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What Does God Think of Surrogacy? Platinum Guestpost by Imran M. Usmani

There are two things I can say about this guest post by Imran Usman.  It is extraordinarily interesting AND I've never talked about the topic on the blog! Check it out -- a Platinum guest post for you other Platinums!  And remember, you too can submit a post.  Just send one along to me, on anyting you're interested in connected with the blog. ***************************** Imagine a married couple called Jack and Jill. Jack and Jill love each other very much, and they are happily married, but there is one thing missing in their lives. They don’t have children. They have tried for a baby for many years. They also visited the doctor, but he simply told them that Jill has ‘unexplained infertility’. Jill starts to become depressed because all her friends have children, and she is desperate to have a child herself. What are her options? Jack and Jill could adopt a child, or they could opt for surrogacy. There is a woman called Jane, who is willing to bear a child for Jack and [...]

Biblical Prophecy and the Coming Destruction of the Dome of the Rock

I continue here my post from yesterday, explaining the Christian background to U.S. Support of Israel, taken from my recently-published book Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says About the End ****************************** It is important to stress that evangelicals think God is faithful to Israel even if Jews are not faithful to God.  He has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill his promises that Israel will have the Promised Land.  But Jews who reject his messiah cannot possibly be saved.  That is not God’s fault.  He is not the one who broke the eternal covenant.  Jews did when they rejected their own messiah.  Therefore, they will be punished. To evangelical readers that is clear from the book of Revelation, which describes “the End” as standing in straight continuity with and in fulfillment of “the Beginning.” As we have seen, according to Revelation, the only inhabitants of the earth who will be saved are those who refuse the mark of the beast and instead receive the seal of God.  In Revelation 7 the two groups of these [...]

2023-03-22T13:59:44-04:00March 30th, 2023|Revelation of John|

The Coming Apocalypse and U.S. Foreign Policy on Israel

One section of new book Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says About the End explains some of the socio-political consequences of the belief that “the end is near.  Here’s a consequence that I bet is not widely known:  U.S. Foreign Policy on Israel. In my book I emphatically state that I am not taking a stand on U.S. policy per se and certainly not on the Israeli-Palestinian issue itself.  I am interested purely in the historical question: why has the U.S. been (and still is) so invested in supporting Israel in particular? This is how I explain it in the book (this will take two posts).   ****************************** Modern Israel in Ancient Prophecy? Many people – possibly most – hold some beliefs without knowing quite why.  Because of our upbringing, environment, and news sources, certain ideas just seem like common sense.  Those raised in families, communities, and churches that believe the United States needs to provide substantial support for Israel usually know some of the reasons: we need to promote stability in the Middle East, [...]

2023-03-22T14:00:42-04:00March 29th, 2023|Revelation of John|

The Apocalypse and the Situation in Ukraine: Interview with a Ukrainian Christian Scholar

A couple of months ago I was contacted by a Ukrainian scholar, Mikhail Abakumov.  Mikhail had been forced to flee Donetsk because of the Russian invasion.   He is now in Poland continuing his theological studies (a thesis on Dietrich Bonhoeffer), doing charity in a work with Ukrainian refugees, and running a podcast. Mikhail had heard about my book Armageddon and wanted to do an interview with me about it.  In the course of the interview he gave some information about how the book is understood among many Christians in the Ukrainian community, and it ain't at all like it's understood among Americans! The interview was so interesting that I asked Mikhail to return the favor, and I've interviewed him for my Misquoting Jesus podcast; in that one I get to ask the questions and hear the unusually interesting answers.  That one will post in a few weeks.  But for now, here is the one Mikhail hosted and has now published on his turf.

