October 08, 2017

About the Spiritual Universe

We live in a bipolar Cosmos. Therefore, if there is a physical universe, then there must also be its opposite: a not-physical universe.

We really don’t know much about the majority of our astrophysical reality. Our known physical universe consists of matter (both visible and not visible), and energy (both detectable and inferred). As we have discovered, the familiar stuff we can see (or directly detect) is only a small percentage of what actually exists in our physical universe. Our physical universe apparently consists of ~5% visible (or directly detectable) matter, ~27% dark matter and ~68% dark energy. Dark matter and energy are currently inferred (but not directly detectable) realities.

We know even less about the not-physical universe. But it would appear to be reasonable to characterize it as a universe that is primarily composed of energy (in various forms). Since energy can become matter and have mass, we can expect the not-physical universe to also include matter and mass, although perhaps in unfamiliar forms. In other words, both universes have multiple forms of energy and matter. However, in contrast to our physical universe - where our perception of physical reality dominates awareness and consciousness – in the not-physical universe cosmic energy dominates awareness and consciousness. If matter (both visible and dark) constitutes ~32% of our physical universe, it should logically be a far smaller component of the not-physical universe.

These two complimentary realities co-exist in the Cosmos. One is physical. One is spiritual. There is a boundary between them where the physical dimension intersects with the spiritual (or conscious) dimension of the Cosmos. We have been given clues about the nature of this intersection by the scientific observations (and theories) of quantum mechanics. Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2 suggests a mechanism exists for transformation (or transcendence) from one dimension to the other. In order to distinguish our physical universe from the not physical universe, we can refer to the conscious spiritual dimension as the Spiritual Universe.

Both dimensions are all around us. We humans have trained ourselves to identify the evidence of the physical universe through our five physical senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. As demonstrated by mystics and those who have experienced near death experiences, we humans are able to experience the presence of spiritual consciousness with our sixth sense (core consciousness) when we seek to become one with the energy that flows throughout the Cosmos.

The Spiritual Universe exists in a plane that is parallel with our physical universe. It is the source of existential conscious thought, and the location of spiritual intelligence. Death, meditation, and sudden mental stress may give us an opportunity to experience the consciousness, existence and reality of the Spiritual Dimension. We drift into another space and time. People who are very ill may have the sensation of floating back and forth between physical and spiritual reality. For them, the boundary that separates the physical universe from the Spiritual Universe becomes transparent. Physically, they are in this universe. Spiritually, they are somewhere else.

Ron
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August 31, 2017

Believe In Myself

Jesus gave us two commandments about love.


The first one encourages us to love God without reservation. It reveals a loving relationship between us and the Holy Spirit is both possible and desirable. If we ignore this commandment, we abandon our chance to enter God’s Kingdom (the Spiritual Universe).


The second commandment encourages us to love others with the same sensitivity and empathy we have for ourselves. It assumes we are able to take a thoughtful view of our interpersonal relationships. People with a healthy outlook on life will not choose to hurt themselves either physically or emotionally. We are expected to project this same caring attitude in our personal relations with others. It does not matter whether our contact is casual and brief (as with a stranger we meet on the street), or the result of a long term relationship (as in marriage), God wants us to love others as we would want others to love us. Our failure to obey this commandment is often the source of inexcusable sorrow, friction and hatred.


The more we try to follow these two commandments, the closer we come to creating social paradise. The further away we move from these two commandments, the greater the risk of creating a living hell here on earth.


But what is love of self?


People with a healthy outlook on life will not choose to hurt themselves either physically or emotionally. We have a positive and constructive attitude that exists within us and is the basis of how we interact with others. Personal contentment with the person we see in the mirror enables compassion, generosity, thoughtful (selfless) behavior, and loving relationships. Self-confidence helps us to transcend personal challenges and the debilitating effects of fear. We are encouraged to discover and pursue a passion. We are free to experience humor, laughter and joy.


To love one-self is to love life. Live it authentically.


TCE
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July 22, 2017

Why Was Jesus Crucified?


Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, who was the fifth prefect (governor) of the Roman province of Judea (or Judaea) from A.D. 26 – A. D. 36. There are several reasons for his crucifixion:


1.       Jesus often ignored Jewish customs. The Sadducees, and to a lesser extent the Pharisees, were generally skeptical, or outright hostile, to the message and actions of Jesus Christ. Many would have considered it heresy because it did not exactly match their concept of Jewish custom and (religious) law. There were also many zealots who took it upon themselves to sanction, or even kill, anyone who dared to violate Jewish religious tradition. Thus when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, the adulation he received would have thoroughly annoyed his opposition. Many wanted to end his activity.

