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My Dinner With Ravi: An Atheist meets the “Great Apologist of our Time.”

Approaching Six

I had never tasted a Deschutes IPA before, at least not in an Indian restaurant. It came in a long skinny glass and I would have had another, but my dinner partner showed up and greeted me. Despite the fact that, as a result of my lengthy investigations of Ravi Zacharias, I had come to hold the man in very low regard, I knew all along that when we met I would like him. He was instantly charming, warm, engaged, and very well dressed. He also looked just like his recent photos, with the combination of sexual and academic scandals taking their toll in his eyes.

As we walked up the stairs to our table, Ravi asked me about the math book I had been reading at the bar. I launched into my new theory about Cantor’s infinities posing a problem for William Lane Craig’s Molinist defense of Hell. I am glad it was a short staircase because I really did not know what I was talking about.

Over the past two-and-a-half years I have became one of Ravi’s staunchest critics. I have published my findings online and in a series of videos at my Friendly Banjo Atheist channel on YouTube. My investigations have uncovered compelling evidence of nearly four decades of systematic credential fraud by Ravi Zacharias. I also learned that the man has not exactly been Christ-like in the sex department.

Ravi, as far as I can tell, does not grant interviews to non-friendlies. His modus operandi is to take the stage before non-specialist audiences where he is immune from searing cross-examination by real experts. This schtick has made him “the great apologist of our time” (in Chuck Colson’s phrasing) with some 25 books to his credit and over 2,000 outlets playing his radio show every week. I had sent a dozen or so “any time, any place” interview requests to his ministry and was convinced that there was no way his handlers would let me get near him.

I was wrong. Two Sundays ago, November 26, 2017, word came in from his ministry that Ravi would be in the San Francisco Bay Area the next day and would like to meet me for dinner. The terms: I could ask him anything I wanted, but nothing about his recent federal sex scandal lawsuit.

Rasa Indian Restaurant, Burlingame, CA, 6pm.

By the time we reached our table, I had told Ravi everything I knew about infinity. He then introduced me to Abdu Murray. Abdu is the North American Director of one of Ravi’s many self-named operations. I know Abdu as an accomplished, award-winning trial lawyer. Up close, his calming smile made me wonder how he had ever succeeded as a litigator. But he had.

Abdu likes to tell folks who call him “Abdul” to “get the ‘L’ out of there.” That’s the kind of joke that makes the world a better place. It still makes me chuckle. Now every time someone calls me “StePHen” I tell them to “get the ’ph’ out of there.” You can laugh, but it’s pretty funny.

I had it from very good source/s that Ravi recently had an online affair (involving phone sex and nude photos) with a married Canadian woman and had (stupidly!) threatened suicide in writing when the woman told him she had decided to repair her marriage by confessing the affair to her husband. Ravi, putting himself first, apparently had a major “I’m screwed” thing flash before his eyes, and in a panic sent Lori Anne Thompson the now infamous “bid this world goodbye” email. As we took our seats, that email was in my pocket, and not being able to ask him about it was going to be like interviewing Rudolph without commenting on his nose.

Ravi had every reason to believe that his team of Boston and New York lawyers had successfully quarantined the suicide email with that aggressive federal lawsuit against Ms. Thompson and her husband. But he was wrong. The suicide email had been in my possession for some time but I had not received permission from my source to acknowledge its existence. That had just changed, and the plan was for me to share the email with Ravi who, upon seeing that the genie had escaped the legal file, would replace his lawyers with a contrite heart and begin acting in a way that would facilitate healing all around. My source was a respected Christian blogger, an advocate for victims of clergy abuse, who genuinely cares about that sort of thing. So do I. Besides, someone needs to remind the world that famous Christian men of today are as capable of confessing sexual sins as the Al Frankens and Louis C.K.s are. Ravi Zacharias, we hoped, would be up to the task.

But first I wanted him to account for the systematic credential fraud I had painstakingly documented. Sex stuff comes and goes. Ravi’s donors would have a harder time accepting that the recipient of their money has been lying to the world for nearly forty years about who he really is.

Right before he sat down, I noticed Ravi grimace and arch his back slightly. I knew that he has an excruciating disk problem, and it hurt me to see him in such pain. I marveled the rest of our time together at how focused and present he remained during our discussion.

I had a small notebook loaded with questions I would ask Ravi. The bogus “official lecturer at Oxford” claim, the bogus “quantum physics” at Cambridge claim, the bogus “visiting scholar at Cambridge” claim, the bogus “Asian Youth Preacher Award,” the bogus “chair” of a “department” at a seminary that has no departments. After securing responses to these, I would hand him the suicide email and encourage him at last to take the high road.

I was pretty darn sure I had my facts right. Even so, I know that there really aren’t too many things in life we can be sure about. That is why I had been a shitty Christian. The Still Small Voice that said “Dumbass, nobody hears you when you pray!” got to be co-decibular with the One that said “I am with you always, Dumbass!” It is pretty hard to distinguish the voice of God from the voices in our head. Most folks just pick the one that Grandma heard. I take the Truth-finding process too seriously for that, so, yes, despite my confidence, I went into that meeting knowing that Ravi Zacharias could systematically dismantle my 2 1/2 years of “findings” about his deceit.

And he did.

Not really.

Proving That God Exists

We began with pleasantries; I really don’t hate religion, I admired the missionaries I had grown up with in Southeast Asia; I’m a sometime graduate student with the Dominicans at the Graduate Theological Union, etc. etc. But when Abdu mentioned that they had limited time, I suggested we get down to the uncomfortable business of Ravi’s dishonesty. Ravi showed no signs of awkwardness. He leaned forward like a sacred warrior, grounded and ready for battle, and asked, “Steve, have I hurt you in any way?”

Good move! This is a classic cult-recruitment tactic. I know it well; manipulation masquerading as compassion. It was code for “Steve, there is simply no way your criticisms of me over the past two years can possibly have any substance. There must be some psycho-emotional thing going on with you. Would it help you to talk about it with me?” Kind of like husbands saying to their wives, “Honey, are you on the rag?”

But it worked. We all crave compassion, and even the fake stuff counts. I instantly felt myself softening inside. I had, after all, once admired Ravi Zacharias. As an atheist who hopes not to get things wrong I try to keep up on the best defenders Christianity has to offer. In the summer of 2015 I discovered Ravi and thought he was one of them. Cambridge, Oxford, multiple doctorates, quantum physics, department chair, all that. This guy was the real deal. He had me reconsidering my atheism. But not for long.

I told Ravi that I started doubting him when I checked up on that misleading Daniel argument he made to students at the University of Illinois on a YouTube video I had watched. Ravi had persuasively demonstrated that the Book of Daniel, which he informed us was written in the 6th century B.C.E., predicted Alexander the Great two hundred years later. Powerful stuff! Could I remain an atheist when someone with credentials like Ravi’s presented so clear a case of fulfilled prophecy?

The problem, I soon learned, was that most scholars believe Daniel to be post-Alexander, written in the 2nd century B.C.E. Ravi had skipped that part. I told him that I considered it deceptive of him not to tell his non-specialist audience that the key premise in his argument was hotly disputed by many respected Old Testament scholars.

