True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism

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In case you’ve missed up till now, check out this ebook! Where else will you find so much from so many from top Christian thinkers for only $2.99?

True Reason is not your ordinary answer to atheism’s challenges. It’s not just about errors in evidence or reasoning. True Reason takes on the New Atheists’ most central identity, their most cherished claim: that they are the guardians of reason itself. There’s a better place to find true reason.

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405 Responses

  1. Agnostic says:

    It is always good to have more reasonable discourse in the Christian and atheist communities! However, I think that the New Atheists like Dawkins simply make the wrong arguments, not the ones that actually make them and others atheists. The actual arguments are that they think the Bible stories are not true. And they, like the fundamentalists, come to the conclusion that if it contains untrue elements, then it is just a book of legends. Just like you don’t believe legends of other cultures, such as the greeks — full of polytheist theology — so the atheist does not believe theology that comes from a book if he thinks it contains made-up stories.

    Some atheists go further and don’t believe things “without evidence”, but I would argue that there is some evidence for the divine origin of the Bible, it’s just not very conclusive evidence. In fact, I think most Christians — depending on their belief system — actually simply ignore the evidence against it. For example fundamentalist Christians ignore evidence that the world is older than 20,000 years and that there was no worldwide flood.

    Still books like this represent exactly the type of conversation that should be taking place! Tom did a tremendous job, with contributions by WLC and other great Christian writers / philosophers. I am looking forward to reading it and I am amazed this book is only $1.99 !!

  2. asdf says:

    ‘Some’ fundamentalist Christians. Nowhere is the implication that ‘the world is 20, 000 years old’ in the Bible, nor in classical understandings of Genesis, nor in the fundamentals that truly classify fundamentalists as fundamentalist, so please stop associating it with us. It is also hard to say something so unequivocal as ‘There was no worldwide flood’, when it is not the only interpretation of the text. The authors of these e-book don’t just ‘ignore the evidence’, when it comes to these subjects, I’m sure. And, some Christians ignoring the evidence does not justify a damn thing. We don’t approve of people ignoring the evidence either.

    Why would New Atheists like Dawkins use their weakest arguments and neglect the ones that are most persuasive to them? Which of these arguments are you referring to?

    Perhaps, they are looking for any reason not to believe, they will swallow any argument to dissuade them, no matter how weak. Maybe if they find some part in our theology that they can dismiss as ‘made-up’, they will not have to confront the whole’s true implications.

  3. Agnostic says:

    Well, the question is, believe what? I guess that the Bible is a book describing true events? That it is divinely inspired? The thing is, what is the Bible? It is a collection of writings which has been codified after 300 AD. Moreover it is different in different churches. For example the Book of Enoch is considered canonical by the Ethiopean Orthodox Church and Ethiopean Jews, but by almost no other Christians or Jews. So the first thing one has to ask is “believe what?”

    I think atheists face their own interesting set of unanswered questions — how did the universe begin? how did life arise? why are humans so distinct from all other animals in their intelligence? What exactly is consciousness? Scientists have theories but no conclusive explanations for any of these things.

    But the reason they are atheists is because they look around and they see no good evidence to think that anything supernatural is current happening, or has been happening in the past few thousands of years. They regard the claims made in the Bible as mere claims — and do not believe them any more than claims made by ancient Greeks, Romans, Vikings or others. For example, they may read a story about demons being driven out of people and into animals, and recognize symptoms of epileptic seizures instead. They might reason that since today, people suffering from epilepsy have an actual medical condition whose causes are known, that the seemingly commonplace occurrence of supernatural causes in the stories is due to the erroneous beliefs of the society in which the author’s writings originated. Meaning: mythological explanations. If indeed these supernatural explanations were correct, they might ask — how come symptoms of epilepsy were caused by demons back then, but today nothing supernatural is happening?

    In short they look at the world and see a completely different picture from the one presented in the Bible. And that is why they don’t believe it.

  4. Beelzebob says:

    Agnostic

    I largely agree with your posts. The problem is never with the Bible per se. It is simply a book. The problems rest with views concerning that book.

    I would be interested in what you view as evidence for the divine origin of the Bible.

    Peace 😀

  5. Doug says:

    @Agnostic,
    I believe you are correct: that one main reason folks don’t believe the Bible is that they don’t “recognize” its world.
    To some degree, however, I believe that this is due to the insularity of the internet generation. If folks would spend a bit more time in other cultures, they would realize that their inability to “recognize” someone else’s world is hardly grounds for its dismissal.

  6. Victoria says:

    Agnostic and B-bob:
    I posted a recommended reading list over on another thread. If you want to understand why we Christians find the Bible to be a trustworthy document, I highly recommend that you look these over 🙂

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/images-of-reason/#comment-36024

  7. Agnostic says:

    I would say that you have a huge burden of proof to show that something supernatural happened, considering nothing supernatural seems to happen now.

    The question would always be … given any claim of supernatural occurrence in the Bible, 1) why do you believe it, and 2) how come things like that were happening but do not happen now?

    But more perplexingly, how can you say it is “trustworthy”? You can say that Christians believe it. You can say that there are arguments in its favor from reliability of the gospels, etc. But to say a blanket thing like “it is trustworthy” would ignore all the evidence against the accuracy of its claims. In other words only consider the arguments in its favor.

    It seems like a huge double standard. Here are two examples:

    A) you may say that the disciples were eyewitnesses, and the gospel writers were the disciples. But certainly none of them witnessed the virgin birth story. Moreover, the treatment of Jesus by his family and brother’s lack of belief that he’s more than a man seems to be at odds with the virgin birth story.

    B) Christians say that Paul really saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus because he changed his life completely. Otherwise, of course, it would have been merely a claim by Paul because no one could verify his personal experience. However, in the gospel of matthew we have a resurrection of MANY dead saints appearing to MANY. And yet, no other person or document seems to have any recollection of this, including historians like Josephus. There is a good exposition of the point here http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/1saint92.html

    So I think it’s a case of being a bit biased, looking for arguments for something, but ignoring arguments against, to say that the Bible is “trustworthy”.

    Even the people in the first three centuries before the Bible was codified disagreed on what constituted the correct set of “scripture”. Lots of theories developed as to what really happened — gnostics, docetists, judaizers and others all had their own ideas. Ignatius wrote at length against the other groups, and promoted the Eucharist, which protestants reject today. Marcion of Sinope, for instance, did not even believe that the Father who Jesus referred to was the original God of the Old Testament! We have the current four gospels because Irenaeus believed there should be exactly four. For more information, see things like:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon#Early_Christianity_.28c.30-325.29

    Even the doctrine of the Trinity, a central tenet of the Nicaean creed, seems to be controversial. One of the most unambiguous statements of this doctrine, the Comma Johanneum, does not appear in the gospels until the middle ages. So if such a thing can be added later into the gospels, what else can appear?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum

    I think it’s quite presumptuous to say that the current Bible we have today is “trustworthy”.

  8. Doug says:

    I would say that you have a huge burden of proof to show that something supernatural happened, considering nothing supernatural seems to happen now.

    Depends what you mean by “supernatural”… Every time you talk to someone; every time you think logical or self-aware thoughts; every time you act kindly toward someone else (without expecting anything back); every time you enjoy fine music; every time you feel grateful… these are all examples of things that are well beyond modern science (common hand-waving notwithstanding), and may well be beyond science altogether. Does this make them “supernatural”? Perhaps not. But you’ll have to take that on faith.

  9. Victoria says:

    Have you guys actually read any of the references I recommended?

    Wikipedia is not exactly the definitive authority on any scholarly issues, and the issues involved in Biblical scholarship go way beyond the short summary provided there. Also, we have noticed that Wikipedia tends to have a bias toward an anti-supernatural view of religion in general and Christianity in particular, so by using that you are not getting the whole story. Unless, of course, both of you happen to be historical NT scholars….

  10. Victoria says:

    regarding the Comma Johanneum
    see here for a typical commentary entry
    http://net.bible.org/#!bible/1+John+5
    look at note #20 for the comments

    see also
    http://bible.org/seriespage/exegetical-commentary-1-john-54b-12

    The text is not considered to be authentic John (but a copyist’s insertion – perhaps coming from a marginal note in the manuscript he was copying?). However, the doctrine of the Trinity is not dependent on that particular verse – it is there by implication throughout the NT, and is alluded to in the Old Testament, although in a less obvious way.

    For the doctrine of the Trinity you can look here
    http://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/do-christians-believe-in-three-gods/

    or here
    http://bible.org/seriespage/session-8-doctrine-trinity-biblical-defense

  11. Victoria says:

    Also, you do not seem to be familiar with Textual Criticism – the science of reconstructing the original text of a document from its manuscripts….the fact is that we can detect these variations and deal with them.
    The amazing thing is that the NT has been passed down to us with so few problematic variants, so that NT scholars (of all theological persuasions) are very confident that we have essentially the text as it was written in the 1st century.

    See below for a good introduction to this

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830833552?ie=UTF8&tag=apologetics31-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0830833552

  12. BillT says:

    Agnostic,

    You believe there are problems with the accuracy of the NT. You raise some common critques. I wrote this in a recent thread.

    The New Testament is the most reliable ancient text in recorded history. It is orders of magnitude more reliable than the texts that are used as the basis for most of the rest of ancient history. Yet, no one even raises a question about those texts. They’re accepted as perfectly reliable to establish the history they record whether it’s Alexander the Great or the plays of Sopholces.

    There is a huge amount of evidence to back this statement up. There is a two part lecure by Gary Habermas linked on this site that gives some great evidence. (https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/ten-turning-points-jesus-rose-from-the-dead/).

    Victoria has great references.

    We don’t take the historicity of the bible lightly. The overall scholorship confirms it as reliable beyond what historians accept as reliable history. I hope you’ll persue some of this.

  13. Agnostic says:

    How can you say that the Bible is trustworthy when the Comma Johanneum is in the King James Version of the Bible and most other translations until the 19th century, and since then it is no longer present in translations?

    When someone quotes from the KJV, with its “thou” and “thine” type language, they are doing it to back up some point. If they quote the Comma Johanneum, that isn’t exactly reliable. If such a doctrinal passage can be inserted, how do you know other things weren’t inserted, such as the story with the adultress, or the virgin birth?

    Victoria: I am not super familiar with textual criticism, but I can quote some of the results. Aland’s The Text Of The New Testament has found that over 30% of the verses have variants in the documents. That is quite a bit of variation. Once again I didn’t say that there is no evidence for the authenticity of some of the writings, I simply said the case is not as clear cut as “it is trustworthy”.

    As for the doctrine of the trinity – you do realize that this doctrine wasn’t close to being universally accepted in the early church? This alone should tell you that the original manuscripts either did not make the trinity doctrine clear, or were not accepted by many people. I have specifically listed various factions in my previous post.

    Bill T: I would like you to show me where historians accept as “reliable history” some supernatural events where people rose from the dead, or fed 5 thousand people miraculously. Please also tell me what historical principles are employed in determining whether the virgin birth story is true or not. The writers were not present at some of the events described, so how did they know about them? If you say you have faith that they were divinely revealed to them, I don’t think this is a very historical approach. Also what about the stuff I said regarding the MANY saints appearing to MANY?

    I am simply saying that although there may be some evidence to take the writings in the Bible seriously, there is also a lot of reasons to question these claims. What about those reasons? I think those are the main reasons why atheists are atheists.

  14. BillT says:

    Agnostic,

    A forum like this is not the place to discuss the entirety of the historicity of the NT. If you don’t think the NT is reliable then you don’t. I believe you’re wrong but then you believe I’m wrong. So be it.

  15. Agnostic says:

    Victoria; I have read your link about the trinity and sadly that guy right away quotes the Comma Johanneum as his first and main evidence for the trinity. How can something like that just get inserted into a book that everyone considers holy and about which it is said that one should not add nor take away? I would like to believe it is reliable, but clearly things were changed. So calling the KJV or any edition of the Bible the definitive “Word of God” is a stretch.

    asdf said “We don’t approve of people ignoring the evidence either.” That is good. There is no need to shy away from these things, they need to be addressed.

    Bill T: It’s not about what I think. It’s about setting things straight. When you say:

    “The New Testament is the most reliable ancient text in recorded history.”

    and

    “We don’t take the historicity of the bible lightly. The overall scholorship confirms it as reliable beyond what historians accept as reliable history. ”

    I want to know what you mean. I have provided a couple serious examples of what I am talking about, and if you want to continue, you just have to address them:

    A) How is the virgin birth story at all historical? Who says that this is beyond what historians accept as reliable history? What historical principles are at work when the writers never personally witnessed a claimed event?

    B) How have historians dealt with the “reliable” claim that MANY saints rose from the dead and appeared to MANY people in the holy city, yet there is no record of this?

    C) Do you not agree that most historians have never considered stories talking about resurrections to be reliable and accurate? Christian theology depends on the resurrection being literally true. As Paul says:

    “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

    So Bill, unless you think there is nothing to discuss here, I take issue with words like “reliable” and “trustworthy”.

    Are you using some sort of different definition of “reliable”?

    It’s not about what I think. I just take issue with claims such as “most scholars agree” that the Bible is a reliable document. The Bible is not one document, it is a canon. In fact, many NT scholars consider entire books to be pseudepigraphical — for example they do not think 2 Peter to be not written by Peter at all, for instance.

    In any case I think I made my point…

  16. Starbuck says:

    I find the sudden change I the likes of the fearful 1st century disciples of Jesus ( as well as the competing claims of later pagans regarding Apollonius) to be at least something to consider (and explain)

  17. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic
    Yeah, that one link does refer to the verse in 1 John – however, take the verse away, and one is still left with a lot of support for the concept of the Trinity. The doctrine does not depend on that one verse. All of the other scholarly references in my personal library (which is considerable, having accumulated over 30 years of study) is of one accord in stating that that reference in 1 John 5 is extraneous; I may have accidentally linked to the wrong search result (I was at the office at the time and I wanted to give you guys some immediately accessible reference material to look at, as the more scholarly works you have to buy from Amazon or textbook publishers {wry grin – like anything one finds on the Web, pay attention to the fine print, eh?]

    Yes, it took a while for the early church to formulate a systematic theology and establish a consensus, but what of that? Happens all the time in my own field (physics, even with empirical evidence to work with 🙂 )

    For the virgin birth accounts, well who could have related the story to the apostles – who was the one person who knew from first-hand experience the facts of Jesus’ conception and birth, and who was there with the apostles and other followers of Jesus in those days after His death and subsequent appearances alive? His mother, that’s who!! see Acts 1:12-14 – this explicitly states that Mary His mother and His brothers were there from the start. Do you not think it is plausible that she could have told them everything she knew about her engagement to Joseph, her surprise pregnancy, the circumstances of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, etc…that later came into the hands of Matthew and Luke as they wrote their accounts?
    From the documents alone, the source of the virgin birth information cannot be ascertained historically – that is a limitation of the historical methods we can apply – given the details I’ve outlined, though, we can make a reasonable guess; theologically, it fits with the doctrine of the Incarnation – for this you should read C. S. Lewis’ Miracles (the chapter on the Grand Miracle).
    Consider too, that James, Jesus’ brother, who did not believe Him during His 3 year ministry (see Mark 3:20-21), after His resurrection, became one of His most ardent followers. He was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, wrote one of the first letters in the NT (James, which predates the written gospels, yet has more allusions to Jesus’ teachings than any other NT letter (gospels excluded)), and who was one of two apostles with whom Paul met 3 years after his Damascus road experience (Galatians 1:18-24) and so could have told him about his (James’) own experience of having met his brother alive again (1 Corinthians 15:7); What turned James into a believer in his brother, when formerly he doubted?

    Do yourself a favour and get a hold of the other reference books that I linked to in post #6, read them, and you will really learn something.
    If you get only one, get this:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Historical-Jesus-Essential-Guides/dp/0687021677/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 – read it and then look back at your claims.

    You have not made your point – in fact, you still have a lot to learn.

  18. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic

    Victoria: I am not super familiar with textual criticism, but I can quote some of the results. Aland’s The Text Of The New Testament has found that over 30% of the verses have variants in the documents. That is quite a bit of variation. Once again I didn’t say that there is no evidence for the authenticity of some of the writings, I simply said the case is not as clear cut as “it is trustworthy”.

    A good example of how to mislead with statistics – did you actually look at the real variants? Of the almost 6000 NT manuscripts available to textual scholars, the variants have a type distribution, and the same variant reading is multiply counted for each manuscript it is found in. The actual number of unique variants is the real issue. Did you know for example, that a common variant is a transposition of word order, which in a language like Greek is not nearly as significant as it is in English? (and Yoda understand we all can, right?), or trivial spelling variations? The point remains that with such a wealth of manuscript data, along with citations in other writings, it has been possible to reconstruct what the original text looked like with an amazing degree of confidence. When one couples that with the general consensus of NT scholars that the NT was written in latter half of the 1st century, with a period of both oral tradition (by a group of people skilled at memorization and passing on accurately of teaching) and at least some written sources that go back to the time of Jesus Himself, and you have a strong case for a set of documents that we should take seriously as historical data.

    The number of really problematic variants is far less than 30%, more like ~1%, and none of those affect any essential core Christian doctrines (like 1 John 5:7 ‘s extra text, for example)

    You admit that you know little about textual criticism, yet you are willing to quote results without really understanding their significance. Is that really an example of good scholarship?

    You might want to start with this site
    http://www.apologetics315.com/search/label/Daniel%20Wallace
    (I made sure it was the right link this time (is there a sheepish grin icon? 🙂 )

    This is a good one too: http://www.csntm.org/

  19. BillT says:

    It’s not about what I think. It’s about setting things straight.”

    I believe, with good reason, the record is straight. As to your A, B, Cs. I believe they represent a limited understanding of the NT and the kind of piecemeal approach to NT criticism found on most of the well known skeptic sites.

    I’ve read the various atheist tomes and checked out the various biblical criticisms of the kind you’ve brought here. I really don’t find either very credible.

    Have you really looked at the kind of sources that Victoria has offered? Have you really examined the information available from both sides of this? If you haven’t that would, for me, explain a lot about why you ask the questions you do. If you have then I think we’re at the impass I described above.

    And just to be clear it’s not that I don’t want to have a discussion with you. I’d like that. However, I believe (with reason and from experience) answering this kind of biblical criticism on this kind of forum is just not that productive for anyone. Victoria, on the other hand, has given you a wealth of information. I hope you make good use of it.

  20. Victoria says:

    and yet more:
    http://bible.org/article/gospel-according-bart#P174_80529

    http://bible.org/byauthor/2/Daniel%20B.%20Wallace

    Sorry, that’s what happens to me when I’m hyped up on chocolate (stopped by our local Whole Foods Market – they make the most delicious Turtles’ Brownies – mmmm, but I’ll have to run 10miles tomorrow to make up for it LOL)

  21. d says:

    I have to laugh at all these tales of people changing their minds, or becoming convinced of some belief as compelling evidence for historical miracles…. maybe if we assume these historical figures are super-rational ideal reasoners, their behavior could be considered unexplainable otherwise. But we’re not – we’re talking about people, and none of their behaviors, their flip-flopping, their conversion stories, etc are outside the plausible bounds of everyday human behavior (often on account of falsehoods or ridiculous ideas). They just aren’t.

    We’re living in a time where people believe in Scientology, psychic surgery, chakra healing, and more for goodness sake… are we supposed to believe that groups of people in the middle east couldn’t end up believing ridiculous false, like a resurrection or that a person was a prophet, among other things?

  22. Victoria says:

    Go ahead and laugh now while you can, d.
    You have only weeping and gnashing of teeth and eternal regret to look forward to.

    Since you have never experienced it for yourself, you have no idea of the effects of the indwelling of the very Spirit of God on a person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ – to be acutely aware of the presence of the eternal I AM, the sovereign Creator of the universe – the overwhelming awareness of how small one is in comparison to Him, and the overwhelming joy and assurance of His love for His adopted child; the inner voice that says ‘Do not be dismayed – it is I, your Abba, come to me and be welcomed’. Call it what you like – what we experience now is nothing compared to what we will have in His eternal kingdom – what have you to look forward to?

  23. Victoria says:

    It is not just the experiences of people living 2000 years ago – it is our experience also, as part of the living Body of Christ. This is something no non-believer can understand unless the Spirit of God opens his/her heart and mind, and breathes new spiritual life into the person.

  24. asdf says:

    Hey Agnostic,
    You’re right, I’d never heard of epilepsy until now. I guess your condescending remark truly does explain every singular account of a miracle in the entire text of the New Testament. In fact, I guess it couldn’t be both epilepsy and a demon, even. Oh! You pointed out that most resurrections aren’t widely accepted by historians. Guess what. Most resurrections aren’t widely accepted by Christians either.

    My grasp of textual criticism is poor, but not so poor as to see that your own is highly debased, skewed by your own preconceptions towards a predetermined outcome.

    Hey d,

    You cannot dismiss the belief of a witness as irrelevant purely because you view that belief as ridiculous. Especially when it comes to publicly accessible, clearly defined, highly controversial and consequential facts such as the death and resurrection of a subversive religious character, who repeatedly stressed the importance of truth throughout his life, one who displayed no tendency toward cultic brainwashing nor assailing independent thought.

    Neither can you distrust the man who painstakingly documents the life of this leader, the man who taking pains to be correct in the name of every nation, city and minor place in his account, to be irrational, to ‘flip-flop’ without great grounds to do so.

    In fact, the burden of proof is on you to give evidence that entirely coherent, brilliant thinkers and writers were borderline insane, completely unreliable witnesses.

    I suspect that if the government began to torture and kill Scientologists, many, if not all, would begin to recant. Step outside your damn bubble and see that your comparison fails.

  25. Agnostic says:

    Victoria: I am sure there is quite a lot I don’t know on the subject of Biblical textual criticism. All the same, I think we can both agree that not every Christian doctrine is based on “reliable” historical evidence. If historical reliability is a necessary part of proving the truth of Christian theology to others, then you have to admit that is a problem.

    As you yourself said, the virgin birth is a one-of-a-kind miraculous event that was told by one person to those who wrote it down. You cannot say with a straight face that this is “reliable beyond what historians accept as reliable history”. At best it is some domino effect: since Mary is considered by the Church to be absolutely holy, then anything she says is absolutely true, and you hope that nothing was snuck in there. However, that is not exactly a sound historical approach. After all, the pericope adulterae is considered by many to be snuck in.

    Secondly, intra-textual problems which you yourself mention. If James knew about Jesus’ miraculous birth, about the prophecy of Gabriel, about the Magi, why wouldn’t he think Jesus was anything special? Why would his parents seem to forget this from time to time, and Jesus even complained that in his own house, a prophet is without honor?

    A similar intra-textual problem can be seen about Jesus’ baptism, which was a pretty private affair not witnessed by any of the gospel writers themselves. If you have patience I think this guy explains it rather well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXm-wNAm7YQ

    But enough about the intra-textual problems. The point is, you cannot claim historians are all saying Christian Theology is reliable. What is reliable? I do not understand what Bill T means by reliable or trustworthy. Maybe the authorship of some documents is reliable, but not the stories.

    Additionally there is a double standard as I pointed out. Paul is considered an authority figure in the Church because of his conversion on the basis of his visions. However, MANY famous dead saints came to life and appeared to MANY in Jerusalem and yet no one was impressed enough to record this in history outside the passing reference in the gospels. Do you not see that this is a blatant double standard in historical reasoning?

    Yes, it took a while for the early church to formulate a systematic theology and establish a consensus, but what of that? Happens all the time in my own field (physics, even with empirical evidence to work with )

    Physicists don’t do it by denouncing those who don’t agree with them as heretics. Science is not decided by violence and war, both of which were involved before the Council of Nicaeae issued their famous creed.

    And in science, theories have a much better support than the arguments that have caused us to have the Bible we have today. For example, they all had a different number of gospels. Irenaeus, writing in his “Adversus Heresies”, literally gives the following reasoning in favor of exactly four gospels:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon#Irenaeus

    His argument: because there are four corners of the earth and the four winds, because Ezekiel 1 talks about four animals, therefore there must be four gospels. I am sorry but likening this type of argument to scientific consensus is as egregious as claiming historical “reliability” for Christian theology.

    Finally I want to say a few words about the implied threats. I think the power of many religions stems from the fear which they associate with *not* believing a certain doctrine. Do such threats have a place in a discourse which is trying to find out the truth?

    You allude to the doctrine of hell, itself related to a scant few passages that can be twisted one way or that, and tell people that if they don’t believe something, then … what? You admit that them believing or not believing is actually not their decision in itself, but of God sending his Holy Spirit to indwell in believers. So what you are really saying is that God decides who gets to be saved. Yet this doctrine is the most monstrous of all. It is said in the same Bible you believe that God desires all to be saved, and all to come to Him. And you also admit that anyone who indwells the Holy Spirit is saved. That would mean everyone is saved.

    Whichever way you spin it, the threats of hell are a way to hijack the discussion and win anyway. But I want to end with this question, which I think is a crucial one: what gets one saved? Is it faith, and if faith, what do they have to believe? Do they have to just say a certain prayer and believe something in their heart for a little bit? Because when Christians quote Jesus for what to do, it’s stuff like “believe in me” , “follow me”, “trust in me”, etc. Yes, believe in what?? Believing Paul’s theology of antinomialism gets you saved? And if you later believe something else what happens? Even if Christianity is 100% true, what exactly should we believe, and what effect does it have on salvation? Isn’t it different throughout various Christian groups?

  26. asdf says:

    Ai yi yi. So many things to criticise. It would take an article twice as long to deconstruct that mess. Briefly:

    If we take one central event to irrevocably prove the deity of one Jesus Christ, and we have good reason to believe that this deity entails infallibility, perfection and whatnot, we then take the doctrine put forth in the Bible under his authority. No one should be expected to accept any singular doctrine only if historically proved to be accurate. Unless, that is, you believe our religion should be unidimensionally based on historical methodology.

    A standard interpretation of the ‘many dead saints’ is apocalyptic language. Most of us don’t interpret the passage the way that you imply, and unless you’re insisting we do, your objection makes no sense.

    Even Wikipedia states that Irenaeus gives an analogy, not concrete reasoning. He was also addressing fellow Christians, not people contesting the overall reliability of the events in the first place.

    Even the virgin birth could be taken as a run-of-the-mill biblical miracle, as there simply was no antecedent for the spawning of a divine avatar at that time. I suspect even if your own brother were to perform a multitude of miracles of his own, you would sooner believe he was a prophet (if there was a strong precedence for that in your existing theology and culture) than that he was God incarnate.

    Are you really interested in the significance of salvation and belief? Or would you rather denounce our doctrines as ‘monstrous’? ‘scant few passages’? I believe Jesus refers to hell more times than he does money. If you think that the doctrine of hell reduces to an attempt to ‘hijack the discussion’, perhaps you are more interested in caricaturing our faith than intellectually confronting it, or God forbid, understanding it.

    As many have pointed out before me, Christianity stands and falls on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is no small claim to say that a man came back to life. Nor is it one that can be easily faked to a convincing degree. But it is one so preposterous that you could deny it purely on principle, as some are in the habit of doing. But we invite you to examine the evidence for that. In comparison, intra-textual ‘contradiction’ (not even close, in the proper sense of the word), is trivial.

    If you take the resurrection to be false, what would we care what you think of the rest of the Bible? It has no worth to us if the resurrection is a lie. But if it is true, it soon follows that the rest of the Bible is the Word of God, since God come back to life vouches for it. Thus we know the Bible to be true. Get it?

  27. BillT says:

    Agnostic,

    The question for me is still, are you going to take advantage of all of Victoria’s efforts on your behalf. She was informative and respectful and just downright nice. Are you going to put in some effort to become informed about what people on both sides of this issue say. If not, your really just wasting your time here repeating questions that show a very limited understanding of this subject.

  28. d says:

    Why do I have a feeling one will never be considered “informed” until he concedes all of his points to the opposition here..

  29. d says:

    asdf,

    When the reasons given for believing some testimony, which depict events that are extremely out of the ordinary, ultimately boil down to a claim that its unlikely for a human to be deceived, fooled, to convert in this way, etc – you bet I have the right to – actually no – the rational obligation to reject those reasons.

    What’s less probable, that a man (or even many men) were mistaken that a dead person came back to life (Elvis anyone?), or that humans erred (either the purported witnesses themselves, or the actual authors of the documents that described them)?

    And believers carrying on with their beliefs in the midst of state sponsored persecution is the norm throughout history, its not just Christians who do this. I have little doubt we’d see many scientologists stick to their guns in the face of persecution.

  30. BillT says:

    d,

    There is a difference between disagreeing and asking questions which show a limited understanding of the subject. We may disagree with you but I don’t think, in general, you’re considered or accused of being uninformed. Am I wrong?

  31. BillT says:

    “And believers carrying on with their beliefs in the midst of state sponsored persecution is the norm throughout history.”

    Really? Not true of Islam, Buddism, Hinduism, the eastern (Asian) religions, Roman or Greek faiths. Given your example was Scientology (a business not a religion) I have some doubts about your blanket assertion.

  32. Victoria says:

    This is a fairly representative discussion of the Biblical doctrine of hell

    http://bible.org/seriespage/hell-shun
    http://bible.org/article/what-bible-says-about-hell

    About God’s desire that all people come to Him, and yet not all will be saved…
    http://bible.org/article/god-so-loved-world

    If you guys really want to know what Biblical Christianity teaches, spend time over at http://www.bible.org (Topics menu), rather than Wikipedia or skeptical sites, at least. Sorry, I don’t have the time for any heavy lifting today, so I’m giving you a homework assignment 🙂

  33. Charlie says:

    At best it is some domino effect: since Mary is considered by the Church to be absolutely holy, then anything she says is absolutely true, and you hope that nothing was snuck in there.

    Granting that we are talking about what Mary said, there is something much more telling here than her presumed Holiness.
    She let her son die on the Cross.

    Was He a regular kid, conceived in the regular way and Mary was merely telling lies?
    It seems evidence against this would be the fact that Jesus, thinking Himself God incarnate, was persecuted, threatened with death many times, and was finally Crucified when all Mary had to do was take Him aside and tell Him He was living a lie based upon her false testimony.
    She need not be absolutely Holy and immaculately-conceived in order for her claim to be respected – she only need to be less than a psychopath.

  34. d says:

    Who says Mary thought he was living a lie? Maybe she believed it. Or maybe she did try to stop him from being crucified and failed. Or maybe she had no opportunity. And again, who says Mary was likely to be acting rationally in the first place? Or maybe Mary’s life was mythicized or embellished – we can’t know, not even close, given the sort of evidence we have.

  35. BillT says:

    This Mary conversation is a bit strange. Jesus didn’t know he was the Son of God because Mary told him about his conception! Mary couldn’t have convinced him he wasn’t the Son of God by changing her story (if she ever told him in the first place).

  36. Agnostic says:

    Wow, I come back and see so many responses here 😛

    Okay, I won’t respond to everything, but look. First of all, my initial point is why atheists do not believe. I have told you that the main reason is because they do not see any miracles and supernatural events happening today, and therefore they would approach any claims of miracles happening in the remote past with extreme skepticism. Just as you would if someone told you about ANY OTHER supernatural claim which does not come from the Bible. Remember: extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

    Secondly we HAVE studied the past with SCIENCE, and we have FOUND that several Biblical stories are simply incompatible with the evidence. I don’t mean because they were miracles. I mean that the evidence we see says they never happened even remotely close to how they were described. If you want me to give airtight examples, I can do it.

    Thirdly, realize that what you are defending is a canon, not a book. “The Bible” is a canon of books, which the Church had settled on after tons of fighting and denouncing each other as “heretics”. Moreover you are defending doctrines. You do realize that throughout history there were many doctrines, right?

    One such doctrine is that of Biblical infallibility – this one has absolutely no leg to stand on. As we have seen with Comma Johanneum, the “New Testament” simply has different content depending on the edition. The KJV will be different from NSRV. So what does it mean that “The Bible” is infallible?

    I will assume that no one here believes in Biblical Infallibility. You can find many unassailable numerical contradictions in it.

    Another doctrine is that “The Bible” is reliable. I still have not even received a definition of what “reliable” means! Besides the Comma Johanneum, there are other insertions. Many of them concern core articles of the faith, showing “pious fraud”! The very resurrection of Jesus in Mark 16:9-20 is nowhere to be found in many early manuscripts. I am talking about Christian scholars. What do you mean by “The Bible is reliable” except as a feel good phrase?

    Bill T: you keep saying my “knowledge is limited”. That can be said about anyone. I notice a conspicuous lack of answers from you, especially on the core question of what you mean by “The Bible” is “reliable”. Is there a rigorous meaning to what you are trying to say with that?

    Basically, to overcome the extreme implausibility of claims found all throughout the Bible, you would need to show that “The Bible” is very reliable indeed. And since you say I don’t know much, can you enlighten me as to what that even means, and what the argument is that it is reliable?

    When I speak with libertarians and ask them basic questions, such as how they propose to issue driver’s licenses, stop pollution, etc. it always comes to one thing. They like to tell anyone that they don’t have enough knowledge of Austrian Economics, or the free market. The same here. I don’t need to know everything to point out some basic things.

    If you say you won’t explain, and that we know too little, then why we are supposed to ignore all the evidence against your particular belief system — of the type that makes YOU easily reject Islam and other religions, even other doctrines of Christianity. But when it comes to YOUR beliefs, suddenly everyone who points out basic problems knows too little about it.

    Did you ever consider maybe you know too little about Islam? Why do you think it is a false religion? You know why the atheists don’t believe in Islam? Because they know too little about it. If only you learned a little more about it, perhaps your problems would go away and would become a Muslim. But no, somehow that is different.

  37. Tom Gilson says:

    Hi, Agnostic.

    I just realized how unusual it is that you haven’t mentioned the Noah flood and the genealogies in Genesis. Should we expect you to bring that up soon?

  38. Agnostic says:

    Charlie: I think that people just made that stuff up about Mary later. They weren’t around during the virgin birth but they just said that’s what happened.

    As I already said, the virgin birth story doesn’t fit with the other claims. If James knew the words that the angel Gabriel told Mary, he would have become a follower of Jesus during his lifetime.

  39. Agnostic says:

    Tom Gilson: As you know that is the main reason for my troubles believing the Bible. An even bigger reason would be 6,000 year old world, except that most Christians have abandoned this fundamentalist belief. So there is CERTAINLY room for Christianity without believing in Genesis 1-3 literally. Many Christians believe in evolution. However, there is only so much “this isn’t literal” one can do. And the one where science and the Bible clash the most is the flood story. I think you should consider it a credit to my capacity for faith that I do not simply discount miracles as impossible. I understand that the whole point of Judaism and Christianity is that God communicated with people, and I am ready to accept miracles. I am just not ready to accept double standards — if you reject other religions on much lesser grounds, why should my issues with believing be brushed aside? If you yourself would have a hard time believing that the earth is 6,000 years old, my question would be why. The same rational thinking you use when you approach the Bible and reach theological conclusions (which I respect, in the context of believing a certain worldview as a given), the same rational thinking is what I use. You simply may not like it because it arrives at conclusions which conflict with your core beliefs. I can understand that. But you have to realize I am not doing it because I like atheism. I am doing it because that is where critical thinking leads me. Trust me I would much rather know 100% that a certain religion is true and just follow it. I am not one of the angry atheists you encounter. But place yourself in my position. How do you respond to Greek mythology? I am sure that the Greeks had a lot of good explanations for skeptics but overall you get a certain feeling that this is all made up. There’s just too much that is problematic.

