Is it really that hard of a decision?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    181 replies to "Difference Between Christianity and Other Religions in a Nutshell"

    • Stan McCullars


      It really is that easy!

    • Fitz

      Love it, love it, love it!!!!!

    • BEK

      The thing that bothers me about this kind of representation of Christianity is that it separates it from the God and the plan of the Old Testament. Your explanation about other religions would seem to rule out the validity of the Old Testament. Didn’t Abraham have a revelation from God; that God talking to him and making promises to him? Didn’t Moses go to a mountain top and communicated with God? Christianity is the continuation of something that started long before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He did not start a NEW religion.

    • Andy

      I hear BEK’s question though, and thought some about that, also (when defending the Truth, you tend to see the questions coming). But on the other hand, God backed up all these people in the OT. Also, every time somebody tries to disprove the Bible (new or old testament), they end up finding more evidence of its Truth.

      Following you on twitter. You may see my posts up occasionally, also. Love your ministry bro, keep it up!

    • Aaron

      As a former believer, I appreciate a lot of why you write here, with your irenic approach to discussing theology. But I have to say his doesn’t make much sense to me. 
      Box 1: No argument here. 
      Box 2: This is nitpicking, but don’t the Gospels make a point that Jesus was buried in a private tomb, to contrast with the public tombs for the masses of the poor?
      Less nitpicking, in what way can the Resurrection possibly be thought of as public. Nobody witnessed the actual event. All the ‘witnesses’ came to the tomb in small groups after the fact.
      Box 3: Jesus did not show himself to the public. According to the various Gospel accounts, Jesus showed himself to Mary Magdalene, Simon (Peter?), two disciples on the road, and small groups of the disciples (small because they could all fit into a room). A passing reference to 500 people in Paul’s letters doesn’t seem convincing to me, as we have no account of this or names of the people…

    • Aaron

      Even if we did, 500 doesn’t seem like the ‘public’ anyway, at least on the scale of Jesus’ reported ministry. 
      Box 4: Very similarly, it is not the public, but a small group of followers that told everyone. 
      This issue is important to me because it’s one thing that caused me to question my faith. If Jesus had appeared publicly after his death, as he did before it, Christianity would be much more convincing.

    • C Michael Patton


      There are two period of major public revelation that God appeals to to call people to remember and believe:

      1. In the OT it was the time of the Exodus. In the OT God is continually pointing people, not to private revelations of individuals, but the epic public deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians.

      2. In the NT (and since) it is the resurrection of Christ. We look back for verification of our beliefs to the epic public crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

      Once these are established, they indirectly proclaim the reality of many of the private encounters of God’s men such as Abraham.

      However, we could make this comic more complex by adding the prophecies concerning Christ (which make the event a public anticipation) and the life of Christ.

      The resurrection of Christ proclaims the reality of all of the Christian witness.

      This comic rules out Islam, Zoroastrianism, Mormanism, Hinduism, etc because their is no real reason to believe their central claims.

    • Tom

      @Aaron – Just one point about the 500 witnesses mentioned by Paul (unfortunately the end of your comment got cut off, so I’m responding based on what I see).
      At one time, I used to be skeptical about the 500 witnesses, too. I thought, “we don’t have 500 witnesses, we have one witness saying there were 500. He could have said 5000 or 5 million – how would we know?” The problem is that I was looking at it from a 21st century perspective. Paul’s letters were circulated widely during his lifetime. When the original readers read those letters, they would have been in a position to question the 500 witnesses, many of whom Paul states were still alive. So if Paul was just making up a number, his story could easily have been falsified. He would have been foolish to claim that there were many witnesses (and 500 in that day was a substantial number) if in fact he could not produce them. The Jews and pagans both offered many arguments against Christianity but none said Paul was lying…

    • C Michael Patton

      Aaron, the idea is the it is historically public (i.e. not in some mythical place or city which no one has heard about). Therefore, it was not beyond the examination of the public.

      Christ appeared for 40 day, as Luke say, showing himself risen by many convincing proofs. Paul just accounts to him appearing to over 500 AT ONE TIME.

      The point is to demonstrate the difference between a fabrication and the truth. If you were to fabricate a religious belief AND THIS WAS TO HAVE HISTORICAL EVENTS WHICH CREATE ITS FOUNDATION, the only way to do this is to say that these things happened in private. If you claimed it was public and it was not, it would die in no time (unless it was started hundreds of years later—but then that would disqualify its substantiation).

    • Rick

      As Thomas Oden writes, God’s revelation “occurs in events, not by spawning ideas.”

    • EricW

      As @6. Aaron has indirectly noted, the word is “publicly,” not “publically.”

      Misspellings and grammatical errors in tracts, handouts, displays and PowerPoints can negate or diminish their impact and the credibility of the author or designer.

    • Debbie

      Jesus was a Rabbi. He did exactly what was said that He would do. HE rebuilt the temple in 3 days. Christianity was begun by those that believed Jesus was THE Missiah. I consider myself a Christian. In fact I became a Baptised Catholic as an adult. But I will always be Jewish.

    • Seth R.

      Cute Michael.

      Are you including Judaism in that “other religions” category?

    • […] Michael Patton with a short cartoon on the difference between Christianity and other religions […]

    • Jeremy Myers

      Hmmm. Well, I know that Judaism and Christianity are not the same, but since we are founded upon Judaism, and Jesus was Jewish…. what do you do with Moses by himself upon the Mt. Sinai, and the prophets, by themselves out in the wilderness, and Noah getting a dream from God to build the ark, and so on?

      I see your point, I’m just not sure it’s applicable to any aspect of Christianity beyond Jesus. Of course, He’s pretty central….

    • Seth R.

      Well see Jeremy, that’s the thing.

      We Mormons don’t really have much problem with anyone who wants to claim Jesus was unique or central – because we believe that too.

      But we do take strong issue with Michael’s implied point that the OTHER ways of founding a religion, or bringing forth religious truth are invalid.

      If you want to claim that, you have to reject Isaiah and Elijah for starters.

      So Michael… you ready to reject Elijah’s prophetic calling?

    • C Michael Patton

      First, Elijah’s ministry was anything but private.

      Second, even if it was (I would use Abraham as an example—yet that does not REALLY work), as I said above, God’s movements are always epic when soteriological (salvation) history is involved.

      In the Old Testament, the Jewish epic and founding event that they were called continually to look back upon was the Exodus.

      In the New Testament (and since) it has been the resurrection.

      The point is that God is never silent when he makes his moves. He does not give someone an idea, special visitation, or a dream that is private or not substantiated by public ministry. This is the essence of the third commandment (otherwise ANYONE could CLAIM that they have had a visitation from God or an Angel). It is amazing to me that so many will follow when private revelation is the source.

    • Gary Simmons

      “It is amazing to me that so many will follow when private revelation is the source.”

      This, obviously, is what prompted this post. Well said, Michael. And well-drawn, too.

    • GoingBonkz

      According to Islam, Jesus was helped up to heaven the day before he was going to be executed and was replaced with something else. Also, in Islam it is said that the part where Jesus comes back to life is lies generated by Paul. The Bible has been modified so many times. Can it really be true anymore?

    • Steph

      I suspect that the gospel writers, canonized and not, wrote their accounts in private, though meditation and I’m sure some dreaming. After all, those are the only accounts we have- no twits or divine blogging.

    • C Michael Patton

      It is not about what is written down, but what is proclaimed. The proclamation of Christianity is that its basis in on historic events done in public. This opens it up to historical inquiry, both now and then.

      Private revelation dodges the inquiry bullet, but in the process makes belief in such completely unwarranted.

      It is rather naive to believe that a religion based on the historic claim that Christianity is based on would last 2000 year (much less 100) if it were not highly probable that the historic claims were true.

      But, then again, that is the point of the comic.

      Its a call for us to think.

      Christianity is not afraid of historic inquiry. In fact, the incarnation demands it!

    • bible

      U gotta love massive brainwash from childhood. It worked amazingly well, the victim even defense what they were taught.

