The gods of Egypt vs. God of the Bible

By Jerry Newcombe / ChristianPost.com

Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Dr. Jerry Newcombe

The title of a recently released film caught my attention: The Gods of Egypt. This column is not about the film, but rather it addresses God’s judgment on the gods of Egypt by way of the ten plagues. The ten plagues were the systematic judgments of God against Pharaoh and the Egyptians for enslaving the Hebrews for 400 years and refusing to let them go.

“Let My people go,” said God through his servants, Moses and his brother Aaron. But Pharaoh refused. So under God’s instruction, Moses unleashed ten plagues against Egypt.

In each of these judgments, God spared His people, the Hebrews. He miraculously kept them from experiencing His wrath.

The final judgment, the slaying of the Egyptian’s firstborn, involved the very first Passover event. The Hebrew people were instructed by God to take a lamb without blemish, to sacrifice it, and to spread the blood on the top and the two sides of the doorpost, forming a type of cross.

Then the angel of death would pass over the Hebrew households [with the blood on the doorposts], but would slay the firstborn of the Egyptians. The New Testament says Christ our Passover lamb has been slain for us.

Dr. D. James Kennedy points out that each of the ten plagues was a judgment on one of the gods of Egypt. You can find his commentary on this it in the new D. James Kennedy Topical Study Bible in the Book of Exodus.

Kennedy notes, “In the Book of Exodus, we see the great confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh. This is the Old Testament counterpart to the confrontation between Christ and Pilate, the representative of the pagan Roman Empire, with Pharaoh being the representative of the pagan empire of Egypt. Here is a classic confrontation between good and evil, Christ and Satan.”

Consider the plagues one by one and what Kennedy says about God’s judgment on Egypt’s false gods:

1. The Egyptians worshiped the River Nile, the source of their lives.

The first plague attacked that idol by turning the water into blood.

2. The goddess Hekt (Heket, Heqet) had the face of a frog.

“You worship frogs,” said God in effect, “now see what it’s like to have frogs everywhere.” In a short time, the Egyptians were sick of frogs.

3. Plague number three saw lice fill the land.

Kennedy notes, “Now one of the gods of the Egyptians was Seb, the earth god. … The Egyptians’ reverence for the ground having it covered with trillions of fleas or lice would no doubt cool their amorous desires for that earth god Seb.”

4. Swarms of flies made up the fourth plague.

Says Kennedy: “Scholars say they probably were not flies, so much as they were the beetles common to that area, called the scarabaeus from which we get the word scarab, which is a black beetle.”

5. The fifth plague was the judgment on the Egyptian cattle.

Apis, the chief god of Memphis, was a sacred bull worshiped by the Egyptians.

6. The sixth plague involved boils.

This was a judgment against the god Typhon. This god, notes Kennedy, was “a magical genie that was worshiped in ancient Egypt. Here was a god who was connected with the magicians, which were the priests of the Egyptian religion. We find here that the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boil was upon the magicians and upon all of Egypt. So their power was broken.”

7. Then came the plague of hail.

Shu was the “god of the atmosphere.” As Kennedy points out: “Now it is hard to go out to worship the god of the atmosphere when you are being pounded with large hail stones.”

8. Next, locusts swarmed the land.

The Egyptians worshiped the god Serapis, defender of the land against locusts.

9. Another major god of the Egyptians was Rah, the sun god.

But Plague number nine saw darkness come over the land, even during the day.

10. “And finally in the last plague upon Pharaoh himself, who was supposedly descended from the sun god Rah, his first born was killed,” writes Kennedy.

He sums it all up this way: “In the ten plagues, God shows the world for all time that He alone deserves our worship.”

Tragically, people today worship all sorts of false gods: money, celebrities, and football or other sports. Some even worship their own possessions. Each of these will one day be burned up in God’s final judgment of this Earth, and then all will see that only the Triune God is worthy of worship.

Whether audiences find the new movie, The Gods of Egypt, to be an entertaining fantasy adventure or just a high-tech stinker, it’s good to remember that the ten plagues were God’s judgments on human idolatry.

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Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library

The Radical Christian

Frangipane header

By Francis Frangipane

It would be both arrogant and foolish to limit the problem of terrorism to Muslims only. The fact is, many religions have had discomforting experiences with zealots and terrorism. Yet it is uniquely the Muslim religion that has produced entire armies of radical terrorists. How do we address this?

The Problem
Consider: a man might be a nominal Christian, mostly unaffected by spiritual things, until one day he reads the Bible, and he finds a spiritual fire has been ignited in his heart. If that man remains in his new conviction, he will increasingly pattern his life after Jesus Christ — that is, he will become more loving and forgiving and more willing to invest his life in seeing others redeemed as well. He will, in short, increasingly become more Christlike. As Jesus predicted, “The works that I do, [My follower] will do also” (John 14:12).

However, if a nominal Muslim begins to read the Koran, and if he continues his daily readings and prayers, at some point he will increasingly surrender toward obeying all of Mohammed’s teachings. Within this man’s devotional life he may ultimately seek to possess true Islam — that is, total submission to Allah. Within this small group of zealots, a smaller percentage will embrace not only the teachings of Mohammed but his works as well. Just as the follower of Jesus ultimately seeks conformity to Jesus, so the committed Muslim will prove his faithfulness by obeying even the militant extremes of Islam. The works Mohammed did the follower of Mohammed will also do.

And this is the problem: the Christian who becomes increasingly like Christ is being conformed to a redeemer; the Muslim who becomes increasingly like Mohammed is being conformed to a military leader.Outwardly, the Muslim zealot may have originally presented himself to others as a man both courteous and nonthreatening. When he seeks employment he shows himself as one who disavows violence — he is sincere, for his religion at this stage is nominal. But as time passes and as he becomes more committed to Islam, he will begin to view non-Muslims as infidels instead of just neighbors or coworkers. He will justify the violent impulses he feels because the Koran tells him such impulses should be followed.

Remember, I am not speaking of all Muslims but only a small fraction. What I am saying is that the radicalization of at least a small minority of Muslims is almost inevitable. For the normal growth of an unrestrained, fully committed zealot will eventually conform him to the founder of his religion.

This means that as long as there are people reading the Koran, there will be a small percentage who pledge themselves to spread Islam, even by use of terrorism. We who live in the predominantly non-Muslim world will have to cope with the violence of these self-radicalized “true believers.”

Some Considerations
Are you a moderate Muslim, a man or woman of spirituality and refinement? Then you must decide that you do not want violent Muslims — people motivated by hatred and blood lust — to represent you. You must denounce and expose radicals — even the son or daughter in your own home. The first line of defense against radical Muslims must be moderate Muslims.

[Let me interject here that I know there are many Muslims — perhaps tens of thousands — who have helped expose radicals in their communities. We applaud your courage.]

Are you Christian? You must guard against prejudging all Muslims by the violence manifested by the few. Remember, here in the Western world, a number of people turned to Islam as a reaction to the sinfulness and scandals in the Church. Now, however, in this present atmosphere, these same people are beginning to harbor doubts about their decision. Let us, therefore, make sure our communication with Muslims is the expression of Christ’s love.

Additionally, let us pray for Muslims. My wife and I pray daily for the Islamic world. Many Muslims are coming to Christ, often through the sovereign manifestation of Christ through dreams and visions. (article) We pray that even the most radical Muslims may find forgiveness and life in Christ.

In the final analysis, perhaps the best way to win the radical Islamist is through the love shown them by the radical Christ follower.

Ten Lost Tribes: Found!

© January 2001 By Asher Intrater

The kingdom of Israel reached its height at the time of David and Solomon, approximately 1,000 years before the time of Yeshua. During the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, the northern ten tribes of Israel split away from Judah and Benjamin. Thus the kingdom was divided into the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah.

This division became the object of the messianic hope to be reunited by the future Messiah (Ezekiel 37:12ff). There is also the symbolic sense that the northern tribes represent the international church, while the tribe of Judah represents the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Yet those two viewpoints are prophetic and symbolic, not historical and genealogical.

The northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the eighth century BC and the southern tribes of Judah were taken into captivity in the sixth century. The Bible records that the captivity of Judah returned to the land of Israel during the fifth century BC.

Since there was no major description of the restoration of the northern tribes, much speculation and curiosity have arisen over the years as to the question, “Where are the lost ten tribes?”

An interesting yet dangerous trend is that many Christian cult groups claim to be actual descendants of the ten northern tribes. This ranges from groups in Japan to native Americans. There are some elements in Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses that make a similar claim. It has even effected parts of the Christian Zionist movement.

The truth of the matter is that there are no lost ten tribes. During the time of the kingdom division and the captivities, a certain percentage of each of the northern tribes came down and took up residence in the area of Judah. After that time the name Judah or the Jews referred not only to the specific tribe of Judah but also to the Benjaminites, the Levites and the remnant of all the northern tribes.

There are no lost ten tribes. All the tribes of Israel are included in what we call today the Jewish people. There are seven basic biblical evidences that prove this position.

Israel Remnant in Judah (II Chronicles)
The book of II Chronicles records many times that the members of the northern tribes immigrated to Judah after the kingdom division. This happened from the very moment of the division. II Chronicles 10: 16-17: “So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WHO DWELT IN THE CITIES OF JUDAH.”

It couldn’t be stated more clearly that there were members of the Israeli tribes living in the territory of Judah. II Chronicles 11:3 states that Rehoboam was the king not only of Judah but to “ALL” Israel living “IN” Judah and Benjamin. II Chronicles 11:16-17 states that members of “ALL” the tribes of Israel who were loyal to God came down to Jerusalem and strengthened the kingdom of Judah.

II Chronicles 15:9 tells us that during the revival of King Assa that there were “great numbers from Israel” who came over to Judah. II Chronicles 24:5 speaks of members gathered from all the tribes of Israel. II Chronicles 30:21 and 25 speak of the children of the Israelite tribes who came to Judah during the time of King Hezekiah. II Chronicles 31:6 speaks again of the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.

II Chronicles 30:10 speaks of members of the tribes of Ephraim, Menassah, Zebulun, and Asher coming to Jerusalem. II Chronicles 30:18 mentions also the tribe of Issachar. II Chronicles 34:6 adds to that list members of the tribes of Simeon and Naphtali. II Chronicles 34:9 states clearly that there were members of “ALL THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL” who were living in Jerusalem after the time of the Assyrian captivity. II Chronicles 35:3 again mentions that there were members of “all Israel” who were part of Judah.

