Thinking Christian

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The Truth Holds Us (Reposted)

Posted on Feb 26, 2013 by Tom Gilson

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Arrogant Christianity?

Arrogant Christianity?

It’s awkward being a Christian these days. We claim to know the truth. We believe this truth is unique and applies to all people for all time. We believe that where other so-called truths contradict the one we hold to, those other “truths” are wrong and ours is right. We believe that the truth is so tied together with Jesus Christ that he could claim, “I am the truth.”

For many people, that’s nothing but arrogance in action: “Who are you to claim you’ve got the one truth for everyone?” There might be some things that are true for everyone and for all time in mathematics. but that’s about all. Scientists know how often the “truths” of one age are later corrected or replaced. To claim you have the truth in morality and religion is arrogant, unaware, and intolerant. It’s just plain wrong.

A Humble Approach to Truth

But things are not as they appear. If we really thought our truth was true for everyone, we would indeed by arrogant. But that’s not reality. In fact the reality is entirely the opposite of the appearance. When we say, “I know the truth,” we’re not claiming superiority, we’re taking a position of humility.

It’s common, you see, for people to develop what they consider their own personal truths regarding religion and ethics. They build their truths to fit, to make sense for themselves. These “truths” are personal truths.

If Christians’ truths were like that, it would be incredibly arrogant to think our truths were true for everyone. But they’re not. Our truths are not our own; they are not personal truths. The truth we accept was never ours to create or build for ourselves, it is a reality to be discovered. It’s truth that holds whether we like it or not. Christians do not own the truth, we submit to it. And what is more arrogant: to think we can build our own personal truths, or to submit humbly to one that’s bigger than ourselves?

I’ll illustrate what I’m saying from the life of C.S. Lewis. A firm atheist, he was at Oxford when he decided to study the evidence regarding God. It led him in a direction he did not choose:

“You must picture me alone in [my] room… night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet… That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me… I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

There was no arrogance in that. There was “giving in and admitting.” He submitted to something greater than himself.

We Don’t Hold the Truth, the Truth Holds Us

Contrast that with the idea that we can all choose our own truths. Isn’t that a bold stance to adopt? Isn’t it spitting in the face of reality? Isn’t that tantamount to saying, “Hey, Reality, step aside. It’s up to me to decide what’s true and what isn’t!” Who’s being arrogant here?

Christians know that we are constrained by reality. Though we don’t always put it this way, we don’t believe that “we hold the truth.” We believe the truth holds us.

Standing Against the Currents of the Age

It would be so simple to ride with the flow of the age, to relax and let go of issues such as abortion, gay “marriage,” sexual “freedom” and so on. We cannot. If we bow before the truth, we must be led by it, even if it leads us into unpopular territory.

“But you must have an open mind!” say some. Another sparkling writer of the 20th century, G.K. Chesterton, answered this way: “The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

I have spent hours studying viewpoints contrary to Christianity. I continue to find that God’s word is solid and nourishing, and ultimately makes more sense than the alternatives. The truth holds me. Martin Luther said, “Hier stehe ich; ich kann nicht anders.” (“Here I stand, I can do no other.”)

Recognizing What We Know and Don’t Know

I wish the truth held me more. Any Christian would be deceitful to pretend he or she practices it fully, even as far as he or she understands it; and it would be just as bad to say we grasp it all. Even the simple commands, to love God fully and to love our neighbor as ourselves, have a depth beyond reaching.

Many aspects of the faith are clear, for instance, the basics: that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh and supported his claim by his life, death, and resurrection. There are other sides of Christianity that remain mysterious or difficult. Our age has come up with new questions (genetic engineering, genocide, end-of-life decisions, and global environmental issues, for example) that require us to work out anew how God’s word applies. This, too, is reason for humility.

I’m reminded again of Chesterton at this point, though:

“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert – himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason.”

He’s encouraging believers to be confident of the truth we know.

A Very Good Truth

Now if we’re submitting to the truth, does that mean we got stuck in some dark corner where there’s no freedom to move? Not at all! C.S. Lewis also wrote of Joy (he always capitalized it) that led him toward Christ and flowed out of his relationship with God.

The truth in Christ is not a cold, abstract principle, but a person of infinite love and grace. The Bible tells us to “speak the truth in love,” and clearly implies that it should generally be accompanied with a smile.

Those who deny there is such a thing as truth may find it hard to see that smile. We’re offering it. It’s not a smile that says, “Whatever you do, whatever you believe, is fine,” for that would be a denial of the truth — Jesus Christ — who is also love. Instead it’s an invitation to encounter reality for what it truly is. For it is what it is, not what anyone makes it up to be. And it is a very good reality we’re inviting you to see, to acknowledge, and to enter into. We’re inviting you to let go of your made-up “truths,” and let this real truth, this good truth, hold you.

 

Reposted from February 27, 2006; re-dated from June, 2009. For years my blog’s tagline was, “We don’t hold the truth, the truth holds us,” so in many ways this is my signature message in apologetics. I like to keep it in the forefront of what I’m saying here on this blog. I’ll be speaking on this topic at Ohio State University this evening, so it seemed like a good time to move this blog post to the front page again.

Series Navigation (Arrogant Christianity?):We Don’t Hold the Truth, the Truth Holds Us >>>The Truth Holds Us (Short Version) >>>

119 Responses to “ The Truth Holds Us (Reposted) ”

  1. Hannah says:

    Beautifully put. It is truly about submission and not arrogance. Thank you.

    Blessings!

    Hannah

  2. ordinary seeker says:

    Evangelical Christians’ feeling of being held by the truth is no different than others’ feeling of being held by different truths. And, the experience of being in a “socially awkward position” is common to all who feel they must uphold their beliefs in environments that don’t welcome them. So, what’s your point here? What makes your truth and your experience any different?

  3. You wrote: “There are many aspects of the faith that are clear, for instance, the basics: that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh and supported his claim by his life, death, and resurrection. There are other aspects that remain mysterious or difficult.”

    I recommend you to do an extensive research of the origins of NT, Paul’s doctrines and the Church in the below website (and learn what the followers of first century Ribi Yehoshua said about Paul and the Church.) : http://www.netzarim.co.il

    Anders Branderud

  4. SteveK says:

    Evangelical Christians’ feeling of being held by the truth is no different than others’ feeling of being held by different truths.

    Truths are supported by reasons and reasoning, not feelings.

  5. SteveK,

    Yes, but others feel that their views are also “supported by reasons”. For the average Christian (or whatever), it ends up being a reference to authorities: “I don’t really understand the issues behind this or that claim, but I trust Dr. Truthiness as he is obviously intelligent and seems to know what he’s talking about.”

    Now, one common response (one that is seen in many apologetic works) is that this believer is simply deluded or (most strongly put) mentally incapable of actually seeing the apparently ‘obvious’ conclusion to this or that evidence. So, intelligent people can’t intelligently disagree, and must be seriously deluded in some way (sometimes this is accompanied by claims that ‘original sin’ is ‘causing’ their incoherence). This, I think, is where the “arrogance” comes in: honestly and intelligently looking at the issues must reach one to the same conclusion or else the other is just mentally incompetent.

    Sure, there may be a “way things are”, but such an assumption then does not demand that multiple ways of approaching may more or less seem cogent if honestly researched. Put one more way, the ontological claim to the “way things are” doesn’t demand the epistemological claim that there must be, at this time and given our understanding (or lack thereof), only one interpretation that may be cogent, that may ‘fit’ the ‘facts’ ‘better’ than another (though our notions of how to judge the ‘better’ or when enough evidence is ‘enough’ are hopelessly vague and personal/subjective). That, at least, is where I stand: there may be truth to the claims of Christianity, but I don’t think it is so ‘obviously true’ in comparison with other competing models that an intelligent person cannot look at exactly the same evidence and yet honestly and intelligently come to a different conclusion.

    I’m not making a claim to relativism (I reject relativism more thoroughly than any Evangelical), but that there doesn’t seem to be a necessary and sufficient reason to say that there cannot be two (or more) competing and cogent ways of understanding ‘the evidence’, that intelligently looking at what’s available cannot lead to two honestly held options, neither of which requires the ‘deluded’ epithet to be applied to the opposition.

  6. ordinary seeker says:

    SteveK,

    Tom quotes Lewis: “…night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet…”

    Tom also notes, however, that Lewis was led to this emotional experience by study the “evidence” regarding God, so perhaps we can agree that truths, at least when it comes to religion, are known through both reason and emotion?

  7. david ellis says:

    An utter contempt for postmodernism is one thing I think most of the brand of atheists commonly commenting here have in common with most of the theists inclined toward apologetics.

    And since its not all that interesting discussing all the ways one agrees with someone else I don’t have much else to say about that.

  8. david ellis says:


    Truths are supported by reasons and reasoning, not feelings.

    I can think of exceptions.

    “Its a bad idea to inflict agony on oneself for no overriding benefit” for example, involves both reasoning and feeling.

    A robot with no capacity for agony and who had never experienced the slightest twinge of pain or other “negative” feeling would be, no matter how vast his intellectual capability, completely unable to understand the truth and import of that statement in the way the most dim-witted human could.

  9. SteveK says:

    OS,

    so perhaps we can agree that truths, at least when it comes to religion, are known through both reason and emotion?

    Truth is a propositional claim/statement about reality. There is no emotional component to a propositional statement so I don’t agree with you. The truth claims that Tom and CS Lewis make mention of are, at root, supported by reasons not emotions.

    For example, the statement “I feel sad” is not a conclusion rooted in emotions, it is a conclusion rooted in reason which is supported by sense data, which may or may not include an emotional component.

    “If the sense data I am experiencing is correct, and I have no reason to think it is not correct, then I really am feeling sad.” I recognize the state of sadness as distinct from anger and jealousy by reasoning, not by emoting.

    putting this in religous terms…

    “If the sense data I am experiencing is correct, and I have no reason to think it is not correct, then I really am experiencing God nagging at my conscience.”

  10. ordinary seeker says:

    SteveK,

    I have to disagree. “I feel sad” can be a true statement even if it is NOT supported by reason. The feeling exists, even if reason doesn’t support it. For example, a noise that sounds like someone entering my house wakes me in the night, and immediately my heart beats faster, I break out in a sweat, and my breathing becomes shallow. In short, I feel afraid. However, the noise is not someone breaking into my house. Nonetheless, the emotion I experienced was fear.

  11. Tom Gilson says:

    ordinary seeker, you asked,

    Evangelical Christians’ feeling of being held by the truth is no different than others’ feeling of being held by different truths…. So, what’s your point here? What makes your truth and your experience any different?

    Just this: that most other persons I interact with actually do not report a sense of being held by a truth, at least not in the sense of which I speak here. I am saying that Christians recognize a truth that is immutable, absolute, not subjective, and not subject to our own opinion. I don’t find that others make that claim very often.

    Sometimes they do, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But for now let’s take the common situation of a person who takes truth to be subjective. Such a person is the one who is most likely to be offended by the act of making statements such as I made in the first paragraph: “I know the truth,” or “my beliefs are the truth.” Compared to others who, as you say, feel held by a different truth, those who hold to relativistic views of truth are considerably more likely to take it as a moral or social offense that Christians claim to have knowledge of exclusive truth.

    Those who feel held by a truth, as you put it, but do not agree with the Christian view of truth, are more likely to say, “your view of objective truth is wrong.” Those with a subjective view of truth are more likely to say, “you are wrong to hold an objective view of truth.” The first objective is a disagreement about the content of truth. The second is a disagreement about how people should act. The first is ontological or epistemological, the second is moral. The first is, as I have said, a statement of disagreement; the second is a statement of offense-taking.

    Referring again to those of whom you have spoken as feeling they are held by a different truth:

    And, the experience of being in a “socially awkward position” is common to all who feel they must uphold their beliefs in environments that don’t welcome them. So, what’s your point here? What makes your truth and your experience any different?

    I don’t say that it is any different. The same experience is common to all who uphold a view of objective truth. I think Christians have a lot in common with others who hold that truth is objective. We disagree with them on whatever our points of disagreement may be, but in that respect I think we do share a similar kind of experience.

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    @Kevin Winters:

    Picking up from what I just wrote in response to os’s first comment, and your statement here:

    Yes, but others feel that their views are also “supported by reasons”. For the average Christian (or whatever), it ends up being a reference to authorities: “I don’t really understand the issues behind this or that claim, but I trust Dr. Truthiness as he is obviously intelligent and seems to know what he’s talking about.”

    At first it seemed to me that you are saying that Christians’ view of truth is wrong, or at least unfounded. I was hoping you recognized that this does not get to the point of the post I wrote. I wrote about Christians’ attitude toward truth as we understand it. It’s an attitude that is rare in our culture: that truth is bigger than me, and that it is for me to submit to it, not for me to seek to define it for myself.

    That was what I thought you were saying at first, but in fact you moved on to a more interesting and nuanced response, especially,

    This, I think, is where the “arrogance” comes in: honestly and intelligently looking at the issues must reach one to the same conclusion or else the other is just mentally incompetent…. Put one more way, the ontological claim to the “way things are” doesn’t demand the epistemological claim that there must be, at this time and given our understanding (or lack thereof), only one interpretation that may be cogent, that may ‘fit’ the ‘facts’ ‘better’ than another (though our notions of how to judge the ‘better’ or when enough evidence is ‘enough’ are hopelessly vague and personal/subjective). Put one more way, the ontological claim to the “way things are” doesn’t demand the epistemological claim that there must be, at this time and given our understanding (or lack thereof), only one interpretation that may be cogent, that may ‘fit’ the ‘facts’ ‘better’ than another (though our notions of how to judge the ‘better’ or when enough evidence is ‘enough’ are hopelessly vague and personal/subjective).

    Here I think you are on to something, but it is rather complex. There are two relationships in view here. I spoke of the Christian’s relationship to truth; you spoke of Christians’ relationship with persons who may disagree that our view of truth really is truthful.

    Having tasted what I am quite sure is truth—what satisfies my intellect and my heart—I am constrained by that truth to regard it as truth. But it is not just truth, it is Truth from the personal God who is the Creator of the universe and Master of all that exists, including (quite relevantly) me. If I consider the message of Christianity to be true, then I must stand in a relationship of yielded submission to it and to its Source, God. That is an attitude of humility.

