The Worldview of Edgar Cayce – An Evaluation of His Teachings from a Biblical Perspective

The Edgar Cayce Readings

By all accounts Edgar Cayce was truly a remarkable man. Beginning in 1901 and continuing until his death in 1945 he gave thousands of psychic readings. Broadly speaking, these readings were of two types: health readings and life readings. The health readings consisted of a psychic diagnosis of a patient’s physical ailments and a prescription for how these ailments should be treated. The life readings consisted of answers to all sorts of personal, religious, and philosophical questions. One rather interesting aspect of these readings is the manner in which they were given: Cayce would lie down on the couch and put himself into a trance state resembling sleep. It was this manner of giving readings that led one of his biographers, Jess Stearn, to refer to Cayce as “The Sleeping Prophet.”{1}

Just how accurate were these readings? Although it is impossible to verify everything Cayce said, some contend that his accuracy rate was over ninety percent!{2} But “with all his vaunted powers,” writes Stearn, “Cayce was a humble man, religious, God-fearing, who read the Bible every day of his life.”{3} Indeed, Cayce read through the entire Bible every year and regularly taught Sunday school throughout his life. It is probably for reasons such as these that many people believe that the worldview of the readings is generally consistent with biblical Christianity. But is this really so? How well does the worldview of the Edgar Cayce readings compare with that of the Bible?

Herbert Puryear writes, “The content of . . . the Edgar Cayce readings is . . . always Christ-centered, supporting the ultimate importance of the unique work of Jesus of Nazareth.”{4} But as I hope to demonstrate in this article, such a claim can only be true by redefining the person and work of Jesus Christ to mean something quite different from what the Bible teaches.

For instance Thomas Sugrue, Cayce’s earliest biographer and long-time friend, begins his chapter on the philosophy of the readings by stating, “The system of metaphysical thought which emerges from the readings of Edgar Cayce is a Christianized version of the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, India, and Greece.”{5} The worldview of the readings actually has much more in common with New Age metaphysics and occult philosophy than it does with biblical Christianity.

Although I have little doubt that, as a person, Cayce was kind and humble and motivated by a sincere desire to help his fellow man, it obviously does not follow that the worldview revealed in the readings is therefore true. And while I certainly acknowledge that Cayce regularly read and taught the Bible, it by no means follows that the philosophy of the readings is therefore biblical.

The Nature of God

According to Dr. Herbert Puryear, “More consequences for thought and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other fundamental question.”{6} It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of this observation. Equally important, however, for those affirming the existence of God, is the kind of God they affirm to exist.

There can be no doubt that God is of primary importance in the Edgar Cayce readings. The readings certainly affirm the existence of God, an affirmation that they obviously share with biblical Christianity. This being said, however, there is a marked difference in what each source affirms about the nature of God.

Dr. Puryear writes, “The clearly articulated philosophy of the Edgar Cayce readings is a thoroughgoing monism.”{7} The doctrine of monism claims that all reality is of the same essence. In other words, “All is one.” Indeed, in the introduction to his book Dr. Puryear claims that “the oneness of all force” is the “first premise of the Edgar Cayce readings.”

What effect does this first premise have on the view of God presented in the readings? Dr. Puryear writes, “With the premise of the oneness of all force we affirm that God is, that He is all that is, and all that is, is God.”{8} This view is known as pantheism. It comes from two Greek words: pan, meaning “all” or “every,” and theos, meaning “God.” In other words pantheism, like the Edgar Cayce readings, teaches that everything is God — a view substantially at odds with the biblical doctrine of God. Let’s look, then, at what the Bible does say about God.

Let’s first acknowledge that the Bible, like the Edgar Cayce readings, does indeed affirm that God is one. Moses wrote, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4) But the biblical affirmation means something very different from the doctrine of pantheism espoused in the Cayce readings. The Bible is affirming that there is only one Lord God. It is not teaching that “All is One,” nor that the name we should give to this all-inclusive Oneness is “God.” The biblical view that the Lord is one is sometimes referred to as monotheism. It holds that there is only one God — not many, as Israel’s polytheistic neighbors believed. It also holds that God, as the Creator of all that exists (other than Himself), is not to be identified with any created thing.{9} This view contrasts with the doctrine of pantheism, which clearly blurs the distinction between Creator and creation.