But Ravi Zacharias is not known as the “great apologist of our time” by being a dummy. He told me that even if Daniel were a 2nd century B.C.E. document, it was still prophetic because it predicted stuff much later than the 2nd century.

Damn! I had never thought of that. It was a “Steve, even if you’re right, you’re wrong” moment. Daniel really does prove that God exists.

Round One went to Ravi and I assured him I would look into the matter further.

About that time the food arrived. Earlier in the day, a couple of caring friends of mine had suggested I bring someone along to dinner in case Ravi tried to kill me. They were sort of serious. I realized I had done an insufficiently nuanced job of describing Ravi to these folks. Whatever Ravi Zacharias may be, he is not a murderous thug. But suddenly I got worried. Ravi and Abdu had ordered tiny dishes. This wasn’t really a dinner for these rather large men. Something else was up. Maybe they were going to kill me after all.

Ravi asked me if it was OK for him to pray before we ate. Fine with me. I welcome moments of ritual, contemplation and gratitude before we receive the nourishment that the God we are thanking denies to so many others. “Dear Lord, we thank thee that thou treatest us not as thou treatest those people.”

I asked Ravi what he would have done if I had said no. Not a heartbeat passed. “I would not have prayed.” It is common in India, he said, to be around people of many faiths and one needs to be flexible about such matters.

We got right back to business, but now with me trying not to talk with my mouth full. I think I failed for the most part. To the extent Ravi and Abdu talked about me afterwards I bet it was about that.

Up next, Cambridge. Ravi has long claimed to have been a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” But he never was. He had spent a few months (very few) at a small religious training institute in the town of Cambridge, a place called Ridley Hall. While there he attended courses and lectures at the University. That did not make him a Cambridge “visiting scholar” but he told everybody that it did. Until the summer of 2015, that is, when he got outed by the Cambridge press office response to my inquiry. Then he stopped.

But at dinner he insisted that in 1990 Ridley Hall was a part of the University of Cambridge. That is just plain wrong. He then told me that after he had learned about my criticism, he (or someone in his ministry) contacted Cambridge and asked how he should word his official bio so as to make it fully accurate. Get rid of the exotic but false “Cambridge University” thing and replace it with not-very-exotic “Ridley Hall.” Ravi did that. Good for him. The crown jewel of his academic portfolio (“visiting scholar at Cambridge”) was now gone. (I failed to ask why it took a banjo playing atheist to help him clear up his own C.V.) Onward!

What about Ravi’s published claim that he was the chair of a “department” at a seminary that never had departments? He told me that, well, there had been a “center” at the seminary and he had been its chair. The only time I sensed anger in his eyes was when I reminded him that a center is not a department and that there simply were no “departments” at Alliance Theological Seminary for him to chair. We moved on.

Next came the international preaching contest he won in 1965 that gained him what he calls the “Asian Youth Preacher Award.” I told him that not only does that award exist nowhere except in his own promo materials, but that I had tracked down all three of the judges at the contest and they told me that it was no international competition at all; India only. Ravi shook his head and told me that he had a trophy with the words “Asian Youth Preacher Award” on it but the letters had faded. Really? He asked me if I would like him to get a letter from the contest sponsor confirming the award. Yup. Standing by.

7:00

It was exactly 7 o’clock and things were about to get fiery. Ravi’s suicide email was burning a hole in my left breast pocket; it was only a couple of questions away from being served on its author. Suddenly Abdu’s phone did something, and he told me that their Uber driver was waiting out on the street and that they had another dinner to go to.

Ouch! Oxford! Quantum physics! The suicide threat! I would have been happy to make them late for whatever other event they were off to. Who needs two dinners anyway? But my mind went straight to that Uber driver sitting down there trying to score his/her $30 an hour. I know that sounds weird. But that’s what happened.

As they settled the bill (they treated me, thank you both!), Abdu mentioned that they had not really liked the big red “X” I had put thru Ravi’s face on my @RaviScam Twitter account. “Really? That bothered you? I’ll change it.” I felt bad.

But, sheeeesh! Why would they give a hoot about anything I do on Twitter? After a year of tweeting I think I have about 30 followers, a healthy dose of them scantily clad women who seem to really want to meet me, but probably not for free, and definitely not to talk about Ravi. Anyway, I replaced the Big Red X shot with a cute photo of Ravi in a newspaper event announcement from around 1982, one of the early instances of Ravi calling himself a doctor while giving absolutely no hint that he wasn’t. “I’m not a doctor, but I play one in real life.”

Ravi, Abdu and I got up and hugged goodbye, then went downstairs where we shook hands and off they went. The left side of my chest was still burning as I watched them walk off with all the secrets I had hoped to uncover.

The Takeaway

Let’s forget for a moment about Ravi being a deceiver, a sexual hypocrite, an intellectual phony and all that. My most valuable takeaway from our meeting is this; Ravi Zacharias shows us how cults flourish. I went into that meeting knowing my facts about the man. I am an attorney of 27 years and a recovering Southern Baptist who understands manipulation and the use of charm to win hearts by disengaging minds. I really can handle myself.

But when I sat there before Ravi Zacharias and he offered me compassion with eyes more caring than those of the Madonna, it was all I could do to resist casting off my intellect, begging forgiveness, and signing up for whatever my new Leader could use me for. The only thing that kept me from falling prey to the love of the guru was that I had done my homework and a good deal of therapy and self-reflection.

Ravi Zacharias’ closest followers know what I am talking about, whether they know it or not.

POSTSCRIPT:

On December 3, a week after our dinner, Ravi issued a detailed statement in which he denied “inappropriate behavior of any kind” and specifically denied several of the allegations Ms. Thompson had made against him. But, according to Christianity Today, when asked about the suicide emails Ravi invoked a legal confidentiality agreement and refused to answer. Ravi also ignored the list of questions I sent him the day after our meeting, wherein I included a copy of the suicide email.

On that same day, December 3, Ravi’s ministry employed the classic PR move of drawing attention to a trivial transgression while ignoring the big ones. In a “Statement on Ravi Zacharias’ Biography,” which was widely reported in the Christian press, the ministry acknowledged that Ravi’s use of “Dr” was “contentious” and they promised that he would not use the title any more. They also promised to be “more vigilant about editing and fact-checking at every stage.”

But Ravi’s use of “Dr. Zacharias” was never the serious issue; the problem was his inexcusable and systematic refusal to use the word “honorary” when naming his “doctorates,” plus the bogus claims about Oxford, Cambridge and Alliance Theological Seminary. The “Statement on Ravi Zacharias’ Biography” ignored these entirely. And although the Ravi Zacharias scandal has lit up the Christian blogosphere, with a growing number of critical voices being heard, there is no reason to expect the Christian press to demand that Ravi respond to the serious allegations of academic and sexual misconduct. Their coverage has been predictably friendly.

The big question remains: Did the influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias threaten suicide in writing in order to pressure a married woman with whom he was having an online affair to not confess her sins to her husband? It sure looks like it. The emails came to me from a respected source who got them directly from Lori Anne Thompson. Not only is there nothing suspicious about the emails, but Ravi has not denied that they are his. And if they are, then he is lying (big time!) when he says he did nothing inappropriate with Lori Anne Thompson. Ravi’s cover-up may turn out to be far worse than his crime.