2.       When Jesus disrupted the money changers in the Temple, he seriously offended the people of Jerusalem. Many of them depended on Passover for income, selling food, sacrificial animals and birds, religious items, and other goods and services to visiting pilgrims. For seven or more days the Gentiles Courtyard in the Temple Mount resembled a giant bazaar. Disrupting the money changers, who were mostly low level priests, world have been construed by rumor as an attack on all the vendors.

3.       Jesus frequently used the phrase “Kingdom of God” in his ministry. For him, it was a reference to what we would call heaven. But this phrase would have offended the Romans because it was commonly used as a code phrase that meant the restoration of God’s rule over Israel. Such action would have required kicking the Romans out of Israel and was a direct challenge to their authority. Pilot would have known Jesus was using this phrase long before he arrived in Jerusalem. The basis for a confrontation between Jesus and the Romans was already in place.

4.       When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a road covered with Palm branches, it was a high moment of triumph for both the pilgrims and the people of Jerusalem. It was fully expected Jesus would use his powers to kick the Romans out of the city. It was assumed if Jesus had the power to heal, he must also be able to use his power to bring about a military (or political) victory over the hated Romans. When it became clear Jesus had no intention of being a military (or political) leader (by Wednesday afternoon), the people quickly became disillusioned, and then rebellious.

5.       During Passover, the influx of thousands of pilgrims into Jerusalem often inflamed emotions. Outbreaks of violence occurred. The Sadducees feared Jesus would stir up the mob, and possibly cause a riot, with his talk of restoring the Kingdom of God. Since Caliphas, the High Priest was personally responsible to Pilot for maintaining the peace, Jesus presented him with an unwelcome challenge to his authority and responsibility. He would have been very motivated to have Jesus arrested for promoting rebellion and sedition.


Consistent with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, there were two trials as described in my novel "Am I Your Son?". It is unlikely either Caliphas, or his Father-in-Law Annas, were particularly concerned about breaking Jewish law or customs in order to have their way. Since Passover ended at Sundown on Thursday evening, a trial Thursday night would have been in violation of Preparation Day (considered a minor abuse of the law), but not of Passover (which to the Pilgrims would have had a greater significance). In addition, since Passover ended Thursday evening, most of the Pilgrims would have been in the process of leaving Jerusalem Friday morning. That gave Caliphas more control over a predominately Jerusalem population when he wanted to incite anger against Jesus on Friday.

Pilot would have regarded Jesus and his disciples as non-violent dissenters. Roman authorities normally dispensed with groups of non-violent dissenters by killing their leader. Hence while it is likely Caliphas would have liked to eliminate the apostles, he did not have a sufficient reason to justify their death. Pilot would have believed the elimination of Jesus would prevent any further challenge to Roman authority by those who followed him. As a consequence, his desire to find and punish the apostles quickly declined. Within weeks, Pilot was so busy with other matters, he likely ignored the apostles. Although the rise of Christianity irritated the priests in Jerusalem, and to a lesser extent the Sadducees, it was of little concern to Pilot.

July 02, 2017

Is Jesus the Son of God?

The short answer: Yes. Of course Jesus is the son of God.

The relationship of Jesus Christ and God is a fundamental truth of Christian Theology. But the circumstances of how Jesus became the son of God are a bit murky, and have been the source of almost constant argument ever since the book of Matthew was written.

So.... what is a logical and credible explanation of his relationship with God?

Some Caveats.

There is no “Mrs. God” with whom God had a son that he somehow placed in Mary’s womb. Jesus is not the son of God in the human sense of father and son. God did not mate with Mary to produce a son. Contrary to the assertions of some early Church theologians, Jesus did not exist before Mary became pregnant, and Jesus was not God before he was conceived as a human. It is, however, widely held that he became the “same substance” as God after he ascended into heaven for the last time.

So how did Jesus become the son of God?

Some background.