2023-03-28T18:30:26-04:00March 28th, 2023|Public Forum|

REVELATION, A Novel. Excerpts from Blog Guest Poster Gary McCarragher

Last week I published a guest post by blog member Gary McCarragher, who has just published Revelation: A Novel, about a professor of  New Testament studies at a certain university in the South.  Gary and I had consulted on his work, and how it has seen the light of published day! We received a lot of good response from his post, and I asked him if he'd be interested in excerpting a bit of the novel for blog readers.   He agreed, and has given us the first two chapters. As indicated below, you can purchase the book in a variety of places; I just checked and found it here: Revelation: A Novel - Kindle edition by McCarragher, Gary . Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Thanks to Gary! ******************************   REVELATION, A Novel, published January, 2023 Editorial and proofreading services: Cath Lauria, Gina Sartirana Interior layout and cover design: Howard Johnson Photo Credits: Front Cover Image: Abstract self portrait, by Christian Beirle González; Image #100005105, Getty Images. Author Photo: by Terry Sbani, Woodside’s Photography [...]

2023-03-14T13:55:49-04:00March 26th, 2023|Book Discussions, Public Forum|

Of COURSE the Rapture is in the New Testament — There for all to see! Right?

In my new book Armageddon, which saw the light of published day just a few days ago, I talk about where the "rapture" came from, the evangelical belief that Jesus was soon to return to snatch his followers out of this world before a horrible time of Tribulation hits the earth. That too will be the subject of a lecture, with Q&A, that I will be giving (unrelated to the blog) on April 15.  For information about THAT, go to my website I left off yesterday with a bit of a tease, indicating that the following passage, one of the main prooftexts for a rapture, is in fact not about the rapture at all.  Here's the passage, and then my explanation: For we tell you this by a word of the Lord: we who are living, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not go before those who sleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God—and the [...]

2023-03-14T13:53:13-04:00March 25th, 2023|Public Forum|

Is The Rapture in the New Testament?

This post is immediately relevant for me in two ways.  My book on Revelation has now appeared (I kept *saying* it was "coming soon"!)  AND I will be doing a lecture soon, April 15, on the idea of the "rapture," the belief that Jesus is soon to return to take his followers out of the world before the Antichrist arises and all hell breaks out on earth.  You don't wanna be here for that.  You don't want to be "Left Behind"!   The lecture is not connected with the blog per se; you can find out more about it on my website, Here, to titillate your interest on both fronts, is a bit of what I say about the rapture in ch. 1 of my book (I say much more about it in a later section): ******************************** Almost everyone today thinks that Revelation provides a blueprint of what is to happen in the near future—at least those who think about it at all. There are, of course, some holdouts, even among conservative Christians, who maintain the [...]

Was the Roman Soldier Pantera Jesus’ Father? His Cousin? Platinum Guest Post by Omar Abur-Robb

As many of you know, one of the perks of being a Platinum member of the blog is that members are allowed to submit posts that go only to other Platinum members, and after four appear a vote is taken to see which one of them can go on the entire blog.  This time it is a controversial and interesting post by Omar Abdur-Robb.  If you have comments / questions, let him know! ****************************** A Summary of an article: Discussing the conclusion of James Tabor related to the relationship between Jesus Pantera and Abdes Pantera, and presenting a new model for this relationship (Jan 2023). Omar Abur-Robb Library:   James Tabor has a conclusion in his informative book “The Jesus Dynasty”. He noticed a reference for a tombstone in Germany that was dedicated to a Roman soldier from Sidon with the name “Abdes Pantera”. This immediately grabbed the attention of Tabor and he started studying it. One of his conclusions in the book was that this soldier might be the true biological father of [...]

2023-03-17T13:47:19-04:00March 22nd, 2023|Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

Armageddon Has Arrived!

Normally one would not welcome Armageddon with rejoicing, but in this instance ....     My book is published today:  Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End.  Now this is a book that has, in some sense, been in the works for 50 years, since the first time I started pondering the Apocalypse of John as a 17 year old, about to head off to Moody Bible Institute and realizing I better read the final book of the NT -- even though I was scared of it -- before taking the first-year Entrance Exam on the Bible possibly whiffing on a question about Revelation.j It took me a while to start figuring out the book -- say, grad school -- and about five years ago, as I began to study it really intensely, I changed my views of it.  Hence the book. For reasons I explain in it, of all the books I've written I think this is the one most relevant for our world at large.  And not because I think the apocalypse will [...]