Captivity Restored (Ezra and Nehemiah)
After the Babylonian captivity, the nation of Israel was restored under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. In those books are extensive genealogical records. The fact that there were careful genealogical records proves that not only were the northern Israelites part of the restoration, but that they kept records of their families and they knew which tribe they were from. Ezra 2:2 starts the records of “the number of the men of the people of ISRAEL.” Ezra 2:59 states that people had specific genealogical records not only to which of the northern tribes they were part of, but even as to which household: “identify their father’s house or their genealogy, whether they were of Israel.” Those who had records but were not perfectly documented were disqualified and had to wait for supernatural verification by the urim and thumin (should they ever arise). This proves how meticulous and well documented were the great majority of the family records (Ezra 2:62-63). Ezra 2:70 again speaks of “all” Israel dwelling in Judah after the restoration of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Ezra 6:16 and 21 speaks specifically of “the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity.” Ezra 7:7, 9:1, 10:1 and 10:25 speak of the problem that the Israelites had with inter-marriage.

Nehemiah 7:7 to 73 repeat the genealogy of the Israelite tribes that were recorded in Ezra 2. Nehemiah 9:2, 11:3 and 11:20 speak of “the rest of Israel.in all the cities of Judah.” Nehemiah 13:3 speaks of separating Gentiles so as not to confuse the genealogical records of Israel.

The Testimony of Anna (Luke 2)
In Luke 2:36 the prophetess Anna is listed as coming from the tribe of Asher, one of the most northern and least populated tribes of Israel. In other words, we have a clear statement in the New Testament that people who were considered Jews in the time of Jesus included people from the northern ten tribes of Israel, and that they had genealogical documentation as to which tribe they were from.

How could the tribe of Asher, for instance, be “lost” from 700 years before Jesus, if Anna knew her descendancy from Asher during the time of the New Testament?

Yeshua and the Apostles (Gospels and Acts)
Yeshua ministered all over the land of Israel. He addressed the Jewish people there. In all of His speeches, it is assumed that He is speaking to all the descendants of Israel. Yeshua never mentioned once the possibility that there was some other group or some lost tribe of Israel floating around somewhere. In preaching to the Jews of the first century, Yeshua said that He was called to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6).

In the same way, the apostles addressed the crowds of Jews in the first century with the assumption that they were all the descendants of Israel. In Acts 2:22 Peter turns to the “Jews” living in Jerusalem and refers to them as “men of Israel.” Peter concludes his sermon addressing his crowd as “ALL the house of Israel” (Acts 2:36). In other words, in the eyes of Peter, the Jewish people in the first century included all the tribes of Israel. Peter continued this way of addressing the people as all the house of Israel in his other speeches (Acts 3:12, 4:8, 4:10, 4:27, 5:21, 5:31, 5:35, 10:36).

Paul also addressed the Jews of the first century as “men of Israel” (Acts 13:16). He continued to address the Jews as Israelites throughout his messages (Acts 13:23-24, Acts 21:28, Acts 28:20). The twelve disciples were seen to be future leaders to “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:29).

The Twelve Tribes of James
The letter of James is addressed to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). He is not speaking of some lost tribes, but rather to the scattered audience of Jewish believers in Jesus of the first century.

The same argument is true as we look at the letter to the Hebrews. The group here called “Hebrews” are not some tribe of Japanese or native Americans, but rather the Jewish people of the first century.

The Remnant of Israel (Romans 9-11)
This argument has specific importance when we look to the promises of the restoration of the believing remnant of Israel, spoken of in the book of Romans, chapter 9 to 11. Here Paul expresses his prayer for the children of Israel to be saved (Romans 9:1-4, 10:1-4). This remnant that is to be restored is the biblical remnant of Israel that fulfills the prophecies. They are the same people who rejected Yeshua in the first century. It was not some lost tribe that rejected Him, but rather the Jews living in Israel at that time.

Paul states that God has not forsaken the people of Israel (Romans 11:1). There is a remnant of Israel by grace (Romans 11:5). What Israel did not achieve the elect have received (Romans 11:7). The falling away of Israel has meant the salvation of the Gentile nations (Romans 11:11). Their restoration will be the resurrection of the dead (Romans 11:12,15).

The whole drama of Romans 9-11 only makes sense if it is speaking about the people we know today as the Jewish people. If someone thinks that this is referring to Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or to Christian Zionists, or to some other native people group, the whole meaning of the passage is lost. That viewpoint would destroy the promises of God to Israel, the purpose of evangelism in Israel, and the meaning of the reconciliation between Israel and the church in the end times.

The Cultic View
It is not a coincidence that so many cults have come to the conclusion that they are one of the “lost” ten tribes of Israel. That viewpoint is confusing to their members and incorrect according to scriptures. That theology is dangerous and deceptive as we try to understand the prophecies of the restoration of Israel leading up to the second coming of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

Finding true meaning in Christmas season: The Advent of hope in Isaiah

By Dan Claire / WashingtonTimes.com

Olde Bible

Sunday is the fourth of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. We all know how to get ready for Christmas: Shop til you drop, make an appearance at every holiday party, decorate your home like in the magazines. It’s go, go, go: get stressed out, exhausted, sick, and then spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s in bed trying to recover.

That’s the way popular culture would have us prepare for Christmas. Yet there’s an entirely different way to prepare, a deeply spiritual way, that is antithetical to what’s happening all around us during this season. A short poem in Isaiah 2:2-5 lays before us this road less traveled, an alternate path for preparing for Christmas.

Verse 2:In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Written some 700 years before the first Christmas, this little poem lays out God’s wonderful vision for the future. It also serves as the overarching purpose statement for Isaiah. Just as your English teacher taught you to put your thesis in the first paragraph of your essay, here’s Isaiah’s thesis statement for everything else in his book. The first verse lays out the when and the what of Isaiah’s big vision:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Isa 2:2

When does Isaiah say he expects his big vision will take place? In the last days. This may sound ambiguous, but it’s not meant to be so. In the Bible, “the last days” or “the latter days” refer to a definite time, specifically the reign of King Jesus. A great many passages from the Old Testament look forward to this time. In the New Testament, reflecting on the amazing and wonderful story of Jesus, one author after another claims the Last Days have arrived. Peter, preaching his first sermon in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, says that the gift of the Holy Spirit was proof that the Last Days had begun. Or Hebrews 1:1-2, that says: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”

In short, when the Bible talks about the “last days,” it’s talking about a time period that began with the first Christmas, when King Jesus came and began His rule over all the Earth. That’s what makes Isaiah 2 a Christmas poem. Of course, not everyone today recognizes Jesus as king, and so Isaiah’s big vision is not yet complete. For now, the really good news is that the last days are here and Isaiah’s big vision has already begun.

What does Isaiah see that will take place? Quite simply, that Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will be #1. All people on Earth will agree about the one, true God.

How does Isaiah say this in 2:2? Remember this is poetry, there’s symbolism at work here, so one thing may stand for another. In this case, “the mountain of the Lord’s temple” is a way of talking about God himself. For ancient Israel, even though they understood that God is everywhere, nevertheless “the mountain of the Lord’s temple” was God’s street address, just like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW is our president’s street address. In fact, we use the same kind of symbolism all the time, e.g., when reporters say “The White House” did this or that. We immediately interpret actions of “The White House” as actions by or under the authority of our president. That’s the same thing that Isaiah is doing in 2:2. In saying “the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be chief among the mountains,” he’s saying “Our God will be number one.”

Isaiah is painting a vivid and beautiful big vision using symbolism in what he goes on to say about the mountain of the Lord. Think for a moment about the water that flows naturally from tall mountains. Mountaintop springs and melting snow caps form rivulets that merge into streams and eventually become enormous rivers flowing into the sea. In Isaiah’s big vision, the sea of people across the Earth will flow just as naturally, but in reverse, streaming up to the mountain of the Lord. Trickles of people of every race and place, from every village and trailer park and housing project and neighborhood, will merge together and become one united family inside God’s big house.

Why should so many people throng to the mountain of the Lord? Isaiah spells out 3 reasons in vv 3-4: life, lordship, and love. Life is in verse three, “’He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Here’s the first promise of Isaiah’s big vision. God’s ways and paths are learned at God’s house. We read this passage through modern eyes, assuming the invention of the printing press. “The law going out from Zion” makes us think of a new operating manual, printed at headquarters, and sent out for us all to read and follow. That’s not at all what Isaiah has in mind. When he talks about God’s law or God’s word, he’s not envisioning an encyclopedia of esoteric religious knowledge. Rather, he’s picturing a new way of life, learned through apprenticeship under the Master. That’s one major reason why people should move into God’s house. We want to learn life from Him.

Apprenticeship is the best way to learn about life. You can learn more working a month for a congressman than in four years of undergraduate poli sci. You learn more spending a week in Guatemala than in a year-long Spanish language course. In the same way, the Master of all creation welcomes everyone into His home as His apprentices, so that we might learn from Him. Think about it. He made us. He knows how we’re wired, and He knows how we’re broken. He’s better than the world’s greatest doctor, the world’s greatest therapist, and the world’s greatest life coach all wrapped into one. He invites us in to learn a new way to live! Only a fool would pass up such an opportunity.

Lordship is in the first part of verse four: “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.” It’s an incredible opportunity to apprentice under a great master. Yet when the apprenticeship’s over, life on your own could be difficult. Thankfully that’s not God’s way. Instead, He sweetens the deal, by offering His apprentices permanent positions. In Isaiah’s big vision, there’s no place that God will send His people that is outside of HYis Lordship. “He will judge between the nations,” meaning our God will be the sovereign ruler over all nations. No people or place will escape His perfect justice.

Think about it. We live in a place with arguably the best system of justice on the planet. Yet there are a great many people in our culture who routinely suffer injustice for one reason or another. Furthermore, we all from time to time must find ways of working around our government to get things done. But imagine what life would be like if God were our president, or other public official. Imagine how much better life would be if His Kingdom came and His will were done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Unless, of course, you’re a sinner — like me. In which case, God’s perfect justice would be terrifying and inescapable. That’s why on the first Christmas, God didn’t appoint Jesus as judge. Rather, he sent Jesus first as a Redeemer. Through His sacrificial death, and His astounding, glorious resurrection, Jesus made a way for people like you and me to be forgiven our sins and assured of God’s favor when He judges between the nations. When Isaiah’s big vision is finally realized, and God’s Lordship becomes universal, Jesus’ disciples will be covered by the blood of Christ at the passover of God’s justice. who wouldn’t want to have such an amazing gift?

Love is at the end of verse four: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

Finally, when all the world has learned life at the feet of Almighty God, and when His Lordship has been extended over all the Earth, hate will utterly and completely disappear. There will no longer be any need for weapons, because the Prince of Peace will be our peace. Swords will become plowshares, spears will become pruning hooks, shields will become roasting pans, and artillery shells will become kegs. We’ll go from wartime to peacetime and enjoy an eternal feast in the presence of our great Master, Judge, Redeemer, and King. Imagine the joy of a world in which all our enemies have become friends and family, and hatred is replaced by love.