During the time the New Testament was written and the early Church was developing (~30 – ~451 AD.), it was generally believed that a woman contributed nothing to the creation of a baby. An agrarian culture took its conceptual beliefs from farming. They knew that if a farmer planted a seed in fertile soil, and it was properly nourished, it would grow into a plant (a tree, a stalk of wheat, and so on). Thus it was believed a man planted his “seed” (a complete human) into a woman’s body and if she was fertile, the seed would attach to the womb and grow into a baby. The idea a woman could be infertile (or barren) and hence incapable of providing the “soil” for the seed persisted into the 20th century – even though there were theories about the existence of a woman’s egg and its function before then. Even as a young man, I can remember the women of our church would occasionally say things like” “She can’t have a baby because she is infertile,” or “Isn’t it a shame she is barren.” 

The discovery of how conception works had to wait for the invention of the microscope, attributed to Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 1632–1723. By the late seventeenth century, both key components of fertilization — the egg and sperm — had been postulated, but remained a theory. Oscar Hertwig (1875) showed how a sperm head fused with female genetic material in sea urchins, giving a conceptual basis for genetic inheritance. But the discovery of how the human female egg is fertilized would not be confirmed until the 1900s (by Edgar Allen 1928).

Conception (when the sperm penetrates the egg) creates a fertilized ovum called a zygote. The zygote's genome is a combination of the DNA in each parent, and contains all of the genetic information necessary to form a new human. Cell division begins, creating the fetus that will become a human baby.

The importance of DNA was not clearly recognized until ~ 1953. A molecule of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) contains the genetic instructions that govern the growth, development, function and reproduction of a living organism. Our physical characteristics are largely determined by our DNA, and the information contained in DNA also influences our intellectual and emotional persona. DNA instructions (information) are passed from parent to child during conception. We inherit half of our DNA from our father and half from our mother.

The Birth Story

For most Christians, Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ to a Virgin Mary is a wonderfully uplifting and spiritually thrilling narrative. It represents the excitement of new life, the promise of spiritual grace, and a living proof of God’s love. We must always respect the beliefs of those who find spiritual joy and inspiration in the concept of a virgin birth. God certainly has the power to cause the birth of a man he would call “his son”.

But perplexing questions and controversy have always surrounded the Matthew’s story.

It is likely Matthew believed God’s “seed” would be a complete human baby (a tiny fetus), ready to grow in Mary’s womb. Because it was a seed created by God, Matthew assumed it would have the divine characteristics of God (in effect, it would be the progeny of the Holy Father). Jesus was thus expected to be the son of God with the physical characteristics of a human male.

But a virgin birth creates several problems that have plagued Christianity for almost 2,000 years:
  1. Marriage was consummated by intercourse, and it was assumed drops of blood from the act would prove the virginity of the bride. It was also assumed consumption would usually result in conception. A consumption, conception or birth outside of marriage would have been contrary to Jewish law. It is difficult to believe either Mary or Joseph would even consider ignoring the tenets of their faith. It is equally difficult to believe God would ask them to do so.
  2.  In order to assure it was God who seeded Mary, some early Church leaders decided Joseph was really an old man (who could not, presumably, seed Mary). But this conflicts with the image of Joseph as a young father and his role in fathering a total of seven children.
  3. Matthew, and many early church fathers, believed it was important for Jesus to trace his lineage back to King David. That link would have to be through his human father, Joseph, and he would have to be a descendant of King David. That reinforces the idea Joseph had to be the one who “planted” his seed in Mary.
  4. But according to Matthew and Luke, Joseph was not the father of Jesus. Thus early church theologians were put into the position of trying to trace the lineage of Jesus though Mary to King David, an effort contemporaneous Jews would reject because they believed a baby’s lineage must be traced through the male. Besides, if it was generally believed a woman contributed nothing to conception, then how could there be a connection? Thus we have a conundrum; neither Mary nor Joseph provides a link to King David because neither one contributed to the conception.
  5. It is alleged the Matthew created the virgin birth story to support his contention Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Having a God for a father and a human woman for a mother was a frequent claim of emperors and kings. This gave them political and theological status above ordinary people (usually their subjects) in a hierarchy of social order and privilege.
  6.  And finally, many early Christians wanted to believe Mary was never seeded by a human. She was “immaculate” and “innocent” of all earthly sin. This conflicts with the evidence of her six other children.
On the other hand, if we accept Joseph was the natural father, and Mary was the natural mother, then Jesus was a natural human baby, and the connection with King David is theologically and biologically correct.