Clearly, Ravi Zacharias does not intend to participate much in this Season of Sharing, at least not in the information department. Instead he fires potshots from the safety of his keyboard, and hides behind “confidentiality” when the questioning gets tough. To my mind that makes him a coward, a bully, and probably a very guilty man.


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Steve Baughman is an attorney and some-time philosophy graduate student living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He posts skeptical musical thoughts about religion at his YouTube channel, Friendly Banjo Atheist.

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66 thoughts on “My Dinner With Ravi: An Atheist meets the “Great Apologist of our Time.”

  1. Good article. I have research Ravi for a number of years, as Steve knows, and can only conclude that Ravi is not an honest man. He has lied about his academic credentials – of that there is not doubt in my mind. As for his online sex scandal law suit, there are many unanswered question, that by virtue of Ravi’s silence on these matters, point the finger of condemnation directly at Ravi. Why settle out of court, if he truly held the moral high ground? Why refuse to deny his suicide threat, if he didn’t make it?

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    • Well, there are plenty of good reasons for a non-culpable party to settle things out of court. Here’s a few:

      1. People lack the abilty to distinguish between the accusation and actual guilt. Related: people lack the ability to evaluate the credibility of an accusation.

      2. Defending against a lawsuit is expensive and sometimes it’s cheaper to pay someone to go away even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Related: defending against a lawsuit requires a commitment of personal time and effort and causes personal stress that you’d rather avoid if possible.

      3. Sometimes you’ve done something you’d rather not have made public which is a risk of continuing with the litigation, even if that thing isn’t contrary to law and even if you didn’t do the thing you’re accused of.

      4. You may sincerely believe you’re innocent of the accusation but your lawyer tells you that you have a chance of losing anyway, for reasons that might not even have much to do with the evidence.

      5. The other party to the settlement might offer you something in the terms of the settlement that would not be available as a remedy from the Court. For example, an employer being sued by a current employee can negotiate that the employee resign, which is not something that a court would order regardless of who wins the lawsuit.

      There may well be others but these kinds of things are prominent players in the settlements I negotiate. So I’d suggest caution about reading too much into the fact that a lawsuit was settled — settling a lawsuit is very often not fairly interpreted as a tacit admission of liability.

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      • The vast majority of lawsuits settle before trial. Settlement generally does not say much about guilt or innocence. What Burt said.

        I take Mr. Zacharias’ troubles not to be about the fact of the settlement but 1) the court documents his own attorney filed, which suggest that he sent that suicide email 2) the fact that he has selectively chosen to invoke confidentialiy re the suicide emails, and 3) that the suicide emails seem to be legit on their face as well as based on what we know about where they came from.

        If he wrote those suicide emails then he was also untruthful about almost everything he said in his Dec 3 press statement.

        Things shall continue to unfold.

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  2. From TvTropes, I learned that one way that cults are able to recruit very intelligent and educated people is to “love bomb” them and offer them a lot of the affection, companionship, and love that was missing in their lives for a variety of reasons. By the time they realize what they joined, they have a very hard time leaving because they don’t want to give up the affection, companionship, and love. Then the abuse, demands, and extractions starts.

    Its a devlish tricky problem to solve. People are social creatures and generally need the company of at least some other humans, friends and family. Some humans are mentally equipped for a hermits life. I think one reason why there are not more cult victims is simply because cults don’t have the man power to reach out to that many people and a lot of would be vulnerable victims thankfully do not get exposed. They might still be lonely but at least they don’t have the other problem. The Internet, aided by some fortuitous google searches, can really increase the broadcast power of despicable people and organizations.

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  3. A quick note that I’m struck by ‘s unflinching honesty about himself and the emotional journey he undertook in his in-person encounter. And the insight it offers into the mechanics of seduction.

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  4. As a largely secular but still identifying Jewish person, a lot of this stuff is mystifying to me. Though the Reform Judaism that I was raised in seems kind of unique as religions go in the way they act in the world.

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    • Why do you blog, ? Why do you dispute about political or cultural perspectives on a blog? I posit an answer: because those perspectives are part of your identity and asserting that identity is a part of being who you are as a person. You literally cannot but do this, because it’s part of who you are.

      For people who were religious at one point, particularly in early life, and who then became secular, a measure of asserting yourself as a person and a measure of some resentment fuels being anti-theistic; there was a point in my life when I felt that way myself (raised RCC as a kid; rejected religion altogether as young adult).

      I have to imagine that for people of faith, particularly for people who find that faith after their formative years, a cognate process goes on, and taking that faith and the justification for it into the arena is a means of asserting one’s identity.

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      • As a fellow cradle Catholic, I’m aware that proofs are a long tradition, going back to the fathers of the church. (And in some ways, going back to the gospels, where the writers were certainly interested in “proving” that Christ was the Messiah.)

        But rather than being defensive and fearful, for early Christians sometimes – and medieval Christians almost all the time – it was a way to apply their reason and eloquence (however faulty by my chippy 21st century standards) to the greater glory of the Lord. When you talk about dudes like Anselm, they had no interest in “proving” God existed in the way that modern apologists do. They took God as a given and worked out their proofs in the same spirit that people work out geometry proofs for things they already know to be true – because it was an enlightening (and to them delightful) exercise.

        Not my jam, got used historically by people who would cite them in order to justify some seriously bad actions, but it had some loveliness to it as well.

        These days, though…. things have certainly changed.

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    • I think nearly all forms of Judaism are unconcerned with having to prove anything. Sam Harris asked in an interview who were the hardest clergy to debate and he said without a doubt Rabbis and that these weren’t Reform Rabbis who didn’t keep kosher but rather traditional Rabbis. He stated that what made Rabbis hard to debate where that they didn’t really have the hallmarks of other clergy, they had no real desire to prove anything and didn’t believe that prayer or ritual observance did much of anything to make God look favorably on humans.

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  5. Ravi keeps contradicting himself. In his December 3 press release he makes it sound like he and Ms. T communicted through her husband’s email ( which, if that were true, would indeed look more like a conspiracy between Mr. and Ms. T.)

    But in his federal complaint he specifically says he gave Ms.T his BlackBerry information so they can have more secure communication.

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  6. “The problem, I soon learned, was that most scholars believe Daniel to be post-Alexander”

    Post-Alexander by about 150 years as I understand it. But noting that consensus does not necessarily mean correctness, how did you determine that the majority of scholars believe that? Was there a poll?

    I’ve always wanted to ask one of those scholars why Daniel is mentioned by Ezekiel? That sortof screws up the 2nd century BC dating theory for Daniel, since even the rankest liberal claims about Ezekiel puts his book in the 3rd.

    ===

    “It was a “Steve, even if you’re right, you’re wrong” moment. Daniel really does prove that God exists….Round One went to Ravi and I assured him I would look into the matter further.”

    There is a lot to look at. Daniel and Revelation are called the apocalyptic books (Isaac Newton spent more time with them than he did scientific pursuits). But there is a very large assortment of Old and New Testament prophecies.