Which brings us to verse five. We’ve seen Isaiah’s Big Vision and heard his rationale for it in terms of Life, Lordship, and Love. Now it’s time for buy in. As with any vision statement there must be an implementation strategy. Here is Isaiah’s strategy: “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Isaiah issues an invitation to all of God’s people to walk in the light of the Lord. What does this mean? For Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets, everything in the “last days” was yet to come. For people today, living in light of the first Christmas, the Kingdom of Jesus has already begun. It was planted like a mustard seed, and now it’s growing up all around. We live in between the advents, when we can enjoy what God has already done through the cross of Christ, while anticipating what is yet to be when Christ returns in glory.

All the hopes for a wonderful world embedded in this season will only be fully realized in the Kingdom Come. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christians enjoy foretastes of God’s promises of Life, Lordship, and Love in the present as the vanguard of Isaiah’s big vision. This is God’s early Christmas present to His people. Isaiah invites Believers everywhere to unwrap and enjoy this gift, not in order to flaunt their privilege, but rather as a way of inviting others to enjoy God’s radical generosity.

So how do you prepare for Christmas? Each year, this season calls you to join in a frenzy that wears you out and leaves you feeling empty. Don’t do it. There’s a better way. Use this time to slow down and enjoy God, through spiritual disciplines like worship, prayer, and Bible reading. Give generously to those in need. If you’re not a Christian, commit your life to Jesus. If you are a Christian, renew your allegiance to Him. Either way, bask in the love of God, who gave His Son for you so long ago on the first Christmas, so that you and all the world might be set free of every burden.

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Dan Claire is rector of Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC.

Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to “A Common Word Between Us and You”

Read the original document submitted by the Muslim community:
A Common Word

The following response that first appeared on November 18, 2007 in The New York Times was posted on Yale.edu by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture:

In the name of the Infinitely Good God whom we should love with all our Being

Preamble
As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians worldwide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors.

Muslims and Christians have not always shaken hands in friendship; their relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility. Since Jesus Christ says, “First take the log out your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the “war on terror”) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.

Religious Peace—World Peace
“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” We share the sentiment of the Muslim signatories expressed in these opening lines of their open letter. Peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians stand as one of the central challenges of this century, and perhaps of the whole present epoch. Though tensions, conflicts, and even wars in which Christians and Muslims stand against each other are not primarily religious in character, they possess an undeniable religious dimension. If we can achieve religious peace between these two religious communities, peace in the world will clearly be easier to attain. It is therefore no exaggeration to say, as you have in A Common Word Between Us and You, that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

Common Ground
What is so extraordinary about A Common Word Between Us and You is not that its signatories recognize the critical character of the present moment in relations between Muslims and Christians. It is rather a deep insight and courage with which they have identified the common ground between the Muslim and Christian religious communities. What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and loveof neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and ofneighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.

Love of God
We applaud that A Common Word Between Us and You stresses so insistently the unique devotion to one God, indeed the love of God, as the primary duty of every believer. God alone rightly commands our ultimate allegiance. When anyone or anything besides God commands our ultimate allegiance – a ruler, a nation, economic progress, or anything else – we end up serving idols and inevitably get mired in deep and deadly conflicts.

We find it equally heartening that the God whom we should love above all things is described as being Love. In the Muslim tradition, God, “the Lord of the worlds,” is “The Infinitely Good and All-Merciful.” And the New Testament states clearly that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Since God’s goodness is infinite and not bound by anything, God “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” according to the words of Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospel (Matthew 5:45).

For Christians, humanity’s love of God and God’s love of humanity are intimately linked. As we read in the New Testament: “We love because he [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love of God springs from and is nourished by God’s love for us. It cannot be otherwise, since the Creator who has power over all things is infinitely good.

Love of Neighbor
We find deep affinities with our own Christian faith when A Common Word Between Us and You insists that love is the pinnacle of our duties toward our neighbors. “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself,” the Prophet Muhammad said. In the New Testament we similarly read, “whoever does not love [the neighbor] does not know God” (1 John 4:8) and “whoever does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). God is love, and our highest calling as human beings is to imitate the One whom we worship.

We applaud when you state that “justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part” of the love of neighbor. When justice is lacking, neither love of God nor love of the neighbor can be present. When freedom to worship God according to one’s conscience is curtailed, God is dishonored, the neighbor oppressed, and neither God nor neighbor is loved.

Since Muslims seek to love their Christian neighbors, they are not against them, the document encouragingly states. Instead, Muslims are with them. As Christians we resonate deeply with this sentiment. Our faith teaches that we must be with our neighbors – indeed, that we must act in their favor – even when our neighbors turn out to be our enemies. “But I say unto you,” says Jesus Christ, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matthew 5:44-45). Our love, Jesus Christ says, must imitate the love of the infinitely good Creator; our love must be as unconditional as is God’s—extending to brothers, sisters, neighbors, and even enemies. At the end of his life, Jesus Christ himself prayed for his enemies: “Forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

The Prophet Muhammad did similarly when he was violently rejected and stoned by the people of Ta’if. He is known to have said, “The most virtuous behavior is to engage those who sever relations, to give to those who withhold from you, and to forgive those who wrong you.” (It is perhaps significant that after the Prophet Muhammad was driven out of Ta’if, it was the Christian slave ‘Addas who went out to Muhammad, brought him food, kissed him, and embraced him.)

The Task Before Us
“Let this common ground” – the dual common ground of love of God and of neighbor – “be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us,” your courageous letter urges. Indeed, in the generosity with which the letter is written you embody what you call for. We most heartily agree. Abandoning all “hatred and strife,” we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good. Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.

Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

Harold W. Attridge
Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of
New Testament, Yale Divinity School

Miroslav Volf
Founder and Director of the Yale Center
for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright
Professor of Theology, Yale University

Joseph Cumming
Director of the Reconciliation Program,
Yale Center for Faith and Culture

Emilie M. Townes
Andrew Mellon Professor of African
American Religion and Theology
and President-elect of the American
Academy of Religion

A selection of prominent signatories follows. These signatories consist of those featured in the November 18, 2007 New York Times publication of “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” as well as of a selection of other prominent signatories. These signatories were all confirmed via email and in most cases were reconfirmed by further email exchange.