    • Justin

      Except that panels 2-4 are inaccurate: only His followers were involved.

      Anyway, this is a very random way to judge a religion.

    • h4nd

      Oh, another version of us Vs them, and they’re all wrong (or inferior). Go crusades!

    • Seth R.

      Michael, that’s not a response at all because Muhammad’s ministry was “anything but private” as well. And plenty of religions can look back to big founding miracles in their history – my own being no exception (we happen to have our own “Exodus” story).

      So I still fail to see why your diagram doesn’t cast doubt on Elijah just as much as Muhammad, or Joseph Smith.

    • Seth R.

      And I wouldn’t classify either Islam or Mormonism as “private revelation.” Not only do both of them claim rather public miraculous manifestations, but both of them invite the worshiper to participate in the revelation and make it part of themselves. Which kind of kills the whole “private” angle.

    • C Michael Patton

      Seth, the basis for Islam is a private revelation given to one man in a cave. How can that be public?

    • C Michael Patton

      Its about the foundational basis. 1 Cor makes clear that if Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain—even with the ministries of others taken into account. If the BASIS for your religion is on the validity of a private event, then the cartoon applies.

    • Seth R.

      And where, Michael, did Isaiah and Jeremiah get their revelations? How about David and his Psalms? Where did Abraham first experience the true God? Noah? Jonah?

      The same criteria you are dismissing Muhammad with dismisses half the Old Testament prophets.

    • Seth R.

      You’re also neglecting an important fact here – the existence of Mormonism does not stand solely on a private revelation of Joseph Smith. It stands on the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – as contained in the Bible.

      If you’re going to shoot my religion down because Joseph Smith received revelation in the same way Elijah and Isaiah and Jeremiah did, then how about we observe the founder of YOUR religion Michael

      John Calvin.

    • C Michael Patton

      Abraham and David are not the basis of my faith. They are consequences of the basis. The basis is the resurrection. They add nothing to it nor take anything away. Again it is about the BASIS. I don’t expect anyone to believe in private revelation of anyone.

      This issue is what is the warrant you provide for someone to believe your truth-claim. Is it private revelation that cannot be tested or is it public revelation that can be tested? That is the only thing on the table.

      If Christ did not raise from the grave, I would not care what Abraham and David or Elijah have to say. But since he did, their testimony is substantiated.

    • Seth R.

      That’s right. And Joseph Smith is not the basis of my faith either. He is merely an extension of the central message of Christ and HIS Gospel.

      There isn’t a faithful Mormon out there who views his or her religion as “adding something new.” We all view our religion as a restoration of something old that was had from the beginning, from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, and so forth.

    • Seth R.

      Incidentally, Joseph Smith’s habit was to share his angels with other men and women. We have multiple accounts of others witnessing the same divine messengers, etc.

      We even had our own “Day of Pentecost” of sorts in Kirtland, Ohio – witnessed by hundreds in attendance.

      Edit: I’ve got to quit double-posting….

    • C Michael Patton

      Seth, if you are Mormon, that explains you line of reasoning. You cannot accept this comic above. However, the point still remains. “A bosom burn” is not warrant for a historic claim. I just can’t go there. Anyone can say they talked to an angel. In fact, many do.

      God is not a private God when it comes to his movements. He gives us every reason to believe what he say. I would just think about it my friend.

    • Hodge


      If I were to argue along the lines of what Michael is doing, I would answer you this way:

      Moses received his religion in front of the nation of Israel. He received it with many public signs and wonders. All revelation that is received privately, whether from Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, etc. is evaluated on the basis as to whether it is consistent with Moses’ revelation for the OT. Likewise, for the NT, the resurrection is public as Michael has been arguing. Smith does not accord with either Moses or Jesus. He does not receive his religion in a public manner. He, therefore, fits neither piece of criteria. Hence, those who receive their religion privately receive their validation when their revelation accords with that which is received in a public manner. This distinguishes biblical religion from the rest.

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I have never – not once in my life – experienced this “burning in the bosom” you are talking about. My faith is founded upon study of the Bible, prayerful consideration, study of human history in general, and careful consideration of the inherent power and truth of human ideas. I don’t know what this “emotional reaction” you are implying is.


      The problem is that Mormons claim a similar narrative to Moses – similar public miracles, similar sharing of divine manifestations, witnesses of the miraculous, shared revelations, faith healings, miraculous deliverance from our enemies, and so forth.

      Your standard faithful Mormon finds parallels with his own church history to be rife in Exodus and Genesis.

      Like any Christian, your average Mormon can legitimately say “these things were not done in a corner.”

    • Hodge


      I know Mormon history pretty well, and the things to which you are referring are not the same thing that Michael is talking about. Witnesses, most who later denied that they saw angels or the tablets BTW, are not witnessing God giving revelation personally through signs and wonders. Speaking in tongues, healings, etc. are all done by faith healers today, but that is not what Michael is talking about. When Mormonism can hang its hat on a sea splitting in half, the voice of God speaking to an entire nation, and the public miraculous ministry of a man who raises Himself from the dead and shows Himself to over 500 people, then I think you would have something equivalent.
      I also know that Mormons will CLAIM that the find continuity with Moses and Jesus, but that is a claim that doesn’t quite make the grade once we start bringing out what each taught. The only way the Mormon claim stands is to argue that the teachings we have from Moses and Jesus in the Bible we now have aren’t…

    • Hodge

      their teachings. Again, when continuity can be not only claimed but shown, without arguing away the original text, then it’s something with which we can agree Mormonism has in common with biblical religion. Until then, they remain completely different animals.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, if you say the witnesses later denied their experiences, I’d say you were missing a few points of Mormon history.

      There were three witnesses who had the Gold Plates physically shown to them by an angel and all three reported such.

      All three at some point or other, apostatized from the LDS Church. Two returned later in life, one did not. But all three remained absolutely adamant throughout their lives and to their dying days that they saw what they saw and that Joseph Smith was (at least initially) the real deal.

      Like Paul, I guess that’s what you would call a “hostile witness.”

      Edit: And Hodge, it’s no good to claim that Mormons are “arguing away the text” of the Bible – because that’s exactly what WE think YOU guys are doing.

    • Hodge


      You never took the test in the Book of Mormon concerning the Burning in the Bosom?

    • Hodge


      I’m sorry, but that’s a Mormon revision of history. The witnesses to whom you are referring ended up admitting that they had never seen them physically, but via a dream or vision. That’s quite a difference, don’t you think?

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, this is a common criticism of the LDS Church based on certain statements of Martin Harris – one of the witnesses. This has been thoroughly answered by Mormon apologists and historians. See here:

    • Seth R.

      You have mischaracterized the “test” in Moroni Chapter 7. I don’t blame you for doing this, because many faithful Mormons make a similar mistake.

      The “test” you are referring to in the Book of Mormon is decidedly not to simply “pray for a feeling.”

      You can get that impression if you isolate one verse of that chapter. But if, like any good exegesist, you look at the ENTIRE chapter, it is plain Moroni is asking for far more than “warm fuzzies.”

    • Hodge


      “And Hodge, it’s no good to claim that Mormons are “arguing away the text” of the Bible – because that’s exactly what WE think YOU guys are doing.”

      This is the type of thing that gets you into trouble. It’s just outright dishonest. Not one of us argues away the text. We accept the text as we received it. Yet, Smith must argue that the texts are all corrupt. Originally he argued that the translations were just corrupt, but then when things were brought up to him from the original languages, he changed that to the manuscripts being corrupted. You may claim that our interpretations are off in some places, but honest Mormons have to agree that many texts speak against Mormonism. That’s why they argue that they must be corrupt in some way.

    • Hodge

      I never said it was warm fuzzies. I’m asking you if you ever took the test and had the burning in the bosom? Although I would say that you are interpreting much differently than every Mormon missionary and bishop I have ever met if you are saying it is not a confirming feeling in one’s heart.

    • Seth R.

      Absolutely not Hodge.

