A man is introduced as a believer, but one who must “hide his faith” among those who are not believers.

Qur’an (2:225) – “Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts”  The context of this remark is marriage, which explains why Sharia allows spouses to lie to each other for the greater good.

Qur’an (66:2) – “Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths”

Qur’an (3:54) – “And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.”  The Arabic word used here for scheme (or plot) ismakara, which literally means deceit.  If Allah is deceitful toward unbelievers, then there is little basis for denying that Muslims are allowed to do the same. (See also 8:30 and 10:21)

Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there are circumstances when a Muslim may be “compelled” to deceive others for a greater purpose.  However, I believe God shattered this attempt as He will every attempt to discredit the Bible.   Liberals who hailed this book now have egg on their face…but don’t look for them to consider this a chance to debunk Islam.

Here’s way, way more…

MUSLIM AUTHOR’S ‘ZEALOT’ BOOK RILES CHRISTIAN CRITICS WITH CLAIMS JESUS NEVER CONSIDERED HIMSELF GOD, SOMETIMES PROMOTED VIOLENCE

Jul. 31, 2013 1:44pm 
Reza Aslan blog
  • Dr. Reza Aslan’s book “Zealot” sparks major controversy among the faithful
  • Author, a Muslim, claims that Jesus never considered himself God and that he was a revolutionary
  • Aslan claims the Bible is “replete with the most blatant and obvious errors”
  • Christian faith leaders respond to his claims that the holy book is not historically accurate

Dr. Reza Aslan has sparked a plethora of controversy with his new book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” The author, a Muslim, says he penned the book in an effort to shed light on the Christian savior’s life. Since its release, though, controversy has abounded — and for good reason.

Some of the conclusions Aslan comes to in the book are frustrating followers of Jesus who contend that the academic is misrepresenting facts and recycling old and debunked theories and ideas generally embraced by Islamic adherents. His views and the accusations being waged against him are complex, so TheBlaze consulted with a number of Christian experts to better understand them.

Before we get into the finer details, let’s look at some of the author’s more divisive and contentious claims.

SOME OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL CLAIMS IN “ZEALOT”

In an article about the book published on Tuesday, The Daily Beast’s Lizzie Crocker admitted that, upon reading “Zealot,” it’s understandable why “some Christians have found it so explosive.” As the reporter noted, there are a number of key claims that are overtly shocking — not the least of which is Aslan’s claim that Christ was “a man of profound contradictions.”

To begin, Aslan argues that Jesus was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem as is recorded in the New Testament. And rather than the “prince of peace,” Christ is depicted as being more of a rabble-rouser who, at moments, condoned violence. While Aslan claims that Jesus didn’t promote unrest, the author does claim he didn’t avoid it.

Was Jesus Really a Rabble Rousing Revolutionary Who Didnt Consider Himself Gods Son? | Reza Aslan, Zealot

While Christ’s many miracles were documented in the Bible and through external sources, Aslan argues that this has more to do with the time period — one in which many “magicians” roamed around (Jesus, in the author’s view, was seemingly just another one of these individuals who was able to “perform” intriguing acts, or who, at the least, was said to in literature) — than it does reality.

As for the crucifixion, Aslan’s argument is that Jesus was put to death for violating the law and that his murder had nothing at all to do with saving humanity from its sins. Crocker explains:

When Jesus marched into Jerusalem around A.D. 30, flanked by a chorus of followers singing, “Blessed be the coming kingdom of our father David!” he was announcing himself to the city as the messiah and ancestor of David, King of Judah. Then, like a true revolutionary, he forced the city’s vendors out of the temple’s public courtyard—a “blatantly criminal act,” Aslan writes. “After all, an attack on the business of the temple is akin to an attack on the priesty nobility, which, considering the temple’s tangled relationship with Rome, is tantamount to attack on Rome itself.”