Capt. Bradford E. Ableson, Chaplain Corps, US Navy and Senior Episcopal Chaplain in the US Navy
Dr. Martin Accad, Academic Dean, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (Lebanon), Director, Institute of Middle East Studies (Lebanon), Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller School of Intercultural Studies
Scott C. Alexander, Associate Professor of Islam and Director, Catholic-Muslim Studies, Catholic Theological Union
Dr. Mogamat-Ali Behardien, Minister, African Reformed Church, Paarl, South Africa.
Roger Allen, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature and Chair, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, member of Middle East Study Group of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
Jean Amore, CSJ, for the Leadership Team of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
Rev. Daniel S. Appleyard, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Dearborn, MI
William Aramony, Consultant
Yvette A. Assem, Student, Interdenominational Theological Center
Atlanta, Georgia
Harold W. Attridge, Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
Dr. Don Argue, Chancellor, Northwest University, Former President, National Association of Evangelicals, Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
David Augsburger, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary
Gerald R. Baer, M.D., Minister of Christian Education, Landisville, PA
Dwight P. Baker, Associate Director, Overseas Ministries Study Center
Dr. Ray Bakke, Convening Chair, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding: An International Coalition, Tempe, AZ
His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, MCCI, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait
Leonard Bartlotti, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biola University
Charles L. Bartow, Carl and Helen Egner Professor of Speech Communication in Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern California
Federico Bertuzzi, President, PM Internacional, Latin America
James A. Beverley, Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada
J.D. Bindenagel, former U.S. Ambassador and Vice President, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Blair, The Second Presbyterian Church of Baltimore
Walter R. Bodine, Pastor, International Church at Yale and Research Affiliate, Near Eastern Languages, Yale University
Rev. Timothy A. Boggs, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
Regina A. Boisclair, Cardinal Newman Chair of Theology, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska
David Bok, Independent Bible Teacher, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT
Rev. Jim Bonewald, Pastor, Knox Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids, IA
Jonathan J. Bonk, Executive Director, Overseas Ministries Study Center and Editor, International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Rev. Michael S. Bos, Director, Al Amana Centre, Sultanate of Oman
Steven Bouma-Prediger, Professor of Religion, Hope College, Holland, MI
Gerhard Böwering, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University
Mary C. Boys, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Dan Brannen, International Students, Inc.
Revs. Scott & Katarina Breslin, Protestant House Church Network, Istanbul Turkey
Rev. Dr. Stuart Briscoe, Minister at Large, Elmbrook Church, Brookfield Wisconsin, USA; Founder, “Telling the Truth, Inc.”
Rev. Douglas Brown, Pastor, Valley View United Methodist Church Overland Park, Kansas
Joseph Britton, Dean, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale
Huib Bruinink, Developer of Marketing, PT. Puteri Mawar Sari, Central Java, Indonesia
John M. Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century.
James J. Buckley, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Loyola College in Maryland
Eugene W. Bunkowske, Ph.D., Fiechtner Chair Professor of Christian Outreach, Oswald Huffman School of Christian Outreach, Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota
John R. Burkholder, Professor Emeritus, Religion and Peace Studies, Goshen College, Goshen, IN
David Burkum, Pastor, Valley Christian Church, Lakeville, MN
Rt. Rev. Joe Goodwin Burnett, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska
Allen Busenitz, International Student Ministry, West Lafayette, IN
Very Rev. Samuel G. Candler, Dean, Cathedral of St. Philip (Anglican), Atlanta, GA
Juan Carlos Cárdenas, Academic Director, Instituto Iberoamericano de Estudios Transculturales, Granada, Spain
Joseph Castleberry, President, Northwest University
Rev. Colin Chapman, Former Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon, and author of Whose Promised Land?
Ellen T. Charry, Assoc. Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
David Yonggi Cho, Founder and Senior Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea
Hyung Kyun Chung, Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies, Union Theological Seminary in New York
Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis, Professor of Systematic Theology, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA
William Clarkson IV, President, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia
Emily Click, Lecturer on Ministry and Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies and Field Education, Harvard Divinity School.
Corneliu Constantineanu, Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia
Robert E. Cooley, President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts
Rev. Shawn Coons, St. Philip Presbyterian, Houston, TX
Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
Joseph Cumming, Director of the Reconciliation Program, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School
Daniel A. Cunningham, Executive Pastor, Temple Bible Church, Temple, TX
Bryant L. Cureton, President, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL
Fr. John D’Alton, President, Melbourne Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Melbourne, Australia
Fr. Joseph P. Daoust, S.J., President, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA
Rev. David R. Davis, Special Projects Coordinator, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, Wheaton, IL
John Deacon, Leader, Branch Out Ministries, The Olive Branch Community Church, Markham, Ontario, Canada
Rev. Joseph C. Delahunt, Senior Pastor, Silliman Memorial Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT
André Delbecq, Thomas J. and Kathleen L. McCarthy University Professor, Center for Spirituality of Organizational Leadership and former Dean of the Leavey School of Business at the University of Santa Clara
David A. Depew, President, Seed of Abraham Association, Broadcasting radio Bible studies in the Middle East
Keith DeRose, Allison Foundation Professor of Philosophy, Yale University
Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Professor of Reconciliation Studies, Bethel University
Andrew Dimmock, Director, Doulos Community, Nouakchott, Mauritania
Chip Dobbs-Allsopp, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
Andrés Alonso Duncan, CEO, Latinoamerica Global, A.C.
Kent A. Eaton, Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Associate Dean, Bethel Seminary San Diego, California
Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies in Arts and Sciences and member of the Faculty of Divinity, Harvard University
Mike Edens, Professor of Theology and Islamic Studies, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA
Mark U. Edwards, Jr., Senior Advisor to the Dean, Harvard Divinity School
James Ehrman, Director, Global Ministries Office, Evangelical Congregational Church
Bertil Ekstrom, Executive Director, Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance
Nancie Erhard, Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Ethics, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
John Esposito, University Professor & Founding Director Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University
Chester E. Falby, Priest Associate, St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, Manzanita, OR
Thomas P. Finger, Mennonite Central Committee, Evanston, IL
Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher, Senior Minister, Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, NY
David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University
Marlene Malahoo Forte, 2007 Yale World Fellow
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Rev. Susan L. Gabbard, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Mifflinburg, PA
Millard Garrett, Vice President, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, PA
Siobhan Garrigan, Assistant Professor of Liturgical Studies and Assistant Dean for Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School
Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
William Goettler, Assistant Dean for Assessment and Ministerial Studies, Yale Divinity School
Michael J. Goggin, Chairperson, North American Interfaith Network (NAIN)
Robert S. Goizueta, Professor of Theology, Boston College
Bruce Gordon, Professor of History, University of St. Andrews
William A. Graham, Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in Arts and Sciences and O’Brian Professor of Divinity and Dean in the Divinity School, Harvard University
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary, Reformed Church in America
Rev. Bruce Green, Bridge Building Facilitator, FCM Foundation, Centerville Presbyterian Church, Fremont, CA
Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
Lynn Green, International Chairman, Youth With A Mission
Frank Griffel, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Yale University
Rev. Giorgio Grlj, Pastor, Rijeka Baptist Church, Baptist Union of Croatia,
Rev. Kent Claussen Gubrud, Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Apple Valley, MN
Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky
Judith Gundry-Volf, Adjunct Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
David P. Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University and President, Evangelicals for Human Rights
Kim B. Gustafson, President, Common Ground Consultants, Inc.
Elie Haddad, Provost, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon
Dr. Anette Hagan, Elder, Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Martin Hailer, Professor of Theology, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Rev. L. Ann Hallisey, Hallisey Consulting and Counseling, Interim Vicar, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley, CA
Gloria K. Hannas, Member, Peacemaking Mission Team of the Presbytery of Chicago, PCUSA, La Grange, IL
Paul D. Hanson, Florence Corliss Lamont Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
Pastor Peter Hanson, Director of Studies, Dept. of Theology and Training, Lutheran Church of Senegal
Heidi Hadsell, President, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT
David Heim, Executve Editor, The Christian Century
Richard Henderson, Director of Studies, Westbrook Hay, United Kingdom
Mary E. Hess, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary
Richard Heyduck, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg, TX
Rev. Dr. David M. Hindman, United Methodist campus minister, The Wesley Foundation at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Rev. Norman A. Hjelm, Director, Commission on Faith and Order (retired), National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Carl R. Holladay, Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Jan Holton, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Yale Divinity School
Marian E. Hostetler, former worker, Mennonite Mission Network and Eastern Mennonite Mission, Elkhart, IN
Joseph Hough, President and William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in New York
Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
Dale T. Irvin, President and Professor of World Christianity, New York Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour, Consultant, Professor, Colorado Springs, CO
Todd Jenkins, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, TN
David L. Johnston, Lecturer, Religious Studies Department, University of Pennsylvania
Robert K. Johnston, Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Gary D. Jones, Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA
Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent Village
Stefan Jung, Economist, Germany
Rev. Dr. Riad A. Kassis, Theologian, Author, and Consultant
Sister Helen Kearney, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Sister Janet Kinney, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Doris G. Kinney, associate editor (ret.), Time Inc., New York
Steve Knight, National Coordinating Group Member, Emergent Village, Charlotte, NC
Paul Knitter, Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture, Union Theological Seminary in New York
Dr. Manfred W. Kohl, Vice President of Overseas Council International, USA
Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York NY
James R. Krabill, Senior Executive for Global Ministries, Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, IN
Hank Kraus, Founder and Director, PeaceMark
Sharon Kugler, University Chaplain, Yale University
Catherine Kurtz, Landisville Mennonite Church, Landisville, PA
Peter Kuzmic, Eva B. and Paul E. Toms Distinguished Professor of World Missions and European Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Rektor, Evandjeoski Teoloski Fakultet, Osijek, Croatia
Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Distinguised Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University
David Lamarre-Vincent, Executive Director, New Hampshire Council of Churches
John A. Lapp, Executive Secretary Emeritus, Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA
Dr. Warren Larson, Director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, Columbia International University, SC
Traugott Lawler, Professor of English emeritus, Yale University
Dr. Maurice Lee, post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University
Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Kristen Leslie, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care, Yale Divinity School
Linda LeSourd Lader, President, Renaissance Institute, Charleston, SC
Rev. R. Charles Lewis, Jr., Parish Associate, First Presbyterian- Vintage Faith Church, Santa Cruz, CA