Since the view of God presented in the Edgar Cayce readings is basically pantheistic,{10} it is also, by virtue of this fact, clearly unbiblical. Next we’ll see how this effects the readings’ presentations of both Christ and men.

Christ and Men

How did the view of a pantheistic God influence Cayce’s doctrines of Christ and men?

Thomas Sugrue, in summarizing the philosophy of the readings, says that in the beginning God “projected from Himself the cosmos and souls.”{11} Thus, according to this view, everything that exists (including man) is somehow part of God. Or as Cayce put it in one of his readings: “Each person is a corpuscle in the body of that force called God.”{12}

But if the readings affirm the divinity of man, what becomes of the Christian belief in the uniqueness of Jesus? Dr. Puryear declares, “In Jesus we are told that God became incarnate. If we could only see clearly that Jesus’ claim for divinity is a claim for the divinity of us all, we would understand that His relationship to God is a pattern which all of us may and one day must attain.”{13} Thus, contrary to the Bible, the readings do not understand Jesus’ uniqueness in terms of His being God’s one and only Son.{14} In fact, the readings actually deny that there is any essential difference between Jesus and the rest of humanity. All souls — yours, mine, and Christ’s — were projected from God, and all share the same divine essence. The Christ soul was simply the first to complete its earthly experiences and return to God.{15} But concerned with the plight of its brother souls, the Christ soul decided to return and help us. According to Sugrue, the Christ soul incarnated as Enoch, Melchizedek, Joseph, Joshua, Jeshua, and finally — Jesus!{16} As Jesus, He triumphed over death and the body and once again returned to God, becoming “the pattern we are to follow.”{17}

How do such teachings square with the Bible? Not very well, I’m afraid. The Bible maintains a careful distinction between God and man. God is the Creator; man is His creature. God created man in His image (Gen. 1:27); He did not project him from His essence. The Bible also maintains a clear distinction between Jesus and other men. Jesus is the completely unique God-man; no other man is like Him. He was both fully divine and fully human (John 1:1, 14). We are merely human. He was sinless (Heb. 4:15); we are sinful (Rom. 3:23). He claimed to have come not merely to be our example, but “to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11) and “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). We, of course, are the lost sinners He came to ransom and to save (Rom. 5:6-11). Thus it’s clear, even from this brief summary, that the readings’ doctrines of Christ and men differ substantially from those of the Bible.

Problems and Solutions

The Bible identifies man’s primary problem as sin, a state of moral corruption that has infected our very nature. It is our sinful nature (and the sinful acts arising from it) that is the source of so many of our problems. The Bible warns us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). Death is understood primarily as separation. Physical death is the spirit’s separation from the body (Jas. 2:26); spiritual death is a person’s separation from God (Eph. 2:1-7). All men are conceived in a state of spiritual death, alienated from their Creator and in need of reconciliation with Him (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12; 2 Cor. 5:20).

The Bible presents Jesus as the solution to our problem. It tells us that He died for our sins and, as Divine confirmation of this fact, that He was raised for our justification.{18} It assures us that whoever believes in Jesus will receive God’s forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life!{19}

The Edgar Cayce readings offer a very different perspective on man’s fundamental problem and how it should be solved. Before exploring this perspective, however, it’s helpful to remember that the doctrine of God presented in the readings is essentially pantheistic: God is everything and everything is God.{20} We’ve already shown that this view is substantially different from that of the Bible. And as Douglas Groothuis observes: “Differing descriptions of ultimate reality lead to differing descriptions of the human problem and to differing prescriptions for its solution.”{21} Let’s now see how the different descriptions of God in both the Bible and the readings contribute to their different perspectives on man’s problem and its solution.

