Category Archives: Bible/Theology

Happy Resurrection Day!




 There have been numerous ways the grand truth of Jesus’ resurrection has been stated and explained. In the Bible, the prophets foretold it, as did Jesus Himself. The Gospel narratives give historical accounts of the event and eyewitnesses of Jesus alive again, and the Gospels also, together with the New Testament Epistles, explain what the resurrection means regarding salvation. Further, for almost two millennia, Christian preachers and teachers have explained it to millions around the world, and musicians have commemorated the event in song.

A unique celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is the following poem, “The Death of Death,” that I ran across while in seminary about 30 years ago. The poem is anonymous as far as I have been able to determine, but if anyone knows who wrote it please notify me and I will give credit where credit is due.



 Father Time met pale King Death sitting by a tomb.

“Hello, O Friend, I guess you’re here to seal somebody’s doom.”

“You might say that,” sly Death replied, a smile lit up his face.

“Herein lies that Jesus man who said He’d save the race.

“And you, O Time, why did you stop? Don’t you have other things to do?”

“Well,” said Time, “I just come each day to draw the vale and let the morning through.

But you, O Death, why do you watch just one grave with all your vast domain?

Seems like you’d be out ramblin’ around an smitin’ folks with pain!”

“Well,” sneered Death, “This one’s special—Jesus challenged me they say.

He claimed He would lie here just three days then stand and walk away.

Now I’m the conqueror you know; they don’t talk down to me.

When I come in to knock ‘em down, it’s for eternity.”

“I can sure testify to that,” responded Father Time.

“I haven’t seen one escape your grasp since you’ve been in your prime.

But I have other things to do so I must be on my way.

I’ll see you when I come back again to start another day.”

So stately Time went up the hill to bid the sun to rise,

And left Death standing by the tomb looking strong and wise.


The next day Time passed by again, “And how are things” he queried.

“Rather quiet,” Death replied, “I’m beginning to get weary.

I won’t be here when you come by again about this time tomorrow.

Since Jesus can’t do what He claimed, I’ll go spread some grief and sorrow.”


The next day Father Time was quite surprised when he came back to see

Old Death a quivering on the ground in frightful agony.

His eyes were set, his throat was marked, his clothes in disarray.

It wasn’t difficult to see that Death had had his day.

“What happened, Death?” asked Father Time. “What makes you look so bad?

I’ve never seen you shake this way or look so scared and sad.”

Death pulled himself upon a rock, looking sick and humble.

He hung his head and wrung his hands, and Time could hear him mumble.

“I was sitting there on that tomb before the dawn, and I was about to take my leave.

When all at once an angel grabbed that stone and gave a mighty heave.

That massive stone jumped off the door and skipped on down the hill.

Then everything grew dark and quiet, as if the earth stood still.

Then I saw Jesus—He was standing at the entrance, and He didn’t move or speak.

He just looked at me and all at once I felt so tired and weak.

He came and got a hold of me and threw me to the ground.

He put His foot here on my neck, and He took my keys and crown.

Jesus said, ‘The plan’s all finished now; redemption’s work is done.’

And two angels came and talked to Him; they glistened like the sun.

And as they passed the garden gate, I heard Him say to them.

‘I now have set the captives free and given gifts to men.’”


Time and Death met once again over there by Saint Peter’s gate.

“And how are you?” asked Father Time. “I’ve been wondering about your fate.”

Old Death was quiet for a moment and didn’t say a word.

But when he finally spoke to Time, he was gentle as a bird.

“I’m just a lowly servant now,” said Death, “there’s very little time to roam.

I just push open this big gate and help the saints go home.”


Addendum to Pope John Paul II: Saint or Sinner? Part 1: What Is a Saint?



Addendum to Part 1: What Is a Saint?

I did not intend to wait so long before returning to my series on sainthood that I began in my first blog post back in the fall, but several things demanded my blog’s attention  (such as the Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series and the Killing series of books). However, before I move on to Part 2 to consider what the Roman Catholic Church (hereafter RCC) says about miracles in relation to sainthood, I want to respond to a couple of comments on the first blog.

First, someone named Mary Graham said the following about the first blog:

“Your patent anti-Catholic bigotry is surpassed only by your lack of knowledge of Catholic religious practices. Whether this is sheer ignorance or willful misrepresentation I cannot say. I can say, unequivocally, that this falls precisely into the category of fundamentalism that Professor Crossan warns against.

I must point out that it is easy to say that I have a “lack of knowledge of Catholic religious practices,” but it would have been more appropriate and helpful if Mary had given specific examples. Even more to the point, I invite Mary or anyone else to point out what mistakes I made in the blog. I was very careful in documenting what I said, much of it coming from Catholic websites listed at the end of the blog. I can’t help but wonder if Mary really understands her own religion since she is charging me with errors about Catholic teachings that I documented straight from Vatican and other Catholic sources.