A Natural Birth

For Joseph, and early church fathers, it was an either or proposition. Either Joseph would be the father or God would be the father. Joseph’s seed or God’s seed. But of course God knew all about DNA, a woman’s egg, and the role of a man’s seed in the act of conception. God could have easily created a natural conception with all the right DNA for the human he would call his son.

There are two perfectly logical solutions.
1. God created the DNA of his son. He then placed it into Mary’s egg, and into Joseph’s sperm. Joseph’s seed makes its way into the Fallopian tube, burrows into the egg, and a natural conception takes place. But the DNA was created by God. It is therefore God’s son (or more correctly the son of God and the son of man).
2. God could modify or replace the DNA of the Zygote to ensure it had all of the characteristics he wanted in a son.

In either case, conception would occur according to Jewish custom and law; it would be possible to connect the blood line of Jesus with that of King David; Mary and Joseph would have a natural conception according to their faith; and God has a son. After all, it’s his DNA. God’s divinity is transferred to the fetus that will become baby Jesus. In 21st century terms, think of it as a form of In vitro fertilization.

Unfortunately, however, no one really understood these possible solutions until the late 20th century, and traditional Christian beliefs continue to center on obsolete first century medical knowledge. We can wonder. If Luke (a doctor) were alive today, what would he write in his Gospel? Would Matthew avoid the theological problems he created?

Time for a Revision.
It’s time we revisited the birth of Jesus and revised it to reflect our 21st Century understanding of biology and medical technology. There is no biological reason why Jesus could not have DNA from two fathers (God and Joseph) or from God alone. There is no biological reason why Mary’s egg could not have contributed the DNA attributes God wanted in a son. God could have created Mary’s egg, or Joseph’s seed, or both sources of DNA. Medical science has rendered the early church’s concern, and constant argument, about the creation and lineage of Jesus obsolete. Jesus was (and is) God’s son and divine by God’s will. The lineage of Joseph’s seed can be traced back to King David. It’s in the DNA.

Ron

June 25, 2017

Two Handed Handshake

From time to time we may see a person grasp the hand of another person with both hands. One hand is placed on top of the other person’s hand and one is placed underneath the other person’s hand.

The use of two hands in a handshake conveys positive emotion; communicates honesty and sincerity; and is a sign of warmth, sympathy and compassion. It is not unusual for members of the clergy and the medical professions to convey their feelings in this manner. They are going out of their way to say “I care.”

When you have feelings of sincere compassion for another person, I encourage you show your sympathy and empathy with a two handed handshake.  Keep it warm, and keep it brief.  And by the way:

My father was a minister.
He often used both hands in a handshake when consoling another person.

My father did it because he loved people.


Ron
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May 14, 2017

Upon the Wings of a Dove

Armstrong Williams | Posted: May 14, 2017 | Townhall.com

Sometime in the womb, as we evolve over months from a single-celled organism into the complex mass of neurons and flesh that we recognize as ourselves, an awareness of our place in the world emerges. The world as we begin to know it is a warm, liquid soup, filled with nutrients and enveloped in a thin translucent film. The steady drum of a heartbeat just outside the womb begins to set the pace of your own fledgling heart. An umbilical cord connected directly to our tiny bellies pipes in nourishment to fuel our rapid growth.

And then bam! In a moment that ideal world comes crashing to an end. The pain and travail of our mother’s struggle seems like banishment from the land of milk and honey to a harsh, cold world. Our lungs struggle to take breath as our eyes adjust to the blinding light of the outside world. And in that moment, we must truly believe we have died, for the world we have known our entire lives up to that point has been torn from us never to return again. Like King Lear’s fool, ‘we wail and cry,’ striking out in blind fury at having been kicked out of paradise.

As infants, we cling closely to our mothers, suckling directly from our mother’s breast, literally drawing from her own life force like a battery charging from a wall socket. We learn the world through her eyes. Her smell, her smile, her very presence becomes the blanket we seek against a world we do not know and cannot survive on our own. This deep attachment does not end, no matter how old we get and how many conquests we achieve. 

And so, it is no wonder that we return to our mothers again and again during life. As young children, we hide behind her skirt when other kids are being mean to us, or when we find ourselves in the company of strangers. We run to her and cry the first time we fall down while playing and scuff our knee. And every time this happens, she is there to reassure us, to mend our fingers or soothe our bruised hearts. Even as we mature in life we find ourselves constantly returning to the feeling of security and warm and unconditional love that only a person born of her own flesh can offer.