    With respect to others who disagree with that viewpoint, I will stand for what I understand to be true, I will seek to persuade, and I will hold firmly to my position; but as a Christian I certainly ought not to say that my having a knowledge of the truth makes me a better person. It is a gift of God, granted to the wise and the not-so-wise (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

    Do we sometimes act in arrogance, though? Yes, I’m sure we do. But do you yourself take up a position of intellectual superiority, that if we all only understood Heidegger as you do, we would not be so foolishly simple as we are? This is not meant as a crude tu quoque, mind you. It is to say that anyone who holds to a certain conviction is in great danger of the kind of arrogance against which you have warned, and that it is hard to avoid.

    As a Christian, I have to hold these in creative tension: to submit humbly to the truth (the Truth), yet to hold forth that truth among other persons; to state clearly that there is a Truth that is superior, but that I am not superior for having knowledge of it.

    I don’t say it’s easy. It’s not as if I have an option, though, given my understanding of who God is and what he affirms as truth. And it’s not as though there’s a non-arrogant option I could take as another alternative. I certainly wouldn’t consider relativism with respect to truth as a non-arrogant option, for it is the approach that says, “truth is mine to mold as I will.” That’s pride for you.

  13. Tom,

    Four things: first, I was attempting to point out (it seems somewhat inadequately) that, for the large majority of Christians, “the truth” depends on an appeal to authority without the rigorous understanding and approach to truth that you are saying is central to Christianity. This, to be honest, is true of most things for most human beings in all religious and non-religious traditions: we depend on authorities a lot. So, if we define knowledge as JTB, then most Christians (and most people) are un-knowledgable about much of the things in their lives, including things as important as the truth claims of Christiainty, primarily because they do individually lack justification (and whatever justification they can point to is either subjective [in the traditional sense] or, again, an appeal to authority). I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but merely pointing to the reality of the situation: the cogency of the average truth-claim given and believed by the average Christian is weak at best, from an epistemolgoical perspective (whether the claim is ‘ontologically’ true or not). If it weren’t for this fact, a movie like Religulous couldn’t have been made with such ease! This, I think, should be included in any discussion of how “Christianity” as a whole understands truth rather than just focusing on a relatively small scholarly subset of Christianity who might actually have a chance of at least getting close to the paradigm you are proposing.

    Second, I understand your feeling of ‘being compelled’ or ‘submitting’ to the truth of Christianity, as that is a similar experience I’m having with Buddhism: it and its practices are illuminating so many aspects of my life, including why I’ve had years of suffering, both explicit and subtle, that I feel somewhat compelled to continue my Buddhist study and practice. Also, all the research I’ve done on Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy is compelling for how they understand reality. However, whatever I’ve found compelling in various Buddhist schools and practices would, no doubt, not be compelling to another person who would require extensive argumentation in order to justify these truth-claims (which I think are available) while most likely requiring considerably less about whatever tradition they find themselves in. Furthermore, they’re also considerably more likely to accept an argument from authority by someone within their tradition than they would be for someone within my tradition, almost no matter the claim. So, again, whatever compells us in relation to truth-claims, what and how much evidence is considered ‘enough’ is, in the common parlance, a very subjective thing or, at best, incredibly nebulous.

    Third, I do not think that “if [you] all only understood Heidegger as you do, [you] would not be so foolishly simple as [you] are” (I wouldn’t use “foolish” or “simple”, nor any of their equivalent words, to describe your understanding, or else I’m falling into the same arrogance that I mentioned in my previous comment). I stand by my claim in the previous comment: I do think there can be multiple ways of describing reality, all of which can be seen as cogent when examined honestly. Sure, ultimately there may only be one truth, but, in our current context given our access (or lack of access) to the world, I don’t think there is enough to determine exactly what that is. So, if you did understand Heidegger, I’m not under any illusion that you would then have to bow to his superior understanding of ontology; you could understand him and still strongly disagree with much of what he says. I, for one, do find him compelling (on many levels), but I also realize that others can intelligently and honestly look at what he says, understand it, and yet disagree with it (sometimes strongly). I’ve said this many times (in other venues) about Mormonism (to use one example): there’s plenty in it that Evangelicals can find weak and potentially offensives without having to invent lies or misrepresent the tradition (as happens all too often in Evangelical so-called ‘counter-cult’ ministries). I would claim something similar in relation to Heidegger and other so-called ‘postmodern’ figures, as well as other wider religious and non-religious traditions.

    Fourth, I won’t go into my usual rant (yes, I realize they sometimes are rants) about misunderstandings of so-called “postmodernism”, but I did recently find an article by an old professor of mine that I think might bring some nuance into the discussion (for those interested): The Myth of the Modern; The Anti-myth of the Postmodern.

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  14. Tom Gilson says:

    Kevin, you wrote,

    Four things: first, I was attempting to point out (it seems somewhat inadequately) that, for the large majority of Christians, “the truth” depends on an appeal to authority without the rigorous understanding and approach to truth that you are saying is central to Christianity.

    It’s not necessarily an appeal to authority even if it lacks philosophical rigor. Most Christians come to a strong conclusion of the truth of the faith through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. That’s a perception, not an appeal to authority.

    So, if we define knowledge as JTB, then most Christians (and most people) are un-knowledgable about much of the things in their lives,

    Is it safe to assume you’ve read Plantinga on this? In Warranted Christian Belief he offers a different view of knowledge, and yet he would suggest that for most Christians, their belief in God is both justified and true. I think he’s right. It’s true, in my opinion, as I’m sure is no surprise to you. And it’s justified by their experience of God.

    Now before everyone piles on and says a person’s experience of God is no proof of God, note that I said it justifies an individual’s belief, not that it proves the belief to another person. I do not claim my experience of God proves God’s existence to you, but I do claim that it justifies my own belief in God.

    The rest of what you wrote makes sense to me. I’m not saying Christians are the only ones with an experience of being held by a truth. And yet there is a difference, in that the Christian understanding of reality implies that there is not only one truth, but that the loving thing to do is to try to help others recognize that one truth and its Source, both by demonstration and by persuasion. I could not be so laissez-faire about others’ beliefs as most Buddhists are, for example, because that would be equivalent to saying I don’t care where others spend eternity, or that I don’t really care about the glory of God. In fact I do care about both.

  15. david ellis says:


    Now before everyone piles on and says a person’s experience of God is no proof of God, note that I said it justifies an individual’s belief, not that it proves the belief to another person.

    And is a person’s experience of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara justification for his belief in Avalokiteśvara?

    Is a pagan’s belief in tree spirits justified by his experience of tree spirits?

    Is my neighbor “Crazy Fred”‘s belief in telepathic aliens justified by his experience of hearing voices claiming to be telepathic aliens?

    It seems much more reasonable to say that such experiences are too easily explainable as psychological phenomena (usually culturally conditioned) to call them justifications for belief even for the person having them. The odds of error employing such a technique for forming belief is just to high to call the beliefs “justified” in any sense that doesn’t do disservice to the meaning of the word.

  16. Tom Gilson says:

    David, you weren’t here when we discussed these topics previously, so I don’t mind answering this again. Of course one might say that the difficulty with blogging-style discussions is that when dealing with complex material, it becomes necessary to say everything if you want to say anything; for complex subjects cannot accurately be presented in short form. I thought that most of the people involved in this discussion were also there for the previous ones on this topic, and that therefore they had seen one longer form of the discussion; but upon checking I see that you were not.

    Now, to say everything about this in the sense I just spoke of would require quoting just about all of Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief, in which this is laid out in a full analysis. I don’t think he would want me to do that even if it were remotely feasible, which it isn’t. Here’s the outline form of it. He makes the case that for a believer who applies her full epistemic capacities to testing the knowledge she has of God, and finds that knowledge to hold up under what scrutiny she is able to apply to it, her belief in God may well be warranted.

    This applies to believers across a wide range of potential access to evidences, philosophical sophistication, and so forth. If no adequate defeater for her belief is brought forth, then she has no reason to believe her belief has been defeated.

    God does not invoke an intelligence test for entry into his kingdom; it is not necessary to be a Plantinga to have faith in God. He provides a direct experience of himself that is sufficient to induce faith.

    On the other hand, there is no stupidity test required for entering God’s kingdom, either. God does not say to just believe the internal witness of the Spirit and shut up about it. Throughout the Bible there are appeals to evidence and to reasons, and throughout church history there have been continuing appeals to the same. The Holy Spirit’s reality and his work are supported and confirmed by these things; and for those who have access to these additional tests of the reality of God’s work, these test provide strong confirmation and confidence. They show that to accept one’s experience of God as real is not the same as accepting any old psychological phenomenon.

    So then to your specific question about believers in other spirits. My position on that is that when subjected to the same kind of evidential/rational testing that Christianity has been subjected to, they fail utterly. There are no tree spirits, so your hypothetical person’s experience of such is a false experience. Fred is really crazy, because there is no independent reason to think the telepathic aliens exist. The Buddhist’s experience of Avalokiteśvara is a false experience as well. There is no independent evidence that this spirit actually, ontologically, exists, whereas there is strong independent evidence that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again; and that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit on earth today.

    Now, how do I know all this? Again we enter into the necessity to say everything if we begin to say anything. This whole blog is my answer to that question, really; so I am going to let it speak in its entirety rather than try to explain all of it over again in this comment.

  17. SteveK says:

    david ellis,
    Don’t confuse easily explained with sufficiently explained. Thoughts can be easily explained by material processes, but they certainly aren’t sufficiently explained by them.

    Generally speaking, what makes it more reasonable to think a psychological phenomena sufficiently explains an internal experience, rather than the actual experience explaining the experience?

    Specifically, are most of your internal, subjective experiences sufficiently explained by psychological phenomena, or are most of them best explained by the actual experience? How do you determine this?

  18. david ellis says:


    Don’t confuse easily explained with sufficiently explained. Thoughts can be easily explained by material processes, but they certainly aren’t sufficiently explained by them.

    I remind you I’m not a materialist—and I’m not sure how something can be said to be easily explained in terms of something while also being insufficiently explained by it. Consciousness isn’t something easily explained. Period. Its nature and cause is one of the great philosophical quandaries.

    But, back to religious experiences, be they communion with the spirits of the forest or a “relationship” with Jesus, they are “sufficiently” explained as psychological phenomena. That is, there isn’t anything about such experiences that requires more than a psychological explanation. Belief based on a religious experience is a pretty clear case of selecting an unparsimonious belief.

    Which doesn’t NECESSARILY make a belief wrong….but its not a terribly sound epistemological methodology either.

  19. david ellis says:


    Now, to say everything about this in the sense I just spoke of would require quoting just about all of Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief, in which this is laid out in a full analysis.

    I’m pretty familiar with Plantinga. And its pretty clear, in my opinion, that Plantinga has started from the conclusion he wants (belief in God is rational) and worked backward to try to come up with an epistemological theory that’s favorable to it…..and it shows badly.

    But since you’ve not really mounted a defense of Plantinga’s position I’m not going to mount any sort of detailed attack on it. It would take more time than I have for this while I’m back in school (and be tedious for all involved as well I suspect).


    God does not invoke an intelligence test for entry into his kingdom; it is not necessary to be a Plantinga to have faith in God. He provides a direct experience of himself that is sufficient to induce faith.

    What a coincidence. I could say much the same for the 350 year old Great Old Oak in the woods on my parents property. The Spirit of the Great Old Oak provides a direct experience of himself that is sufficient to induce faith.

    And since I’ve applied my full epistemic capacities to testing the knowledge I have of the Great Old Oak, and find that knowledge to hold up under what scrutiny I am able to apply to it, my belief in the Spirit of the Great Old Oak is warranted.

    OK, at least I didn’t go with the Great Pumpkin.

    Seriously, though, it doesn’t exactly take a genius to see that human imagination is more than sufficient to explain such experiences….and that should be all the “defeater” a reasonable person (even the one having the experience) needs.

  20. david ellis says:


    My position on that is that when subjected to the same kind of evidential/rational testing that Christianity has been subjected to, they fail utterly…..There is no independent evidence that this spirit actually, ontologically, exists, whereas there is strong independent evidence that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again; and that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit on earth today.

    So you’re saying that we should only take religious experiences seriously if there is strong independent evidence for the existence of the being in question?

    If that’s the case (and, hypothetically speaking, assuming the independent evidence actually is strong), then only people like us with the educational background and access to information necessary to weigh the evidence can be justified in believing in Christ based on personal religious experience….the impoverished backwoods illiterate believer cannot.

    Or do I misunderstand the import of the quoted section of your comment?

  21. Charlie says:

    Hi davidellis,
    What kind of “psychological explanation” do you have in mind which explains religious experiences?

    Seriously, though, it doesn’t exactly take a genius to see that human imagination is more than sufficient to explain such experiences….and that should be all the “defeater” a reasonable person (even the one having the experience) needs.

    These assertions sound very confident but I don’t hear an argument.
    Are you aware of Mario Beauregard’s work? Here’s the case he describes in his book The Spiritual Brain.
    http://www.iapsych.com/articles/beauregard2006.pdf

  22. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    That is, there isn’t anything about such experiences that requires more than a psychological explanation. Belief based on a religious experience is a pretty clear case of selecting an unparsimonious belief.

    Do you mean psychological in the same way that color perception or perception of reasoning is psychological? I didn’t pick up on that question before so I’m now trying to understand what you mean for something to be explained in psychological terms.

  23. SteveK says:

    From Charlie’s link:

    “The main limitation of this study was the fact that the subjects were asked to remember and relive a mystical experience rather than actually try to achieve one. Such a strategy was used because the subjects told us a priori that they were not capable of reaching a mystical state at will. In our view, this does not represent a major problem since the phenomenological data indicate that the subjects actually experienced genuine mystical experiences during the Mystical condition. These mystical experiences felt subjectively different than those used to self-induce a mystical state.”

    Knowing that one experience is meaningfully different than another is very much key to knowing which experience is all in your mind and which isn’t. For example: being able to know the difference between remembering or hallucinating vs. actually experiencing.

    If you can’t self-induce the experience of communicating with God, then perhaps you really aren’t communicating with yourself. It’s pretty easy to communicate with yourself. I think the only person capable of knowing which is which is the first-person subject, and we have a lot of first-person subjects out there who claim they aren’t communicating with themselves.

    But maybe they’re all deluded. If they’re all deluded into thinking they are communicating with God, but just aren’t capable of knowing that, then perhaps we’re all deluded into thinking THAT, but just aren’t capable of knowing that we really are communicating with God.

