The Case for Christ

Lionsgate films has generously made this film available to the public for free on Youtube.

Based upon the Gold Medallion award-winning best-seller, The Case for Christ documents Lee Strobel’s journey from atheism to faith through his two-year investigation of the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ. Strobel, the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, draws upon his investigative skills to examine the historical accuracy of the Gospels, the personal claims of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. Is there evidence to confirm that Jesus of Nazareth was, indeed, the son of God and the savior of the world? This remarkable film features interviews with 10 leading Biblical scholars from North America and England, cutting-edge apologetics, and a compelling original music score.

Testing the Spirits (part 1)

By Cris Putnam
The Bible teaches us “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good…” (1 Th 5:19-22). This teaching from Paul implies that, in contrast to the Mosaic standards for Israelite covenant enforcers (Dt 18:21-22) which was absolute perfection, the New Testament paradigm allows that there are imperfect prophecies. The exhortation to “hold fast to what is good” implies that sometimes we can test them and discard only what is in error. Other times, it is more appropriate to rebuke and move along. Clearly, there is need for Christian discernment.

One should expect an infusion of false teachings as the return of Christ nears, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,…”(1 Ti 4:1) While some Christians are too skeptical and deny the supernatural, others are too gullible and exhibit a naïve readiness to accept dubious messages from the spirit world. In John’s first epistle he writes, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”(1 Jn 4:1) Thus, sometimes unbelief (do not believe every spirit) can be as much a mark of spiritual maturity as belief. We should avoid both extremes, the superstition which believes that absolutely everything is supernatural and rationalist suspicion which defaults to naturalism.

Even so, the supernatural should be our default position. Whether we realize it or not, there is a spirit behind every teaching. One should be skeptical enough to discern between truth and error, whether it comes from the Spirit of God, or a demonic spirit. We are engaged in spiritual warfare “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12) The origins of false religions are demonic, “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.”(1 Co 10:20) Even secular philosophies have a spiritual component, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col 2:8) Paul’s use of the term “elemental spirits” (Gk. stoicheia) is likely speaking to the supernatural origins of ungodly philosophies.

In the ancient world, however, the term stoicheia was widely used for spirits in Persian religious texts, magical papyri, astrological documents, and some Jewish texts. Paul is likely using it here to refer to demonic spirits; it is the equivalent of “rulers and authorities” (vv. 10, 15).[1]

It follows that demonic spirits promote false ideas and spiritual warfare is largely a battle for your mind. John gives us a command to test the spirits. “Beloved, do not believer every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” He then describes three tests:

1) Test their Christology. (1 Jn 4:2-3)

2) Test their regeneration. (1 Jn 4:4-5)

3) Test their conformity to Apostolic teaching. (1 Jn 4:6)

For this post, we will look at test one as it applies to cults. In subsequent posts, tests two and three will be demonstrated with appropriate examples.

1) Test their Christology. What’s their doctrine of the incarnation and deity of Christ?

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” (1 Jn 4:2-3)

This passage is teaching that whoever refuses to acknowledge that Jesus is God, “who has come in the flesh” (v. 2) is in the spirit of antichrist. Anyone can talk about Jesus and even believe that he lived on earth as a good teacher, as other religions (Islam, Baha’i ), cults (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses), and even philosophies (Christ consciousness) often affirm. These groups cannot pass the “Lord, Liar, Lunatic trilemma.” This is the error of Arianism:

Arianism, Arius. An early heretical teaching about the identity of Jesus Christ. Arianism was founded primarily on the teachings of Arius (d. 335/336). The central characteristic of Arian thought was that because God is one, Jesus could not have also been truly God. In order to deal with the scriptural testimony to the exalted status of Christ, Arius and his followers proposed that Jesus was the highest created being of God. So although Christ was fully human, he was not fully God. Arius’s teaching was condemned as heretical at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea) in A.D. 325.[1a]

Even so, confessing His deity is not enough. Evil spirits and demons recognized the deity of Jesus during his ministry (e.g. Mark 1:24; 3:11; 5:7–8; cf. Acts 19:15). There is an equal yet opposite error.