Julyan Lidstone, OM, Glasgow, Scotland
Erik Lincoln, Author of Peace Generation tolerance curriculum for Muslim Students, Indonesia
John Lindner, Director of External Relations, Yale Divinity School
Greg Livingstone, Founder, Frontiers and historian of Muslim-Christian encounter
Albert C. Lobe, Interim Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA
Rick Love, International Director, Frontiers and Adjunct Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Peacemaking
Donald Luidens, Professor of Sociology, Hope College, Holland, MI
Owen Lynch, Associate Pastor, Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, UK
Douglas Magnuson, Associate Professor of Intercultural Programs and Director of Muslim Studies, Bethel University
Peter Maiden, International Coordinator, OM
Jozef Majewski, Doctor of Theology, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Gdansk, Poland
Danut Manastireanu, Director for Faith & Development, Middle East & East Europe Region, World Vision International, Iasi, Romania
Rev. Dr. John T. Mathew, Minister, St. Mark’s United Church of Canada, & Deptartment of Religious Studies, Huntington/Laurentian Universities, Sudbury, ON Canada
Rev. Steven D. Martin, President, Vital Visions Incorporated and Pastor, United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge, TN
Harold E. Masback, III, Senior Minister, The Congregational Church of New Canaan
Rt. Rev Gerald N. McAllister, Retired Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
The Rev. Donald M. McCoid, Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
C. Douglas McConnell, PhD, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Seminary
Sister Mary McConnell, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Jeanne McGorry, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Elsie McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary
Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University, Chicago, IL
Brian D. McLaren, Author, Speaker, Activist
C. Edward McVaney, Retired Chairman, CEO and President, J.D. Edwards and Company
Kathleen E. McVey, J. Ross Stevenson Professor of Early and Eastern Church History, Princeton Theological Seminary
Carl Medearis, President, International Initiatives, Denver, CO
Greg Meland, Director of Formation, Supervised Ministry and Placement, Bethel Seminary, Minnesota
Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA
Harold E. Metzler, Member, Church of the Brethren and heritor of the Amish/Mennonite tradition
Alan E. Miller, Lead Pastor, Conestoga Church of the Brethren, Leola, PA
David B. Miller, Pastor, University Mennonite Church, State College, PA
Rev. Dr. Sid L. Mohn, President, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, Chicago, IL
Brother Benilde Montgomery, O.S.F., Franciscan Brother of Brooklyn
Steve Moore, President & CEO, The Mission Exchange
Douglas Morgan, Director, Adventist Peace Fellowship
Richard Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
Salim J. Munayer, Academic Dean, Bethlehem Bible College, Jerusalem
Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Church of Columbus
David Neff, Editor in Chief & Vice-President, Christianity Today Media Group
Alexander Negrov, President, Saint Petersburg Christian University, St. Petersburg, Russia
Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Associate Dean, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto
Craig Noll, Assistant Editor, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Overseas Ministries Study Center
Rev. Roy Oksnevad, Institute of Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College
Dennis Olsen, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
Richard R. Osmer, Thomas Synnot Professor of Christian Education, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Canon Mark Oxbrow, International Mission Director, Church Mission Society, UK
Rt. Rev. George E. Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies of the Episcopal Church
George Parsenios, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
Greg H. Parsons, General Director, USCWM, Pasadena, CA
Stephanie A. Paulsell, Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School
James R. Payton, Jr., Professor of History, Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada and President, Christians Associated for Relationships with Eastern Europe
Emily A. Peacock, Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Tampa, Florida
Doug Pennoyer, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University
Howard Pepper, M.A., M.Div., President, Nurture Press, San Diego, CA
Douglas Petersen, Margaret S. Smith Professor of Intercultural Studies, Vanguard University of Southern California
Rev. Edward Prevost, Rector, Christ Church, Winnetka, Illinois
Bruce G. Privratsky, Elder, Holston Conference, United Methodist Church
Sally M. Promey, Professor of Religion & Visual Culture, Professor of American Studies, Professor Religious Studies and Deputy Director, Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University
Rev. Erl G. Purnell, Rector, Old Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Bloomfield, CT
Rev. John C. Ramey, President, Aslan Child Rescue Ministries and President, The Olive Branch Institute
Robert M. Randolph, Chaplain to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
James D. Redington, S.J., Associate Professor in the Dwan Family Chair of Interreligious Dialogue, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley/Graduate Theological Union, CA
David A. Reed, Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology and Research, Wycliffe College, Univerity of Toronto, Canada
Neil Rees, International Director, World Horizons
Rev. Warren Reeve, Lead Pastor, Bandung International Church, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia and Founder and Facilitator of the Missional International Church Network
Rodney Allen Reeves, Former moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oregon and board member, Greater Portland Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding and member, Interfaith Council of Greater Portland.
Dr. Evelyne A. Reisacher, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and International Relations, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Cornel G. Rempel, Retired pastor, chaplain and supervisor of clinical pastoral education, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Steve Robbins, Pastor and Director, Vineyard Leadership Institute
Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, Fuller Theological Seminary and the Director of the David du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality
Leonard Rodgers, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding: An International Coalition, Tempe, AZ
Dudley C. Rose, Lecturer on Ministry and Associate Dean for Ministry Study, Harvard Divinity School
Rev. Herschel Rosser, Associate Pastor, Vineyard Church of Sugar Land, Stafford, TX and Texas Area Church Planting Coordinator, Vineyard, USA
Glenna N. Roukes, Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Santa Cruz, CA and Secretary, Mission Team
Philip Ruge-Jones, Associate Professor of Theology, Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, Texas
William L. Sachs, Director, Center for Reconciliation and Mission, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia
Robert A. Sain, Pastor, Messiah Lutheran Church, ELCA, Hildebran, NC
Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, Yale University
Andrew D. Saperstein, Associate Director of the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture
Tyler Savage, Missionary with Church Resource Ministries, Germany and South Africa
Meritt Lohr Sawyer, International Program Director, Langham Partnership International
Warren C. Sawyer, President and CEO, The Caleb Foundation, Swampscott, MA
Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, Director, Faith as a Way of Life Program, Yale Center for Faith & Culture
Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller, Founder, Crystal Cathedral and Hour of Power
Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies, Harvard Divinity School
William Schweiker, Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Chicago
Waldron Scott, President emeritus, Holistic Ministries International, Paterson, NJ
Andrew J. Sebanc, Senior Pastor, Green Timbers Covenant Church, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Rev. Donald Senior, C.P., President, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois
C. L. Seow, Henry Snyder Gehman Professor of OT Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Perry Shaw, Chair, Faculty of Ministerial Studies, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, Lebanon
Michael T. Shelley, Director, Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
David W. and K. Grace Shenk, Global Consultants, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, PA
Wilbert R. Shenk, Senior Professor of Mission History and Contemporary Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
John N. Sheveland, Assistant Professor of Comparative Theology, Gonzaga University, Washington, DC
Marguerite Shuster, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
Frederick J. Sigworth, Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University
Mark Siljander, Member of the U.S. Congress (r) & fm U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (atl del)
Walt Simmerman, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Galax, VA
The Community Council of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Dayton, OH. Sister Florence Seifert, CPPS, President; Sister Jeanette Buehler, CPPS, Vice-President; Sister Madonna Ratermann, CPPS, Councilor; Sister Edna Hess, CPPS, Councilor; Sister Marita Beumer, CPPS, Councilor
C. Donald Smedley, Associate Director, The Rivendell Institute, New Haven, CT
John D. Spalding, Founder and Editor, SOMAreview.com
Rev. Andrew Spurr, Vicar of Evesham with Norton and Lenchwick Diocese of Worcester
John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada
Glen H. Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Chrisian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary
Sally Steenland, Senior Policy Advisor, Faith & Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress, Washington, DC
Wilbur P. Stone, Program Director and Lead Faculty, Global and Contextual Studies, Bethel University/Seminary
Rev. Dr. John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, UK
Frederick J. Streets, The Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor in Pastoral Counseling, The Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Yale Divinity School, Former Yale University Chaplain
Diana Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
Merlin Swartz, Professor of Islamic Studies, Boston University
Donald K. Swearer, Director, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School
Dr. Glen A. Taylor, Cooperative Studies Teaching Fellow, Tajikistan State National University, Dushanbe, Tjikistan
William Taylor, Global Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance
Harvey Thiessen, Executive Director, OM Canada
Rev. John Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Stephen Thomas, European Team Leader, Salt & Light Ministries Senior Pastor, Oxford, UK
Dr. J. Milburn Thompson, Chair and Professor of Theology, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY
Iain Torrance, President, Princeton Theological Seminary
Emilie M. Townes, Andrew Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, Yale Divinity School, and President-elect of the American Academy of Religion
Michael W. Treneer, Internation President, The Navigators, Colorado Springs, CO
Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director, World Evangelical Alliance
Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., Director Emeritus Peace and Justice Programs, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
Birgit Van Hout, Executive Director, MCCJ, Florida
Harold Vogelaar, Director Emeritus: A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale Divinity School
Fr. H. Eberhard von Waldow, Professor Emeritus, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Rev. Berten A. Waggoner, National Director, Association of Vineyard Churches
Robin Wainwright, President, Middle East Fellowship, Pasadena, CA and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Dr. Dale F. Walker, Affiliate Professor, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY
Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
Charlotte R. Ward, Associate Professor of Physics, Emerita, Auburn University and Life Deacon, Auburn First Baptist Church
Charles H. Warnock III, Senior Pastor, Chatham Baptist Church, Chatham, VA
Rick Warren, Founder and Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church, and The Purpose Driven Life, Lake Forest, CA
Very Rev. Debra Warwick-Sabino, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Fairfield, CA
Mark R. Wenger, Director of Pastoral Studies, Lancaster Eastern Mennonite Seminary P.O., Lancaster, PA
Dr. Bob Wenz, Renewing Total Worship Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO
Rev. Laura Westby, Pastor, First Congregational Church of Danbury, CT
Robert R. Wilson, Hoober Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Yale Divinity School
Rev. Michael D. Wilker, Executive Director, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Washington, DC
Leslie Withers, Coordinator, Interfaith Pilgrimage Project, Friendship Force International, Atlanta, GA
Dr.John Wolfersberger, Retired Executive, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Southern California
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
J. Dudley Woodberry, Professor of Islamic Studies and Dean Emeritus of the Fuller School of International Studies
Rev Dr Christopher J H Wright, International Director, Langham Partnership International, London, UK
John Wright, Senior Pastor, Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, England
Godfrey Yogarajah, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of Asia
Rev. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, Vice President of the Protestant Church in Egypt, Director of Dar El Thaquafa Communications House-CEOSS
Rev. John D. Zeigler, First Presbyterian Church, PCUSA, Canton, TX