With that sweeping gesture, Jesus’s message was simple: the land didn’t belong to Rome but to God, and it was time for Caesar to concede power to Hossana, the real King of Jews. This was sedition and the punishment was crucifixion. The New Testament says Jesus’s crucifixion was a cruelly special punishment for a man who sacrificed himself for humanity’s sins, but history tells us that he was no different from “any other criminal who hangs on a cross.”

Perhaps most controversially — and piggybacking off of this latter claim –  Aslan holds that Christ never considered himself a deity, calling into question central Biblical tenets. Generally speaking, this is consistent with the Islamic view of Christ, as he is seen as a messenger and not God’s son (while Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified, Aslan does, indeed, embrace this notion).

The author drove these ideals home by plainly outlining his beliefs.

“I wouldn’t call myself a Christian because I do not believe that Jesus is God, nor do I believe that he ever thought that he was God, or that he ever said that he was God,” he recently said in an interview with NPR.

HOW ASLAN CAME TO REJECT JESUS CHRIST

It’s impossible to understand “Zealot” without looking at the author’s rejection of Jesus as he is shown in the scriptures. Aslan, who was once a Christian, recently detailed his de-conversion in an article for CNN entitled, “Why I Write About Jesus.” In it, he explained that the more he discovered about the Jesus of the gospels, the more he learned of the disparity between the religious view of the man and the historical figure.

Aslan said his doubt fully emerged in college after he began studying the history of world religions (note: Aslan has been accused of misrepresenting his scholarly credentialsFirst Things, among other blogs, claims that he does not have a degree in religious history as he stated during his contentious Fox News interview). Of particular note, the author said that he found himself unable to accept the notion that “every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.” This, of course, is an essential belief for those who embrace an evangelical mindset.

“The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored,” he wrote.

Was Jesus Really a Rabble Rousing Revolutionary Who Didnt Consider Himself Gods Son? | Reza Aslan, Zealot

Aslan makes it clear that there is a major distinction between “Jesus Christ” (that is, the God-man shown in the Bible) and “Jesus of Nazareth.” Through years of religious study, he claims that he became attached to the latter and that he is a more committed follower of the human (a man that he believes was, in reality, entirely different from his Biblical depiction) than he ever was of the deity.

“The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church,” he continued. “Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.”

All this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the general critiques that have been waged against his contentions.

GENERAL CRITIQUE OF THE IDEAS ESPOUSED IN “ZEALOT”

Considering that nearly all of these tidbits Aslan embraces cast doubt on the Jesus story that has traditionally been told, it’s hard for many Christians to digest. Critics like Dr. William Lane Craig, a Christian thinker and the founder of the online ministry ReasonableFaith.org, maintain that the book includes debunked assertions and patent falsities.

“Aslan has offered nothing new under the sun when it comes to offering a critique of the historical Jesus,” Craig said in a recent press release distributed in an effort to decry the book. “In fact, he is attempting to revert scholarship back to the early 1900’s by echoing Albert Schweitzer’s book, ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus.’ Like Schweitzer, Aslan claims that Jesus is historically unknowable and we can never get back to the real Jesus.”

Dr. Darrell Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of “Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith,” also gave a wide-sweeping decry of Aslan’s work in an e-mail to TheBlaze, calling it “hype on old stuff.” While he has not yet read the text, the central ideas, he contends, have been spouted in the past.

These two intellectuals aren’t alone, either.

John S. Dickerson, a pastor at Cornerstone Church in Arizona and the author of “The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare,”recently penned an op-ed in which he lambasted “Zealot” and Aslan’s claims that he provides a historical analysis of the book.

“His book is not a historian’s report on Jesus. It is an educated Muslim’s opinion about Jesus — yet the book is being peddled as objective history on national TV and radio,” Dickerson wrote. “Aslan is not a trained historian. Like tens of thousands of us he has been formally educated in theology and New Testament Greek.”