      I have never once in my days of witnessing for my faith ever resorted to the idea that “well that Bible passage is just corrupt” as an apologetic. Nor does the LDS Church officially claim to know which Bible verses are “wrong.” Most of the Mormon argument is more about things being lost or concealed by people and not making it into the Bible in the first place. We take every verse of the Bible quite seriously, and we don’t claim any particular revelation as to which verses are incorrect (and no – the Joseph Smith “Translation” is not evidence to the contrary on this).

      I have not yet found a verse in the Bible that could not be reconciled just fine with Mormonism. So I don’t feel like we are “explaining away” anything here.

    • Marius

      Poe’s law?

    • Seth R.

      Sure it’s about feelings Hodge. But it’s about a whole lot MORE than that too.

      What is the basis of your conviction in the Bible?

    • Wrong


    • Hodge

      “I have not yet found a verse in the Bible that could not be reconciled just fine with Mormonism. So I don’t feel like we are “explaining away” anything here.”

      So you reject the notion that the Bible was in any way corrupted? You reject anyone who claims that the Bible was in any way corrupted, or where it disagrees with Mormonism, it corrupted? You reject anyone who claims that the text as it exists right now or in Smith’s day, contradicts Mormonism and as such must be corrupted? I just want to be clear before I tell you who you’re rejecting according to Mormonism.

    • Hodge

      “What is the basis of your conviction in the Bible?”

      Faith. It’s been supernaturally given to me. I believe the Bible whether I feel like it’s true or not. I may sometimes feel confirmation of it and sometimes not. My feelings are corrupt and therefore irrelevant to its truth, especially since the devil uses my corruption to delude me with all sorts of false religion.

    • Seth R.

      I withhold judgment on what may or may not be corrupt in the Bible. I think the primary deficits in the Bible are what was LEFT OUT rather than what is currently in there.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, what is the difference between a “supernatural witness” and “feelings?”

      Because you are using language almost identical to what I hear from my fellow Mormons.

    • Hodge

      I believe the supernatural gift, not witness (that’s different language that conveys something else), is the cause of my belief. It does not come through feeling but an enlightenment to acknowledge what the Bible says is true. This is different from the burning in the bosom by the very language used. If you want to say you see them as the same, that’s fine. I just have never heard that from any Mormon before. You do, however, acknowledge that it is at least a feeling, even if it is more, and that is where we differ. A feeling may accompany faith, but it is not necessarily a part of it.

    • Hodge

      “I withhold judgment on what may or may not be corrupt in the Bible. I think the primary deficits in the Bible are what was LEFT OUT rather than what is currently in there.”

      Well, you’re in continuity and discontinuity with the historic Mormon witness here. Yes, it includes what was left out; but Mormon authorities include its corruption, even the possibility that the entire Bible is corrupt, without a single verse in tact. Most would simply limit it to where it does not agree with Mormonism; but all in all, the witness is clear that although the Bible is useful, it is to be suspect as filled with errors where it disagrees with Mormon doctrine (that statement, made by Mormon leaders, assumes that the Bible does disagree with Mormon doctrine at points). I, of course, can give you a few verses where the Mormon prophets themselves say the Bible is wrong, so there are some official statements as to certain places; but in the end, if one believes the Bible is corrupt it provides a…

    • Hodge

      way out when one cannot reconcile what is most certainly in conflict with Mormon teaching, which again, goes back to the fact that Mormonism as it stands is in discontinuity with the Bible as it stands. Hence, Michael’s argument has not been discredited by your bringing up Mormonism as a possible exception.

    • Seth R.

      I’d be interested in seeing those quotes. Because the current LDS official stance does not claim any specific passages to be expressly in error.

      As for feelings vs. witness vs. enlightenment – I suspect all you are doing is using different terminology from Mormons to describe exactly the same thing.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, that might be an available cop-out, but I don’t use it. And I know of no LDS authorities who use it.

      Because we don’t have to. Because LDS doctrine is not in “discontinuity” with the Bible.

      And anyway, I didn’t originally bring up Mormonism as an exception to Michael’s rule. I brought up Elijah as an exception to Michael’s rule.

    • Hodge

      “I brought up Elijah as an exception to Michael’s rule.”

      Sorry, I jumped in half way and didn’t read the previous posts. I only read your latter posts making the claim that Mormonism fits the bill.

      “And I know of no LDS authorities who use it. Because we don’t have to. Because LDS doctrine is not in “discontinuity” with the Bible.”

      Did Smith believe the Bible AS IT STANDS, not as it supposedly was, is in continuity with Mormonism?

      “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).

    • Hodge

      Did Young?

      “You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe…I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 6).

      Did Pratt?

      “…and who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).

      Did McConkie?

      “The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity – manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas” (The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).

    • Hodge

      Did Hinckley?

      “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations”. (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, letter dated May 22, 1992).

      How can we judge whether a biblical passage is accurate if it’s all in perfect continuity with the Book of Mormon and current Mormon doctrine anyway?

    • Seth R.

      Yes Hodges, I don’t see a problem with any of those quotes and what I’ve just said.

      None of them really claim the Bible to be in outright error in any stated particular. Some of them suggest it without getting specific – which is no more or less than I have done here.

      The closest thing would be Brigham Young’s statement, but all that really does is show he wasn’t a literalist on certain passages but viewed some of them symbolically – which is no different from what many of the Protestant participants on this blog believe.

    • Hodge

      “This has been thoroughly answered by Mormon apologists and historians.”

      It’s been answered from a Mormon perspective. The most logical explanation is that he lied about physically seeing them initially and then when backed into a corner, he admitted that he only saw them in a spiritual sense. The attempt to reconcile them by using both of his statements as equally true is a matter of believing he was telling the truth on both occasions. In any case, a few witnesses is not what Michael is talking about by his use of the term “public.”

    • Seth R.

      Which just demonstrates to me that you didn’t actually read the article.

    • Hodge

      Wow, Seth. I think this shows that Mormonism is in no way harmonious to biblical religion, but instead that Mormons or any other group can harmonize anything by twisting it according to its technicalities. Young believed that Adam was God. That’s why he didn’t believe the Bible when it said that Adam was taken from the dust. Your claiming that he wasn’t a literalist is absurd to anyone familiar with his hermeneutic. He was an ULTRA literalist, which is why he rejected what he did and interpreted the Bible so strangely on many occasions. Note that he does not say he rejects the interpretation but that Adam came from the dust. He does not say that the dust means something else, only that he rejects it.

      In any case, your claim that this isn’t used by leaders as a cop-out isn’t true. It’s used by them to explain why the Bible differs so dramatically from Mormon religion. That’s why it plays such a prominent role in every “theology” book in Mormon religion from Teachings to…

    • Hodge

      Oh right, Seth. I just got done reading it, but I must not have because I didn’t come to your apologists conclusions.

      I suggest reading and checking out the original documents still published by the Mormon church (as I have always done) found in the Tanner’s, “The Changing World of Mormonism.” Despite what Mormon apologists claim, the book is absolutely accurate.

    • This makes Me Sick

      This is actually hugely rude, insulting, and incredibly inaccurate. People like you shut down dialogue; this sort of thinking is the foundation of prejudice, hatred, intolerance and even war. Makes me sick.

    • Seth R.

      No, because you breezily ignored everything the article said, all the historical documentation of multiple sources and accounts of what Harris said, and simply boiled it down to – “well I’m right anyway because I say so.”

      You simply did not credibly answer the claims raised there.

      But at any rate, you’re trying to open this up to a general debate on Mormonism – which is not the point of Michael’s original post. We can debate Mormonism here for ages. But the point was Michael’s formula for invalidating some religious traditions.

      It is a deeply problematic formula that damages the prophetic claims of Elijah and Isaiah just as much as it damages the likes of Joseph Smith.

    • cherylu

      Hi Seth,

      Unless my memory is completely failing me, I at one point in time asked either you or your friend Jared which one you would believe if there was a conflict between the Bible and the Book or Mormon. Which ever one of you it was answered, “The Book of Mormon.” Do you remember that conversation?

