By Walid Shoebat
The Shroud of Turin is the most important relic in the world. Its story, similar to the story of the man on the image, generates the most heated debate and controversy. Had Christ been a fraud, He would cause much less controversy as Buddha and Muhammad did. But when it comes to truth, right from wrong, one must look for it and find it hidden and buried under piles of ‘controversy’. The crucifixion ‘controversy’ was a main reason I chose to walk out of the Sinai where I left all my prejudices and unashamedly come to the Cross of Christ. The reason was simple: had the crucifixion been an insignificant issue to God, why would Islam been up-in-arms throughout history over the issue of one crucified individual? How Muhammad died depending on which version to believe, a Jewess poisoned him, or he died of bubonic plague, no one really cares. The Crucifixion however (which the shroud shows), the Resurrection, and The Trinity are the core of the Christian faith and are the most argued issues. The latest message from the shroud was a challenge to have someone replicate it. While Islam offers the Quran and challenges the world to “write something like it,” I found no one, be it historian, scientist, poet or theologian even interested in this Quranic challenge. When it comes to Islam’s main challenge, there is no ‘controversy’ over replicating its mundane verses. Yet the opposite is true when it comes to the shroud of Turin where Scientists and artists have worked overtime to recreate the image, and have shown no lack of imagination, using corpses, herbs, spices, paint, metal, cameras, projectors, radiation, explosive releases of energy, the list is endless. Yet, bafflingly, none has yet been deemed a satisfactory success.
Italian physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro concedes in an article for National Geographic that every scientific attempt to replicate the shroud in a lab has failed. Scientific journals criticizing the shroud fail to provide conclusive answers and the results of the 1988 radiocarbon dating has been proven wrong and other three new dating methods demonstrate that the shroud has an age compatible with the epoch in which Jesus Christ lived in Israel. But this subject alone requires an entire book to explain. So the most significant fact about the image — and one that, uniquely, is not disputed by anyone — is that the combination of all the image’s elements have proved very hard to replicate.
“Its precise hue is highly unusual, and the color’s penetration into the fabric is extremely thin, less than 0.7 micrometers (0.000028 inches), one-thirtieth the diameter of an individual fiber in a single 200-fiber linen thread.” Di Lazzaro and his colleagues experimented for five years, using modern excimer lasers to train short bursts of ultraviolet light on raw linen, in an effort to simulate the image’s coloration. They were unable to match all the physical and chemical characteristics of the shroud image. The ultraviolet light necessary to reproduce the image of the crucified man “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today.” The time for such a burst would be shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and the intensity of the ultra violet light would have to be around several billion watts.” For a medieval forgery, scientists have to answer as to how they had such technology?
The skeptics always rely on the old story from 1988 when the shroud was initially carbon-dated. While such a test needs to be compared to thousands of pieces of other evidence, most fail to examine them.
For example, besides the amazing attributes of the image like “color penetration” and a thousand other amazing attributes, the question that defies skeptics is how can the shroud date from the Medieval period if the face in the image is identical to the face that was covered by the first century Sudarium? No one denies that the Sudarium was hidden from public view for more than a millennium. Investigations of the two burial cloths have compared blood types, patterns of stains, facial geometry, and pollen to only prove that the Sudarium covered the same man whose tortured image is preserved on the shroud. The Sudarium as it was proven by forensic science had contact with the same body at the time of death that the shroud did. This invalidates the Carbon-14 test in 1988. Egyptologists have produced Carbon-14 test results that date the wrappings of mummies as 1,000 years later than they are known to be. (see The Blood and the Shroud). The head of the Swiss laboratory that participated in the Carbon-14 tests on the shroud also ran a Carbon-14 test on his mother-in-law’s 50-year-old tablecloth. The results of the test set the age of the textile at 350 years.