The pastor went on to call Aslan “bright” and to note that he has every right to share his views on Christ. That said, he believes it’s essential to remember that the Jesus story in “Zealot” is being told through a Muslim’s eyes and that this sentiment impacts its central message.

“Aslan informs us that we cannot trust the Gospel of Mark — because it was written 40 years after Jesus’ death. He then chides us to trust his new book, written almost 2,000 years later,” Dickerson says, providing a specific example that gets at the heart of critics’ issues with the book.

JESUS AS A REVOLUTIONARY

Was Jesus really a revolutionary? That depends, of course, on how one defines the term. If the standards of “radically new” or “outside or beyond established procedure” then, by all means, many would that Christ meets the dictionary’s standards. However there are some important distinctions that critics point out when considering Aslan’s views on the matter and interpretation of the term.

“[That] Jesus was a revolutionary is an idea that has been around among more skeptical readers for several decades,” Bock said. “The simple answer to this claim is, how does someone rebel who never even tries to raise an army against Rome? Jesus was hardly a Zealot.”

Theologian R.P. Nettelhorst also addressed this “revolutionary” theme, noting that Christ was a zealot (or a member of the Zealot movement to revolt against the Roman empire) would require ignoring much of the information present in the New Testament. In describing Jesus’ character, Nettelhorst makes it clear that the only information we have about Jesus — or the only reliable information, rather — comes from the New Testament (Aslan, too, actually admits this in how own book, which we will discuss later).

“Some may argue that various Gnostic texts also give us some information but given their general late date — much later than the New Testament texts — and from the Christian perspective, the simple fact that the Gnostics are, for wont of a better word, heretics, I am not willing to put much stock in them,” he said in an e-mail interview with TheBlaze. “For an analogy, the Gnostic documents are to the New Testament texts about Jesus as 21st century biography of Lincoln written by members of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Was Jesus Really a Rabble Rousing Revolutionary Who Didnt Consider Himself Gods Son? | Reza Aslan, Zealot

Through this lens, then, the Bible would be seen as the most viable basis through which one could — or should — view Jesus Christ. While Nettelhorst doesn’t see the savior as a revolutionary, he does see how some might argue that he was. At the time of Christ’s life, revolutionaries were, indeed, fighting against the Roman government — but the Bible speaks nothing of the Christian savior seeking to do the same.

Still, questioning on this issue, he argues, isn’t entirely out of bounds. The theologian noted that even Jesus’ disciples might have assumed that Christ would overtake the Romans (he mentions Acts 1:6, which reads, “Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’”).

But again, this revolutionary notion of what Aslan assumes Christ might have been isn’t shown anywhere in the New Testament, Nettelhorst argues. Of course, none of the theologian’s arguments would sway the author, as he doesn’t put much credence in the Bible.

This aside, Nettelhorst makes some fascinating points about what we do know about Christ — mainly that he had an overt focus on God’s kingdom.

“The New Testament record in all four gospels paints a different picture of Jesus. It portrays the disciples as being confused about his mission, and holding the expectations and hopes in keeping with the prevailing popular expectations of the time,” he said. “But it portrays Jesus as having a mission at odds with the popular expectations. He keeps telling his disciples stories beginning with the phrase, ‘the kingdom of heaven’ or ‘the kingdom of God is ‘like’ — and then he compares God’s kingdom to everything but a political kingdom.”

Nettelhorst went on to say that God’s kingdom is never compared to the Roman government or the kingdom of David. Also, Jesus tells Pilate, the Roman governor, that his kingdom is “not of this world.” This theme continues even after the crucifixion.

After Christ’s death, his disciples aren’t preaching about revolution; in fact, they are encouraging people to repent and to join them in following Christ. Salvation, based on Jesus’ death, became the message — and politics, at least concerning the Bible’s account, played little role.

Pastor Phillip Dennis of New Hope Christian Church in Monsey, N.Y., brings up another fascinating point: If Roman authorities viewed Jesus as a true threat — or as someone really looking to move on political fronts — they would have also arrested those closest to him. But Christ’s disciples went free.

