#STRask: April 10, 2017

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Published on 04/10/2017

In 4 min. or less, Greg answers questions about hypnosis, whether Jesus lied, and early Scripture.


  • What are your thoughts on hypnosis for behavior modification; stopping smoking, curing alcoholism, fixing phobias, etc.?
  • Did Jesus lie in John 7:8?
  • In Psalm 119, what books of Scripture was he referring to? What Scripture was written then?


Melinda: Hello, there, folks. This is Melinda the Enforcer, and you’re in for a rare treat today. You can tell by that laugh, for the first time in several weeks, we actually have Greg Koukl in the studio.

Greg: She corralled me, and...

Melinda: He happened to wander into the office one day, and I forced him into the studio.

Greg: Oh, man. I got grabbed. That’s great. I’m glad to do it.

Melinda: People miss you.

Greg: I did wonder, though. I know Alan and Brett have been filling in for me, and you and Amy on the shows and STRask and the like, and I’m glad for that, but I wonder, is it the same dynamic with the other guys?

Melinda: No. No, in fact, the other day when I recorded with Alan, I start off by saying...I said, “You don’t dance or do anything cuckoo to try to make me laugh.”

Greg: Alan doesn’t know how to dance. Of course, I don’t know how, either.

Melinda: Well, but he just sits there quietly waiting for me to introduce him. He doesn’t do things to try to provoke me.

Greg: I don’t know how to dance, either.

Melinda: I know that, but you still try.

Greg: At least, this is what my daughter says, my 12-year-old. Oh, man. I just tried to do a little boogaloo there in the mall. I don’t know why that bothers her.

Melinda: Oh, I totally understand. Well, let’s get going. I promise to keep these short.

Greg: Kids. All right.

Melinda: First question. We actually had this question on the list for a little while. Nobody seems to want to answer it. Let’s see, because let’s see if DarrylHarmon01 can get an answer, because after all, he’s Amy’s brother-in-law.

Greg: Oh.

Melinda: What are your thoughts on hypnosis for behavior modification? Stopping smoking, curing alcoholism, fixing phobias?

Greg: I don’t want to answer that. No, I can answer it. I don’t have a...How do they call it...something to carry for that kind of deal. It’s not a big deal to me. The concern is is that it’s an altered state of consciousness, and when you go into altered states of consciousness, you can be manipulated. Of course, the purpose of going into this particular altered state of consciousness is to be manipulated, but to be manipulated in a direction that will be helpful. When you think about it, when you go to surgery, you go into an altered state of consciousness. It’s called...What do they call it? They give you the juice, and you go down. Anesthesia. I had that recently, and they always ask these questions. “Do you have an allergy to anesthesia?” I said, “Yeah. Whenever I get it, I feel sleepy.” They actually laughed. I wonder if they had ever heard that before.

Melinda: We don’t have laugh tracks on this program.

Greg: Ba-dum-bum.

Melinda: We just rely on genuine response to actual humor.

Greg: Anyway, the thing is, you go into an altered state of consciousness, and you put yourself under the control of someone else that you trust. Now, it seems to me that if you are...As far as I can tell, hypnosis is a bona fide genuine thing. It really happens, and there are consequences for it. Of course, I don’t know if all the time you see it it’s legitimate or veridical or bona fide or whatever. I’ve seen some crazy things at state fairs and county fairs, and you wonder about that.

Melinda: Do you remember back in the late 60s and early 70s, Pat the Hip Hypnotist that would be on TV?

Greg: Oh, yeah. Was he on Johnny Carson show?

Melinda: She was a woman. Yeah. She did all the shows back then.

Greg: She hypnotized me to believe she was a man, so that’s why I say that. Anyway...

Melinda: Again, no laugh track.

Greg: Are the other guys this funny?

Melinda: No. They don’t try to be this funny. They actually are funny.

Greg: See...

Melinda: He’s laughing at me.

Greg: Derek is laughing. No, he’s not laughing at you. You’re not funny. He’s laughing at me. Now he’s doing the palace guard look right now. All right. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which by the way-

Melinda: You’re taking up your four minutes, you know.