2023-03-22T15:22:32-04:00March 21st, 2023|Book Discussions, Revelation of John|

Why Would an Atheist Be Obsessed with Jesus?

Some years ago, after I had written my book How Jesus Became God, I was asked to write an article for a journal to explain why, if I'm an atheist, I'm so interested in Jesus.   Some nine or ten years later, I still get asked that a lot.  Twice this past week! Here's the article I wrote, called  “Why I Am Obsessed with Jesus": ****************************** I finally figured out why I’m so obsessed with Jesus. It makes sense that Jesus mattered to me when I was young. I was raised in a Christian household, we went to church, we revered the Bible, and Jesus was God. It makes sense that Jesus mattered to me as a late teenager, when I had a born-again experience and became a conservative evangelical. (What I converted from to “become a Christian” continues to puzzle me.) At that point Jesus became not only my Lord and Savior, but also my best friend and closest ally. It makes sense that Jesus continued to matter to me as I moved away from the [...]

2023-03-20T12:32:38-04:00March 19th, 2023|Public Forum|

You Have No Right To Question Why You Suffer. What???

We come now to the conclusion of the dialogues of Job.   His friends have stridently insisted that he is suffering because he has sinned.  He vehemently argues he has not.  As it turns out, he's right.  Then why is God making him suffer?  Here God himself appears to explain.  Or rather, to insist that he is not going to explain and that Job has no right to ask him to. Is this an answer to suffering?  Or, well, a satisfactory one?  We can't even ask? Decide for yourself.  Here's how I explain the climax of the book of Job in my book God's Problem (HarperOne, 2008). ****************************** Job has no time – or need – to reply to this restatement of his friends’ views.  Before he can respond, God himself appears, in power, to overwhelm Job with his presence and to cow him into submission in the dirt.  God does not appear with a still, small voice from heaven, or in human guise, or in a comforting dream.  He sends a violent and terrifying whirlwind, [...]

2023-03-14T13:37:26-04:00March 18th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Creation Stories of the Ancient World (Part 1): On Enuma Elish and Genesis 1 Guest Post by Joseph Lam

My colleague Joseph Lam is an expert on the languages and texts of the Ancient Near East, including the Hebrew Bible.  In terms of languages, he not only teaches ancient Hebrew, but also (brace yourself), Ugaritic, Akkadian, Syriac, Semitic linguistics, and, well, so on.  He is particularly expert in the relationship of the texts and myths other Ancient Near Eastern religions with those of the Hebrew Bible. Joseph is also a superb teacher, and so he was invited to to a course for the Great Courses (Wondrium) called "Creation Stories of the Ancient World."  The course just came out, and so I have asked Joseph to do a couple of blog posts for us, to introduce all of you to the kinds of things he covers there.   Here are the links to his course and, then, his first post: Wondrium link: The Great Courses link: ****************************** Creation stories tell us who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. They not only describe the origins of the world in [...]

2023-03-16T15:48:46-04:00March 16th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Does God Punish Those Who Do *Right*?

In my last post I began discussing the dialogues at the heart of the book of Job, where Job's friends declare that he is simply getting what he deserves because he is so sinful, and he defends himself by saying he has done nothing to deserve this.  It turns out he's right.  But why then is he suffering?  Here is how the dialogue continues, as the "friends" intensify their attacks on his morals and Job stands firm in declaring his righteousness. ****************************** Sometimes the friends bar no holds in accusing Job, wrongly, of great sin before God, as when Eliphaz later declares:   Is it for your piety that he reproves you, and enters into judgment with you? Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities. For you have ... stripped the naked of their clothing. You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry... You have sent widows away empty handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed. Therefore [...]

2023-03-17T10:52:12-04:00March 15th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

March Gold Q&A

For your (Gold & Platinum) viewing pleasure, here is the video of the March Gold Q&A:    

2023-03-14T12:52:49-04:00March 14th, 2023|Public Forum|

Pre-Pub Offer on My Book: ARMAGEDDON!