      Isn’t that answer in itself an admission that which ever one of you said that believes there are errors in the Bible? Or that there is a discontinuity between it and the Book of Mormon?

    • Seth R.

      And by the way Hodges, if you are so utterly bankrupt of effective arguments and ideas here that you have to resort to making this about me personally, there really is no point in continuing to talk to you.

      This debate is obviously not going your way, and you are now trying to desperately make this about me and how “deluded” or “dishonest” I am.

      And you are now combining this with what I like to call the “shotgun tactic.”

      What it means is that when you are losing on one angle of attack – quickly change the subject to something else (like Adam-God) and hope no one notices that you just lost the point you were debating. Repeat as many times as necessary.

      But I’m not buying it. Neither you nor Michael have demonstrated how his little cartoon doesn’t eviscerate half the prophets of the Old Testament.

    • C Michael Patton


      I could be wrong, but I don’t think your comment helps much in dialogue?

      And the post is not really about seeking dialogue anyway. Just to provoke thought. Just saying it is wrong does not really help. Can you name me another religion who’s foundational claims are:

      1. Open to public and historic examination
      2. Are substantial enough to demand an allegiance

      I am open to dialogue.

    • Seth R.

      I don’t remember saying that Cherylu.

      I don’t view the Book of Mormon as inerrant either – mostly because the text itself says it is not.

    • C Michael Patton


      Again, I don’t base my faith on the prophets in the OT. If Christ has not done what he did publically and if the Exodus was not done the way it was, I would not be a Christian (at least not from an intellectual standpoint) because I would have not warrant for my faith.

      But since Christ did what he did, I believe his word concerning the OT and all the prophets.

      Again, it is the basis of the major movements of our faith. Mine is not based on Elijah, Abraham, or Isaiah, but on the historic incarnation of Jesus.

      If God is going to make another “turn” in our faith (which I don’t think he will Heb 1:1-2), then it would have to be historic and public as well. Private fringe testimony can come from anyone. Why should I be expected to believe if it is done in secret and only has one person’s (or even two or three) testimony.

      God does not and has not worked that way in history. Read Isa 40-48. He is epic.

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I’ve already told you my faith is not based on Joseph Smith and the prophets either.

      So what is the difference between us on this score?

    • Seth R.

      Incidentally, the Tanners are not an accurate source for fully reporting LDS documents.

      Those two were famous for their use of the ellipses.

      Normally an ellipses is simply used to cut out unnecessary text. At least, that is how responsible academics use them.

      The Tanners however, would start some quote off from, say, Brigham Young – and then put in an ellipses – and then continue on with the text.

      But when you actually investigate the source document, you find out that little ellipses of the Tanners’ encompasses entire paragraphs, and sometimes entire pages worth of content! It was utterly unscholarly and irresponsible behavior.

      And it didn’t help that the Tanners did not see fit to let the text speak for itself, but would instead amateurishly (and deceptively) add in bold text and underlining to the quoted text on a constant basis. Real scholars don’t behave like that. They let the text speak for itself.

    • Hodge


      You remind me of every Mormon I’ve ever met. I just demolished your arguments, but through reinterpreting everything according to technicalities of language, you think your harmonizing everything, and then saying that you’ve made great arguments. In fact, I brought up Young’s interpretation, NOT BECAUSE I’M DISCUSSING HIS ADAM-GOD THEORY, but because it shows that He specifically rejects the biblical text, not just an interpretation of the text, as you ignorantly claim. I would suggest you read through the first volume of Journal of Discourses and look at how he interprets the Bible. I think you would find it quite enlightening if you put down your Mormon apologetic for two minutes.
      So I’ve done no such thing as put forth a shotgun approach. All of my comments have to do with whether Mormonism is in continuity with the Bible as it stands. All the leaders of Mormonism, whether they specify a particular passage or not, believe it is not. You idiosyncratically say it is.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, first off, I would question the degree to which the Adam-God concept is at odds with the Bible. Brigham Young and Apostle Orson Pratt had several pointed disputes over that point.

      Secondly, I would point out that such teachings are not a part of modern Mormon belief anyway. No one in the LDS Church today teaches it, no one in my local congregation even knows what it is – except me and one other older gentleman who has an interest in historical oddities.

      So perhaps this wasn’t the best example for you, to begin with.

    • Hodge

      So you are trying to make this about me (i.e., I’m making it personal). It’s not personal, Seth. Every Mormon I know does this. You are committed to Mormonism no matter what. So be it. I’m committed to historic Christianity no matter what. But let’s not act like you have good objective arguments to disprove Christian apologists and prove Mormon apologists correct. Case in point, I know what the man said. All the article does is try to show that he said two different things that must harmonize with one another. My point is that it is likely that he just lied about it and changed his story, as is a common human thing to do. You’re pretending that I didn’t deal honestly with the article is just a matter of you believing the conclusions. How would you like me to interact with it? It’s a matter of interpretation, not fact. The only way to deal with it is to look at it wholistically. I believe the claim is false and the two versions verify that. You believe it’s true and they cohere…

    • Hodge

      “Secondly, I would point out that such teachings are not a part of modern Mormon belief anyway. No one in the LDS Church today teaches it, no one in my local congregation even knows what it is – except me and one other older gentleman who has an interest in historical oddities.”

      I’m now going to nail you to the wall every time you present a red herring, since you’ve accused me of a “shotgun” approach that seeks to do the same. I, of course, have been arguing the same thing all along. This is one of those examples.
      The point is not whether Mormonism currently believes in the Adam-God theory. Who cares? My point is that Young saw it as contradicting the Bible, and the Bible at this point to be in error. But it’s all moot anyway, as the point is that somewhere in the Bible, at some point, all Mormon leaders agree, it is corrupt, and the reason why is that it conflicts with Mormon doctrine at some point. So, again, Mormonism is not in continuity with the Bible as it…

    • Hodge

      stands, period.

    • Seth R.

      Logical failure here:

      Brigham Young not in continuity with the Bible does not equal MORMONISM not in continuity with the Bible. Especially when you are talking about an item that the larger Mormon tradition did not adopt in the first place.

      Edit: Not that I’m admitting that Brigham Young was not in continuity, mind you.

    • Seth R.

      And hold on a second here…

      You are asserting that Brigham Young openly and clearly considered his own teachings to be at odds with the Bible?

      That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I have looked into the record on Adam-God somewhat. Perhaps you could provide a quote where Young made this admission?

    • Hodge


      You’ve won. I’m not going to argue the point anymore with you, as it seems clear that you cannot even understand what I’m arguing. My bringing up Young was to give you an example against your claim that Mormon leaders don’t point out specific texts as errors as an excuse to deal with their contradictions with Mormon doctrine. In Young’s time, he demanded that everyone believe it; but that is neither here nor there.
      Mormonism claims the Bible is in error. If Mormonism is in continuity with the Bible, Mormonism is also in error. If Mormonism is not in error, and the Bible is in error somewhere, even if not known where, Mormonism is not in continuity with the Bible. That’s the last time I’m going to present it. I’m out.

    • Seth R.

      Well, if you’ve got a quote from Brigham Young pointing out that he actually considered his teachings to be in direct conflict with the Bible, please share.

      From what I know of Brigham Young, I think it’s actually possible there is something out there where he did make such declaration. If that’s true, my limited point about no LDS leaders stating error specifically in the Bible would indeed be wrong.

      I’ll admit it’s quite possible. But it’s not something I’m going to concede just because someone here asserts it – without more.

    • C Michael Patton

      Guys, stick to the subject of the post. To the degree that it effects Mormonism, good. But it is very easy to go too broad here.


      All I can say is that you have done nothing to suggest that this illustration is not accurate. I have every reason to believe that the prophets were correct as Christ’s testimony is enough for me. I have no reason to believe in private revelations (esp those that purport enormous claims that change the interpretation of the historic Christian faith). My point is that God is not silent in these type of movements. Anyone can claim things as long as the basis of their claims are kept behind closed doors. The warrant for such a surrendering of belief is simply not present.