Greg: I just saw a fabulous documentary on that called The Unknowns. Just for anybody who wants to check it out. It’s really pretty incredible. The guards who guard the unknown soldier.

Melinda: That’s pretty incredible duty there.

Greg: Incidentally, so back to the issue. When you are hypnotized, you are under the control of another person in some measure, it seems. If you trust the person, like they’re a medical person, and it’s for a medical end, like stopping smoking or something like that, I just don’t see the liability of it. Others have disagreed, but that’s my own take on it at the moment. My dad actually stopped smoking through hypnosis.

Melinda: Oh, really?

Greg: Yeah. He smoked from the time he was 16, and he was a two or three pack a day person. He really was a chimney. Then when he was 55, he gave it up. Now, it still killed him in the end. He ended up with a spot on his lung when he was almost 70. I mean, I presume it had to do with the smoking. That metastasized to his brain, so that took him. He never had any desire for smoking after that, so apparently there is some legitimacy to the claims, at least in my dad’s case.

Melinda: Okay. Open up your Bible to John 7:8.

Greg: Do I have to?

Melinda: Do do do do do do do...

Greg: John...Matthew, Mark, Luke.

Melinda: It’s in the New Testament.

Greg: John. Okay.

Melinda: It’s one of the gospels.

Greg: It’s John...

Melinda: 7:8.

Greg: Seven. Oh, John 7. That would be the bread of life discourse.

Melinda: Okay. This question comes from Jason L. Funk on Twitter.

Greg: Oh, after the bread of life discourse.

Melinda: You know, I never said this is the #STRask podcast, and that’s how you send us your questions. That’s how Jason L. Funk did this.

Greg: Okay. John 7.

Melinda: Did Jesus lie in John 7:8?

Greg: John 7:8? “Go up to the feast yourselves. I do not go up to this feast because my time is not yet fully come.” Now, no, I don’t think he did. This is the case...His brothers and sisters were not believing in him...Verse 5...and so they come to taunt him a little bit. The taunt there earlier is they say depart. “Go to Judea, that your disciples may also behold your works you are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” Okay, big shot. Go to the big city, and do your big stuff. That’s basically what he’s saying.

Jesus said, “Well, my time’s not at hand.” My time is not at hand...Now, I don’t think he was saying my time is not at hand to make a visit to the city, but my time is not at hand for public acclaim. In other words, to present himself in all his glory as the Messiah. I think that actually came on Palm Sunday. That was his...In a certain sense...official coming out. He was referring to that. My time is not yet time, but your time is always opportune. It was another shot back at them.

Then he says in verse seven, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its deeds are evil.” Now the verse in question. “Go up to the feast yourselves. I do not go up to this feast because my time has not yet fully come.” I think that what he meant there, given the whole discussion, is not that he wasn’t going to enter Jerusalem, but that he wasn’t going up for the purpose that they indicated, and that is for public acclaim. You go up, and you make a big deal out of yourself. Jesus said, “Well, that’s not what’s happening this time around.”

Now, he did go up. Verse 10. “When his brothers had gone up to the feast that he himself also went up not publicly.” Why does John say not publicly? “But as it were in secret.” Because he is clarifying, specifically, the nature of Jesus’ journey up, in light of what Jesus has just said, so that his words can’t be misunderstood. This turns out to be a great example of a rule that we always emphasize, never read a Bible verse. We read above and below. We get a sense of the flow of thought. We see what’s going on, and the apparent difficulty just evaporates.

Melinda: Great. Actually, I just wanted to mention here something. Over the years, people have asked...Especially the longer podcast...what Bible programs you may use when people call up with questions or whatever. You don’t use anything other than the Bible. I mean, 90% of the Bible questions people come up with, you’re able to answer just by reading the context.

