Copycats? The challenge concerning Jude and 2 Peter 2

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 4: Copycats? The Apologist’s Challenge of Jude and 2 Peter 2.

Previously: Chapter 3: I Reckon So: The Apologist’s Standing in Christ

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History is rife with famous plagiarists. Primatologist Jane Goodall “borrowed” from sources ranging from Wikipedia to astrology websites to produce a 2013 book, Seeds of Hope: Wonder and Wisdom from the World of Plants.

Alex Haley’s epic Roots is now considered a mixture of facts, fiction, and thievery.

Joe Biden scuttled his own run for president in 1987 by stealing lines – and even whole pages – from other people’s speeches, from the British Labor Party’s Neil Kinnock to American President John F. Kennedy.

And that’s not all. Martin Luther King Jr., rocker Led Zeppelin, and composer John Williams all stand accused in varying degrees of taking other people’s creative work and calling it their own.

So, how do we deal with the reality that portions of Jude and Peter’s second epistle are uncannily similar? Are we dealing with one or more plagiarists claiming divine inspiration?
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Is God an ethnic cleanser?

In The God Delusion, atheist Richard Dawkins vents:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

It seems odd that Dawkins, who has made a career out of pillorying a God he says does not exist, charges this fictional character with a plethora of crimes, including ethnic cleansing.

But the question itself is a valid one. When God instructs the Israelites to annihilate seven nations inhabiting the Promised Land to make room for His chosen people, He uses unambiguous terms.

In passages like Deut. 7:1-2 and 20:16-17, God tells the Israelites: “you must completely destroy them … you must not let any living thing survive.”

And the biblical narrative suggests the commands are taken quite literally: “They [the Israelites] completely destroyed everything in the city [Jericho] with the sword — every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep and donkey” (Josh. 6:21).

Does Dawkins have a point?
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I reckon so: The apologist’s standing in Christ

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 3: I Reckon So: The Apologist’s Standing in Christ.

Previously: Chapter 2: Jude, Slave, Brother: The Identity of Apologists

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To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you (Jude 1b-2)

In The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood plays a Missouri farmer driven to revenge by the murder of his wife and son at the hands of pro-Union Jayhawkers during the Civil War. Having joined a band of pro-Confederate Bushwhackers, Wales refuses an offer of amnesty at the end of the war, only to watch as surrendering fighters are slaughtered in cold blood. He races to the scene, overpowers a Union soldier manning a Gatling gun, and turns it on the Kansas Redlegs.

Now an outlaw, Wales flees to Texas. Though preferring to travel alone, he crosses paths with a diverse cadre of companions, from a spry old Cherokee named Lone Watie, to a young Navajo woman he rescues from rape, to a crotchety Kansas grandmother whose family he frees from raiding Comancheros.

Throughout the story, Wales exhibits an uncanny ability to see the world as it is – cruel, unforgiving, yet capable of redemption – and often he acknowledges the truthful observations of others with a simple, “I reckon so.”

Dogged by Redlegs and a Union officer known as Captain Fletcher, Wales helps his companions resettle a Texas homestead while negotiating peace with their Comanche neighbors. He then helps the settlers repel a Redlegs attack, finally avenging his family’s murder by killing their leader.

Wounded, and knowing that his continued presence at the homestead only invites further attacks, he heads out on his own, but not before a final encounter with Captain Fletcher, who mercifully avoids revealing his identity to Texas Rangers by calling him “Mr. Wilson.”

“I think I’ll go down to Mexico and try to find him [Josey Wales],” says Fletcher.

“And then?” asks Wales.

“He’s got the first move. I owe him that. I think I’ll try to tell him the war is over. What do you say, Mr. Wilson?”

“I reckon so.”

Wales gingerly mounts his horse and, listing badly, rides away. Fletcher turns away, leaving viewers convinced he and the outlaw have made their peace.

Like Josey Wales, some battle-hardened Christians have learned to see the world as it is without losing sight of who they really are. This comes to light in the opening verses of Jude’s epistle. These believers are urged not to surrender to the false teachers among them, to continue the fight for sound doctrine, and to persevere to the very end.
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Persecution and the perfect man

November 5 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. North Korea continues its run as the nation most brutal toward its Christian citizens, but the vast majority of the top 50 persecutors are Muslim-dominated nations, according to the 2017 World Watch List.

Which begs the question: Is Islam hostile to Christianity?

Many Muslims worldwide condemn the violence done in the name of Allah, especially to Jews and Christians. They desire peaceful coexistence with their neighbors. Further, they cite passages from the Qur’an that support freedom of religion, and they embrace Jews and Christians as “people of the Book.”

Other Muslims, of course, follow a more violent path to achieve the goal of Islam: Bringing the world into submission to Allah.

All Muslims, however, honor Muhammad as the al-Insan al-Kamil, or “the person who has reached perfection.” Further, they seek to pattern their lives after him based on his words and deeds as revealed in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira.

So, it’s only fair to explore what Muhammad said about Jews and Christians, and how he treated them. After all, if he is indeed the ultimate role model, his life should exemplify how every Muslim thinks and acts toward others.
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Jude, slave, brother

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 2: Jude, Slave, Brother: The Identity of Apologists.

Previously: Chapter 1: Jude, A Slave: The Attitude of Apologetics

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Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James … (Jude 1)

In June 1989 a young man made headlines – and history – when he singlehandedly slowed the advance of tanks heading for China’s Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government had begun cracking down on anti-communist demonstrations in Beijing. Feeling the crush of military muscle, most of the peacefully demonstrating Chinese dispersed, except for one man whose identity has never been positively confirmed.

Holding shopping bags, the man, dressed in dark pants and a white shirt, strode into the center of the broad street and, turning toward the approaching column of tanks, stood his ground. When the driver of the lead tank tried to maneuver around him, the bystander moved to his left and cut off the tank’s advance. He then climbed onto the tank and tried to talk with the soldiers inside before two unidentified men whisked him away.

“Tiananmen Square Guy,” as he came to be known, stands as a symbol of peaceful opposition to the oppression of totalitarian regimes. Conflicting claims about his name and whereabouts indicate that his true identity may never be discovered.

The names of other famous people in history may never be known, either, or at least positively confirmed – from the kissing sailor and nurse on VJ Day to the Zodiac Killer, and from “the babushka lady” in the Zapruder film of John F. Kennedy’s assassination to Jack the Ripper.

Sometimes famous people remain anonymous by design, and this is no less true of authors of New Testament books. For example, none of the Gospels is self-identified, although we’re quite confident of the writers’ identity. In contrast, the unnamed author of the book of Hebrews remains a mystery. Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter is disputed.

But we face a different challenge with the book of Jude – namely, that Jude (Greek Ioudas, or Judas, Judah) is a common first-century name, and there happen to be eight such characters in the New Testament:

  • Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles and the betrayer of Jesus (Matt. 10:4)
  • Judas the son of James, one of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13)
  • Judas, Paul’s host in Damascus (Acts 9:11)
  • Judas, called Barsabbas, a leading Christian in Jerusalem and a companion of Paul (Acts 15:22, 27, 32)
  • Judas, a revolutionary leader (Acts 5:37)
  • Judah, an otherwise unknown person in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:30)
  • Judah, a son of Jacob in the genealogy of Jesus and an ancestor of an Israelite tribe (Matt. 1:2; Rev. 7:5)
  • Judas, a half-brother of Jesus and a brother of James (Matt. 13:55)

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