    Anyway Tom – you already know all this. I am going to read your book, because I want to inform myself of arguments from both sides. But I strongly suspect it will deal with the usual metaphysical arguments — Kalaam, argument from objective morality, etc. Whereas for me metaphysical arguments are not the problem. The problem is claims which I believe to have been proven to be false. Like the flood!

  40. Tom Gilson says:

    Yes, I know all this, Gregory Magarshak.

    You were disinvited from this blog, and you returned under another name. Some would call that false pretenses.

    I won’t ban you yet this time, except if it becomes clear that conversations are consistently unfruitful as they were last time, based on my observation or others’.

  41. Crude says:

    Trust me I would much rather know 100% that a certain religion is true and just follow it.

    When has 100% certainty ever been in the cards? Would 99% certainty do the trick? How about 90%?

    Whereas for me metaphysical arguments are not the problem.

    The metaphysical arguments, if successful and compelling, would have you leave atheism behind. I hope you’re not under the impression that the options are ‘Christianity, particular some certain form of Christianity’ and ‘atheism’.

  42. Victoria says:

    One more time, and then I’m done here, unless you guys will actually take the time to read the reference material and are prepared to discuss that

    http://bible.org/byauthor/2/daniel_b_wallace

    There is a wealth of analysis here by Wallace, a respected NT scholar.
    The list here doesn’t seem to deal with the ending of Mark, but he does deal with a number of other variants that Agnostic seems fond of trotting out. I’m sure that some of the articles listed here will answer your questions, Agnostic – if you read them, and are prepared to discuss them with us, then I will participate as time allows (don’t you just hate it when work gets in the way of life, eh? 🙂 )
    Look, you have nothing to lose, do you, other than your time, which you are already spending anyway.

    I already gave you an answer to 1 John 5:7 (with references for you to consult), textual variants (again with references), but your responses appear to not have taken any of that into account. For the long ending of Mark, you can get one Christian perspective from the NET Bible commentary on it (http://net.bible.org/#!bible/Mark+16) – even a brief examination of the text should be enough to convince an unprejudiced reader that the long ending adds nothing new to our understanding of the resurrection accounts from the other 3 gospels, and some of the other signs may allude to incidents documented in Acts.
    So, please, take the time to learn about Biblical Christian scholarship, and do us the courtesy of recognizing that we (the collective Christian community) might just know a lot more about Christianity, both intellectually and experientially than you do. We will be happy to answer questions that come from someone who really wants to know the reason for the hope that is in us ( 1 Peter 3:15 ).

  43. Agnostic says:

    Tom: as I recall, I myself asked to leave because I was made aware that I may be endangering Christians’ eternal souls. And I don’t want to do that.

    However, having thought about it, I think God would want us to know the truth and debate it honestly. Also if your doctrine says that someone who doesn’t believe a certain thing is not saved, but if they believe it they are saved, then it probably says that once they truly believe, they will receive God’s Holy Spirit, and all believers indwell with the Holy Spirit are saved. There is no such thing as once saved, you can lose your salvation. Is that right? Unless you are Catholic, in which case I really am not sure but I think if you commit a sin without repentance like Pablo and Francesca in Dante’s Inferno, in which case yes this might be a danger.

    I would strongly encourage anyone who feels troubled by what I am saying to go talk to a competent Christian philosopher in their own denomination. I am just looking to find the truth myself. What I say does obviously come out of not having the same position as the Christian philosophers, so I may very well be missing something. I just debate to find out what that something is.

    But I don’t think I will refrain from debating what I consider to be honestly in an effort to arrive at the truth.

  44. Tom Gilson says:

    Greg, you “gave up” and you said one last thing. I don’t see anything in there about you being concerned about Christians’ eternal souls in danger. (You do refer to “danger” but I can’t track down the allusion you make there.)

    Anyway, I made it official, and for good reason.

    Those reasons are still very much on my mind today.

  45. Charlie says:

    Hi Agnostic,
    Sorry, I didn’t see where you were claiming that the Virgin Birth was invented later. I saw your allusion to her words and veracity to be accepting that she made the claim herself:

    At best it is some domino effect: since Mary is considered by the Church to be absolutely holy, then anything she says is absolutely true, and you hope that nothing was snuck in there.

    I think it is very likely, and historically accurate to assert, that she made the claim. There are instances in the Bible where the Pharisees, obliquely, admittedly, refer to the accusation that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock.
    http://bible.cc/john/8-41.htm

    Hi Bill.
    You are right, of course, that Jesus’ knowledge of His Divinity had nothing to do with the Virgin Birth.
    Nor was a virgin birth any kind of requirement for His Divinity – this is more evidence for its veracity, of course, since it was an unnecessary stumblingblock in proselytizing.
    I am looking at it, though, from the view that Mary was lying. If she were lying, and if the Bible is wrong and Jesus is not the Son of God, then this lie could have played into His (falsely supposed) delusion. If His claim were untrue then this would be maybe the only compelling way to have convinced Him. Since He was dying for this claim it seems to me that His mother would have tried to spare Him by telling Him the truth.

  46. Agnostic says:

    Charlie: I am not sure how the virgin birth came to be known to the gospel writers, and neither is anyone else these days, I think. I simply mentioned it as a counterpoint to claims like these:

    “We don’t take the historicity of the bible lightly. The overall scholorship confirms it as reliable beyond what historians accept as reliable history. I hope you’ll persue some of this.”

    I am in fact talking about historicity of things. I would say the reasons for believing the virgin birth have hardly anything to do with historical reasons. They have to do with theology and dogma.

    By the way, how do you explain that James did not follow Jesus when the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary were quite clear about Jesus’ destiny? Why did she never seem to tell James this?

  47. Melissa says:

    Agnostic,

    By the way, how do you explain that James did not follow Jesus when the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary were quite clear about Jesus’ destiny? Why did she never seem to tell James this?

    Maybe she did tell him and he dismissed her testimony until Jesus identity was confirmed for him by the resurrection. It’s also quote possible that she kept it all to herself because the most likely response from others to her story is that she was making it up to counter accusations of sexual immorality. There’s lots of possibilities, obvious ones I might add, that fit with the data that we have, and that call into question your assertion that the virgin birth must be a later fabrication.

  48. Melissa says:

    Agnostic,

    Basically, to overcome the extreme implausibility of claims found all throughout the Bible, you would need to show that “The Bible” is very reliable indeed.

    Others have dealt with this but if the resurrection happened then the other miracle claims in the bible are no longer extremely implausible.

  49. Charlie says:

    Hi Agnostic,
    Victoria said early on:

    From the documents alone, the source of the virgin birth information cannot be ascertained historically – that is a limitation of the historical methods we can apply – given the details I’ve outlined, though, we can make a reasonable guess; theologically, it fits with the doctrine of the Incarnation – for this you should read C. S. Lewis’ Miracles (the chapter on the Grand Miracle).

    You seem to be agreeing with her that the methods of historiography don’t suffice to confirm this story.
    But you seem to be using “historicity” in a different sense at different times. Not being accounted historical assertibility by the tenets of historical study does not mean it is untrue, or unhistorical.

    I agree with you that a person who does not have a theological reason to believe in the Bible is not compelled to believe the Virgin Birth. But this is not reason to claim that it did not happen.

  50. Victoria says:

    My point was simply this: the charge that “the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke must be fabrications because the authors were not eyewitnesses to the events” carries little weight, since the group of Jesus’ followers after His resurrection and ascension included the eleven remaining apostles, the women, Mary (His mother), and His brothers (Acts 1:13-14). In point of fact then, the group did contain the one person (Mary) who would have known all the facts surrounding the birth of her son. They could have simply asked her, right?

    Did Mary and Joseph relate the story of Jesus’ birth to the rest of their children and family? If so, when, and what was their reaction? We can’t answer these questions, as the only documents we have don’t supply any information.

    Why don’t we stick to what we do have in evidence?
    1. His siblings did not take Him seriously (Mark 3:21 John 7:1-5 for example)
    2. Of His family, only Mary and her sister were with Him at the cross (John 19:25-27); His siblings are not mentioned.
    3. As mentioned above, after His ascension, His family was among the group of followers.
    4. James, His brother, had seen the risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7 – James is listed as distinct from the other apostles). Paul knows this because he spent 2 weeks with Peter and James (Galatians 1:18-19 – James the Lord’s brother is explicitly mentioned), and again in Galatians 2:9 (possibly referring to Acts 15 – the council at Jerusalem, at which James was a leader)
    5. James writes a letter to the Jewish Christians who have been scattered throughout the empire, a letter which contains more allusions to Jesus’ teachings than any other – gee, now where would James have heard all that, I wonder)

    Good biography on James here
    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/james.htm
    scroll down to see James the Lord’s brother.

    Whatever James knew about Jesus before His death and resurrection, he did not believe Him. After the resurrection, James is a believer.

  51. Victoria says:

    Greg (aka Agnostic) is building an argument by filling in the missing details of the documentation with something that fits the conclusion he wants to draw.

  52. Victoria says:

    For a good analysis of the Virgin Birth narratives, see here
    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/virgin.htm

  53. BillT says:

    Agnostic (dupe for Gregory Magarshak),

    It seems I’m not the one that needs to answer your questions but you that needs to tell us why you need to come here under false pretenses. When you left, as I remember, you said you were leaving to study the sources and information we suggested to you. Did you do what you said you would do? Given your current line of questions and what we can draw from them, I would guess you have not.

    Returning under an assumed name, failing to keep your word, continuing to comment on things you have little knowledge of. All these would be par for the course for someone like you and hardly worth mentioning.

    However, wasting the time and taking advantage of the good will and generous spirit of the good and great Victoria is beyond the pall. To abuse the kindness and sincerity of her efforts with your sniveling, misinformed nonsense is contemptible. You should be ashamed but it is my guess you don’t even know what that means.

  54. Agnostic says:

    Charlie: I didn’t claim the virgin birth didn’t happen. I am responding specifically to the claims of *historical* reliability of the gospels. Saying that overall scholars confirm the Bible is more trustworthy than anything historians accept as reliable history. I am simply pointing out that the reasons for believing many of the stories are not historical at all, but theological. Therefore it’s disingenuous to claim that everything in the gospels is historically reliable more than what historians accept in other stories. Also there is one huge difference — most historians do not accept stories of resurrections and other supernatural occurrences at face value. So I think that another argument should be made for the virgin birth. Maybe something like this:

    1) We believe Jesus rose from the dead, because Paul claims 500 people saw him, because the empty tomb is multiply attested, and because Jesus’ disciples report seeing a man who they later recognized as Jesus, and because his disciples went to their deaths proclaiming this, so they must have really believed it, and because his brother, who didn’t follow him earlier, started heading up the Church.

    2) Therefore, we believe that the writers of the documents which later got canonized in the Bible, were divinely inspired to write pretty much the truth (although with some minor variations).

    3) The virgin birth story somehow was related to them, and they wrote it down. Since these writers were holy, including Paul’s student Luke, we have reason to believe that what they are saying is true. Even though they themselves only related the story that they heard from someone else, the fact that they put their reputation on the line and wrote about it means the story is true.

    I can see how a Christian could make that sort of argument. I mean, it certainly is not without its leaps of faith (what does Jesus’ resurrection, for example, have to do with the absolute truth of Luke’s writings? Or for that matter Paul’s?) But let’s be clear about how you get to the final result. It’s not through simply historical reasoning. If you approach every story in the Bible this way, ask yourself, “who wrote this, and how could they know what happened, and why do I believe it one hundred percent”?

  55. Victoria says:

    @BillT
    🙂

  56. Agnostic says:

    BillT: I believe that true Christians are generous by nature. I hope that I am quite generous as well, and in fact in a lot of ways I do consider myself a Christian. Unless to you, generosity means agreeing with your doctrinal viewpoints 100% or leaving. In which case I do not think I am generous in your sense of the word. But I am quite open to learning more and I do believe that it’s not sniveling or dirty to engage in honest debate with a desire to find out the truth. Why do you assume I do not have kindness nor sincerity?

    Can I be honest … I do not find the hostility of certain Christians here to be very Christian-like. I have been nothing but respectful in this thread, for instance. (Yes, I did call some particular ideas monstrous, or egregious, but it was my honest opinion of the idea, not the person. On the other hand, you are attacking me personally – all because I am telling you honestly what I believe.)

  57. Agnostic says:

    Victoria: I’ve started to read your link about the virgin birth. I am reminded a little of the kuzari arguments for Judaism in that article. “How can these stories be made up about someone? We would have seen some dissent preserved as well. These men must have been saying the truth.”

    Jewish people have been hoping for a messiah figure for a long time, so it is not uncommon for followers to create a much larger set of theology about a man who they believe to be the Messiah.

    Not only that, but certain members of them abolish the Law, which is ordained by G-d to be for ever for the Jews. Does this sound familiar?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbatai_Zevi#Spread_of_his_influence

    It is happening right now again:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/the-lubavitcher-rebbe-as-a-god-1.212516

    I am not saying that Christianity is necessarily like this, but the situation does have many similarities. Jews always hope for the Messiah. With Jesus, they lost hope but Paul was able to preach to the gentiles, and thus Christianity was born.

    And yet, perhaps it is all true! Honestly it wouldn’t matter to me one way or the other if not for the doctrine of reward/punishment in the afterlife. That is why I am debating with Christians to get my questions answered.

  58. Victoria says:

    I think what we are saying is that we have good reasons to think that the NT is a primary source for historical information about the origins of the Christian church in the 1st century AD.

    External historical and archaeological sources provide a context for the NT, which it fits into very well (see F. F. Bruce New Testament History and John McRay Archaeology and the New Testament, to name just two references (as well as the big list I had referred to in previous posts).

    From textual criticism, we have confidence that we have the original text; we also know where the scribal modifications are (later insertions and deletions).

    Yes, there are historical anomalies that haven’t been resolved; there are also details that have been corroborated by all that external data – any fair analysis of the NT has to acknowledge both.

    Yes, the NT documents give us an interpretation of the events, an explanation of their significance, in the context of a theistic worldview; the authors were not just writing history, they were telling us what it means.

    That is a foundation for faith, a place to start – Christian faith is warranted belief in what the NT means – it is a response of trust and obedience to the God it points us to. It invites us into a relationship with Him, made possible by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

  59. Victoria says:

    Sorry, Agnostic, but I have to ask – on what basis are you claiming to be Christian?
    The litmus test here is always the person and work of Jesus Christ – who do you say He is?

  60. Agnostic says:

    Thanks, Victoria. I can understand that. I wish it was simpler for me to believe, but I seem to be keenly aware of problems and issues in both the OT and NT which no one really seems to address. I am told they are mere details, but everyone has their own message being pushed, and says that if I only was more educated, the difficulties would be resolved.

    Let me end this skeptical inquiry and honestly ask, what do you actually believe? You certainly are quite knowledgeable about these things, so you’re a good person to ask. I want to ask in a rigorous way, so please don’t be offended by the way the questions are asked, I really just want to get straight answers:

    1) Why do you believe “The Bible” as a canon in particular is the Word of God, given the fact that the early church engaged in bitter battles about theology?

    2) What makes you consider Paul’s theology to be part of the Word of God? I ask because it is not obvious to me. Paul never saw Jesus’ ministry, but persecuted Christians. Then he claimed to see Jesus on the road to Damascus. Then he went to Arabia instead of meeting his disciples. After a few years he came back and argued with the disciples. While it is true that the book of Acts speaks of Paul as an authority, it was likely written by his student, Luke. The *only* non circular references giving Paul authority that I see is 2 Peter, which many scholars consider pseudepigraphical, and in fact the reference to paul in there seems quite suspect and self-serving. So can you just tell me why you think Paul and his school of thought — the whole thing about being saved through faith and not works, etc. — has authority for you? What does this have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?

    3) Finally, what do you think the actual central message of Christianity is? What is the relationship that we should seek with Jesus? I get that you are supposed to “trust Jesus”, “follow Jesus” and so on, but what does that actually translate into? What actually gets you saved? When Jesus was asked this question, he said “follow the law.” Incidentally, the other answer, “take up your cross and follow me” is considered a forgery for obvious reasons. Let’s say I wanted to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior”. Don’t I already have God as my Lord? And what does “accepting Jesus as my Savior” mean? Do I just relax and live life as before knowing I am now saved? Or what?

    4) What are Christians actually supposed to do? How do you know? Because honestly I see a lot of picking and choosing. Take a look at this sad picture: http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403113_10150523650561524_670936523_8548236_233805244_n.jpg … if the Law was abolished, then who is anyone to say this or that is a sin, but this or that is not? Practically speaking what does Christianity teach besides the two commandments? For instance, Christians eat pork but discourage premarital sex. How do they determine what is a sin?

    5) Can Jews really start eating pork and it will be ok? As a Jew, I find Paul’s theology to be especially dangerous for me (antinomialism) because God Himself warns the Jews throughout their Torah to NEVER abandon the Law and always FOLLOW His commandments. So even if Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, I still don’t see how any of it could be nullified. In the gospels Jesus never claimed to nullify the law. This was Paul’s theology.

    I am sincerely asking these.

  61. Agnostic says:

    Well, Victoria, I have prayed to God before to open me to the truth of Jesus, and I have prayed to let Jesus into my life and stuff like that. It felt nice but a few days later I was still faced with the same questions.

    I consider myself a Christian because although I admit I see the evidence as suggesting a 99% chance that nothing supernatural happened and the stories are a result of myth-making and lots of controversy and dogma forced upon people, nevertheless I think there is a chance the atheists are mistaken somehow and there is a chance that Sinai happened, God made a covenant with my people the Jews, and Jesus really died for our sins.

    I consider myself a Christian because I choose to believe it happened, just so I can be saved. Even though I have to be honest and say that I see huge elephants in the room, and honestly even you must admit that there are many Christian denominations today which all believe different things, and have different ideas about getting saved. But at the end of the day, what Jesus gave me is a free gift, I might as well take it. I have no idea how any of it could have happened but that’s why I am trying to at least get some straight answers out of Christians. Presumably SOMEONE has dealt with the ACTUAL questions I am asking, and has come up with accessible answers for me, the same way that a physics teacher would be able to explain to me something if I asked, “but how come gravity seems to never increase entropy”. Sorry if I’m not being coherent in this post

  62. Charlie says:

    “Take up your Cross… ”

    Let me presume your problem with this is that you think it anachronistic.
    http://bethaderech.com/take-up-your-cross-daily/

  63. asdf says:

    d,

    And believers carrying on with their beliefs in the midst of state sponsored persecution is the norm throughout history, its not just Christians who do this. I have little doubt we’d see many scientologists stick to their guns in the face of persecution.

    If you say so. In a culture that frowns upon torture and state-sponsored massacre, and in which being killed for your beliefs on any large scale is rare, I’d be willing to bet you’re wrong. If it is the norm to withstand persecution, especially elaborate lies that could abnormally easily be disproved, I’d like you to show that. But it’s kinda fruitless to ponder this. The point is that from what we know of human nature, it is extremely rare that people die for a known lie.

    Now, now, that Elvis example is completely facetious. What is the significance of Elvis’ supposed survival of death, compared with someone who claimed to be the Son of Man? And if you’re trying to assert that the quality of witness is the same, or even vaguely similar, well… you’re some kind of moron. But of course you’re not doing that!

    I like the part about your rational obligation. It makes you sound so noble… so wise. I hate using these technical names for fallacies, since I see them misapplied all the time, but you basically go on to admit you’re using a strawman. Because what you mean by ‘boiling down’, is ‘taking our best arguments, and cooking them into irrelevant tasteless mush’. It is not the individual person it is hard to convince, fool or corrupt. It is the person who has close personal ties to the resurrected in discussion, the witness to the event, the immanently martyred. A single one of these people might be easy to trick, or a particularly habitual and malicious liar, but several people whom embody all three of these roles? Not to mention so close to the event? No.

    And this appeal to probability is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard for a while. How would you estimate the probability of someone coming back to life, especially if it’s meant to be a totally unique event? The objection is senseless. You can’t just dismiss a witness, let alone hundreds of them, or tens if you count only the ones recorded explicitly, on the grounds that you find their testimony ‘improbable’. I’d never hire you as a defence lawyer. You’d be laughed out of court. Haha, oh my.

  64. BillT says:

    “On the other hand, you are attacking me personally – all because I am telling you honestly what I believe.”

    More sniveling nonsense from you Gregory. You were quite rightly upbraided for being deceitful and dishonest. I hope you find the truth. However, you will have to excuse me if, given your actions, I doubt the sincerity of your search.

  65. G. Rodrigues says:

    @asdf:

    What is the significance of Elvis’ supposed survival of death, compared with someone who claimed to be the Son of Man?

    Because it is a well known fact that Elvis, impersonating Elvis, has been winning all the contests of Elvis impersonators.

    Duh.

  66. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh, man, you have no idea what you just got yourself into 😀

  67. d says:

    If you say so. In a culture that frowns upon torture and state-sponsored massacre, and in which being killed for your beliefs on any large scale is rare, I’d be willing to bet you’re wrong. If it is the norm to withstand persecution, especially elaborate lies that could abnormally easily be disproved, I’d like you to show that. But it’s kinda fruitless to ponder this. The point is that from what we know of human nature, it is extremely rare that people die for a known lie.

    But its not rare for people to be deceived, or maintain their false beliefs, even in the face of compelling contrary evidence.

    Again, where the heck does this expectation come from that historic figures in the Middle East simply must be super rational, creatures who are able to reject compelling or cherished beliefs without prejudice, when sufficient evidence is presented (assuming it ever was), with such amazing reliability?

    If that’s how humans actually acted, things like Mormonism, or Scientology wouldn’t stand a chance (the latter’s figurehead only being dead for less than two decades).

    Now, now, that Elvis example is completely facetious. What is the significance of Elvis’ supposed survival of death, compared with someone who claimed to be the Son of Man? And if you’re trying to assert that the quality of witness is the same, or even vaguely similar, well… you’re some kind of moron. But of course you’re not doing that!

    Elvis, UFO’s, conspiracies – all this is to show that movements, myths, rumors spread fast.

    I like the part about your rational obligation. It makes you sound so noble… so wise. I hate using these technical names for fallacies, since I see them misapplied all the time, but you basically go on to admit you’re using a strawman. Because what you mean by ‘boiling down’, is ‘taking our best arguments, and cooking them into irrelevant tasteless mush’. It is not the individual person it is hard to convince, fool or corrupt. It is the person who has close personal ties to the resurrected in discussion, the witness to the event, the immanently martyred. A single one of these people might be easy to trick, or a particularly habitual and malicious liar, but several people whom embody all three of these roles? Not to mention so close to the event? No.

    We don’t know any of the stuff you are passing off as fact, to a reliable degree. We just don’t.

    And in many instances, group solidarity has a profound and adverse affect on our rational capacities. So its simply not extraordinary that 12 or more people in a close knit group, would stick to their guns. In the presence of social pressures, cognitive dissonance can easily be guided in a certain direction.

    Cult psychology often works that way – predictions or prophecies that don’t come to pass sometimes strengthen the resolve of its most dedicated members, instead of destroying it.

    And this appeal to probability is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard for a while. How would you estimate the probability of someone coming back to life, especially if it’s meant to be a totally unique event? The objection is senseless. You can’t just dismiss a witness, let alone hundreds of them, or tens if you count only the ones recorded explicitly, on the grounds that you find their testimony ‘improbable’. I’d never hire you as a defence lawyer. You’d be laughed out of court. Haha, oh my.

    If we can’t estimate that probability, even in some rough sense, based on what we know, then you can’t say natural explanations are more or less probable. That utterly sinks your own case.

    And who are these hundreds of witnesses? We don’t have the testimony of hundreds…

  68. SteveK says:

    Elvis still looks good. Botox?

  69. Amusing that Mormonism and Scientology are also both post-enlightenment beliefs. Obviously, the problem had to be the time of the writings. Back then, people were ignorant but we know better. We know today that dead people stay dead and virgins don’t give birth. The only problem with that is that ancient people knew that just as well.

    Amazing that someone appeals to social pressure all the while ignorant that the social pressure would all go the other way. There was intense social pressure to NOT believe in Jesus. Messiah figures back then were a dime-a-dozen. When did their movements end? When they died.

    Jesus died the worst death of all possible then. That was death by crucifixion meaning he was publicly identified as a traitor to Rome for all the Gentiles, and for the Jews, he was identified as being under the curse of YHWH. To be a follower of Jesus in spite of that would be saying “See that man up there who is saying Caesar is not the true Lord and who is under the curse of YHWH? I am basing everything I have on that man.”

    It would have been social suicide to do that, and yet several did it. No one would have said “I have had visions of Jesus being in Abraham’s bosom. Come. Let’s celebrate that he is there” and then have that develop into a resurrection. It would have been an impossible sell.

    Yes. Cognitive dissonance in the face of contrary evidence is a reality. I just happen to think it’s on the other foot. Why do so many atheists hold to the idea that Jesus never even existed despite evidence to the contrary?

  70. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    I don’t see any mention of repentance in your list of reasons (“God be merciful to me, a sinner”). Maybe it is there somewhere, since I can’t know what’s in your heart of hearts.

    We’ve answered your questions over and over again in this blog. We’ve given you reasons for accepting that the Bible should be considered a primary source document (well, library really) for Christian belief (and Jewish belief, for that matter). I have given you ample references to scholarly works that substantiate this view; these works also address the anomalies and unresolved issues, discuss their impact on and implications for Christianity’s foundational beliefs.

    Ultimately (and this is something that an unbeliever cannot and will not understand or accept, apart from the grace of God), Christianity is a faith that, while rooted in the historical, transcends it; it is unapologetically supernatural in character as well; apart from the work of the Spirit of God in the life of an individual to remove the spiritual blinders, the hardness of heart, the rebellious pride, a person will never get the supernatural component. Interestingly enough, we can resist the Spirit of God, as He never compels belief – I know this from personal experience
    I was raised in a nominal Catholic home, went to Catholic school (elementary and high school), but rejected the whole thing – after all, I was going to be a scientist, and scientists don’t believe all that hokum, right? I was an atheist! Not to mention I didn’t want to be constrained by all that morality either (Mae West would have blushed) Well, in university, I ended up working in a physics research lab for a professor who is a devout Christian (and no finer example of Christianity I know), as were his graduate students and post-docs. They answered my questions about the NT, and gave me a reason to at least read it for myself.
    It took 3 years before I finally said, “OK, God…be merciful to me, a sinner, and I’m ready to listen to You”. I was one with the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). That was 30 years ago, and with all of the successes and failures in my life, I have never regretted that moment – I am more in love with Him now than I have ever been. What and Who I once scoffed at and doubted and did not understand, I now hold to be Truth itself.
    I came to faith not by a rational deliberation of the evidence, but by the supernatural work of the Spirit of God – I think a majority of all Christians would say the same thing; much to my delight, I discovered that my faith does have an evidentiary basis, and so I learned.

    Greg, you are like Peter trying to walk on water – you want to believe, but get so focused on the wind and the waves that you forget to look at Jesus Himself, you forget to trust Him. You are so stuck in one way of thinking that you can’t or won’t see that Jesus’ resurrection changes everything and that you need a new paradigm.

    I remember having this conversation with you before – it seems that after all this time you have still not understood the answers.

  71. d says:

    Nick,

    Mormonism and Scientology being post enlightenment modern movements are demonstrations that we don’t know better today. If we can’t say we know better today, then we certainly can’t say they knew better (than us) back then. I’m not doing the ole, “they were dumb and ignorant of things we know today” routine. I’m saying all the speculations about what and what historical figure X would do are misguided. They almost always presume that historical figure X or group Y behaves according to what’s most rational (at a level we don’t consistently see, even from contemporary human beings), and not according to how human psychology and all its related pitfalls influences our actions, especially in highly emotional and tumultuous circumstances, etc.

    And how can you even begin to say that social pressure would go the other way? Cults exist despite social pressures. Unpopular counter-culture movements exist despite social pressure. Once one has joined a particular enclave, the social pressures within that group are what holds the influence.

    If we apply the same reasoning you apply to the apostles and the resurrection, we’d have to conclude Mormonism and the tales of Joseph Smith are true. For to do as he did would be social suicide. No rational person would do it, and no rational person would believe it.

  72. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    Some articles on 2 Peter
    http://bible.org/article/2-peter-peter%E2%80%99s
    http://bible.org/seriespage/second-peter-introduction-argument-and-outline
    http://bible.org/article/authorship-second-peter

    Also,

    I consider myself a Christian because although I admit I see the evidence as suggesting a 99% chance that nothing supernatural happened and the stories are a result of myth-making and lots of controversy and dogma forced upon people, nevertheless I think there is a chance the atheists are mistaken somehow and there is a chance that Sinai happened, God made a covenant with my people the Jews, and Jesus really died for our sins.

    I consider myself a Christian because I choose to believe it happened, just so I can be saved.

    This, to me, is the epitome of irrationality. This is not faith as Christians understand and practice it – this is pure doubt and skepticism – no wonder the Holy Spirit can’t get through to you. This is classic James 1:6-8

    Hebrews 11 talks about faith (Hebrews 11:6 in particular tells us the requirement) – notice in this chapter the heroes of the faith took God at His word, and acted on it – they kept their focus on the light that God had given them, not the darkness that they had to walk through. Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us what we need to do:

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, 12:2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 12:3 Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.

    For Paul’s qualifications as an apostle and His ministry, I refer you to N. T. Wright’s book http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Perspective-N-T-Wright/dp/0800663578/ref=pd_sim_b_1

    or his articles, here
    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/

  73. D:Nick, Mormonism and Scientology being post enlightenment modern movements are demonstrations that we don’t know better today.

    Reply: The New Atheism is also a movement indicating we don’t know better today. Mormonism and scientology afaic are just different forms of materialism anyway trying to integrate some spirituality within. Mormonism really bears no relation to the God found in Christianity.

    D:If we can’t say we know better today, then we certainly can’t say they knew better (than us) back then.

    Reply: Why not? Could it not be they thought in such a way different from us and that it could be our way of looking at the world is that which is incorrect? Why should I automatically give more credibility to the view that comes later?

    D:I’m not doing the ole, “they were dumb and ignorant of things we know today” routine.

    Reply: After saying that if we don’t know better, they certainly didn’t? That statement implies that ipso facto we know better than they do. You are doing exactly what you say you are not.

    D:I’m saying all the speculations about what and what historical figure X would do are misguided.

    Reply: Then why are you the one who was talking about how they would have gone with social pressure and about cognitive dissonance and psychoanalyzing ancient peoples? If you cannot tell what one person, X, would do historically, why should I trust you to tell me what a whole culture of X persons would do?

    D:They almost always presume that historical figure X or group Y behaves according to what’s most rational, but not according to how humans can always be expected to behave when you consider psychology and all its related pitfalls, highly emotional and tumultuous circumstances, etc.

    Reply: False. I actually have this unique idea of trying to understand the culture by reading the scholarship on that culture and trying to figure out how they thought and what questions they were asking. It’s the lazy way to assume they did it the way we do. For instance, the idea of psychology for them is not as well-founded as you would think since this is an agonistic society where individualism would not be accepted.

    D: And how can you even begin to say that social pressure would go the other way?

    Reply: By studying the culture. I gave my reasons. In an agonistic society, to identify with Jesus would be to stake your whole identity with him. It would be telling Rome there was someone else who was Lord besides Caesar and telling the Jews you were identifying with one under God’s curse. Both identifications would leave you shamed as a social outcast. Hence, the writing of the book of Hebrews is about dealing with apostasy as a result of shame and not as a result of persecution.

    D: Cults exist despite social pressures.

    Reply: Actually, no. Cults exist because of social pressure. Do you know what pressure Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses apply to those inside their group? I’ve been to a Kingdom Hall and a Mormon Ward both. I’ve interacted with the groups numerous times. There is intense indoctrination going on. If you are a good Mormon or JW and you leave the religion, you leave everything. Your friends are that religion. Your workplace is that religion. Your family is that religion.

    D: Unpopular counter-culture movements exist despite social pressure. Once one has joined a particular enclave, the social pressures within that group are what holds the influence. If we apply the same reasoning you apply to the apostles and the resurrection, we’d have to conclude Mormonism and the tales of Joseph Smith are true.

    Reply: No we don’t. There was benefit to joining Mormonism at the start. There was the group identity and there was the polygamy for instance. Furthermore, Mormonism’s claims would not have been as readily open to disproof as would that of the apostles. The Apostles made claims that all could have verified and Paul writes in 2 Corinthians about the signs of an apostle being done in the midst of the Corinthians. These would be miracles. There is no dispute amongst mainstream scholarship, conservative and liberal, atheist and Christian, that Paul wrote 2 Corinthians.

    Your idea is that both groups had unique claims therefore both of them are either true or both of them are false. Not at all. I have numerous other reasons for believing Mormonism is false such as the DNA evidence, the lack of historical corroboration for the BOM, and the metaphysical problems of the King Follett Discourse. What do you have for Christianity?

    D:For to do as he did would be social suicide. No rational person would do it, and no rational person would believe it.

    Reply: The reality is several have and several do. The idea is that one side is rational and the other side is totally irrational. I have no doubt there are very rational Mormons and JWs. The problem is there are other factors involved. You can say “They can be rational in other areas, but they shut their brains off with religion!” If that is the case, then I have the exact same charge against the new atheists. I do not doubt they are rational in many ways, but shut their brains off on religion. Should I point to social pressure there and then conclude that the new atheism is false or should I actually examine the claims?

  74. Charlie says:

    Hi d,
    Above you imply that the Apostle’s had some cherished belief and that they would hold onto this in the face of compelling evidence.
    Would you be able to tell me what cherished belief you have in mind and what evidence there was against it? Thanks.

  75. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the resources Victoria. I love this stuff and will check out your Peter 2 references later myself.

  76. Agnostic says:

    Bill T: I don’t see why I will have to excuse you for not participating in the discussion honestly, but just attacking me. I have yet to hear from you even your explanation of what you meant when you said

    “We don’t take the historicity of the bible lightly. The overall scholorship confirms it as reliable beyond what historians accept as reliable history. I hope you’ll persue some of this.”

    Perhaps others here don’t take the historicity lightly, but you can’t be bothered to even address basic things. I guess your knowledge may not be as unlimited as you think.

  77. d says:

    Nick,

    I am saying we have no good reason to suppose they knew better than we do today.

    Upon what grounds do you claim the ancients had some superior, super rational (relatively speaking) mindset?

    In short, the best presumption is they had the same failings of human rationality that we have to this very day. Tell me why that’s wrong.

  78. d says:

    Furthermore, I’m not actually saying the apostles were victims of cult-like group think to group think or died for a lie, or anything else. We don’t have enough information to really say.

    In piecing together what actually happened must necessarily include as possibilities, the full range of plausible human psychological response – not just the ones that seem most rational or help our particular cause the most. What’s most rational is often the least plausible human psychological response.

  79. Victoria says:

    @Charlie
    You’re welcome 🙂

  80. Agnostic says:

    Victoria: I am glad you had a wonderful person as a Christian professor. I know many fine Christians. In fact I respect Christians who stick to their morality a lot more than lip-service Christians.

    And yes you have given me lots of resources that argue why various parts of “The Bible” are to be considered a primary source document for Christian belief. That was never at issue.

    The problem is that this is, and has always been, only one side of the story. The other side is that there is scientific evidence disproving the OT stories. Even without science, there are tons of unassailable logical / numerical contradictions. What you will have is someone coming from a particular position (e.g. fundamentalist belief) making all sorts of arguments for a position, and completely brushing off arguments against it. It doesn’t have to be atheism vs Christianity. It can be Catholic vs Protestantism. Ignatius was very much for the Eucharist, for instance. Does that hold any currency with you as (I am guessing) an evangelical?