Having declared that God “projected from Himself the cosmos and souls,”{22} Thomas Sugrue goes on to observe: “At first there was little difference between the consciousness of the new individual and its consciousness of identity with God.”{23} Over time, however, there was a “gradual weakening of the link between the two states of consciousness.”{24} Eventually, “The individual became more concerned with . . . his own creations than God’s. This was the fall in spirit . . .”{25}

According to Dr. Puryear, these unfortunate souls “were cutoff from an awareness of their oneness with the whole.”{26} And while the full explanation is more involved, the readings seem to ultimately identify this ignorance of our oneness with God as our fundamental problem.{27} Of course, if this is so, the solution is rather obvious: we must remember and reaffirm this inherent oneness. Dr. Puryear claims that it is “God’s quest” to bring us back into a remembrance of our divine heritage “and into full accord with Him.”{28}

Our summary reveals that while the readings’ perspective on man’s problem and its solution is unique, it more strongly resembles the viewpoint of non-dualistic Hinduism than biblical Christianity. It is important that Christians be aware of these differences.

Death and Beyond

One of the greatest human mysteries concerns the experience of death and what (if anything) happens afterward. The book of Hebrews declares, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Most biblical scholars agree that this verse leaves no room for the doctrine of reincarnation — a doctrine explicitly affirmed in the Edgar Cayce readings. But if this is so, then how did Cayce conclude “that an acceptance of reincarnation in no way went against Holy Writ”?{29}

When Cayce gave his first “life reading” for Arthur Lammers, he spoke of reincarnation as a fact.{30} On waking from his trance and being told what he had said, Cayce was shocked. He even considered that the Devil might be trying to trick him.{31} But after thinking the matter over, Cayce eventually concluded that even Jesus had taught about reincarnation!{32}

In Matthew’s Gospel, immediately after the appearance of Moses and Elijah to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, His disciples ask, “Why . . . do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answers: “Elijah has come already, and they did not know him.” But notice how the passage concludes: “Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist” (Matt. 17:10-13). Reflecting on this passage, Cayce wondered how the disciples could draw such a conclusion. Had they understood John to be the reincarnation of Elijah?{33} And why did they draw this inference so quickly? Had Jesus already taught them “the laws of reincarnation?”{34}

There are several difficulties with this position. First, the theological context of first century Judaism was decidedly theistic — not pantheistic.{35} We should thus be very careful before concluding that Jesus taught His disciples about reincarnation. His statement probably meant no more than that John had come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” – just as the angel Gabriel had said He would.{36} Second, Jesus made His remarks after Elijah’s appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration. But “since John had already . . . died by then, and since Elijah still had the same name and self-consciousness, Elijah had obviously not been reincarnated as John . . .”{37} If he had, then we should have read about Moses and John appearing to Jesus — not Moses and Elijah! “Third, Elijah does not fit the reincarnation model, for he did not die.”{38} The Bible tells us that he was taken up into heaven while still alive!{39} And finally, such an interpretation would clearly contradict the passage in Hebrews cited earlier. Thus, I think we can safely conclude that Jesus did not teach the doctrine of reincarnation.

We’ve seen that while Edgar Cayce was a kind and humble man, the worldview of his readings is “world’s apart” from that of the Bible. Christians must carefully avoid being taken captive by this philosophy.{40}

Notes

1. Jess Stearn, Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet (New York: Bantam Books, 1968).
2. Thomas Sugrue, There is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce, rev. ed. (Virginia: A.R.E. Press, 1994), back cover.
3. Stearn, Edgar Cayce, 8.
4. Herbert B. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer (New York: Bantam Books, 1982), 197.
5. Sugrue, There is a River, 305.
6. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer, 229.
7. Ibid., 209.
8. Ibid., 209.
9. See, for example, Exodus 20:1-6 and Romans 1:18-25.
10. A rather unique feature of the particular version of pantheism presented in the Cayce readings is that “God” is viewed as, in some sense, personal. Dr. Puryear, in a discussion on meditation, writes, “The godhead we seek is a personal one . . .” (The Edgar Cayce Primer, 146). This certainly distinguishes the pantheism of the readings from that of most New Age literature (which tends to conceive of “God” as impersonal, rather than personal). Nevertheless, the view of God presented in the Edgar Cayce readings is still pantheistic and, therefore, unbiblical.
11. Sugrue, There is a River, 307.
12. Cited in Sugrue, There is a River, 320.
13. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer, 221.
14. This, according to New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, is the real meaning of John 3:16. See Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 161.
15. Sugrue, There is a River, 314.
16. Ibid., 315-16.
17. Ibid., 316.
18. See 1 Corinthians 15:3 and Romans 1:4; 4:25.
19. See John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Colossians 1:14.
20. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer, 209.
21. Douglas Groothuis, Are All Religions One? (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 24.
22. Sugrue, There is a River, 307.
23. Ibid., 309.
24. Ibid., 310.
25. Ibid.
26. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer, 213.