A listing of other signatories follows. These signatories primarily include those whose names have been received in writing through this website, and in most cases have not been reconfirmed. We regret that due to the overwhelming response, we have not been able to include all people who wrote asking to be added to the list.

Rob Acheson, Chairman, Toronto Chapter, Canadian Department of Peace Initiative
Peter Adams, Intercultural Relations Worker, St Mary’s Church, Luton, England
Rev. William J. Adams, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA
Dr. Rev. Tokunboh Adeyemo, Executive Director, Centre for Biblical Transformation (CBT), Nairobi, Kenya
Justin Anderson, member, First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
Fidel Arnecillo, Jr., Lecturer in Philosophy, California State University, San Bernardino, College / Career Pastor, Charisma Life Community Church, Pomona, CA
Rev. Dianne Astle, Pastor, Chemainus/Cedar United Church, BC, Canada
Chris J Baltzley, Director of Multi-Campus Development, Lakeside-Orangevale Campus Pastor, Lakeside Church, Folsom, California USA
Andrew Tower Barnhill, Furman University, Greeneville, SC
Rev. D. Clyde Bartges, Minister, Presbyterian Church USA, Midlothian, VA
Dr. Anthony Bartlett, Assistant Professor of Theology, Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary, Rochester, New York
Rev. Ann Barton, Pastor, McKenzie United Methodist Church Honey Grove, TX
Marilyn R. Barry, Academic Dean and Professor of English, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, AK
Rev. Rosemary D. Baue, Pastor, Union Chapel (UCC), Fishers Island, NY
Bruce Baumgartner, OSB, Spiritual Director
Dr. Jolly Beyioku, Associate Professor, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN
Cheryl Biller, Elder Presbyterian Church USA, Fargo, ND
Dr. William L. Bingham, Associate Prof. Emeritus, NC State University, Raleigh NC, and President of Triangle Interfaith Alliance (NC)
Luke Birky, Goshen, IN
Barbara Blodgett, Director of Supervised Ministries, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT
Stephen Blum, Professor of Music, CUNY Graduate Center
Whitney S. Bodman, Assoc. Professor of Comparative Religion, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX
Dr. Dean A. Boldon, Professor Emeritus, Maryville College, Maryville, TN
Prof. Eduard J. Bomhoff, Director, School of Business, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Richard Bowser, Sunland Park, NM
Rev. M Christopher Boyer, Pastor, Good Shepherd Baptist Church, Lynnwood, WA
Matt Brandon, Frontier Trek & Tours, Travel Photographer
Mark Lau Branson, Homer Goddard Associate Professor of Ministry of the Laity, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Timothy Brenneman, Harrisonburg, VA
Linda C. Brinkman, Naples, FL
Margaret Brookover, Mother, Teacher, CODEPINK leader, Bend, OR
Stephen Brown, Chaplain, St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Stockton, CA
Rev. Judy Buck-Glenn, Associate Rector, Christ Church Episcopal, Ridley Park, PA
Rev. Dr. Ned A. Buckner, LMFT, Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Gastonia, NC, Marriage & Family Therapist, Piedmont Psychological Associates, Gastonia, NC
Robert & Betty Lou Buckwalter, Prince of Peace Mennonite Church, Anchorage, Alaska
George D. Burazer, coordinator of the Justice and Peace Committee of Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, Belmont, NC
Dawn Burdick, Nazareth Presbyterian Church, Moore, SC
Julie Burgess, Omaha, NE
Rev. J Daniel Burke, Episcopal priest, retired
John Buttrey, Retired Pastor, United Church of Christ, Holland, Michigan
Rev. Dr. Josephine C. Cameron, Pastor, Riverdale Presbyterian Church, Bronx, NY
Vincent M. Cannistraro, Cannistraro Associates, McLean, VA
Mark Carey, Doctor of Physical Therapy Student, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI
Joseph P. Carson, PE, President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers, Knoxville, TN
Dan R. Cates, Assistant Professor, Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA
Liz Cates
Sister Lynn Caton, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Rev. James H. Cavanaugh, UCC pastor retired, Uplands Retirement Village, TN
Patricia Anne Cavanaugh, Recognized UCC Lay Pastor, Uplands Retirement Village, TN
Rev. Paul Chaffee, Executive Director, Interfaith Center at the Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Rev. Dr. W. Michael Chittum, Minister
Susan Civil-Brown, author
Scott Claassen, Los Angeles, CA
W. Malcolm Clark, Professor of Religion (emeritus), Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Michael Clawson, Pastor, Via Christus Community Church, Yorkville IL
Jeffrey C. Clayton, Pastor, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, KS
Adam Walker Cleaveland, M.Div./M.A., Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ
Bruce J. Clemenger, President, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Kenneth L. Clum, Rochester, NY
Tim Cochran, Member, McGregor Baptist Church (Southern Baptist), Fort Myers, FL
David Cooper, Picton Uniting Church, Picton, NSW Australia
Yvonne Cooper, Picton Uniting Church, Picton, NSW Australia
Victor Copan, ThD, Chair, Dept. of Ministry Leadership Studies Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL
Rev. Christopher Cottingham, Hospice Chaplain, Member of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship, Lexington, SC
Charles Courtney, Professor Emeritus, Drew University, Madison, NJ
Dr. James D. Cramer, Secretary, Atlantic City Mission Board, Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
Mrs. Cheryl Crist, Pentecostal, Peru, Indiana
Jane F. Crosthwaite, Professor, Mount Holyoke College
Alistair Crow, Transform Network, London, UK
Bobbi Crow, Global Outreach Team, Real Life Christian Church Gilbert, Arizona Common Ground Consultation Attendee
John Matthew Cummins, Chatham, NJ
Mark Czyzewski, SFO
Kathleen Danaher de Cardenas, Garner, NC
The Rev Dr. Lillian Daniel, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church, UCC, 535 Forest Ave, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 60137
Dru Daugherty
Rev. Dr. Julian A. Davies, Pastor, The University Church, Toledo, OH
John T. DeBevoise, Pastor, Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, Tampa, FL
Dr. Ralph Del Colle, Theology Department, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Rev. Colette Volkema DeNooyer, Holland, MI
Robert J. DeNooyer II, Holland, MI
Frannie Derm, Independent Scholar, Waterbury, CT
Paige DeWees, Student, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Rev. Dr. Winfield J. Devonshire, Jr., Senior Pastor, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, Hershey, PA
Eileen McCafferty DiFranco, East Regional Administrator, WomenPriests
Reverend Johan Dodge, Compass Point Church, Paso Robles, CA
Jane Dugdale, member, Central Baptist Church, Wayne, PA
Rev. Jeffrey S. Dugan, Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Farmington, CT
Brenda Manthorne Dyck, spiritual director, pastor, Calgary Inter-Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Omar and Anna Kathryn Eby, Harrisonburg, VA
Jason von Ehrenkrook, Ph.D. Candidate (Near Eastern Studies), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Rusty Eidmann-Hicks, Holmdel Community UCC, Holmdel, NJ
Dr. Matthias Eigenbrodt, Praxis am Viktoriapark, Berlin, Germany
Dr. Stewart L. Elson, Willcox United Methodist Church, Willcox, Arizona
Rev. Daniel J. Fahs, Pastor, Hayward United Methodist Church, Hayward, WI
Audry Falk, Artist
Richard Falk, former Chair Board of Trustees, The Friendship Force
Steven Fenwick Ph.D., Counselor in private practice, Olympia, WA
Sandra L. Fischer, Esq., Cooperative M. Div. student, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT
Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher, Senior Minister, Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, NY
Rev. Tim Fitch, Minister of Family Life First Congregational Church of Akron
Rev. Carey D. Fletcher, Red River Baptist Church, Benton, LA
Patrick Foley, Educator
Rev. Dr. F. Peter Ford, Jr., Coordinator of the Program in Christian-Muslim Relations, Mekane Yesus Seminary, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
John R. Franke, Professor of Theology, Biblical Seminary, Hatfield, PA
Barbara Freeman, Church Musician, Haslett Community Church (UCC), Haslett, MI
Matthew Friedman, Th.M. Candidate, Asbury Theological Seminary
Makoto Fujimura, Artist
Clarice Garvey, Our Lady’s Missionaries Fortaleza,Ceará, Brazil
Gary A. Gaudin, Pastor, South Arm United Church, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Sr. Christine Gebel, Our Lady’s Missionaries, Toronto, Canada
Cheryl German, Knoxville, TN
Alexander J. G. Gilchrist, Elder, Presbyterian Church USA, Wappingers Falls, NY
Rev. Douglas W. Giles, MDiv, STS, Retired Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Michael Glenn, Cashiers, NC
Leon & Elaine Good, Lititz, PA
Ave Regina Gould, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
James Goulding, Professor Emeritus and VP for Academic Affairs, Emeritus, MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL; currently Instructor in Religious Studies, Edgewood College, Madison, WI
Rev. Benjamin Gray, Youth pastor, Griffin, GA
Dr. Victor Greene, Chaplain, Angel Hospice, Franklin, NC
Jeanette Grenz, Overland Park, KS
Kenneth K. Grenz, Overland Park, KS, retired clergy, Kansas East Conference, United Methodist Church
Carol S. Guilbert, Reverend, First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island
Brian Gumm, Interim Lay Pastor, Ankeny Church of the Brethren, Ankeny, Iowa
Anne-Marie Gustavson-Claverie, sister of bishop Pierre Claverie of Algeria
Ellen Halperin, Member, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Hardwick, VT
Elaine S. Hansen, Fairfield, OH
Hendrik Hart, Senior Member (ret’d), Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, Canada
Peter C. Hart, President, Dialoggers, Inc., Holland, MI
Rev. Dr. William L. Hathaway, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Annapolis, MD
Rev William L. Hawkins, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, New Bern, NC
Rob Hazel, High Wycombe, England
Eike J. Heinze, Hartford, WI
Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, Faith Communities Coordinator, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
Rev. Abigail A. Henrich, Co-Pastor, Union Congregational Church, East Walpole, MA
Scott Hinton, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, IL
Sheryll Hix, Behavior Specialist, Stuart , Florida
Rev. Mark E. Hoelter, Unitarian Universalist, Coordinator for Grassroots Interfaith Dialogues, The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, Washington, DC
Shirley Eid Holm, Church Librarian, Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL
Rev. Charles Homeyer, Rector of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, MI
Jon Hoover, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Rev. David M. Horst, Minister, First Parish in Malden, Universalist, Malden, MA
Imogen Hawthorne Howe, West Redding, CT
Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Alan Howes, Australian Regular Army, Canberra, Australia
Robert W. Huntington 3rd, MD, Member, Madison Wisconsin Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Carol Ingells, Spiritual Director, Episcopal lay leader, Lansing, MI
Carlos Iwaszkowiec, Sales Director, MECS, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Dr. Mary Ellen Jacobs, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Linda Jame, MS, ACSW, Psychotherapist, New York, NY
Charles B. Jenkins, Church of the Messiah United Methodist, Westerville, Ohio and member of the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio
Jeromy Johnson, Pastor, Sacramento, CA
Joseph L. Johnson, Pastor, Evergreen Presbyterian Church, Dothan, AL
R. Boaz Johnson, Ph.D., Director, Division of Christian Life and Thought, North Park University, Chicago, IL
Rev. Dr. Gregory Knox Jones, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
Margaret Jayne Jones, Co-Contact, United Religions Initiative, San Francisco Peninsula
Susan Jones, Cary, NC
Jolyn Joslin, retired teacher, member of United Church of Christ, Waitsfield, VT
Rev. Daniel Junkuntz, D. Min., (ELCA), LMFT, LPC, Retired Director, Peninsula Pastoral Counseling Center, Newport News, VA
Sister Karen Kaelin, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Abdul Kasim, Vice President, Critical-Links, New Jersey
Robert Mace Kass, M.D., Trustee, Bekeley Divinity School at Yale
Mona Kelly, Our Lady´s Missionaries, Forta leza, Ceará, Brazil
Rev. D. Andrew Kille, Interfaith Space, San Jose, CA
Rev. Mike King, President, YouthFront; Pastor, Jacob’s Well Church, Kansas City, MO
Ann King-Grosh, Lancaster, PA
Rev. Kurt Kirchoff, Haslett, MI
Ann Kirkland, Toronto, Canada
Michael Kirtley, President, The Friendship Caravan, Arlington, VA
Dr. Robin J. Klay, Professor of Economics, Hope College, Michigan
Charles Klingler, Professor Emeritus of English, Manchester College, North Manchester, IN
Susie Klingler, Member of Manchester Church of the Brethren, North Manchester, IN
Rev. Alfred C. Krass, VP, The Interfaith Gathering of Lower Buck County, PA, retired United Church of Christ pastor, United Christian Church, Levittown, PA
Mark Kurtz, Director of Business Development, BioOne, Washington, DC
Vincent La Marca, Webmaster, New Utrecht Reformed Church , Assistant Secretary, Friends of Historic New Utrecht, Brooklyn, NY
Perry Landes, Lighting and Sound Designer, Hope College, Holland MI
Andrew E. Larsen, Department of World Mission, The Evangelical Covenant Church of North America, Chicago, IL
Rev. Rebecca Larson, Pastor, Monadnock Congregational Church, UCC, Colebrook, NH
Thiel L. Larson, Educator, Bend La-Pine School District in Bend, OR
Michael Lauchlan, Dearborn, MI
Stephen Lawson, Joplin, MO
Paul Leggett, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Montclair, NJ
“Let There Be Peace” Prayer and Reflection Group, St. Noel Catholic Church, Willoughby Hills, OH