    Put yourself in my shoes. I know you want for me to become a Christian, and I appreciate it. You say:

    “I remember having this conversation with you before – it seems that after all this time you have still not understood the answers.”

    Do you understand that you do not believe Islam because of *reasons*? These reasons are very similar to the reasons I do not believe Christianity. I guarantee if you talk to some wise Muslims who have been teaching Islam all their life they will tell you that you simply do not understand, that the reasons you give for not believing Islam are simply the questions of a beginner. They will proceed to tell you why Christianity’s view about Jesus is incorrect, and the Muslim view is right. Both sides will have “compelling” arguments. But frankly you are where you are. You are a Christian. You wonder how the Muslims don’t see their religion is simply wrong.

    Why are you not a fundamentalist? Those people ARE Christian, and many believe in the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy. But you have a more sophisticated view. That’s totally fine, but Fundamentalists will tell you that you simply don’t understand “the real truth”.

    Look, everyone has a cherished position. Fundamentalists really believe the world is 6,000 years old, and that evolution is a farce. But if you have to paint yourself into a corner to defend it, you have to realize that the other people are not simply being obstinate and unreasonable when they don’t accept your arguments.

    Of course, a book that argues for a particular branch of Christianity will bring evidence for it, and try to maybe deal with evidence against it. So will any other book. But it seems that to believe, to really belong to “your” version of Christianity, I must simply accept the frustrating “explanations” of a book that I might disagree with, and forget the questioning. Just believe. WHY?????

    Imagine the following scenario. Your child is sick but there is a medicine that can cure your child forever. You love your child and want them to have their medicine. If this scenario was true, would you expect:

    A) The child would have lots of fake medicines, some of which could be poisons and kill the child, and each medicine having a dealer next to it, with books that explain why it is the right medicine and the others are wrong. If the child approaches any of the dealers, they will tell the child that the other medicines are poisons. Meanwhile the child independently tries to research and realizes that they are not really sick and none of the medicines are real. Yet the dealers keep telling them they are wrong. OR

    B) The child would have a clear way of knowing what medicine to take, especially if they are really motivated to try to find it out

    Honestly I think that since God is omnipotent, the situation would be B. Yet it is not. Believe me when I tell you that I am honestly looking at the evidence. I will give one example:

    If the flood was true, we would all be descended from Noah. But our Y chromosomes tell a completely different story. There is tons of other evidence, which can be summarized with these two links:

    Problems with a global flood:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

    Why the flood must have been global:
    http://www.icr.org/article/vital-doctrine-global-flood/

    It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Forget everything else in the Bible for a second and let’s focus on one thing. Because it illustrates extremely well what I am talking about. I am open to reasonable argument, and the above seem EXTREMELY reasonable to ME. Now you will say, “Greg just read these books about the resurrection of Jesus”, or “Greg just read this article, it will explain that the above are not really problems.” I read it, and still consider the above problems. What now?

  81. Victoria says:

    @d
    and at all costs you have to exclude the supernatural as an explanation, despite the claims and experiences of all Christians that it is the explanation.

    Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that. Christians who have walked with God all our lives won’t be impressed, because we know who we have believed in.

  82. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    We’ve had this conversation before, too, and it went nowhere. I can’t help you anymore.

  83. d says:

    Victoria,

    Your personal experience isnt any better from my perspective than the Buddhists who’s had a spiritual moment of enlightenment, or the Muslim, or even the Mormon.

    Your personal experience has no authoritative clout.

  84. Victoria says:

    @d
    I never said it did. Yet I (and other Christians) know beyond the shadow of a doubt, because I(we) have the witness of the indwelling Spirit of God.

    This is clearly not good enough for you, nor is the rational component of Christian belief enough for you to say “OK, God, I’ll listen”.
    You are really just wasting your time here.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you are stuck in your rebellion against God, in your spiritual blindness and self-deception, and spiritual death. This is your problem, not ours. We can give you reasons for why you should consider Christianity, but we can’t reason you into believing it; if you continue to resist the grace of God, you will die in your sins and reap the consequences of rejecting Him. By doing so, you are continuing the lie that was started in beginning (Genesis 3:1).

  85. d says:

    I never said it did. Yet I (and other Christians) know beyond the shadow of a doubt, because I(we) have the witness of the indwelling Spirit of God.

    You never said it did, but then you go on to say it does! Unbelievable!

  86. Victoria says:

    @d
    once again, you missed the point. Our Christian experience is authoritative for us. The non-Christian has no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and thus has no seal of confirmation of having been adopted into God’s family.

    You simply keep denying that there is this spiritual component to Christianity, whereas we Christians know better.

    This is experiential knowledge – you won’t get that component unless you are willing to repent and trust God

  87. Agnostic says:

    Victoria – Lutherans, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Catholics are all Christians. Presumably they all have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! So how come they disagree on things such as the interpretation of the Bible, the necessity of a baptism for salvation, the eucharist, praying to the saints, and more? I am guessing you are not a Catholic and probably do not accept the Catholic Church’s authority. Do you also think that painting a bearded man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, representing God , is institutionalized idol worship?

    You claim that you “believe” because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But believe what? Different denominations believe different things. Even about who will get saved!

  88. BillT says:

    Greg/Agnostic,

    You come here under false pretenses and then expect to be treated fairly and have your questions answered. Here’s a word to describe that kind of behavior you can find the answer for all by yourself. Hubris.

  89. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic/Greg
    I’m through with this ‘conversation’ – as I said before, this is nothing more than a repeat of why Tom banned you before. You are not remotely interested in actually living the Christian life, are you? Doubt, not trust, dominates your approach – we have repeatedly told you where to anchor your faith – in the person and work of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, who was crucified and resurrected to redeem you and give you a brand new life. Yet you willfully sidestep this, and your need for His redeeming grace. You claim to be searching for the truth, yet you do nothing with the truth that has already been shared with you. Stop this unreasonable and obsessive focus on side issues and stick with core Christianity (as in N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian or CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity). Once you have grasped and accepted the core, then you can revisit these other issues. A key truth of the Christian faith is that it is also a process, a learning experience, a growing trust – God will not answer every question you can ask, and certainly not right away, simply because until you have grasped the basics, you are not ready for the advanced classes.

    We have pointed you to the basics – work with that first. Until you do that, we simply cannot help you any further, and so I reluctantly, but firmly step away from any further discussion

  90. Charlie says:

    d,
    So what cherished belief are considering as one that the Disciples refused to give up in the face of compelling evidence?

    ——–

    Greg,
    I’ll ask you as I am sure I asked you before – why are you here, again?
    You’ve heard the answers, right?
    You aren’t buying.
    Whom are you trying to impress by coming back and asking again?

  91. SteveK says:

    d,

    Your personal experience has no authoritative clout.

    Yet the personal experience of others has tremendous clout, but only because they practice in the field of science. And even among those you cherry pick. Choosing to accept the testimony of those that align with your preconceived ideas – without evidence, without anything but their word. Is that rational for someone who claims that they only trust in evidence?

  92. d says:

    SteveK,

    C’mon man… straw-man – I’ve never said that I only trust in evidence. But…

    There’s also testimony that conflicts with Victoria, from people just as earnest, and for all I know, just as trustworthy. There are plenty of non-believers who testify to having once felt what they thought was the indwelling of the holy spirit, just like Victoria, only to deconvert later. There are testimonies from people who have had self-confirming spiritual experiences on Buddhism, Hinduism, or some new age spiritualist woo, and more.

    Its trivial to claim to have some special, self-affirmed knowledge, with respect to any wacky belief. Its not an argument. And given the nature of human psychology, its rather dubious to say stuff like, “you have to open your mind and heart”, when we know that’s at least two steps down the road to self-deception and/or opening yourself up to indoctrination.

    In science, I generally have no problem holding an open mind on a matter when authorities are contradicting one another, or there is no clear consensus – its OK to sit in uncertainty, to accept none of the competing propositions as truth. I have no problem changing my mind, if scientific positions are contradicted. So I don’t know what you hope to demonstrate by bringing that up.

  93. SteveK says:

    d,

    So I don’t know what you hope to demonstrate by bringing that up.

    I hoped to demonstrate that you really do believe personal experience has authoritative clout, just not Victoria’s personal experience.

  94. Victoria says:

    There are reasons why some professed believers ‘deconvert’ that have nothing to do with being reasoned out of it by evidence or lack thereof.

    They were never really believers in the first place, as in never really sealed with the Spirit of God. That’s a hard call for someone else to make, of course, since only God knows a person’s true heart.
    Think of the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13:1-18, or Judas Iscariot, or Demas (one of Paul’s companions), or the parable of the builders (Matthew 7:24-27).

    More often than not, people give up on God because they think He has let them down in the midst of devastating and difficult circumstances, or they have become so caught up and twisted in some sinful practice (it happens even to Christians) that they are so trapped in a downward spiral that they have shipwrecked their faith. By the grace of God, these people can find their way back, and more often than not, they do.

  95. Victoria says:

    but d, you are arguing against something that you have no personal experience of your own to speak of – you are presuming to tell us what to make of our own experiences – why should we pay attention to you at all? You know nothing of what it means to be a Christian, to walk with God and experience Him, to see His hand in the circumstances of life, to experience the transforming power of His grace, to cling to Him in the midst of the worst storms that life in a fallen world can throw at us. As I said, you refuse to acknowledge the spiritual dynamics of the Christian faith – those of us who are engaged in it know better.
    Once again, you are wasting your time in here.

  96. d says:

    Victoria,

    No, we’re generally having debates about specific things here, I’m not just generally ranting about God or that your personal experiences are bogus… moral ontology, the historicity of certain events, possible explanations for facts about Christianity, etc.

    So nowhere in any of that am I presuming to tell you something about your own experience. However, that’s what you seem to retreat too when you get exasperated or frustrated. At most, I may offer some reasons why I doubt, or why maybe you should doubt, some of your experiences.

    You even just pulled the ole, ‘Well those who deconverted never *really* believed in the first place’ card. Outrageous.

  97. Victoria says:

    Oh, I see I did not qualify my post correctly (#96)
    I should have said,
    possible reasons….

    Reason 1. They were never believers in the first place….
    Reason 2. They think that God let them down….

    Of course, d, you completely ignored the fact that I said #1 is hard call to make.

    I can offer you reasons why you doubt as well – the same reasons that I used to doubt Christianity as well – rebellion, sin, spiritual blindness, pride….shall I go on?

  98. Victoria says:

    @d

    No, we’re generally having debates about specific things here, I’m not just generally ranting about God or that your personal experiences are bogus… moral ontology, the historicity of certain events, possible explanations for facts about Christianity, etc.

    To what end? Are you really interested in the ‘hope that is in us’?

  99. Victoria says:

    besides, d…
    you categorically deny the existence of the supernatural, of God. To you Christianity is nothing more than another bogus man-made belief system that is not what it claims to be.

    Therefore, any experience that we have must be just a manifestation of a psychological state, of brain chemistry, and could not be grounded in the objective workings of a supernatural being (the Holy Spirit). When you say that our experiences are not bogus, you just mean that we have them, but that they are not what we claim them to be.

    To that I say, piffle!

  100. D. To begin with, you ask me to demonstrate that the ancients had a superior mindset to ours. I don’t claim that they do. I claim they had a different mindset. Their way of looking was not necessarily better or worse than ours. It was just different. It seems you have the assumption that people thought the same way. That I contend is one you cannot demonstrate, at least not to scholars who study the anthropological social context of the ancient world. For instance, what does it mean when I say the society was agonistic. What role did honor and shame play in their society? How is a collectivist society different from an individualistic one?

    Finally, with regards to Victoria, I do not agree entirely with their points, but I will say that if all possible scenarios are to be examined, then so must the scenario that the apostles themselves gave, that Christ rose from the dead. We cannot say this is outside the realm of human experience because in much of human experience, God is the supreme reality and countless several will claim to have seen miracles. Now it could be they’re all wrong, which would be difficult to show, but even if they were, they still consider that the realm of human experience and even if all miracle claims were shown to be false, it would not prove that all in the future will be and if the universe is a brute fact, there’s no reason to think the future will be like the past.

    Now please present the scholarly data on the ancient world in the biblical times before you keep going on with the idea that people back then were just like us. Usually people in different times, cultures, and places are just that, different.

  101. Agnostic says:

    Bill T: What false pretenses are those? I admit I am Greg Magarshak, I have never pretended otherwise.

    Charlie: I am here to discuss things, just like you.

    Victoria: As I understand, Mr “d” is not interested in “living the Christian life”, in fact he posts things that smack of being pretty skeptical. I on the other hand *am* actually *interested* in leading a Christna way of life, and just want to remove my doubts. So your question:

    “You are not remotely interested in actually living the Christian life, are you?”

    could not be more way off. Why do you think I debate with Christians and not bother debating with scientologists or muslims? Has that question even entered your mind??? Do you think I have a vendetta against christians or something? NO. I want to believe. That is why I engage with them.

    But the fact that I back up my statements, give lots of examples, read a lot about things and honestly tell you what I still believe causes you to want ME to be banned, yet continue to be fine talking to atheists in general who don’t actually care whether they believe or not.

    Well good luck with that. Whatever.

  102. Agnostic says:

    PS: I read the rest of your message to me victoria, and have to say I was impressed by your tone. I had read the first several lines or so (after reading Bill T) and felt like my input your and d’s conversation was shut down. For the record my point about different kinds of Christians was to yours and d’s conversation. I realize you and I had pretty much ended the other thing. It was more to d’s point and I found it interesting that someone who’s an atheist but who you may have a different attitude to, you don’t ignore what they say because they aren’t remotely interested in living a Christian lifestyle. However whatever I say is brushed off. I don’t know, I just feel that it’s not cool to take someone who’s trying to be reasonable and rational and refuse to respond to them just because of ad hominems. To be honest I am only looking at you Bill T. Victoria is polite and Charlie’s quite nice. 🙂

  103. Charlie says:

    Charlie: I am here to discuss things, just like you.

    Just like me?
    I am here to defend a worldview in which people’s eternal destinies are at stake. I don’t go hang out at blogs where I know I disagree and repeat the same questions year after year.

    NO. I want to believe. That is why I engage with them.

    Then why are you asking the same questions and posting the same skeptical resources? You know how to Google, and you know how to get the full answers to your questions.

  104. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    No, I don’t want you to be banned (merely pointed out that the flow of the thread is too similar to the one where you ended up banned).

    I’m glad that I was mistaken about your motives, then. You do really want to believe. However, I wanted to point out that your methodology is riddled with doubts about unresolved secondary issues.

    I am well aware of these unsolved problems, but I don’t let them keep me from belief and trust in the core Christian truths. I have learned to trust God and His word, and that these ‘problems’ have a satisfactory resolution, even if I don’t know what that might be or cannot see how to do it.
    In the meantime, I get on with the business of living the Christian life and growing into the best maidservant of God that I can be, by His grace.
    I urge you to do the same.
    That is why I qualified my end to the conversation with ‘reluctantly’ – we have reached a point where the ball is really in your court and I can offer nothing more to help you than I already have – this is between you and God (as it always has been). Speaking from personal experience and what I know of other Christians’ experiences, if you start with a little bit of trust and move forward with it, God answers and opens your eyes to the truth, one step at a time. As you learn more, you trust more, and once you understand those core truths, the other issues don’t appear as formidable anymore.

  105. d says:

    Victoria,

    Categorically denying the supernatural is not something I do, Victoria. There is conceivable evidence, and I daresay conceivable experiences, that could persuade me of all kinds of supernatural things, from Jesus to out of body travel, to mind reading to prophecy to ghosts and spirits.

    Categorical denial is *not* my position.

  106. Charlie says:

    I have learned to trust God and His word, and that these ‘problems’ have a satisfactory resolution, even if I don’t know what that might be or cannot see how to do it.

    This is a great point.
    My faith has been strengthened time and again by facing down the problems, looking for their solutions or puzzling them out in my own mind.
    Knowing that concern after concern had been satisfactorily answered gives me confidence with the next one that either I will know the solution, or it might remain outside my grasp for a time because I am ignorant about something of God, or, more likely, of the milieu in which the Bible was written.

    I seek answers, not problems. Because I want to believe I want the answers to come to me.

    William Lane Craig has affirmed this in his own life, the faith-building of actually working out problems. And, he admits, there will always be questions. We will not have solved them all.

    But in what field are there not questions? Whose got QM worked out? Who doubts physics because of it.

    On that note, Agnostic, among your many lists of things that bug you in the Bible you mentioned “take up your Cross”. You never answered me, but do you consider that problem solved?

  107. Victoria says:

    @d
    So what are you saying then? Based on the other posts all over the blog, you argue for Naturalism, not Theism. Are you merely redefining the term supernatural to mean something other than what Christian Theism means?

    If that is the case, then I will rephrase my statement to change supernatural to the God of Christianity.

  108. Charlie says:

    Here he is talking about it.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4538185102301600532

    Some lads have been hopping about the internets lately saying Craig believes regardless of evidence. On top of talking about doubt, this should add the appropriate context to that claim.

  109. Victoria says:

    @Charlie
    Amen to that post

  110. I’d also recommend that we drop the idea of natural and supernatural. It’s a distinction that’s part of post-enlightenment thinking we need not accept. There are some aspects of reality I’d say it’s hard to say if they’re natural or supernatural and for the Jews and Christians of the past, all of reality was ruled over by God and an act of the divine in some sense.

  111. Victoria says:

    @Charlie
    That WLC interview was quite refreshing.

  112. Victoria says:

    @Nick
    Good idea, actually

  113. Pablo says:

    Great post I have 4 questions and looking for the best possible answers

    1 If Jesus died on the cross for our sins but then came back to life/Then what was the sacrifice?
    2) English is not the only language in the world.Christianity is not the only religion in the world.Is God? How do you know 4sure?
    3) If 2 billion Christians believe in God what happens to the other 5 Billion people on the planet? Hell? sounds like a lot of people 🙁 including Musulms,Jewish,Hindues and Bhuddist?
    thanks in advance for your help!
    4) If God is Good and Love us why suffering and evil exist today?

    Pablo
    @dreamtoreal1

  114. Vadim says:

    Christianity has made two colossal mistakes. 1) It has equated Jesus to God. Jesus was a jew like all other jews. He lived. He tried to help people. He died. There is only one God and he has no parts whatsoever. 2) They decided that jesus can take away your sins. This has been the greatest delusion the christian church has ever come up with. It is blatantly obvious that a perfect God will judge perfectly. When a person commits a sin he will be held accountable to it and when a person does something meritorious he will be rewarded. Pure and simple. For those of you who are not jewish google 7 noahide laws. They are simple rules for every human being to follow, lead a good life and go to heaven!

  115. asdf says:

    You bore me, d.

    But its not rare for people to be deceived, or maintain their false beliefs, even in the face of compelling contrary evidence.

    Several questions come to mind. When such a clear cut, easily falsifiable belief is set out, I’d say it would be incredibly difficult to be deceived. How easy would it be to make 500 people swear to having seen a deceased public figure come back to life? And then have some of those people die for it?

    Are there profound differences in Christianity and cults? Were some of the claims made by Christianity less generic and incorporeal, and involving events that had recently occurred, as well as many witnesses to the event?

    What motive would these people have to die for their false belief? That’s the real question I would pose to you. You say, ‘They could have been tricked, they could have held on to their beliefs, despite contrary evidence.’ But what makes you think they did? What evidence is there that there was conflicting evidence?

    Elvis, UFOs, conspiracies. How many of the witnesses that saw Elvis knew him personally? Were there as many as 500 in a brief period of time? Did any of these people die for their beliefs? When there are so many alleged accessible witnesses, as well as detailed documented accounts from various people, how can you continue to compare such an event to myth and rumour? You don’t make any sense.

    We do not suppose that the witnesses attested to in the Bible were super-rational. But, there is no trace of brainwashing or group-think in any of the accounts. Truth is highly valued in the teachings of this resurrected person they revere. The claim in itself is both highly unambiguous, without real precedent in the culture, and highly unlikely. Culturally speaking, it seems like something that would be incredibly hard to swallow, instead of easy, as you are suggesting.

    Because of this, it is suffice to say that you are, in fact, assuming that either that they were all mistaken about highly consequential and obvious falsehoods, or that they were all gullible fools of the highest calibre. You are saying this of tens of people. It takes a great amount of flippancy and disregard for intellectual integrity to dismiss so much evidence in so little talk.

  116. Tom Gilson says:

    Pablo, you have asked some good questions, but they are very large ones. You can search this blog for answers already given. For our purposes here, though, it’s impossible to get into them all.

  117. Vadim: Christianity has made two colossal mistakes. 1) It has equated Jesus to God.

    Reply: First colossal mistake. Making the claim that a colossal mistake has been made by Christians in equating Jesus with God when they have done no such thing. This assumes unipersonalism in God instead of realizing that this was a debate in Second Temple Judaism. Was God one person or not? Jesus instead in the NT is presented as a hypostasis of God and as God’s Wisdom. Jesus fully has all the attributes of God in that Jesus is fully God, but God is not fully Jesus. My Honda is fully an automobile, but all automobiles are not fully Hondas.

    Vadim: Jesus was a jew like all other jews. He lived. He tried to help people. He died.

    Reply: Why did he die? If he was just going around being a good guy, why would anyone want to put him to death?

    Vadim: There is only one God and he has no parts whatsoever.

    Reply: Second colossal mistake. Thinking that the church has not taught God’s simplicity and thinking also that the Trinity teaches that God has parts. Neither of which are true. Great Trinitarians have also held to divine simplicity.

    Vadim: 2) They decided that jesus can take away your sins. This has been the greatest delusion the christian church has ever come up with.

    Reply: Nope. Not something that they decided but something they learned. If Jesus came to announce the rule of God, then that includes the forgiveness of sins, which is taught in the OT as well. If one is to free the world from destruction, that means freedom from the penalty of sin and that starts with us and goes to the creation. This is what the prophets taught as well.

    Vadim:It is blatantly obvious that a perfect God will judge perfectly.

    Reply: It is also blatantly obvious that if God did judge us as our sins deserve that none could stand.

    Vadim: When a person commits a sin he will be held accountable to it and when a person does something meritorious he will be rewarded. Pure and simple. For those of you who are not jewish google 7 noahide laws. They are simple rules for every human being to follow, lead a good life and go to heaven!

    Reply: Final colossal mistake. Thinking that the goal is to get to Heaven, when no Jew in the first century would have been asking that question. You’re thinking the goal is life after death. I think the goal is life before death and life after life after death. The goal is being seen as vindicated in the covenant of God.

  118. Pablo: 1 If Jesus died on the cross for our sins but then came back to life/Then what was the sacrifice?

    Reply: The real pain of the cross was not physical, but was instead the separation from God. Once something is given to God however, it is God’s prerogative what He wishes to do with it.

    Pablo: 2) English is not the only language in the world.Christianity is not the only religion in the world.Is God? How do you know 4sure?

    Reply: Because of the evidence. How much time have you spent studying the claim that Jesus rose from the dead?

    Pablo: 3) If 2 billion Christians believe in God what happens to the other 5 Billion people on the planet? Hell? sounds like a lot of people including Musulms,Jewish,Hindues and Bhuddist?
    thanks in advance for your help!

    Reply: If they do not trust the light they have, then yes. This does not mean that the majority are hellbound. Since I’d say all who die in infant mortality would go to Heaven and most have, then most are going to be in Heaven.

    Pablo: 4) If God is Good and Love us why suffering and evil exist today?

    Reply: Because God is overcoming evil right now through the actions of the body of Christ on the world. I think the first questions to ask are “Does God exist?” and then “Did Christ rise?” If those are true, then you know there must be an answer to evil even if you might not know it.

  119. Mike Gene says:

    Vadim:

    It is blatantly obvious that a perfect God will judge perfectly.

    So that means every single sin, no matter how small, over an entire lifetime must be judged.

    When a person commits a sin he will be held accountable to it and when a person does something meritorious he will be rewarded. Pure and simple.

    Really? So if 50.1% of your life is meritorious and 49.9% is sinful, you get to go to heaven? In what way is the 49.9% held accountable? Does one have to keep a constant score to determine if they are going to heaven or not? You clearly have not thought this through, as this is anything but pure and simple.

    For those of you who are not jewish google 7 noahide laws. They are simple rules for every human being to follow, lead a good life and go to heaven!

    So according to you, a person who destroys the life of their child by physically and emotionally abusing them gets to go to heaven. Looks like a drunk, who wallows in self-pity and beats his wife, also gets to go to heaven. And the person who spreads gossip to get a co-worker fired also gets to go to heaven. And the racist who won’t hire any minorities because he hates minorities also gets to go to heaven.

    Look, Jesus said that if you are angry with your brother, you have committed murder in your heart. It looks to me like you don’t take sin very seriously. It’s like a student who thinks he deserves an A in the class simply because he handed in his homework assignments. Well, at least most of them.

  120. G. Rodrigues says:

    I submit that whenever a skeptic starts a question with “how do you know that…” we answer “do you know the reasons that convince us that we know that…”. My guess, from my experience, is that nine times out of ten they do not. It is frustrating.

  121. d says:

    asdf,

    Several questions come to mind. When such a clear cut, easily falsifiable belief is set out, I’d say it would be incredibly difficult to be deceived. How easy would it be to make 500 people swear to having seen a deceased public figure come back to life? And then have some of those people die for it?

    Well documented, seriously? The 500 is extremely poorly documented and has no corroborating evidence at all!! We don’t know a single name in the 500! If this same story appeared in the Koran, you’d probably laugh at it.

    If it does turn out that the probability is just too impossible to overcome, that 500 could be convinced, then the best conclusion is that the 500 witness tale was a myth or an embellishment! The historical evidence isnt enough to support the tale absolutely, much less strong enough to support a miracle. Its just outrageous.

    And actually, we have all kinds of documented cases of group hallucinations, group think in large crowds – its simply not that outrageous, even if if the 500 existed.

  122. Tom Gilson says:

    d,

    Please show us one documented case of group hallucinations. I don’t think there is one. I’ll make it easy for you: I’ll reduce it by an order of magnitude: show us a group hallucination shared by 50 people.

    Please show me one other myth or embellished tale in history whose literary features are similar to those of the crucifixion/resurrection narratives. My point is that those accounts don’t read like myths or fables; they’re not the same kind of thing.

    And what do you do with Peter and the twelve, whose names we do know? Or Paul? Bear in mind that good critical scholarship places the source of 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 within five years of the crucifixion.

    You see, you need to corroborate your theories, too. Your burden of proof is not too heavy. I’m just asking you to show me one true parallel from any time in history to support your theories.

  123. Agnostic says:

    Hey, Victoria – I feel relieved that you realized that I actually do want to believe.

    Look, your latest answer to me makes sense — there are problems, I don’t know how to resolve them, they are secondary to me, and I trust God and want to serve Him better.

    But here is my difficulty when I read things like that as advice to me. I do not necessarily share the same denomination as you (evangelical?) and each of these things is pretty vague to me. Basically I understand what you are saying here:

    “I don’t know how the flood could have possibly happened in a way consistent with science”

    “I don’t know how to resolve many numerical contradictions in the Bible”

    “but I assign them secondary status and focus on the Person of Jesus Christ, and in this particular thing, I feel there is ample evidence that he is who he (was claimed to) say he is, and therefore the rest is just troublesome details.”

    Fine I can even get that part, and I can stop discussing it even though I honestly think that the evidence for Jesus’ divinity or even the truth of the legends about him is LESS than the tons of scientific evidence against the flood and other OT stories + the evidence of tampering with the NT. But like I said, I want to believe, and here I come to the question you CAN help me with — and other Christians, too.

    The question is: What do I do to get to heaven? What should I actually believe?

    Victoria, it’s noble to say “Trust God” or “Just Trust the Bible as God’s Word” but to me that is just vague. As I said “The Bible” had many editions. What you are REALLY following is a doctrine and a school you were born into. Many protestants think most Catholics won’t go to heaven. Many Catholics think most protestants won’t go to heaven. Of course, they don’t know. But they both believe in “Mere Christianity” as C.S. Lewis puts it. However they disagree on the authority of the Church, the requirement of a baptism, Christening, the Eucharist, the role of confession to a priest, and so forth.

    When you say “Trust in God” or “Follow Jesus”, what actionable advice is there actually? Some religious groups hate homosexuals for instance. From what I know of Christians, they pick and choose what is a sin and what is not (having various justifications for it by quoting selective scriptures and explaining away others). It is exemplified in this photograph:

    http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403113_10150523650561524_670936523_8548236_233805244_n.jpg

    So forget about the “mere details” of the flood and all that. How about the major points:

    1) What is Christianity’s central message?

    2) What does one do to get saved?

    3) Can I have premarital sex? Can I eat pork? Why or why not? What am I actually supposed to DO besides what I am already doing, which is being a good person, giving to the poor, and praying to God and loving God and hoping to understand the truth someday?

    4) And finally, is your answer to #4 a universal Christian answer, or would other Christian denominations answer differently? And if so, how do you resolve this conflict for someone who belongs to no denomination?

  124. Vadim says:

    To Nick:

    1) What I meant when I said that christians have equated Jesus to God is that they pray to Jesus thinking that Jesus has the power to help them. Am I wrong? Do christians not pray to Jesus?

    2) If the stories about Jesus in the new testament are to be taken literally then Jesus died because in the very least he violated Shabbat – a capital offense for a Jew living in the times when the temple still stood.

    3) Well they learned wrong. They misinterpreted the prophets. They continue to misinterpret the prophets most notably with Isaiah 53. If you read it in the original hebrew and in the context with the preceding chapters and the chapters that follow you will see that it has nothing to do with Jesus. If you like I can post a link of the correct traditional judaism interpretation of Isaiah.

    4) The christians have somehow created this notion of God as tyrant and decided that God’s anger is so great that all people will fail miserably at judgement and be sent straight to hell. First of all God’s mercy is greatest than His anger. We are taught in traditional Judaism that God judges sins measure for measure but for good deeds God grants a reward that is beyond what one deserves. Second of all the idea of permanent hell is another most terrible christian invention. And I cant even imagine how many human psyches have been ruined by people dwelling on this concept. There is no permanent hell. God does not punish people forever. Even hitler will get out of hell eventually.

    On your last point you’re absolutely correct – the goal is this life! Which is why the written torah (old testament) barely even mentions heaven. By following the 7 noahide laws a non jew can have a great life HERE! And thats what God wants -for people to live well and in peace!

  125. Pablo says:

    Hey Nick thanks for the responses 🙂

    I went to an Evangelical Christian school in Argentina for 6 years and to be honest I never understood the concept of God making a human sacrifice (Jesus) for our sins?. Wasn’t an easier/better way for God to do this?

  126. Vadim says:

    To Mike

    1) Correct every sin will be judged and every good deed will be rewarded.

    2) Even if you only did 0.1% good deeds and 99.9% bad deeds you will still go to heaven eventually. First you will have to atone in gehonim (most closely translated as purgatory. there is no hell in judaism) for all the sins that you have done. And then you will go to heaven for the 0.1% of good deeds that you have done. You should know that everyone creates their own heaven. A person who was kind and good and did good things all his life will enjoy a heaven that is superior in quality to the guy who only did very few good deeds. So that the better you are the better is your heaven.

    3) Like I said before – God is perfect. One who abused his children or did any other horrific acts in his life will pay for everything measure for measure. There is no escaping God’s judgement for anyone. But if that same guy ever gave a nickel to charity then after he has paid for his sins in gehonim he will be rewarded even for the nickel that he gave to charity. Because God does not let any sin no matter how small or how great go unpunished and by the same measure God does not let any good deed no matter how small or how great go unrewarded.

    4) Well even though it is not good to be angry God certainly will not judge someone who is angry with the same punishment as someone who committed murder. Especially since judgement in the afterlife is based on deeds not thoughts. However Jesus wasnt wrong as there is a kaballistic concept that thoughts are also harmful to the soul. But this is a deep kabalistic concept which has very little to do with how one is going to get judged after death. It has a lot more to do with personal growth and improving as a human being.

  127. Agnostic says:

    Nick: in regard go your answer to pablo in #3 I have a question. It always bothered me and I think the doctrine of eternal hell is monstrous for that reason.

    Let me put it this way. How do you know there is a hell and how do you know who goes there and who doesn’t? Does belief in something make all a difference? What is the complete thing that makes the difference?

    What would happen to the following people if they die:

    1 week old child who doesn’t understand anything

    3 year old child who understands something but not enough to know what’s going on

    a rebellious 14 year old teenager who is going through a phase, but who was previously baptized

    King David in the year 800 BC or so. He was said to be quite a righteous man, for instance. Did he know about Jesus? Did he automatically go to heaven when he died?

    Any righteous Jew who lived in the years 900 BC – 100 BC before Jesus made the sacrifice

    a man in China in the year 100 AD, after Jesus died for the sins of all the believers, but this man in China has never heard the gospel ever

    a native american in the year 800 AD, who also has never heard the gospel

    Because there are billions of people on this planet right now. What are you saying will happen to them when they die? Some never knew about Jesus. What is in your opinion the meaning of Acts 4:12 ?

  128. Mike Gene says:

    Vadim:
    1) Correct every sin will be judged and every good deed will be rewarded.

    Yes, that popular idea that truly appeals to our human pride and arrogance. For we mighty humans have the power to earn our way into heaven. And what’s great – it’s so easy. For just 5cents dropped into a Salvation Army pot, you have bought your ticket to heaven. Go home and abuse your children, don’t worry. Your ticket to heaven was purchased. Yeah, there is the temporary atonement thing y’gotta go through, but hey, you can minimize that with more nickels! Kind of like coming up with ways to shorten the visit to the dentist.

    Sorry, but your approach seems to whitewash sin and does not take human evil very seriously. When a parent abuses their child, it causes tremendous damage to that child for the rest of their life. What’s more, it is now likely the abused child, as an adult, will abuse their children in some fashion. It’s a form of ugliness that tells us something is terribly wrong with this reality. Buy why notice that, right? All that matters is in the end, it’s me, Ted Bundy, and Adolph in heaven (although I can brag my heaven is better than theirs).

    Besides, you are not dealing with the fact that child abuse doesn’t violate any of the Seven Noahide Laws.

  129. Charlie says:

    Dr, Michael Brown on Hell.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5NT25wEib4
    [edit: I’ll leave this up, but it is almost useless on the subject of Hell, he barely gets to it in this segment]

    Dr. Michael Brown on Isaiah 53.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5_z4g0cpJg

    Why Michael Brown. Because he does read it in Hebrew and in context. So does Sam Nadler.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwDWnXdyV9U

  130. Charlie says:

    Hi Agnostic,
    Are you just going to keep posing challenges or are you ever going to go, pray, and meditate on what answers you’ve been given?

  131. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic
    We have answered those questions in the blog, over and over and over again. I have given you ample references to pursue.

    What Charlie said above – go and do it.

    Take the time to get to know the living, Triune God. Accept His offer of redemption. Ask Him to be merciful to you, a sinner (having fallen short of His standards). Acknowledge that your own righteousness is nothing but filthy rags in comparison to His. Surrender…Come to Him on His terms and agree with Him that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who died for you on that cross as payment for the debt that you could never pay, and that He was resurrected from the dead as proof that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. Acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour, and ask Him to come into a personal relationship with you. Then get on with growing in this faith, this relationship – learn what God has revealed about Himself through His word; find a Christian community where you feel comfortable (since you are of a Jewish background, then find Christians from the same background).