27. This seems evident from the fact that, before we can take the next step (i.e. living the Great Commandment) we must first recognize and reaffirm our oneness with the whole. In other words, before we can tackle our other problems, we must first overcome our primary problem: ignorance of our oneness with God. The following remarks from Dr. Puryear help make this clear:

If we get the sense of such a Reality and affirm God, the oneness of all force, then we may take the next step and address that which the readings evaluate as the ultimate agenda for mankind: the living of the great commandment. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. This Edgar Cayce represented as the ideal for all mankind and the answer to all the problems of mankind . . . A major hindrance and barrier to loving God and others lies in the inadequate understanding we have of ourselves, of our basic spiritual nature, of the spiritual nature of others . . . We must come to understand fully that we are spiritual beings and that all of us are children of God (Ibid., 229-30).

Notice that it’s only after we affirm this pantheistic notion of God that we may take the next step of living the Great Commandment (the solution to all our other problems). Thus, if we can first remember and reaffirm our oneness with God, we can then begin to recognize that, “As children of God, love is . . . the very nature of our being” (Ibid., 231). Armed with this knowledge, we can begin fulfilling the Great Commandment — and watch our problems disappear!

Of course, any Christian would certainly agree that fulfilling the Great Commandment is a worthy ideal for the human race. But there remains a serious problem. In the readings, both God and my neighbor have been redefined. They are supposed to be understood from within a pantheistic worldview. And, as I’ve already noted previously, this is quite different from a biblical worldview. Thus, what a Christian theist (on the one hand) and a pantheist (on the other) understand by fulfilling the Great Commandment is something very different indeed!

28. Puryear, The Edgar Cayce Primer, 213
29. Noel Langley,Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation, ed. Hugh Lynn Cayce (New York: Paperback Library, 1971), 176.
30. Sugrue, There is a River, 202.
31. Ibid., 210.
32. Ibid., 220.
33. Ibid., 222.
34. Langley,Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation, 173.
35. Norman L. Geisler and Ron Rhodes, When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretations (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1997), 106
36. Ibid. See also Luke 1:17.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. See 2 Kings 2:11. See Colossians 2:8.

©2002 Probe Ministries.

 

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The Uniqueness of Jesus

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

A serious study of the Gospels leads a person to one of three conclusions about Jesus: He was (1) an evil lying villain, (2) a preposterously deluded madman, or (3) the Messiah, the Son of God. It is ludicrous for anyone who has studied His life to take the position that He was simply a good teacher. Only one of the three conclusions is a logical possibility.

Jesus made some outrageous claims no ordinary person would dare to make. First, He claimed to be God. His statements of equality with God meant He believed that He possessed the authority, attributes, and adoration belonging to God. He proclaimed authority over creation, forgiveness of sins, and life and death. He declared to possess the attributes of God. He emphatically stated that He was the source of truth and the only way to eternal life. Only Jesus among the significant leaders of history made such claims.

Here are a few of His outrageous claims. When “Philip said, Lord, show us the Father.’ Jesus answered. . . .Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:8-9). Once, when the Pharisees were disparaging Jesus and challenging Him, Jesus responded, ” I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10:30-33). It is clear in these two statements, Jesus claimed to be God. His opponents clearly understood His declaration of equality with God.