I am sending out to everyone who might want to know an incentive to pre-order my book Armageddon.  If you're gonna get it anyway -- how 'bout getting it now?  Even if you don't want the offer here -- pre-orders are much appreciated. Here's the offer as we're distributing it. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ As you can imagine, authors become very excited when their book is about to be published.  As you might not imagine, they get equally excited about pre-publication sales – orders of the book before it’s available.  These end up mattering a lot. My new book, Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End  (Simon & Schuster) is coming out on March 21 and I would like as many of you to PRE-ORDER it as possible.  To that end I am offering a major incentive. Anyone who purchases the book by midnight of March 20 can receive a 50% discount on any of my online courses – whether a single-lecture-with-Q&A or a full fledged eight-full-lectures-with-two-Q&As (from  – see below). Before explaining how the offer [...]

2023-03-16T11:54:10-04:00March 14th, 2023|Public Forum|

Job and His “Friends.” With Friends Like These…

I have been doing a series of posts on the views of suffering in the book of Job.  I quite intentionally use the plural “views” because, unlike what most people think or assume (those who have any opinion on the matter) the book of Job does not present a solitary view but several views that are at odds with each other.  One of those views is opposed by the author.  But two of them – that are at odds! – are embraced by the author.  Or, rather, we need to use the plural again: by the “authors.”   As I point out, there are at least two authors behind our book of Job, writing at different times, in different places, for different audiences, and setting forth different views.  Only later did some unknown third person combine the writings – one of them a narrative folk tale told in prose (chs. 1-2, 42) and the other a set of dialogues presented in poetry (chs. 3-42). If you haven’t read the previous posts, no worries.  This one and [...]

2023-03-07T13:22:23-05:00March 14th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Live Gold Q&A! Monday March 13.

Dear Gold Members, I will be   my Gold Q&A tomorrow evening, March 13, 7:30 pm -- and anyone who wants to watch is welcome to come!  I've got a great set of questions to deal with and am looking forward to it.  No charge for admission, just show up.  We'll meet and greet, I'll do my thing, and then we can chat for a few minutes after. Here's the link: Topic: Gold Q&A Meeting ID: 922 0749 0998 Passcode: 339508 One tap mobile +16469313860,,92207490998# US +19294362866,,92207490998# US (New York) Dial by your location +1 646 931 3860 US +1 929 436 2866 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 305 224 1968 US +1 309 205 3325 US +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 386 347 5053 US +1 507 473 4847 US +1 564 217 2000 US +1 669 444 9171 US +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 689 278 1000 US +1 719 359 4580 US +1 253 205 0468 US +1 253 215 8782 [...]

2023-03-12T17:35:08-04:00March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|

What Do the Apostles’ Deaths Prove? Guest Post by Kyle Smith.

This is the final guest post by Kyle Smith, based on his recently published book about martyrs and the cult of the saints in Christianity. There is a special bonus for this post! A significant discount offer to buy the book. Go for it! And whether or not you do buy the book, feel free to ask him questions or make comments on this post, on a widely misunderstood but important topic. Kyle is the author or coauthor of five books about Christian saints and martyrs, including Cult of the Dead: A Brief History of Christianity (University of California Press, 2022). As a special bonus for readers of the blog, you can buy Cult of the Dead today at 40% off the cover price! Click here to order directly from the University of California Press, then select “UC Press” under the “Buying Options” drop down menu and enter coupon code CULT40 at checkout. Offer valid until March 31, 2023. ****************************** The Christian passion for martyrdom began with the cross, but it is often forgotten that this [...]

2023-03-12T12:47:26-04:00March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|

February Gold Q&A (video)

Okay, you Golds & Plats: here is the video of my answering the February Gold Q&A questions. I had to break it into two parts, so be sure to scroll down for Part 2.  

2023-03-11T13:22:28-05:00March 11th, 2023|Public Forum|
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