  132. Vadim says:

    Mike

    I’m not trying to belittle the terrible sin that is child abuse. Its a truly heinous crime. But God knows exactly what the proper punishment is that will atone for it with perfect justice. Whether its a thousand years in gehinom or whatever the number may be the sin will be rectified eventually with perfect justice since God Himself determines the proper punishment for every sin. There is no evil that cannot be atoned for.

    I can share with you that there is an opinion in judaism that some truly truly evil people simply vanish after death as God just annihilates their soul and they cease to exist. But again this refers to an extremely small number of people who are just so utterly evil that God decides to just annihilate them. Hitler would probably fall in this category. It is an opinion that I myself dont subscribe to but it is stated in the jewish tradition.

    As far as the noahide laws go child abuse certainly violates the 7 noahide laws. It is a major form of theft as it robs the child of its well being, health, peace of mind, role model parent and trust in people.

  133. Agnostic says:

    I see so you aren’t even going to tell me what I am supposed to “do”. Simply “go and pray” and “believe… something” and “trust in Jesus”. I have already done all that. I have prayed, I have asked for salvation. I am still here left with the same questions. Apparently you guys dont care. But hey, you “answered me” yeah right. You just want to feel good about yourself. It’s not “challenges” it’s me honestly saying OK what is it that I should do and you going “whatever get lost”

  134. Agnostic says:

    I can tell you one thing if I ever learn the truth about what Christians are supposed to do and become convinced of it, I will not treat people this way. I will be patient and long suffering. And I mean that sincerely.

  135. Charlie says:

    I asked a serious question, Agnostic. Instead of getting all bent up why don’t you answer it?

  136. Agnostic says:

    Charlie: I have asked extremely serious questions and the answer was “stop asking, we gave an answer a year ago somewhere, go away”. I feel a bit angry that this is how someone is treated who wants to honestly learn (and *understand* in rational terms) about Christianity.

    Now, what was your question? If it’s the one with the question mark, then I have already addressed it in my disappointed response above. I have already done all that. What do you want me to say ?

  137. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic
    What more can we do?
    I give you references to the Biblical doctrine of hell (ones that are quite representative of the core Biblical teaching), and you don’t accept it.
    Here is a good ref for the doctrine of salvation:
    http://bible.org/article/what-changed-because-jesus-died

    I gave you a very good reference to one of Christianity’s most articulate spokesmen (NT Wright).

    Now, are you telling me that you have read all of those references, have worked through them, and still don’t understand anything?

  138. Agnostic says:

    To Victoria all I have to say is … it’s not easy to follow the words of Jesus for many Christians. But he did say, Matthew 5:41 “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

    In this case I think it would be helpful for everyone on this board to remember that. “Oh but Greg, this doesn’t apply in this situation” yeah ok.

  139. Charlie says:

    What have you done? Have you considered all the evidence for the Resurrection that has been given you by the very long-suffering Victoria (and others)?
    What have you done with it?

    Did you really put yourself mentally in the time and place of the Disciples as I suggested? And did you really try to understand how our claim could be plausibly true, or did you look for ways to say that it is plausibly false? Did you think on it? How hard?

    You’ve been posting and posting, so when did you go off and contemplate?

    Now, let me presume that you’ve done all this as you say.
    So the Resurrection is false. You are not convinced.
    Jesus is not God and He was not raised from the dead.
    He is not at the right hand of God, He has not paid your debt, He is not your intercessor, you do not have peace with God …..

    So why are you asking what a Christian has to do?
    If you had done anything you claim to have done you would know what a Christian has to do.

    Oh yes, you can fuss around the edges and complain that every denomination will tell you something slightly different. But then we can see, once again, that this is not serious questioning but another ploy to add another stick to your pile.

    Since you are not doing what makes sense it looks, as it did last time, like you are posing as a seeker in order to actually just make arguments and try to win a hearing based upon our good faith.

  140. Charlie says:

    There you go again, Agnostic.
    Do you know what you look like with these appeals?

    Although you use pleasant language and say you are just seeking you look very much like an atheist who says whatever he wants to Christians and as soon as they answer back in kind he says “that’s not very Christian”.

    And like an atheist you are very handy with the interwebs when you want to pose a problem. So why aren’t you so good looking for answers?
    What have you accomplished since your self-bannination?

  141. Mike Gene says:

    Hi Vadim,

    There is no need to convince me of your views, as if you are right, I have it covered. That is, my “good deeds” go far and beyond 5 cents in the pot. So no problemo here.

    But your perceptive rings hollow to me. For not only does it center around human pride and arrogance, but your conception of God does not entail forgiveness. For not only do we earn our spot in heaven, we atone for our sins with our own punishment. That’s not forgiveness. That’s not love. It’s like God is some impersonal Cosmic Machine that applies an algorithm to our actions and that’s all there is to it. No offense, but your religious views come across as a FAQ sheet on GameFaqs.com.

    Look at it this way. When my own sense of being and my own introspection runs deeper than your religion, it won’t resonate for me. In fact, that’s why I became a Christian after being raised a pure secularist. I have not found any religion, other than Christianity, that runs deeper than my awareness.

    As for child abuse and the 7 noahide laws, you originally said:

    For those of you who are not jewish google 7 noahide laws. They are simple rules for every human being to follow, lead a good life and go to heaven!

    Well, it turns out they are not “simple rules” after all. Now, it all depends on how we define “theft” and other words. I would imagine it would be easy to take those 7 simple rules and expand them into 7000 little rules. I don’t see how a system could take sin seriously for the simple reason it would cause someone to go crazy trying to figure out if they are committing a sin. So like I said, it looks like the system would end up being nothing deeper than a FAQ.

  142. Charlie says:

    Agnostic, let’s make a deal.
    I will be the longsuffering Christian you want me to be, you be the seeker you claim to be.

    I will drop every other conversation I am having on any other blog and for one week I will dialogue with you.
    Every day you read a chapter of the Gospel of John and then we will discuss it.
    I will not entertain any objections you have form outside, any Google searched rejoinders, etc.
    I will discuss the Book itself, on its face, and your impression of what it is saying.
    We can go chapter by chapter but I want your word that you will be reading it, and I want evidence that you are by your analysis of the content.

    I have made myself late for an apt. stopping to say this, so please forgive my terseness.
    We can hammer out some details later and we can discuss your impressions of John 1 this evening.

    How about it?

  143. Agnostic says:

    Yes Victoria, believe it or not I have read your links. And I am still here asking you questions, and the are supposed to highlight what is missing from the links.

    I will explain for example the last link you sent me… it speaks from a Protestant perspective. It takes Paul’s doctrine of antinomialism as evidence of this position. I am not even going to bring up my questions about Paul’s authority to say “the old law is passed away” and how that makes no sense to me. I am bullied into submission to not ask that. I will just accept what is written there in your link. BUT even so…

    As I read it, I kept asking a simple question that is the most relevant to me: *WHAT DO I DO*. Do I just say a little prayer and hope that now I am a new child in Christ? Then do I continue living my life hoping that I have the law in my heart and that’s it?

    Your last link was kind of long, as were all the links you gave me. And they didn’t even help me understand what I am supposed to DO. Who knew that such a simple question can be so difficult? When Jesus himself was asked about the kingdom of Heaven, he said things like this:

    What is written in the law? … Do these and you will live.

    and

    18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Which commands? Jesus said “think not that I have come to abolish the Law” which would logically suggest that this was the already-existing Mosaic law!

    Which commandments? I assume the entire Mosaic law!

    James his brother, head of the Church writes:

    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

    This further underscores that the entire Mosaic law must be followed. Is that what Christians must do in order not to be “least” in the kingdom of heaven? Elsewhere he writes:

    “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

    “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

    SO WHAT WORKS?

    You however confront me with Paul’s ideas ONLY, which leaves me with questions. Who was Paul and what does his answer to the same question:

    “The jailer brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” — WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???? “BELIEVE ON” ? That is not even proper grammar today! I don’t even know what I am supposed to do!

    Look Victoria I am not a saint, but I really try to be a good person and be reasonable when I debate. When I say that I have a problem understanding something, it’s not because I am trying to [ insert accusation of doing something dastardly here ]. I am asking with an open heart and I really do start to feel kind of angry when I am just brushed off and given “links to read”.

    Can I give you one link to read which illustrates what I see?

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/salwdjs.htm

    Are you going to read it? I know that laziness is one of the seven deadly sins (not in your denomination, I know). I know that long-suffering is a virtue. How about the golden rule, I read one link of yours can you read one link of mine? How about just being open minded and generous enough to see I am not trying to spend all this time for the sole goal of “being aggravating” or trolling christians. Maybe I really do have a point even after I read your link?

    I implore you to read this link to illustrate what my confusion is about WHAT DO I DO:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/salwdjs.htm

    If you are unwilling to see where I am coming from then you are right, we are at an impasse.

  144. Agnostic says:

    Charlie — I thank you for your offer and I also am proud of you for having the attitude of a good Christian. It is a good witness for your faith.

    You don’t need to give up any blogs for me. I do wonder why you think reading the book of John would be better than simply answering my questions, but if you think it will help I too will set aside time and we can discuss it, privately or however you want.

    I hope my questions are clear from what I have written. I can always try to make them even more clear cut if you like.

  145. Agnostic says:

    Mike Gene: your idea of salvation through belief in something does not strike non Christians as coherent either. Can you for example make a coherent set of answers to the examples I asked you above? Infants, people who have never heard the gospel, and so forth. I gave you SPECIFIC examples but I did not see how your view applies to them. You really think it’s fair that some people grow up never having heard the gospel and have no chance to get into heaven because they once stole a cookie from a cookie jar? And all those righteous Jews who were praised in the OT actually had no idea what was in store for them because they once got angry at someone? I don’t get it.

    Why don’t you answer the questions I posted above?

    By the way there is quite some evidence in the book of Acts that the real Church (headed by James and Peter) was teaching Jews to follow Jewish Law. When they got reports of Paul teaching otherwise, here is what they said:

    Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

    As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

    Notice these are actually the Noahide laws. Oh and here is some more from the book of Acts. James says:

    19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

    The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers

    22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers[c] who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you[d] with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

    So I would say Vadim’s thing about Noahide laws isn’t too far off from what the real Church officially declared to the gentiles.

    In fact, Jewish rabbis have also had this opinion. R. Emden, in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to “Seder ‘Olam” [54] gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law — which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.

  146. Mike Gene says:

    Agnostic,

    Sorry, but I do not believe you are some serious “seeker.” It turns out you have posted 9814 words in this thread alone. Nine thousand, eight hundred and fourteen. And among that blizzard of words are 131 questions. One hundred and thirty one questions. It looks to me that if someone tries to answer one of those question, it simply works to expand the question set exponentially. A true seeker does not try to overwhelm his dialog partners with a dust storm of words and questions.

    So you are not a Christian. I get it.

    You have problems and problems, and more problems, with Christianity. I get it.

    But what I don’t get is what you have to offer me. Can you spell out the way that is better than Christianity? Or do you not have anything other than complaints and problems with Christianity?

  147. Agnostic says:

    Mike: the questions for you are very specific and I promise I will not expand the set at all. I may ask 1 more question of you and that’s it. I simply want to understand what your position is since you criticized the theology of Judaism for being somehow unfair.

    What would happen to the following people if they die:

    1 week old child who doesn’t understand anything

    3 year old child who understands something but not enough to know what’s going on

    a rebellious 14 year old teenager who is going through a phase, but who was previously baptized

    King David in the year 800 BC or so. He was said to be quite a righteous man, for instance. Did he know about Jesus? Did he automatically go to heaven when he died?

    Any righteous Jew who lived in the years 900 BC – 100 BC before Jesus made the sacrifice

    a man in China in the year 100 AD, after Jesus died for the sins of all the believers, but this man in China has never heard the gospel ever

    a native american in the year 800 AD, who also has never heard the gospel

    Because there are billions of people on this planet right now. What are you saying will happen to them when they die? Some never knew about Jesus. What is in your opinion the meaning of Acts 4:12 ?

  148. SteveK says:

    What would happen to the following people if they die

    One answer

    The important thing to know is that you are not one of those people on your list. You therefore have no excuse.

  149. Mike Gene says:

    I think that anyone, regardless of their religion, who is honest with themselves and their sin will cry out to God for both mercy and salvation and be saved. Why? Not because they follow some laws or rules. But because God knows the human heart and because Christ Himself atoned for their sins.

    Now, it’s your turn to answer my question. Can you spell out the way that is better than Christianity?

  150. Vadim says:

    Mike

    The “love” aspect of God that draws you to christianity is found on the reverse side of God’s justice. After the sins are erased by gehinom, then one is able to truly appreciate God’s love.

    And yes the noahide laws do have many sub laws. But i think they’re rather obvious. They all revolve around the familiar theme of not harming others.

  151. Tom Gilson says:

    Greg,

    In your post with “just one question” you asked what would happen to seven persons or groups if they died not knowing about Christ. That’s arguably seven questions. You asked if David knew about Jesus. You asked if he automatically went to heaven.

    There are 148 question marks in your posts in this last three days, and about 481 periods. One in four sentences you write is a question. That doesn’t count your questions that end with periods, as in the seven I just mentioned.

    This is why conversation with you was so difficult when your name was Greg instead of agnostic.

    You are on notice now. You may choose one question that you want answered. You may not ask another one unless it relates directly and specifically to that question, or to a reply someone has given to that question. You may not ask another question for any other purpose. Clear?

  152. Agnostic says:

    Tom: the punctuation does not indicate how many positions I have: I have one. It is a complex position, and I try to illustrate it.

    I told Mike specifically:

    here are the questions I asked you before (I quoted them)

    I might ask at most one other question of you, but I will not ask any more

    Those questions were for mike because he implied that Christian theology is a much more palatable one than Judaism. Actually I would rather stay out of the way of other discussions, but in this case this concerns my own questions, so I asked. Is that fair?

  153. Tom Gilson says:

    Choose one question, please.

  154. Agnostic says:

    PS I just realized I put a question mark at the end of my last post. That’s an example of me asking a question but I think that’s just the way some people speak. Should I try to avoid questions when speaking here…. I mean …. argh

  155. Agnostic says:

    You mean to say I should choose one question for Mike?

  156. Mike Gene says:

    Vadim

    The “love” aspect of God that draws you to christianity is found on the reverse side of God’s justice. After the sins are erased by gehinom, then one is able to truly appreciate God’s love.

    I see no love or forgiveness. It’s like God is some impersonal Cosmic Machine that applies an algorithm to our actions and that’s all there is to it. Sorry, but the perspective is too shallow for me. And none of it matters anyway given that if you are right, it’s all okay for me.

    And yes the noahide laws do have many sub laws. But i think they’re rather obvious. They all revolve around the familiar theme of not harming others.

    What’s obvious is that lots of different people will reach their own personal conclusions about the validity of any sublaw. Humans are exceptionally good at self-justification and self-righteousness. The bottom line is that it doesn’t look simple to me.

  157. Agnostic says:

    SteveK: I really like the video you posted. Because i shows a guy honestly trying to address this issue from his point of view.

    In it, he first says that people aren’t going to hell because of an accident of geography or history. That sounds great to me. Then echoes Paul’s idea that people “are without excuse” and “know better”, they know that there is a creator, but they suppress “it” because of the “wickedness in their hearts”. “They don’t want to bend their knee to their creator, rather they want to go into the other direction.”

    This seems to indicate that, according to his belief, people who have never heard the gospel because they lived somewhere else *will* be judged because “they are without excuse” from looking at nature, etc. And according to Christian theology, everyone is under original sin and therefore worthy of hell. So doesn’t this contradict the statement he said in the original part of the video?

    I am not trying to nitpick, this is a comment about the very point of the video. Are people or aren’t people going to hell, who have never heard about the gospel, or who for one reason or another did not become a Christian. There are at least 3 billion non christians in the world.

    “What do they do with what they have?” he asks. “What they do is follow false systems of belief.” Look at me. I do believe in God, but I have no idea what *we* are supposed to do. I try to speak to Christians and understand the true system of belief based on REASON — because I can really only judge whether things are true or not using reason. But when I come here and talk about reason, that is discouraged because I am asking “too many questions”.

    The guy in the video says “they will continue to commit crimes against Him for which they will be held responsible.” My question is, what crimes? Christians themselves are divided on what is a crime and what is not. I cannot illustrate it better here:

    http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403113_10150523650561524_670936523_8548236_233805244_n.jpg

    Also he says “they will not be judged for rejecting a Jesus they’ve never met …. or heard of.” I have not met Jesus, and what I have heard makes me doubt *the messengers*. So why should I be judged for exercising reason and trying to find out what I am supposed to do?

    Tom asked me to ask a specific question. Here is one specific question:

    Everyone has a different idea of what a sin is. Even if I believed totally in Paul’s writings, since the law is abolished I wouldn’t have any consistent standard by which to decide whether I can have premarital sex, never get married, live like Hugh Hefner, eat pork, or work on the Sabbath day. As long as I treat people well it should be just fine. It would seem to me that if the law is in my heart, I should just do good things. So the question is: What am I supposed to do in order to be saved? Besides praying to God to send me the Holy Spirit in my heart, accepting Jesus’ free gift of paying for all my sins on the cross, asking for forgiveness for my sins and so forth. I have done all that, and I am already being good on my own terms, so I should be considered a Christian.

  158. Tom Gilson says:

    how come symptoms of epilepsy were caused by demons back then, but today nothing supernatural is happening?

    ********

    Well, the question is, believe what? I guess that the Bible is a book describing true events? That it is divinely inspired? The thing is, what is the Bible?

    ********

    One of the most unambiguous statements of this doctrine, the Comma Johanneum, does not appear in the gospels until the middle ages. So if such a thing can be added later into the gospels, what else can appear?

    ********

    The question would always be … given any claim of supernatural occurrence in the Bible, 1) why do you believe it, and 2) how come things like that were happening but do not happen now?

    ********

    But more perplexingly, how can you say it is “trustworthy”?

    ********

    Bill T: I would like you to show me where historians accept as “reliable history” some supernatural events where people rose from the dead, or fed 5 thousand people miraculously. Please also tell me what historical principles are employed in determining whether the virgin birth story is true or not. The writers were not present at some of the events described, so how did they know about them? If you say you have faith that they were divinely revealed to them, I don’t think this is a very historical approach. Also what about the stuff I said regarding the MANY saints appearing to MANY?

    ********

    As for the doctrine of the trinity – you do realize that this doctrine wasn’t close to being universally accepted in the early church?

    ********

    If such a doctrinal passage can be inserted, how do you know other things weren’t inserted, such as the story with the adultress, or the virgin birth?

    ********

    How can you say that the Bible is trustworthy when the Comma Johanneum is in the King James Version of the Bible and most other translations until the 19th century, and since then it is no longer present in translations?

    ********

    Are you using some sort of different definition of “reliable”?

    ********

    Do you not agree that most historians have never considered stories talking about resurrections to be reliable and accurate?

    ********

    How have historians dealt with the “reliable” claim that MANY saints rose from the dead and appeared to MANY people in the holy city, yet there is no record of this?

    ********

    How is the virgin birth story at all historical? Who says that this is beyond what historians accept as reliable history? What historical principles are at work when the writers never personally witnessed a claimed event?

    ********

    How can something like that just get inserted into a book that everyone considers holy and about which it is said that one should not add nor take away?

    ********

    But I want to end with this question, which I think is a crucial one: what gets one saved? Is it faith, and if faith, what do they have to believe? Do they have to just say a certain prayer and believe something in their heart for a little bit? Because when Christians quote Jesus for what to do, it’s stuff like “believe in me” , “follow me”, “trust in me”, etc. Yes, believe in what?? Believing Paul’s theology of antinomialism gets you saved? And if you later believe something else what happens? Even if Christianity is 100% true, what exactly should we believe, and what effect does it have on salvation? Isn’t it different throughout various Christian groups?

    ********

    I think the power of many religions stems from the fear which they associate with *not* believing a certain doctrine. Do such threats have a place in a discourse which is trying to find out the truth?

    ********

    You allude to the doctrine of hell, itself related to a scant few passages that can be twisted one way or that, and tell people that if they don’t believe something, then … what?

    ********

    However, MANY famous dead saints came to life and appeared to MANY in Jerusalem and yet no one was impressed enough to record this in history outside the passing reference in the gospels. Do you not see that this is a blatant double standard in historical reasoning?

    ********

    If James knew about Jesus’ miraculous birth, about the prophecy of Gabriel, about the Magi, why wouldn’t he think Jesus was anything special? Why would his parents seem to forget this from time to time, and Jesus even complained that in his own house, a prophet is without honor?

    ********

    Did you ever consider maybe you know too little about Islam? Why do you think it is a false religion? You know why the atheists don’t believe in Islam?

    ********

    And since you say I don’t know much, can you enlighten me as to what that even means, and what the argument is that it is reliable?

    ********

    “The Bible” is “reliable”. Is there a rigorous meaning to what you are trying to say with that?

    ********

    Moreover you are defending doctrines. You do realize that throughout history there were many doctrines, right?

    ********

    How do you respond to Greek mythology?

    ********

    if you reject other religions on much lesser grounds, why should my issues with believing be brushed aside?

    ********

    There is no such thing as once saved, you can lose your salvation. Is that right?

    ********

    By the way, how do you explain that James did not follow Jesus when the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary were quite clear about Jesus’ destiny? Why did she never seem to tell James this?

    ********

    I mean, it certainly is not without its leaps of faith (what does Jesus’ resurrection, for example, have to do with the absolute truth of Luke’s writings? Or for that matter Paul’s?) But let’s be clear about how you get to the final result. It’s not through simply historical reasoning. If you approach every story in the Bible this way, ask yourself, “who wrote this, and how could they know what happened, and why do I believe it one hundred percent”?

    ********

    Why do you assume I do not have kindness nor sincerity?

    ********

    Not only that, but certain members of them abolish the Law, which is ordained by G-d to be for ever for the Jews. Does this sound familiar?

    ********

    Can Jews really start eating pork and it will be ok?

    ********

    What are Christians actually supposed to do? How do you know? Because honestly I see a lot of picking and choosing. Take a look at this sad picture: http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403113_10150523650561524_670936523_8548236_233805244_n.jpg … if the Law was abolished, then who is anyone to say this or that is a sin, but this or that is not? Practically speaking what does Christianity teach besides the two commandments? For instance, Christians eat pork but discourage premarital sex. How do they determine what is a sin?

    ********

    Finally, what do you think the actual central message of Christianity is? What is the relationship that we should seek with Jesus? I get that you are supposed to “trust Jesus”, “follow Jesus” and so on, but what does that actually translate into? What actually gets you saved? When Jesus was asked this question, he said “follow the law.” Incidentally, the other answer, “take up your cross and follow me” is considered a forgery for obvious reasons. Let’s say I wanted to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior”. Don’t I already have God as my Lord? And what does “accepting Jesus as my Savior” mean? Do I just relax and live life as before knowing I am now saved? Or what?

    ********

    So can you just tell me why you think Paul and his school of thought — the whole thing about being saved through faith and not works, etc. — has authority for you? What does this have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?

    ********

    Why do you believe “The Bible” as a canon in particular is the Word of God, given the fact that the early church engaged in bitter battles about theology?

    ********

    2) What makes you consider Paul’s theology to be part of the Word of God?

    ********

    Let me end this skeptical inquiry and honestly ask, what do you actually believe?

    ********

    Why are you not a fundamentalist?

    ********

    Do you understand that you do not believe Islam because of *reasons*?

    ********

    So how come they disagree on things such as the interpretation of the Bible, the necessity of a baptism for salvation, the eucharist, praying to the saints, and more? I am guessing you are not a Catholic and probably do not accept the Catholic Church’s authority. Do you also think that painting a bearded man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, representing God , is institutionalized idol worship?

    ********

    You claim that you “believe” because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But believe what?

    ********

    What false pretenses are those? I admit I am Greg Magarshak, I have never pretended otherwise. [Note from Tom: NOT TRUE!]

    ********

    1) What is Christianity’s central message?

    ********

    2) What does one do to get saved?

    ********

    3) Can I have premarital sex? Can I eat pork? Why or why not? What am I actually supposed to DO besides what I am already doing, which is being a good person, giving to the poor, and praying to God and loving God and hoping to understand the truth someday?

    ********

    4) And finally, is your answer to #4 a universal Christian answer, or would other Christian denominations answer differently? And if so, how do you resolve this conflict for someone who belongs to no denomination?

    ********

    When you say “Trust in God” or “Follow Jesus”, what actionable advice is there actually?

    ********

    The question is: What do I do to get to heaven? What should I actually believe?

    ********

    What are you saying will happen to them when they die? Some never knew about Jesus. What is in your opinion the meaning of Acts 4:12 ?

    ********

    King David in the year 800 BC or so. He was said to be quite a righteous man, for instance. Did he know about Jesus? Did he automatically go to heaven when he died?

    ********

    Let me put it this way. How do you know there is a hell and how do you know who goes there and who doesn’t? Does belief in something make all a difference? What is the complete thing that makes the difference?

    ********

    Can I give you one link to read which illustrates what I see?

    ********

    “The jailer brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” — WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???? “BELIEVE ON” ? That is not even proper grammar today! I don’t even know what I am supposed to do!

    ********

    “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

    ********

    SO WHAT WORKS?

    ********

    Which commandments?

    ********

    Which commands?

    ********

    Your last link was kind of long, as were all the links you gave me. And they didn’t even help me understand what I am supposed to DO. Who knew that such a simple question can be so difficult?

    ********

    As I read it, I kept asking a simple question that is the most relevant to me: *WHAT DO I DO*. Do I just say a little prayer and hope that now I am a new child in Christ? Then do I continue living my life hoping that I have the law in my heart and that’s it?

    ********

    You really think it’s fair that some people grow up never having heard the gospel and have no chance to get into heaven because they once stole a cookie from a cookie jar? And all those righteous Jews who were praised in the OT actually had no idea what was in store for them because they once got angry at someone? I don’t get it.

    ********

    Can you for example make a coherent set of answers to the examples I asked you above?

    ********

    So the question is: What am I supposed to do in order to be saved?

    ********

    So why should I be judged for exercising reason and trying to find out what I am supposed to do?

    ********

    My question is, what crimes?

    ********

    So doesn’t this contradict the statement he said in the original part of the video?

  159. Tom Gilson says:

    Read through that last post, and you’ll get a sense of the problem, I hope. Those are your questions of the last three days. There are a few repeated themes in there, but there are also many topics all over the map.

    When you ask a question you control the conversation. That’s a standard principle of communication. A question calls for the other person to do something, to answer.

    Normally I’m pleased to answer questions, as are the others here, but in your case, you need to seriously tone down your control of the discussion here. Let us know one thing you want answered. Stay on that topic. One topic. If another question occurs to you while discussing that topic, don’t ask it!

    Thank you.

  160. Agnostic says:

    Tom, I see. You’re right, and thank you for your explanation. I have taken your advice and asked one question. You see it in bold. I hope one question in any given message is acceptable yes?

  161. Vadim says:

    Mike

    1) Are you telling me that the idea that Jesus has paid for all your sins and now you are free to do whatever you like because all your sins have already been paid for makes more sense to you than the idea that everyone pays for their own sins because that makes God look like a machine?

    2) I don’t think you’re giving people enough credit here. I think we can all estimate pretty well in most situations whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.

  162. Vadim: To Nick: 1) What I meant when I said that christians have equated Jesus to God is that they pray to Jesus thinking that Jesus has the power to help them. Am I wrong? Do christians not pray to Jesus?

    Reply: My wife and I pray together every night and I watch the words of Christian leaders like pastors when they pray. They can too often be praying to the Father and then say something like “Thank you for dying on the cross.” It’s a terrible way of handling things. Our way of prayer is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son by the Holy Spirit. I believe this is what Jesus would have us to do. Jesus is the go-between for us and God.

    Vadim:2) If the stories about Jesus in the new testament are to be taken literally then Jesus died because in the very least he violated Shabbat – a capital offense for a Jew living in the times when the temple still stood.

    Reply: First off, literally is a dangerous term. What do you mean by it?

    Second, if you think the great crime of Jesus was violating Sabbath, you don’t have a clue what he was doing then. Jesus was constantly making claims to be Israel’s new king and to be the focal point of what God was doing, as is amply demonstrated by his cleansing of the temple. Jesus regularly claimed not only that the Sabbath found its fulfillment in him, but also the temple, the promises to David, and all of the Scriptures before him. Violating Sabbath would not be a charge that would have frightened Pilate.

    Vadim: 3) Well they learned wrong. They misinterpreted the prophets. They continue to misinterpret the prophets most notably with Isaiah 53. If you read it in the original hebrew and in the context with the preceding chapters and the chapters that follow you will see that it has nothing to do with Jesus. If you like I can post a link of the correct traditional judaism interpretation of Isaiah.

    Reply: You could, but it would be irrelevant. I was not speaking of Messianic prophecies but about YHWH’s forgiveness as regularly found in the OT. You don’t see in the OT that your good deeds will earn you special favor. Forgiveness is not earned or else it is not forgiveness.

    Vadim: 4) The christians have somehow created this notion of God as tyrant and decided that God’s anger is so great that all people will fail miserably at judgement and be sent straight to hell.

    Reply: No. The great trait of God emphasized is love. Have you ever even read the NT? Yes. God has wrath, but He has wrath not in spite of His love but because He is love. God is not wrath, but God is love.

    Vadim: First of all God’s mercy is greatest than His anger.

    Reply: Which is why the saints emphasized his mercy. Go through the medieval period. They spoke much about his grace and mercy. Sounds like you have a carricature.

    Vadim: We are taught in traditional Judaism that God judges sins measure for measure but for good deeds God grants a reward that is beyond what one deserves.

    Reply: Good to see that you are taught that. Problem is you give me no reason to believe it. Please demonstrate this is true from the Tanakh.

    Vadim: Second of all the idea of permanent hell is another most terrible christian invention.

    Reply: Actually, you can find it in intertestament literature and in such writings as the DSS. It’s thoroughly Jewish. Jesus was not teaching a new teaching when he taught Hell.

    Vadim: And I cant even imagine how many human psyches have been ruined by people dwelling on this concept.

    Reply: Then don’t dwell on it. Dwell on God and His kingdom.

    Vadim: There is no permanent hell. God does not punish people forever. Even hitler will get out of hell eventually.

    Reply: Your evidence for this?

    Vadim: On your last point you’re absolutely correct – the goal is this life! Which is why the written torah (old testament) barely even mentions heaven. By following the 7 noahide laws a non jew can have a great life HERE! And thats what God wants -for people to live well and in peace!

    Reply: No. The Tanakh does not mention Heaven much because it’s not really relevant. What is relevant is God and His righteousness which is what is meant by Heaven actually. God’s presence is to be among His people and that is what Jesus brought. I do not think the law was meant as a way to happiness however but as a way of demonstrating that one was in the covenant of God.

  163. Tom Gilson says:

    One question in any given message? No, that’s not the point. The point is to stay on one topic. Don’t ask another question that changes the subject.

  164. To Pablo:

    Wasn’t an easier/better way for God to do this?

    Reply: Feel free to name it if you’re sure it exists. Until then, I have enough evidence that He did choose this way.

  165. Tom Gilson says:

    Greg, here is your question, then:

    Everyone has a different idea of what a sin is. Even if I believed totally in Paul’s writings, since the law is abolished I wouldn’t have any consistent standard by which to decide whether I can have premarital sex, never get married, live like Hugh Hefner, eat pork, or work on the Sabbath day. As long as I treat people well it should be just fine. It would seem to me that if the law is in my heart, I should just do good things. So the question is: What am I supposed to do in order to be saved? Besides praying to God to send me the Holy Spirit in my heart, accepting Jesus’ free gift of paying for all my sins on the cross, asking for forgiveness for my sins and so forth. I have done all that, and I am already being good on my own terms, so I should be considered a Christian.

    It’s a good one. I hope you stay with it.

  166. Agnostic: Let me put it this way. How do you know there is a hell and how do you know who goes there and who doesn’t?

    Reply: Let’s start with the first one. To begin with, I believe that there is punishment because I believe God is just. However, that would just be speculation that would not be conclusive. For me, the more conclusive reason I have is that Jesus taught about Hell and I believe God vindicated the claims of Jesus by raising him from the dead.

    Who goes there? If you name particular persons, it is not mine to say. Judgment belongs to God. The simple answer however is those who are in God’s family and that is not defined by ethnicity as the Jews would have thought, but on right standing before God.

    Agnostic: Does belief in something make all a difference? What is the complete thing that makes the difference?

    Reply: If one believes something, it will impact how they live. The person who believes the gospel is saying “I believe God has appointed His king in Jesus Christ and Jesus is the ruler of this universe and Caesar isn’t.” If one does not treat the king seriously, it is worth asking if one believes that He is the king. To agree with God is to trust in the one He has sent for forgiveness as well. It is siding with God and laying down one’s arms against Him and saying you will not be a rebel any longer. God makes you His own then.

    What if you do not do this? Well then, God is entirely fair. He will judge you by your works and those works must be absolutely perfect, His standard. Not arbitrary in any way.

    Agnostic: What would happen to the following people if they die:

    Reply: It is not mine to speak with certainty on these. I ask you instead simply to see if Jesus rose from the dead as that is the main question and if He did, it does not matter if you like X or not. However I will offer my opinion.

    Agnostic: 1 week old child who doesn’t understand anything

    3 year old child who understands something but not enough to know what’s going on

    Reply: No. These are ones who can have no shame concept and thus are not guilty before God not knowing the right and the wrong as they should.

    Agnostic: a rebellious 14 year old teenager who is going through a phase, but who was previously baptized

    Reply: Don’t care if he was baptized. I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration. If he trusted Christ, I would give more credibility to the idea that God’s mercy is great.

    Agnostic: King David in the year 800 BC or so. He was said to be quite a righteous man, for instance. Did he know about Jesus? Did he automatically go to heaven when he died?

    Reply: Quite a righteous man? My oh my. What Bible are you reading? He was a murderer, an adulterer, and a terrible father. However, what made him different is this. He knew all of that and he freely confessed his sin and sought forgiveness. Did he go? Yes. On what basis? On the light revealed to Him. He was faithful to YHWH with what He knew and looked forward to the coming Messiah. This is what Hebrews 11 is about.

    Agnostic: Any righteous Jew who lived in the years 900 BC – 100 BC before Jesus made the sacrifice

    Reply: Same as above. They were responding to what they heard and if they trusted in YHWH, then they are in.

    Agnostic: a man in China in the year 100 AD, after Jesus died for the sins of all the believers, but this man in China has never heard the gospel ever

    Reply: How did he respond to what he had revealed to him?

    Agnostic: a native american in the year 800 AD, who also has never heard the gospel

    Reply: Same as above.

    Agnostic: Because there are billions of people on this planet right now. What are you saying will happen to them when they die? Some never knew about Jesus. What is in your opinion the meaning of Acts 4:12 ?

    Reply: Acts 4:12 says that the name of Jesus is that by which people are saved. However, does that mean the phonetic understanding or rather more the authority as it would mean to a good Jew of the time? This simply means no one will be pronounced a member of God’s family apart from the authority of Christ.

    Now my questions are still the same.

    What of the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead? That is the central question.

    And if the evidence is conclusive that he rose, but you still have doubts on Hell, how will you respond?

    Furthermore, it might help you to consider what some of us believe Hell is. You might be surprised.

  167. Mike Gene says:

    Vadim,

    1) Are you telling me that the idea that Jesus has paid for all your sins and now you are free to do whatever you like because all your sins have already been paid for makes more sense to you than the idea that everyone pays for their own sins because that makes God look like a machine?