Norman Lindholm, Ohio
Dr. Scott Little, Lay Leader, First United Methodist Church, Smithville, TN
Jerry Ludeke
Matthew D. Lundberg, Assistant Professor of Theology, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Dr. Elaine Z. Madison, Associate Professor of Literature, Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, HI
Brent D. Maher, Upland, IN
Velandy Manohar, MD, FAPA, Distinguished Life Fellow, Am. Psychiatric Association, Haddam, CT.
Natalia Marandiuc, Ph.D. Student, Theology, Yale University
Dr. Henry B. Marksberry, Minister of Health and Wholeness, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Newport, KY
Rev. Ben C. Martin, Honorably Retired, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), St. Louis, MO
Caleb J.D. Maskell, PhD student, Department of Religion, Princeton University
Martha B Matuska, “Let There Be Peace” Prayer and Reflection Group, St. Noel Catholic Church, Willoughby Hills, OH
Shaun Mazurek, Denver, Colorado
Sister Regina McAuley CSJ, Brentwood NY
Pastor Sandy McCormack, Soma Christou International, Houston, TX
Deborah McEvoy, Dearborn, MI
Rev. Loren McGrail, Chaplain at Abbott Northwestern Hospital Minneapolis, MN
Dr. James F. McGrath, Assistant Professor of Religion, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Maryann McHugh, CSJ, sister of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Mickey J. Mercer, Teacher, Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, AZ
Nathan Messarra, Ecclesia Clear Lake, Friendswood, TX, USA
Roel Meeuws, M.Sc. Delft University of Technology, Delft, member of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands as present in the Pilgrimfatherschurch, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Rev. Michael Merkel, Pastor, Bethesda Lutheran Church, New Haven, CT
Elizabeth Moody, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Mill Valley, CA., and member, World Religions Building Bridges Program Committee with Marin Interfaith Council, International Assoc. of Sufism, and Dominican University in Marin County, CA
Re. David L. Mosher, Co-Minister, Unity of Loudoun County, Leesburg, VA
Daniel H. Miller, Chaplain, Houston Hospice and Palliative Care System, Houston, TX
Luke Miller, National Coordinating Group Member, Emergent Village, Dallas, TX
Rosa Lynne Miller, Asbury United Methodist Church, Lafayette, LA
The Rev. Dr. W. Douglas Mills, Associate General Secretary for Dialogue and Interfaith Relations, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, The United Methodist Church, New York, NY
Timothy D. Moore, Teacher, Milwaukee, WI
Barbara Mueller, teacher emerita, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne
John Mueller, Minister of Music, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne, IN
John Mulholland, University of Chicago Law Library staff, Chicago IL
Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray, College Chaplain, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, and Lecturer in Religion, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
Stephanie Nash, Pastor for Education and Outreach, Second Baptist Church, Lubbock TX
Bradley Nassif, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, North Park University, Chicago, IL
Norm Nelson, President, Compassion Radio, Lake Forest, CA
Carole Nuckon, Bend, Oregon
Rev. Gus Nussdorfer, Interim, First Presbyterian Church, Bryan, OH
Clarke K. Oler, Associate Pastor, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA
Steven J Ondersma, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine & Deacon, PCUSA
Robert C & Roberta G Ouderkirk, Normandy Park, WA
John D. Painter, Pastor, Centenary United Methodist Church, Metichen, NJ
Dr. Stepehn Pavey, Research Associate, Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT
Rev. Dr. Protobresbyter Professor George C. Papademetriou
Rev. Jeanne C. Parker, clergywoman, ABC/RGR, Rochester, NY
Rev. Urbane Peachey, retired Pastor, formerly in Middle East, Lititz, PA
Michael Peacock, seminarian, chaplain, attorney; Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, Tampa, Florida
Jonathan Pedrone, Youth Pastor, New Testament Baptist Church, Miami, FL
Dan Peters, Thousand Oaks, CA
Reverend Clare L. Petersberger, Minister, The Towson Unitarian, Universalist Church Lutherville, MD
Gene Peterson, Board Member, Churches Together, Minneapolis, MN
Prof. Joseph M. Pirone, Ph.D, Sam Draper Honors Program, SUNY and Advisor, Awareness in Motion, Interfaith Club Enneapsychodramatics
Rev. Vincent Pizzuto, Ph.D., University of San Francisco, CA, New Skellig Contemplative Christian Community
Keith Plate, MD, International Student Ministry, Iowa City, IA
Kenneth Polsley Jr., Pastor, All Nations Baptist Church, Iowa City, IA
Eve Pope, Trustee Emeritus, United Religions Initiative
Viola Deavours Powers, Cincinnati, OH
Alfred C. Price, Philadelphia, PA
Stan Purdum, Pastor, Centenary United Methodist Church, Waynesburg, OH
Georgia Quailey, Pittsburgh, PA
Rev. Charles W. Rawlings, Presbytery of Newark Middle East Work Group, NJ
David Redfield, Episcopalian, Grosse Pointe, MI
Dr. Donald H. and Mary M. Reimer, Charlesewood Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Dr. Andreas Renz, Lecturer, LMU Munich, Germany
David Reynolds, Australia
Robert E. Riddle, First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, N.C.
Jack Ridl, Professor Emeritus of English, Hope College, Holland, MI
Rev. Marchiene Rienstra, Minister, Unity Church on the Lakeshore, Douglas, MI
Dr. Kevin Riggs, Senior Pastor, Franklin Community Church, Franklin, TN and Sociology Professor, State Community College, Nashville, TN
Dr. M. K. Rigsby, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales NM
Mark Andrew Ritchie, Author, Commodities Trader
Heath and Courtney Robinson, Temple, TX
Rev. Dr. Errol G Rohr, Chaplain, King College, Bristol, TN
Rev. Betsy Payne Rosen, Deacon, Our Saviour Episcopal Church, Mill Valley, CA
Rosetta E. Ross, Associate Professor of Religion, Spelman College, Atlanta,
Georgia
Rev. Dr. Greg Roth, Senior Pastor, Centerville Presbyterian Church, Fremont, CA
Chaplain Reggie B. Rowell, Medical University of Charleston, Charleson, SC
Dr. Mark Rutledge, United Church of Christ Campus Minister at Duke University, Durham, NC
Fleming Rutledge, Episcopal Diocese of New York
Phil Saksa, International Student Specialist, Detroit, MI
Tim Samoff, Blogger, Kansas City, MO
Alan P & Maria G Sandner, First Presbyterian Church, Bend, Oregon
Clara Santoro, CSJ
David G. Delos Santos, ICT Specialist, PACTEC International, Kabul, Afghanistan
Edwin G. Saphar, Jr, Elder, Downtown United Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY
Brother Satyananda, Minister, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA
Theresa Scanlon, Principal, St. Francis of Assisi School, Brooklyn, NY
Rev. Dr. Jill Schaeffer, United Presbyterian Church of Cincinnatus, NY and Adjunct Professor, New York Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Andrew Schill, Oil and Gas Attorney, Durango, Colorado
Rev. Mark Schindler, Unity of Auburn, Auburn, CA
Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Professor of Systematic Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow, Chair of World Religions for Peace
Carolyn Schneider, Associate Professor of Theology, Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, TX
Edward H. Schreur, Senior Pastor, Protestant Church in Oman, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Glen G. Scorgie, Ph.D., Bethel Seminary, San Diego
Jonathan H. Scruggs, Associate Pastor, First Assembly of God, Gastonia, NC
Pastor Timothy Seitz-Brown, Paradise Lutheran Church (ELCA), Thomasville, PA
Robert P. Sellers, Connally Professor of Missions, Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX
Samir Selmanovic, Program Director, Faith House Manhattan, New York, NY
Emily Shaffer, US Department of State, Kigali, Rwanda
Donna Shank, LCSW, Lancaster, PA
Joey Shaw, Masters candidate at Center for Middle East Studies and LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin
N. Gerald Shenk, Professor of Church & Society Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, VA
Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Sidorak, Jr., Executive Director, Christian Conference of Connecticut
Frederick A. Smith, MD, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, Communicant, Christ Episcopal Church, Garden City,
Paul. V. Sorrentino, Director of Religious Life, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Rebecca L. Syme, MATL student – Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, USA
Rev. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, Ph. D., Vice President of the Protestant Church in Egypt, Director of Dar El Thaqafa Communications House-CEOSS
Rev. John Paul Sydnor, Assistant Professor of World Religions, Emmanuel College (Boston) and Co-Pastor, Union Congregational Church, East Walpole, MA
Jim Somerville, Pastor, The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC
Dr. Barbara Spitzer, Clinical Psycholoogist, Stamford, CT
Rev. Susan F. Sprowls, Campus Pastor, Lord of Light Lutheran Campus Ministry (ELCA), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Rev. Lauren R. Stanley, Episcopal Missionary in Sudan
Rev. Harvey Stob, Pastor of Congregational Life, Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Arthur J. Stock, member Wellesley Village Church, and former Chair Board of Directors, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
John K. Stoner, Consultant, Every Church A Peace Church, Akron, PA
Rev. Jim Strader, Episcopal Chaplain/Priest, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
James A. Strnal, Secular Franciscan Order
Dan Sullivan, Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church,Wilmette IL
Helen Katharine Swearingen
Christine Talbott, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Castine, ME
Dennis Teall-Fleming, Director of Faith Formation, Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, Belmont, NC and Facilitator, Gaston Trialogue (Jews, Christians, and Muslims), Gaston County, NC and Instructor in Religion, Gaston College, Dallas, NC
Rev. Dr. Mari Thorkelson, Pastor Bethel Lutheran Church, Willmar MN
Rev. Dr. James A Todd, Honorably Retired, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Member of the Presbytery of Southern New England
John L. Tipton, CEO, Telephone Jack’s Communications, Adrian, MI
Judy and Woody Trautman, Founding Co-Chairs of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, Toledo, Ohio
Barbara H. Trought, Elder, Presbyterian Church (USA), Burlington, NJ
Monte D. Tucker
Rev. Philip H. Troutman, M.Div., Ordained Elder, Church of the Nazarene, Doctoral Student, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY
James and Susan Vagnier, Columbus, OH
Rev. Dr. Timo Vasko, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Espoo
Sister Nancy Vendura, CSJ, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY
Dr. David H. Vila, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
Marlene M. von Friederichs-Fitzwater, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UC Davis School of Medicine and Director of Outreach Research and Education, UC Davis Cancer Center
Case Wagenvoord, Chair, Adult Education Committee, Holmdel Community UCC, Holmdel, NJ
Rev. Dr. Francis K. Wagschal, Retired Lutheran Pastor, Waynesville, NC
Barbara Wall, Certified speech and language pathologist Bandhagen, Sweden
Sammy Wanyonyi, World Evangelist, Sammy Wanyonyi International Ministries (SWIM), Minneapolis, MN
Michael J. Watts, Instructor in Religion, Johnston Community College, Smithfield, NC
Derek Ivan Webster, Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue, Agoura Hills, CA
Rev. Gordon V. Webster, Co-Pastor, Downtown United Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY
Rev. Dr. Dave Weidlich, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Petaluma, Petaluma, CA
Susan Weissert, Ossining, NY
Rev. Terry Weller, Interfaith Minister and Editor, Interfaith Unity Newsletter, Toronto, ON, Canada
Charlie West, Pastor, Grace/Skandia United Methodist Churches, Marquette, MI
Roger G. Whetsel, Engineering Consultant, Winchester, TN
Jerald Whitehouse, Director, Global Center for Adventist Muslim Relations,
General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, Loma Linda, CA
Rev. Dr. Gary A. Wilburn, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, New Canaan, CT
Prof. Stefan Wild, University of Bonn, Germany
Bett and Talbert Williams, St Anne’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA
Boyd H. Wilson, Ph.D., Professor of Religion, Hope College, Holland, MI
Don Wilson, Temple of Understanding Advisory Board
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel M. Wilson, Spiritual Care Coordinator, Heartland Home Health Care & Hospice, Jacksonville, FL
Dr. Norman G. Wilson, Coordinator of Intercultural Studies Department, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana
Hester F. Witchey, AMI Montessori Teacher
Pecki Sherman Witonsky, Author, The Cave of Reconciliation, An Abrahamic/Ibrahimic Tale
Wayne R. Wohler, Pasadena, CA
Rev. Dean A. Woodward (retired), Park Hill United Methodist Church, Denver, CO
Rev. Daniel Wolpert, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Crookston, MN
Carol M. Woods
Harry Woods, Edmond, OK
Anna Woodiwiss, Kabul, Afghanistan
Prof. Ashley Woodiwiss, Director of the Drummond Center for Statesmanship, Erskine College, SC
Robyn Yates, Children’s Pastor, Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho, Dallas, TX
Byard & Judy Yoder, Landisville Mennonite Church, Pennsylvania
Liz Yoho, Director of Children & Youth Ministries, Congregational Church of New Fairfield (UCC), CT
Larry E. Yonker, Business Owner, The Elevation Group, Colorado Springs, CO
Rick Zachar, Phoenix, AZ
Daniel Zelesko, MA, Instructor of Philosophy and Comparative of Religion, Harrisburg Area Community College
Rev. Curtis L. Zieske, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA), Albert Lea, MN
John & Velma Zook, Lititz Mennonite Church, Lititz, PA