The story of the shroud is like the story of Christ. It can only be concluded when we “seek”. Seeking is the key to process truth. Skeptics are the type of people who always question evidence without having seen all the facts and is perhaps why Christ did not mind all the controversy. Like the shroud, He was initially called a “fraud” to later amaze history by keeping and preserving all His promises. “I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Christ promised. It is this type of careful evaluation “seek and you shall find” that makes all the difference in developing a wheat from a tare. Even when it comes to His Church, we have many controversies and quarrels between denominations: did Pope Pius XII aid Hitler or did he save more Jews than any other man in history? Prejudice chooses the first but careful fact searching had me choose the later. The spiritual dynamo within us, is sort of like a genetic code, that if we choose to test all spirits, prudently, patiently and diligently that we are led to all matters of truth.
But the shroud, just by being an image in the hands of the Catholic Church, creates a negative view due to prejudice and erroneous view of Scripture passed down mostly by the puritans to the modern Evangelical and the Hebrew Roots Movement. Images was part of Christian history and Constantine creating the Catholic church is simply a myth.
When I first came to the foot of the Cross, I tended to read flimsy anti-Catholic versions of history, which was mostly written by non-historians, pastors and the laity, to later find that nothing of what I read was even validated by real historians. The claim of the Catholic Church to have drank the blood of the saints turned out to be a blood libel, which was completely refuted after studying real history. Had such blood libel been leveled at Jews we will all be up-in-arms and we would be right. But when it comes to the Catholic Church, the libel is on, and speaking out against such libel is rarely met with serious debate. Instead, the claiming God-loving crowds would start name-calling, slander, ridicule and express outright hatred and damnation. Such hatred stems from the very people that jot the quick message that “God is love”. These have no room at the inn for serious theological discussion. Every time you refer to a historian or evidence, they load a new round in the chamber without even addressing the previous bullet they shot forth.
Then I encountered theological differences between Protestants and Catholics. For example, when it came to military warfare to thwart Islam’s expansion, the theology I learned at the local Baptist church was a short motto that says: “Christianity is about love not war”.
“Love” as I learned later, is a loaded word that God sent an entire Bible to help us resolve its meaning. Love in the Bible starts by fearing God who instructed that: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Pr 8:13). To “hate evil” is also “love” and God provided us with ample history with Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David … a rich history where all these combated certain evils and at times with full-force via warfare.
It was by seeking that I learned fairly quickly that the tares use half-truths. “We do not fight against flesh and blood,” in essence says that whatever evil we combat (including at times when we had to destroy Hitler) is not a war against humanity (flesh) but is against principalities that move the Hitlers of this world into evil.
This “Two Swords of Peter,” the “Spiritual” (Spiritual Warfare) and the “Temporal” (Real War) has always been taught from the beginning and continued in Christian history until it was banned by Protestants under Martin Luther who favored the Muslims over the Catholic League during the Battle of Lepanto against the Muslim Ottoman Empire.
To the utter shame of Protestant history, Luther even called upon Protestants and Calvinists to even join the Muslims, many of whom did, to only end up with the stench of the Muslim dead hordes. Papacy was forbidden, warfare for Catholics was forbidden, everything Catholic was forbidden, except only when Luther made himself “pope” while warfare was permitted only when it came to fighting and killing the Catholics. Luther’s anti-Semitism was key for Nazism that caused Germany to plunge in the darkness of Hitler. Ever since this happened, Germany experienced God’s wrath as result of one man named Luther. The leadership of the Protestant League stood with Hitler (1). When combating anti-Semitism, we always heard of Kristallnacht but rarely hear of Luthertag (Luther Day) festivities where the Nazis emphasized their connection to Luther as being both nationalist revolutionaries and the heirs of the German traditionalist past. An article in the Chemnitzer Tageblatt stated that “[t]he German Volk are united not only in loyalty and love for the Fatherland, but also once more in the old German beliefs of Luther [Lutherglauben]; a new epoch of strong, conscious religious life has dawned in Germany.” (2)
Few read this dark history. For example, anti-Catholic James White, a Calvinist apologist, reprimands John Piper, another Calvinist for rejecting gun-ownership, while anti-Catholic White, accepts the war on Japan. Then reprimand me for supporting the war against Hitler’s Germany at Dresden (54:30). This is astonishing. White wants to take it easy on Luther’s Germany. A church that is so divided can never sustain the war with Islam.