    I never said I am free to do whatever I like because all my sins have been paid for. It is the realization that my sins are paid for that not only humbles me, but shows me how much God loves me. It also shows me who is truly in charge here. I refrain from sin, as much as possible, out of gratitude and returned love.

    2) I don’t think you’re giving people enough credit here. I think we can all estimate pretty well in most situations whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.

    Which explains why the greatest source of evil and suffering on this planet are human beings. I’ve seen too much pain and suffering coming from the hands of people who thought they were doing the “right thing.”

  168. Tom Gilson says:

    Note of translation: Agnostic = Greg

  169. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    1. Did you read the book by N.T. Wright? There is enough material there to take at least a week of careful reading and thought.

    Paul’s credentials as an apostle are well-documented in the NT.
    His conversion story is given in Acts 9:1-31.
    He was accepted by the apostles (Acts 13:1-3, and commissioned by the Holy Spirit no less to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles), which he did faithfully until his death. Paul, like the other authors of the New Testament, was given his theology through the inspiration of the Spirit of God (this is a core Christian truth – if you are going to deny it, then you are basically telling God that you don’t believe a word He says). Paul had the same authority as the other apostles.

    I read your link; it makes the all too common error of not recognizing the divine inspiration of Scripture and not understanding the balancing truths principle (eg, James and Paul on faith and works as being complementary)
    James wrote to Jewish disciples of Jesus, who had already put their faith and trust in Him – James is concerned with the practical application of their faith, not how to be saved (they already knew that). Paul addressed his letters to Gentiles and his message is tailored to explain the gospel and how to be saved, so that his readers could go out into their communities and explain it to others.

    It really comes down to why did Jesus die on the cross, and why was He resurrected from the dead? The biblical answer is clear: see John 3:16-18: to redeem a fallen human race and give us new life. If God’s judgement of sin, His wrath, and hell are not real, then why bother with the whole death and resurrection business?

    Compare Acts 2:14-41, Acts 3:11-4:12, 1 Peter 1:1-21, Romans 5:1-18, Ephesians 1:1-2:10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-56. John, Peter and Paul agree on the meaning and implications of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Go back and read James 1:5-8 – do you not see yourself in those words? You are full of doubt, and no trust whatsoever.
    You have closed yourself off from hearing anything that God would say to you.

  170. Tom Gilson says:

    P.S. to Greg/Agnostic:

    I’m going to keep a tight leash on this discussion, but I’m not going to expect every other commenter to be aware of it. If some other commenter here leads you to another topic, I will hold you responsible to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to stick with the question I asked.” Please feel free to blame me for it; I’ll take the heat.

  171. Victoria says:

    @Greg

    I consider myself a Christian because although I admit I see the evidence as suggesting a 99% chance that nothing supernatural happened and the stories are a result of myth-making and lots of controversy and dogma forced upon people, nevertheless I think there is a chance the atheists are mistaken somehow and there is a chance that Sinai happened, God made a covenant with my people the Jews, and Jesus really died for our sins.

    I challenged you on this before, but you did not respond to it.

    This is your idea of faith and trusting God?

  172. Vadim says:

    Mike

    Well its very nice that you have decided that you will refrain from sin out of grattitude and returned love but in theory somebody who wants to do all kinds of terrible things can use this logic that all sins are paid for and do whatever they like. And then they think they will go straight to heaven because they “believe in Jesus.” Doesn’t that strike you as ridiculous?

  173. Charlie says:

    And then they think they will go straight to heaven because they “believe in Jesus.” Doesn’t that strike you as ridiculous?

    It is ridiculous because a person going to Heaven is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is conformed more and more to Christlikeness by the Spirit living in him.
    Jesus said that many would say “Lord, Lord …” but He would send them away because He never knew them.

  174. Victoria says:

    @Greg
    This is what Paul said about the Law (of Moses):
    “Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! Instead we uphold the law.” You really have to read the entire book to get his full perspective.
    Paul is referring to the sacrificial / ceremonial system, not the moral principles on which the Law is based. The book of Hebrews makes this point very clearly.
    Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, his resurrection and presence before His Father in heaven, making intercession on behalf of those He has redeemed, it is no longer necessary for us to offer atoning sacrifices. See also Galatians 3:1-4:7.
    The moral principles of the Law are still in effect (Romans 7:1-25, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, for example), so sexual immorality in the old covenant is still sexual immorality in the new covenant, for example.
    That answers one part of your multipart question, I think. You will have to do your own careful study of the references, in their fuller contexts, to see how all this hangs together. Hopefully, you will respond with “Ah, I understand a bit better now”, rather than running off on yet another tangent.

  175. Charlie says:

    So, Greg (I’m going to call you Greg because if I address you repeatedly in a dialogue the word Agnostic sounds silly), you ask why I suggest reading John instead of continuing with your questioning.
    The fact that you are here again asking the same hundreds of questions ought to tell you why; it is a failed strategy. That is, if your strategy is, as you say, to come to salvific faith in Jesus Christ. You say you really want this but it doesn’t seem you’ve gotten any closer over the years.
    There’s a saying about people doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

    As for our conversation, I would invite all the Christians here – especially our gracious host – to listen in, explain John, and offer their two-bits. If you are seeking answers and clarity this would seem to me to be beneficial.

    I would invite no other skeptics or atheists as they would muddy the waters and cause the distractions which plague these threads. I also would invite no posts gleaned from skeptical websites whose purpose is debunking Christianity.
    My goal is for you to see what John says, not mark it up with every opportunity you see to challenge this or that point.
    If you are seeking to learn and not dismiss it would seem to me this would appeal to you as well.

    I think doing it here would be just fine, in this busy thread, or on another. Maybe Tom would allocate a thread for it, officially disinviting stone-throwers.

    As for questions, since I am seeking your true participation, my expectation is that I will be asking the bulk of the questions.

    Thoughts?

  176. Charlie says:

    Resurrection thoughts, Mike Licona
    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/myth-3/

  177. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    Romans 6:1-23 answers your question of #176,
    as does Galatians 5:13-26.

  178. Victoria says:

    Ah one more point.
    I said

    It really comes down to why did Jesus die on the cross, and why was He resurrected from the dead? The biblical answer is clear: see John 3:16-18: to redeem a fallen human race and give us new life. If God’s judgement of sin, His wrath, and hell are not real, then why bother with the whole death and resurrection business?

    I just want to add:
    If simply keeping a set of commandments were sufficient, why bother with the whole death and resurrection thing?
    ( see Galatians 2:21, and its context)

  179. SteveK says:

    To your one question, Greg:

    What am I supposed to do in order to be saved?

    Let God save you. Humble thyself. Stop rebelling. Bend your knee.

    Besides praying to God to send me the Holy Spirit in my heart, accepting Jesus’ free gift of paying for all my sins on the cross, asking for forgiveness for my sins and so forth. I have done all that, and I am already being good on my own terms, so I should be considered a Christian.

    Seems like the focus of your concern is on fulfilling the law rather than focusing on your love for Christ because of what he did. Not a good start.

    If you did all of this in earnest, in humility and out of a genuine desire to seek God, love him and know him – then perhaps God has adopted you into the family of Christ. However, the fact that you can’t answer this question yourself leads me to think you are not.

    I can’t see how anyone would be spiritually transformed by God, have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and not know they are his. Your love for God ought to be overflowing.

  180. Charlie says:

    Hebrews 11:6
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  181. Victoria says:

    John 4:23-24

    4:23 But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    @Greg: seems to me that you are denying the very basis of the truth you are seeking.

    John 7:37-39

    On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and 7:38 let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” 7:39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

    You would have received the Spirit (of God) if you had really believed.

    John 10:14-18

    I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 10:16 I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. 10:17 This is why the Father loves me- because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. 10:18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down 45 of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father.

    Romans 8:5-11

    or those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 8:6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 8:7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. 8:11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

  182. Victoria says:

    @Greg

    I implore you to read this link to illustrate what my confusion is about WHAT DO I DO:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/salwdjs.htm

    If you are unwilling to see where I am coming from then you are right, we are at an impasse.

    Well, for starters, stop going to unvetted web sites that are patently anti-Christian for your information. You want to learn what Christianity is all about, and refer to sites that know nothing about it? Look at that site’s statement of beliefs; if you ask me, the site’s hidden purpose is precisely to create confusion in the minds of people who don’t know what the Bible contains or how to interpret it.
    Listen to us when we give you good and sound teaching on Christian beliefs.
    It doesn’t take an understanding of Christianity to use a search engine to find related verses on a topic and juxtapose them without regard to context or coherence.

    If you wanted to learn how to do research into Quantum Mechanics, where would you go?

  183. d says:

    Given that some of those passages led to the greatest schism in Christian history, I’d say they do the confusing well enough on their own!

  184. Victoria says:

    @d: true enough Not exactly Christianity’s finest hours. Lots of mistakes were made, that didn’t have to be made if only Christians on both sides would have consistently applied the balance of scripture principle and remembered that the Holy Spirit would never contradict Himself.
    Also, I wonder just how much of that conflict was motivated more by political agendas than a desire for unity on core issues.

    However, none of this means that there is no coherent understanding of what Scripture actually means; there are core doctrines that we can all agree on

  185. Victoria and Greg,

    Just chiming in about Mark 16:9-20 — Dr. Wallace’s online notes about this passage are rather one-sided, and contain some mistakes. I encourage you to test his claims. Also, Greg, the claim that Mark 16:9-20 is “nowhere to be found in many early manuscripts” is false; out of over 1,700 Greek manuscripts of Mark, the text of Mark ends at 16:8 in only two of them — two important manuscripts produced in Caesarea in the 300’s. In the 100’s, Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus used the passage in one way or another — Irenaeus specifically quoted Mk. 16:19, around the year 184.

    I welcome to to become acquainted with the evidence pertaining to this passage; “Test everything,” as Scripture says, including the materials at Bible.org .

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  186. BillT says:

    “What false pretenses are those? I admit I am Greg Magarshak, I have never pretended otherwise.”

    And you’re an outright liar as well. You came here under “Agnostic” and only admitted to being Greg after Tom outed you. Reprehensible isn’t a strong enough word to describe you and your actions. How anyone would take the time to answer you civilly is only a testament to their good will. You are a sad human being without even the most ordinary common decency.

  187. Victoria says:

    @James
    Okay, but can you provide references though? I’m not surprised that there might be more to the story than just what Wallace might have to say – I’d certainly like to check them out for myself 🙂

  188. Agnostic says:

    Victoria: Well, check out the bold to see why I consider myself a Christian. For a while I tried the whole thing of praying / asking for forgiveness / giving it a chance. Perhaps the Holy Spirit came into me and now I indwell the Holy Spirit. I really don’t know if it’s an all or nothing thing. I honestly have doubts. And I just want to get rid of those doubts, because I don’t think I can believe fully with them. It’s not physically possible by definition of believe. But even if I do fully believe, is that it? If that’s it, then I am a Christian. I seem to have done everything that people are told to do by evangelicals to become a Christian. And secondly I am saying that from an actionable point of view I don’t understand, if the law is abolished, what there is to do different from what I am doing now. I am already a good person and already try to help people, I don’t usually say this but I am told by my friends (some of whom are religious) I am the kindest person they personally know. But I still want to have premarital sex, for instance. The law is abolished and I’m not hurting anyone, so it seems just fine. But Christians all over america criticize premarital sex, and homosexuals etc. and I just don’t get it all. It seems like picking and choosing.

    BillT: I don’t appreciate the personal insults, of course, but you can have your opinion, even though it’s based on a misunderstanding. I think my response is appropriate for someone who is either a Christian or prides themselves on patience. I would recommend the same.

  189. Victoria says:

    @Agnostic
    Will you stop saying that the law is abolished? The law is based on God’s character, and that has not changed.
    What has changed is the need for the ceremonial and sacrificial system, not the moral principles. I suggest that you seek out Jewish Christians (for lack of a better phrase) and learn how they deal with the old and new covenants.

    Did you not read what I had pointed you to here? https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/true-reason-christian-responses-to-the-challenge-of-atheism-2/#comment-36362

    If by “I’d like to have premarital sex” you mean you are tempted, well, aren’t we all? I’d like a man in my bed as much as any single woman would – I miss the intimacy. I won’t settle for a quick tumble, though, because I want to please God. I’ll be patient and wait for the right man in the context of the proper relationship as husband and wife.

    But what part of ‘flee sexual immorality” ( 1 Corinthians 6:18, in the context of the entire chapter) did you not understand? If you have trouble distinguishing what is right from what is wrong, it is not because the New Testament does not provide a moral compass to guide you (it affirms the moral compass of the Law) – the new covenant provides something that the old did not – the permanent residency of the Spirit of God within the very soul of a believer; if you don’t heed the moral compass of the written word, He won’t keep quiet about it (ask anyone who has been a Christian for a while).

    If you don’t know that you have been sealed with the Spirit of God, then it is very likely that you have not been – you will have to take that up with Him.

    Enough said here – honestly, Greg, your problem is beyond the scope of an online blog – please find a good Christian counselor or mentor who can disciple you and help you work through your issues; you need personal attention.

  190. Melissa says:

    Greg,

    A Christian is a follower of Christ. The Christian says I am not a good person and I can’t be a good person on my own. The Christian follows in Jesus footsteps, takes up their cross and says not my will but Yours Lord. The Christian says Your will in my life whatever the cost, Lord help me live this more and more each day.

    There is no quick fix, blog comment length response to tell you how that will look in your life. The church stands with an invitation come and follow us while we follow Jesus. Come join with us as we live and celebrate this good life. Come be with us as we take our place in ushering in the Kingdom of God. That is the way to meet Jesus, the Author of Life, the King.

    If you are sincere about really wanting to know the truth, go to a church, maybe Tom could point you in the right direction, somewhere you could explore these questions in a faith community. In the meantime what you should do is jettison your anaemic, secular definition of good, it hinders you from truly understanding your need for God. You are not good.

  191. Agnostic says:

    This is exactly what I mean. It’s not about the resurrection of Jesus here, it’s about doctrines that you were taught. You seem to be picking and choosing verses to support a certain position.

    Why should I stop saying the law is abolished, if Paul himself says: “By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” In any event, Paul says that Christians are not under the law, in many places.

    Let’s be specific. Premarital sex. Pornography. You say that in your understanding it is not “pleasing God” to act on your natural inclinations, but it is “temptation”. You ask “what part of flee sexual immorality” don’t I understand. How about the part that the English translation you used is way broader than the original Greek word, porneia. Here is a good Christian resource on it:

    http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2010/03-28.html

    Illicit sexual intercourse:
    adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc.
    sexual intercourse with close relatives; Levitcus 18
    sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mark 10:11

    It is likely referring to specifically these relations:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_relationships_in_Judaism

    So hopefully that explains what I “don’t understand”. I don’t understand how you don’t see that you are supporting a specific *doctrine* which you were taught, by citing verses. Someone may have told you masturbation / porn / premarital sex was bad. That someone was not Jesus. That someone probably was all too happy to quote an english “translation” of the word porneia that conveniently supported that assertion.

    As far as reading your other post, yes I did. In it you write:

    This is what Paul said about the Law (of Moses):
    “Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! Instead we uphold the law.” You really have to read the entire book to get his full perspective.
    Paul is referring to the sacrificial / ceremonial system, not the moral principles on which the Law is based. The book of Hebrews makes this point very clearly.

    You cannot divide the law into moral principles and other principles. The law is all or nothing. James makes this point very clearly:

    10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
    11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

    According to this, if you eat pork or work on the sabbath day, you are stumbling at some points of the law. Working on the sabbath day is in the 10 commandments. Laws of what you may or may not eat are in Leviticus. They were given to the Jews.

  192. Agnostic says:

    Melissa – so I should join a church, which is a community of Christians, so I can learn how to better follow Christianity …. but asking basic questions in this online community is not going to lead to answers. Right?

    The Christian follows in Jesus footsteps, takes up their cross and says not my will but Yours Lord. The Christian says Your will in my life whatever the cost, Lord help me live this more and more each day.

    Melissa – what does it mean to be a follower of Christ when it comes to actionable deeds? How do you know? Why do Christians decide that pornography and masturbation is bad, while eating pork and working on the sabbath day is ok? If you say you will do God’s will, then why do many Christians work on the sabbath day, bow down to graven images of Jesus or Mary, and eat pork?

    I will tell you my view. Even if Jesus resurrected, I do not see what that has anything to do with the doctrines being espoused.

    A) Jesus said to follow the law to be saved. Those who break the smallest thing will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. James said that one must follow the law. What about all that?

    B) Paul said we are dead to the law and not under the law, and saved simply by grace. But what authority does Paul have? How does Jesus’ resurrection, which keeps being mentioned on this blog as THE main focal point, have anything to do with Paul having authority to teach that we are not under the law?

    C) Doctrines are all different, catholics quakers protestants you name it, they all have different things they consider to be sin / not sin.

    D) And finally , did the Church not issue an official statement that Jews must follow ALL the law while the Gentiles have to follow only the Noahide laws?

    I have shown you the evidence here: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/true-reason-christian-responses-to-the-challenge-of-atheism-2/#comment-36330

  193. Melissa says:

    Greg,

    I am not going to get into an extended discussion with you, we all know how that ended last time. You asked a question, I gave you an answer. The church is a sign that points to God. It is the way God has chosen to make himself known. I was once like you, knowing nothing, thinking I was a pretty good person, but a conversation with a friend sparked my interest and I went to find out for myself. At the stage you are at I think what would be most helpful to you is to see Christianity being lived out. That’s my advice you can take it or leave it, it’s your choice.

  194. Tom Gilson says:

    Too many questions again, Greg. Please follow Melissa’s advice. Your second opportunity here has not worked out, and it’s clear that this is not the kind of venue that works for your kinds of questions. There must be a better place near you. Everyone here wishes you well, and I’m sure we would love to see you find your answers. If this had been a good place to do it you could have continued here, but unfortunately it isn’t.

  195. BillT says:

    “A forum like this is not the place to discuss the entirety of the historicity of the NT.” (Post #15)

    “…and it’s clear that this is not the kind of venue that works for your kinds of questions.” (Post #198)

    And once Tom told us this was Greg…

    However, many here should be commended for the patience and good will they exibited to someone who has twice now shown he has little, if any, interest in learning anything.

  196. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    I don’t see how that answers my question. Just because it says that one shouldn’t sin doesn’t resolve the obvious dilemma. Do you believe that someone who abuses children but later accepts jesus and believes in him gets to go straight to heaven after death?

  197. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    Yes (assuming of course that the person’s belief is genuine).
    John 3:16-18,
    Romans 5:1-11, Ephesians 1:1-23 and Ephesians 2:1-10, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
    1 John 1:5-10 for starters.

    In the OT, 2 Samuel 11:1-26 and 2 Samuel 12:1-23 (the whole David and Bathsheba debacle).

    We may regard some sins as worse than others from the point of view of the effects they have on both the sinner and the victim(s) and society at large – perhaps rightly so. Even the Mosaic Law did the same – it makes a distinction between capital and non-capital offenses. Then biblical teaching on the judgement of the unredeemed seems to imply that those who die in their sins will be judged according to their sins and suffer the consequences appropriately and fairly.

    But such is the grace and mercy and love of God; because of the voluntary and substitutionary death of Jesus, and His resurrection from the dead as the confirmation of God’s acceptance of that sacrifice, anyone who comes to Him in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ can be healed, cleansed and accepted into God’s eternal kingdom.
    What, are you so full of hate and a desire for retribution that you would deny someone else the hope of genuine repentance and forgiveness and the very same hope that you can have?
    You keep mentioning child abusers – from personal experience? I’ll give you the same advice I gave Greg – take God’s free gift of salvation for yourself, seek out a good (Christian) counselor to help you with your issues – a blog is no place for these deep psycho-spiritual problems.

  198. BillT says:

    Vadim,

    You are missing two things you in your questions to Victoria. One is the effects of sin on the person committing them. Yes, someone who abuses children but later accepts Jesus and believes might be received in heaven after death. But that’s a theoretical question and answer. The reality is those who have so abandoned God’s laws and the morality they entail become damaged by those acts in a way that makes their ability to receive Christ very very difficult. It’s like “Could Hitler be in heaven?” Sure, but he’s not.

    Your question also ignores Christ’s teachings on sin (See: Mount, Sermon on the). God doesn’t differentiate among sins. All sins are equally reprehensible in His sight. That doesn’t mean all sins have the same consequences (see above) just that they are all equally condemned by God.

  199. Mike Gene says:

    Vadim,

    in theory somebody who wants to do all kinds of terrible things can use this logic that all sins are paid for and do whatever they like.

    Doesn’t sound like someone who was honest with himself and faced the reality and seriousness of his sin. In other words, doesn’t sound like a Christian who is going to heaven. But according to you, he is.

  200. Victoria says:

    @Mike
    Yes, Paul repudiates that attitude very forcefully in his letters, as does Jesus in the gospels.

    One thing that Vadim doesn’t seem to take into account is the destructive effects that sin has on the sinner, which BillT alludes to, above.
    Romans 1:18-3:1 provides that detail – that there may be a point of no return.
    Hebrews 3:12-19 also provides insight, especially vs 13 “lest your hearts become hardened by the deception of sin”.

    A person who thinks he can sin without restraint his entire life and then convert at the 11th hour is ignoring the horrific effects that sin will have on his soul, mind, conscience, will, his emotions and psychological state, to say nothing of the physical consequences.
    We’ve all heard of deathbed conversions, and thank God that He accepts those – more often we hear of people whose hearts are so hard that they refuse to repent and even curse God before they die. The other aspect of this lie from hell is that God could very well act when He sees that a person’s iniquity has reached its full measure and there is no turning back – there may be no time for a deathbed change.
    Also, Vadim misses the fact that, although Jesus paid the penalty for sin, that payment is not credited to a person’s account until that person repents and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

  201. Agnostic says:

    [Note from Tom: without agreeing that Greg’s recent questions were all on one topic, I am nevertheless letting this one last comment from Greg out of moderation so that if anyone wants to go to his blog and continue the conversation there, you can do so.]

    Okay Tom. I would like to thank you for your nice tone to me. I ask you one favor: please uncensor this comment and give me a chance to engage the Christians who are willing to answer my questions.

    Here is my comment

    1) I was asked to talk about one topic. You specifically said that “one question per message” was not the issue, but staying on topic was. All my questions since then have been on one topic, the one you hoped I would discuss.

    2) I did something I should have done a long time ago. I have put up a post on my own blog entry, and I invite any Christians to discuss it with me there. The question is simple: “Say I become a Christian! What do I actually have to DO?” I have tried to make the challenge as clear as possible. I claim that I have not been able to find ONE answer to this question that satisfies the criteria I have posted.

    Why do I present it as a challenge instead of a discussion? It is in fact an invitation to discuss. But I want to make it clear that there is a specific thing that I need in order to know what to do. I describe it there.

    Here is the link to any Christians who are interested in answering me, including you Tom. I promise not to censor you or anyone who posts in a respectful manner 🙂


    http://magarshak.com/blog/?p=103

  202. Noah says:

    @agnostic

    Where are you in your agnosticism? That is to say, from a level of 1-10 where you if 10 such a statement as “God absolutely does not exist”.

    Do you have a hard time coming to terms with your unbelief? I believe there is only so much soul searching and religion chasing an agnostic can do before he or she starts to declare themselves a little higher up on the scale towards atheism.

    “I consider myself a Christian because although I admit I see the evidence as suggesting a 99% chance that nothing supernatural happened and the stories are a result of myth-making and lots of controversy and dogma forced upon people, nevertheless I think there is a chance the atheists are mistaken somehow and there is a chance that Sinai happened…”

    Right. There is only a 50/50 shot for either. But if you see a 99% chance that nothing happened, why kick a dead horse sorta speak? It seems to me you are having issues coming to terms with being an unbeliever, sorta still wanting to hold on to some insurance just in case sorta speak. I would simply suggest you read the bible (or any holy book for that matter) and see what you think/feel about it then just make up your mind.

  203. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    I guess what you see as God’s love I see as total injustice. To say that someone who was a murderer, or a thief, or a rapist can go straight to heaven simply by accepting jesus is nothing more than a severe injustice. My worldview of God which stems from traditional judaism teaches that God is perfect and his justice is perfect and his love is perfect. That is to say nobody gets away with anything. I dont see why christians find this system reprehensible. Its just fair.

  204. Vadim says:

    Bill

    I’m confused. Are you saying that someone who commits grave sins is incapable of accepting jesus?

  205. Vadim says:

    Mike

    If someone murdered a person and then seriously accepted jesus, will he go straight to heaven?

  206. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    That is your problem, then….not Christianity’s. You asked what the Christian view is, we told you what we know, not what you want to hear.

    No one comes to faith in Jesus except through the work of the Holy Spirit anyway, regardless of how grave the sin may be. Still, the Spirit calls a person to repent, but does not force them to do so (one cannot force love and trust and faith, one can only encourage and nurture it) – we must all decide whether or not to obey or resist. A lifetime of sin can so sear the conscience that the person may no longer be able to respond properly.

    The Cross is where God’s justice, love, mercy and grace come together for our benefit and redemption. Just, because God the Son voluntarily paid the price we could not. Mercy because we didn’t have to pay the price we should have paid. Grace because we did not deserve His favor. Love because, well, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

    Now, the murderer may still have to pay the temporal consequences of his/her crime, but the eternal consequences have been forgiven by God, if and only if that person has truly repented of his sins and turned to God to accept His gracious offer of redemption.

    Who do you think you are, anyway, that you think you can dictate to God terms by which He should be just or merciful, or to whom He can extend His forgiveness? Were not David and Bathsheba forgiven, even though they had committed offenses that, under the Law, were capital crimes? Yes and David recounts this in Psalm 51. Did they pay temporal consequences? – yes, starting with the death of their child, and as Nathan said, the sword would not depart from David’s house – did he not pay fourfold from his own household?

    God has changed the covenant terms (see Hebrews 9:1-10:39) , something He said He would do through Jeremiah the prophet – that is the Christian answer

  207. Victoria says:

    @Tom
    Is Vadim another Greg?

  208. Vadim says:

    Alright. We’ll agree to disagree. One question – From the christian perspective is there a time limit by which jesus must come back to earth?

  209. Roxie says:

    If you are so concerned about saving souls why isn’t your “book” available at no charge?

  210. Tom Gilson says:

    Roxie, is there something illicit about charging $2.99 for a book? I’m trying to discern where the immorality is in it.

    The editors and the authors told the publisher that our number one value was quantity of distribution rather than revenues earned. We asked them to consider selling it for 99¢. They talked us into a price of $2.99. Does that help?

  211. Victoria says:

    If you were really concerned about your eternal destiny, would it not be worth $2.99 to you to get some questions answered?

  212. Tom Gilson says:

    Vadim,

    I might as well ask you since Victoria raised the question. Your ISP shows up in my log as being the same, and in the same region, as “Agnostic” and “Gregory Magarshak”? Are you the same person? Thanks.

  213. Victoria says:

    or in collusion with Greg, for that matter

  214. Vadim says:

    Tom

    No we’re not the same person. He’s a friend of mine though and we often debate religion. My views on christianity are different that his though.

  215. Roxie says:

    I asked about the price because every time someone wants to save my soul it takes money. Why is god always short of cash?

  216. Melissa says:

    Vadim,

    I guess what you see as God’s love I see as total injustice. To say that someone who was a murderer, or a thief, or a rapist can go straight to heaven simply by accepting jesus is nothing more than a severe injustice. My worldview of God which stems from traditional judaism teaches that God is perfect and his justice is perfect and his love is perfect. That is to say nobody gets away with anything.

    No one gets to go straight to heaven. Have a good hard think about this. If heaven is supposed to be a place where there are no more tears etc. etc, it wouldn’t be long after any of us, no matter how “good” entered heaven that it would no longer be heaven. We must be transformed and that transformation starts to take place right here if we let the Spirit work in us. The process is completed after death but only if you say yes to God and who He is. What you are proposing is either a heaven that is no heaven or a God that transforms people against their will.

  217. Roxie says:

    Reading through these comments brings one thing to mind for me;

    When I gave my children instructions (they are grown now) I tried to make them clear and unambiguous. No one had to do any research to determine my meaning. If one of them could make acase for having misunderstood me, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and didn’t punish them.

    Why can’t the creator of the universe do the same?

  218. Roxie says:

    I almost forgot, and totally off topic.

    I read your Washington Post op ed where you brought up slavery. The point of the billboard was not that christians supported or fought against slavery. The point was that slavery is not condemned in the bible.

    There is no biblical prohibition against owning another person, but there are instructions about how to treat the people you own.

  219. Mike Gene says:

    Roxie,

    If you are so concerned about saving souls why isn’t your “book” available at no charge?

    If Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are sincere about wanting to increase science literacy, why don’t they give their books away for free? Why do they charge 5-7 times the price of Tom’s book?

  220. Vadim says:

    Melissa

    If you say yes to God – awesome! It’s the Jesus aspect of it that i think is totally erroneous given the evidence. But anyway I know I’m not gonna be able to convince anyone that christianity is false. It is way to pleasant of a toy to give up. Eradication of sins and permanent heaven! what could be better

  221. Roxie says:

    LOL.

    Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are practically the anti-christ from what I read here. Why would you compare your operation with those godless sinners who are going to burn in hell?

  222. Tom Gilson says:

    Roxie, the point is that your question is irrelevant and uninteresting. If it bothers you that we charge money for a book, then you need not purchase it. If you think we’re being hypocritical for charging a small amount for it, then I suppose you’re going to think what you want to think no matter what we say.

  223. Melissa says:

    Vadim,

    If you say yes to God – awesome! It’s the Jesus aspect of it that i think is totally erroneous given the evidence. But anyway I know I’m not gonna be able to convince anyone that christianity is false.

    If you want to convince people you need to at least provide an argument that is not obviously fallacious.

    Eradication of sins and permanent heaven! what could be better

    Yes our hope is to become what we were created to be. Logically there is nothing better, so what is your point?

  224. SteveK says:

    I asked about the price because every time someone wants to save my soul it takes money.

    Conflating spiritual salvation, which is available to everyone for free, with an ebook is not the kind of thing rational people do.

    Irrelevant, uninteresting and irrational.

  225. SteveK says:

    If one of them could make acase for having misunderstood me, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and didn’t punish them.

    On what basis can you say that you have misunderstood something when you demonstrate that you do understand it? I’m talking specifically about your sense of real moral culpability and your need to be forgiven for moral crimes.

  226. Roxie says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I’m sure you are a delightful person and we would be good friends. The message just lacks interal consistency to me.

    If it is the most important thing I will ever need to know, why is there always a barrier. Cost (2.99 is a lot for some people) or difficulty in interpretation – see 200+ comments above. The message should be accessible and easy to understand.

    …love ya!

  227. BillT says:

    “The message should be accessible and easy to understand.”

    Jesus came, lived a perfect life and died for our sins. Professing belief in Him gives one eternal life in paradise.

    Is that accessible and easy enough to understand? If not, why not.

  228. Roxie says:

    BillT:

    It is not easy for me to understand because I came from a belief system where baptism by immersion was a requirement, not just believing in Jesus death, burial & resurrection. I witnessed a baptism one time that had to be repeated because the person being baptized accidentally kept her hand out of the water so that is wasn’t dunked! But according to you, I only need to profess a belief. Which is it? Why is there a problem with the gospel being clear on that?

    As I typed earlier, I gave clear instructions to my children, whom I loved dearly, so that there would be no way to misinterpret. Apparently god is not so inclined.

    My instructions related to unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, and other miscellaneous mundane tasks. God’s instructions relate to the disposition of my eternal soul. Why is god not clear on what is truly necessary?

    Before you quote scripture to me, know that there are scholars in my former faith group that could back up our beliefs with scripture also. I never was honestly able to believe what they said either. I figured if I knew I was lying, that god certainly had that same information so I just gave up and started sleeping in on Sunday.

  229. Roxie says:

    @Steve K:

    If I mis-understand the word of god, or believe honestly in the wrong god, I have no recourse, my mistake is fatal. I turn in hell on a spit while good christians sit on the balcony in heaven sipping champagne, strumming their harp, and enjoying my screams of agony.

    If my children misunderstood what I said, and unloaded the dishwasher when the dishes were still dirty instead of folding clean clothes, I didn’t punish them for not doing chores. We looked at the note I left to see what I needed to say to make my intentions clear. The creator of the universe, who loves me as much as he loves anyone, should be able to do better than me.

    The fact that there are 200 messages on this board arguing over the trinity and the sources of the gospel, among other things, illustrates that this is an iffy proposition at best. No one can be really sure that we have the real word of god. Maybe christians have the word of an evil god and the Q’uran is the real deal.

  230. SteveK says:

    Roxie,

    If I mis-understand the word of god, or believe honestly in the wrong god, I have no recourse, my mistake is fatal.

    You were spiritually dead before you misunderstood. You didn’t earn your fate, you were born into it. It’s the default position. That you cannot figure it all out due to your limited intellect, God will take this into account. To the degree you understand, you will be held accountable.

    The creator of the universe, who loves me as much as he loves anyone, should be able to do better than me.

    Scripture is not needed for you to know that you are guilty of moral crimes and that you are hostile toward the God of Christianity. This much you understand. This much you will be held accountable for.

    Do you expect to be treated with mercy when you are hostile toward the judge? You don’t need scripture to know the answer is no. You don’t need scripture to know that you will be judged fairly when a guilty ruling comes down.

  231. Mike Gene says:

    Roxie:

    LOL.
    Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are practically the anti-christ from what I read here. Why would you compare your operation with those godless sinners who are going to burn in hell?

    LOL. You wouldn’t have to engage in evasion like this if you simply refrained from building on a double standard.

    Please provide the links where you went to Coyne and Dawkins sites to ask for free copies as a test of their sincerity.

  232. BillT says:

    Roxie,

    You can make it as complicated for yourself as you like (and I’m not saying others might not have helped). However, what the Bible says in the Gospel is all there is that matters.

  233. Tom Gilson says:

    Roxie, you say,

    The point of the billboard was not that christians supported or fought against slavery. The point was that slavery is not condemned in the bible.

    1. “Christians” is a proper noun. So is “Bible” in this context. (See the discussion guidelines on that. It’s a pet peeve of mine, but there’s a reason for that.)

    2. The point the billboard made was distorted, wrong, and inflammatory. That was my point in the column.

  234. Sounds like another fundy has entered in the person of Roxie. Let’s look at this.

    First off, the idea that she is clear to her kids in instruction.

    Chances are, your kids are a small number of individuals in the same time, place, and culture as you. They also speak the same language and know you exceptionally well. Now you ask why the Bible isn’t clear to 21st century Americans or at least Westerners. I wonder about this.

    Would it at the same time be clear to 5th century Chinese?

    Would it at the same time be clear to 17th century Japanese?

    Would it at the same time be clear to 12th century Egyptians?

    Would it at the same time be clear to the 1st century Roman Empire?

    You could say “Well why doesn’t God just send each culture and time and place it’s own version?”

    This would only lead to chaos as cultures would fight against each other not on the true interpretation of one book but rather on all the books.

    Here’s an idea instead. You just do research to understand something. You do that in every other field. Why assume theology is different?

    Also, this notion of burning in Hell over and over. Fundy through and through. That’s not literal language. It’s used to show the shame of Hell.

  235. Roxie says:

    Nick Peters:

    What kind of fundy do you think I am? Is that how you would talk to me if I was in your presence?

    As to the rest, if I need to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar to understand the bible, what does that say about it? I am not able to take the time to immerse myself in ancient languages. God himself spoke on Pentecost to everyone in their own language. Why is that not an option today?