    • C Michael Patton

      By the way, according to the same standards I reject the King James Only movement which says that the translators were “inspired.” There is just no reason to believe it.

    • Michael Meadon

      And was Jesus publicly conceived of a virgin? (I mean, there’s no chance that Mary would lie about pre-marital sex in a patriarchal society with a penchant for stoning, is there?). And did the Angel Gabriel publicly chat with Mary?

      Besides, all this “publicly did X” stuff comes from deeply unreliable sources.

    • Seth R.

      But Michael, if your only objection here is the “closed doors” aspect, then neither Islam nor Mormonism has a problem under your illustration.

      Because both of them “went public.”

      Extremely public.

    • brian

      except it took 400 years to report it in writing and half of that was done from Greece – by people who were not part of the “public” who witnessed it!

    • voyth

      There is a logical mistake in your way of thinking. Jesus (if he ever lived) also had a private vision of God (if he exists). So no matter which religion – it’s always one big lie.

    • Ron

      Perhaps the key is this, the faith delivered by the apostles is falsifiable, a quality not found in hardly any other belief system. If the bones of Christ are discovered, I walk away, though with great grief. I do not think that will ever happen, though. So much evidence for the resurrection exists that one must willfully discount the most plausible explanation, that Christ rose from the dead, and seek weak naturalistic explainationsl

    • Lisa Robinson

      “except it took 400 years to report it in writing and half of that was done from Greece – by people who were not part of the “public” who witnessed it!”

      No, actually the first writing was done about a decade after Jesus death and everything written in accordance with the apostolic testimony was written in the first century. From there, the early church fathers (some of whom were disciples of the original apostles) cited the evidence in their writings so that you do have verifiable evidence before the Bible was actually packaged as a book.

    • Senthil

      Ha ha ha.. Ignorance is bliss.

    • Chambers, echo

      I see that moderators allow tangential argument, but an opinion clearly expressed about the actual topic is removed.

      Dear all: please consider whether “publicness” is really a good gauge of truth claims.

    • C Michael Patton

      Seth, the central FOUNDATIONAL EVENTS of both Islam and Mormonism were done with the doors shut. The foundation events of Christianity were done with the doors wide open. I have said this and qualified it so many times that this is really becoming bad stewardship of my time.

      The illustration above still stands in my opinion.

      Hope you are doing well…

    • lyesmith

      Yeah, Jesus have done so many miracles that no one cares to mention them only 40 years after his death. However for some reason all his miracles is a copy-cat from an other religion.

    • C Michael Patton

      “But Michael, if your only objection here is the “closed doors” aspect, then neither Islam nor Mormonism has a problem under your illustration.

      Because both of them “went public.”

      Extremely public.”

      Well of course it “went public”. That is the point of the cartoons. Each end with the belief and claim going public. The point is not whether something goes public, but whether the central defining events that claim to demand our attention and belief were done in secret or public. If it is public, it opens itself up to examination and historic scrutiny. As was said above, it is falsifiable. If it happened behind closed doors, it is just one man’s/woman’s word.

      Again, you decide.

    • C Michael Patton


      Even if that were true, let’s think about it for a minute. Could I start a religion based on claims for the public Crucifixion and resurrection (and post-resurrection appearances) 40 years later and expect it to be not only accepted, but flourish now or any time? If I were to suddenly make up these events and say they happened in 1970, they would be shut down, not based on alternative theories (which was the attempt), but on the basis that nothing like that ever happened. That is why those who start a religion must do so based on private events. Keeping thing behind closed doors makes the events beyond historic examination.

      And, hense, the pictures of the OP.

      And concerning your theory about Christianity borrowing for other religions, we will have to save that for another time. Suffice it to say that that is, from my perspective, more of a faith based claim then the event of the resurrection itself!

    • Allan Ebdrup

      Atheism is the way to go if you apply this ratinale of only believing what the most people have whitnessed – nothing, no god.

    • Hodge


      Who has witnessed the metaphysical presuppositions of atheism? I’d like to meet this god.

    • Ian

      The decision IS easy: Atheist.

    • Tim

      There may be a God, but religion is phony.

    • Roland

      If you want to truly open up your religion to historic inquiry: History in Genesis is obviously wrong. Case closed.

    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t start with Genesis in confirming my faith. I start with the resurrection. Key: what is Christianity built upon? It all starts with the resurrection. If it happened, Christianity is true. If it did not, then it is false. So lets stay there as the OP does.

    • Michael T.

      Great point. The central defining moment in Christianity is the resurrection. What one thinks about the Genesis story, the flood narative, the behavior of God in the OT, or anything else is ultimately irrelevent. Christianity lives or dies based upon whether or not Jesus was alive on Easter Sunday, nothing else.

    • Mike H.

      A burning in the bosom is just one way the Spirit testifies. The disciples on the road to Emmaus testified they had felt this witness as the resurrected Lord testified from the scriptures in Luke 24:

      27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

      28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

      29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

      30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

      31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

      32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to repeat this for you.

      The foundational events for Mormonism are CHRIST’S life, death and resurrection.

      Not anything about Joseph Smith.

      Now, will you please either disagree with this statement or acknowledge it so we can move beyond this?

    • Michael T.


      Historic Christianity lives and dies at the resurrection. No matter how much you claim otherwise Mormonism as a religion lives or dies based upon the resurrection yes, but also upon whether or not the Book of Mormon is a divine text divinely revealed to Joseph Smith. If there is no Book of Mormon there is no Mormonism.

    • Muhammed

      Praise Allah!!!!!!!!! lalalalalalalallala

      but suriusly, how is one mythology telling people to do good different from another? And you can’t answer that until you you’ve actually familiarized yourself with other mythologies, seen that they speak good, etc etc etc etc etc

    • Joshua J


      The value of an event being public is that you can obtain multiple independent sources of testimony that can corroborate the event. But it helps nothing to say that an event was public unless you actually have record of these testimonies; without them, you now merely have two unsubstantiated claims.

      Paul may give an account of post resurrection Jesus appearing to 500 people, but without the testimony of those people his account is no more convincing than if he had claimed Jesus appeared to him alone.

    • C Michael Patton

      I am glad you see the value of it being public. So many of the others here just can’t admit to such.

      We don’t need the testimony from each of these. Multiple attestation is great, but what we need is that the claims of its foundation to have said to have been done in the public eye. That way, we can understand its rise (if it really happened) or its fall (if such claims are wrong). Because the claims of the resurrection are that it happened and it was public (i.e. “go examine for yourself”) the very fact of its survival attests to its reality. For such claims would quickly find their end if they were fabrications. The early flourishing of the Christian faith, along with its claims that the resurrection was public is the reason why the OP is a solid portrayal of the way I think we should view things.

      One written account within 100 years of the event would then be enough to make someone consider the resurrection. But Christianity has much more than this.

    • C Michael Patton

      In short, if the resurrection happened, we have exactly what we would expect to have. If it did not happen, we have to take leaps of faith to explain why the first century turned out the way it did.

    • mbaker


      With the exception of my husband, his one sister and his grandmother, his entire family is Mormon. My husband got out of the Mormon church when he was 14.

      We recently got a letter from his sister telling us she wanted the family to reunite in the LDS church, because the early Christian church got the gospel all wrong, and it had to ‘be restored again correctly’ through the prophet Joseph Smith.

      So I think Michael’s OP is correct, since there is no one who actually saw Moroni, God, or Elijah or Jesus as Joseph Smith claimed, and as you know the claims have been changed over the years at least three times as to which of them was actually present when Smith was given the new revelation.

    • tudza

      While historians seem to agree that there was this Jesus person, they don’t seem to have any evidence of his being crucified. Not a surprise, why would anyone keep records for that long of the killing of yet another anti-Roman rabble rouser.

      I don’t recall the rising from the grave part being public at all. Didn’t they just come and find the tomb empty, in the story anyway.

      A dead person wandering around talking to people? That’s a really weird thing to believe.

      Credulous people telling other credulous people weird stuff and being believed? That I buy.