Amid the gnawing doubts we suffer in our early adult lives, not knowing for sure whether we are equipped to confront a world in which there are rarely easy answers; amid the complexities of relationships, education, business and public life – we return again and again to the primal comfort of our mothers.

While it is often said that we inherit at least half of our genes from our fathers, the nurturing care of our mothers, her flesh and blood literally give us life. My father taught me the virtues of work and industry. Those instilled values have given rise over the years to my public persona. My mother, who was equally hard working, taught my siblings and I the importance of nurturing our physical and spiritual bodies. We inherited our Christian faith from her. And those values have given rise to an unshakeable inner strength that has undergirded my soul and given me confidence and comfort in times of turmoil.

The scriptures command us to honor our mothers and fathers. This age old wisdom seems only natural and a matter of common sense. It is right and proper that we honor those without whom we would not enjoy the blessing of life. I have striven my entire life to live up the values and ethics exemplified by my parents. They were and are to this day my most cherished role models.

But my mother was so much more than that. She was also one of my closest friends. We talked every morning by phone, before the sun rose, and often prayed together. This routine has become so deeply ingrained in my daily life – until she passed away on April 7 on the eve of her 91st birthday we never went a day without communicating several times daily by phone – that in a sense it has become the steady heartbeat that has constantly paced my own. I knew on a conscious level that when she passed it would be difficult for me to fathom life in her absence; but the feeling of loss, of separation, and banishment I must have felt at birth has now returned. Over the past month since her passing, the world has literally transformed into a strange place.

Many years ago, my very wise and now deceased mother pulled me aside and reminded me that material wealth, while it may seem important to me in my youth, were not nearly so important as the memories created for family and friends. That is one's greatest legacy. Such grief and sadness knowing my life and relationships have changed forever. Just a difficult time emotionally. Truly I have never felt so alone in this world!

I expect to mourn and grieve as most of us do when a loved one passes. It is only natural. But I also know that my mother prepared me for this moment. Her constant prayers are ingrained in me, to call upon whenever I need them. While she is no longer with us in flesh, the gift of her soul is ever enduring. While mom was here on earth, she never wearied; she never wavered; until God said her work was done. But now, as King David fervently also wished, mom has been granted the wings of a dove; I imagine her fondly as she flies away to be at rest.
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May 12, 2017

Consciousness as a Creative Force

Mechanistic evolution is essentially accepted as an undisputed fact within the scientific community and academia. But secular evolutionists have chosen to force a theory of creation and evolution on us that is totally devoid of consciousness, awareness, or intelligence. We know, however, these attributes are fundamental characteristics of all animals that can think, including and especially humans. How can any discussion of evolution leave out these fundamental attributes? Do they exist? Of course they do, and any discussion of life must include a consideration of consciousness, awareness, and intelligence. Future scientific debate needs to consider both the physical and the nonphysical elements of evolution. Where possible, theories must be confirmed by the methods of science. Intelligence, in the form of consciousness, is no longer considered a myth. This change in the evolution debate has prompted a few scientists and theologians to suggest the ultimate answer will be the result of cooperation, rather than confrontation, between theology and science. This is a journey that demands intellectual honesty, an open mind, and the tools of thorough inquiry.

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April 21, 2017

Former Atheist Lee Strobel in His Own Words

Jerry Newcombe | Townhall.com | Posted: Apr 06, 2017

Atheist Lee Strobel served as the legal affairs editor for The Chicago Tribune, having graduated from Yale Law School. But his wife, Leslie, went to church.
To win his wife back to their blissful state of unbelief, Strobel went on a quest to use his investigative journalist skills to debunk Christianity once and for all: "No resurrection, no Christianity." But when he intensely studied the actual evidence, he reluctantly became convinced that the claims for the life, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are indeed true.
Strobel wrote a book about his spiritual quest, called The Case for Christ, which has sold millions of copies. Now, a new major movie by the same title is coming to theaters (4/7/17) and will tell his story.
As a Christian TV producer and radio host, I have had the privilege a few times to interview Lee Strobel, a leading Christian apologist of our time. What follows are some of his answers to my questions that he gave me in some of those interviews.