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    • Good points all. I did not take a poll, but John Collins at Yale told me that no mainstream scholars accept the early dating. The three online encyclopedias I checked also suggested that the early dating was losing out.

      My point was simply that Ravi shouldn’t have pretended there was no controversy about the dating.

      Yes, Daniel is complex and interesting. I intend to read more about it when the dust settles.

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      • “John Collins at Yale told me that no mainstream scholars accept the early dating.”

        John Collins? I think you put too much confidence in credentials, to the point that you disregard the data. John Collins is exactly the kind of person Yale would hire…not for his penetrating intellect and scholarship, but for his politics. https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/14724/ I am acquainted with authentic Bible scholars, and John Collins is not one.

        I won’t present my own formidable arguments now against the scholarly consensus, but you really should look into the merits of the arguments yourself. You’ve done thorough work to reveal that Ravi Zacharias has feet of clay, just like you and I. But that does not vindicate belief in the horse shit that is passing for science now, and it absolutely does not warrant dismissal of Bible prophecies. I hope your tenacity remains intact if you are in an active pursuit of the truth.

        I recovered from Southern Baptist protocols, too. I pray you well.

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        • Phil. We stray. But you raise an important issue.

          Let me deal with the “we stray” part first. I’m really not very interested in investing massive amounts of time figuring out when Daniel was written. Why not? Because I can’t. I could drop literally everything in my life, family, music, politics, law, and dedicate myself to old testament studies with a focus on figuring out when Daniel was written and I am quite certain I would quickly and constantly run up against scholars far more knowledgeable than I such that I would never be confident of my opinion about the dating of Daniel. It is a highly technical issue.

          That being so, I am strongly inclined to trust experts from Harvard, Yale, etc. over ones at less prestigious schools (especially schools where the professors have to sign on to doctrinal confessions.) Yes! I admit that I am making a conservative choice in favor of highly credentialed scholars over less credentialed ones.

          I don’t know what your credentials are but I have not seen any reason to believe that you would knock out Yale’s John Collins in a debate about the dating of Daniel. I confess to not feeling reassured as to your instincts by your suggestion that Dr. Collins got to be professor at Yale for purely political reasons. That makes me suspect that you see the world in less nuanced terms than I do.

          Back on track, I hope we agree that a speaker addressing a non-specialist audience has certain duties of honesty. One such duty is to disclose controversial premises that lay people generally do not know to be controversial.

          Rightly or wrongly, I believed that Ravi failed to do that, and that is what made me initially suspicious of him. What made me hugely and convincedly suspicious of him was the stuff I found after that.

          So our very intriguing discussion here is very peripheral to my main criticisms of Mr. Zacharias.
          That said, I intend to do some Daniel reading shortly. If you want to send me a link to the most convincing (and hopefully accessible) article in favor of the early dating I will read it.

          Thanks.

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            • Phil. I am TOTALLY premature and sticking my neck out here. I’m on paragraph two, I have no idea who Daniel Conklin is, but I suspect he does not have a PhD. And that he does not teach at a very prominent school.

              OK I have not googled him, I know I’m being cocky and annoying. The red flag is his “no evidence whatsoever” for X because X “is only a theory”.

              Pet peeve.

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              • Steve,

                Assuming this is current, David Conklin teaches at Southwest Florida Bible Institute, with bachelors work done at Moody Bible Institute, and an M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. But he has probably read thoroughly the major writers supporting the 6th c. date.

                You may not find much on the web, but my bet is that the best recent defenders for a 6th c. view would be either Andrew Steinmann or Sinclair Ferguson, both of whom have written Daniel commentaries. I can not vouch for either for sure, as those books are not cheap, but Steinmann and Ferguson are near the top of the conservative evangelical end of academia.

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              • Offered without comment, the only other evidence of Conklin’s work, perspective, and research interests I could find online:

                http://dedication.www3.50megs.com/David/
                http://www.gracecentered.com/christian_forums/seventh-day-adventist-forum-(sda)/40-lies-told-about-the-sda-church/
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                Things I will comment on:

                I’ll concede I didn’t look very hard for more information after that (first 2 pages of Google results). I did also find an analysis of the tektronics paper that disagreed with it very strongly, but the analysis didn’t have much authority either (internet forum, didn’t bother checking into the author) and I have very little interest in the book of Daniel. I have quite a lot more interest in retrieving information about context for sources, which is why I bothered looking into it in the first place.

                Couldn’t find anything at all about his academic background, but I wasn’t personally red-flagged by that lack, because one occasionally does find independent scholars online who are ghostly, even pseudonymous, and also doing pretty fiercely good work in their field.

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          • Steve,

            Regarding the dating of Daniel, most evangelical Old Testament scholars nowadays recognize this as a difficulty, some taking the early 6th c. BCE view and others taking a 2nd c. BCE view, but this can be a bit simplistic.

            For example, someone like John Goldingay (Fuller Seminary) takes Daniel as having authentic 6th c. material that was finally redacted in the 2nd c. Tremper Longman, who writes Old Testament surveys used in many evangelical seminaries today, finds a 6th c. date defensible, but he does not discount the arguments used by advocates of a 2nd c. date. Joyce Baldwin, a preeminent evangelical interpreter of Daniel, from the late 20th century, says this (quoted from Longman’s NIV Application Commentary on Daniel):

            “The fact that the standpoint of the writer (sixth or second century B.C.) cannot be ascertained for certain does not greatly affect the interpretation.”

            Goldingay, in his Word Biblical Commentary, notes that the primary driving factor for questioning the 6th c. date is an a priori belief that would deny the possibility of predictive prophecy, from the starting gate.

            Since Ravi was at Ontario Bible College in the 1970s, he may not have been overly familiar with more recent Daniel scholarship, among fellow evangelicals. But he at least knows that a late date for Daniel does not necessarily or completely blow up claims for at least some element of predictive prophecy, even for a late, 2nd. c. date.

            If you have about 25 minutes, Michael Heiser, an Old Testament scholar working for Logos Bible Software, has a helpful Q&A on this topic, from his Naked Bible Podcast, geared towards a knowledgeable lay audience, that carefully weighs the arguments, from different angles:

            I hope that helps! I am glad that I am not the only one who sometimes talks when their mouth is full :-)

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        • A note as an outsider to this discussion: positing that someone at Yale must be (redacted – Phil didn’t call anyone a name – but meaning there for liberal politics and not brains/scholarship- maribou) and therefore should be ignored suggests that you are more used to discussions within a certain intellectual circle, where this argument is met with nods of agreement. It is not the sort of argument suited to a broader audience. This is particularly the case when the topic is “What is the mainstream scholarly consensus?” It strongly suggests that your usual circle is well outside what is generally meant by “mainstream” at best, and “scholarly” at worst.

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  7. Phil. As I suspected, your assumptions and mine maybe too far apart for us to have much to say to each other.

    Here is what you say about John Collins of Yale. “I am acquainted with authentic Bible scholars, and John Collins is not one.”

    Here is John Collin’s scholarly CV/bio.

    https://divinity.yale.edu/faculty-and-research/yds-faculty/john-j-collins

    For those who don’t want to click on the link, anyone who does not see an “authentic Bible scholar” here commits the true Scotsman fallacy.