Greg: Yeah. Maybe I’ve given some thought to it. As it turns out, you need to be fair. I have a Bible in front of me, and I have in pencil written a few notes that I have done some thinking about the passage, so I’m not caught completely by surprise. I have my parentheticals, for public acclaim, for public acclaim, etc. Oh, wow. Okay. Now, since that seems to be, my time is not yet. Yet, yet, yet. It will be, but not yet. Since I did a little thinking in advance, I have a leg up on this one, but yeah. I just basically work with the text. When I first went through this to answer the question for myself, I had to go through the text, and that’s what I did.

Melinda: I mentioned the longer podcast. As most listeners know, Greg’s been absent for a little while, getting some treatment. He’ll be back doing the regular podcast April 18th...Tuesday, April 18th...taking calls for between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, just like normal.

Greg: I look forward to talking. Sure.

Melinda: Put it on your calendar, and call him up that day.

Greg: Yeah.

Melinda: Next question.

Greg: By the way, just back to the John seven and verse 14. It says, “But when it was now the midst of the feast, Jesus went up to the temple and began to teach.” There was a particular timing that Jesus had in mind, and he wasn’t going up at the taunt of his brothers and sisters just to make a big show of himself. He was walking according to a timetable. This comes out in John pretty clearly, I think.

Melinda: Next question comes from Ilinie Major on Twitter. In Psalm 119, what books of scripture was he referring to? What scripture was written at the time Psalm 119 was written?

Greg: Well, Psalm 119 comes...Let me just see. I’m not sure what the attestation is for this. It might be a song of David. Now, David’s life is accounted for in I Samuel and in II Samuel. Let me just see here. It just says meditations and prayers relating to the law of God. It doesn’t indicate, at least in the material here, who is the author of it. Some say a Psalm of David, for example, and so they seem to have some attestation from the original documents.

Melinda: Wasn’t the Torah written by then?

Greg: Well, certainly the Torah was, yeah. The nation of Israel was built and organized on the Torah. Everything that you see here in Psalm 119, where it says the precepts of God, the statutes of God, the commandments of God, the judgements of God, every verse has a reference to God’s word. The testimonies, these are principally the Torah, but could also be the historic material that came before it.

I personally don’t know where in the flow of the history of the nation of Israel all of the Psalms were collected. Some of them are Psalms of David. That would be roughly 1000 BC. Psalm 119, though, is a collection. I’m sorry. The Psalms are a collection, so I’m not sure when Psalm 119 is added to the larger collection. Looks like there were 118 that came before it, though. It could be that Psalm 119 is referring to a broader reach, but certainly it’s referring to the Pentateuch and the Torah. The language of Psalm 119 seems to identify it as such.

Melinda: Okay, great. That’s it for this episode. We’re keeping it really quick, because Greg just happened to stop in, and I grabbed him. By the way, I want to mention a new feature we have on our blog every month. It’s called Be an Ambassador campaign, sort of. Every month, we’re posting a wallpaper you can download for your desktop or your laptop or your mobile device featuring one of the qualities from the ambassador’s creed. You can find that on our blog every month.

Greg: What if I catch a really big smallmouth bass when I’m in Wisconsin here on vacation coming up here?

Melinda: That has nothing to do with any quality in the ambassador creed.

Greg: It still would be a nice wallpaper, don’t you think?

Melinda: On yours. Not on mine. Anyway, check out that on our website.

Greg: I bet you there are people who would like to have that.

Melinda: Well, they can-

Greg: People have an alternate.

Melinda: They can contact you somehow.

Greg: Don’t be a bigmouth bass. Be a smallmouth bass.

Melinda: Okay.

Greg: Ambassador principle number 11.

Melinda: All righty.

Greg: Derek is laughing right now, and you didn’t say...

Melinda: I know. That was...Oh, we do have a laugh track.

Greg: All right. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Melinda: Sorry I brought you in here today. Anyways, that’s it for this episode, folks. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask. We post two new episodes of this podcast on Mondays and Thursdays. The regular program is still every Tuesday, live, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., and those get posted on Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m Melinda the Enforcer with Greg Koukl this time for Stand to Reason.