“If the authorities had thought Jesus was organizing an armed rebellion, or even anything that might turn into an armed rebellion, his lieutenants — the disciples — would certainly have been arrested and tried along with him,” Dennis said. “That is not what happened.”

JESUS’ BIRTH AND CRUCIFIXION

Dr. Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, added to the discussion, telling TheBlaze in an e-mail interview that Aslan’s views about Jesus are “patently false.” While he has not read the book, the Christian thinker spoke about the theology of the issues presented within it.

“Aslan is selling a historically reconstructed Jesus, not the Jesus that appears on the pages of scripture. And that’s the bottom line here. The author doesn’t take the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as reliable eyewitness testimony,” Burk wrote. “It is bad history to argue that Jesus’ crucifixion means that he must have been an insurrectionist — especially given what we know about the brutality of the Romans and in particular of Pontus Pilate.”

Burk also tackled the notion that the gospels are inaccurate. Based on Aslan’s book, the contents of the biblical stories are obviously called into question. Among them, he explores the virgin birth and attempts to question the history surrounding it. Burk took issue with this sentiment.

“It is often claimed that the canonical gospels are mythical. There are a number of problems with this claim, not least of which is the fact that the authors of the gospels did not claim to be writing myths,” he added. “Luke, for example, claims that his account is based on eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4). The earliest Christians recognized that if the claims of the gospels were mythical, then the Christian faith falls to the ground (1 Corinthians 15:14).”

Aslan does accept that Christ was crucified, although not under the same pretenses that the Christian Bible details. So on that front, Burk and the author are in agreement. But on the purpose of the crucifixion they are not. The eyewitnesses shown in the Bible, though, hold that Jesus was crucified and that he later rose from the dead.

“If apostles didn’t believe it to be so, they hardly would have let themselves become martyrs for a lie,” Burk said. “To ignore the central claims of the eyewitnesses is to ignore the testimony of those closest to the historical Jesus.”

Was Jesus Really a Rabble Rousing Revolutionary Who Didnt Consider Himself Gods Son? | Reza Aslan, Zealot

Pastor Dennis also addressed the Bethlehem issue, noting that there’s a significance in the Bible that likely isn’t being given its due attention. The faith leader called the evidence “quite strong” on this front. The Christian texts, he argues, repeatedly mention that Bethlehem is Jesus’ birthplace. Matthew, Luke and John, all books with different literary traditions, corroborate this.

“When working with ancient history, to have three independent attestations to a fact such as that is considered very strong evidence indeed,” he said. “The fact that Mark’s gospel says nothing at all about Jesus’ early life, such as his place of birth, is irrelevant.”

THE RELIABILITY OF THE GOSPELS

Aslan argues that the gospels were written after 70 A.D. and that they must be seen through the lens of turmoil. Here’s what he said in his NPR interview earlier this month:

“In the year 66 [common era], [a Jewish revolt resulted in] actually throwing Rome out of the Holy Land and keeping them at bay for three and a half [to] four long years. Of course, in 70 CE the Romans returned and ended up destroying Jerusalem, burning the temple to the ground, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Jews and scattering the rest to the winds. …

“What I think is important for Christians to understand is that every Gospel story written about Jesus of Nazareth was written after that event, this apocalyptic event which for Jews signaled the end of the world as they knew it.”

The only problem here is that only some scholars would side with Aslan’s assessment of the time frames during which each book was written. Others claim that the New Testament books were penned before the Roman slaughter. But this is an example that shows, again, that he views the gospels as entirely unreliable.

Ironically, despite these declarative statements, Aslan himself notes the difficulties of writing about Jesus. He addressed these issues in “Zealot,” noting that he is essentially basing much of his work on “educated guesses.”