    I used the illustration of dealing with my children because we are god’s children. I feel like I take more care to communicate my wishes to them than god does to us – again there are 200+ comments above that prove my point.

    As far as burning in hell, I challenge you to look at any christian board where atheism is discussed. I have been condemned to hell many times on the Internet. I hope to be seated at the same table as Samuel Clements when I get there.

  236. Roxie says:

    Tom –

    I apologize again for misinterpreting your remarks in your column. My reading indicated you disputed that the Bible (capital B 🙂 ) does not condemn slavery.

    Of course Christians were involved in abolishing slavery. I just think it was because we are compassionate toward the suffering of others, when we recognize their humanity, not because of anything in a holy book.

  237. Roxie says:

    Mike –

    Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins don’t claim to have access to any final truth, only to the truth about certain subjects as it pertains to science. I guess I don’t hold them to the same standard as people who have access to a complete truth about eternity.

    I expect Christians to hold themselves to a higher standard.

  238. Roxie says:

    …my bad, pressed “Post” too quickly.

    Also Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins often speak without a fee to spread their message. Prof. Dawkins did not accept his usual fee when speaking at the Atheist Convention in Houston last year.

  239. Roxie: Nick Peters: What kind of fundy do you think I am?

    Reply: A Fundy atheist.

    Roxie: Is that how you would talk to me if I was in your presence?

    Reply: Yup. Would you prefer I just make stuff up so you can keep your self-esteem?

    Roxie: As to the rest, if I need to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar to understand the bible, what does that say about it?

    Reply: It says that it was written in a high-context society that assumes a basic understanding of the content. I notice you never addressed my point about which society it should have been geared towards. Being angry apparently counts as an argument.

    Roxie: I am not able to take the time to immerse myself in ancient languages.

    Reply: Helpful but not essential. Just read those who are. For all your complaining about Christianity, have you taken the time to read Licona, N.T. Wright, or others? Apparently, you don’t have the time to do this, but you have time to go to Christian boards and blogs and complain about how you’re treated on them and rant on topics you don’t know anything about.

    Guarantee you that if I said something about evolution however, you’d be insistent that I need to understand evolution before I speak.

    Roxie: God himself spoke on Pentecost to everyone in their own language. Why is that not an option today?

    Reply: Take some time and think about it a little bit and you’ll see. Note that that was a one-time occurrence in a specific location and time charged with religious significance. So if you hear the gospel from someone in Italian suddenly and you speak Italian, you’re going to convert? Or, will you do what most people do back then and explain it away?

    Apparently, you want God to spoon-feed the truth to you instead of your really seeking it.

    Roxie: I used the illustration of dealing with my children because we are god’s children.

    Reply: No we’re not. The Bible doesn’t say anything like that. Adoption as sons is reserved for those who wish to be part of the family. Again also, which of God’s children should it be? Japanese ones? Chinese? American? English? Dutch?

    Roxie: I feel like I take more care to communicate my wishes to them than god does to us – again there are 200+ comments above that prove my point.

    Reply: No there aren’t. There are comments that have a back and forth exchange of ideas. You can find controversy on any topic. Should I go to a science board, find controversy, and then assume all science is nonsense?

    Roxie: As far as burning in hell, I challenge you to look at any christian board where atheism is discussed. I have been condemned to hell many times on the Internet. I hope to be seated at the same table as Samuel Clements when I get there.

    Reply: Tissue?

    So apparently saying “Christians condemn me to Hell!” means “Hell is literal!” What is the connection between those two? The mind of a fundie….

    I challenge you to look at any board where atheism and Christianity is discussed and see how Christians are treated. Consider what Dawkins said at the Reason Rally.

    “So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!
    Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits.

    Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

    https://ladydifadden.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/transcript-of-richard-dawkins-speech-from-reason-rally-2012/

    Here’s the difference. I hear stuff like that from atheists all the time. Water off of my back. It doesn’t bother me. My self-image doesn’t hang on what other people say about me nor do I have to make myself a victim in order to establish a point.

    When you’re ready to actually debate the evidence that we have instead of wanting to be spoon-fed, let me know.

  240. As for slavery, the Bible never condemns it because it really says nothing about the slavery we know about. The slavery then was indentured servitude done as service for the poor. That was how the poor earned their livelihood. Israel’s system was far and above better than the others. To abolish the system outright would ruin the economics of the time. The poor would have had no livelihood.

    As for the NT, the message of Jesus was not “You can be forgiven and have eternal life!” That was part of it, but not the whole. The message was that God is going to act as king again and His plan has reached its climax here. Jesus saw Himself as the one through whom God would reign as king. When the message of the kingship of Christ was proclaimed, slavery would end, and that is what happened. This largely came with Bathilda, wife of Clovis II. When it started up again, it was through the work of people like Wilberforce. Both of these were because of Christianity.

    A little bit of understanding of ANE slavery would go a long way.

  241. Dawkins charges no fee? Then why did he say he’d only debate at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics if a large donation, I believe $100,000, was made to his foundation?

  242. Finally, how can Tom be violating the Biblical standard when it says this in 1 Cor. 9:14?

    In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

  243. Tom Gilson says:

    Roxie, this is hilarious:

    Also Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins often speak without a fee to spread their message. Prof. Dawkins did not accept his usual fee when speaking at the Atheist Convention in Houston last year.

    Richard Dawkins has a usual fee. You said it yourself.

    I often write without a fee to spread my message, by the way. I spoke without a fee, just last night. But feel free to deposit a dollar in the slot before you read my next post here.

  244. Vadim says:

    Melissa

    My evidence and history in a nut shell – God spoke to the jews 3300 years ago and told them the truth about the world and the rules that he wants people to live by for both jews and non jews. 2000 years ago arose a man and it is has been claimed by some that this man is God and is capable of taking away your sins. The jews of 1st century israel considered this claim and rejected it right away since they knew the truth by tradition that stretched back to Moses that God is one and has no physical form and that nobody can pay for anyone else’s sins. The movement would’ve died within judaism like other false movements which arose in ancient israel. However Paul decided to preach this story to the non jews. The non jews loved the new story and decided to make it official dogma. In order to justify the new story with the torah (old testament) the non jews reinterpreted the words of the jewish prophets to fit their own agenda. Most unfortunate example of this is isaiah 53. And now the story has been so solidified in the hearts and minds of billions that it is impossible to return the masses to the simple truth of the torah. All we can do is wait for the true messiah to arrive and then the truth will become obvious to all!

  245. Victoria says:

    @Roxie (Hello and Welcome, by the way – I forgot to greet you in my earlier post – sorry).

    You said:

    As to the rest, if I need to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar to understand the bible, what does that say about it? I am not able to take the time to immerse myself in ancient languages. God himself spoke on Pentecost to everyone in their own language. Why is that not an option today

    (1) as a practical matter, the ‘standard text’ of our Bible as we have it today comes to us in Hebrew (along with some Aramaic) and Greek, as a consequence of the historical contexts in which it was originally written and passed down from generation to generation. It isn’t a matter of what God could have done otherwise, but what actually was done. So, there is really no getting around the fact that Greek and Hebrew scholars, linguists/translators, historians, archaelologists are necessary in order to translate the standard text into some other language. You and I don’t have to be such scholars in order to benefit from reading the Bible in our own language, as they have done the hard work already. For day-to-day reading, a good translation (I’ll get to that later) that one is most comfortable with is usually good enough to get the message.

    (2) However, if you want to do a more detailed, in-depth study, then knowing something about the original languages, the historical and cultural contexts, and the more technical aspects of the translation process is really quite invaluable and very illuminating. Fortunately, one still does not have to be a specialist in any of those fields to benefit – the sheer number of resources available to help the non-specialist is overwhelming, from Hebrew and Greek dictionaries and lexicons, commentaries, Bible encyclopedias and almanacs, as well as more focused historical, literary and archaeological studies. This material is freely available at the library (although for more specialized material you would probably have to go to a university or seminary library), and in the 21st century, on the NET. If you don’t mind spending your own geld, Amazon has them all as well. There is also Bible study software (some free, available on the NET, some you have to buy – http://www.logos.com, for example – pricey, but still only ~10% of what it would cost to buy all the reference material separately). It all depends on how deep you want to dig.

    As to translations:
    A complex subject that deserves its own blog 🙂
    Which one to choose? Do you go for formal equivalence (a word-for-word idiomatic rendering from the original to the target, as in the New American Standard Update Bible), functional equivalence (where the translators try to render the meaning and authorial intent of the original language, as in the New International Version), or optimal equivalence ( a combination of the two, such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible), or paraphrase (like The Message Bible). Each has its pros and cons.
    For example, consider 2 Samuel 11:27 (the David and Bathsheba affair).
    In the King James and New American Standard Bibles, the verse ends with
    But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord

    In the New International Version it ends with
    But the thing David had done displeased the Lord

    The KJV and NAS versions bring out the full force of how the Lord regarded David’s actions – evil, and although David thought his secret was safe, God saw and wasn’t about to let it slip (read on into 2 Samuel 12, and Psalm 51 to see David’s brokenness and repentance).

    The NIV softens it up to the point of understatement, yet it tells us the same thing – God was displeased (implying that He knew what David did, and He did not like it at all – by definition, what displeases God is evil in His sight).

    You can go here for an online reference
    http://biblia.com/
    Just search for 2 Samuel 11:27 in the Bible section on the right. The dropdown will let you select a version.

    Hope that answers your concern, Roxie

  246. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    Peter, James, John, and Paul were Jews, and they were convinced of Jesus’ substituionary death for sin. The first Christians were Jews.

    By the way, you still have not answered my question about David and Bathsheba – there is no atoning sacrifice specified for premeditated murder and adultery, so how is that God could forgive them? How does your theory handle this? Don’t try to weasel out of it by ‘agreeing to disagree’

  247. Victoria says:

    The apostle Peter (a Jew) connects the suffering servant of Isaiah to Jesus Christ (see here: http://net.bible.org/#!bible/1+Peter+2:13)

    For an exposition
    http://bible.org/seriespage/suffering-servant-isaiah-5213—5312

    http://bible.org/seriespage/“-triumph-suffering-servant”-exposition-isaiah-5213—5312

    Your claim that ‘non-Jews’ wrote Christianity is patently false – if you can’t even get something that simple correct, what of the rest of your so called reasoning? If you are going to come here and present such claims, you had better be prepared to back them up with real facts and logic, not rhetoric and hand-waving.

  248. Roxie says:

    Nick thanks for the clarification. I won’t come back just for a conversation then.

    Victoria, thanks for the links.

  249. Victoria says:

    @Tom
    I think you should make that a requirement, Tom – we should all be required to provide references to back up our arguments, especially if they are not a matter of something that is generally agreed upon. If someone claims that the Bible says [xxx], they should provide the reference(s) and support for the context and interpretations.
    For extra-biblical works (scholarly or otherwise), same goes – give us links or textbook references;
    Otherwise, we end up in situations like this, which are the equivalent of blog spam.
    Thoughts? Can we enforce this in practice?

  250. Victoria says:

    @Roxie
    You are so welcome 🙂 Please don’t hesitate to come back and ask questions and look for answers, ‘kay?

  251. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    for the biblical data, you can consult the book of Acts, Paul’s letters (such as Romans 9:1-5, Galatians 1:13-24, Galatians 2:6-10, Galatians 2:15, Philippians 3:1-16 )

    James wrote to Jewish believers scattered around the empire (James 1:1), and the entire NT book of Hebrews was written to explain the new covenant to Jewish believers

  252. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    1) Yes they were all jews. I dont know if you’ve ever heard the expression “2 jews 3 opinions.” Its meant to convey the concept that jews are a very opinionated people. This has always been the case. However jewish law is not decided by the opinions of a few jews. The law is decided only by 70 of our greatest sages (known as the sanheidrin). So even very smart rabbis can express their opinions but the law will not follow their opinions. Only the greatest and smartest of all of our rabbis get to decide the law. Now lets assume that Paul and company were all smart rabbis. (I dont think they were but for the sake of argument lets say they were) And they decided that Jesus is God and he can take away peoples sins. Their opinion would amount to nothing. Because in jewish law only the sanheidrin can make the law. So that explains why even if a few jews are led astray we do not listen to them. Furthermore I think even without the sanheidrin the average jew of the 1st century were learned enough to dismiss the Jesus is God story since it is the foundation of Judaism that God has no parts and no form. Whenever you read in the torah (old testament) that God has an arm or that God wields a sword or that there is a holy spirit these are all metaphors used to describe the many ways God interacts with the world. They are not meant to be taken literally.

    2) To answer your question about David and Bathsheba – (And i think this comment i’m about to make will clear up a lot of things) – When you read the written Torah you read it literally. Unfortunately the torah was never meant to be read literally. In traditional judaism every verse of the torah has an oral explanation of how the verse is meant to be interpreted as was taught to us by Moses. This interpretation has been written down in the talmud. However when christianity arose they only got half the story by taking the written torah and not the oral interpretation. The talmud goes through every verse in the account of David and explains how it was possible that David did what he did and what exactly was his sin and Bathsheba’s sin. I can tell you this – what you see in the written torah barely scratches the surface of what actually went on.

    3) The apostle Peter was wrong. Isaiah taught the rabbis of his day how to interpret his own prophecy. We have the correct interpretation which was passed down by our rabbis. I already told you that if any jew has an opinion thats very good but the correct interpretation of the laws and the torah was passed down to us by our greatest sages of the sanheidrin.

  253. Charlie says:

    Did I just see the argument go from “Jews in Jerusalem with a front row seat didn’t become Christians” to “Jews did, but not the right Jews?”

    The Jerusalem church exploded to thousands upon thousands of members within weeks of the Resurrection, and it included members of the Sanhedrin.

    Michael Brown affirms that Paul was a brilliant student of Judaism with a knowledge far beyond the Septuagint. If he were not actually a student of Gamaliel then he was a student of someone just as learned. Paul is recognized even by atheists and a brilliant scholar and theologian.

    The Gospels are written presupposing intimate knowledge of Judaism with details given without the necessary explanations that a Gentile audience would require. Why did Jesus enter at the East Gate? Which cup was He drinking from? Why would the woman touch the tassel of His garment? Why did He stand up when He did and say “I am the living water”? Why did He fulfill the meanings of certain feasts on the days He did? What did the Jews expect on this Feast of Tabernacles?

    These are questions that Gentiles would ask but Jews would not. And the Bible does not give us the answers. The writers know to whom they are speaking.

  254. Victoria says:

    @Charlie
    There was even a member of the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel (documented in Acts), who said (Acts 5:34-42)

    But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 5:35 Then he said to the council, “Men of Israel, 95 pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men. 5:36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 5:37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. 5:38 So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 5:39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.” He convinced them, 5:40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 5:41 So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 5:42 And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.

    We also learn in Acts 15:5
    But some from the religious party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.”

    A thread that connects the two, and explained how Luke might have gotten his information about what went on behind closed doors in the Sanhedrin

  255. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    We have no statistical records of precisely how many jews became christians in the early developmental stages of christianity but most historians would agree that had Paul not preached to the non jews the christian movement would’ve disappeared and vanished in ancient Israel. The vast majority of Jews did not buy into it. That’s a fact. I also think that the jews who did become christians weren’t buying into the idea that Jesus is God and can take away peoples sins. I think that came much later and was mostly used to convert non jews. The jews who did ‘convert’ so to speak did it because they though jesus was the messiah.

    Also what you think is intimate knowledge of judaism as described in the gospels was the average knowledge of any jew. Dont forget Jews learn this stuff since birth. It would be a tragedy if the writers of the gospels didnt at least have a fair understanding of torah. That was a requirement for every jew and still is. And they were jews after all.

  256. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    Let’s say that Gamliel did say what it says in this passage of the acts. What is this supposed to show? I am not denying that christianity is from God. Islam is from God too. Everything that happens in this world is from God.

  257. Mike Gene says:

    Roxie: Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins don’t claim to have access to any final truth, only to the truth about certain subjects as it pertains to science.

    Not true in the case of Dawkins. He made millions hawking his book “The God Delusion” which has nothing to do with science.

    I guess I don’t hold them to the same standard as people who have access to a complete truth about eternity.

    So that’s how you rationalize your double standard. Look, you lose huge chunks of credibility when you complain about Tom’s inexpensive book, yet make excuses for a multimillionaire atheist activist who sells much more expensive books, charges people big money to hear him talk, and even sells trinkets and t-shirts on his web site. When is Dawkins going to start selling Gnu action figures? ‘Cause y’can never have tooo much money. 😉

  258. Charlie says:

    We have no statistical records of precisely how many jews became christians in the early developmental stages of christianity but most historians would agree that had Paul not preached to the non jews the christian movement would’ve disappeared and vanished in ancient Israel.

    Likely, at least comparatively speaking, they would have disappeared.
    But they were still there decades after Jesus’ death when His brother Jacob was martyred, after Paul had collected money for the Christian saints in Jerusalem. And they were still there when Rome first lay siege to Jerusalem and they, following Jesus’ prophecy, fled – so they weren’t really disappearing.
    Once Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews dispersed a fragmented Church of believing Jews would have had less likelihood of survival. But they lasted into the 7th century, by which time they had lost enough Jewish roots that they were just Christian by then. And then being absorbed into Islam didn’t help much, either.

    Since the dominant party, Jews who did not accept Christ, have dwindled to a few tens of millions there would likely have been even fewer Jewish Christians if we depended upon those coming from Jerusalem. Compared to the couple of billion Christians now, that would be insignificant indeed.

    God doesn’t work that way, though; He spread the message before this could happen.

    I think that came much later and was mostly used to convert non jews. The jews who did ‘convert’ so to speak did it because they though jesus was the messiah.

    Jesus is a person whose first name warrants a capital letter.

    I think they thought He was Messiah as well. And many of them already believed that the Messiah was an eternal and divine Person.
    Now why did these Jews believe in a deceased Messiah?

    I don’t know what “much later” means to you, but the creed that Paul picked up in Jerusalem stated that Jesus was raised from the dead and his Epistles, starting less than 20 years after the event refer to Jesus as God.

    And they were jews after all.

    That they were. Like I said. They were Jews who knew Judaism because they lived it and studied it like any other Jew. And, being Jews who believed in Jesus, they refute your claim that Jews right there in Jerusalem, did not convert.

  259. Charlie says:

    Hi Victoria,
    There was much overlap, of course, between the Pharisees and the Christian sect. We know from the Gospels of two members of the Sanhedrin, Joseph and Nicodemus, who also followed Jesus.

  260. Charlie says:

    Isaiah 53.
    “If you try to interpret it with regarding the nation or people of Israel it breaks down.”
    Michael Brown in the video above.

    “Interestingly, the national interpretation is not found once in the Talmuds, the Targums, or the midrashim (in other words, not once in all the classical, foundational, authoritative Jewish writings).
    In fact, it is not found in any traditional Jewish source until the time of Rashi, who lived in the 11th century C.E. That is saying something! For almost one thousand years after the birth of Yeshua, not one rabbi, not one Talmudic teacher, not one Jewish sage, left s an interpretation showing that Isaiah 53 should be interpreted with reference to the nation of Israel (as opposed to a righteous individual, or righteous individuals, within Israel), despite the fact that these verses from Isaiah are quotes in the New Testament and were often used in Jewish-Christian debate.

    Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, vol. 3, page 41

  261. Charlie says:

    For example, the Targum interprets the passage [Isaiah 53] with reference to the Messiah … while the Talmud generally interprets the passage with reference to the Messiah, or key individuals (like Moses or Phineas) …
    Note also that Sa’adiah Gaon, the influential ninth-century rabbinic leader, interpreted Isaiah 53 with reference to Jeremiah. This means that virtually without exception, the earliest traditional Jewish sources – and therefore the most authoritative Jewish sources – interpret Isaiah 52:13- 53:12 with reference to an individual, and in some cases, with reference to the Messiah.

    other equally prominent leaders such as Moses ben Nachman felt compelled to follow the weight of ancient tradition and embrace the individual Messianic interpretation of the Talmudic rabbis (found in the Midrash, despite his belief that the plain sense of the text supported the national interpretation). Noteworthy also is the oft-quoted comment of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, writing in the 16th century, “Our rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view”.

    page 49

  262. Charlie says:

    Going back to this comment:

    Dont forget Jews learn this stuff since birth. It would be a tragedy if the writers of the gospels didnt at least have a fair understanding of torah. That was a requirement for every jew and still is. And they were jews after all.

    Right, Jews do, and Gentiles don’t learn this stuff from birth.
    It’s not what the writers knew, it’s about what their audience knew. They were not explaining these details, which were significant and meaningful to their story because they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to because they were speaking to Jews, not Gentiles.

  263. I see Roxie just as I stated is more concerned about how she feels emotionally rather than in truth. Not one answer to arguments that were given other than repeating what was said before. Another fundy wanting God to spoon-feed everything to them, who will then go and complain saying Christians want easy answers.

  264. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    1) With regard to your question of why jews believed in a deceased messiah – because there is an ancient debate within judaism of whether messiah can come from the dead. It is still an ongoing debate.

    2) With regard to isaiah 53 i’m gonna double check your sources. The statements of the targum and sadia gaon are not taken lightly by the rabbis. if they decided that their interpretation was wrong they must have had some pretty strong evidence to overrule them. i’ll check up on it.

  265. Charlie says:

    Hi Vadim,

    1) With regard to your question of why jews believed in a deceased messiah – because there is an ancient debate within judaism of whether messiah can come from the dead. It is still an ongoing debate.

    There were lots and lots of debates within Judaism about a lot of interpretations, don’t you agree?
    Although we sometimes like to talk about the unity there were many streams of Judaism, including anti-Pharisaical ones in Jesus’ time, just as there are many streams today.

    And throughout the ages there have been Jewish Rabbis convicted by God who have become believers in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

  266. Charlie says:

    2) With regard to isaiah 53 i’m gonna double check your sources. The statements of the targum and sadia gaon are not taken lightly by the rabbis. if they decided that their interpretation was wrong they must have had some pretty strong evidence to overrule them. i’ll check up on it.

    Thanks. That’s why we discuss things, right, to learn the truth?

  267. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    1) There has a been a debate within judaism about nearly everything. Jews debate every point of law. However most debates have been resolved and encoded as jewish law. Some debates have not been resolved. Whether the messiah can come back from the dead is an unresolved debate. And sure some rabbis have converted. But you will acknowledge the fact that most have not. And if you will speak to jews today who have “converted” to christianity you will find that they still reject the notion that Jesus is God or that he can save from sins. They just accepted the notion that he was the messiah. A notion that to me and most jews makes no sense since he didnt do the major things messiah was supposed to do. I know Christians believe that he will do them at the second coming. I dont mind that. But jewish law is clear – we dont consider anyone as the actual messiah until he actually accomplishes his mission.

    2)That’s right! The truth is what it’s all about! I’m gonna research this chapter. I havent researched it in years. I think that if i was to tell you to read isaiah for the first time without telling you to whom ch 53 refers to and you were to read it in context the most sensible unbiased answer would be that it refers to the nation Israel as Isaiah always uses the singular to describe the nation israel especially in the chapter preceding 53 and ch 54. However I wasnt aware that there were opinions that it referred to an individual. I’ll research it.

  268. Victoria says:

    But, if you read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection first, and then went back to Isaiah 52-53, as well as Psalm 22, the parallels are too strong to be mere coinicidence.

    Remember, Vadim, that Christians do not regard the Talmud or Jewish interpretation as authoritative or divinely inspired (only the actual writings – the Jewish Scriptures – OT to us. In case of conflicts between Scripture and tradition, Scripture takes precedence – that is the interpretive methodolgy that follows from the Christian understanding of divine inspiration). Suffice it to say that Jesus did not regard the oral tradition as authoritative and more often than not, He criticized it. Christians do affirm that the New Testament authors were operating under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and thus were given direct authority to interpret the OT writings as they did.

    Clearly this is an impasse for this discussion, as we disagree on the most fundamental level about Scriptural authority and precedence.
    While Jewish commentary can be informative and useful, it is not authoritative. As a Jew, you can disagree, fine; but let’s put the cards on the table about our methodology of reading and interpretation.

  269. Charlie says:

    That’s right! The truth is what it’s all about! I’m gonna research this chapter. I havent researched it in years. I think that if i was to tell you to read isaiah for the first time without telling you to whom ch 53 refers to and you were to read it in context the most sensible unbiased answer would be that it refers to the nation Israel as Isaiah always uses the singular to describe the nation israel especially in the chapter preceding 53 and ch 54.

    I don;t think so.
    If you cut out 52:13 – 53:12 and lay that on someone’s desk they will tell you that it is about Jesus.

    Talk about unfulfilled prophecies, if it were about the nation of Israel there are more loose ends than those we are both waiting for Messiah to fulfill.

    And if you will speak to jews today who have “converted” to christianity you will find that they still reject the notion that Jesus is God or that he can save from sins. They just accepted the notion that he was the messiah.

    You say things as though they are supposed to be universal facts when maybe they apply in some instances. As a universal, and likely even generally, this statement is false.

  270. Vadim says:

    Victoria and Charlie

    You’re both making my point. Yes if you just cut out that one chapter of isaiah and read it on your own and then compare it to Jesus’s life as described in the NT then it does seem very likely that it’s speaking about Jesus. However if you examine the book of Isaiah carefully and read the few chapters before 53 and after 53 and put ch 53 in context with the rest of the book then i think it becomes pretty clear that it’s speaking about the nation israel. Furthermore if you want to see why it can’t refer to Jesus check out this lecture where rabbi singer points out the translation mistakes the church has made especially with verse 8 and 10.

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/media/a/isaiah-53-part-2/

    By the way i rarely post links to lectures. i don’t like to bother people to listen to stuff somebody else says. So let me just give you a quick summary of what he says.

    Verse 8 in the original hebrew ends with the plural “them” So how can it refer to Jesus when it says “them”

    Verse 10 speaks of children. In the original hebrew it can only refer to physical children. Jesus didn’t have any physical children.

  271. Vadim says:

    Let me also say that debating whether Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus or the nation Israel will ultimately decide nothing about the validity of the christian faith. The main point that i would like to address is whether the major premise of christianity is true or false – whether Jesus is God. It seems to me that there is no evidence for this position. If you bring down a verse that supports the position that Jesus is God then I can bring down a verse which would contradict it. And we can trade biblical verses like this forever. So I guess my main question is – on what basis do you believe that christianity is true? Is it simply faith?

  272. Charlie says:

    However if you examine the book of Isaiah carefully and read the few chapters before 53 and after 53 and put ch 53 in context with the rest of the book then i think it becomes pretty clear that it’s speaking about the nation israel.

    Still not the case. The Suffering Servant is set out as a separate entity from Israel in many ways , and there are several passages where He cannot be Israel. Your own tradition separates this passage as distinct and Messianic.

    It seems to me that there is no evidence for this position.

    Sure there is. He said He was and then His ministry was validated by His prophecy about His death and Resurrection coming true.

    So I guess my main question is – on what basis do you believe that christianity is true? Is it simply faith?

    What an odd little question. Have you listened to anything said here, or looked around the website at all?

  273. Victoria says:

    @Charlie
    Dont’ forget that Vadim is following the Greg approach to discussion 🙂

  274. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    We gave you links here
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/true-reason-christian-responses-to-the-challenge-of-atheism-2/#comment-36538

    Here are a few more, explaining Christianity’s core truths
    http://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/why-did-christ-have-to-die/

    http://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/why-does-it-make-sense-to-believe-in-christ/

    http://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/why-we-believe-evidences-for-christian-faith/

    Of course it is by faith, which has two components – the evidence that points us to Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God, who convinces us of the truth of the Gospel, convicts us of our sin and rebellion against a holy and righteous God and King, coaxes our obedience to trust in the atoning death and resurrection of the Son of God, and confirms our trust when we respond to Him.

  275. Charlie says:

    Isaiah 52 and 53 depict the servant as completely righteous. This can’t be Israel because the nation has never been completely righteous and if it were to be God has promised to make it triumphant and not afflicted or rejected.
    Righteous Israel cannot go down as a sheep tot he slaughter, as she should be blessed when righteous.
    The Servant is smitten not because of His own guilt, but because He is taking on the guilt of others. Again, Israel herself bears her own guilt and is often punished for it.

    And the passage promises exaltation with kings standing in awe of the Servant. That is not Israel, either, but it is Jesus.

    “Them”
    “The Servant receives a stroke for them – in other words, for those for whom He is suffering.”

    In Isaiah 44:15 lamo means “to it” and not “to them” (he bows down to the idol he made .. to it.)

    And Ezekiel 28:8 shows that a singular one can die the plural deaths. This is an emphatic illustration of violent death, not of “them” dying.

    Does “seed” always mean literal, physical offspring?
    The idiom ( “see seed”) is found but once in the Tanakh, namely, the passage in question. So we can’t say it always refers to physical descendants.
    But “seed”, ( zera) is often used in a way that can be taken metaphorically, as in Isaiah 1:4, 14:20, 57:3-4, …

    Zera can also mean future generations while having nothing to do with specific descendants of a given person, as in Psalm 22.

    Finally, Sa’adiah Gaon, as noted previously, applied the passage to Jeremiah. But God told Jeremiah never to marry or have children. Apparently it has also been applied to Lubavitcher Rebbe, who never had children (and, also, was not the nation of Israel).

    So obviously the term was never used by interpreters to mean only and specifically that the servant would father His own physical descendants.

    All of the above, of course, is gleaned from the source I named previously, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus, vol. 3

  276. Charlie says:

    And, again, to backtrack to a previous comment:

    And if you will speak to jews today who have “converted” to christianity you will find that they still reject the notion that Jesus is God or that he can save from sins.

    Nope.
    http://afreetickettoheaven.com/why_jesus.htm

  277. Charlie says:

    Hi Victoria,
    Amazingly popular technique, is it not?
    We’ve seen it aplenty here. In the olden days I would engage a couple of guys for weeks at a time. I developed a strategy of stopping every so often and compiling a number of the “questions” and the unacknowledged answers provided, just to take stock of what was going on.

  278. Victoria says:

    I can’t speak for all Jews who have converted, but I know these fellow believers in Christ
    http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/about-us/doctrinal-statement

    Our church invited reps from the Toronto branch of this association to lead us through a Passover meal, and they showed how the components of the feast portrayed the Messiah and how Jesus Christ fulfilled these things. A very moving ceremony – it was so wonderful.
    Vadim, don’t get us wrong – as Bible Believing Christians, we love the people of Israel as the apple of God’s eye.

  279. Cool Badger says:

    Wow so many comments. I wonder if anyone comes away having learned something new from these discussions. I have one question too – do Christians have to believe that Jesus is God to be saved? There are Christians who dont believe in the trinity but still believe Jesus died for the sins of the world. They pray to God in the name of Jesus. And they have the same Bible as you do. So I think you cant use scripture to prove the trinity.

  280. Vadim says:

    I want to if possible change the conversation a little towards the essential evidence for why you guys think Jesus is God.

    You see it doesn’t really matter whether isaiah 53 is referring to an individual person or to a nation. I’m sure if i go to my rabbi he will give me a million examples of why it refers to a nation and if i go to a christian scholar he will give me a million examples of why it refers to an individual so it would just come down to who do you trust more or whose particular argument do you find more appealing.

    What does matter however is whether Jesus is God. You see from the jewish perspective one cannot commit a graver sin than idolatry which traditional judaism defines as praying to anyone other than God or imagining that anyone or anything has power other than God. From the christian perspective it seems to me that one cannot commit a graver sin than not accepting that Jesus is God. You can see how the two ideologies cannot coexist. This i think is the very essence of the christianity vs judaism debate. So i’d like to know why do you guys think that Jesus is God?

  281. Vadim says:

    You see i have an agenda. My purpose as a jew is to tell you guys the truth as was revealed to the jews by God 3300 years ago on mount sinai and hope that you will follow that truth (7 noahide laws) thus perfecting this world and ensuring a maximum reward in heaven! Now I know that most christians just like most non jews are good decent people. But there is one commandment of the 7 noahide laws which most non jews tend to break. And that’s the very first one – idolatry. So what i attempt to do when i speak to christians is to show that there is no good evidence to believe that Jesus is God and to hope that non jews can come back to the original truth and reestablish a true direct personal relationship with the Creator!

  282. I’ve been sitting back and waiting for Vadim to say something of substance, but so far I’m hearing this same old drivel of “No evidence!”

    Let’s make this simple. My evidence is that Jesus made the claims for Himself of who He was in relation to the Father and proved it by His resurrection.

    Your reply?

  283. Cool Badger says:

    Even though the previous question was to Vadim it kind of concerns what I am saying too. There are many Christians who do not believe in the Tri Unity of God, are they all going to hell in your view? If not, then why cant everyone just agree to disagree about whether Jesus is God, and focus on what is actually the key to attaining salvation. Unitarian believers see the same claims made by Jesus in the gospels as you, and also believe in the resurrection, but they do not come to the same conclusion as Nick. There are many views on whether Jesus was God but I think its the same as asking whether Mary was a virgin for the rest of her life. It’s not essential.

  284. Badger. Who Jesus is is not an add-on to Christianity. It is an essential. Jesus being deity means He is the rightful one who can rule the universe. His being human means he is the rightful king of Israel. Both go hand in hand. I’m sorry the person of Jesus is peripheral to you.

  285. Vadim says:

    Nick

    Now we’re getting somewhere! So now we have as evidence that Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by performing a great miracle namely the resurrection. This seems to be the major piece of evidence for christianity.

    I’d like to ask a question. 1) Had Jesus not resurrected himself would you still believe that he is God?

  286. Nope. He would have been a charlatan like all the other supposed Messiahs.

  287. Cool Badger says:

    God raised Jesus from the dead. That does not require Jesus to be God. I read the same scripture as you do, and you talk about Jesus claims for himself. Here is what I see:

    “”You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” – John 14:28

    So the Father is greater than the Son.

    “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

    So the son is not omniscient

    “”Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” Luke 18:19

    As you can see even in goodness, God is perfect while Jesus contrasts that with himself.

    None of these claims by Jesus indicate he is God. He is saying and implying that he not God.

    I know you are going to spin it the other way but Jesus himself said this, don’t you think if he spoke to you on Earth today he would ask you the same question and tell you the same thing? When Jews took to stone Jesus for saying he’s God he could have said “that’s right I am God”, after all why would he be afraid of stones! But he did not come out and say it. Instead he simply said the Father had set him apart as His very own! That is all I have to say on the matter.

  288. Victoria says:

    @Badger
    You’ll have to read the rest of the New Testament to learn what the apostles wrote concerning the nature of Jesus; keep in mind that they wrote under the auspices of divine inspiration. Besides, you have cherry-picked verses, without context, without considering (a) other passages where Jesus’ divinity was being stated, (b) the fuller context of the New Testament, and even the logical implications of Christ’s substitutionary death and subsequenct resurrection. This is a classic interpretational error, and it can lead to all sorts of absurdities and downright heretical claims. You should read James W. Sire Scripture Twisting to see how this methodology of misreading works.

    If Jesus were not good, as in perfect and sinless, He would have had to have paid for His own sin. He would not have been a spotless lamb, without blemish, which is what God requires for an atonement sacrifice. The Epistle to the Hebrews explains this in detail.

    You might want to try this for starters
    http://bible.org/seriespage/christology-jesus-christ

    as well as numerous other articles on the parent page.

    and for a Christian explanation of the Trinity
    http://bible.org/article/trinity-triunity-god and
    http://bible.org/article/name-father-son-and-holy-spirit-constructing-trinitarian-worldview

    I’ll just tackle one of your references: Luke 18:19, but in full context
    see here for a link.
    http://net.bible.org/#!bible/Luke+18:14

    Jesus was challenging the man’s use of the adjective to be sure, but not because Jesus did not consider Himself as co-equal with God – but because the ruler did NOT consider Jesus to be God, in essence, “you do not believe My claims to be God, so why are you calling me good?”