  24. Bill Ross says:

    The (silly) article says:

    “…There are many aspects of the faith that are clear, for instance, the basics: that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh…”

    Where is this claim made in “the Bible?” Jesus never made such a claim. That is merely Catholic-Protestant dogma. Christianity is incompatible with truth since it is built squarely on the lie of Trinitarianism.

  25. Tom Gilson says:

    David Ellis,

    Caricature will get you nowhere, as in this that you wrote:

    And since I’ve applied my full epistemic capacities to testing the knowledge I have of the Great Old Oak, and find that knowledge to hold up under what scrutiny I am able to apply to it, my belief in the Spirit of the Great Old Oak is warranted.

    I also wrote,

    Throughout the Bible there are appeals to evidence and to reasons, and throughout church history there have been continuing appeals to the same. The Holy Spirit’s reality and his work are supported and confirmed by these things; and for those who have access to these additional tests of the reality of God’s work, these test provide strong confirmation and confidence. They show that to accept one’s experience of God as real is not the same as accepting any old psychological phenomenon.

    I don’t think you can say that about the Great Old Oak, or the Great Pumpkin for that matter. I think you knew that, too. I hope you did, at any rate.

    If that’s the case (and, hypothetically speaking, assuming the independent evidence actually is strong), then only people like us with the educational background and access to information necessary to weigh the evidence can be justified in believing in Christ based on personal religious experience….the impoverished backwoods illiterate believer cannot.

    The impoverished backwoods illiterate believer has no defeater for his or her knowledge gained through direct experience of God. As someone who has studied the matter quite thoroughly, I too have no defeater for the knowledge I have gained of God in that manner. Both of us have the Bible, by the way; the backwoods believer can at least hear it, if not read it. (I do not know of any believers in Christ who have had no contact with the Bible.)

    So with respect to tests of our knowledge of God, both of us are in similar positions: we have a compelling internal testimony that we believe to be from God, and we have no compelling reason to believe otherwise. We have a perception and no reason to suppose that it is illusory. We have information from God’s word and no strong reason to doubt that it is true.

    Faith in God is initiated by God, and it is a relational, not just a cognitive experience. God can initiate that experience on his own terms, and he can do it with persons at any level of intellectual sophistication or access to the evidences or arguments. If you are skeptical of this, then you are being skeptical of a kind of God that I don’t believe in either. This conception of God is not ad hoc, for the purposes of salvaging an epistemology; it is central to our understanding of who he is.

    Whatever you want to argue for or against Christian belief, you cannot disagree with this: the God we are discussing is one who (if he exists) can provide all the internal convincing any person needs to be warranted in believing in him. There isn’t anything remotely irrational about including that in our doctrine of God.

  26. Tom Gilson says:

    Also for Bill: http://www.irr.org/trinity-outline.html:

    This outline study presents a biblical case for the doctrine of the Trinity, citing roughly 1,000 references drawn from well over 300 different chapters of the Bible, including references from all 27 books of the New Testament. For an explanation of the method, reasoning, and background of this study, please see the Introduction.

  27. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie, Tom…

    Please merely cite any single reference – you know the drill – “chapter and verse” where Jesus makes the claim “I am God in the flesh.”

    The rest of your responses are merely “snow” piled up to obscure the obvious lack of a single assertion by Jesus that he was “God in the flesh.”

    And since you claim to have “1000 references” that teach that God is a “trinity” (which is a bogus concept, since three does not equal one, no matter how many word games you play), would you please be a dear and cite a single one that makes that assertion?

    Do you know what an “assertion” is? This silly article said that the basic “Truth” is that Jesus “claimed to be God in the flesh.” Where is that “claim” by Jesus?

    Rather than being the bearer of “truth” that the article claims, your “truth” is, on closer inspection, merely a 4th century Catholic tradition.

  28. SteveK says:

    Bill,
    Christian teaching is built on the oral tradition of passing down truths from generation to generation before it got written down. The understanding in the text was known before the text got put to paper. It’s clear that the historical understanding was that Jesus was God in flesh even if we lack the audio recordings of Jesus speaking those words. You think the Catholic church just made this up as an afterthought to try and explain the growth of believers who thought Jesus was worthy of worship? That’s quite the conspiracy theory.

    Since you’re into eschewing historical tradition, please cite chapter and verse that says texts left out of the canon ought not be included in the Bible proper. Perhaps we should also include The Origin of Species after the book of Revelation.

  29. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, SteveK has responded to you, and there is more that could be said besides. Before I proceed with an answer, though, I want to know why this matters so much to you. What is it about this issue that is so important in your mind? What if the Trinitarian doctrine was not stated by Jesus in exactly those terms, but was a conclusion drawn by later thinkers reflecting on the implications of his words and his actions? Does that make such a huge difference? Why?

    I note from my blog logs that you have not visited the Discussion Policies, by the way. I’m asking you to do that before you respond. It’s a request I make of everyone, as you’ll notice by looking just above the comment box. Please be sure also to read the additional, later post that I mentioned in item 2 on that page, because it does a better job of capturing the intent of the policies. Thank you.

  30. Tom Gilson says:

    By the way, Steve, I disagree with the oral tradition being passed down from generation to generation before it was written down. The text was put to paper (or parchment or papyrus) within one generation of Jesus’ life and death. Charlie posted a comment on that just yesterday. What did take some time was forming conclusions as to what the implications of the text were. And (for Bill’s benefit now) the process by which those conclusions were reached is fairly well known and well documented. Berkhof’s History of Christian Doctrine and Hill’s History of Christian Thought are both good sources on this. It was not a political process, it was not manipulated by people in power; it was a fairly transparent matter of thinking it through and coming to conclusions.

  31. Bill Ross says:

    SteveK, am I to understand you to be saying that you admit that the Bible does not record any claim by Jesus to be \God in the flesh?\

    Do I further understand you to be basing your claim to the truth the fact that Jesus *must have* claimed to be \God in the flesh\ or it would not be the longstanding tradition of the Catholic church?

    If so, should we not infer from this that you believe the traditions of the Catholic church to be, because of their antiquity, undeniable truth?

    Is this a Catholic dogma list? Or a \thinking Christian\ list that I have stumbled upon?

  32. Bill Ross says:

    So, Tom, am I to understand that you admit that Jesus did not claim (assert) that he was “God in the flesh” (which the article cited as certain truth)?

  33. SteveK says:

    Tom,
    My statement about oral tradition over generations was a generic one. I wasn’t specifically talking about the biblical text. Just trying to give historical traditions their due.

    Still, my statements are true about the biblical text if you were to leave out the reference to generations. All that to say, oral traditions helped determine what the text was trying to communicate should there have been any confusion at the time.

  34. Bill Ross says:

    So, Steve… can you provide any evidence of an ancient oral tradition that correctly says that “in the red letters,” correctly interpreted, Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh?

    ??

    Personally, I find all of this appeal to an alleged unbroken oral tradition, based on an alleged verbal (but unrecorded) claim made by Jesus, to be as obvious an example of derelict eisegesis as a drunk protesting that he had only a few drinks while vainly trying to pass a sobriety test by walking a crooked line.

  35. Dave says:

    Hi Bill

    You appear to be a man with a discerning mind… you search for the “literal” statement “I am God in the flesh” and do not find it in the Bible ergo, Jesus can not be God in the flesh. So, how do you explain the rather emphatic assertions of His closest companions that He was, in fact, “God in the flesh”?

    εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

    [...]

    και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο και εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν και εθεασαμεθα την δοξαν αυτου δοξαν ως μονογενους παρα πατρος πληρης χαριτος και αληθειας

    John 1:1 and John 1:14

    Not to mention the recurrent theme of the New Testament which portrays Jesus as divine and in which others refer to Jesus as God, the Son of God, the Messiah etc. and Jesus refers to Himself in terms which imply divinity. Let’s not forget those earliest documents, the Pauline Epistles which pre-date the Gospels and include catechetical and credal formulations regarding the divinity of Jesus as well as the “tradition” mentioned by SteveK the writings of which indicate a trinitarian conceptualization more than 200 years before the formal creeds were written.

    τουτο γαρ φρονεισθω εν υμιν ο και εν χριστω ιησου ος εν μορφη θεου υπαρχων ουχ αρπαγμον ηγησατο το ειναι ισα θεω αλλ εαυτον εκενωσεν μορφην δουλου λαβων εν ομοιωματι ανθρωπων γενομενος και σχηματι ευρεθεις ως ανθρωπος εταπεινωσεν εαυτον γενομενος υπηκοος μεχρι θανατου θανατου δε σταυρου διο και ο θεος αυτον υπερυψωσεν και εχαρισατο αυτω ονομα το υπερ παν ονομα ινα εν τω ονοματι ιησου παν γονυ καμψη επουρανιων και επιγειων και καταχθονιων και πασα γλωσσα εξομολογησηται οτι κυριος ιησους χριστος εις δοξαν θεου πατρος

    Philippians 2:5-11

    The sources of this “traditon” include at least one bishop, Polycarp, who was an apostle of John, the disciple of Jesus. It takes a particularly literal and obtuse, one might suggest deliberately obtuse, mind to believe that the divinity of Jesus is an invention of the 4th C. and a later interpolation to the Gospels.

    Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had mad it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

    [...]

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Eigther this man was, and is, the Son of God: or a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon: or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

    C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” pgs. 51-52

    I never cease to be astonished by the assertion “Jesus never actually claimed to be God in the flesh”. It requires a singularly unimaginative and literal mind to miss the central message of an entire corpus of literature, particularly one whose entire raison de etre is to make one proclamation, the divinity of its central character. You may dismiss Gospels as fiction, I could really think that you believe that, you might also dismiss the Gospels as a giant con, I could also believe you really think that, but please don’t pretend that the Gospels do not declare Jesus as God in the flesh – I can’t believe you really think that.

  36. Charlie says:

    Snow, huh?
    Well, then the first snowflake is an avalanche:
    Matthew 26:

    62Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, \Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?\ 63But Jesus remained silent.
    The high priest said to him, \I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ,[e] the Son of God.\

    64\Yes, it is as you say,\ Jesus replied. \But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.\

    Case closed, God in the flesh.

    And who but God gets to tell people when they cry Lord, Lord to depart and that they may not enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

    No Trinity in the Bible.
    It affirms that there is but One God.
    It tells us that there are three separate persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are that One God.
    That’s the trinity.

  37. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, I asked you two things. You have pointedly ignored the first one, my (multi-part) question to you; and although you visited the Discussion Policies page, you missed the follow-up page in Item 2, which I had also asked you to look at. Thank you for at least looking at the Discussion Policy.

    There are people who engage in discussion because they want to learn, there are those who do it because they want to take a persuasive posture in a genuine dialogue, and there are those who do it because they want to shoot at people they consider “silly.” I have enough to do, keeping up with people in the first two groups, who help to make this blog interesting, and who I appreciate as guests here. I raised my question because I have my doubts about whether you are in the first, second, or third group.

    It’s your turn to respond. If you want to ask me another question, please do me the courtesy of answering mine first.

  38. Tom Gilson says:

    In the meantime I’ll answer your question to Steve, hoping he doesn’t mind if I do that. He’s way out on the west coast and probably not up yet this early in the morning.

    So, Steve… can you provide any evidence of an ancient oral tradition that correctly says that “in the red letters,” correctly interpreted, Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh?

    Oral tradition leaves its evidence by being written down, and by its effect on subsequent history. It was written down. History was affected. That’s the evidence. (Were you expecting us to produce mp3 recordings instead?)

  39. Bill Ross says:

    Dave, you wrote:

    >>>…you search for the “literal” statement “I am God in the flesh” and do not find it in the Bible ergo, Jesus can not be God in the flesh…

    Let’s not erect a straw man. At issue here is whether or not Jesus himself claimed to be “God in the flesh.” He did not. Do you admit that?

    You quote Lewis:

    “…I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say….”

    Where, oh oft quoted Lewis, does Jesus make that claim?

  40. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie wrote:

    “….64\Yes, it is as you say,\ Jesus replied. \But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.\
    Case closed, God in the flesh…”

    Charlie, let’s re-open the case at least long enough to see if this verse might actually be saying that Jesus claimed that he was going to sit *next to* and *in a dependent position* of “power” (which I will accept as referring to God) rather than that he was God himself. In fact, the term “son of a man” was an expression that meant “a human being.” It alludes to the human being that receives a kingdom from God in Daniel.

    You also wrote:

    “…It tells us that there are three separate persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are that One God.
    That’s the trinity…”

    If you wear “Trinity-colored glasses” then you will see Trinity on every page of scripture, but you cannot produce even a single such assertion!

    Can you see how hollow the Christian’s claim to “truth” rings in the ears of one who examines their most fundamental dogma, which is patently false (in that it does not even appear in their own scriptures)?!

  41. Bill Ross says:

    Tom wrote:

    “…I am not answering your questions until you answer mine.”

    So sorry, I didn’t realize that I had to prove my worth to you before you would give a defense of the fundamental, incontestable “truth” that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. I’m not interested in such an irrelevant game, so I guess you are off the hook.

    You also wrote:

    “…Oral tradition leaves no evidence except as it is written down. It was written down. That’s the evidence. (Were you expecting us to produce mp3 recordings instead?)…

    This is my point. The argument that Jesus made the claim to be God in the flesh rests upon an alleged unrecorded conversation. This requires faith not only in the unseen but in the unheard. It is hardly a case so compelling that a seeker of truth must humbly kneel before it. How do I know that you aren’t just making this up? It kinda seems to me that you are doing just that – telling a little white lie for the sake of defending another lie.

  42. Tom Gilson says:

    I didn’t ask you to prove your worth. I asked you to take part in a dialogue, with a measure of courtesy.

    Your second point was interesting until you got to the last two sentences. I’m sitting at Starbucks right now, actually, and I’m imagining someone sitting across the table from me telling me they think I’m a liar. That’s not exactly meeting the “Starbucks Standard,” which for the third time now I am calling on you to be aware of and to recognize.

    And be aware of Item 11 in the Discussion Policy too, please.

  43. Bill Ross says:

    >>>…It tells us that there are three separate persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are that One God.
    That’s the trinity.”

    Okay, I’ll bite… where is it asserted in the scriptures that “the Holy Spirit” is “that One God”?

