Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?

From: John Walley <>
Date: Tue Nov 24 2009 - 09:53:00 EST

Thanks Murray. I am copying back to the list since others may be interested in the links.

I agree that "Gospel in the Stars" is a misnomer and I can already hear David C. objecting to more determinism but a more appropriate title would be weaving the story of redemption into the humanly created constellations of the zodiac as a handy vehicle for passing the story down through the generations. I see it as akin to St. Patrick using the 3 leaf clovers that were plentiful and common to his Irish audience to illustrate the concept of the trinity. No God didn't embed the gospel in clovers and predestine that that they be designed that way but they did lend themselves nicely to being an object lesson in the gospel story just like the stars.

I think it is reasonable to conclude from all these type references to the stars in scripture that this was in fact the case and that Abraham and Moses and the other patriarchs were familiar with and culturally literate with this. It is likely that the Magi from the East were as well. And I don't see why it is so scandalous to some to consider that God used this. I think the evidence is overwelming that He did.

Lastly, I did some more researching on this last night and besides the Falukner/Wieland rift on this, I also found that James Kennedy published a book on this and it swiftly met the derision of our self-appointed Bible Answer Man Hank Hanegraaf. All this is documented on Lambert Dolphin's site but I agree with you that there is a middle ground here that doesn't smack of determinism or the spectres of extrabiblical sources or of astrology etc.



----- Original Message ----
From: Murray Hogg <>
To: John Walley <>
Sent: Tue, November 24, 2009 5:48:01 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?


Hi John,

I'm well over my limit for today, so will have to post this privately - you have my permission to use anything in the below as you see fit.

I have Bullinger's _The Witness of the Stars_ in my library and it really is a very interesting work.

It makes, I think, a bit too much of the idea that God "put the gospel in the stars" (constellations being, in my opinion, a case of humans imposing patterns on the stars) but apart from this, my only other criticism would be that Bullinger's prose shows its age (what's a "popish error" <smile>?) .

It's important to note, I think, that Bullinger's work is not astrology as we might think of it - he nowhere claims that the stars determine or reveal earthly affairs. Rather, he turns the stars into a kind of "picture story book" using the constellations as the individual "frames." Think of it as a kind of sacred astronomy.

If somebody were to go to the trouble of memorising the various constellations and their meanings after Bullinger's approach, it might prove a very interesting way of presenting the Gospel.

Should you be interested, both Bullinger and Seiss can be downloaded as .pdf files from the Internet Archive;




John Walley wrote:
> I found this interesting article on Lamber Dolphin's site by Danny Falukner who is a YEC astronomer who reviews the concept of God putting the gospel in the stars through the names of the constellations, i.e. astrology.  This idea was put forth in the 1800's by two books, Joseph A. Seiss's *The Gospel in the Stars, *published in 1882, and *The Witness of the Stars *by E. W.* *Bullinger, published in 1893.
>  Typical of small minded and YEC's, Faulkner debunks the idea and calls it extra-biblical. But save yourself all this drivel and skip to the bottom and see a rebuttal from another YEC creationist Carl Wieland who takes him to task and defends the idea. He says:
>  "That is, that the stars were named by God (Psalm 147:4 says 'he calleth them all by their names' - see also Isaiah 40:26) to provide a basic outline of the Gospel message, which was intended* *to be replaced by the complete and sufficient written Word of God in due course. The star names would have served as a mnemonic for oral transmission, perhaps because of restricted availability of any written records."
>  I think there is probably something to this although I haven't read either of the books above. I think this is consistent with how God works to get His gospel message out. I learned a fascinating fact of history about this from a Christian drama group that does the popular Toymaker and Son presentation who said that drama was originally birthed as way to act out the gospel story for illiterate peasants in medieval England. If that is true, then it explains why drama today has become so corruputed and why Hollywood loves to take innocent Disney channel teen icons and have them pose nude in men's magazines.
>  Likewise if the gospel was originally embedded in the story of the stars then that also explains why astrology has been corrupted and is the new-age nonsense that it is today. That doesn't mean it was always like that though.
>  John
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* "Dehler, Bernie" <>
> *To:* asa <>
> *Sent:* Tue, November 24, 2009 12:59:34 AM
> *Subject:* RE: [asa] Star of Bethlehem presentation?
> Ted said:
> “But it was OK for Christians to hold that God can use the stars to reveal events under his own control, and in that context the magi were led to Bethlehem . “
> How would God use the stars to point the way to the Christ child?  How would the Magi- astrologers of the day- get this message from God which isn’t in the Bible.  Did God speak to them, as if they are prophets?  Astrology prophets?  Good for then, but not now, because we have the Bible… but wait, they also had the Bible (the OT)…
> Also- Murray, you can put two gospel accounts together to make a third, but please be aware that when you are doing that you are creating your own third gospel story, as you are combining elements of two different stories.  For example, the Magi version doesn’t have shepherds and the shepherd version doesn’t have Magi.  I think that could be a verboten form of “adding to God’s Word.”
> Also- a challenge for those who take a stand for Biblical inerrancy- one of the most obvious Bible errors (contradictions) is in the nativity story.  Matt 2;13 says that after Jesus was born, Joseph/Mary moved to Egypt .  Luke 3:39 says no, they returned back to Nazareth .  Bart Ehrman says “yes, there is a contradiction, but it is also interesting to see why.”  Both gospel writers had a job to do: explain how Jesus came to be born in Bethleham instead of from Nazareth , where his parents are from.  So Matt creates a story about persecution with Herod, and Luke makes up a scenario about a census.  Two different stories, both created to resolve the same prophecy problem.  So join the 2 to make a new third version if you want, as long as you understand you are creating a third version (non-Biblical) of your own.
> Also Murray- regarding your estimates about the size of the town of Bethlehem, it may have actually swelled because of the registering people were doing because of the census, as the story claims, which makes sense why there was no room except a stable outside.
> Stuff to think about…
> …Bernie

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Ted Davis []
> *Sent:* Monday, November 23, 2009 11:38 AM
> *To:* asa; Dehler, Bernie
> *Subject:* RE: [asa] Star of Bethlehem presentation?

> I see there's been a flurry of activity related to ideas about the Star of Bethlehem.  If in fact a misprint of Josephus led Kepler and others to accept of a birth year for Christ of 4 BC or earlier, that would be very interesting.  I'm looking into that claim.

> Many years ago I undertook a translation (which I won't be making public) of Kepler's treatise, "//De vero anno ////quo Aeternus Dei Filius Humanam Naturam in Utero Benedictae Virginis Mariae Assumpsit," //in which Kepler offered his view on this topic--I have a longstanding interest in it myself.  In general, I recommend the following book on this topic:

> Let me comment as follows, for Bernie: the dominant Christian view on astrology, Bernie, has since the time of Augustine been as follows.  Deterministic astrology, in which the stars actually determine & control human affairs, is verboten.  But it was OK for Christians to hold that God can use the stars to reveal events under his own control, and in that context the magi were led to Bethlehem .  Most contemporary Christians, including evangelicals, probably no little or nothing about the history of astrology and Christian views of it; the same is true of almost everyone else as well--nothing peculiar to Christians here, Bernie.  Thus, many evangelical preachers might be very reluctant to see the magi as "astrologers," despite the use of the word "Magi" in the Bible.  Others might know something about this and mention it helpfully.

> Ted



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Received on Tue Nov 24 09:53:28 2009

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