When challenged by the scholars on His authority over Abraham, the father of the Jews, Jesus replied, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!’ I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I am!’” (John 8:56-58). Jesus clearly believed He had existed two thousand years earlier and knew Abraham.

On the issue of life and death Jesus stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Here He believed He had authority over life and death.

Finally, Jesus accepted and encouraged others to worship Him. Throughout the Gospels the disciples worshiped Jesus as seen in Matthew 14:33 and John 9:38. Jesus states in John 5:22-23, “Moreover, the Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him.” Jesus knew the Old Testament command “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Matt. 4:10). Despite this, Jesus encouraged others to worship Him. Either He was mad (insane), or He was who He claimed to be and deserves our worship as God incarnate.

After reading such claims, it is impossible for anyone to say He was merely a good teacher. A man making claims like these must either be a diabolical liar, insane, or God incarnate. For the remainder of this essay we will be discussing which of these conclusions is most plausible.

A Villain, A Madman, or God Incarnate?

We have established at this point that Jesus made some astounding claims about himself. He presumed to be God, claimed the authority and attributes of God, and encouraged others to worship Him as God. If, however, Jesus was a liar, then He knew His message was false but was willing to deceive thousands with claims He knew were untrue. That is, Jesus knew that He was not God, He did not know the way to eternal life, and He died and sent thousands to their deaths for a message He knew was a lie. This would make Jesus history’s greatest villain (and perhaps, a demon) for teaching this wicked lie. He would have also been history’s greatest fool for it was these claims that lead Him to His death.

Few, if any, seriously hold to this position. Even the skeptics unanimously agree that He was at least a great moral teacher. William Lecky, one of Britain’s most respected historians and an opponent of Christianity writes, “It was reserved for Christianity to present the world an ideal character which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love.”{1}

However, it would be inconsistent and illogical to believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher if some of those teachings contained immoral lies about himself. He would have to be a stupendous hypocrite to teach others honesty and virtue and all the while preach the lie that He was God. It is inconceivable to think that such deceitful, selfish, and depraved acts could have issued forth from the same being who otherwise maintained from the beginning to the end the purest and noblest character known in history.

Since the liar conclusion is not logical, let us assume He really believed He was God but was mistaken. If He truly believed He had created the world, had seen Abraham two thousand years before, and had authority over death, and yet none of this was true, we can only conclude that He was mad or insane.

However, when you study the life of Jesus, He clearly does not display the characteristics of insanity. The abnormality and imbalance we find in a deranged person are not there. His teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount, remain one of the greatest works ever recorded. Jesus was continually challenged by the Pharisees and lawyers, highly educated men whose modern day equivalent would be our university professors. They were fluent in several languages and were known for their scholarship of the Old Testament and Jewish law. They challenged Jesus with some of the most profound questions of their day and Jesus’ quick answers amazed and silenced them. In the face of tremendous pressure, we find He exemplified the greatest composure.

For these reasons, the lunatic argument is not consistent. If both the liar and the lunatic options are not consistent with the facts, we must take a serious look at the third option: that Jesus was really God. The next question is, does He prove to have the credentials of God? Let us investigate this possibility.

Messianic Prophecy

Thus far we have learned that Jesus is unique among all men for the profound statements He made about His divinity. We concluded that it is impossible to state He was simply a good moral teacher. From His amazing statements, He must be a liar, a lunatic, or God. Since the first two were not conceivable, we will begin looking at the third alternative, that He really is God. First, we must see if He had the credentials for these claims.

One of the most incredible types of evidence is the testimony of prophecy. The Old Testament contains a number of messianic prophecies made centuries before Christ appeared on the earth. The fact that He fulfilled each one is powerful testimony that He was no ordinary man. Allow me to illustrate this point using eight prophecies.

• Genesis 12:1-3 states the Messiah would come from the seed of Abraham.

• Genesis 49:10 states that He would be of the tribe of Judah.

• 2 Samuel 7:12 states that Messiah would be of the line of King David.

• Micah 5:2 states that He would be born in the city of Bethlehem.