Some , like the ancient gnostics, may affirm his deity but deny his humanity. Apparently, when John wrote his first epistle, many false teachers were saying that Jesus only appeared to be human. This was probably based on an early gnostic idea that the material creation was intrinsically evil and therefore physical bodies were evil. This error is called Docetism.

docetism. In the early church, the teaching that Jesus was fully God but only appeared to be human (taken from the Greek dokeō, “to seem or appear”). Docetist theologians emphasized the qualitative difference between God and humans and therefore downplayed the human elements of Jesus’ life in favor of those that pointed to his deity. The early church rejected docetism as an heretical interpretation of the biblical teaching about Jesus.[2]

But unless they affirm both the full deity and the full humanity of Jesus, they are not really “confessing Jesus,” but, as John states in unambiguous terms, they are under the influence of the spirit of antichrist. Even so, you will not likely encounter many docetists today, it usually works the other way around in denying his deity. For example, Mormons will say they believe in Jesus but they believe Jesus is the brother of Satan who was born to an exalted man known as the heavenly Father, Elohim. While some modern Mormon apologists obfuscate the differences, the late LDS President, Gordon B. Hinckley, said that “The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.”[3]

There are three biblical ways to test if someone has good Christology. This means we want to see if they believe in the historical Jesus rather the false one of Mormonism who was born from the carnal union between Mary and Elohim and is the brother of Lucifer [4] or the Jesus of the Adventist’s who is Michael the Archangel [5], or the Christ of the New Age Movement who is simply an enlightened man or worse yet, not even a person at all, simply a nebulous state of Christ consciousness. Here are three good Christological tests:

  • The biblical Jesus is called God. “My Lord and my God!”(Jn 20:28) also (Jn 1:1, 8:58, 10:30; Rom 9:5; Col 1:19; Heb. 1:8)
  • The biblical Jesus receives prayer. “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:14) also (Acts 7:55-60; 1 Co 1:1-2; 2Thes 2:16-17; Rev 22:20).
  • The biblical Jesus receives worship. “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”(Mt 14:33) (Mt 2:2,11; Mt 28:9; Jn 9:35-38; He 1:6, Rev 5:8-13)

In cultist theologies, Jesus is a created being and therefore, He is not called God, prayed to, nor worshiped. As a prime example of test one, we will look at the Jehovah’s Witness Bible translation known as the New World Translation.

ESV: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16–17, ESV)

NWT: “because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,” (Col 1:16–17, NWT)[6]

Greek New Testament (with English interlinear)[7]











were created

all [things]1























































all [things]






were created









he himself



all [things]









all [things]



are held together

JWs missionaries are infamous for obfuscating by appealing to the Greek text, so this should set them straight. Notice that in the original Greek NT, there is no use of a term meaning “other.” If Paul would have meant it that way he would have used the word ἑτέρως. Of course, he didn’t, “other” was supplied by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to support the doctrines of demons.

Next we will examine test 2 using Joel Osteen as an example.

[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2296.

Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 15.

[2]Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 40.

[3] As reported in Deseret News, June 20, 1998.

[4] (What LDS leaders have consistently, historically taught is that God the Father, in his glorified, immortal body, came down to earth and approached the young girl Mary. As a result of this carnal union, Mary became pregnant with a child who was both divine and human; and thus the young Christ was truly the Son of God. ) Latayne C. Scott, The Mormon Mirage (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 183. Also see:

[5] Adventists have concluded that “Michael” is another title for Christ rather than the name of an angel. The problem with this view is that Jude 9 says that Michael did not dare rebuke Satan. This could be true only if Michael were an angel and not Christ Himself. See:

[7]The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2008), 524.