    IMHO.

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  8. I hope the mods don’t mind me posting this here even though I think I posted it at my other OT article on Ravi and will try to get it on my website when webmaster is available. I think Ravi’s suicide threat is the explosive issue. I had a scare yesterday about it being a forgery. Here are my thoughts. Mods, if too long or violates any repetitiveness rules (I will read the rules some day) sorry.

    WHY I BELIEVE RAVI ZACHARIAS’ SUICIDE EMAILS ARE AUTHENTIC

    12/15/17 By Steve Baughman. http://www.RaviWatch.com

    First, I want to be clear that the only suicide emails I refer to here are the ones dated October 29, 2016 that were provided to me by Julie Anne Smith, a Christian blogger who works with victims of clergy abuse. Ms. Smith told me that she received the emails in January or February of 2017 from Lori Anne Thompson (LAT), the woman with whom RZ had the online relationship. She also tells me that the image of the emails is a Word doc that had been copied-and-pasted from the original email, which she never saw and which LAT told her was destroyed.

    Ms. Smith told me that LAT provided the emails in the course of seeking support for difficulties she was having as a result of feeling she had been abused by Mr. Zacharias. The emails were only a very small part of the communications between LAT and Ms. Smith, and were not provided in the context of any discussion of contemplated legal action.

    THE FIRST PUBLIC MENTION OF THE SUICIDE EMAILS

    The first public reference to Mr. Zacharias’ suicide threat appears in a letter to RZ dated April 27, 2017. The letter was from LAT’s attorney, Mark Bryant, to RZ and was marked “Personal and Extremely Confidential.” The letter outlined LAT’s grievances against RZ and contained this paragraph written by Attorney Bryant:

    “In an email following many lengthy telephone conversations with you (we have copies of your emails and the call register) Lori Anne informed you of her decision to tell Brad about this misconduct. You responded by email that you would end your life and ‘bid this world goodbye’if she confessed and outed you to her husband. You later admitted that this was not true and we have independent confirmation of many of these discussions by an anonymous third party.”

    This letter was made a matter of public record when RZ’s attorney attached it to the federal complaint as Exhibit 1 when RZ filed his lawsuit on July 31, 2017. (See RZ complaint and this Exhibit at http://www.RaviWatch.com.)

    THE SUICIDE THREAT EMAIL

    Here is what the emails say:

    4:38:00 PM EDT: RZ says “Are you going to tell him it’s me?”

    48 seconds later, with no apparent communication in between, RZ sent another email saying “”You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. You (sic) betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.”

    (I have posted the actual image at http://www.RaviWatch.com).

    On Nov 9, 2017 the parties settled their federal lawsuit and, apparently, are bound by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that renders them unable to comment on the suicide emails.

    If those emails are authentic, RZ been far more involved with LAT than he is letting on. If they are forged, RZ remains accountable for his academic credential deception, which I and others have documented, but he emerges as far more credible as regards the dispute between himself and LAT. A journalist for a Christian publication told me this week that his/her editors are reluctant to publish the emails without some forensic confirmation.

    I consider the emails to be explosive and have made a big deal about them in my videos and writings. So I confess that I was a bit rattled yesterday when someone I take to be well-informed about computers emailed me to tell he that he thought they were fake. He pointed out that the image we have appears to have been manipulated. The words “From”, “Date”, “To” and “Subject” are bolded in the first one but not in the second. (Again, see http://www.RaviWatch.com for the image.)

    I have taken some time to collect my thoughts about the suicide emails and I share them below in the hope that it will encourage others, especially the religious press and the Boards of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and RZ’s other self-named ministries to look into and shed light on this most serious allegation.

    Here is why I believe that Ravi Zacharias threatened suicide in order to suppress the online affair he was having with a married woman.

    DEFENSE OF RZ

    The best defenses I can think of on behalf of RZ are not that great. Here they are. (I imagine there are others and I encourage those with further defense suggestions to share them widely, and with me. Feel free to accuse me of not trying very hard or of being a bad defense attorney. All I really care about is us getting to the bottom of this, assuming we are not already there. And I think we are.)

    1. No anti-RZ inference should be drawn from RZ’s refusal to comment on the suicide email. LAT cannot comment either. That’s all a part of the settlement agreement. For all we know LAT’s lawyer, Mark Bryant, insisted on confidentiality to protect his client because she had forged the suicide emails. RZ would love to talk about all this, but he cannot.

    2. It would have been very simple to forge the image that purports to be a copy of a suicide threat email sent by RZ. All it takes is word processing skills and a computer. In fact, we know that the image cannot be an exact copy of an email. It appears to have been manipulated.

    3. RZ is an intelligent man with a stellar reputation who also knows that he has enemies who would like to destroy him. It is unlikely that he would put a suicide threat in writing and send it via email to a woman with whom he was experiencing relationship conflict.

    4. The world is full of people who will do wicked things for money. We have no reasons to think the Thompsons are not such people. We also know that Brad Thompson once sued his pastor for damages.

    5. The fact that Mr. Bryant demanded $5million from RZ for what his clients had supposedly suffered is outrageous.

    WHY I BELIEVE THAT RAVI ZACHARIAS DID INDEED THREATEN SUICIDE.

    I find the defense arguments very unpersuasive. Here is why:

    1. It is unclear why, if the emails were forged, the Board at RZIM, which has a fiduciary obligation to the Ministry, not to RZ, has not thoroughly investigated and publicly demonstrated the inauthenticity of the suicide threat allegations that so seriously tarnish the Ministry’s reputation. As far as I can tell, the Board has been publicly silent on the matter.

    2. It is unclear why RZ did not deny the suicide threat allegations as soon as they went public. In his federal complaint RZ expresses concern for his reputation and rebuts in detail the serious allegations made in Attorney Bryant’s letter. But he makes no mention of the suicide email.

    3. A forged suicide threat being used to extort money would have strongly supported RZ’s legal theory of racketeering and extortion. But he did not mention it in his complaint.

    4. Insofar as a Word Doc purporting to be an image of RZ’s email would be easy to refute by forensics, it is unlikely that an educated person like LAT would believe she could get away with so crude a forgery.

    5. It is unlikely that an educated person like LAT would not be cognizant of the fact that forging a suicide email and using it to demand money could subject her to very serious criminal penalties under Canadian and U.S. law.

    6. As anyone who has copied and pasted between formats knows, it is not hard to think of innocent reasons for the bolding differences in the two emails and the fact that they are clearly not exact copies of an email screen. When I just now tried to copy and paste an email from my iPhone 6 it only allowed me to copy the content, not the time, date, subject. Had I wanted to send the the former and the latter together I would have had to figure out another way to paste them together. That would have been an innocent act, and would not have affected the content.

    In any event, it is likely that if LAT had tried to forge an email and use it to demand big money she would have done a better job. Stay tuned on this issue.

    UPDATE: This just in from Julia Anne Smith. When you forward from an icloud mail it “the from/date/to/subject and title are bolded.” “So she copied and pasted a forwarded message.” Did this issue just disappear?