Even more disturbing is Mary’s inclusion of a link to a youtube video in which Catholic professor John Dominic Crossan describes (or attempts to describe) fundamentalism.

Continue reading Addendum to Pope John Paul II: Saint or Sinner? Part 1: What Is a Saint?

More on Killing Jesus

More on Killing Jesus:

 When I posted my review of Bill O’Reilley’s Killing Jesus this past Christmas Day, I did so with the nagging feeling that there was something else bothering me about that book. After a couple of weeks, I finally realized what it was. Since then I have thought of another issue regarding the book because I read Stephen Mansfield’s book of the same title (see Stephen Mansfield, Killing Jesus: The Unknown Conspiracy behind the World’s Most Famous Execution [Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013]) and Mansfield was guilty of the same mistake. This blog addresses those two issues.

First, both books fail to mention the sovereignty and will of God in the death of Jesus. The Four Gospels, and indeed the entire New Testament, refer time and again to the death of Jesus as the center point of God’s plan for our redemption. This theme occurs in the Old Testament as well. Jesus stated on several occasions that He would give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. The Four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament are clear that this was the Father’s plan, and Jesus above all else came into this world to do His Father’s will. This means that Jesus was not a victim of circumstances, and the political/religious situation did not get out of control when the Roman and Jewish leaders conspired against Him. No, Jesus knew that He was born into this world to die for our sins and that it would be a cruel, painful, humiliating death. But Jesus’ love for us and His resolve to obey His Father’s will and accomplish His Father’s plan to redeem us compelled Him to endure unimaginable agony. I realize that both of these books are primarily works of history, but if the Four Gospels are going to be used as the primary sources (as they should be, and as the authors of both books did), then what the Four Gospels say about why Jesus died needs to be emphasized just as much as and perhaps more than how He died.

Second, both books delve into the gory details of the beatings and scourging that Jesus likely had to endure even before He was crucified, and the horrors of the process of crucifixion are given in detail as well.

Continue reading More on Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus:

A Review of Bill O’Reilley’s Book about Jesus’ Life and Death


I decided that it would be appropriate to wait and post this book review on Christmas Day, and I say that for two reasons. First, this book (Killing Jesus: A History [New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2013]) begins with an account of Jesus’ birth; second, the reason Jesus came into this world was to die for the sins of humanity, so it was necessary for the Savior to be born into the world as a human being, and the virgin birth was the vehicle for that amazing event. Jesus’ resurrection proved His power over sin and death, so we must remember that Christmas and Good Friday and Easter are closely connected. More about this below.

But enough theologizing—at least for the moment.

I enjoyed this third book in the Killing series just as much as I did the other two. (See my reviews of Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy in a previous blog. Also, Bill O’Reilley’s website promises another book in the Killing series soon.) But I have to qualify my enthusiasm for this book more than I did the other two. I have divided my views on this book into four categories: (1) the parts I agree with and can commend without reservation; (2) the parts I must question as to relevance, though I have no issue regarding accuracy; (3) the parts that concern me regarding interpretation of the biblical text; and (4) and my concern about what is not in this book that should be.

Continue reading Killing Jesus

Pope John Paul II: Saint or Sinner?



Part 1: What Is a Saint?

On July 5, 2013, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had conferred sainthood upon Pope John Paul II (reigned 1978–2005). The Roman Catholic Church (hereafter RCC) has various criteria that must be met before the Pope will confer sainthood upon someone, and not all potential candidates receive it. This practice of the RCC began in the year 993, and the present process (called canonization) was not in place until the twelfth century. The RCC now considers over 10,000 men and women of the past to be “saints.”

I explain what the Bible says about saints below. But for now let’s examine the RCC’s teaching on how a person becomes a saint and what that means to a Catholic. The RCC has several requirements that must be met before sainthood is conferred upon him or her, and Saint is the last of four official titles the Pope confers upon those deemed worthy. But even before one can receive consideration, he or she must have been dead at least five years—although the Pope can wave this criterion if he wishes, as Pope John Paul II did for Mother Teresa in 1999 less than two years after her death. (As of this date, Mother Teresa is Blessed but not a Saint; see below.) Further, the process does not begin until a group of Catholics send their Bishop an official request that someone be considered for sainthood—although, as always, the Pope can bypass this step if he wishes.

Once a Bishop receives a request for consideration, he must review it and, if impressed by the candidate’s piety, he then sends it to the Vatican for the Pope’s personal analysis. If the Pope finds the person worthy, he declares the title Servant of God upon that person. The Pope can then confer a second title, Venerable, upon that person followed by a third title, Blessed, if he considers the person worthy of those titles as well.

Continue reading Pope John Paul II: Saint or Sinner?