Why Preterism Seems Absurd… (part 3)

Preterists routinely assert that the Antichrist or “Beast” already appeared in the first century and that Revelation 13 and its associated texts have been fulfilled. For instance, Kenneth L. Gentry writes,

I understand the beast to portray the Roman empire (kingdom) generally and Emperor Nero Caesar (king) specifically. I do so for several reasons. (1) The events and characters of Revelation are in the time of John’s original audience (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10, 12). Interestingly, the beast arises from the sea (13:1), which reflects the geographical perspective of Rome when considered either from Patmos (from where John writes) or Israel (of which John writes).[1]

This fails on a number of levels the most flagrant being that most scholars date the book of Revelation to after the time of the events in question. GK Beale writes, “The consensus among twentieth-century scholars is that the Apocalypse was written during the reign of Domitian around 95 ad” [2] Furthermore, the ancient witness supports the later dating as well. Irenaeus placed the time of writing “almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”[3] The church historian Eusebius agreed with Irenaeus’ view.[4]

Also the apostle John, the author of the book of Revelation, in a letter written in the 90s predicts a future antichrist, “Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν.” (1 Jn 2:18) Here we see “antichrist” as a nominative singular juxtaposed against “antichrists” nominative plural. It also has a chiastic structure:

A. This is the last hour

B. Antichrist is coming

B´. Many antichrists have come

A´. This is the last hour.

The last hour began with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 1:2) and his second coming could occur at any time. But John is arguing in AD 90 that we know it’s the last hour because the “antichrist” (nominative singular) “is coming” – (ἔρχεται – present, middle/passive, indicative, 3rd person, singular). It is abundantly clear that writing well after the destruction of the temple, John means to say that although many false teachers or false messiahs have already appeared, he is still expecting the final one. Given he wrote the book of Revelation, I’ll take his word for it.

Moreover, John stated that he wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and according to the church Father, Tertullian, John was banished from Rome to Patmos after being miraculously preserved from a plunge into boiling oil.[5] It is said that the entire Coliseum audience were converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. This event was set during the reign of Domitian supporting the late date of John’s exile.

In fact, I just don’t see any preterists in the early church and shouldn’t they have been in a position to know? When you read their writings it is clear they did not believe that prophecies had been fulfilled. For instance, the Didache (The Teaching of the 12 Apostles) dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century, still anticipates the events predicted by Jesus in the Olivet discourse to occur in the future:

16. Be watchful for your life; let your lamps not be quenched and your loins not ungirded, but be ye ready; for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. 2And ye shall gather yourselves together frequently, seeking what is fitting for your souls; for the whole time of your faith shall not profit you, if ye be not perfected at the last season. 3For in the last days the false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate. 4For as lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate one another and shall persecute and betray. And then the world-deceiver shall appear as a son of God; and shall work signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unholy things, which have never been since the world began. 5Then all created mankind shall come to the fire of testing, and many shall be offended and perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved by the Curse Himself. 6And then shall the signs of the truth appear; first a sign of a rift in the heaven, then a sign of a voice of a trumpet, and thirdly a resurrection of the dead; 7yet not of all, but as it was said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. 8Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.[6]

The Didache was lost for centuries until a Greek manuscript was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, a Greek Orthodox Bishop. In this ancient manuscript, we see an overt reference to Mathew 24:12 and that future “world-deceiver shall appear as a son of God; and shall work signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unholy things, which have never been since the world began.” The Apostolic fathers were not preterists. Neither were any of the apostles. Paul firmly connects the end time abomination of desolation and Antichrist to the temple:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Th 2:3–4)

This refers to a literal rebuilt temple because Paul’s readers in Thessalonica would have certainly understood the Jerusalem Temple. This end time event is also predicted in Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 and finds parallel in Revelation 13:5-8. The early church fathers and several modern scholars accept the literal view. This man is the Antichrist (1 John 2:18) and Paul connected his appearance to the time of Christ’s second coming, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Th 2:8) Jesus did not return in AD 70, so this is necessarily future. I wrote my exegetical research paper for my Masters on 2 Thessalonians 2, if you are interested in a in depth analysis, you can download it here.