    7. On Dec 3, over three weeks after the legal settlement, RZ issued a statement denying the accusations that LAT had made. But according to Christianity Today, when it came to the suicide emails, “Zacharias declined to comment to CT on the image of the emails showing the apparent suicide threat, citing the nondiosclosure agreement.” I consider RZ’s post-NDA willingness to publicly deny certain serious allegations while invoking confidentiality regarding the suicide threat to be evidence of guilt.

    8. The email images did not appear mysteriously from nowhere. They were provided by LAT to a Christian advocate for victims of clergy abuse, a woman named Julie Anne Smith who runs the Spiritual Sounding Board blog. (I only point out that Ms. Smith is a Christian to preempt the suggestion that an atheist posse is out to get RZ.) Ms. Smith says that LAT provided the emails to her in January of February of 2017, months before Mr. Bryant’s demand letter. They were not provided in the context of any discussion about legal action but in the course of a support relationship for one who felt she had been taken advantage of by a powerful man.

    8. Ms. Smith told me that she had been in email contact with LAT after the settlement and that LAT had given no indication that she wished their prior communication not be shared. Had LAT forged the emails, surely she and her lawyers would have been vigilant in demanding that Ms. Smith not to make them public. A decent lawyer would have discouraged Ms. Smith by informing her that she could be liable for the tort of public disclosure of private information if she had released that information over their objection. But neither LAT nor her lawyers took any steps to ensure that Ms. Smith did not release the emails.

    9. It is now amply clear that RZ has been a risk taker for decades. Just last week the respected Christian theologian and apologist John Stackhouse told Christianity Today that he had been worried for 20 years that RZ would eventually get outed for “inflating his academic credentials.” Dr. Stackhouse also said that RZ’s questionable credential claims have been “quietly mentioned” by evangelicals for decades. RZ continued to take serious reputational risks for well over a year after I began to make his false credential claims public in the summer of 2015. (See my article “The Christian Industrial Complex Shields its Own.” That in a matter so central to his public reputation RZ was a reckless risk-taker increases the likelihood that took risks with LAT.

    10. It is unclear why RZ would agree to a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from denying such a serious and false charge as threatening suicide to suppress an online affair. But he did. Given his Dec 3, 2017 press statement, either the NDA allowed RZ to deny certain allegations (but not the suicide threat) or he violated the NDA, selectively.

    11. It is unlikely that Attorney Bryant would claim in a personal and confidential letter to RZ to have a copy of a suicide threat email if RZ had not written it. It is also unlikely that Attorney Bryant would claim in that private letter to have logs of “lengthy telephone conversations” if such conversations had not happened.

    12. RZ began his online relationship with LAT in late 2014. He does not say when he began receiving the nude photos, but it is clear that he did not report it to his Board until LAT’s lawyer contacted him with a legal threat in late April of 2017. While this is not directly relevant to the suicide emails, it undermines RZ’s claim that he made a serious attempt to terminate the by then sexually charged online relationship. By going along with LAT he raised the reputational stakes and made extreme measures, like a suicide threat, more attractive.

    13. The fact that Brad Thompson previously sued a pastor bothered me. But then I looked into it. it turns out that BT’s pastor had engaged in, and was eventually disciplined by his church for, improper financial conduct, to wit: encouraging BT to invest in the pastor’s family business. Incidentally, I have sued a few people over the years and each time I am reminded that litigation is not a process that generally rewards or is kind to liars and opportunists. I cannot speak for BT’s litigation experience, but mine would make me much more reluctant to try what some folks think BT and LAT pulled on RZ.

    14. The fact that Attorney Mark Bryant of the Bryant Law Center in Paducah, GA, demanded $5,000,000 from RZ for the suffering his clients had endured is indeed truly ridiculous. The fact that Attorney Mark Bryant’s demand letter was so sloppily written suggests that he never believed he had a strong legal case against RZ. He just wanted to wave that suicide email and the threat of “public litigation” at RZ to score some big bucks. Unfortunately for RZ, the fact that it looks like it worked, does not do much to mitigate RZ’s guilt.

    MY CONCLUSION

    Would I feel more comfortable if we had original emails with headers and a forensic report establishing that RZ wrote them? Of course. Am I bothered that the only image we are able to present to the public at this time is not an exact copy of the email RZ sent? Of course. (UPDATE, see item 6 above.)

    But as any trial lawyer knows, no matter how just and true our case is, the universe does not always deal us the perfect evidentiary hand. There is no such thing as a case without wrinkles, especially when you have able opponents whose agenda it is to make your every step as difficult as they possibly can. Wrinkles can be especially problematic when your able opponents don’t play by the rules of honest and open public discourse.

    None of that need weaken our belief in the claims we make to judges, juries, and to the public. In the Ravi Zacharias matter, by far the best account of the evidence is that the risk-taking evangelist did what so many powerful men do with weaker women, and then made a dumb move in covering it up. Try as they could, his Boston and New York lawyers were unable to quarantine their client’s suicide email.

    I know that many Christians eagerly await the forensic and investigative reports from Boards of RZ Inc. showing that I am wrong. I hope that each of these people will contact RZIM at rzim@rzim.org and urge them to get right on it.

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    • You’re fine. As the author of the post, unless you’re struggling to be civil to commenters (which I’ve never seen you do) or doing something REALLY egregious that we would’ve objected to in a post (likewise), we really don’t care what you put in your comments section :). Even if it bothered us, if it wasn’t one of those first two things we’d probably try to talk it out …

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  9. The Daniel thing. If Daniel was written before the events that happened, it makes the case that the predictions were prophecy somewhat stronger.

    (Not a whole lot stronger, mind… from what I understand, the priests had a tradition where they said that any prophecy that ended up not being true was a prophecy that came from somewhere other than YHWH and, as such, needed to be destroyed. So this resulted in a Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy on a societal scale and directly benefitted the prophets who learned to use vague metaphors over direct descriptions with measurable timelines.)

    If Daniel was written after, then it’s yet another “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.

    Which wouldn’t really discredit the whole architecture of what the Believers believe anyway but, hey, it’s better to have prophecies to point to than to not have them to point to.

    All of which is kind of beside the point in the first place.

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    • “If Daniel was written after, then it’s yet another “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.”

      If it is ‘yet another’, what are some more examples?

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      • Well, the question of whether the Gospels were written after the year 70 would be a prominent one.

        Did Jesus talk about the destruction of the Temple back when it was still standing or are the only records of him talking about this records that were written after 70?

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        • “Did Jesus talk about the destruction of the Temple back when it was still standing or are the only records of him talking about this records that were written after 70?”

          That would be an impressively executed conspiracy. But that would mean that the synoptic writers didn’t know that Titus would destroy the Temple either, and collectively decided to mention that in their various accounts of the Olivet Discourse sometime after the smoke cleared. I’m thinking every NT writer had to be in on the plot.

          But some things aren’t so easy to figure out, like the forecast of the second regathering of the Jews which didn’t really begin till the 20th century. But hell, I guess somebody like Ravi Zacharias could have slipped Isaiah 11:11 in there during the Eisenhower administration.

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          • Phil. Surely you see that there are many many different ways to view Isaiah 11:11. No? Do you really think that all reasonable minds should agree that it is a case of prophecy fulfilled in 1948?