  44. Charlie says:

    Hi Bill,
    No need to worry about whether or not Jesus said he was going to be in “dependent power” or not. He answered the first question. He said He was the Christ. And I showed you during the avalanche what that meant to Him. For one, He directly aligned Himself with the Messiah of Isaiah, who is called God and Everlasting Father. Hebrews 1 and John 14 agree that Jesus was this perfect reflection of God the Father and that He was/is eternal.
    Jesus was claiming to be God and for this the Jews threatened to stone HIm and for this He was Crucified.

    If you wear “Trinity-colored glasses” then you will see Trinity on every page of scripture, but you cannot produce even a single such assertion!

    Can you see how hollow the Christian’s claim to “truth” rings in the ears of one who examines their most fundamental dogma, which is patently false (in that it does not even appear in their own scriptures)?!

    You got it. You read the Scripture in light of the truth revealed and it jumps off the pages. Just as Jesus showed his disciples on the road to Emmaus when He opened the Scriptures and showed them how they were all about Him, when you know what the Trinity is, One God in three Persons, it, too, leaps off every page. Good point.

    No, I can’t see it as patently false and your assertions do nothing to convince me. You say it appears on every page and that it appears nowhere – that’s a little too Zen for me.

  45. Charlie says:

    The Holy Spirit is shown to be God when is shown that He partakes in Creation, comes upon the 70 prophets, comes upon Saul, David and Samson in power, is eternal, is omniscient, is the Lord, alone knows the mind of the God, and that lying to the Spirit is lying to God.

  46. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie wrote:

    >>>…He said He was the Christ. And I showed you during the avalanche what that meant to Him. For one, He directly aligned Himself with the Messiah of Isaiah, who is called God and Everlasting Father…”

    So in your mind, saying that he was God’s “anointed one,” he was actually claiming to be his own Father (God)? “Ah, what a wangled web we teave…” Wouldn’t it be simpler to understand that Hebrew names often sported divine titles? “Isaiah” and “Joshua” (and the transliterated “Jesus”) mean something to the effect of “Yah-savior”, yet you would not conclude that Isaiah or Joshua were “deity,” would you?

    Here is how the Jerusalem Pub has it:

    6 (9-5) For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele- joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom;

    Nor is Isaiah 9:6 applied to Jesus in the NT, because the writers of the NT spoke Greek and their scriptures were the LXX scrolls, which have a shorter name:

    6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: {1} for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him. {1) Alex. +Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty One, Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the age to come; Compare Heb 2:2}

    You wrote:

    “….Hebrews 1 and John 14 agree that Jesus was this perfect reflection of God the Father and that He was/is eternal…”

    The words chosen in Hebrews 1 do not indicate a “perfect reflection of God the Father” but rather that he was “a caricature of his substance.” This, of course, completely contradicts the Roman assertion that he was “of one substance with the Father.”

    I asked where Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. What I get is:

    * he made the claim, only in an unrecorded speech (LOL)
    * he must have made the claim. Why would the Catholics make that up?
    * he claimed to be the anointed one, and that would have meant to himself that he was himself his Father

    Hello?

  47. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie wrote:

    “…The Holy Spirit is shown to be God when is shown that He partakes in Creation, comes upon the 70 prophets, comes upon Saul, David and Samson in power, is eternal, is omniscient, is the Lord, alone knows the mind of the God, and that lying to the Spirit is lying to God.”

    So you admit that there is claim made in scripture that “the Holy Spirit is that One God”?

    Where are we told that “the Holy Spirit partakes in Creation”?

    I hold that the notion of a person named “The Holy Spirit” is bogus. The term “spirit” is bogus. The Hebrew and Greek speak only of “holy breath” and “the breath of the holy [one]” etc. There are instances of personification, such as when the breath acts as a legal helper, preparing one’s testimony for their day in court, but that is as far as it goes.

    As to Acts 5, the correct translation is “why have you made pretense of holy breath…” – when they tried to deceive *Peter*.

  48. david ellis says:


    Do you mean psychological in the same way that color perception or perception of reasoning is psychological?

    I mean psychological in the way that imagination, hallucination and dreams are psychological. I mean psychological in the sense that the “monster in the closet”, while it may seem very real to the child looking at the crack in the closet door from his bed in the darkened room, is entirely imaginary.

    I mean psychological in the sense that the “past life” some people think they remember is all in their imagination.

    I mean psychological in the sense that someone who feels that Jesus is his best friend and “lives in his heart” is essentially the same as the two examples above (at least, we have no reason to think otherwise—Tom’s credulous acceptance of the “evidence” for Christianity as a prop for the reasonableness of believing this experience is different in kind from the others notwithstanding).

  49. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    I mean psychological in the way that imagination, hallucination and dreams are psychological.

    Then I guess I already addressed this part of your complaint.

    You don’t have to accept any of it as being true, just realize that you’re at a disadvantage compared to the first-person subject.

    I can’t prove to you that I am experiencing an actual event instead of dreaming, hallucinating or experiencing the solitude of myself – but I can prove it to my own satisfaction by testing it as it happens again and again.

    I know the difference between experiencing the solitude of myself and experiencing the presence of another, and I’m certain you do too. You’re not a materialist so I expect you won’t add unecessary criteria to my test, such as, another material being must be present in order to experience the presence of another.

  50. Dave says:

    Hello Bill

    I hold that the notion of a person named “The Holy Spirit” is bogus. The term “spirit” is bogus. The Hebrew and Greek speak only of “holy breath” and “the breath of the holy [one]” etc. There are instances of personification, such as when the breath acts as a legal helper, preparing one’s testimony for their day in court, but that is as far as it goes.

    As I said, a pedestrian and literal mind.

    Let’s not erect a straw man. At issue here is whether or not Jesus himself claimed to be “God in the flesh.” He did not. Do you admit that?

    Who’s erecting “straw men”? Of course I “admit” that Jesus did not use those precise words. Did I not write “…you search for the “literal” statement “I am God in the flesh” and do not find it in the Bible ergo, Jesus can not be God in the flesh.”” Of course, there may have been reasons He did not stand in the market place and yell out “I am God in the flesh!”, reasons for a more subdued method, which included demonstrations of His divinity, without an open declaration. Perhaps it has something to do with the rather, shall we say, intolerant?, attitude of 1st C. Judaism to blasphemy.

    Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

    John 8:58-59

    We should have a worse shock if we really imagined the nature of Christ named for the first time. What should we feel at the first whisper of a certain suggestion about a certain man? Certainly it is not for us to blame anybody who should find that first wild whisper merely impious and insane. On the contrary, stumbling on that rock of scandal is the first step. Stark staring incredulity is a far more loyal tribute to that truth than a modernist metaphysic that would make it out merely a matter of degree. It were better to rend our robes with a great cry against blasphemy, like Caiaphas in the judgement, or to lay hold of the man as a maniac possessed of devils like the kinsmen and the crowd, rather than to stand stupidly debating fine shades of pantheism in the presence of so catastrophic a claim. There is more of the wisdom that is one with surprise in any simple person, full of the sensitiveness of simplicity, who should expect the grass to wither and the birds to drop dead out of the air, when a strolling carpenter’s apprentice said calmly and almost carelessly, like one looking over his shoulder: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’

    G. K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man”
    http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/everlasting_man.html#chap-II-iii

  51. Bill Ross says:

    Dave wrote:

    >>>”…Of course, there may have been resons for not standing in the market lace and yelling out “I am God in the flesh!”, reasons for a more subdued method, which included demonstrations of His divinity without an outright declaration. Perhaps it has something to do with the rather, shall we say, intolerant?, attitude of 1st C. Judaism to blasphemy…”

    So added to the before mentioned excuses for not being able to produce said claim is offered:

    * he demonstrated his “divinity” so he didn’t have to make the claim
    * he knew he would get in trouble with the Jews, or was being sensitive to their sensibilities

    Oh boy, so then why quote this?…

    “…Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple…”

    Note that in Greek, contrary to English, placing the words “I am” at the end of the sentence serves to *de-emphasize* that part of the sentence. It is not a divine title that sparks ire or the Jews would have stoned the man born blind:

    Joh 9:9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am [EGW EIMI].

    Paul would be claiming “divinity”:

    1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am [eimi o eimi]: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    And note that he is not claiming pre-existence, but rather saying that Abraham was alive when Jesus was born:

    56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my [birth]day: and he saw it [my birthday], and was glad.
    57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
    58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was [will be born], I am [ie: I exist now, present tense].

    Or, a better translation of John 8:58b:

    “I am *prior to* Abraham’s [re-]birth.”

    Offensive to those Jews, perhaps, but nothing of what he said had anything whatsoever to the idea of being “God in the flesh.”

    Let me repeat the chronology, for those who may have missed it…

    * Abraham looked forward to Jesus’ birth
    * Now, Jesus exists and Abraham saw Jesus’ birth
    * Abraham was glad

    One may assume that the reason Abraham looked forward to the birth of Jesus was that God promised that “in your seed [singular] shall all the nations of the world bless themselves” (or as the LXX mistranslates, “be blessed.”)

    Jesus did not pre-exist. He was, according to scripture, born a human being (with divinely conceived flesh) of a woman who was a descendant of David.

  52. Tony Hoffman says:

    Tom,

    You wrote:

    The impoverished backwoods illiterate believer has no defeater for his or her knowledge gained through direct experience of God. As someone who has studied the matter quite thoroughly, I too have no defeater for the knowledge I have gained of God in that manner.

    But you are not a solipsist, despite there being no defeater for that; the fact that a position may not have a defeater is too slender a reed to hang a belief upon.

    God can initiate that experience on his own terms, and he can do it with persons at any level of intellectual sophistication or access to the evidences or arguments. If you are skeptical of this, then you are being skeptical of a kind of God that I don’t believe in either.

    Well, I can be skeptical of a kind of God who would only make himself available to those who were born in the right place and right time to hear of him, who would create me without the ability to perceive him or provide credible evidence for his existence, and who would create and guide a world where my mind (the one he created) can only rationally conclude that there is unnecessary suffering. Among other things.

    … there is strong independent evidence that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again; and that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit on earth today.

    I see no reason to take a strong position on Jesus’s having lived or not – there is little evidence for his existence, but it’s not implausible by any means. (That he died is, I think, entailed by his having lived more than 2000 years ago.) I have framed general historical objections to the story of Jesus’ resurrection, and you have offered to answer with the historical case for the resurrection before but you have not yet provided this, so my objections to calling this evidence either strong or independent remain.

    I am curious what you mean by “strong independent evidence” that “the Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit on earth today.”

  53. SteveK says:

    Bill,

    He was, according to scripture, born a human being (with divinely conceived flesh) of a woman who was a descendant of David.

    That’s not what everyone around him thought. The Church if Corinth didn’t have the problem you are having precisely because they had Paul and others to verbally clarify anything that was written down – hence the value of oral traditions. The first Churches worshiped Christ as God, not because they misread the text or guessed wrong, but because that was the message passed down to them from those that knew. Now you are saying that message was wrong and I’d like to understand how it is you know this.

  54. david ellis says:


    Then I guess I already addressed this part of your complaint.

    You don’t have to accept any of it as being true, just realize that you’re at a disadvantage compared to the first-person subject.

    Are you saying that you’re OK with adopting the same epistemological methodology as the child fearing the monster in the closet from my example?


    I can’t prove to you that I am experiencing an actual event instead of dreaming, hallucinating or experiencing the solitude of myself – but I can prove it to my own satisfaction by testing it as it happens again and again.

    Of what do these “tests” consist?

  55. Charlie says:

    Hi Bill,

    So in your mind, saying that he was God’s “anointed one,” he was actually claiming to be his own Father (God)? “Ah, what a wangled web we teave…” Wouldn’t it be simpler to understand that Hebrew names often sported divine titles? “Isaiah” and “Joshua” (and the transliterated “Jesus”) mean something to the effect of “Yah-savior”, yet you would not conclude that Isaiah or Joshua were “deity,” would you?

    I would not. They neither claimed to be nor assumed God’s roles and characteristics. They didn’t forgive sins, declare themselves lord of the Sabbath, tell us that they would be seated at His right hand, that they would come in glory with their angels, that they would direct their angels in separating the believers from the unbelievers, that they were the ones who would determine if you could enter the Kingdom or not.

    Nor is Isaiah 9:6 applied to Jesus in the NT, because the writers of the NT spoke Greek and their scriptures were the LXX scrolls, which have a shorter name:

    They read and quoted both the Septuagint and the Hebrew. Jesus read Isaiah in Hebrew in the synagogue and referenced it in the Targum tradition in Aramaic. Jesus many times cites Hebrew Scriptures in a way that couldn’t have come from the Septuagint and this is recorded in more than one of the Gospels. Neither He, Matthew or Paul, for instance, were Septuagint Jews or relied up it alone for their renderings.

    he made the claim, only in an unrecorded speech

    What makes you giggle and call it unrecorded?

    Hello?

    ‘Hello’ goes at the beginning of an address. The question mark is unnecessary.

    So you admit that there is claim made in scripture that “the Holy Spirit is that One God”?

    Yes, I admit that there is such claim.

    Where are we told that “the Holy Spirit partakes in Creation”?

    In the Creation account.

    I hold that the notion of a person named “The Holy Spirit” is bogus.

    You hold incorrectly. The Holy Spirit can be blasphemed against, is called “He”, speaks, refers to Himself as “I”, is referred to in the masculine, and can be lied to. That’s a person.

  56. david ellis says:


    I know the difference between experiencing the solitude of myself and experiencing the presence of another, and I’m certain you do too.

    Actually, as a child I experienced brief auditory hallucinations on occasion (and even a few times into adulthood). I know from experience that they can be, based on the auditory experience itself, utterly indistinguishable from a normal experience of hearing someone speak.

    So I don’t put a great deal of stock in anyone, including myself, being able to distinguish a relationship with a real intangible spirit being that doesn’t actually speak or otherwise overtly communicate from merely imagining one has a relationship with same.

  57. Charlie says:

    Your mistake on the “I Am” is not where ti comes in the sentence but how it is used for Jesus’ pre-existence.

    In Greek, the words recorded in John 8:58 are “‘prin abraam genesthai ego eimi.” Literally, this is “Before Abraham was existing, I am.” “Ego eimi” is literally, “I am.” This is the present tense. To say “I have been” is to use the perfect tense. In Greek, his would have been “aemane.” But Jesus didn’t use it here. He used the present tense, “ego eimi” which is “I am.”

    http://www.carm.org/religious-movements/jehovahs-witnesses/john-858-and-1030-33-i-am
    Abraham didn’t last, according to this verse, long enough to see Jesus – Jesus existed before Abraham did.
    And you mention that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus for this saying. Was their grasp of language so bad that they didn’t know what He claimed? Or did it really rile them up to hear that Abraham had not ceased to exist?