Even today, especially in America, the hatred of Catholics is the only accepted prejudice today where so-called modern Christians accept everything from homosexuals to heretics, but still hate Catholic history. While there are many Evangelicals and Messianics who are innocent sheep and the Vatican is not void of problems of its own (Vatican II, homosexual epidemics, cuddling up to Islam and socialism etc), many Messianic and pro-Israel movements are not so innocent either. Many act as if they love Israel, but at the same time argue that the Jew could do no wrong. Critiquing, lets say, the Talmud or the Cabala is viewed as anti-Semitic.
I remind, the true Hebrew faith was carried out by Israelites like Gideon who smote Zebah and Zalmunna and Judas Maccabees who warred with heretic Jews who thought it was a good idea to burn incense to Jupiter and he then smote them. What we find in Messianic movements has little to do with the first century Church and more to do with the Rabbinic Judaism of today that is somewhat disconnected from biblical times. Having an outward appearance (which Christ condemned) has become quite popular as we see gentiles donning a Kippa or a Talit. Today we see millions walking roundabout knowing a handful of hebrew words and it is not how the faith was practiced in the first century. Messianic Judaism hardly connects to the essence of the true faith during the first century. The whole idea of claiming that the Church was lost during the fourth century, and that Constantine changed the original faith, is the practice of a malnutritioned sheep. The Jews, even during the Bible times, had icons, intercession of saints and even used the Septuagint, just as Christ and the apostles did, which includes seven additional books. The Messianic Movement has none of these.
When you bring up the biblical, as well as these historic facts, the Messianic shudders. He is unaware that his belief stems from the fifteenth century and some other ideas from the nineteenth century, and not the first century Church. He is unaware that he follows what he deems sacrilege: the traditions of men as made-up by Luther, Calvin and Zwingly. Although he probably never heard of Zwingly, he then begins to instantly reject the Deuterocanonical books, icons and saints.
How does one claim a so-called puritan-Messianic faith instantly drop the offer to read the Deuterocanonical books, just because of one anti-Jew and anti-Semite named Luther? The case for the Deuterocanonical books is ironclad.
They then quickly find out the truth, forgiving Luther, while admonishing the Catholic for phony stories he read in books that are based on old English myths, written by the Puritans. Luther is instantly forgiven of being and old-age senile. It matters little that he tried to strip James and John’s work, the wonderful Book of Revelation from the canon of Scripture while succeeding in removing Maccabees, the very inspired book, which the Messianic bases his whole Hanukkah celebrations on. He remembers Maccabees but does not dare to read it, lest he adheres to “the traditions of men”.
All this was done in order to create a theology that stripped naked the true essence of the very Hebrew faith that the Messianic supposedly desires to adhere to? When one strips the outward facade of this Messianic movement, called the Hebrew Roots, one finds that it is nothing more than Protestantism, Seventh Day Adventism, Rabbinic Judaism, all hodge-podgeded in one cult that either undermines the Trinity and Paul or flatly rejects both.
This is why I love the story of the Shroud of Turin. The story of the shroud is the story of slander where we experience how truth finding works, even in our own lives, where at times we get slandered as Christ was slandered. When we share truth, skeptics who are mostly motivated by atheism, heresy, or emotion would search for opposing views, they hear and believe one line arguments and make quick judgments and even pass the slander around, not realizing that slander, according to Christ, is as bad as murder.
The Image of Christ at Turin crushes any of the cults that reject images, be it Muslim, Hebrew Roots Movement or whatever. In a way, it is like the Staff of Moses, turned into a serpent, since the story of that relic gobbled up whatever fake imitations and challenges all the naysayers, magicians and cultists concocted.
(1) Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 242.
(2) Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945