            BTW, I finished the Daniel article you recommend. Great bunch of info. I will post some comments on it when was the dust settles. Whenever that will be. Thanks for recommending it.

            Steve Baughman

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            • “Do you really think that all reasonable minds should agree that it is a case of prophecy fulfilled in 1948?”

              Oh, I think they should because there are only two events in history that fit the bill. But I suspect that most of the reasonable folks you have in mind are forced by default to believe the deep sea vents and accidents tales.

              Btw, did you see this today? The entire UN security council, not to mention the general assembly, is in turmoil over one lousy decision. https://www.yahoo.com/news/israel-believes-u-veto-u-n-resolution-jerusalem-170400201.html

              Lots of us Bible thumpers are tempted to see this as a continuing prelude to stuff mentioned in Zechariah 12:

              2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
              3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

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                • “How many people have to be gathered against it to be considered all enough for this to be true?”

                  I’m not exactly sure what you are asking, but there are other places that mention armies assembling (actually being assembled…”And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon”) against Jerusalem. Hundreds of millions of troops.

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                  • Well, it would seem to me that for the prophecy as stated here to be true, “all the people of the earth” would need to be “gathered against” Jerusalem.

                    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that that *never* happens.

                    And while I might be being hyper literal here, if we are going to get into the business of claiming godly predictions, I do think accuracy matters.

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              • Phil. I simply do not share your view of the Old Testament prophecies as clear-cut references to future events.

                You say Isaiah 11:11 predicts the founding of Israel in 1948. I have two responses to that.

                1. There sure is a lot of disagreement amongst Bible believing commentators about what Isaiah 11:11 actually means. See http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/11-11.htm

                2. I wonder how many dispersed religious people over the millennia had Holy documents that predicted that they would eventually be restored. Somebody has to win the lottery, but that doesn’t mean God was behind the lucky winner’s fulfilled prophecy.

                3. OK, three points, sorry. I think you are overlooking the self fulfilling nature of the restored Israel prophecy. Judaism became Christianity which became the Conqueror of the planet. I don’t find it surprising that the Conqueror would help nudge along the prophecies of its own religion.

                Think of it this way, if Christianity had not conquered the world would Isaiah 11:11 have been “fulfilled”?

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                • “I wonder how many dispersed religious people over the millennia had Holy documents that predicted that they would eventually be restored.”

                  I don’t know of any at all. I don’t think there are any.

                  =

                  “I think you are overlooking the self fulfilling nature of the restored Israel prophecy….if Christianity had not conquer the world would Isaiah 11:11 have been “fulfilled”?”

                  I don’t think self-fulfillment is at all plausible. The event that actually resulted in the reformation of Israel as a Jewish nation was War 2. How would you suppose either the Jews or the Christians arranged the holocaust?

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                  • Phil. I really think you are looking at world history thru the lenses of Christian apocalyptic theology and engaging in a massive exercise in confirmation bias.

                    Let me stick my neck out: Prophecy is BORING. Why? Because anyone can cherry pick “scriptures” and wow! us with their being “fulfilled” before our very eyes. That takes 60 seconds to do. Showing it is bogus takes hours, at very least.

                    In my born again days of the 1970’s Hal Lindsay and Chuck Smith were all the rage. I remember hearing Smith speak, he had just returned from the UN where he overheard some UN guide say that an empty flagpole in front of the building “might be for the leader.” Drum roll! 666! Preparing the way for The Antichrist. The Soviets (no longer in existence) was on its way to bringing about Armageddon.

                    It all seemed soooooo real. Not so now. On the contrary…..

                    The “prophecies” you identify remind me of all those stories of miracle healings that have such pre-investigation lustre.

                    Let me leave you with this: if your God wanted to predict the future in documents he gave us 2500 years ago, he could have done a clearer job of it. Instead, your own co-religionists cannot even agree among themselves what the prophecies are saying.
                    IMHO, nuff said.

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            • “I didn’t say “conspiracy”.”

              Well, there would have had to been significant collaboration, cooperation, collusion…the necessary elements of a conspiracy. How else would you characterize it?

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              • Assuming one author from whom others cribbed, you’d just need one who “knew in his heart” (or her heart, I suppose) that Jesus *MUST* have predicted something like this happening.

                “Conspiracy” implies some shadiness. Like someone knew it wasn’t true but went on to say that it was.

                I’m just trying to say that it was merely a “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.

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                  • There’s the Markean priority theory in which Q was first and then Mark follows and Matthew was intended to be a response from the Matthean school and Luke from the Lukeans but I’ve always thought that Matthean priority made the most sense without the encumbersome need for the Q document, the M document, and the L document that the Markean priority people have.

                    You’ve got you your Matthew written first, see, from the perspective of the school that came up without Pauline influence and then Luke as a “that’s mostly right, here’s what *REALLY* happened!” version from someone more aligned with Paul. Mark was a version that took Matthew and placed it to the writer’s left, then took Luke and placed it to the writer’s right, and then he jumped back and forth between the two making a Reader’s Digest version suitable for gentiles who just wanted to hear the highlights.

                    So this version only requires the author of Matthew to know in his heart that Jesus must have made this particular prophecy and then created a cascading already fulfilled prophecy (only coincidentally written after the fact).

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                    • “Mark was a version that took Matthew and placed it to the writer’s left, then took Luke and placed it to the writer’s right, and then he jumped back and forth between the two making a Reader’s Digest version suitable for gentiles who just wanted to hear the highlights.”

                      But there are things mentioned in Mark’s account that are not in either Matthew or Luke. For instance, in Matthew, “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.” But Mark goes into more detail, and notes that “Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve”, and came back the next day and “cast out them that sold and bought in the temple”. So, do you think the writer (not an actual Mark) cooked that up, or did (s)he get that from one of the Q, M or L documents?

                      May I ask, do you come from a Catholic background?

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                      • Nope. I come from a *REAL* religion: Southern Babtist.

                        Anyway, the details added by Mark seem to be some variant of “adding details that would help set the scene for gentiles”.

                        It’s not “cooking it up” as much as “helping set the scene for the target audience that more might be saved”.

                        Instead of suspecting that I’m suspecting nefarious motives on the part of the authors, suspect that I’m suspecting that they’re trying to save the souls of people by spreading the Word of God and following what they believe in their hearts to be the best way of doing that.

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                        • “Instead of suspecting that I’m suspecting nefarious motives on the part of the authors, suspect that I’m suspecting that they’re trying to save the souls of people by spreading the Word of God…”

                          Okay, but still, in your view, somebody started making up stories and telling them as the truth, which is lying any way you look at it. And that’s the problem. Why would people collaborate to do that? I can easily understand the motivation for late-dating, especially prophecy, because the implications are so severe. (Who would want to find out that Luke 16:23 is a reality the hard way?) But average Jews living average Jew lives didn’t really have a good reason to start pimping a new religion.

                          To me, it is infinitely easier, for all kinds of reasons, to accept the Gospels as either eye-witness accounts, or thoroughly research history, which is what Luke claimed his work to be.

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                          • Phil, many New Testament scholars would dispute your view of the gospels as either “intended as history” or “made up.”

                            In fact, I think most of them with.