    As for the resurrection, well consider this:
    Romans 1:1-5,
    Colossians 1:15-20,
    http://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+20:20 – look at the commentary notes on John 20:28, for example

  289. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    You may have an agenda, but….

    I have said it here already…
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/true-reason-christian-responses-to-the-challenge-of-atheism-2/#comment-36623

    You will find yourself going up against the Spirit of God – do you really think that you can convince us otherwise?

  290. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    I am not trying to convince you. I’m gonna make my case and then you’ll decide if it makes sense. The only one who can convince you is you. In the words of our sages when Moses was writing down the verse “Let US make man in our own image” Moses protested to God and asked Him why do you give heretics a reason to doubt? To which God replied “write Moses, if they err let them err”

  291. Victoria says:

    We agree 100% that God did choose the descendants of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, that He set them apart as His own chosen people, that He revealed His Laws to them at Sinai, and established His covenant with them. It was through Israel that the promised Messiah would come.

    We also are 100% committed to what the New Testament says about Jesus Christ, that He came to fulfill the Law and be the means by which God would establish His new covenant with not just Israel, but all mankind – this is so clearly spelled out in Hebrews.

    Look, we are really at an impasse here – you do not believe at all that Jesus is God and the promised Messiah, whereas we do, and no power on earth or in hell will cause us to doubt that. Come this Friday, I will remember His death, and why He died, and I will weep because my sins nailed Him to that cross – the hands that flung the stars through space surrendered to cruel nails – I will remember that His love for me kept Him there until He paid the debt in full. On Sunday, I will rejoice and declare ‘He is Risen’, and because of that, I am free, I am adopted into God’s eternal family; I will worship Him as God and Redeemer, sovereign King; through Him I can address God Himself as Abba as well as Adonai. If you think for even a nanosecond that you have a chance, you are sadly mistaken.

  292. Victoria says:

    @Vadim

    You see i have an agenda. My purpose as a jew is to tell you guys the truth as was revealed to the jews by God 3300 years ago on mount sinai and hope that you will follow that truth (7 noahide laws) thus perfecting this world and ensuring a maximum reward in heaven! Now I know that most christians just like most non jews are good decent people. But there is one commandment of the 7 noahide laws which most non jews tend to break. And that’s the very first one – idolatry. So what i attempt to do when i speak to christians is to show that there is no good evidence to believe that Jesus is God and to hope that non jews can come back to the original truth and reestablish a true direct personal relationship with the Creator

    and

    I am not trying to convince you. I’m gonna make my case and then you’ll decide if it makes sense. The only one who can convince you is you. In the words of our sages when Moses was writing down the verse “Let US make man in our own image” Moses protested to God and asked Him why do you give heretics a reason to doubt? To which God replied “write Moses, if they err let them err”

    Do you even read what you have written? Can you really be this dense? Do you not see the contradiction here?
    If this is how you are going to carry on the discussion, then I am finished with you.

  293. Charlie says:

    My favourites:
    Malachi 3:1
    Isaiah 40:3

  294. Charlie says:

    Didn’t you learn something, Badger, about the Jewish context of Jesus’ mission and the recipients of the Gospel message?
    When I started to see this stuff the pieces clicked into place. God is so amazing, the way He writes history in actual time and makes His point with real people. Awesome!

  295. Charlie says:

    @295
    Beautiful.

  296. Vadim says:

    Nick and company

    Here’s my case. It’s in two parts.

    1) First let’s start with a little logic. As Cool Badger just pointed out the argument that Jesus resurrected = Jesus is God is fallible. For arguments sake I’m granting you every single miracle that is attested to Jesus in the new testament. I’m granting you that he walked on water, fed people with fish and every other miracle attested to him including his ultimate feat of resurrecting himself. And after granting you all these miracles logically speaking the conclusion we have is that there’s a man who can do miracles. A miracle worker. Now let me tell you something about miracles. They’re not very convincing. Here’s a story – When the jews were slaves in egypt, God sent moses to take the people out of egypt. During the course of almost a year God performed miracles and great wonders clearly denying the laws of nature for the entire nation in front of all people to see! The end result: 80% of jews found the miracles unconvincing and decided to stay in egypt and die. That’s 4 out of 5 jews who thought that moses was nothing but a miracle worker. As the jews were traveling they approached the sea of reeds. At this most awesome moment in human history God split the sea in half and had the jews walk on dry land. And what do our sages tell us? As the jews were walking through the sea they were doubting God and thought that moses was a miracle worker. Why? because miracles aren’t convincing. It was only when Moses brought the people to mount sinai and they heard God speak then they were sure that Moses wasn’t lying about God. And how were they sure? Because God took away their ability to doubt. When God speaks one can’t doubt. Now lets fast forward a little to the time of Jesus. Jesus did miracles. Ok. He was a miracle worker! So was almost every major rabbi at that time. Ok he could resurrect. So could almost every major rabbi of his time. Numerous stories of resurrection are listed in the talmud. I pointed out in a different post that coming up to an average 1st century jew and telling him about resurrection would be akin to coming up to an average american and telling him that his neighbor just got a ferrari. The response being “wow cool.” And that’s pretty much it.

    Now in light of Jesus having done all these miracles can one compare God to Jesus? We are speaking about the Creator of the entire cosmos. The One who has created a universe so vast that it boggles the mind just to think about its colossal size. The One who has sustained this universe for billions of years. The One who has caused and is causing the existence of all life at al times. The One who in an instant can make the entire universe disappear and revert back to the nothingness from which it came. Are we seriously going to compare God to someone who can resurrect himself? This is like comparing a drop to an ocean. But that would not at all be a just comparison because all the awesome things that God does requires no effort of Him. God is infinite. There is no end to Him.

    2) Argument 2. Imagine you’re standing at the foot of mount sinai 3300 years ago. You have just witnessed God speak in front of the entire nation. You are convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that God exists and Moses is his servant who will relate to you the law perfectly. Moses begins teaching. He tells you that whatever happens do not stray from this torah and the exact teaching as he will relate it. He tells you that miracle workers will arise and will do great miracles. If the miracle workers follow this torah then all is well but if they contradict it have them killed even if they can move mountains. Because God is testing you. Fast forward 1300 years. You’re living at the time of Jesus. He can do miracles. He teaches people and sometimes his lessons are perfectly in line with torah. But sometimes they’re not. What do you do?

  297. Charlie says:

    For arguments sake I’m granting you every single miracle that is attested to Jesus in the new testament.

    A good idea, since the Talmud itself admits as much.

    Now let me tell you something about miracles. They’re not very convincing. Here’s a story – When the jews were slaves in egypt, God sent moses to take the people out of egypt. During the course of almost a year God performed miracles and great wonders clearly denying the laws of nature for the entire nation in front of all people to see! The end result: 80% of jews found the miracles unconvincing and decided to stay in egypt and die. That’s 4 out of 5 jews who thought that moses was nothing but a miracle worker.

    A very good point. nobody said that miracles in and of themselves are convincing.

    Now let me tell you something about miracles.
    Building faith and convincing people of His divinity had very little to do with His miracles. They are called signs for a reason – they point to something and tell us something. They are object lessons.

    Take His turning water into wine. Why such a mundane miracle for His very first? People often laugh and joke about this miracle because they don’t realize that Jesus was saying something by it.
    This hit me this Sunday, almost directly out of my own thinking, such that I think God opened my eyes to the truth Himself.
    Jesus wasn’t showing off, but telling us something about His mission.
    He took the stone jars that the Jews used for ritual cleansing before entering a house and had them filled with normal water. Water is sprinkled on the outside, but he transformed the water.
    As He had come to do, He did away with the old and ushered in the new.
    He turned the water into something very symbolic in His ministry – wine. Everyone knows that Jesus used wine to symbolize His blood, shed for our sins on the Cross. And, as you know from reading your Tanakh, the life is in the blood. Life. Jesus is the life, He gives life; Eternal life.
    And He does so, like wine, by entering us, and becoming one with us, making us one with Him and the Father; not by sprinkling our heads again and again, but by transforming us once and for all.

    And He did it at the most joyous of occasions, a wedding feast. Of course we know He will Himself drink wine with us at our wedding feast in Heaven with Him.

    That’s the kind of thing Jesus was doing with His miracles. he wasn’t proving His deity.

    On His Resurrection, it is God’s validating His claims. He said He was the Son of God, the Son of Man, One with the Father, and God Himself.
    Elijah slaughtered Baal’s prophets after laughing that their impotent “god” must have been too busy in the bathroom to respond to them.
    Instead of laughing at Jesus as a blasphemer God raised Him from the dead.

    Then He took Him into Heaven and, from that realm, He spoke with Paul. And the Holy Spirit was poured out on His believers at the new Pentecost. where 3,000 were slain when God thundered on the first Pentecost, this time 3,000 were added to the believers.

    And from then on God endorsed the ministry by turning people’s hearts to Him, including mine, for the following 2,000 years.

    Ah yes, and Jesus the prophet was again vindicated when Rome surrounded Jerusalem, His people heeded His warning and escaped, and then He judged Jerusalem as He had said.

  298. Charlie says:

    When did Jesus contradict the Torah? He quoted from nearly every book of the Bible, and said He came to fulfill, not abolish.
    What He contradicted was the traditions of men, the hypocrites who went out of their way to make converts but then made the twice the children of Hell they themselves were

  299. Charlie says:

    I’ve never seen an account of a dead Rabbi resuscitating himself, BTW.

    Who did these things, and, if they were so common, why did the Jews say Jesus’ Body was stolen instead of saying, “oh, we come back from the dead all the time”?

  300. Charlie says:

    BTW,
    I was pretty excited about the water into wine thinking, so I Googled it when i got home.
    I never really thought it could be original to me, and, of course, it isn’t. I was somewhat embarrassed not to have learned of it before, but thrilled to pieces that God let me see it.

  301. Victoria says:

    Lets get one thing absolutely clear
    The Christian doctrine of the resurrection is is not merely resuscitation of a dead body. When our Lord Jesus was resurrected on that first day of the week, which by the way was the day of the Feast of First Fruits (which comes after Passover), He had a completely new body. It was a physical body, yet not constrained by the physical. You just have to read the accounts in John’s gospel to get a sense of that. (see here: http://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+20:1)
    Paul explains the nature of resurrection here: http://net.bible.org/#!bible/1+Corinthians+15.

    Consider too, if Jesus were a mere mortal, He would have been a sinner like the rest of us. He was crucified, cursed of God, according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, which is also the force of Isaiah 53:4.

    Yet here we have 1st century Jews, who surely knew all of this as much, if not better, than Vadim and Greg (for Vadim’s so-called case is nothing more than vintage Magarshak rehashed – @Vadim: that’s it??? Is that your best shot???) claiming that they saw the risen Jesus, in a body that like His before His death, yet very different.

    Vadim, your “case” only strengthens ours – would 1st century Jews, steeped in Second Temple Judaism, follow after foreign gods, as their ancestors did before the exile? Jesus was not some pagan god, but Yahweh incarnate, come to fulfill the terms of Yahweh’s covenant as His Messiah. What they saw and experienced and came to understand was so extra-ordinary, so compelling, that it transformed them completely – they knew that phase 1 of Yahweh’s promised new covenant had been fulfilled.

  302. Victoria says:

    N. T. Wright (a well respected New Testament historian/scholar/theologian) has a very insightful analysis of the Resurrection, here:

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jesus_Resurrection.htm

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Historical_Problem.htm

    Well worth the read for someone who wants to learn what we Christians believe about it.

  303. Victoria says:

    @Badger
    A link, from N. T. Wright, about Jesus’ identity with God

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_JIG.htm

  304. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    A link, from N. T. Wright, discussing Jesus, Israel and the Cross – what it all means

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jesus_Israel_Cross.pdf

  305. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    1) Lets get something straight about the Talmud. It does not mention Jesus even once. The few portions of the talmud which the christians think refer to Jesus have nothing to do with him after examining the Talmud closely. And they all disagree with the account of Jesus in the NT. When I granted you the miracles I did so for arguments sake. My own personal opinion is that NT has been mostly made up by clever jews and Jesus did nothing or at most little of what is attributed to him.

    If you want to know what the talmud says or rather doesn’t say about Jesus you can listen to this two part lecture

    http://www.torahcafe.com/jewishvideo.php?vid=ba67efa6e

    2) I guess my story about how miracles are unconvincing did little. Alright. Question – if someone comes back from the dead today and says that Jesus lied, would you believe him?

  306. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    We could say the same thing about the Talmud, so where does that leave us?

    The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is not the least bit dependent on the Talmud, at least not for professional historians.

    Are you planning on repeating the same things over and over again, expecting to get a different result?

    And why, for goodness sake, are you invoking hypothetical situations as an argument? That is not sound reasoning – if that is the best you can do, Vadim, then you really are wasting your time ere, as no one will take you seriously anymore

  307. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    I see my two points about how miracles are unconvincing and that God already told us not to believe people who do miracles did little. Ok. I’ll show you this one thing – this one appeals more to vanity than logic but some people like it.

    Here’s a little code encoded into the words of the torah in the original hebrew

    http://www.evidencefortorah.comxa.com/Images/prophecy-FalseProphetsInDvarim13-1.jpg

    “If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you saying, “Let us follow gods of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!” do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream…” (Deuteronomy 13:2) Amazingly, starting from the Hebrew word “ממנו” (Deuteronomy 13:1) with a skip of 20 letters appears the name מחמד = Muhammad. Starting from the word חיקך (Deuteronomy 13:7) with the skip of 14 letters appears the name ישו = Jesus. Starting from the word סרה (Deuteronomy 13:6) with the skip of 33 letters, appears the name סמית = Smith (false “prophet” of Mormons). Starting from the word אני (Deuteronomy 12:30) with the skip of 28 letters appears the name נתנ – Nathan (false “prophet” of Shabtai Tzvi). The amazing part is that these names appear in a small section of the Torah that warns us about the false prophets. Amazingly, the skip count is also not accidental. The “skips” represent centuries (after Torah was given), when these “prophets” came in to the world.

  308. Victoria says:

    @Vadim

    The few portions of the talmud which the christians think refer to Jesus have nothing to do with him after examining the Talmud closely. And they all disagree with the account of Jesus in the NT.

    If the Talmud does not even mention Jesus, then how is it that it could disagree with the New Testament accounts?

  309. @Badger. God raised Jesus from the dead. That does not require Jesus to be God.

    Reply: Nice Straw man. I notice you conveniently left out the claims Jesus made about Himself.

    Badger:I read the same scripture as you do, and you talk about Jesus claims for himself. Here is what I see:

    “”You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” – John 14:28

    So the Father is greater than the Son.

    Reply: Obviously the Father is greater since in my view Jesus is the Wisdom of God that has been incarnated. This does not rule out Him being deity, but it does mean that He is the hypostasis of God and lives because the Father lives. How is this a problem for me?

    Badger: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

    So the son is not omniscient

    Reply: The Son is also human here and I do not believe He had everything revealed to Him in His humanity except that which was essential for His mission.

    Badger: “”Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” Luke 18:19

    As you can see even in goodness, God is perfect while Jesus contrasts that with himself.

    Reply: So you do not think Jesus is good? If He is not good, why should I trust Him with being king of the universe and trust Him with my salvation?

    Badger: None of these claims by Jesus indicate he is God. He is saying and implying that he not God.

    Reply: No. Doubtful since we don’t find the apostles at this time speaking in that terminology as they don’t know who He is. Instead, we look at the whole context. We see Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus is the one who gives the Law. Jesus speaks on His own authority. Jesus says we are to honor Him as we honor the Father. Jesus sees Himself as greater than the temple and is truly the one where the presence of God is. Jesus sees Himself as having the authority to forgive sin. Jesus sees Himself as the coming king of the universe. Jesus sees Himself as without sin. Jesus makes statements of Himself that apply to YHWH and Paul especially does this with Jesus over and over.

    Badger: I know you are going to spin it the other way but Jesus himself said this, don’t you think if he spoke to you on Earth today he would ask you the same question and tell you the same thing?

    Reply: Spin assumes your stance is right so nice poisoning of the well. No. If He was here today, he’d accept the worship that I give Him just as I give it to the Father.

    Badger: When Jews took to stone Jesus for saying he’s God he could have said “that’s right I am God”, after all why would he be afraid of stones! But he did not come out and say it. Instead he simply said the Father had set him apart as His very own! That is all I have to say on the matter.

    Reply: No he couldn’t have! That would have resulted in even more confusion at the time. What Jesus did was a qal wahomer where he pointed to Psalm 82 and how the judges of Israel had fallen and behaved wrongly and were still called gods. Thus, he justified His claim to call Himself God saying “If these lesser men can be called gods, why can’t I, the one who truly is God’s Son, be rightly identified as one in nature with the Father?”

  310. Victoria says:

    @Vadim

    I see my two points about how miracles are unconvincing and that God already told us not to believe people who do miracles did little. Ok. I’ll show you this one thing – this one appeals more to vanity than logic but some people like it.

    If your attempt at logical argument is pathetically unconvincing, then an appeal to vanity is even less so, to say nothing of the fact that this is fallacious reasoning.

    And hidden codes? C’mon, is this your idea of God revealing His word to us? Surely you are joking!
    (To which Vadim should reply – “No. And don’t call me Shirley!”)

    Why don’t you just admit defeat, give up and move on?

  311. Vadim: First let’s start with a little logic. As Cool Badger just pointed out the argument that Jesus resurrected = Jesus is God is fallible.

    Reply: Please show where that argument was put forward.

    Vadim: For arguments sake I’m granting you every single miracle that is attested to Jesus in the new testament. I’m granting you that he walked on water, fed people with fish and every other miracle attested to him including his ultimate feat of resurrecting himself. And after granting you all these miracles logically speaking the conclusion we have is that there’s a man who can do miracles. A miracle worker. Now let me tell you something about miracles. They’re not very convincing. Here’s a story – When the jews were slaves in egypt, God sent moses to take the people out of egypt. During the course of almost a year God performed miracles and great wonders clearly denying the laws of nature for the entire nation in front of all people to see! The end result: 80% of jews found the miracles unconvincing and decided to stay in egypt and die. That’s 4 out of 5 jews who thought that moses was nothing but a miracle worker. As the jews were traveling they approached the sea of reeds. At this most awesome moment in human history God split the sea in half and had the jews walk on dry land. And what do our sages tell us? As the jews were walking through the sea they were doubting God and thought that moses was a miracle worker. Why? because miracles aren’t convincing. It was only when Moses brought the people to mount sinai and they heard God speak then they were sure that Moses wasn’t lying about God. And how were they sure? Because God took away their ability to doubt. When God speaks one can’t doubt.

    Reply: Sure one can doubt. Otherwise, God has never spoken because new atheists doubt God has ever spoken and that He even exists. As for miracles being unconvincing, so what? The psychological response to miracles says nothing about the miracle itself. The resurrection is not about convincing but vindication.

    Vadim: Now lets fast forward a little to the time of Jesus. Jesus did miracles. Ok. He was a miracle worker! So was almost every major rabbi at that time. Ok he could resurrect. So could almost every major rabbi of his time. Numerous stories of resurrection are listed in the talmud. I pointed out in a different post that coming up to an average 1st century jew and telling him about resurrection would be akin to coming up to an average american and telling him that his neighbor just got a ferrari. The response being “wow cool.” And that’s pretty much it.

    Reply: No. Not at all. Resurrection was not commonplace. If you think it was, please show where it was going on.

    Vadim: Now in light of Jesus having done all these miracles can one compare God to Jesus? We are speaking about the Creator of the entire cosmos. The One who has created a universe so vast that it boggles the mind just to think about its colossal size. The One who has sustained this universe for billions of years. The One who has caused and is causing the existence of all life at al times. The One who in an instant can make the entire universe disappear and revert back to the nothingness from which it came. Are we seriously going to compare God to someone who can resurrect himself?

    Reply: Incredulity is not an argument. Also, we are not comparing the two because that is putting a differentiation. You speak of all these things God does. Is your God incapable of becoming incarnate?

    Vadim: This is like comparing a drop to an ocean. But that would not at all be a just comparison because all the awesome things that God does requires no effort of Him. God is infinite. There is no end to Him.

    Reply: This does nothing to counter my position.

    Vadim: 2) Argument 2. Imagine you’re standing at the foot of mount sinai 3300 years ago. You have just witnessed God speak in front of the entire nation. You are convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that God exists and Moses is his servant who will relate to you the law perfectly. Moses begins teaching. He tells you that whatever happens do not stray from this torah and the exact teaching as he will relate it. He tells you that miracle workers will arise and will do great miracles. If the miracle workers follow this torah then all is well but if they contradict it have them killed even if they can move mountains. Because God is testing you. Fast forward 1300 years. You’re living at the time of Jesus. He can do miracles. He teaches people and sometimes his lessons are perfectly in line with torah. But sometimes they’re not. What do you do?

    Reply: Please show where He is not in line with the Torah.

  312. If you start from this letter in the Torah and go forward 7 steps, you get a V! Go forward 18 more and you get an A! 6 more and you get a D! 93 more and you get an I! 11 more and you get an M! 10 more and you get another I. 27 more and you get an S. 3 more and you get a C. 18 more and you get an L. 44 more and you get a U. 63 more and you get an E. 14 more and you get an L. 77 more and you get an E. 1495 more and you get an S. 12 more and you get a final S.

    Obviously, divine truth has been revealed!

  313. Charlie says:

    Hi Vadim,

    1) Lets get something straight about the Talmud. It does not mention Jesus even once.

    I only get straight things straight.
    Peter Schafer, Perlman Professor of Judaic Studies and director of the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University tends to disagree with you, as evidenced in his book Jesus In The Talmud, which I have beside my right hand as I write this.

    If I get time to listen to this lecture I might, but for now Schafer seems authoritative enough. Especially since the last lecture you gave us was intended to convey erroneous opinions about translations.

    2) I guess my story about how miracles are unconvincing did little. Alright. Question – if someone comes back from the dead today and says that Jesus lied, would you believe him?

    I’d want to compare apples to apples.
    We know for a fact, of course, that someone is going to appear to have come back from the dead and he will be very much against Jesus’ teachings. So your scenario might just solidify another NT prophecy and strengthen my faith even more.

  314. Vadim says:

    Nick

    1) It’s not that God is incapable of becoming incarnate. It’s that He told us He wouldn’t. That was our main lesson on mount sinai 3300 years ago.

    2) Jesus is not in line with the Torah if he claims he is God or that he can take away peoples sins.

  315. Victoria says:

    @Nick #316 – Thanks, I needed a good laugh

  316. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    Is there a deadline by which Jesus has to come back to earth? I want to know if christianity can ever be tested

  317. Tom Gilson says:

    Matthew 24:14; 2 Peter 3:9

  318. Victoria says:

    Vadim
    You keep asserting and saying but not citing references. You need to develop a reasoned argument, moving from justified premises to a conclusion that follows from those premises.

    At least you have to justify your use of the Talmud as authoritative over and beyond that of the written Torah. Is the Talmud God’s Word? I think not, especially having read what it says about David and Bathsheba. Does God ever contradict Himself? No.

    Charlie and Nick: please do a google search on “David and Bathsheba Talmud” and look at what comes back. There are some sites that are anti-Semitic, so skip those in favour of ones that are representative of Jewish thought. Read it and let us know what you think.

  319. Vadim says:

    Tom

    Does that mean that everyone needs to be converted to christianity for Jesus to come? Or does that mean that everyone has to hear about christianity?

  320. Charlie says:

    Is there a deadline by which Jesus has to come back to earth? I want to know if christianity can ever be tested

    Never ends, huh. One answer after another, one failed argument after another, and all we get is more challenges. More and more Gregish all the time.

  321. Vadim says:

    Victoria

    According to jewish tradition when Moses taught Israel the Torah he explained to us every nuance of it, every possible way of interpretation, every verse and its many meanings, every dot, every comma, every exclamation point. Those teachings had been passed down orally and eventually written down in the Talmud. As such the authority of the talmud is the same and even greater than that of the written torah. Because the written torah is a locked secret. And without the correct interpretation it is impossible to access it.

    If you study nothing but the written Torah you will find many contradictions. As such the book needs to be interpreted. So who do you trust to interpret it? The people who have kept this book and guarded it and to who it has been entrusted by God since the beginning OR the people who have acquired it more than a thousand years after its revelation?

  322. I’ll give a different answer than Tom’s. Matthew 24 has zip to do with the return of Christ. Matthew 24 is all about the vindication of Christ and Christ was vindicated since his prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem within one generation came true.

    Meanwhile, Vadim once again attempted an argument. (Always something dangerous for a fundamentalist)

    Vadim: 1) It’s not that God is incapable of becoming incarnate. It’s that He told us He wouldn’t. That was our main lesson on mount sinai 3300 years ago.

    Reply: Please show where in the Torah you see this.

    Vadim: 2) Jesus is not in line with the Torah if he claims he is God or that he can take away peoples sins.

    Reply: Jesus is indeed in line with the Torah if He makes those claims and backs those claims.

  323. Vadim says:

    Furthermore Moses taught us the laws that apply to the nations of the world for all times. They are the 7 general laws of Noah. And it seems to me they all have the same theme – dont harm others and live in peace!

  324. Victoria says:

    @Vadim
    Sorry, but I’m not buying it.

    Jesus quoted from Isaiah, where He said
    “This people honors me with their lips,

    but their heartis far from me,

    15:9 and they worship me in vain,

    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

    see here
    http://net.bible.org/#!bible/Matthew+15:1

    Who do I trust to understand and interpret God’s Word? God, that’s who.
    This is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit – He is the one convinces us of the truth, authorial intent and application of His Word. As Christians, we have His indwelling presence.

    If my Lord and Saviour, declared by God to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead, repudiated the Jewish oral tradition, and when I see that oral tradition contradicting the plain meaning of historical narratives, I will take His side every time.

    You have said nothing more than the Talmud is authoritative over and above the written Torah because the Talmud says so. You have given me absolutely no reason to disregard Jesus’ own teaching and the witness of the Spirit of God, both personally and corporately in the Christian community.

    You are basically saying that God could not communicate His own revelation of Himself clearly enough in the written word. Nonsense!

    The writers of the New Testament were Jews (Paul was even a Pharisee – he surely knew the Torah and the oral tradition at least as well as any other Pharisee of his day).

    We are going around in pointless circles here – we disagree completely about the nature of God’s revelation and the interpretational methodology to understand and apply it. We will never agree unless one of us switches sides – I will not ever be that person.

  325. Victoria says:

    and that is just one place where Jesus referred to the Jewish oral tradition.
    When Jesus wanted to use Scripture to support a position, He prefaced His remarks with “Have you not read…?” or “It is written…”
    When the New Testament writers wanted to use Scripture to support a point, they referred to the written word.

    Go to http://www.bible.org, NET Bible menu item – to NET Bible page, and enter ‘have you not read’ in the search panel on the right and look at what comes back in the New Testament documents.

  326. BillT says:

    Cool Badger,

    I tried to check to see if you got a direct answer and I’m not sure the answer to your question “..do Christians have to believe that Jesus is God to be saved?” was said in this many words.

    The answer is yes.

  327. Cool Badger says:

    Really. So a someone can believe that Jesus was a spotless lamb, has paid for their sins on the cross, and that God raised him from the dead, they can repent and strive to lead a good life, they can pray to God, in Jesus’ name, to send His holy Spirit to convict them in their hearts and bring them to salvation, and they can even believe that Jesus is the Messiah and was in God’s plan from the beginning of the world. But they will never really get salvation and the reason will be: because you did not believe Jesus was God ??

    I dont believe it. Can you back up your answer of yes?

    First of all if Jesus is God, then praying to God and trusting in God is the same as trusting in Jesus. God gave Jesus the power to forgive sins, and God raised Jesus from the dead. God sent the Holy Spirit and Jesus went to Heaven. Jesus will come back and rule because he is the Messiah, he is the Christ.

    Victoria you are wrong by the way I do know the context of the verses I quoted. And your explanation of Luke 18:19 is by no means obvious. As for the other passages they are as plain as day, as I said Jesus could have easily said “I am God” but he never did that. What he said was that He was God’s very own. He was not as great as the Father, he didnt have His knowledge.

    Nick as you say it is your view that Jesus is the Wisdom of God that has been incarnated. My original statement was that you cannot use scripture to prove Jesus is God because there are many Christians who have the same scripture and believe everything I said above without thinking Jesus is God.

    You takl about what you believe and what your view is, that is not proof of anything. My view is that Jesus specifically never said he is God and although he was always in the plan from the beginning of the world, and he is the Messiah, no one can prove he is God. But I dont care about this. My question was what happens to Unitarians and other people who dont believe Jesus is God, but are Christians and follow Christ?

  328. peterc says:

    John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.”

  329. SteveK says:

    So a someone can believe that Jesus was a spotless lamb

    Clarify what is meant by spotless lamb? I see you describing Jesus in terms that can only refer to God’s Holy nature, while at the same time denying him that nature.

  330. BillT says:

    Cool Badger,

    peterc and Steve have both given good answers. Your desciption of Jesus could apply to no one but Jesus as God.

    “My view is that Jesus specifically never said he is God…”

    Jesus claimed to be God dozens of times in the Gospels. In his first recorded statement at age 12 in the Temple he claimed to be God’s son. You can have your view. However, it not does not comport with the facts.

  331. Cool Badger says:

    Now who is taking out context. Here is the whole passage, judge for yourself

    22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, hin the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are ithe Christ, jtell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. kThe works that I do lin my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but myou do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 nMy sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 oI give them eternal life, and pthey will never perish, and qno one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, rwho has given them to me,1 sis greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of tthe Father’s hand. 30 uI and the Father are one.”
    31 vThe Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but wfor blasphemy, because you, being a man, xmake yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in yyour Law, z‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be abroken— 36 do you say of him whom bthe Father consecrated and csent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because dI said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 eIf I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, feven though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that gthe Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 hAgain they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

    to me here it is clear that Jesus is saying he is the Christ, he is the Messiah. God sent him to Earth and his sheep are his followers. He is the good shepherd. The King of Israel. No one shall snatch his followers out of his hand. He gives them eternal life but only because God gave them to him!

    What Jesus means here when he says “I am the Father are one” becomes clear. To snatch them out of my hand you must first snatch them out of my Father’s hand but my Father is God of the Universe! So good luck with the snatching lol

    The Jews seek to arrest him because they think he is equating himself to God. But he tells them – “I am the Son of God”, the Father consecrated him and sent him into this world to be the King. To lead all who believe in him as the Messiah, to lead us the Christians! Jesus was killed on the cross on the charge of blasphemy do you really think he was afraid to say “I am God” if he wanted to? He didnt say it because he didnt claim to be God.

    Steve K: you can be spotless and be the eternal King of Israel and not be God. Israel had kings before, but the Christ is eternal.

    That is all.

  332. Tom Gilson says:

    Cool Badger, the Bible never says one must affirm “Jesus is the second person of the Trinity” to be saved. The description you gave of Jesus in the first paragraph more or less implies the deity of Jesus. If you believe that Jesus is all these things and does all these things, you’re on the right track.

    The deity of Jesus is mysterious and complicated (see here, here, and here, please where I wrote on this recently). I am sure people have been saved without understanding it or even knowing it to affirm it.

    On the other hand, although Jesus never unequivocally said, “I am God,” still his deity is manifest throughout the NT. If you wanted to study it in depth you could read the extensive study in Putting Jesus In His Place

    You say,

    My original statement was that you cannot use scripture to prove Jesus is God because there are many Christians who have the same scripture and believe everything I said above without thinking Jesus is God.

    That’s the skeptic’s lazy way out. If your standard is, “It’s not proof unless everyone in the whole world reaches the same conclusion,” then you can’t prove anything. You can use Scripture to reach reliable conclusions, in spite of disagreements. There are some points of difficulty, sure, but this is not really one of them. The denial of Jesus’ deity is very, very much a minority position among those who accept the Scriptures, and it is so for a reason: Jesus’ deity is taught clearly enough that people have recognized that’s what it says.

    My question was what happens to Unitarians and other people who don’t believe Jesus is God, but are Christians and follow Christ?

    They deny Christ. They do not follow him. Unitarians take a view of Christ that is significantly different from that of Scripture, and different from what you yourself have summarized.

  333. Cool Badger says:

    Oh and another thing God is not a lamb. Lambs are created by God and have been sacrificed to atone for sins. If you think describing someone as a lamb means they are God then I dont know what to say to you.

    Jesus Christ is the lamb of God and he is also the King Messiah of the Christians! All Christians who follow Jesus and have the Holy Spirit are the spiritual Israel. Believing that Jesus is God is not necessary and if it was then many people would not be saved who are Christians!!

  334. Tom Gilson says:

    According to one excellent commentary, you are both right and wrong about John 10:30. You are right in what you affirm, but you miss what must also be true in order for it to be affirmed. According to Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, via Accordance for Mac,

    30. I and my Father are one — Our language admits not of the precision of the original in this great saying. “Are” is in the masculine gender — “we (two persons) are”; while “one” is neuter — “one thing.” Perhaps “one interest” expresses, as nearly as may be, the purport of the saying. There seemed to be some contradiction between His saying they had been given by His Father into His own hands, out of which they could not be plucked, and then saying that none could pluck them out of His Father’s hands, as if they had not been given out of them. “Neither have they,” says He; “though He has given them to Me, they are as much in His own almighty hands as ever — they cannot be, and when given to Me they are not, given away from Himself; for HE AND I HAVE ALL IN COMMON.” Thus it will be seen, that, though oneness of essence is not the precise thing here affirmed, that truth is the basis of what is affirmed, without which it would not be true. And AUGUSTINE was right in saying the “We are” condemns the Sabellians (who denied the distinction of Persons in the Godhead), while the “one” (as explained) condemns the Arians (who denied the unity of their essence).

    But this verse alone does not contain the full import of the case for Christ’s deity. It is not easily proof-texted, but it is woven throughout every page of the NT. Even an article like this, while excellent, is incomplete for such a large topic.

  335. BillT says:

    Cool Badger,

    It’s one thing, as Tom points out, not to fully understand Jesus as God. That’s probably fair and true of all of us. It’s something different to deny Him the Diety he clearly and often proclaimed.

  336. Tom Gilson says:

    You say,

    Oh and another thing God is not a lamb.

    Obviously.

    Lambs are created by God and have been sacrificed to atone for sins. If you think describing someone as a lamb means they are God then I dont know what to say to you.

    That wasn’t the affirmation. The emphasis was on “spotless” and “taking away the sins of the world.” For this please see Hebrews 10.

    Spotless means without fault; which in a human would have to mean without sin. To take away the sins of the world must mean having a virtually infinite capacity to atone for all wrong.

    The OT lambs were metaphorical pictures in advance of what and whom Jesus would do and be. To call Jesus the Lamb of God now is simply to recognize his fulfillment of that metaphorical picture. Nothing literal is meant of it: no one thinks he grew wool and said bah-bah.

  337. Cool Badger says:

    Tom Jesus had plety of opportunity to make it clear that he is God. He chose not to do so either because he was not God (what I think personally) or even if he was God it was not necessary for salvation.

    Jesus was asked many times what one must do to be saved. I am sure it was on everyone’s mind lol. If the Teacher is telling you about the Kingdom of Heaven and the Word of God you will ask him what you should do to get there. Jesus said “follow me”. He did not say “believe I am God”.