On His Becoming an Atheist
“I can go back to the exact place where I was sitting in a high school in Mt. Prospect, Illinois…. The scientific teaching I received, when I was a student that told me that God is irrelevant and that evolution explained the origin and the development of life, really set me down a path toward atheism.”
His Thoughts on Darwinism Now
“On the surface you can build a scientific case for Darwinism. In reality, though, the more you examine it, the more its pillars rot under scrutiny….I was told, for instance, that the fossil evidence supports Darwinism, and that you can reconstruct the progression of animal life through fossil discoveries and so forth. That’s simply not true. What the fossil record shows is the sudden appearance of fully formed creatures, with no precursor animals, and really no substantive change afterwards.”
On His Quest to Find the Truth
“I cross-examined experts to try to get them to articulate the evidence in a way that I could understand it and answer the tough questions that I had when I was a skeptic… and every time they would be able to provide cogent, solid arguments, and information and data and evidence that confirmed to me that Christianity is not a fairytale built on wishful thinking. But it is a belief system that is founded on a solid foundation of historical and scientific fact.”
On the Historical Reliability of the Four Biblical Gospels
“As a journalist, I’ve learned to investigate the reliability of documents. And when you look at the documents that make up the New Testament of the Bible, they meet the tests of reliability that historians use. For instance, the four Gospels in the Bible have ties to the apostles themselves. They’re either written by apostles or by people who were working with the apostles, like Mark, who worked with Peter, and Luke, who was a close associate of Paul, the eyewitness to the resurrected Jesus. So, we have eyewitness testimony that goes into the Gospels that are in the Bible. They also come very soon after the events themselves, so soon that we don’t have legend coming in and wiping out a solid core of historical truth.”
On Historical Evidence for Jesus Apart from the Bible
“There’s an historian by the name of Dr. Gary Habermas. He did a study of the references to Jesus in ancient history outside the Bible, and he found over 100 facts about the life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in ancient writings outside the Bible that corroborate what the Bible tells us about Jesus.”
On the Solid Foundation of the Christian Faith
“Our faith is built on a firm factual historical foundation. There’s not some document that’s going to surface, all of a sudden, that’s going to negate 2,000 years of the Church. I went into this as an atheist. I went in as a skeptic. I went in as someone who was motivated for this not to be true. What did I find? I found that I could trust the New Testament of the Bible, when it tells me about the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I found evidence that convinced me, as a skeptic, that Christianity is true.”
On the Medium of Film to Reach People for Christ
“Churches need to wake up and start seeing Christian filmmakers and Christian novelists as being missionaries to a new generation….Film is hugely influential among young people, and we need to see Christian filmmakers as missionaries. We need to pray for them, we need to get them trained. We need to finance them and support them.” [Note: Strobel said these prophetic words at the time the anti-Christian film, The DaVinci Code, was about to be released.]

April 10, 2017

John and Jesus: Historical Dates for Their Birth, Ministry and Death

John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were instrumental in launching the movement we know as Christianity. There has been, and continues to be, extensive controversy over the key dates in the lives of these two men. More as a matter of curiosity than substance, we would like to know when they were born, when did they start their ministry, and when did they die?

I spent a considerable amount of time researching this topic for my novel. While it is impossible, based on current knowledge, to exactly pinpoint these dates, we can place them within a rather narrow window of history.

 

Birth.

It is generally agreed among most scholars that Jesus was born between 6 and 4 BC. According to the biblical record, John was born before Jesus. It would appear they were born a few months apart based on the timing of Mary’s pregnancy versus the gestation of Elizabeth’s baby. They were both born before the death of Herod the Great, the Roman client king of Judea, calculated by most scholars as being in March or April of 4 BC (also a controversial date).

Since it would appear both John and Jesus were born in the same year, this suggests both were born in 6 or 5 BC. Jesus is supposed to have started his ministry when he was between 29 and 31 years old. This gives more credibility to 5 BC.

Was Jesus born on December 25, 5 BC? Unlikely. The selection of this date was made long after the death of both men by early church fathers, allegedly to replace (or displace) a pagan holiday. Given the relationship of the two pregnancies, astronomical and environmental data (including the timing of the harvest), it would appear John was born in March and Jesus was born in late September or early October, 5 BC.

And that is as close as we can get until archeologists find something new to adjust our calculations.

 

Ministry.