• Daniel 9:24 states He would die or be “cut off” exactly 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the temple in 444 B.C.

• Isaiah 53 states that the Messiah would die with thieves, then be buried in a richman’s tomb.

• Psalm 22:16 states upon His death His hands and His feet would be pierced. This is quite significant since Roman crucifixion had not been invented at the time the Psalmist was writing.

• Isaiah 49:7 states that Messiah would be known and hated by the entire nation. Not many men become known by their entire nation, and even less are despised by the entire nation.

Now calculate the possibility of someone fulfilling these by coincidence. Let us suppose you estimate there is a one in a hundred chance a man could fulfill just one of these prophecies by chance. That would mean when all eight are put together there is a 1/10 to the 16th power probability that they were fulfilled by chance. Mathematician Peter Stoner estimates 1/10 to the 17th power possibility that these prophecies were fulfilled by chance.{2} Mathematicians have estimated that the possibility of sixteen of these prophecies being fulfilled by chance are about 1/10 to the 45th power.{3} That’s a decimal point followed by 44 zeroes and a 1! These figures show it is extremely improbable that these prophecies could have been fulfilled by accident. The figures for fulfillment of the 109 major prophecies are staggering.{4}

Skeptics have objected to the testimony of prophecy, stating they were written after the times of Jesus and therefore fulfill themselves. However, the evidence overwhelmingly shows these prophecies were clearly written centuries before Christ. It is an established fact even by liberal scholars that the Old Testament canon was completed by 450 B.C. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, was completed in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus in 250 B.C. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1948 contained the books of the Old Testament. Prophetic books like Isaiah were dated by paleographers to be written in 100 B.C.{5} Once again, these prophecies were confirmed to have been written centuries before Christ, and no religious leader has fulfilled anything close to the number of prophecies Jesus has fulfilled.

Confirmation of Miracles

Jesus made some profound statements about His divinity. We concluded that it is impossible to state He was simply a good moral teacher. From His amazing statements we must conclude Him to be a liar, a lunatic, or God. Since the first two were not conceivable, we began looking at the third alternative. If this is true, we must see if He has the credentials for His claims.

If a person claimed to be God, we would expect supernatural confirmations. We’ve already discovered the phenomenal record of prophecy. We would also expect Him to demonstrate authority over nature, sickness, truth, sin, and death. Jesus demonstrated such authority. One line of evidence is seen in His miraculous deeds.

Jesus’ miracles demonstrated His power over creation, sickness, and death. He demonstrated His authority over nature in such miracles as walking on water (Matt. 14:25), multiplying bread (Matt. 14:15-21), and calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41). He demonstrated authority over sickness with His instantaneous healings over terminal diseases. His healings did not take weeks or days but were instantaneous. He healed blindness (John 9), paralysis (Mark 2), leprosy (Luke 17), and deafness (Mark 7). Such miracles cannot be attributed to psychosomatic healing but to one who rules over creation. Jesus displayed authority over death by raising the dead as recorded in Luke 7 and Matthew 9.

Some doubt whether these miracles occurred. Several view the miracle accounts as fictitious legends developed after the death of Christ. Philosopher David Hume argued that human nature tends to gossip and exaggerate the truth. Others argue that the miracle accounts were propagated in distant lands by the followers of Christ well after the events so that the miracle accounts could not have been verified due to distance and time.

There are several arguments against these attacks. First, the Bible has proven to be a historically reliable document. For more information on this, see the Authority of the Bible article. Second, legends and exaggerations develop when followers travel to distant lands well after the time of the events and tell of stories which cannot be confirmed. Legends usually develop generations after the death of the figure at which time it is impossible to verify any of the accounts since all available witnesses are not available. However, the miracle accounts of Jesus were being told in the very cities in which they occurred during the lifetime of Jesus and to those who witnessed the event(s). Those who witnessed the miracles were followers of Christ and His enemies. These eye witnesses were questioned carefully by those in authority. If any claims were exaggerated or distorted, it could have easily been refuted. The New Testament with its miracle accounts could not have survived had not the accounts been true.