What Day Was Jesus Crucified?

In trying to get right the “three days” that Jesus said He would be in the tomb, many modern-day people count backward and end up deducing a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion. Below, Zola Levitt Ministries’ Dr. Todd D. Baker puts together a detailed answer of how the people of biblical times numbered days.

A Wednesday crucifixion is too many days — it would leave Jesus in the tomb for four or five days instead of three days. In Jesus’ time, Jews counted a partial day as a full day according the the rabbinic concept of “Onah” So three days did not have to be a 72-hour period. With the concept of the Onah being in practice at the time, Jesus could have been crucified on Friday (which began on Thursday evening). Counting Thursday after sunset to Friday just before sunset was one day; Friday sunset to Saturday sunset was the second day; and Saturday sunset to Sunday morning (or anytime on Sunday before sunset) was the third day, the Onah reckoned as a full day. In trying to reckon a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion, one encounters the term “High Sabbath” applied to Thursday or Friday. However, this is incorrect. The term is used in the Jewish calendar when a feast day falls on the weekly Sabbath which would be Saturday (beginning Friday at sunset)! Recall the disciples’ urgency to get Jesus off the cross and into the tomb by sunset beginning the Sabbath (Friday evening) Mark 15:42, Luke 23:53-24:1. I have addressed this on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Also, Zola wrote a pamphlet Three Days and Three Nights to further explain why Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. You may write to the ministry and request it for free.

Author Eric Lyons corroborates a Friday crucifixion in the article below:

Did Jesus Rise “On” or “After” the Third Day?
By Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The most frequent reference to Jesus’ resurrection reveals that He rose from the grave on the third day of His entombment. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus as prophesying that He would arise from the grave on this day (Matthew 17:23; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22). The apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Corinthians that Jesus arose from the grave “the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4). What’s more, while preaching to Cornelius and his household, Peter taught that God raised Jesus up “on the third day” (Acts 10:40, emp. added). The fact is, however, Jesus also taught (and Mark recorded) “that the Son of Man” would “be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31, emp. added).

Furthermore, Jesus elsewhere prophesied that He would be in the heart of the Earth for “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). So which is it? Did Jesus rise from the dead on the third day or after three days?

While to the 21st-century reader these statements may initially appear to contradict one another, in reality, they harmonize perfectly if one understands the different, and sometimes more liberal, methods ancients often used when reckoning time. In the first century, any part of a day could be computed for the whole day and the night following it (cf. Lightfoot, 1979, pp. 210-211). The Jerusalem Talmud quotes rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who lived around A.D. 100, as saying: “A day and night are an Onah [‘a portion of time’] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it” (from Jerusalem Talmud: Shabbath ix. 3, as quoted in Hoehner, 1974, pp. 248-249, bracketed comment in orig.). Azariah indicated that a portion of a 24-hour period could be considered the same “as the whole of it.” Thus, as awkward as it may sound to an American living in the 21st century, a person in ancient times could legitimately speak of something occurring “on the third day,” “after three days,” or after “three days and three nights,” yet still be referring to the same exact day.

The Scriptures contain several examples which clearly show that in Bible times a part of a day was often equivalent to the whole day:

• According to Genesis 7:12, the rain of the Noahic Flood was upon the Earth “forty days and forty nights.” Verse 17 of that same chapter says it was on the Earth for just “forty days.” Who would argue that it had to rain precisely 960 hours (40 days x 24 hours) for both of these statements to be true?

• In Genesis 42:17 Joseph incarcerated his brothers for three days. Then, according to verse 18, he spoke to them on the third day and released them (all but one, that is).

• In 1 Samuel 30:12,13, the phrases “three days and three nights” and “three days” are used interchangeably.

• When Queen Esther was about to risk her life by going before the king uninvited, she instructed her fellow Jews to follow her example by not eating “for three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16). The text goes on to tell us that Esther went in unto the king “on the third day” (5:1, emp. added).

• Perhaps the most compelling Old Testament passage which clearly testifies that the ancients (at least occasionally) considered a portion of a twenty-four hour period “as the whole of it” is found in 2 Chronicles 10. When Israel asked King Rehoboam to lighten their burdens, he wanted time to contemplate their request, so he instructed Jeroboam and the people of Israel to return “after three days” (2 Chronicles 10:5, emp. added). Verse 12, however, indicates that Jeroboam and the people of Israel came to Rehoboam “on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, ‘ Come back to me the third day’ ” (emp. added). Fascinating, is it not, that even though Rehoboam instructed his people to return “after three days,” they understood this to mean “on the third day.”

• From Acts 10, we can glean further insight into the ancient practice of counting consecutive days (in part or in whole) as complete days. Luke recorded how an angel appeared to Cornelius at “about the ninth hour of the day” (approximately 3:00 p.m.; Acts 10:3). “The next day” (10:9) Peter received a vision from God and welcomed visitors sent by Cornelius. “On the next day” (10:23) Peter and the servants of Cornelius departed for Caesarea. “And the following day they entered Caesarea” where Peter taught Cornelius and his household the Gospel (10:24). At one point during Peter’s visit, Cornelius spoke about his encounter with the angel of God. Notice carefully how he began the rehearsal of the event. He stated: “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour…” (10:30, NASB, emp. added). Although the event actually had occurred only 72 hours (or three 24-hour days) earlier, Cornelius spoke of it as taking place “four days ago to this hour.” Why four days instead of three? Because according to the first-century method of reckoning time, a part of the first day and a part of the fourth day could be counted as whole days. Surely one can see how this information aligns itself perfectly with Jesus’ burial taking place on Friday and His resurrection occurring on Sunday. A part of Friday, all day Saturday, and a part of Sunday would be considered three days — not one or two — in ancient times.

Even though in modern times some may find this reasoning somewhat confusing, similar idiomatic expressions frequently are used today. For example, we consider a baseball game that ends after only completing 8½ innings a “9-inning game.” And even though the pitcher on the losing team pitched only 8 innings (and not 9 innings like the pitcher from the winning team), he is said to have pitched a complete game. Consider also the guest at a hotel who checks in at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and checks out at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday—less than 24 hours later. Did the man stay one day or two days at the hotel? Technically, the guest was there for less than one full day (24-hour period), yet the hotel legally can charge him for two days since he did not leave before the mandatory 11:00 a.m. checkout time. Considering how flexible we are in measuring time, depending on the context, perhaps we should not be surprised at how liberal the ancients could be in calculating time.

Further evidence proving that Jesus’ statements regarding His burial were not contradictory centers around the fact that even His enemies did not accuse Him of contradicting Himself. No doubt this was due to their familiarity with and use of the flexible, customary method of stating time. In fact, the chief priests and Pharisees even said to Pilate the day after Jesus was crucified: “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day” (Matthew 27:63-64, emp. added). The phrase “after three days” must have been equivalent to “the third day,” else surely the Pharisees would have asked for a guard of soldiers until the fourth day. Interesting, is it not, that modern skeptics charge Jesus with contradicting Himself, but not the hypercritical Pharisees of His own day.

The idiomatic expressions that Jesus and the Bible writers employed to denote how long Jesus would remain in the grave does not mean that He literally was buried for 72 hours. If we interpret the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection in light of the cultural setting of the first century, and not according to the present-day (mis)understanding of skeptics, we find no errors in any of the expressions that Jesus and the gospel writers used.

Why Resurrection Sunday and Passover Coincide

By Gil Zohar www.JPost.com

It’s not by happenstance that Easter falls at same time as Passover: Jesus came to Jerusalem in order to offer a Passover sacrifice.

Christians sometimes fail to appreciate the link between Passover and Easter: Jesus came to Jerusalem in April circa 34, making His triumphal entry on the Sunday of the last week of His life, in order to offer a Passover sacrifice at Herod’s magnificent newly-built Temple.

He celebrated the Passover seder that Thursday night, an event commonly referred to as the Last Supper. Returning with His Apostles to their encampment at Gethsemane on the nearby Mount of Olives, He was arrested that evening after being betrayed by Judas.

On Friday, the holy day of Passover, He was tried and then crucified. His corpse was hurriedly placed in a new sepulcher (family tomb) belonging to Joseph of Arimathea near to the Skull Hill execution grounds so as not to violate the Sabbath that began Friday at sundown. Sunday morning, it was discovered that the rolling stone sealing Jesus’ tomb had been shifted, and the sepulcher was empty. Jesus had risen.

Christianity, the daughter religion of Judaism, was anxious to disassociate itself from its roots, and so established a formula that was independent of Passover to calculate Easter.

Judaism celebrates the holiday (called Pessah in Hebrew) on the full moon of the seventh month (Nisan) to commemorate the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Since Hebrew days begin and end at sundown, Passover begins at sundown on the preceding day. Thus this, year Jews across the world celebrate the seder on Friday, April 6 after sunset.

In rejecting the Jewish lunar liturgical calendar as the basis for Easter and other Christian moveable feasts, the Church fathers still relied on astronomical occurrences. In the Western Church, including both Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations, Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the paschal full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the following Sunday. The holiday can occur anywhere between March 22 and April 25, and this year falls on Sunday, April 8.

The Western Church does not, however, use the astronomically correct date for the vernal equinox but the arbitrarily fixed date of March 21. And by “full moon” it does not mean the astronomical full moon but the “ecclesiastical moon,” which is based on tables created by the Church. These constructs allow the date of Easter to be calculated in advance rather than determined by actual astronomical observances, which are naturally less predictable.

While the Eastern or Orthodox Churches use the same formula to calculate Easter, they base the date on a slightly different calendar — the Julian calendar rather than the revised Gregorian calendar that was adopted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to correct for slippage in the seasons caused by the failure to adjust the calendar by an extra day every fourth leap year. Consequently, both the Western and Eastern Churches only occasionally celebrate Easter on the same day. This year the Orthodox Church celebrates Easter on Sunday, April 15 — one week after Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Unlike the Western Church, the Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Gil Zohar is a Canadian-born Israeli tour guide