    • the_seeker_who

      Both are equally inadequate.

      It’s evolution.

    • Bueno

      How much objective/public evidence is there really? We have a book that SAYS “500” or “10,000” people saw this or that. But after all? A book can say anything.
      Many books say things that are not true. Since many books are false, their citations of “evidence” can be false too.

      So what would be REAL evidence? That would be, say, our pastors raising the dead, and walking on water, here and now today.

      Anybody see THAT?

    • C Michael Patton


      Existence is a pretty weird thing to believe. “Weirdness”, while a possible criteria for truth (in the sense that it does not happen today), does not really stand to historic scrutiny.

      “We don’t have any evidence that he was crucified”? Besides the 27 first century documents as well as those who claim to be eye-witnesses, we have dozens of accounts that attest to this. But if we only had the documents that make up the New Testament, this would be evidence wouldn’t it?

      Only fringe historian have ever said that Christ was not crucified.

    • Seth R.

      Michael T.

      That observation misses the point entirely. Would there have been a book of Jeremiah without Jeremiah? Isaiah without Isaiah?

      And it also is misleading about the nature of Christianity. Because Christianity – particularly Protestant Christianity – does NOT begin and end with the ministry of Jesus Christ.

      You’ve forgotten Paul Michael.

      What sort of view would Evangelicals have about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ without Paul’s epistles? Paul put forth a radical interpretation of Christ’s life and death in his epistles that you simply would not be able to come up with without Paul’s writings. How much would you guys know about the Atonement without the Epistle to the Romans, for instance?

      No, Evangelical religion does not “begin and end” with Jesus. It also requires – yes REQUIRES – the ministry of Paul.

      In fact, I would posit that Paul is just as crucial to the Evangelical faith as Joseph Smith is to Mormons.

    • C Michael Patton


      It is not “a book” but 27 first century documents which now make up the corpus that we call the New Testament. That is quit a bit.

      It is true that many books, newspapers, TV News can all be false. It could be false that the Jews were never killed in Germany. The possibility of alternative explanations does not mean that it is a probability.

      Christianity exploded in the first century based on a belief that Christ rose from the grave and that hundreds of people saw it. Is it possible that it was all a fabrication? Yes. Is it probable? I don’t think so. Sometimes the easiest explanation is the best (even if it takes faith—but it takes more faith not to believe).

      Modern reoccurance of the events does not add anything or take away from the HISTORIC foundational claims.

    • Seth R.

      And don’t even get me started on Augustine and John Calvin – whose interpretations of the Bible were every bit as groundbreaking and novel as Joseph Smith’s.

      Of course, Evangelicals will quickly point out that they do not view those men as prophets.

      To which I respond that considering how seriously you guys take their conclusions, they might as well be prophets.

    • C Michael Patton

      The seeker,

      Evolution is not even on the table for this post. Sorry, it does not add to or take away from what is being said.

    • Seth R.


      I cannot vouch for the angle taken by every single Mormon in the LDS Church.

      As to your remarks about no one seeing the angel Moroni aside from Joseph Smith, I’ve already presented my evidence that other men besides Joseph did see him, and vouched for it. Not to mention visitations by Peter, James, and John, John the Baptist, Elijah, Moses, Elias, Adam, and others that were witnessed not only by Joseph Smith, but by others as well.

      As for your remark about contradictions in Joseph’s retelling of his “First Vision” of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the differences do not seem much of a problem to me. There is a consistency in Joseph’s multiple accounts – regardless of the difference in particulars.

      It seems to me to be no more of a problem than the differences and contradictions in the Apostle Paul’s accounts of his own “private” vision on the road to Damascus.

    • Joshua J

      I see. So essentially your argument is that if Paul’s claim was false, then his contemporaries would have discovered the fact; thus, the lack of any challenge to his claim is reason to accept it.

      In that case, the logic of your argument is valid. The premises, however, I find questionable for the following reasons: one, it is not necessarily the case that any investigation took place, and his claim could well have been false without anyone knowing; and two, due to the lack of effective information transmission at that time, even if an investigation had taken place that cast doubt on Paul’s claim, it is not necessarily the case that the information would have propagated widely enough or quickly enough to affect the spread of Christianity.

      These two possibilities must be addressed in order to establish the truth of your premises, and thereby the truth of your argument.

    • Mike H.

      Joseph Fielding McConkie has pointed out that, “Many a pretender to the prophetic office has claimed to entertain angels or to have spoken with God, but who other than Joseph Smith introduced his angels to others? Joseph Smith introduced Moroni to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. He was never alone when priesthood or keys were restored…. He and Sydney Rigdon received the revelation on the degrees of glory together. Together they saw legions of angels, along with the Father and the Son (see D&C 76:21-23). Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph Smith when John the Baptist came to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, and when Peter, James, and John came to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. Oliver was also with Joseph Smith when Christ came to accept the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah restored their keys, powers, and authorities.” (Sons and Daughters of God, pp. 194-195)

    • Mike H.

      That 1000 character limitation cut off the link on my last meassage. See:

    • Mitch

      I have never seen anything so ignorant in my entire life.

    • Mike H.

      You’ll have to be a bit more precise Mitch. What are you calling ignorant?

    • EricW

      Hodge says: March 12, 2011 at 1:02 am


      You’ve won.

      Au contraire, Mr. Hodge. In the batting back and forth of the tennis ball with Mr. Seth, IMO you scored a perfect game-set-match. 🙂

    • ellere

      Uhhhhh… isn’t Jesus the “one guy” you disparage in the second example? The “one guy” who went and told people about the religion?

      So the decision that is so easy to make is that you must always be one step further removed?


    • C Michael Patton


      Not really. It is not simply one person’s words that we are talking about. It is what Christ did in public that demands public verification to warrant our belief. Christ rose from the grave and this tells us what he said was true. Anyone can go around as one man and say things. But can someone raise from the grave and then have his followers claim it happened underneath the public eye? I would say no since it would be quickly shown to be false, either through the production of the body or lack of eye-witness testimony (If only five or six people claim to have seen or examined the Christ story, I would not believe). But since it was public and it exploded in the first century, this is good evidence that it is true.

      Again, it is the resurrection of Christ that I am talking about.

    • Seth R.

      I didn’t miss the implied meaning there Michael.

      Mormonism has more than five or six witnesses to the miraculous.

      Try over one hundred.

    • Mike H.

      What happened after the resurrection during the 40-day ministry of the resurrected Jesus with his disciples?
      Why was it not recorded in the Bible?

    • C Michael Patton

      Act 1:1-5 collaborated with the testimony of the other Apostles in the New Testament, esp. 1 Cor 15. This along with the early rise of Christianity based on these things makes a compelling case. Or, in reverse, it is very hard to come up with a reasonable explanation for the early rise of Christianity other than that Christ rose from the grave. I have read dozens of alternatives. A clear testimony of their weakness is that the never stick due to their low probability.

      The most probable explanation is that Christ rose from the grave.

    • scdaddyo

      Big difference between Christ and the people that came up with this comparison.

      Christ loved all of us. This illustration was made out of hate by haters.

    • C Michael Patton

      Seth, it is not witnesses to the “miraculous”, but the founding events. Benny Hinn has thousands of witnesses to the miraculous as well.

      The reception of the book of Mormon is the/a founding event of Mormonism. It was a private gathering.

    • C Michael Patton


      That was a pretty hateful statement?

      The cartoon is simply a defense of Christianity against other religions and cults. It is odd that you might get offended by me saying that one is true and the others are false as you post implies that you think your ideas are true and those like mine are false?

      We are simply seeking truth and trying to speak the love of Christ. Christ came to reveal God’s love. In doing so he excluded all other beliefs.

      John 8:24:
      I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.

      Those are Christ’s words.

      Then he tells us to go proclaim this message:

      Matt. 8:28
      Go therefore into all the world and make disciples…teaching them all that I command you.

      I hope you can somehow try to see that while there are people out there speading hate, preaching the exclusive Gospel is anything but hate.

    • Seth R.