“Granted, writing a biography of Jesus of Nazareth is not like writing a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte,” Aslan wrote. “The task is somewhat akin to putting together a massive puzzle with only a few of the pieces in hand; one has no choice but to fill in the rest of the puzzle based on the best, most educated guess of what the completed image should look like.”

WAS JESUS GOD?

As mentioned, the author contends that Jesus never saw himself as God. By essentially dispelling the information we do know about Jesus Christ (i.e. the gospel mentions of the savior), Aslan corroborates his argument.

Of this general notion that Jesus never claimed to be God, though, Bock said that the assertion, based on the context of the time, doesn’t make sense.

“There is no incentive for those who believed in Jesus to invent this as Jews unless something moved them in this direction,” he noted. “There was too much danger in the claim for it to be made up later and for those like Paul to preach it so early after Jesus’ ministry.”

While Aslan might possibly contend that it was the Roman destruction of Jerusalem that colored these claims in the gospels (this is an “educated guess”), the debated time frame wouldn’t make such a notion so definitively clear.

Nettelhorst adds that the scriptures repeatedly call Jesus “Lord” and that Christ, himself, in verses like John 8:58, is quoted as saying the same.

“It should also be pointed out that Jesus was [frequently] referred to as ‘Lord,’” he concluded.

Burk, too, held similar views, specifically commenting as well on John 8:58.

“In John’s gospel, Jesus even takes the divine name for himself saying, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” he recounted. “With the term ‘I am,’ Jesus takes to himself the divine name revealed in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14).”

“This was no accident. Jesus knew what he was saying. So Aslan obscures this eyewitness testimony to what Jesus said about himself,” Burk added.

In the end, these are only some of the debates and elements surrounding “Zealot.” And whether readers agree with Aslan or his critics, it’s fair to say that book is one of the most controversial on Jesus to come along in recent memory. That said, readers shouldn’t shy away from wrestling with the book and drawing their own conclusions.

Reza Aslan Misrepresents His Scholarly Credentials.

Monday, July 29, 2013, 11:03 AM

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There is a bit of a hubbub in the interwebs about an interview conducted by Lauren Green, religion correspondent for Fox News Channel, with Reza Aslan, author of a new book on Jesus titled Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Our friend Joe Carter, over at GetReligion, has the basic story. Green launched the interview (available here in full) with a question about why a Muslim should want to write a book about Jesus. A reasonable question, and not a hostile one on its face–but by the end of the interview Green has returned to it in a somewhat more accusatory fashion. As Joe says, the interview is a mess. But as he also points out, Green’s critics are passing right by something far more interesting: that Aslan has misrepresented his scholarly credentials.

In fact, it is Aslan who immediately turns the interview into a cage match by reacting very defensively to Green’s first question. And here is where the misrepresentations begin. For roughly the first half of the interview Aslan dominates the exchange with assertions about himself that seem intended to delay the substance of the discussion:

I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.

Later he complains that they are “debating the right of the scholar to write” the book rather than discussing the book. But the conversation took that turn thanks to Aslan, not Green! By the final minute he is saying of himself (and who really talks this way!?) that “I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”

Aslan does have four degrees, as Joe Carter has noted: a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false.  Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.

What about that Ph.D.? As already noted, it was in sociology. I have his dissertation in front of me. It is a 140-page work titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” If Aslan’s Ph.D. is the basis of a claim to scholarly credentials, he could plausibly claim to be an expert on social movements in twentieth-century Islam. He cannot plausibly claim, as he did to Lauren Green, that he is a “historian,” or is a “professor of religions” “for a living.”

It may be that Aslan sensed a tougher interview from Lauren Green than he is accustomed to. Hence he immediately went into high-dudgeon mode, and made the ten minutes all about her alleged disrespect of him and his alleged scholarly credentials. But in order to change the subject he told a string of gratuitous falsehoods about himself. Perhaps that master’s in fiction writing came in handy.

Is Aslan’s book worth reading? I have no idea. But he has earned enough distrust from me that I haven’t any interest in finding out.