  58. david ellis says:


    The impoverished backwoods illiterate believer has no defeater for his or her knowledge gained through direct experience of God. As someone who has studied the matter quite thoroughly, I too have no defeater for the knowledge I have gained of God in that manner.

    Oh, and I completely forgot to point out the inconsistency here!

    You previously said of my examples:


    Fred is really crazy, because there is no independent reason to think the telepathic aliens exist. The Buddhist’s experience of Avalokiteśvara is a false experience as well. There is no independent evidence that this spirit actually, ontologically, exists…

    You reject their belief as irrational because of the lack of independent evidence for the existence of these beings.

    But of the illiterate Christian with no opportunity for examining the evidence you claim that since he has no defeater his belief is justified—a much lower standard (never mind that I think you’re incorrect about there being no defeaters in this case—that’s a separate issue). And if you’re saying in the first cases that the absence of independent evidence IS the defeater this applies to the Christian from my example as well (a Christian in no position to examine the evidence at all). So it still involves an inconsistency.

    You are blatantly applying a different standard to your religion from that you think should be applied to the claims of other faiths.

  59. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill Ross, where on earth are you getting your translations from?

  60. Tom Gilson says:

    Further on Charlie’s 12:38 pm comment: The Holy Spirit has emotions (can be grieved, Ephesians 4:30); communicates (Romans 8:26-27; John 16:13); leads people (Acts 13:1-4). These are attributes of persons.

  61. Charlie says:

    Hi david ellis,
    There has been a flurry going on here and I may have missed your answer to my questions above.
    BUt you say, it appears, to Steve,

    Actually, as a child I experienced brief auditory hallucinations on occasion (and even a few times into adulthood). I know from experience that they can be, based on the auditory experience itself, utterly indistinguishable from a normal experience of hearing someone speak.

    This is why I asked you why you think that psychological explanations are a good fit with religious experience and whether or not you are familiar with Beauregard’s work.
    You see, his fMRI studies of the Carmelite nuns demonstrates that their experiences are not consistent with hallucinations. Neither are they consistent with evoked memory or imagination. What they are consistent with, having correlates throughout the brain and not in some “God spot”. “Rather, our objective and subjective data suggest that RSMESs (religious and spiritual experiences) are complex and multi-dimensional and mediated by a number of brain regions normally implicated in perception, cognition, emotion, body presentation and self-consciousness”. p272
    “Second, when the nuns were recalling autobiographical memories, the brain activity was different from that of the mystical state. So we know for certain that the mystical state is something other than an emotional state.” 275
    He quotes Newberg and D’Aquili on page 261″

    Hallucination, no matter what their source, are simply not capable of rpoviding the mind with an experience as convincing as that of mystical spirituality.

    From The Spiritual Brain

  62. Tom Gilson says:

    David,

    Let’s keep this an apples-to-apples comparison, looking just at the “backwoods illiterate.” I do not know if the “backwoods illiterate” Buddhist is being irrational in believing in Avalokiteśvara or not. I do not know what he is experiencing, and I cannot assess his assessment of his experience, given that this “backwoods illiterate” Buddhist has done nothing by way of an independent truth or falsity of his beliefs. I don’t think my position requires me to assess that person’s rationality.

    What about the educated believer with access to the evidences and arguments, then? I would say that when knowledge is put to the test, defeaters for Christianity are far fewer and weaker than those for belief in Buddhism, generally (I have no specific knowledge of Avalokiteśvara).

    The traditional definition of knowledge (pre-Gettier) has been “justified true belief.” That definition is still good enough for these purposes. “Backwoods illiterate” believers in Christianity, telepathic aliens, and Avalokiteśvara may all have experiences that for them constitute warrant or justification for their beliefs. That is, they all may have strong internal impressions that the things they believe in are real existents. That alone does not make their beliefs knowledge. If the Christian’s belief is true (as I hold it to be, obviously), then the Christian has knowledge. If the others’ belief is false, then the others do not have knowledge, they have a false opinion or a false interpretation of some experience.

    So the test of knowledge is not just one’s internal experience. Though all of these people may think they have knowledge, only one of them is correct and the others are wrong.

  63. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    Actually, as a child I experienced brief auditory hallucinations on occasion (and even a few times into adulthood). I know from experience that they can be, based on the auditory experience itself, utterly indistinguishable from a normal experience of hearing someone speak.

    They were thought to be actual experiences (indistinguishable from them) at the time they were occuring, but were thought to be hallucinations later (now distinguishable). How do you, at a later time, distinguish between the two when neither one is occuring? By replaying it in your mind?

  64. Dave says:

    Please Bill

    Note that in Greek, contrary to English, placing the words “I am” at the end of the sentence serves to *de-emphasize* that part of the sentence.

    Please… don’t make assertions that a novice in Greek, such as I, may easily refute.

    ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους αμην αμην λεγω υμιν πριν αβρααμ γενεσθαι εγω ειμι

    Personal Pronouns
    Koine Greek also often uses personal pronouns for added emphasis. For example, all Koine Greek verbs already include person and number. So, “eimi” means “I am.” But, “ego eimi” means, “I, I am.” This duplication means, “Don’t miss this.” At the end of a heated exchange with the Pharisees, Jesus wanted to make sure His murderers-to-be did not miss this declaration: “Truly, truly (this duplication is yet another device of emphasis to arrest attention for this conclusion), I am saying to all of you, before Abraham was generated – I, I am.” They clearly “got” the message. And how do I know that? “Therefore, they picked up stones to throw at Him” (Jn 8:58,59), and later said, “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (Jn 10:33).
    http://www.freelygive-n.com/uploads/Translations_and_the_Bible_-_Imbed_Link.pdf

    Context also plays a role in the meaning of words.

    The blind man responded others said — `This is he;’ and others — `He is like to him;’ he himself said, — `I am [he].’

    is very different from

    Jesus said to them, `Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham’s coming — I am;

    Jesus did not pre-exist. He was, according to scripture, born a human being (with divinely conceived flesh) of a woman who was a descendant of David.

    You got it half right. I suppose better half right than all wrong. Have a nice day. 8^>

  65. Bill Ross says:

    Steve wrote:

    “…The first Churches worshiped Christ as God, not because they misread the text or guessed wrong, but because that was the message passed down to them from those that knew. Now you are saying that message was wrong and I’d like to understand how it is you know this.”

    The scriptures do not merely fail to mention a “Trinity” or a worshiped Jesus – they specifically identify such as “antichrist” (taking the place of the Christ). For example, John claims to be an eyewitness (1 John 1:1-4) and insists that those who deny that Jesus was a flesh speak with the breath of the antichrist:

    1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
    1Jo 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    2Jo 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

    John further defines Antichrist as the worshiped version of Jesus:

    Re 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

    And the distinguishing mark of this man that will be worshiped as God is a Trinity – the “number of a man”:

    Re 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    Paul also says that this one was “the man of sin”:

    2 Thess 2:
    3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

    So they were not silent about oral tradition of Jesus being God himself – they were outspoken about their falsehood.

  66. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    So I don’t put a great deal of stock in anyone, including myself, being able to distinguish a relationship with a real intangible spirit being that doesn’t actually speak or otherwise overtly communicate from merely imagining one has a relationship with same.

    I missed this part where you undo what you said in the first paragraph. There you said you could trust your ability to distinguish between the events (it was clearly an auditory hallucination you say). Here you say you can’t trust your ability.

  67. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, none of your assertions follow from the texts you quote. They are so far off I don’t even know where to begin.

  68. david ellis says:


    Let’s keep this an apples-to-apples comparison…

    It was already an apples to apples comparison. That’s why I picked the “backwoods illiterate”. In the case of a religion that has, as you claim Christianity does, good evidence in its favor we need to compare a person who has no access to this evidence in order for it to be an apple to apples comparison with one where, according to you, no such evidence exists.

    That is, both the Buddhist and the Christian in my examples have no access to independent evidence (for the sake of discussion accepting your position regarding the relative strength of the evidence for each religion—that the Buddhist has no independent evidence because it doesn’t exist and the particular Christian in question has no independent evidence because he has no access to or awareness of the sound evidence that does exist and which he would know about were he from a different background).


    “Backwoods illiterate” believers in Christianity, telepathic aliens, and Avalokiteśvara may all have experiences that for them constitute warrant or justification for their beliefs.

    This constitutes a substantial change, a reversal in fact, in your position (which originally said that without independent evidence holding these beliefs is irrational).

    Unfortunately, in order the overcome the inconsistency I pointed out you altered your epistemology in the wrong direction. Your original position in regard to the beliefs of alien telepath believers, Buddhists and Tree worshippers was quite reasonable. Now you have embraced something far more credulous.

    You have gone from saying that Fred is, quote, “really crazy” because he has no independent confirmation for his belief to saying “backwoods illiterate believers in Christianity, telepathic aliens, and Avalokiteśvara may all have experiences that for them constitute warrant or justification for their beliefs.”

    And this change has, so far as I can tell, come about for no other reason than that consistent application of this standard would hold the Christian beliefs of some (many, in fact) to be strongly irrational—a position apparently too unpalatable to embrace.

    Rarely have I seen a more blatant example of a person shifting a position in order to retain the predetermined outcome.

  69. david ellis says:


    You see, his fMRI studies of the Carmelite nuns demonstrates that their experiences are not consistent with hallucinations.

    I don’t think most Christian’s are having hallucinations of Jesus. Few report anything like that. What they describe has more in common with the “monster in the closet” example of sheer imagination (though of a positive, rather than frightening, nature).


    Second, when the nuns were recalling autobiographical memories, the brain activity was different from that of the mystical state. So we know for certain that the mystical state is something other than an emotional state.

    You might want to examine that sentence a little more carefully. I think the flaw is sufficiently obvious that I don’t need to spell it out for you (at least I shouldn’t to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of logic—one needn’t even be particularly scientifically literate to see the mistake).


    Hallucination, no matter what their source, are simply not capable of rpoviding the mind with an experience as convincing as that of mystical spirituality.

    Nothing so far discussed even comes close to backing up this statement (though, as I already said, I don’t think most Christians are hallucinating anyway so it isn’t even particularly relevant).

    Besides, from the statement “mystical states are more convincing to the experiencer than hallucinations” it does not follow that the statement “mystical states are a contact with a real, external, spiritual realm” is true (or even marginally more likely to be true). Two different forms of delusion can vary in degree to which they are convincing without one thereby becoming more likely to be true.

  70. SteveK says:

    Bill,
    If what you are saying is correct then your theory says that those who knew, knew Jesus was just a man that never claimed to be God in the flesh, and that somehow a rumor of untruth got started and snuffed out the truth. Do you have any historical evidence to support that theory?

  71. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie:

    >>>”…I would not. They neither claimed to be nor assumed God’s roles and characteristics…”

    I believe we have already seen that Jesus did not claim to be God, either. But the reason given in scripture that Jesus reflected God’s roles and characteristics is that God made him, appointed him, commanded him, empowered him, begat him (ie: by raising him from the dead), and promoted him. It never says that he is *intrinsically* or *metaphysically* divine. “It pleased the father that in him should all fulness dwell.”

    >>>”…They didn’t forgive sins,…”

    No, but the NT saints did, in the same way that Jesus did. That is, he and they could only forgive such as were already forgiven in the sky (by God).

    >>>”…declare themselves lord of the Sabbath,…”

    Remember, God gave Jesus the name above every name (KURIOS) because he was obedient, even to the point of death on the stake/cross:

    Ac 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that ***God hath made*** that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

    >>>”…tell us that they would be seated at His right hand,…”

    As God seated Christ, so he seats the believer:

    Eph 1:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This was not Isaiah’s portion:

    >>>”…that they would come in glory with their angels,…”

    Remember that Jesus was a man and thus lower than the deputies (“angels”), as all men are, but *God* created man specifically to subject his wayward deputies:

    5 ¶ For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
    6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
    7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
    8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
    9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
    10 ¶ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
    11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

    Angels were made subject to Jesus by God:

    1Pe 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

    1Co 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

    >>>”…that they would direct their angels in separating the believers from the unbelievers, that they were the ones who would determine if you could enter the Kingdom or not…”

    **God ordained a man**:

    Ac 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he [God] hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    So all believers will judge angels:

    1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

    You wrote:

    “…They read and quoted both the Septuagint and the Hebrew. Jesus read Isaiah in Hebrew in the synagogue…”

    Here is Jesus reading Isaiah 61 in the temple:

    Luke 4:
    17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
    18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
    19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

    Here is the passage (very different) from the Hebrew:

    KJV:
    1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
    2a To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
    3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

    Here it is from the LXXe:

    1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent {1} me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; {1) Lu 4:18}
    2a to declare the acceptable year of the Lord

    How obvious that Luke’s text is old Greek, not Hebrew!

    >>>”….and referenced it in the Targum tradition in Aramaic. Jesus many times cites Hebrew Scriptures in a way that couldn’t have come from the Septuagint and this is recorded in more than one of the Gospels…”

    Can you give any evidence for these assertions?

    >>>”…Neither He, Matthew or Paul, for instance, were Septuagint Jews or relied up it alone for their renderings…”

    Matthew… allegedly written first in Hebrew… clearly depends on the Greek alone, and builds his doctrine of the virgin birth from the Greek, as the Hebrew only has “a girl.”

    >>>”…What makes you giggle and call it unrecorded?”

    Where is it recorded that Jesus claimed to be “God in the flesh?”

    >>>.”..Yes, I admit that there is such claim…”

    Where is the claim that “the Holy Spirit is that One God”?

    >>>

    Where are we told that “the Holy Spirit partakes in Creation”?

    In the Creation account.

    Do you mean here?:

    Ge 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    If so, note that this is the description of the pre-existent chaos, **before** the making of the sky ceiling and the emergence of the dry land. The picture is that of a mighty wind blowing in the darkness over the surface of a bottomless, endless water.

    >>>”…You hold incorrectly. The Holy Spirit can be blasphemed against,…”

    To “blaspheme” is to “speak evil of.” It does not imply personhood:

    Re 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, ***and his tabernacle***, and them that dwell in heaven.

    >>>…is called “He”,…

    So did Jesus breath a person?:

    Joh 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

    >>>…speaks,…”

    The breath of God, in scripture, is intelligent, and is linked to the faculty of speech, since breath is the vehicle of speech:

    Ac 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [breath], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance [the power of speech].