      Sorry Michael, I’m having a hard time seeing a useful distinction here. Especially considering that so many other prophetic ministries in the Bible have been “private” as you put it in their miraculous impetus. Private visions, private callings, private miracles.

      You still haven’t addressed the private vision of Paul. Paul is just as much the crucial founder of modern Evangelicalism as Joseph Smith is of Mormonism.

      Edit: though I’m not even sure I should concede that much – since you’ve filtered Paul through Augustine and Calvin.

    • Val

      Um Michael, have you looked at all other major religions?

      I am struck again, and again with the parallels between Christ and Siddhartha Gautama. Like Jesus, his mother had a supernatural visitation, the names were Maya and Mary they had a miraculous birth (pain free, and born under a special tree) (Jesus, star). Important people came to visit the infants, when they were men (Siddhartha was still young) they left their families (carpenter and prince) and went to the wilderness (Jesus – fasts and is tempted, Siddhartha – joins the ascetics). Later, they come back and start a public ministry. Now Siddhartha gets his revelation while he is an ascetic – Saddhu- but their lives match right back up. Siddartha preaches the Middle Way, Jesus preaches the Kingdom.

      Both escape assassination attempts (Pharasees, fellow monks) and both predicted their own deaths.

      I know the teachings are different, but Buddha lived 500 – 600 years before Christ, and it was all written before…

    • C Michael Patton


      Actually I have. It has been about three years, but after looking into this quite a bit there two things which make this argument (which has has resurfaced a slight bit among some fringe groups since the 1900s) fails:

      1. The supposed parallels are such a stretch in every case that to find them you would have to do some exegesis that is not unlike those who think Nostradomus is valid or the Bible Codes are good. You have to pick and choose elements of each story (and only small elements) and force them to be like the Christ story.

      2. Most importantly, they make no claim to historicity. In other words, they are of a completely different genre which does not demand or even allow for historic verification. All the events happen in private. Hence this post. So they actually support the two comics. There is simply no reason to believe them. There is neither internal nor external collaboration. This is not the case with the resurrection.

      Have you studied them? What sources?

    • C Michael Patton

      Here is a nice summary on the myths vs. Christianity. I don’t think it emphasizes enough the drastic difference in genre, but it does remind me of something I forgot…that most of these come about after Christianity. More than likely, they borrowed from Christianity (but not much as the parallels are so weak).

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Your argument fails because you forget that there are thousands of religions exist today. If you are a Christian than you have to assume that every other religion is based on false prophets, wannabe avatars-s, folklegends.
      You claim “If I were to suddenly make up these events and say t … that nothing like that ever happened.”
      But exactly this is what happened in Roswell in 1947. A meteorological balloon crashed and since then million of UFO believers claim that it is a genuine alien UFO site. Scientology arose from a Sci-Fi writer mind who wanted to make some money and started a religion from scratch. Bahá’í Faith started in late 19 century and now it has more than a 100 million followers.
      We know that charismatic people can start a religion. It has been done over and over before our eyes despite the fact that now it is much harder to start a religion than in 1st century when gnostic sects flourished all over the world.

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Paul started Christianity probably b/c he had some hallucinations. (Yes, a man goes to Damascus in summer, see a bright light falls down of his donkey and sees a man who he thinks a lot about anyway. It is not miracle it is a called heat stroke)

      And Peter ( probably not the discipline a man called Peter anyway ) because he wanted to make some money. Just go on and read Acts 5:1-10 . This is exactly how modern con artist use the faith and steal money. If its done today he would be locked down forever.

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 14, 2011 at 1:06 am

      You should not do this. That article is pretty inconsistent. It is a fact that Christianity borrowed from mystic religions. Early Christians used Isis/Osiris statues as Maria/Jesus, We have the statues. They borrowed the priestly clothing and equipment from Mithras priests. They borrowed Jesus birthday from Mithras. (it is certainly not in the Bible). And so on. The article says that Christians were monotheistic while Greeks were polytheistic. It is like Christians were not Greeks in the same time. Most Christians lived in Greek cities and were Greeks. Parts of the New Testament was written in Greek. All the letters to Christians were written in Greeks since this was the language Christians understand. The word “Christ” is Greek.

    • lynn

      i took it like it was meant 2 be taken. basically the cult-like religions who claim god came 2 them in a dream,ect. if i’m wrong,whatever. btw i go 2 methodist church. i grew up cathlic and they add their own spin on it. i feel freer as a methodist! any ways we all have our own opinion on religion and which 1 we want 2 be associated with. it’s called freedom of religion.

    • Eric R

      Lyesmith #44

      This is all off topic but…

      1) Paul didn’t start Christianity. He was first a persecutor of Christians.

      2) Your reading of Acts 5:1-10 shows a lack of historical, bibilical, cultural, and philosophical knowledge.
      If one was to start a religion in the 1st century in order to make $$$ there are better ways to do it. Crucifixion was the most degrading form of punishment reserved for non-Roman citizens. One would not put up a crucified criminal as savior and expect anyone to think this credible.
      In Greek philosophical thought, the Epicureans and the Stoics believed that the body was corrupted, and that it was only the soul that would be saved. When confronted with the account of Jesus being resurrected (Acts 17:32-34) they scoffed at Paul.
      The point is just this, in the Greek culture, one would not start a religion based on the crucifixion of a jewish rabbi who was later resurrected unless he believed it to be historically true.

    • Saint Gasoline

      There’s a lot to dispute in this comic. Mark, the earliest gospel, does not depict a public viewing of Christ’s resurrection, or even any discussion of his resurrection at all in the original version. The original ends with the two Marys and Salome NOT seeing Jesus at all, leaving, and not telling anyone what happened.

      Not only that, but as someone else pointed out, the Old Testament likewise does not have very many public witnesses of God, and that is the foundation of Christianity.

      In the end though, this argument fails simply because it is wrong that everything was public. There are no accounts of the stories in the Gospels by actual eyewitnesses, as all of the Gospels are hearsay, and Paul’s letters don’t even mention most biographical points of Jesus’ life. Anyone could write a story CLAIMING the events were public, but that doesn’t make it so. And given the absence of contemporary nonchristian historical accounts, it seems unlikely these events were public.

    • […] don’t stop here… click either image above — or this link — to read the 150+ comments and discussion responses this has attracted.  (Comments which, […]

    • lyesmith

      Eric #47

      Well Jesus definitely did not started Christianity. Not the one you now call Christianity anyway. Paul wrote half the New Testament and happily contradicts Jesus wherever it is convenient.

      “reserved for non-Roman citizens” And for the enemies of the state. Jesus was crucified not because he was not Roman but because he claimed himself as the King of the Jews. Of course the religion that Paul hijacked was not started by Jesus but by his second cousin John the Baptist. And it was already very popular when, after the death of John, Jesus took over the “family business”. Jesus was a young martyr of that religion, not a degraded criminal.

    • consulscipio

      That isn’t entirely true. Some religions, like Confucism, started because of a wise teacher, and have never claimed any type of theological or divine basis. Others, like Buddism, started out the same way as this but gradually accumulated gods and a theological component overtime for many reasons.

    • Countervail

      The whole point of these cartoons are ridiculous. Simply to say that a religion was more public in it’s inception doesn’t make it any more or less true than any other religion, which to be blunt is based on belief. I’m assuming that’s the intent here.

      Frankly noting the whole idea of Christianity is so different than the more complex and darker vision of God based in the old testament indicates, whether through his own doing or the promotion of his followers, he was creating a vision based on his private ideas. Mary is told of having an encounter with an angel that establishes basis for a virgin birth and the supposed holiness of the child. Jesus often segregated himself from his disciples for meditation and claimed repeatedly that trusting him was the only path to God. The cartoons are both inaccurate and insufficient as proving Christianity somehow more trustworthy and therefore “real.”

    • Seth R.

      Not to mention that Jesus told some of his select small group of disciples that it was “given to them” to know the “mysteries of God” but not given to the average masses.

      Jesus’ ministry wasn’t quite as “public” in all respects as some here would make out.