If the preterist view is true, it seems John and Paul were wrong about the final Antichrist. The early Fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian and Eusebius and the majority of modern biblical scholars are all wrong about the dating or, even worse, the book of Revelation does not belong in the cannon because it’s a farce written after the fact. Either conclusion puts preterism on the fringe. Also, if preterism were true it seems like the early church would be celebrating the fulfillment of those prophecies not still expecting them to come to pass. These are just a few more reasons for why preterism seems so absurd to me.

[1]Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., “A Preterist View of Revelation” In , in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and C. Marvin Pate, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 68.

[2]G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 4.

[3] Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.30.3.

[4] Eusebius, Church History 3.18.3.

[5] Tertullian, The Prescription of Heretics, ch. 36; (accessed 7/7/2012).

[6] Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 235.

10 Nation European Union Newspaper Exegesis of Dan 7:24 & Rev 13:1

Here is some unabashed “newspaper exegesis”  based on: “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings.” (Da 7:24) and “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.”(Re 13:1)

I don’t know if my newspaper exegesis is accurate but what are we to make of the fact that Hal Lindsay believed in a “ten nation confederacy of European nations” (Late Great Planet Earth, 1970)? As well as Dallas Theological Seminary President and prophecy scholar John Walvoord anticipating the formation of a revived Roman Empire composed of a ten-nation confederacy? Walvoord wrote on Daniel 7:24:

The interpreter of the vision states plainly in verse 23 that the fourth beast represents the fourth kingdom, an earthly kingdom which will be different from the preceding kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, that is, be worldwide in its sway. In the process, it will tread down and break in pieces the preceding kingdoms. By so much, the interpretation eliminates the idea that the fifth kingdom refers to the rule of God in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 21 and 22) or that it is merely a spiritual kingdom which gradually gains sway by persuasion, such as the kingdom of God in the earth at the present time. By its terminology the interpretation of verses 23–27 demands that, for the fifth kingdom to overcome the fourth, the fifth must be basically a sovereign and political kingdom, whatever its spiritual characteristics. By so much, it also demands that this be a future fulfillment, inasmuch as nothing in history corresponds to this.
The ten horns of the vision in verse 24 are declared to be ten kings that shall arise. They clearly are simultaneous in their reign because three of them are disrupted by the little horn which is another ruler, but not given the title of king here. He also will be different from the first, that is, from the ten horns, and shall subdue three of them.
The endless explanation of critical scholars attempting to find these ten kings in the history of the Grecian Empire or to find them later in Rome, by their very disagreement among themselves demonstrate the impossibility of satisfactorily explaining this verse as past history. If the ten kings are in power at the end of the age, which also seems to be supported by the ten kings of Revelation 13:1; 17:12, it follows that they must be still future. The fact that they appear in the book of Revelation, written long after the fall of the Grecian Empire, plainly relates them to the Roman Empire in its final stage.

John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation, 174.
And in his Revelation commentary:
The monstrosity of seven heads and ten horns probably refers to the remnants of the confederacy which formed the Roman Empire in the beginning, namely, the ten nations of which three were overthrown by the little horn of Daniel 7:8. The ten crowns, therefore, refer to the diadems or symbols of governmental authority. The fact that they have the names of blasphemy (“names” is properly plural) indicates their blasphemous opposition to God and to Christ.

John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 198.

with that in mind read the below:

10 countries for a United States of Europe

Die Presse, 20 June 2012

Ten EU foreign ministers participating in a “study group for the future of Europe” aim to exert pressure to transform the EU into a federation along the lines of the US. Together they have prepared what the front-page headline in Die Presse describes as a “Plan for transformation into a European state.” On 19 June, the ten ministers* presented an initial report to the EU officials who will likely benefit the most from the initiative: Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker.


Here is a link to a translation of the original German article.

Tactics for Defending the Faith Session Two

Here is session two form my workshop at the future congress last summer.