                            The Gospels need not to be scandalous lies if they are shown not to be histoeical. These were fantastic stories of human hope, struggle, history. We don’t accuse the folks who made up the Aesops’s fables or The great Greek legends of bad faith because they didn’t put the word “warning, fiction!” on their works.

                            You truly are oversimplifying. The Gospels are well intentioned stories that emerged from a community under extreme persecution and in the state of intense apocalyptic expectation. There are many historically false claims in there, but no lies.

                            Incidentally, I hope you know that exactly 0 of the 27 new testament documents was written by an eyewitness to Jesus. Even conservative scholars admit to this.

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                            • “Incidentally, I hope you know that exactly 0 of the 27 new testament documents was written by an eyewitness to Jesus. Even conservative scholars admit to this.”

                              Like Peter, right?

                              Bruce Metzger was a conservative scholar. The Wikipedia entry about him notes that:

                              “Metzger argues that the early church which assembled the New Testament did not consider divine inspiration to be a sufficient criterion for a book to be placed in the canon. Metzger says that the early church saw it as very important that a work describing Jesus’ life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus”

                              That aside, a guy named Steven Weinberg is credited with this valuable axiom:

                              “An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.”

                              A small error would be like overlooking the fact that in Luke 21:24, Jesus is quoted as saying “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

                              So even if someone wrote those uplifting words after 70AD (just to inspire persecuted Jews), the fact remains that Jerusalem is no longer trodden down of the Gentiles.

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                              • Phil. “Metzger says that the early church saw it as very important that a work describing Jesus’ life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus”

                                If “follower” of Jesus means someone who hung out with the guy, Bruce Metzger did not say that.

                                You are absolutely wrong on this issue. Not a single New Testament document was written by anybody who had met Jesus.

                                Peter? It is widely agreed that Peter did not even write the book attributed to him. (2Peter.).

                                BTW, it is not reassuring that you are citing Wikipedia here.

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                                • 1 and 2 Peter. And naturally, since they respectively begin with

                                  “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”

                                  and

                                  “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…”

                                  then liberals will conclude that Peter didn’t write the letters.

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                                  • Peter also addressed the sweet and hopeful tales theory:

                                    “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

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                                      • “Early Christian Writings on the generally accepted date of first Peter, 80 to 110 AD.

                                        I get that dating is not an agenda free activity. But I hope you do also.”

                                        Yeah, I can go with that. But the burden of proof is on the late-daters. If someone identifies himself as the author of a document, the critic becomes an accuser, and it is up to him to prove fraud. Pissy arguments about style do not cut it. What would count is contemporary refutations. If 1 Peter was a lie, it would not have been accepted, copied and distributed without someone knowing and pointing out that it was a lie. So, who among those general acceptors, can show documents that expose the fraud?

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                                        • Phil. I do not know where the burden of proof lies. I am not as sanguine as you are in assuming at lies with the one challenging the claim of self-authorship. After all, there was I widespread practice of people using pseudonyms back then.

                                          And there is plenty of evidence to shift the burden, in any event, as I think I showed in the link I sent you.

                                          I know nothing about this, so I look to the experts.

                                          And when the vast majority of them say the things that were claimed to have been written by Peter werw not I give them difference. I Grant it is not an ideal way to go about forming believes, but is the best I can do on things that I am already not an expert in (which includes almost everything.)

                                          And I guess I should ask you, is your belief about Peter a parent or a child of your religious commitments?

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                          • Okay, but still, in your view, somebody started making up stories and telling them as the truth, which is lying any way you look at it.

                            No, it’s not.

                            I’ll tell you about one of the conversations I’ve had with a Southern Babtist about the whole “Jesus turning water into grape juice” discussion. She told me that she knew, in her heart, that Jesus would *NEVER* turn water into wine. He didn’t approve of alcohol, you see.

                            So if she told me that Jesus turned water into grape juice rather than wine, was she lying?

                            From my perspective, she’s telling me a deep truth. A truth that she knows deep in her heart. I pointed out the original Greek that the author of John used. No dice. Why? Because she already *KNEW* the truth.

                            Same for the people you’re saying are lying.

                            I don’t think that they were lying. I think that they were telling the truth that they knew in their heart.

                            Also:
                            I can easily understand the motivation for late-dating, especially prophecy, because the implications are so severe.

                            Would you say that the implications behind early-dating have anything to motivate those who argue for it? Anything at all?

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                            • “So if she told me that Jesus turned water into grape juice rather than wine, was she lying?”

                              No, she’s just ignorant, and committed to an unreasonable premise. Fortunately, it isn’t a dangerous one.

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                              • Why should there not be metaphor and poetic language in the Christian holy documents just like there is in then holy documents of other belief systems?

                                Because we have somewhere along the line built a theology on literalism, and one single error means the whole edifice comes crumbling down. That is why evangelical Christians fight tooth and nail to reconcile Matthew versus Luke on the different versions of the death of Judas, for example.

                                They are irreconcilable, but much ink has been spent trying to pretend otherwise.

                                Think of how liberating it would be if all those brain hours going into such silly matters went into productive stuff (like exposing Ravi Zacharias. :-)

                                Steve Baughman

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  10. RAVI ZACHARIAS JUST GAVE US YET ANOTHER REASON NOT TO TRUST HIM.

    Mr. Zacharias misled the public in his December 3 press release. In that statement, his first public comment on his federal lawsuit against Lori Anne Thompson, he says this: “Subsequently, she began to contact me via the email address I had used to contact her husband after first meeting them. My responses were usually brief. Then, last year, she shockingly sent me extremely inappropriate pictures of herself unsolicited. I clearly instructed her to stop contacting me in any form; I blocked her messages, and I resolved to terminate all contact with her.”

    This sounds innocent enough. Mr. Zacharias communicate with Ms. Thompson through an email address that both she and her husband had access to.

    But the truth is that Mr. Zacharias actually gave Ms. Thompson his private Blackberry info and asked her to contact him through this “more secure” method of communication. That is how he received the nude photos. How do we know? Because that is what he told the Federal Court in his July 31, 2017 complaint.

    Here is what he says in paragraph 36: “Plaintiff asked Ms. Thompson that she communicate with him via private BlackBerry Messenger (“BBM”)—a more secure method of communication than e-mail given its superior security and encryption capabilities.” (For his entire complaint see http://www.raviwatch.com/news/story/sex-scandal/ )

    Ravi Zacharias has been racking up untruths at an astonishing rate. More to come. Stand by.

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  11. I’m sorry to learn that Ravi is human after all. Of course, if you study the Bible, it sounds like the only thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, is that the Christian enters Heaven first. I mean, Paul said he was the “chief of sinners’ and “the good that I would do I don’t do”, “O wretched man that I am”. Still, even if a Christian is just a saved sinner, it would be sooooo refreshing if they could be 100 percent truthful with what they believe and how they feel. Be TRUTHFUL, NO tricks, no Christian “taqiyya” (which is lying for your God to spread your religion like is OK to do in Islam). The Bible says to not murmur. Well, if that murmur is based on true feelings and beliefs about your faith, I say, GO for it. You become damn creepy when you put out a phony front to get people to believe like you. Be truthful, ALWAYS.

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