    • C Michael Patton


      You simply don’t understand my arguement. I don’t really know how to say it any differently, but your comment here just shows me that there are two ships passing here.

      Maybe some future posts will clarify. I got some swimming in my head about turning points and foundational issues of Christianity and how God’s movements are always evident when he is making an epic announcement.

      Until then, God bless.

    • Countervail

      @ C Michael “…when he is making an epic announcement.”

      This exact sentiment is what invalidates your argument in the cartoons. How is “he” going to be making these epic announcements except through the mouthpieces of people who believe themselves the recipients of special knowledge that comes to them “in a dream” or from “a visitation from an angel.”

      Even in the case of Jesus, he was imparting rhetoric that came to him as a special conveyor of the word of God, so much so that he claimed or was acclaimed to be the son of God. How exactly would that paternity test happen?

    • C Michael Patton

      Epic announcements are only epic because the are accompanied by historic events which are available for inquiry and verification. Christ’s words alone were not enough. Christ’s resurrection alone was not enough. But combine the two and you have an epic announcement. One without the other and we would not have Christianity.

    • Countervail

      But how does that criteria establish the validity of a religion? Epic announcement + historic event = religion?

      I’m sure there were some scientist who rightly predicted Japan’s recent earthquake. We wouldn’t suddenly push them into the role of mystical holy person would we?

      And you’re also regarding the resurrection as if it were unquestionable fact. How is that even verifiable? How can it be taken as anything but belief that it occurred and in the manner it’s described.

      If anything, we have Christianity through centuries of promotion and willful dominance of the beliefs and tenets of the religion. People make religion. People make Christianity.

    • Seth R.

      You mean epic announcements like those accompanying the Exodus, or the Fall of Adam Michael?

      Announcements like those?

    • Countervail

      P.S. You end the post with “Is it that hard a decision?” as if one has to decide to belong to Christianity or to “something else.” Is it not reasonable to come to the conclusion that one doesn’t have to believe in either Christianity or something else or frankly anything at all of a spiritual nature? Especially since it all comes down to belief?

    • Tim

      This all comes down to faith. If any god is in some way provable than he just becomes a super-powerful space alien who uses scientific techniques we don’t fully understand… yet.
      You cannot prove religion to be true. In doing so you are actually invalidating it as a religion and its requirement of faith.
      The question is how does one instill that mustard seed of faith in a person? Flawed logic may work for some, but as with the man who built his house on the sand, when the rain comes the foundation of flawed logic won’t stand against the rushing waves.

    • Val

      Hi Mike,

      Sorry, I don’t get on e-mail much. I think you missed my point. I am not saying their teachings are the same at all. Siddhartha and Jesus preach very different paradigms. But Siddhartha’s whole ministry, from rejection of his princely title to his search for enlightenment to his teachings were done publicly. I honestly have no idea what you mean when you say: quote: all the events happen in private.? Which events?

      Buddism today, although really varied, is mostly taught by masters to disciples (hence all the monks – mostly disciples), not something that can be studied independently (heavy on meditation, chanting, etc.).

      As for historicity, there are many sites in Indian and Nepal that pilgrims flock to that are the pivotal points of Siddhartha’s awakening.

      But the main thing to keep in mind is, Siddhartha never claimed to have anything more than an awakening to truth – he is not a god, yet the founder of a major religion.

    • Philip

      I’d probably take the Dr. Bart Ehrman position about this and say, the resurrection is not an historical event, and it is something to be taken on faith. I’d recommend watching the Bart Ehrman, William Lane Craig debate (you can view it on youtube) on the historicity of the resurrection.

    • Danny

      By his own account (Galatians 1), Paul learned what he knew about Jesus from private revelations and visions. He wrote the first surviving records of Christianity. His mention of 500 nameless witnesses was written 25 years after the fact and to an audience over 800 miles from Jerusalem. I don’t think it would be very easy for the people in Corinth to confirm the story with these eyewitnesses, even if he had listed their names.

    • Chris

      “This comic rules out Islam, Zoroastrianism, Mormanism, Hinduism, etc because their is no real reason to believe their central claims.” C Michael

      Kettle, meet Pot.

    • Andy

      Joseph and Mary were separately, privately told by messengers of God that Jesus was going to be a virgin birth. They then told others about this.

      Clearly, I have disproven one of your religion’s central myths about Jesus’s divine origin based on your logic.

      For your proof to be true, you must concede that Mary and Joseph lied about Joseph knocking up Mary to prevent her from being ostracized or killed.

    • MegaZeusThor

      More like the whole thing was made up. It is quite possible Jesus never existed. Or maybe Jesus did exist, but this does not mean he was the son of GOD. The church couldn’t even decide if Jesus was a man made divine or the story they choose to go with until much later.

      All gods are man-made fiction.

    • Angie the Anti-Theist

      So… I guess you ignore the 2/3 of the New Testament written by St. Paul following his personal & private Damascus road experience, right?

      Because otherwise this argument is fallacious and not actually a point in your religions favor over others. If you accept Paul’s personal experience accounts, why reject Muhammad’s?

    • Me

      Santa and the Easter Bunny confirmed it.

    • Scott

      All of the stories about Jesus death, resurrection, and his flying up into outer space without a space suit, are just that: stories. It’s hearsay. It ultimately boils down to rumors of ancient miracles. This cartoon makes it out to be some amazing eyewitness, public record, but why (for example) do we NOT have a single word written by Jesus HIMSELF?

      Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, Lord… Or how about Legend?

    • Georgia

      The thing is, you have to prove panel one to be true, in order to promote the ideas of panel two. What is your proof that there was a Jesus? That Jesus was crucified? That he rose from the dead? Your proof is faith. That’s it…faith and an old book that’s been rewritten and edited almost beyond recognition.

      So to say your religion is better, based on your faith that these events happened, and denying other religions as false, even though those followers have as much faith that their relifious events happened, is a false comparison. “I believe my religion’s events happened in a better way (of which I have no proof) than your religions (of which I have no proof), so your religions are fake!”

      Who are you to deny other’s faith? And who are you to say since your faith is stronger, you’re better than all other religious followers?

    • C Michael Patton

      You all are missing the point. It is understandable as while a picture paints a thousand words, it does not explain the details.

      The point is the historical claims made in public (i.e. Jesus died in Jerusalem, under Pilate, rose from the grave, the tomb is empty, he then showed himself to hundreds of people for 40 days, many have examined this and are convinced) are falsifiable, both to the contemporary audience and, by extension, today. How? The same way you test any truth claim…by internal and external consistency of the witnesses.

      There are not any other religions or cults that can make such claims.

      I am not saying this alone PROVES Christianity true (for depending on your criteria, no historical event can be proven in a correspondence view—no contemporary one could either!). It just means that it is testable, examinable, and not beyond our ability intellectually believe.

    • C Michael Patton

      The ideas of confusionism fall under the “Man who got an idea.” Human ideas are nice, but not THAT nice. The history of ideas is muddled and confusing. Inconsistant to say the least. Who is to say one IDEA about life is better than another? Why start a religion based on one man’s idea?

      In the end, either there is a God and only his ideas matter or there is no God and no ideas matter. It is pretty simple.

    • […] investigation and rational inquiry. Here is a great simple illustration of why that is the case by C Michael Patton from the Parchment & Pen […]

    • […] The origin of Christianity vs. the origin of other religions – Michael Patton has put together a nice illustration of the difference between how Christianity began and how other religions began. […]

    • […] 23. Mar, 2011 148550 Amplify’d from […]

    • […] (HT: Parchment and Pen) […]

    • […] Patton serves up an intriguing cartoon comparing the way Christianity’s origins differ sharply from those of other […]

    • […] C. Michael Patton’s brief post (with pic­tures!) over at the Parch­ment and Pen blog on the “Dif­fer­ence Between Chris­tian­ity and Other Reli­gions in a Nut­shell.” Here’s a […]

    • […] Pictures are originally published: Credo House / Parchment & Pen Blog […]

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