    >>>”….refers to Himself as “I”,…”

    ?

    >>>”…is referred to in the masculine,…”

    Figuratively.

    >>>”…and can be lied to. That’s a person.”

    I already showed that it was Peter that was lied to, by feigning holy breath.

  72. Bill Ross says:

    >>>”…Abraham didn’t last, according to this verse, long enough to see Jesus – Jesus existed before Abraham did…”

    Um, actually, note that Abraham looked *forward* to Jesus’ birthday, not backwards. And he “saw it and celebrated.”

  73. Tom Gilson says:

    David,

    You do like the word blatant, but I don’t think it fits.

    You say I am shifting my position, but what’s shifting is the question. If the question is “does the person have justification or warrant for his or her belief?” then there is an answer that is appropriate to that question. If the question is, “Can God give a person true knowledge of himself, with or without external evidence? there is an answer that is appropriate to that question. If the question is, “Does the believer in telepathic aliens have knowledge that telepathic aliens exist?” there is an answer that is appropriate to that question. If the question is, “Do telepathic aliens, or God, or Buddhist deities actually exist?” there is an answer appropriate to that question.

    Surprisingly enough, I don’t give the same answer to all those questions? And if you asked me whether I think the New Deal was good for America, I wouldn’t give the same answer to that as I have to any of these. That’s the way it is when you deal with different questions.

    I’ve dealt with all of these questions in this thread, but apparently it’s difficult to keep track of which one is which, though I’ve tried to be clear about it. So I’ll let you pick. Which one do you want me to address? I’ll stick with one at a time.

  74. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    I suspect Tom is saying that others are justified in believing they experienced another being, but that they aren’t justified in believing it was a tree spirit or alien as they understand the concept of tree spirit or alien. In other words they have identified the being incorrectly and that there is a way to test that.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Tom.

  75. david ellis says:


    I missed this part where you undo what you said in the first paragraph. There you said you could trust your ability to distinguish between the events (it was clearly an auditory hallucination you say). Here you say you can’t trust your ability.

    I was entirely unable to distinguish, in the basis of the AUDITORY experience, the sound of the imaginary voice from that of real people I’ve heard speak.

    But, of course, when you turn around and no one is within a couple of hundred yards and the voice sounded like it was coming from someone right behind you….you don’t have to be a genius to realize it was in your imagination.

    In my case, I was able to check the auditory experience against my visual experience and come to the sensible conclusion that a had a brief, weird auditory hallucination (for the very vague amorphous religious experiences that make up the bulk of claims to having a “personal relationship” with Jesus cross-checking of any sort is, of course, impossible).

    But, hey, in regard to my interpretation of my experience as an auditory hallucination, I could be wrong. It might have been the spirit of my departed great grandmother trying to communicate with me from beyond the grave…..

    But the auditory hallucination hypothesis is rather more parsimonious. And that’s exactly my point.

    Imagination (and weird brain states) is by far the more parsimonious explanation in regard to people’s religious experiences as well.

    There simply isn’t any reason a sensible person, without bias, would come to the conclusion that belief in a spirit being was warranted on the basis of such experiences….as even Tom acknowledged, briefly, when the issue at hand was someone else’s dearly cherished religious belief rather than those of a Christian.

  76. Bill Ross says:

    >>>”Bill Ross, where on earth are you getting your translations from?”

    While I arrived at my translation of John 8:58 independently (I translated it myself), in this case, my reading agrees completely with that of Carl Conrad (though I do NOT accept his interpretation):

    http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/96-08/0219.html

  77. Bill Ross says:

    Tom:
    >>>”…The Holy Spirit has emotions (can be grieved, Ephesians 4:30); communicates (Romans 8:26-27; John 16:13); leads people (Acts 13:1-4). These are attributes of persons…”

    These are also attributes of intelligent breath. Note that Ephesians also speaks of “the air of the breath that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” The anatomy of the scriptures is such that it presumes that the breath of God was placed in Adam and made him self aware. So the air of the breath of God is intelligent, as is that of the prince of this world.

    “Angels” are said also to be servant breaths, and there are seven breaths of God sent to seven different assemblies…

  78. Bill Ross says:

    Dave wrote:

    >>>Note that in Greek, contrary to English, placing the words “I am” at the end of the sentence serves to *de-emphasize* that part of the sentence.
    Please… don’t make assertions that a novice in Greek, such as I, may easily refute….”

    Are you saying that my assertion is false? Note that you are concerned with the inclusion of EGW, which I do not contest. You are correct about the role of the personal pronoun. **I’m** concerned with the phrase “EGW EIMI” and my assertion regarding “that part of the sentence” still stands.

  79. Bill Ross says:

    Steve wrote:

    >>>”Bill, If what you are saying is correct then your theory says that those who knew, knew Jesus was just a man that never claimed to be God in the flesh, and that somehow a rumor of untruth got started and snuffed out the truth. Do you have any historical evidence to support that theory?”

    Yes. Please see “When Jesus Became God” by Rubenstein.

  80. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill,

    These are also attributes of intelligent breath.

    ???????????????

    What on earth or in heaven is an intelligent breath?

  81. david ellis says:


    You say I am shifting my position, but what’s shifting is the question.

    The question never shifted. Its always been:

    is a belief based on an internal experience justified?

    You started out by rejecting my examples of nonchristian beliefs based on internal experience by claiming they lacked “independent evidence” to back them up but that Christianity had such evidence in its favor:


    My position on that is that when subjected to the same kind of evidential/rational testing that Christianity has been subjected to, they fail utterly…..There is no independent evidence that this spirit actually, ontologically, exists, whereas there is strong independent evidence that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again; and that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit on earth today.

    Fred is really crazy, because there is no independent reason to think the telepathic aliens exist. The Buddhist’s experience of Avalokiteśvara is a false experience as well. There is no independent evidence that this spirit actually, ontologically, exists…

    When I pointed out that this criteria, if applied consistently, would make the beliefs of Christians who lacked access to the independent evidence unwarranted, you quickly changed positions—by loosing the standard and accepting that the views you previously referred to as “crazy” could be warranted as well:


    “Backwoods illiterate” believers in Christianity, telepathic aliens, and Avalokiteśvara may all have experiences that for them constitute warrant or justification for their beliefs.

  82. Bill Ross says:

    Tom inquired:

    >>>”What on earth or in heaven is an intelligent breath?”

    Note the account in Genesis where Yehovah molds a statue to look like himself and then animates it by breathing his own breath into it:

    Ge 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    Note that apart from breath of God, Adam was just sculpted dust. The entrance of God’s breath brought life and self awareness and man became a living person. This became corrupted fairly recently to the idea that man was “spirit, soul and body.” But “spirit” is just Latin for “breath” just as “ghost” is Germanic for “breath.”

    But in the scriptures, it was always the “breath” of God. For example, here:

    Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    This is a reference to Genesis. So is this:

    Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

    The *breath* gives life. This is all from Genesis. So are all of the references wrongly translated “spirit” or archaically as “ghost.”

    In the scriptures, the breath of God in a person was a kind of intelligent organ:

    1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    The “breath of the world” is that “air…that now works in the sons of disobedience.”

    Modern “translators” are also evading the scripturally concept that sin lives in one’s muscles (“flesh”) by “translating” SARKH with the phrase “sinful nature.” Gimme a break.

  83. Tom Gilson says:

    David, you asked, “is a belief based on an internal experience justified?”

    In the case of Christian belief, my answer is yes. It is justified in that God delivers to individuals a strong and genuine assurance that he is real.

    In the case of internal experience of other types, as I said most recently, I cannot answer. I don’t know what their internal experience is like, I don’t know how they assess it, and I can’t assess how they assess it. I think it’s possible that their beliefs may be justified, as far as their own experience and ability to assess it may go. If that contradicts something I said earlier, then please accept this as a correction to that, and the result of a learning process through our dialogue together.

    Anyway, does that answer your question? Do you have any others?

    (Please bear in mind that “justified” does not equal “true.” The people who were conned in the movie The Sting were justified in believing what they were led to believe, even though it was false. Note also that a justified belief is not knowledge unless it is also a true belief.)

  84. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, your exegesis is so strained, and your unawareness of conventions of language and metaphor is so complete, that I’m not going just not going to try to answer. I simply cannot expect the results to come anywhere near to justifying the effort.

  85. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    I was entirely unable to distinguish, in the basis of the AUDITORY experience, the sound of the imaginary voice from that of real people I’ve heard speak.
    But, of course, when you turn around and no one is within a couple of hundred yards and the voice sounded like it was coming from someone right behind you….you don’t have to be a genius to realize it was in your imagination.

    If the voice was the voice of someone you knew was physically still around then the absense of the physical person is a dead giveaway, so I agree with your conclusion. That’s not the same situation as certain religious experiences.

    My one quibble is that you say it was indistinguishable from an ACTUAL auditory experience (to me that means in every way). I take that to mean you felt sound waves vibrating in your ear and you heard faint echos in the room as you do in actual situations, etc. If so, that may cause me to change my response. I certainly can tell the difference between someone talking to me ‘in the moment’, and me recalling their voice in my mind.

    But the auditory hallucination hypothesis is rather more parsimonious. And that’s exactly my point.

    In your case, it may have been the more parsimonious hypothesis – I don’t know until we unpack everything together and take a look. Even then, I may not be able to fully comprehend it because I’m not capable of stepping into your shoes. Based on what you’ve said so far I don’t disagree with your conclusion.

    Imagination (and weird brain states) is by far the more parsimonious explanation in regard to people’s religious experiences as well.

    I prefer to consider things on a case-by-case basis. Blanket statments like this blind you to learning something new about reality.

    There simply isn’t any reason a sensible person, without bias, would come to the conclusion that belief in a spirit being was warranted on the basis of such experiences….as even Tom acknowledged, briefly, when the issue at hand was someone else’s dearly cherished religious belief rather than those of a Christian.

    Ditto

  86. david ellis says:


    Tom: Anyway, does that answer your question? Do you have any others?

    No, I’m satisfied.


    Steve: If the voice was the voice of someone you knew was physically still around then the absence of the physical person is a dead giveaway, so I agree with your conclusion. That’s not the same situation as certain religious experiences.

    First, I never claimed that this was “the same situation as certain religious experiences”. Two different situations can have relevant features in common.

    Second, the voice I heard was never identifiable as anyone I knew (it was usually female—and usually achingly beautiful). That’s as much of a description as I can give.


    My one quibble is that you say it was indistinguishable from an ACTUAL auditory experience (to me that means in every way).

    What I mean by that is that the experience itself was indistinguishable from the normal experience one has when one hears using one’s ears rather than one’s imagination. So much so that I often turned and responded out loud, answering the voice, before I realized that no one was there (the voice almost always sounded as if it was coming from behind me—that’s how compellingly real it felt—it even seemed to come from a specific direction just as normal auditory experiences).


    I prefer to consider things on a case-by-case basis.

    Feel free to submit your own experience for examination if you like (or, if you can find a detailed account, someone elses—not all Christians claim to have religious experiences that they find a compelling basis for belief, nor are all comfortable relating one for critical examination).

  87. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    What I mean by that is that the experience itself was indistinguishable from the normal experience one has when one hears using one’s ears rather than one’s imagination.

    Sounds like you might be justified in holding the belief that you heard an actual voice rather than hearing something your imagination dreamed up. Especially if you heard it multiple times and in a similar manner/situation.

    I suspect you held that belief until you looked around and found nobody there. At which time I would have been a bit freaked out myself, but I certainly would not have said the best hypothesis was some kind of mental hiccup for the simple reason that they don’t feel like that and mental hiccups don’t produce results with such specific and complex outcomes (i.e. meaningful sentences). That’s a page from the ID playbook, I know, but it works.

    Feel free to submit your own experience for examination if you like

    I do have one – only one – but I can’t recall the experience well enough to describe it accurately. What I do remember is being completely blown away at the time, moreso than any other time in my life because this stuff NEVER happens to me.

    I was in the Chicago airport doing something I almost never do in airports – pray as I walked around the terminal. I was praising God and thanking him for working out some things in my life. Then unexpectely I felt someone touch my lower back which was followed by a tidal wave of joy and peace coming over me. It felt exactly like someone touching me in a way to give me comfort and lift my spirts and my body responded to it that way. For a very brief moment I could feel the outline of a hand pushing on my lower back.

    I was so shocked and convinced that I immediately turned around looking for anyone who could have touched me. Nobody and no thing was close enough to do it (hard to believe in Chicago, but true). It was nothing like a muscle spasm, the brush of my shirt or pants, an object hitting me, a twitch, a tweak or any other word like that. I was convinced it was a gentle, personal touch designed to give comfort and lift my spirits and to this day I believe that’s what happened.

    Nothing like that has ever happened to me before or since. I could be completely wrong in my belief, but I’m very much justified in believing it.

  88. Dave says:

    Hello Bill

    Are you saying that my assertion is false? Note that you are concerned with the inclusion of EGW, which I do not contest. You are correct about the role of the personal pronoun. **I’m** concerned with the phrase “EGW EIMI” and my assertion regarding “that part of the sentence” still stands.

    Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. Obviously you have made up your mind, and far be it from me to trouble myself with your view any longer… pearls etc. Astounding…

  89. Bill Ross says:

    Dave wrote:

    “…Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. Obviously you have made up yur mind, and far be it from me to trouble myself with your view any longer… pearls etc. Astounding…”

    Since you are a self-confessed “little Greek,” it is not important that you understand and agree with my translation. It is much more significant that Carl Conrad, a “Big Greek,” DOES agree with my translation.

    It is not too late to learn something new about the proper translation of John 8:58, either from myself, or from Carl Conrad.

    As I pointed out in another post, John’s text was the LXX, not the Hebrew. This is evidenced from the first two words, EN ARKH, which are lifted directly from Genesis 1:1 and signify, “Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have your LXX with you, please turn to page one, for our text for this passage will be taken from the Greek scriptures…”

    That being so, EGW EIMI has no relation to Exodus 3:14, where the divine title is “hO WN” (“the being [one]“). Jesus would have been usurping the divine title if he had said, EGW hO WN. But he didn’t say that. So in a fully Hellenized culture, he used one of the most common phrases imaginable, that appears in the previous chapter used by a man born blind, as well as by Paul.