In order for Jesus to be baptized by John (as recorded in the gospels), his ministry must have started before Jesus was baptized. Given the lag time it takes for information to travel in the first century AD, and the time it would take for John to establish his reputation, it is likely Jesus heard about John’s ministry several months after John actually started baptizing in the Jordan River. That puts a constraint on the start date of ~ 27 AD. He had to be active and well known before Herod Antipas had his steamy affair and then married Herodias (who divorced his half-brother to marry Herod). That romp apparently happened about 27 or 28 AD, which fits nicely with a start date for John’s ministry in 27 AD. Given the time it would take to establish himself as a prophet, we can guess -with some conviction - that John likely started his ministry between July and October of 27 AD. For the sake of historical sanity, I picked July of 27 AD.

John was apparently jailed for his opposition to the marriage of Herod and Herodias in February of 29 AD, and beheaded in August of 29 AD. We can also reach this conclusion because we know John was beheaded before Jesus died, and if Jesus died in April of 30 AD then John would have died the prior August.

If we have an approximation for John the Baptist, we also have to fit the ministry of Jesus within the same date constraints. If John was active from July of 27 AD through February of 29 AD, then Jesus must have been baptized before February 29 AD. According to the gospels, Jesus was about 30 when he established his ministry. That puts a constraint of between 26 and 28 AD. If we match John’s ministry with the baptism of Jesus, it would appear he was baptized in 28 AD. He would have been 31 at the time of his meeting with John.

Neither John nor Jesus had a long ministry. John’s demise came when he criticized Herod for marrying Herodias.

The priests, the Sadducees, and the Philistines regarded Jesus as an unwelcome outsider. Indeed, the Gospels are full of challenges directed at him. Jesus made them look incompetent. They were very annoyed when Jesus overturned the money changer tables because he was intruding on their money making scheme. While the Romans do not appear to have been overly concerned about Jesus, the priests did not have to work very hard to convince Pilate that Jesus was guilty of sedition. In addition, if we review the activity described in Luke (which is probably our best reference for elapsed time), and consider the impossibility of travel in the rainy season, Luke describes a ministry that would last 18 - 24 months.

If Jesus was crucified when he went to Jerusalem for Passover, there are two possible dates. Passover started on Monday, April 18, 29 AD and Friday, April 7, 30 AD. By tradition, Jesus was crucified immediately after Passover on Friday. That suggests April 7, 30 AD is the best fit because Passover would have ended Thursday night after sundown, allowing the Priests to pursue the trial without violating Jewish law (yes they could ignore the fact that Friday was preparation day). They also knew they had to act Thursday night because Jesus would likely leave Jerusalem after the close of Passover on Friday.

 

Conclusions

Both John and Jesus were born in 5 BC. It would appear the ministries of both John and Jesus lasted no more than 20 months. John ~ July 27 AD to February 29 AD. Jesus ~ August 28 AD. to April 30 AD. John was beheaded in August of 29 AD. Jesus was crucified in April of 30 AD.

That’s the best I can do unless we discover additional definitive and reliable information that gives us a better handle on these dates.


Ron
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February 22, 2017

The Catholic Church Must Not Go Backward.

I admire Pope Francis, 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected as Pope, he brought to the position a persona of recognizable humility and empathy. Although I may not agree with him on some issues, his thoughts on spiritual renewal, marriage and resurrection bring a breath of fresh air to the stuffy halls of parochial tradition.

The Catholic Church must not go backward. Those who serve are not privileged, should not view themselves as members of a special caste of clerics, and must not forget their attention to humble service. Instead, we look to the Catholic Church for leadership that understands the intellectual and spiritual needs of a 21st century population, and is able to deal with the organizational, social, and political realities of the 21st century. This includes a larger role for women within the Church, and a renaissance of Christian theology.

To those who oppose change I suggest the following thought: Church doctrine was largely created by early Church fathers long after the death of Jesus Christ. Based on 1,800 year old knowledge and social beliefs, much of it is obsolete and does not even reflect the spirit of his message. If we wish to carry on the work of Jesus Christ, we must bring about constructive change based on a thoughtful evaluation of the role of Christian theology in the 21st century.

Focus on two words: renaissance and reformation. We look to the Catholic Church to bring about a renaissance of Christian theology, and a reformation of how the Church approaches its mission.


Ron
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