German scholar Dr. Carsten Theide and British scholar Dr. Matthew D’Ancona in their book Eyewitness to Jesus state their conclusion after a scientific investigation of a fragment from the Gospel of Matthew. The scientific evidence revealed that the book was written before A.D. 70, possibly as early as A.D. 30.{6} This reveals the fact that the Gospels were written and circulated during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, who were then able to judge the accuracy of such accounts, and they were unable to refute Jesus’ miracles. None of the world’s religious leaders performed the miracles Jesus did.

Authority Over Death

A study of the claims of Jesus make it clear that He was professing to be God. It is then impossible to conclude that He was merely a good teacher. In light of these claims, one must conclude that He is a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord. We investigated to see if His claim to be God was substantiated. Clearly the record of prophecy proved there was something unique about Him. The miracles He performed remain unequaled by anyone, but Jesus’ greatest demonstration of authority is revealed in His power over sin and death.

There are many religions and religious leaders who claim to know what lies beyond the grave. The problem is, no one has demonstrated authority over the grave or confirmed their belief of what happens after death. Only Jesus demonstrated authority over death. All men have died, but Jesus is alive.

During His three-year ministry, Jesus exercised His authority over death by raising several people from the grave. Most notable is the account of Lazarus found in John 11. Here even in the face of His enemies, Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. If this were not a historical account, this story would not have survived since it was recorded and propagated in the very city where it occurred, in the lifetime of the witnesses, both followers and enemies of Christ. The enemies of Christianity could have easily refuted the account if it were not true. The fact is they could not refute it.

In regard to His own death and resurrection, the Old Testament predicted the death of the Messiah in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. However, it also predicts the resurrection in Psalm 16:8 11 and refers to the eternal reign of the Messiah. The only way to reconcile these verses is a resurrected Messiah.

Jesus himself made these predictions in regard to His resurrection: “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up” (John 2:19). In Mark 8:31 Jesus taught “that the son of Man must suffer many things . . . and be killed, and after three days rise again.” In John 10:18 Jesus states, “I have authority to lay it (My life) down, and I have authority to take it up again.” In these passages, Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection. Either Jesus was mad, or He really had the authority over death.

Jesus’ resurrection proved His authority over sin and death. For a more detailed defense of the historicity of the Resurrection, check the Probe perspective on the Resurrection titled, Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

At the beginning of this study we examined the claims of Christ. We realized only three conclusions were possible: liar, lunatic, or Lord. Since the first two were inconceivable, we needed to see if Christ could further confirm His credentials of being God. We discovered that His claims were confirmed by the record of prophecy, His miracles, and the Resurrection.

Jesus proves himself to be unique among all men.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”{7}

Notes


1. William Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (New York: D.Appleton and Company, 1903), p. 8.
2. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict (San Bernadino, Calif.: Here’s Life Publishers, 1979), p. 167.
3. Norman Geisler, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, Ill.:Victor Press, 1990), p. 116.
4. Tim LaHaye, Jesus, Who is He? (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Books, 1996), p. 176.
5. Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), pp. 365-66.
6. Peter Carsten Theide and Matthew D’Ancona, Eyewitness to Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1996), p. 163.
7. Anonymous, “One Solitary Life,” quoted in Tim LaHaye, Jesus, Who is He?, p. 68.

Bibliography

1. Craig, William Lane. Apologetics: An Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1984.

2. Geisler, Norman. When Skeptics Ask. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Press, 1990.

3. Geisler, Norman, & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.

4. Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1902.

5. LaHaye, Tim. Jesus, Who Is He? Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Books, 1996.

6. Lecky, William. History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1903. Page 8.

7. Lewis, C. S. Miracles. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1960.

8. Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

9. Nash, Ronald. Faith and Reason. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing, 1988.

10. McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict. San Bernadino, Calif.: Here’s Life Publishers, 1979.

11. Stott, John. Basic Christianity. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1971.

12. Theide, Peter Carsten, and D’Ancona, Matthew. Eyewitness to Jesus. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

13. Walvoord, John. Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Press, 1990.

©2000 Probe Ministries.