    So, while I pity all of you scoffers, I am not at all intimidated by your smug assertions of superiority, nor by your condescension, implying that you are providing “pearls” and that I am a wild dog.

    Have a great day.

  90. david ellis says:


    I was convinced it was a gentle, personal touch designed to give comfort and lift my spirits and to this day I believe that’s what happened.

    Nothing like that has ever happened to me before or since. I could be completely wrong in my belief, but I’m very much justified in believing it.

    That sounds like a reassuring explanation. But not especially parsimonious.

    I’m interested in what sense you mean that you’re “justified in believing it”.

    When I say a belief is justified I mean that its formed in such a way that there is a good likelihood I’ve come to a true conclusion.

    That doesn’t seem to qualify here (imagination, again, explains such an experience quite adequately and far more parsimoniously). So what do you mean by “justified”?

  91. SteveK says:

    david ellis,

    When I say a belief is justified I mean that its formed in such a way that there is a good likelihood I’ve come to a true conclusion.

    I go about it much the same way.

    That doesn’t seem to qualify here (imagination, again, explains such an experience quite adequately and far more parsimoniously).

    I disagree because I know myself quite well. As I said, the experience was specific enough that I immediately recognized it. I’ve never in my entire life mistaken an accidental bumping-into or a mental hiccup as something that comforted me. I’m not that easy ;) Also, I wasn’t expecting it or hoping for it.

    So if you want to talk about likelihood – me being wrong is highly unlikely, which means my conclusion is more parsimonious than the alternitives.

  92. david ellis says:


    I’ve never in my entire life mistaken an accidental bumping-into or a mental hiccup as something that comforted me.

    You said that this is the only experience you’ve ever had that could potentially be classed as a “mental hiccup” (that is, an incident in which you had a sensory experience contradicted by your other senses).

    So the fact that you’ve not mistaken any past mental hiccups for something comforting is hardly evidence of anything—you hadn’t had any before so you didn’t know how you would react to or interpret such an event.

    And, of course, the one time you HAVE had such an experience you interpret it supernaturally because, according to you, you just know yourself well enough to know you couldn’t make such an error (never mind that you specifically mention that you were “praising God and thanking him for working out some things in my life” at the time—so it was rather on your mind at the time).

    And never mind the fact that all the rest of us human beings are more than capable of such errors.

  93. SteveK says:

    david,
    I don’t really feel the need to discuss my experience any further. Regarding your last comment, you’ve misinterpreted what I said so most of it would have to be corrected anyway.

  94. Charlie says:

    So I’m back from our church retreat and not sure blogging is the best use of my time, esp. since I start back to the new year tomorrow. But there are a few things that ought to be answered here.
    Bill dismissed above the references throughout the New Testament, some by Jesus Himself, to the Holy Spirit as a person, as being called “He”, as having attributes of personhood, as speaking and calling Himself “I”, as having a will, and as being grieved (also in the OT – Isaiah 63:10 ) as no more than figures of speech.
    The professor of Greek and Hebrew who ran our sessions this weekend thought those an awful lot of examples to be dismissed in such a manner. I’ll agree with him.

    Having denied the Holy Spirit’s personhood Bill also has to ignore the times in the OT where the Spirit is spoken of in such a way that the Hebrews just read it as referring to God Himself.
    Then, with all this evidence out of court, he translates the action of the Spirit of God and says it is the action of a “mighty wind”. This mighty wind, though, is said to be hovering or trembling, not raging or blowing. And then one has to wonder where such a wind comes from, given, as Bill says, that there is no atmosphere yet, or what it is supposed to be doing, how it removes chaos in Creation or why it is mentioned at all. It would seem that there must be a reason that it is mentioned right before God’s creative acts and that God is said to have a wind hovering and brooding.
    And it would be odd to then attribute to “wind” the ability to give life, uplift people and animate bodies as the Spirit is said to throughout the OT afterward – according to the Hebrews who commented on their own works.

    Knowing that the Spirit is a person, and the third member of the Trinity makes sense of all these passages.

    pdf
    http://hrcak.srce.hr/file/38509

  95. Charlie says:

    Further responses to Bill:
    I already showed you why Jesus cannot be considered a ‘Septuagint Jew’. and that He didn’t rely upon only the Septuagint for His source (more from Bill Evans at the end of this comment to add to that).
    For Matthew I am reading from Eye Witness To Jesus Matthew was trained as a Pharisee. He was an expert scribe and multilingual and did not rely upon the lingua franca for his communications and many of his phrases are in Mishnaic Hebrew.
    Like Mark, his Gospel makes use of Hebraisms not found in the Septuagint.
    For Paul I send you to What Do Jewish People Think Of Jesus?
    pages 191 – :

    “It would be difficult to find more typically Talmudic expositions of Scriptures than those in the Epistles of Paul.

    Truly Paul was a Jew not only in his physical appearance, but he was also a typical Jew in his thinking and in his entire inner life. For Saul-Paul was not only ‘a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees’, but also one of those discipoles of the Tannaim who were brought up on the exegesis of the Torah, and did not cease to cherish it to the end of their days.
    Paul lived by Jewish law like a proper Jew; also he knew the Old Testament in its Hebrew original and meditated much upon it … Hence there are Semitisms and Hebraisms in the language of the Epistles, in spite of the richness of their Greek.

    Hebrew of Hebrews’ and ‘a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees’, educated in Jerusalem and able to make speeches in Hebrew (or Aramaic), obviously not a ‘Septuagint Jew’”

    “Paul is a trained Pharisee who became an apostle to the Gentiles.”

    “Paul was a scholar, an attendant of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, well-versed in the laws of the Torah.”

    “Paul had an openly avowed knowledge of Hebrew and of Pharisaic tradition

    proves an independent and creative master of the genre (Midrash)

    “Paul’s use of Scripture, of midrashic techniques and of contemporary exegetical traditions in Romans 9:6-29 yielded a highly sophisticated composition. It cannot have been the product of an uneducated mind. If he was not trained by Gamaliel, then he was taught by some other Jewish master. In any case it seems clear that Paul received a formal education in the Judaism of the time”


    Bill says:

    ”
I believe we have already seen that Jesus did not claim to be God, either.

    No, we have seen that He did.

    But the reason given in scripture that Jesus reflected God’s roles and characteristics is that God made him, appointed him, commanded him, empowered him, begat him (ie: by raising him from the dead), and promoted him. It never says that he is *intrinsically* or *metaphysically* divine. “It pleased the father that in him should all fulness dwell.”

    It says He was slain from the beginning and that He was with God from the beginning and that He was God from the beginning. It never says God made Him but rather says that through Him all things were made that were made.

    ”…They didn’t forgive sins,…”
No, but the NT saints did, in the same way that Jesus did. That is, he and they could only forgive such as were already forgiven in the sky (by God).

    So others with the name Joshua, for instance, were not God and there is no reason to think that the argument is based upon His name alone.

    ”….and referenced it in the Targum tradition in Aramaic. Jesus many times cites Hebrew Scriptures in a way that couldn’t have come from the Septuagint and this is recorded in more than one of the Gospels…”
Can you give any evidence for these assertions?

    You mean like the link I provided? I did.

    ”…Neither He, Matthew or Paul, for instance, were Septuagint Jews or relied up it alone for their renderings…”
Matthew… allegedly written first in Hebrew… clearly depends on the Greek alone,

    False. Our version of Matthew, true enough, is not a translation from a Hebrew document, but that does not mean it “depends on the Greek alone” whatever that non-sequitur is meant to convey.

    . and builds his doctrine of the virgin birth from the Greek, as the Hebrew only has “a girl.”

    The “almah/bethulah/parthenos” argument is answered. You need only Google it.


    ”…What makes you giggle and call it unrecorded?”
Where is it recorded that Jesus claimed to be “God in the flesh?”

    I showed you.

    Further to the Holy Spirit question above:

    
Where are we told that “the Holy Spirit partakes in Creation”?

In the Creation account.
Do you mean here?:
Ge 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
If so, note that this is the description of the pre-existent chaos, **before** the making of the sky ceiling and the emergence of the dry land. The picture is that of a mighty wind blowing in the darkness over the surface of a bottomless, endless water.

    Nope. For instance:

    Genesis 1:2 reads, ‘… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’. The Hebrew word ruach used by Moses can mean ‘spirit’, ‘wind’ or ‘breath’, with the choice being determined by the context. So did Moses mean to say that a wind was fanning the waters, or that the Spirit of God8 was participating in the creation event, particularly with regard to making the unfinished earth habitable?
    Answer: The participle ‘hovering’ does not adequately describe the blowing of a wind. And if the text merely says that at the start of all the momentous events of Creation Week a wind was blowing, we might reasonably ask, ‘So what?’ We conclude that it was Moses’ intention to tell us that ‘despite the fact the earth was not then habitable, all was under the control of God’s Spirit’.9

    . http://creation.com/who-really-is-the-god-of-genesis
    And a great raging wind does not ‘hover’ like an eagle protecting its young.

    …is called “He”,…
So did Jesus breath a person?:
Joh 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

    Why not? God breathed our personhood into man, making him a living soul.

    ”…and can be lied to. That’s a person.”
I already showed that it was Peter that was lied to, by feigning holy breath.

    No, you said it, you didn’t show it.




    Craig Evans on Jesus and Scripture

    ADVERTISEMENT
    Q: In what language was the Bible Jesus read?
    -Frederica Matthewes-Green
Baltimore, Maryland
    A: If, as most scholars today believe, Jesus spoke primarily in Aramaic, though he sometimes might have also used Greek and perhaps even Hebrew, what Bible was he likely to have read and heard read in the synagogue? The answer is that he likely heard Scripture read in Hebrew and occasionally in Greek, and then paraphrased and interpreted in Aramaic. How much of this paraphrase was actually written down in Jesus’ day is difficult to tell. It is probably safer to assume that most of this Aramaic tradition circulated orally and only generations later was committed to writing.
    The Dead Sea Scrolls—a collection of biblical and other texts from around the first century—have shown that our Old Testament existed in several forms at the time of Jesus. There could have been as many as four Hebrew-language versions: one that lies behind the Hebrew text of the Bible that Christians and Jews use today (the Masoretic Text); a second that lies behind the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is called the Septuagint, or LXX (and is the Old Testament of the Orthodox churches today); a third distinctive Hebrew version of the Pentateuch (the first five books of our Old Testament) used by the Samaritans; and a fourth version scholars did not know existed until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls 50 years ago.

    Aramaic words in Jesus’ sayings, such as boanerges, ephphatha, talitha qumi, and eloi eloi lama sabachthani, have survived in the Greek Gospels.
    Further evidence for this can be seen in the fact that when Jesus alludes to Scriptures in the Gospels, he usually does so in a manner that agrees with the Aramaic Targum, not the Greek or Hebrew versions. Some examples: In Mark 9:42 –50, Jesus warns of judgment by speaking of Gehenna and alluding to Isaiah 66:24, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” The word Gehenna does not appear in the Hebrew or Greek, but only in the Aramaic. In Matthew 26:52, Jesus commands his disciple to put away his sword, “for all those who take the sword, by the sword they will perish.” These words, which aren’t in our Hebrew-based Isaiah, probably allude to the Aramaic paraphrase of Isaiah 50:11: “all you who take a sword … go fall … on the sword which you have taken!” Jesus’ well-known saying “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36) reflects the Aramaic expansion of Leviticus 22:28: “My people, children of Israel, as our Father is merciful in heaven, so shall you be merciful on earth.” And Jesus’ very proclamation of the gospel, namely, that the kingdom of God has come (Mark 1:14–15), probably reflects the Aramaic paraphrasing of passages such as Isaiah 40:9 and 52:7. In these Aramaic paraphrases we find the distinctive words “The kingdom of your God is revealed!”
    Understanding the usage of Aramaic in Jesus’ time explains another often puzzling passage. In the parable of the wicked vineyard tenants (Mark 12:1–12), Jesus alludes to Isaiah 5:1–7. In the Hebrew version of Isaiah (on which our English translations are based), the people of Judah as a whole (and not their leaders) are condemned as guilty of bloodshed. But when Jesus told the parable, the ruling priests understood that Jesus had told the parable “against them.” This is because Jesus applies the passage in his parable in a way that reflects the Aramaic Targum’s interpretation of it, in which God’s judgment is directed primarily against the temple establishment. (The tower of Isaiah’s parable is understood as the temple, and the wine vat is understood as the altar.)

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1999/april26/9t5098.html

    —–

    david ellis says:

    

You see, his fMRI studies of the Carmelite nuns demonstrates that their experiences are not consistent with hallucinations.

I don’t think most Christian’s are having hallucinations of Jesus. Few report anything like that. What they describe has more in common with the “monster in the closet” example of sheer imagination (though of a positive, rather than frightening, nature).

    And again, Beauregard’s studies show that these experiences are not consistent with sheer imagination, or with “faking it”. They are consistent with, though not proof of, the subject having a real spiritual contact with something outside of themselves. 

Second, when the nuns were recalling autobiographical memories, the brain activity was different from that of the mystical state.

    “So we know for certain that the mystical state is something other than an emotional state.

”You might want to examine that sentence a little more carefully. I think the flaw is sufficiently obvious that I don’t need to spell it out for you (at least I shouldn’t to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of logic—one needn’t even be particularly scientifically literate to see the mistake).

    Cute little ad homs you snuck in there.
    Humour me and spell out my error, won’t you? But when you do so keep in mind that I gave you a single sentence form an entire book, one meant to sum up a finding and not provide the argumentation for it.


    <blockquote“Hallucinations, no matter what their source, are simply not capable of providing the mind with an experience as convincing as that of mystical spirituality.

”Nothing so far discussed even comes close to backing up this statement (though, as I already said, I don’t think most Christians are hallucinating anyway so it isn’t even particularly relevant).
    Nothing in this comment thread has provided the empirical data which backs up this statement because the statement, for our purposes, is the data. Whenthe scientists cited explore this phenomenon they do not, as you do, conclude that simple psychological explanations are preferred or sufficient. They find that simple psychological explanations like hallucinations, imagination, self-induced emotional states, memories, etc., do not explain the phenomenon very well.

    Besides, from the statement “mystical states are more convincing to the experiencer than hallucinations” it does not follow that the statement “mystical states are a contact with a real, external, spiritual realm” is true (or even marginally more likely to be true). Two different forms of delusion can vary in degree to which they are convincing without one thereby becoming more likely to be true.

    I didn’t say it was proof. I showed that your claim about psychological explanations was false. If there are psychological explanations we don’t actually have them yet.



  96. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie wrote:

    “…Bill dismissed above the references throughout the New Testament, some by Jesus Himself, to the Holy Spirit as a person, as being called “He”, as having attributes of personhood, as speaking and calling Himself “I”, as having a will, and as being grieved (also in the OT – Isaiah 63:10 ) as no more than figures of speech.”

    Let’s look at the verse you cite (and the one that follows) and see if it can’t give us some insights…

    10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
    11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?

    I say that the Hebrew (and the Greek) reads “…vexed his holy breath…” And in 11b, “…he that put his holy breath within him.”

    Now, if this RUACH/PNEUMA is a person, and is almighty God himself, then why is he treated as a commodity and slave? In what sense is this God the property of another? How does this God get placed into men?

    If we see this as God’s breath, and that breath is the organ of his self-awareness (as it is in Adam) then we can see why it is “his breath” and how he places it into men. We have the description of when this placing took place:

    Ge 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    Thus David prays:

    Ps 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit [breath] from me.

    Now we see why man is breath and body:

    1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit [breath] and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    We have in Genesis the anatomy of man given as:

    * mud, sculpted into God’s own likeness (Adam looked like Yehovah)
    * the breath of Yehovah

    As a result, man became a “living person.”

    Where do you get a scriptural anatomy that has some feature called a “spirit?” That is NOT in the Genesis account.

    And remember, the breath is the organ of self awareness, hence:

    Zec 12:1 The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit [breath] of man within him.

    Here God claims to be one flesh with man, and one breath:

    Ge 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit [breath] shall not always strive with man, for that he also [like myself] is flesh: [and] yet, despite that he is also flesh like myself], his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

    What was troubled in Pharaoh? His breath. His organ of self-awareness:

    Ge 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit [breath] was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

    Was Pharaoh’s breath a separate person??? Hardly.

    Once you realize that the anatomy of the scriptures is given in Genesis during the animation of the clay statue of God, the rest falls into place.

    “Trinity” completely muddies the water.

    “Eschew obfuscation!”

  97. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie:

    >>>”…For Matthew I am reading from Eye Witness To Jesus Matthew was trained as a Pharisee. He was an expert scribe and multilingual and did not rely upon the lingua franca for his communications and many of his phrases are in Mishnaic Hebrew…”

    HAHAHAHA!

    “Matthew’s” gospel, like all of the canonical gospels, was written anonymously. Later tradition attributes this to Matthew, the **tax collector** – though there isn’t a shred of evidence that Matthew is the author. That book you are reading is obviously intended a joke – on you! April Fools!

    >>>”…It would be difficult to find more typically Talmudic expositions of Scriptures than those in the Epistles of Paul…”

    What? Paul’s writings are not expositions. They are letters written with complete leeway to say whatever he wants to. He does employ various texts, but only to bolster his own ideas.

    Paul claims he got his zealotry from Gamaliel…

    Ac 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

    But Gamaliel was NOT a zealot:

    Acts 5:
    34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
    35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
    36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
    37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
    38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
    39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

    >>>>Truly Paul was a Jew not only in his physical appearance, but he was also a typical Jew in his thinking and in his entire inner life. For Saul-Paul was not only ‘a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees’, but also one of those discipoles of the Tannaim who were brought up on the exegesis of the Torah, and did not cease to cherish it to the end of their days….

    Paul was vehemently antinomian. He was thoroughly Greek in his thinking. That is why he is a “apostle” not a “prophet.” This is why he considers sin to live in his “members” and “in his flesh.” Something foreign to Jews, who were “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

    >>>…Bill says:

    ”
I believe we have already seen that Jesus did not claim to be God, either.

    No, we have seen that He did…

    Um, where in scripture is that claim??

    >>>>….It says He was slain from the beginning and that He was with God from the beginning and that He was God from the beginning. It never says God made Him but rather says that through Him all things were made that were made….

    Metaphysically slain?

    John 1:1-3 does not speak of Jesus, but rather of God’s word. It is referring to the “let there be light” statement and the other “let there be xxx” statements. God made everything that was made (which of course, does not include stuff that was NOT made, but rather pre-existed, like the bottomless ocean).

    And the phrase “KAI THEOS HN hO LOGOS” is not supplying the *identity* of the word, but rather the *quality* of the word. That is, it was “God-utterance.” They were words of divine power because they were God’s words. The scriptures are the power of God:

    Mt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    Humorously, the most often appealed to passage to support “Trinity” is John 1:1, which does not even refer to Jesus, let alone a “Trinity!”

    >>>…The participle ‘hovering’ does not adequately describe the blowing of a wind…

    How does something that has no matter “hover on the face of the waters?” If this is a “spirit” (by definition, having no physical properties relevant to this world), then why is it being described as a fluid (air being a fluid)? Why does God breath it out of his mouth into Adam’s nostrils? Or why does Jesus breath it out of his mouth into the disciples? Why does God breath it down on the day of Pentecost, with the sound of “a rushing mighty wind”? How does something immaterial give the ability to speak – the voice box being a decidedly air operated mechanism?

    >>>>….And if the text merely says that at the start of all the momentous events of Creation Week a wind was blowing, we might reasonably ask, ‘So what?’…

    Actually, as I think more about this, it might not be describing a wind, but rather a stillness – a lack of motion. I never considered that before, because so many see this as a mighty wind, and I was influenced by the suggestion. But perhaps it is more linguistically correct to see this as an eerie, death-like stillness.

  98. Charlie says:

    I say that the Hebrew (and the Greek) reads “…vexed his holy breath…” And in 11b, “…he that put his holy breath within him.”

    You can say that if you like, but I’ll go with the translators and also, since it makes no sense to say that breath is vexed or grieved, stick with Holy Spirit.

    Now, if this RUACH/PNEUMA is a person, and is almighty God himself, then why is he treated as a commodity and slave? In what sense is this God the property of another? How does this God get placed into men?

    How is this supposed to derive from the above and how were we clearing anything up by further context if this is what you draw from this?
    Clearly God the Father and God the Son send the Spirit as comforter and guide throughout the NT and there is no reason to jump to such prejudicial language as commodity and slavery here; subordination does not necessitate slavery.

    You are going out of your way to claim that Spirit = breath but you are then forced to ‘breath’ such attributes (now it’s also the organ of self-awareness) that it no longer has any relation in context to ‘wind’ and has much more in common with a person. A divine life-giving, empowering, comforting, grieved, ‘breath’ is far more than a mighty wind.

  99. Bill Ross says:

    Charlie, the quotations from the OT agree in almost every case with the extant LXX versions, CONTRA extant Hebrew scriptures. Clearly they were working from the Greek. The appearance of isolated Aramaic words, such as Boangeres, do not upend all of this evidence and suddenly throw everything into dependence on a non-existant Aramaic OT.

  100. Bill Ross says:

    So is one’s heart, or soul, or breath a separate person in these human cases?

    De 15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
    Jud 10:16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
    1Sa 1:8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
    Ps 73:21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
    Isa 54:6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
    Da 7:15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
    Job 7:11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
    Job 21:4 As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?
    Ps 77:3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
    Ps 77:6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
    Ps 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
    Ps 143:4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
    Ps 143:7 Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

    It is important that you address this. If you insist on such a pedantic approach to language with regard to God’s breath, you must likewise insist that man is multiple persons.

  101. Tom Gilson says:

    Metaphor. Figure of speech. Poetic language. ‘Nuff said.

  102. Bill Ross says:

    Charlike:

    >>>”….you are then forced to ‘breath’ such attributes (now it’s also the organ of self-awareness) that it no longer has any relation in context to ‘wind’ and has much more in common with a person…”

    But this is my point. The anatomy of the scriptures is entirely materialistic. There is no concept of the immaterial, such as is found in philosophic dualism. That is an unscriptural concept.

    For example, in the scriptures, man believes with his heart. We know that the heart is just a blood pump, but they didn’t know that:

    Ro 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    Just as the mouth is the organ of confession, so the heart is the organ of belief.

    So also the kidneys house the motives:

    Re 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which **searcheth the reins** and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    And sin lives in the muscles:

    Ro 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

    And so also is the breath an intelligent organ of self awareness, both in God and in man:

    1 Cor 2:
    11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit [breath] of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit [breath] of God.
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit [breath] of the world, but the spirit [breath] which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
    13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual [things of God's breath] things with spiritual [our own breath].
    14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit [breath] of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually [by the organ of the breath] discerned.
    15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
    16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

    Does the world have a “spirit?” No, he is referring to the air of the breath that operates in the wicked:

    Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [of] the spirit [breath] that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

    You and I know that the heart is a blood pump and that breath is unintelligent (and the all awareness resides in the brain) but the brain’s purpose was unknown until recently.

    The notion of man having a “spirit” that immaterial is *completely foreign* to the scriptures. They were all strict materialists (although 1 Cor 15 may be an exception, where Paul describes people as existing on after their body has decomposed).

  103. Bill Ross says:

    Ok, let’s approach this another way…

    Of what do the scriptures say men are composed?

    * a body made of mud, sculpted to look like God
    * breath, breathed by God into the mud, giving him life

    Of what are animals made? They, too, are dirt, animated by God’s breath:

    Ge 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
    Ge 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
    Ge 7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
    Ge 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

    Separated from the breath, the body returns to its inanimate state – it returns to being just dead dirt:

    Ec 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [breath] shall return unto God who gave it.

    Ps 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
    30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit [breath], they are created [born]: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

    Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit [breath] is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    Ezek 37:
    5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
    6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, **and put breath in you, and ye shall live**; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
    7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
    8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
    9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, **O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live**.
    10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
    11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
    12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
    13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
    14 And shall put my spirit [BREATH - FOR CRYING OUT LOUD] in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

    So the breath of life gives life:

    Ro 8:11 But if the Spirit [breath] of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit [breath] that dwelleth in you.

    Joh 6:63 It is the spirit [breath] that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit [breath], and they are life.

    So also Jesus will be like the original breath, giving life to the dead “asleep in the graves”:

    1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit [breath].

    Understanding scriptural anatomy (which is not scientifically correct) is one of the keys to understanding the scriptures as they were written.

  104. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, what’s your point?

  105. Tom Gilson says:

    And as long as you’re being so literal, and you believe,

    The anatomy of the scriptures is entirely materialistic. There is no concept of the immaterial, such as is found in philosophic dualism. That is an unscriptural concept

    … do you mean for us to think that the breath of God is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen? Of what are his lungs then made?

  106. Bill Ross says:

    Tom inquired:
    >>>Bill, what’s your point?

    That the term “spirit” is bogus, at least in terms of the scriptures, because it is a term derived from philosophic dualism, while the scriptures are decidedly materialistic (though 1 Cor 15 might be an exception).

    Further, references to “The Holy Ghost” or “The Holy Spirit” are also bogus, as what is in view in the text is God’s own breath, which the scriptures view as an intelligent organ, just as it does the heart, kidneys and muscles.

    Tom, can you please answer the question: scripturally speaking, of what is man composed?

    Thanks.

  107. Bill Ross says:

    >>>And as long as you’re being so literal, do you mean for us to think that the breath of God is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen?

    It is a mistake to allow the realities of modern science to color your exegesis of an ancient text.

    Tom, of what are animals composed (scripturally speaking)?

    And man?

    Thanks.

  108. Tom Gilson says:

    Bill, see comment policy item 9. I don’t see any future in continuing with this.

  109. Bill Ross says:

    >>>>… do you mean for us to think that the breath of God is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen? Of what are his lungs then made?

    Pop theology posits that God is immaterial, and has no form. But the scriptures say that God is flesh and that Adam is made both in his image and his likeness. Adam looks like the God who molded him with his own hands. Jesus sits next to God. God is essentially a supernatural man who lives in the sky.

    This embarrasses modern religionists who feel that the scriptures are more sophisticated than that. But this is what they clearly say, from cover to cover.

    I’m sorry that you feel that this is not a profitable discussion.

  110. Tom Gilson says:

    Very, very not profitable. Your literalistic approach to figurative language is hopelessly false and muddled, and I don’t see any possibility whatsoever of getting anywhere with this.

    I’m going to refer to the Discussion Policy items 9 and 11, and send your comments to moderation before they are posted here in the future.

  111. Bill Ross says:

    Well, before we call it quits… would you indulge me long enough to answer the question about the composition of humans, scripturally speaking? It might make the applicability of all this more apparent.

    Thanks

  112. Tom Gilson says:

    No, Bill, I am not going to do that.

  113. Charlie says:

    Hi Bill, I see you likely won’t be posting on this thread anymore so I won’t answer your comments other than the very first I see, as it is so relevant to your style and authority:

    HAHAHAHA!

    Do you have a link for that?

    “Matthew’s” gospel, like all of the canonical gospels, was written anonymously. Later tradition attributes this to Matthew, the **tax collector** – though there isn’t a shred of evidence that Matthew is the author. That book you are reading is obviously intended a joke – on you! April Fools!

    I’m sure some books, to remain nameless, can be accurately judged by their titles, but you’ve made a serious error doing so here.
    For one, the description of a tax collector, and not just any tax collector, but the tax collector described as Matthew, is not just a bean counter – they were trained as scribes and the author was described as a master scribe. Given his job (and his writing) he would be multi-lingual.
    Second, you seriously misrepresent what it means to say the Gospel is anonymous (not having the author claim authorship within the text) when you act as though we don’t know who the author is. In fact, there is much evidence that Matthew was the author, your shredded assertion notwithstanding.

    Actually, as I think more about this, it might not be describing a wind, but rather a stillness – a lack of motion. I never considered that before, because so many see this as a mighty wind, and I was influenced by the suggestion. But perhaps it is more linguistically correct to see this as an eerie, death-like stillness.

    As you think about it … you never considered it before. I see.
    So the “mighty wind of God” is a stillness. Which word in there equally describes wind (motion in air) and stillness (non-motion)? You’ve been influenced all right.

  114. SteveK says:

    Do you have a link for that?

    Now, that one made me laugh out loud. :)

  115. Tony Hoffman says:

    Bill,

    Just so that you don’t think from your reception here that you’re completely wasting your time I’ve enjoyed very much reading your posts. I’ve studied enough Latin to know how much nuance is lost in any translation, and I think your critical readings offer a fascinating view of how these ancient texts can be interpreted.

  116. Tom Gilson says:

    Fascinating, yes, I’ll agree with that much.

  117.    
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