    I asked one main question on this forum and I saw only Bill T answer but I think this is the very main question. At the end of the day who goes to Heaven? I believe anyone who follows Jesus and lives according to the spirit of his teachings. Remember “not everyone who says, Lord, Lord will enter”. But in sofar as you were kind to the least of these … do onto others as you would have them do onto you …

    Jesus instructs us to pray to God as follows

    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”

    Who forgives us our debts? God. If Jesus is God then fine but in any case Jesus shows how to pray -to our Father in heaven. Remember that!

    14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,

    15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    Christians must forgive others their trespasses as those who help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. That is what I believe.

    Oh yeah another thing if Jesus is God then how come he prayed to himself and said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” in what sense can Jesus be fully God if his will is different? Again like you said Tom it is a mystery. I dont think solving the mystery is what is the main thing. If Vadim’s stumbling block is the divinity of Jesus then as Christians I do not think it is the right thing to insist on the necessity of believing that. You dont have to believe this to be a Christian and to be saved. And one last thing it’s not just Unitarians but I know that many throughout history Christians did not consider Jesus to be God. Including many ones in the beginning.

  338. Cool Badger says:

    Jesus was not a lamb and he did not have to be an average man either or even like any other man. Jesus was the Messiah and he was sinless! But Adam was sinless too in the beginning. This does not mean he was God for a while. Being sinless does not make you God, being a lamb certainly doesnt make you God, and being a sinless lamb does not make you God. It makes you a righteous King Messiah!! Sent by God to rule over Israel for ever! And THIS is the Kingdom of Heaven! Jesus is at the Father’s right hand. Why do you insist that Jesus must be God to be saved??

    sorry I have to go

  339. BillT says:

    Cool Badger,

    Again, I want to make something clear. I would never say who will or won’t go to heaven. It’s ouside of my pay grade! It’s one thing to have questions about how the Trinity works or fully understand how Christ could be God. It’s something else, however, to deny Christ what he fully proclaimed.

  340. Victoria says:

    @Badger
    One principle of interpretation is that when one is faced with a number of possible readings of a text, one has to consider each possibility in the global context of Scripture. Your interpretation of Luke 18:19 is a possible one – so is the one I presented to you. The difference is that yours is not consistent within the full scope of the New Testament’s view of Jesus, whereas mine is.

    You have to consider the passages that you cited in the context of multiple threads:
    1. the full teaching on His deity
    2. the full teaching on His incarnation (as in the Word became flesh and lived among us) – the incarnation is what gives Jesus His Divine Nature and His human nature in one Person. You have to consider what it would mean for Him as God to purposely set aside some expressions of His divine nature to become human. While He was on this earth in human form, He accepted certain limitations that come with that. He lived His human life in dependence on God the Father and the Spirit of God, as we must do. And yet, He did not give everything up – as Creation’s sovereign King, He could command it to obey His will, as God the Father could.

    Careful interpretation and understanding of what the Bible says is not a trivial matter; it takes study, a dependency on the Holy Spirit to guide one’s thinking and discern authorial intent, truth from error, and it is not strictly a personal thing – there is such a thing as cross-checking one’s ideas with other Christians and the corporate body of Christ. Furthermore, if one is going to to that kind of detail work, it is really incumbent on a person to study the culture, history and languages of the day. As I said to Roxie a while back, there are plenty of resources to help with that.

    Tom said it well that Christ’s deity is not easily proof-texted; it is interwoven into the entire tapestry that is the New Testament – pull away that thread and the tapestry will start to unravel.

  341. Cool Badger says:

    Victoria – listen, if Christ’s deity is not easily proof-texted, then it is not essential to getting saved.

    “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Sitting there researching the whole Bible and studying culture, history and languages in order to get saved does not sound like what Jesus is talking about.

    “The time is coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
    with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah.
    It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their forefathers
    when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
    because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband tod them,e”
    declares the Lord.
    “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
    No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
    or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
    because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
    declares the Lord.

    Why should I need you to teach me about knowing the Lord? Every Christian knows God. Or do you not believe the covenant is already here? Jesus said “follow me”. That is what Christians do – they accept Christ as their King and follow him, and try to be like him. But saying that someone must believe that Jesus is God to be saved is in my opinion very wrong. It first of all turns away Jews like Vadim because they are between a rock and a hard place. Secondly what if someone accepted Jesus as their King and accepted the free gift of freedom from sin, and then didnt have time to study all your supposed proof texting and researching languages? What if God forbid they are run over by a truck, do they go to heaven or are they gonna not get in there by a technicality. At the end of the day those who follow Jesus and accept God as God and Christ as King are Christians, the end. End of story. Notice I am not asking about whether Jesus was God I am asking if believing that he is – is essential to getting saved, and I am saying it is not. Bill I completely disagree with you.

    One more thing. As I have already said Jesus had plenty of opportunity to say he is God but he did not. Can you tell me why he would not say it if it was essential for salvation?

  342. Charlie says:

    Badger:

    My favourites:
    Malachi 3:1
    Isaiah 40:3

  343. Charlie says:

    And another:
    Rev. 1:17
    “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!”

  344. BillT says:

    “At the end of the day those who follow Jesus and accept God as God and Christ as King are Christians, the end.”

    Again, you’re begging the question. “Christ as King” is language that confers diety. Like before you’re giving Christ all the attributes of God without saying the word. Seems more like sophistry than a legitimate position of belief.

    “One more thing. As I have already said Jesus had plenty of opportunity to say he is God but he did not.”

    And this is simply not true. No fair reading of Christ’s understanding of his own deity leave any doubt about it.

  345. So Badger puts up some prooftexts. I respond. Now boys and girls, traditionally, when someone does that, it’s up to the opposition to show why the explanation does not mesh. The exegesis of the verses was never countered. Instead, all we hear is “Jesus never said ‘I am God!’ ”

    And yet in John 10, the chapter he referenced, the Pharisees asked Jesus to tell them plainly if He was the Messiah. By Badger’s own argument, Jesus is not the Messiah then since He did not come out plainly and say it to them.

    But somehow, God is going to let someone sit on His throne who is not good by Badger’s own admission, who will be honored as the king of the universe, this despite that YHWH is always king in Israel’s history, and somehow he won’t be God.

    As for Jesus being God’s Wisdom, go see 1 Cor. chapter 1. It’s right there. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Let’s make a syllogism.

    Jesus is God’s Wisdom.
    God’s Wisdom is eternal.
    Jesus is eternal.

    Being eternal is an attribute of deity. Thus, Jesus is deity.

  346. Victoria says:

    @Badger
    I don’t think you know what the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is.

    God the Father, God the Son, God the (Holy) Spirit. Three Persons, one Nature.
    The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God;
    and the transitive relationships
    The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Father;
    The Father is not the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Father;
    The Son is not the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Son;

    Now, does this concept clear up your misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying?

    In depth study is not essential to salvation. The essential truths of Christianity are stated rather plainly, so much so that any person who comes to Scripture with an open mind and heart can read it. However, it is the Spirit of God who convinces us of its truths, convicts us of our failings to obey those truths and shows us how to live and apply those truths. However, He does not teach us history or languages or culture, nor does He teach us how to think – He works with our reasoning and thinking to guide us into the richness and depths of the truths of Scripture.

    Knowing history and culture and language illuminates the text of Scripture, and helps one read it and understand it in its own milieu. Its truths are framed within a historical and cultural context very different from ours, in a language that not all of us are fluent enough in to read directly. Now, a good translation and study Bible can compensate for these issues; fellow Christians who are scholars with training and expertise in these fields can help us understand, as can the learning experiences of our Christian brothers and sisters.
    Having said that, it is still your responsibility to learn how to read Scripture intelligently and prayerfully, and consider all the relevant texts before drawing conclusions about any particular text.

    Now, one last word – it is the witness and teaching of the Holy Spirit that points us to Jesus, God the Son – He is the one who taught the writers of the New Testament to understand Jesus in that way, and He teaches us, 2000 years later to see that as well – He would not contradict Himself – if you do not see that Jesus is God the Son, then I would surmise you do not have the indwelling Spirit of God (which is what all genuine Christians get), or you are not listening to Him if you do.

    Please take time to read the references that we have given you. Try to understand them, and when you come back to comment, at least show us that you have read them, and perhaps have learned something.

  347. Victoria says:

    One may not fully understand every Christian truth when one first comes to faith in Jesus Christ – you may only understand that you are a sinner in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness, that He has provided these in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (through His death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection) and that it is only through Him that you can have peace with God and become a member of His family. The moment one makes that committment to faith and trust in Christ and accepts Him as Saviour (at least), you receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit; He will convince you of the Person of Christ – His deity, and that He is your Sovereign King and Lord (the word Lord in our English New Testament is the Greek word kyrios (spelling?), which one can learn from a good commentary or Bible dictionary or lexicon. This is the Greek equivalent of the Old Testament Aramaic word ‘Adonai’, used as a proper name for Yahweh – when the Greek version of the Jewish Bible was written (The Septuagint), the translators used that Greek word to designate God).

    It is the Spirit of God within Who will lead you to worship Jesus as God the Son.
    As you grow in your Christian walk, you learn more of the core Christian truths, to understand more of their depth and breadth. However, you do not do this in isolation – we are members of a community, interdependent with each other and dependent on the Holy Spirit. As such, God the Holy Spirit has apportioned spiritual gifts to the members of the Christian community (the Body of Christ) and He expects us to use these gifts to help each other learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to be conformed to His character. You can learn about this in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 and for a good exposition you can probably find useful articles here: http://bible.org/topics/358/Spiritual%20Gifts

  348. Cool Badger says:

    This is all over the place. I asked a simple question when I came in. Is the belief that Jesus is God essential to salvation?

    My answer is, no. You do not know who is saved and who is not. Practically no one before Jesus lived knew that God would come and live among us in the human form of Jesus. Yet they are in heaven. So that should be proof from scripture of what I am saying. Ever afterwards, many Christians and Jews did not believe that Jesus is God.

    BillT: saying someone is the King of Israel does not make them God. “Christ” means “King”. It is not begging the question, only in your mind which apparently has been made up that kings and sinless folks cannot exist unless they are God. Where did God ever say He will never create sinless people or kings?????

    Who says that being eternal and immortal implies one is God? God’s angels, God’s Wisdom, God’s Word, God’s Kingdom, and everything else are belonging to God, but they are NOT God.

    God is one. By your logic (sinless implies God) Adam was God before he sinned. The Kingdom of God is God according to you . That to me is simply put foolish talk!

    “One more thing. As I have already said Jesus had plenty of opportunity to say he is God but he did not.”

    And this is simply not true. No fair reading of Christ’s understanding of his own deity leave any doubt about it.

    No, what you said is simply not true. A completely fair reading shows that Jesus considered himself to be set apart by God to rule over the Christians and those who follow him — who is the rightful King of Israel — will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps there is another fair reading like yours, but your arrogance is to say yours is the only way. Your fair reading ignores lots of other passages too like the ones where Jesus prays to God and acknowledges they ahve different wills.

    No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
    or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
    because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
    declares the Lord.

    Why are you teaching me how to Know the Lord?

    Simple: believing that Jesus is God is not necessary for salvation. If you accept this then people like Vadim can come to the faith. You are presenting a stumbling block to others and it’s doing a disservice to those who may come to Christ, in my opinion.

  349. Charlie says:

    “One more thing. As I have already said Jesus had plenty of opportunity to say he is God but he did not.”

    Said many times but false everytime. Proven by my Scripture references.

  350. Badger: This is all over the place. I asked a simple question when I came in.

    Reply: The question may be simple. That does not mean that the answer is.

    Badger: Is the belief that Jesus is God essential to salvation? My answer is, no.

    Reply: I’d also say not definitively, but in a sense, yes. You can be saved without having a full awareness that Jesus is fully deity. However, I do not think you can deny Jesus who He is and be saved. One is a problem of ignorance. The other is a denial of knowledge. There’s a difference.

    Badger: You do not know who is saved and who is not.

    Reply: Neither do you, and yet you insist there are several “Christians” who don’t believe in the deity of Christ and are saved. I guess only Unitarians know this.

    Badger: Practically no one before Jesus lived knew that God would come and live among us in the human form of Jesus. Yet they are in heaven. So that should be proof from scripture of what I am saying.

    Reply: Practically none of them knew that the Messiah would be named Jesus, die, and rose again. I’d say none of them knew. Therefore, by your standard, we can conclude that belief in Jesus is not essential for salvation and definitely not his resurrection.

    All are saved by God through their faith. The faith is based on what has been revealed. OT saints were saved by trusting in God’s future provision. We are saved by trusting in His past.

    Badger: Ever afterwards, many Christians and Jews did not believe that Jesus is God.

    Reply: Many Jews did not believe he rose again. You say many Christians did not believe He was deity after His resurrection. Care to name these many?

    Badger: BillT: saying someone is the King of Israel does not make them God. “Christ” means “King”.

    Reply: Wrong. It means anointed one. The king is anointed, but that does not mean the two are identical.

    Badger: It is not begging the question, only in your mind which apparently has been made up that kings and sinless folks cannot exist unless they are God. Where did God ever say He will never create sinless people or kings?????

    Reply: Perhaps you could show where that argument was actually made.

    Badger: Who says that being eternal and immortal implies one is God?

    Reply: It’s being eternal. Not even angels are eternal. Eternal places one outside of the realm of change and into changelessness and only God is changeless.

    Badger: God’s angels, God’s Wisdom, God’s Word, God’s Kingdom, and everything else are belonging to God, but they are NOT God.

    Reply: SOunds like you need to do some study of hypostases in the period of Second Temple Judaism.

    Badger: God is one.

    Reply: One what?

    Badger: By your logic (sinless implies God) Adam was God before he sinned. The Kingdom of God is God according to you . That to me is simply put foolish talk!

    Reply: Someone call Dorothy. We have the straw man companion she lost.

    Badger: No, what you said is simply not true. A completely fair reading shows that Jesus considered himself to be set apart by God to rule over the Christians and those who follow him — who is the rightful King of Israel — will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is Jesus’ teaching.

    Reply: No problem with that.

    Badger: Perhaps there is another fair reading like yours, but your arrogance is to say yours is the only way.

    Reply: Why is that arrogant?

    Badger: Your fair reading ignores lots of other passages too like the ones where Jesus prays to God and acknowledges they ahve different wills.

    Reply: Let me let you in on a little secret Badger. Trinitarians affirm those. That’s not a problem.

    Badger: Why are you teaching me how to Know the Lord? Simple: believing that Jesus is God is not necessary for salvation. If you accept this then people like Vadim can come to the faith. You are presenting a stumbling block to others and it’s doing a disservice to those who may come to Christ, in my opinion.

    Reply: And you say knowledge of Christ is essential. If you reject that, how many more can come to the Lord. You’re setting up a stumbling block obviously.

  351. Victoria says:

    No.
    Adam was one Nature in one person/physical body.
    Jesus has both a Divine Nature and sinless human nature in one person/physical body

    We do not claim that Jesus is God because He is sinless – we affirm that He is God because of the Incarnation – the 2nd Person of the Trinity entered into spacetime and humanity as one of us.
    We can’t state it any clearer than that

    Christ is a transliteration of a Greek word which means ‘Anointed’

  352. SteveK says:

    Good video of NT Wright, Charlie.

    I like his story about his atheistic philosophy tutor (?) at Oxford saying that NT made a great argument BUT that he would rather CHOOSE to believe that there MUST be SOME other explanation. How many times do we hear that on this, and other, blogs (sorry, Tom, but I do visit other blogs 🙂 ) ?

  353. Cool Badger says:

    This is silly!

    Badger: It is not begging the question, only in your mind which apparently has been made up that kings and sinless folks cannot exist unless they are God. Where did God ever say He will never create sinless people or kings?????

    Reply: Perhaps you could show where that argument was actually made.

    And

    Badger: By your logic (sinless implies God) Adam was God before he sinned. The Kingdom of God is God according to you . That to me is simply put foolish talk!

    Reply: Someone call Dorothy. We have the straw man companion she lost.

    OK here you go

    Steve said:

    So a someone can believe that Jesus was a spotless lamb

    Clarify what is meant by spotless lamb? I see you describing Jesus in terms that can only refer to God’s Holy nature, while at the same time denying him that nature.

    Steve said that “spotless lamb” can only refer to God.

    I said:

    Oh and another thing God is not a lamb. Lambs are created by God and have been sacrificed to atone for sins. If you think describing someone as a lamb means they are God then I dont know what to say to you.

    Tom said:

    That wasn’t the affirmation. The emphasis was on “spotless” and “taking away the sins of the world.” For this please see Hebrews 10.

    Spotless means without fault; which in a human would have to mean without sin. To take away the sins of the world must mean having a virtually infinite capacity to atone for all wrong.

    So “spotless lamb” according to Steve means it can only be God. Because only someone with God’s Holy Nature can be a spotless lamb, and only God fits that description.

    No. By that logic Adam before he sinned was spotless and sinless and therefore Steve K’s comment would apply to him as well. Unless maybe u have to be exactly a spotless lamb to be God, but just a lamb or just spotless is ok.

    As I said, show me where God has said He will never create a spotless King of Israel. Jesus is the rightful King of Israel, the prophesied Messiah from the line of David who will come to save Israel! Messiah is not God. David was actually also anointed, and also beloved of God.

    God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

    I am sure you have lots of ways to spin a particular way of looking at Jesus but I care about what Jesus claimed about himself. Show me one place where Jesus says “I am God”. He had plenty of oportunity to say it. I can show you just as many verses – or more which will show you that Jesus is not God.

    Charlie it is not false – show me one place where Jesus said “I am God”. I notice you did not even show one. You put words into the mouth of Jesus something he didn’t say. But what about his actual teaching in his parables and what the Christians must follow!

    @ Victoria:

    I don’t think you know what the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is.

    You hit it exactly, it is a doctrine it is not directly what Christ taught. Defending a doctrine which has alternative explanations consistent with Jesus teaching is not what being a Christian is all about. I am sure you do not know many doctrines too. It doesnt matter. God loves you anyway!!

    Jesus is greater than Religion and Doctrine. Listen to his words, do not put words into his mouth and tell others they are going to hell because they do not believe your doctrine.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    JOHN 3:16!

    Believe in JESUS not doctrines about trinity. Thank you!

  354. In John 10, Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why He did not speak clearly if He was the Messiah.

    By Badger’s logic, since Jesus did not speak clearly to His opponents and say “I am the Messiah!” then obviously, He was not the Messiah.

  355. Doug says:

    @Badger,
    I think that we can grant that:
    – the Trinity is a difficult idea to grasp.
    – acknowledging the Trinity (even if it is True) is not critical to one’s salvation.
    However, believing in Jesus for salvation kinda implies that one believes that Jesus is sufficient for salvation. And it isn’t a stretch to appreciate that that also means that Jesus is sufficient for the salvation of a whole lot of people. He’d have to be mighty special for that. The doctrine of the Trinity is simply the result of a large number of really concerned people coming to grips with the implications of just how special Jesus must be. And when they get there, they realize that the Divine Community has a number of remarkably meaningful implications on how God deals with the likes of us.
    Many people, initially confused or skeptical about the Trinity, having been accepted by Jesus have come around to finding it quite an honest understanding of Creator-God-as-Revealed.

  356. Victoria says:

    @Badger
    You do certainly live up to your nickname 🙂

    Have you actually read the links and references? Have you aken the time to understand them? Based on your responses to our comments, I’d certainly answer no to the second question, for it seems that you really don’t understand anything at all.

    Doctrine is teaching. That is what the word means. Doctrine is just systematized and organized knowledge of what the Bible has to say about core categories, so we have
    The Doctrine of God (the Father)
    The Doctrine of Jesus Christ
    The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
    The Doctrine of the Trinity
    The Doctrine of Creation
    The Doctrine of Salvation
    …and so forth

    you can look here for a good summary
    http://carm.org/christian-doctrine

    Please take the time to do so before you come back to comment.

  357. BillT says:

    “Christ” means “King”.”

    No, it doesn’t. Even Wiki knows that:

    “Christ (Greek Χριστός(Khristós) ‘anointed’) is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Māšîaḥ), the Messiah.”

    Further, there are no “sinless people”. Adam took care of that for all of us.

  358. SteveK says:

    Cool B.

    By that logic Adam before he sinned was spotless and sinless and therefore Steve K’s comment would apply to him as well.

    It would only do that if you begged the question as to the meaning of the term ‘spotless lamb’ in the context provided. Tom went over the context. You chose to ignore it and are focusing only on the term. If that’s what you want to do – ignore the context – then yes, Adam was also a spotless lamb of sorts. A real lamb without any spots is also a spotless lamb. A drawing of a lamb without any spots is also a spotless lamb. Anything (me, a building, a tree) in a lamb costume without any spots is also a spotless lamb.

  359. Victoria says:

    Badger must be taking lessons from Greg 🙂

  360. Victoria says:

    @Badger

    I am sure you do not know many doctrines too. It doesnt matter.

    You don’t know me, so don’t be so smug about telling me what I do or do not know.

  361. Cool Badger says:

    Anyway you can believe what you like, I am only here to ask the question – is it essential to believe Jesus is God to be saved? If not then this debate can be ended and people can believe what they like regarding the trinity doctrine. I personally believe that shutting the door in front of the faces of Jews like Vadim on a principle like deity of Jesus is counter prodcutive. The gospel to be preached is not about this. The good news is that God sent His Son so that those who follow him will be saved. This is the prophesied Messiah, the Christ.

    I will write my evidence one more time all in one place – and thats it, if anyone wants to respond with their own evidence that’s cool. But this debate is not going to go anywhere. HERE IS A LOOOOONGGGG POST

    Jesus took issue with him being called “good” and said no one is good except God. The sentence clearly shows that Jesus included himself in that number. (Matthew 19:16-17) In fact he then tells the young ruler how to get saved! And it has nothing to do with believing Jesus is God! That is one proof.

    Jesus said the Father is greater than he. John 14:28);

    Jesus explicitly denied having omniscience as the Son and Jesus is the Son even after being resurrected! Think about that! John 8:28 and also found in Mark

    Jesus is called the High Priest in Hebrews. On the order of Melchizedek – some king apparently in the time of Abraham and it says his name means “king of righteousness” and also “king of Peace” and they really say “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-4. Tell me why was Jesus compared to a priest who Abraham knew who was immortal? For that matter how could God be a priest to God?

    Jesus taught us how to pray. We should pray to the Father not to Jesus. Jesus himself prayed to the Father and he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And Jesus the Righteous King was raised from the dead!

    If what you say is true and Jesus did tell people that he was God (which you have yet to prove – and which I think is false!) then the charges of blasphemy by the Jews would not be incorrect since at the time they thought he was just a man. AND YET you are making the exact same mistake! Jesus says to them

    As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.

    And you whoever said that Jesus did not claim to be the annointed KING OF ISRAEL and the Son of God is wrong. He did claim that. That is why all Christians believe this. But he did not claim to BE GOD! You are making the same misunderstanding of scripture as the Jews who killed him:

    55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

    There was no blasphemy! Jesus explained it very well to the Jews and to you:

    “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods” ‘ [d]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

    Jesus did not confirm what they accused him of, but indicated that he is God’s Son.

    Why dont we look at the actual teaching of the Christ to actual people. What did he teach about the greatest commandment?

    The Greatest Commandment

    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

    34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

    I tell you I have not studied ancient greek as you said I should but I know about this passage and “one” here is the greek word for really one, not compatible with trinity concept. It even says look – there is no other but him. Look in Deuteronomy look at the context. You talk abotu languages and context well follow your own advice before answering.

  362. Victoria says:

    Badger
    Answer one question – are you taking the time to read the reference material we linked to in our comments?

    For that matter, are you really reading what we post?

    Did you not read my explanation of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit that kicks in after one is saved?

    Do you believe that the New Testament authors were writing under the auspices of the Holy Spirit, that is, under His divine inspiration?

  363. Cool Badger says:

    @Victoria:

    Answer one question – are you taking the time to read the reference material we linked to in our comments?

    For that matter, are you really reading what we post?

    Yes.

  364. Victoria says:

    how about the other questions? Do you believe that the NT authors were writing under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit? – that Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16)

  365. Cool Badger says:

    Yes I believe the disciples of Jesus were given the Holy Spirit so that they may spread the gospel to everyone. Now answer my questions.

    Do you obey Jesus’ teaching about the two greatest commandments, or do you make for yourself Doctrine to spin the clear word of “one” found in Jesus’ words and in Deuteronomy?

    4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.a 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

    10When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    15“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bec in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    28“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

    “Come now; let us leave.

  366. Victoria says:

    Do you actually know and understand why we believe Jesus is both God and human, why we believe that the concept of the Trinity best explains the New Testament’s teachings on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

    You could not prove it to me by what you have written that you have actually read any of the many links to articles that we have referenced, to say nothing of understanding the content – you make no references to them; you make no references to the passages in the NT that affirm what we have said about the Trinity or Jesus.

    Do you understand that God’s revelation is progressive? Did it not occur to you that the New Testament is a fuller revelation of God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, and so reveals more about God and His plan of salvation than was given in the Old Testament?

    You are right about one thing, though – this discussion is going nowhere.

  367. Victoria says:

    I do believe what Jesus said about the two greatest commandments.

    I also believe that the God I am to love is in fact a Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit); I believe this because of the fuller revelation of the New Testament, and so I honor and worship the Triune God so revealed.

    So, tomorrow I shall worship Jesus and praise Him and thank Him for paying the debt I could not pay, for going to the cross as a propitiation. On Sunday, I shall joyfully worship Him as my Risen Lord and Saviour, fully God and fully Man in His glorious resurrection body. I shall remember that He also ascended back to heaven’s glory, from whence He came, where He presents me to God the Father as His own redeemed maidservant.

    It seems that you do not understand Biblical Typology, if you could so garble the meaning of Melchizedek and the role of the high priests in the old covenant in relationship to Jesus Christ and the new covenant. Do you not know what metaphors are?

    You side-stepped my question about divine inspiration – you avoided answering the real question about the entire New Testament – did the authors of the Gospels, Acts, and the letters (Paul, Peter, Jude, James and John, and the author of Hebrews) write what they were taught by the Spirit of God?

    With that, I think I’m done here, though.
    There are other threads that I’d like to get back to, and I think we have reached the end of this one.

  368. Vadim says:

    Who can explain to me why originally God spoke to the entire nation but when it came time to reveal the greatest “gift” to mankind only a tiny fraction of the nation got the message? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to reveal Jesus to the entire world right away so there would be no doubts as God did it the first time around?

  369. Victoria says:

    Oh, just one more thing
    When I first became a Christian, I knew little more than ‘I am a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness; Jesus Christ provided that forgiveness through His death and resurrection; His resurrection was the proof that God accepted His sacrifice and that He is Who He claims to be; that I needed to put my faith and trust in Him to receive that forgiveness and be saved”.

    I know I did not understand much at all about most of the core Christian teachings before I became a Christian, and not much more just after I accepted Christ.
    Thirty years later, I think I know a lot more than I did back then, both intellectually and experientially – it has transformed me, spiritually – I am not yet the woman that God intends me to be, but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord that I’m not the woman I used to be.

    Take care, Badger.
    I do wish you well

  370. Charlie says:

    Badger,

    Charlie it is not false – show me one place where Jesus said “I am God”. I notice you did not even show one. You put words into the mouth of Jesus something he didn’t say. But what about his actual teaching in his parables and what the Christians must follow!

    But I did show you. Quite explicitly. Don’t you read the Bible? You are presenting yourself as though you are a believer, so I would think you do.

    What do you mean I put words into Jesus’ mouth? Don’t you believe the Bible? If not, why do you care what it says, and what Jesus is reported to have said in it?

    Are your concerns really as you state them?

  371. Doug says:

    Who can explain to me why originally God spoke to the entire nation but when it came time to reveal the greatest “gift” to mankind only a tiny fraction of the nation got the message?

    Didn’t God originally speak “to the entire nation” via Moses?

  372. Charlie says:

    Vadim,
    Why did He speak to the Israelites and not the Chinese?
    Why did He tell such a small group who would always be so hard-hearted and idolatrous. What did you say, 80% didn’t believe?

    How do you decide which useless fail question to ask and why do you never ask the other one?

  373. Vadim says:

    Doug

    The entire premise on which Judaism is built and what sets Judaism apart from every other religion, faith, creed and cult on earth is that God spoke to the entire nation first and only after that they trusted that Moses wasn’t lying to them and they accepted that his teachings were indeed from the one true God. Had God not spoken to the entire nation with everyone as witnesses how could we be sure that Moses himself didn’t make the whole thing up? We couldn’t be. We would’ve always doubted. See my post #300 where I point out the major flaw of Christianity. Christianity’s entire case rests on a miracle and miracles just aren’t convincing.

    And this is how we know that Jesus couldn’t possibly be God or take away anyone sins. Because 3300 years ago God already told us that He will never be material and tangible and that everyone will be judged on their own sins and their own merits forever. (Also please note that there is no such thing as permanent hell in the Jewish tradition. This is a very sad and erroneous teaching of the church. Sooner or later God in His Infinite kindness allows everyone into heaven. But that doesn’t mean that those who sinned will not pay for their sins)

  374. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    I am constantly pointing out that putting your faith in a small group of people is a terrible idea. It is prone to a very high degree of fraudulent activity. Look at all the other religions in the world. They were all started by one person or a group of people. You think they’re all wrong. But you give Christianity so much credence. Why?

    After all you were not there 2000 years ago. You’re just reading the account of a few people. Now just sit back and ponder this – why did the jews reject the messiah that they have been desperately praying for for 1300 years three times a day? There is nothing any jew wants more in the entire world than the coming of the messiah. They should’ve been thrilled, excited, and over-joyed more than any nation on earth. Why on earth would they reject the messiah? Could it be that the reason was the people knew it was a fraud and only a few super zealots bought into it?

  375. Doug says:

    @Vadim,
    What is the material difference between appearing to one generation and leaving future generations with their message, and appearing to one man and leaving the rest of the world with his message?

    Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”

  376. Charlie says:

    Now just sit back and ponder this – why did the jews reject the messiah that they have been desperately praying for for 1300 years three times a day?

    I am constantly pointing out that the Jews did not reject Him. Thousands accepted Him right there in Jerusalem with their front row seats.
    Why did many reject Him? To be gracious, because they had it wrong. They didn’t know what to expect in the Messiah and refused to believe when He came.
    Before you say they knew what to expect don’t forget that there were many conceptions of who and what the Messiah would be, and some Rabbis expected at least two, one who would die and one who would not. Some expected three.

    There is nothing any jew wants more in the entire world than the coming of the messiah. They should’ve been thrilled, excited, and over-joyed more than any nation on earth.

    They should have been. And they should have been thrilled to be following God through the wilderness, but they decided to worship Golden calves. And they should have followed Him into Canaan, but they balked. And they should have been thrilled to have Him with them in the Promised Land but the turned to Baal and Ashterah and Molech. They should have listened to His prophets but they killed them.
    They should have repented in Babylon but they remained in the Temple worshiping idols.

    Lots of things should have happened, if you go by man’s ideals and 20/20 hindsight.

    Could it be that the reason was the people knew it was a fraud and only a few super zealots bought into it?

    Nope. It would be that, as always, the bulk of the People rejected the truth and God saved for Himself a faithful remnant.
    As at the first Pentecost, He did speak to the Nation. There they were, gathered in Jerusalem and God poured out His Spirit on the Disciples, and came on them like a wind, and out of the fire spoke to them in their own tongues.
    What He had done He had not done in a small corner, but out in the open so everyone could see.
    Thousands of people followed Jesus daily, heard Him speak and saw His works.

  377. Charlie says:

    Where did God say He would never become Incarnate?

  378. Vadim says:

    Doug

    The difference is paramount. It proves that it wasn’t a fluke like all the other religions which were started with one person because God challenges anyone to look for any other nation on earth who would claim that they experienced a national revelation. “For ask now regarding the early days that were before you, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens to the other end of the heavens, whether there was anything like this great thing, or was the likes of it heard? Did ever a people hear God’s voice speaking out of the midst of the fire as you have heard, and live?” Why does God instruct us to make this challenge to the whole world? Because God knows that this is a story that is impossible to fake and as such it has never been repeated by any nation, tribe, or community ever. This is our proof to the world that God actually spoke to us and we’re not making up our story.

    Had God only spoken to one person what reason would you have to believe him?

  379. Doug says:

    @Vadim,
    If God not only spoke to that man, but raised him from the dead, the reasons would be quite compelling! 🙂

  380. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    1) How ever many people accepted Jesus it is clear that the overwhelming majority did not. I dont think there’s any doubt on this between Jews, Christians and all major historians.

    2) The idea that the jews didn’t know what to expect in a messiah is ludicrous. Do you think we constantly pray for something and yearn for something which we dont even know what it is? Do you think we have nothing better to do than to pray three times a day for 3300 years that a messiah should come but we have no idea what to expect of him? We know exactly what the messiah is supposed to do. And Jesus didnt do it. The deep kabalistic idea of two messiahs (one of David and of Joseph) has nothing to do with the actual messiah son of David that all jews are waiting for. You are reading rabbinic literature literally which is a very dangerous game to play as the rabbis have went to great lengths to cover up the true intent of their words.

    3) That’s right the jews screwed up over and over again but God already made a promise 3300 years ago that no matter how much the jews screwed up His covenant with the jews would not be broken. And God does not break His promise no matter what. Read leviticus ch 26 culminating in this verse “But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the Lord their God.”

    4) When did God say He will not be incarnate? This was THE major lesson jews had to learn on mount sinai. Our entire tradition is based on this knowledge. That’s why God was so angry with the jews with the whole golden calf incident. Do you think there was no spirit of God in the golden calf? Everything has God’s spirit in it otherwise it wont exist. The whole point God was making to us is that we must never worship any form no matter what it is because God’s essence is immaterial. And that’s the truth that we were charged to reveal to the entire world. God is one. God is immaterial. If you’re looking for a specific verse you wont find it. I told you before the written torah was never meant to be read on its own.

  381. Vadim says:

    Doug

    Not at all. You only say that now because we’re living in a time when open miracles no longer occur. Had you lived 2000 years ago when miracles were rare but still occurring you would not be so easily convinced. And Jesus wasnt the only one who could resurrect. Jewish tradition teaches that many rabbis had this ability.

    Also I want to point out that even if you never saw a miracle in your life and then you witness someone perform a real miracle the only conclusion you can draw from that is now I know there’s someone who can do miracles. To stipulate that that’s God would be logically fallible. And furthermore it will leave you in doubt. You would not believe that person 100% even if you witnessed the resurrection yourself. MIracles leave doubts. Thats just how it is.

  382. Vadim says:

    Doug and Charlie and company

    If tomorrow a man comes and does miracles and starts resurrecting people and proclaims himself God should I believe him? And if next week another man comes and does every miracle that the first man does and also holds the sun in its place and claims he’s God, should I then believe him? And if the week after a third man comes and does all the miracles of the second man but also moves the stars around in the sky and then proclaims to be God should I then believe him? Where does it end? Rather you should put your trust in God for whom all these miracles are as naught.

  383. Charlie says:

    That’s right, Vadim, the remnant is always a refined minority. But “majority” isn’t “all” and it is just factually incorrect to keep saying the Jews didn’t believe; some did.

    The idea that the jews didn’t know what to expect in a messiah is ludicrous. Do you think we constantly pray for something and yearn for something which we dont even know what it is?

    Yes, as a matter of fact that is precisely what I think.
    And, as I said, there were many different conceptions of the Messiah at the time of the Second Temple – including an eternal, divine, conception.
    Ironic that you asked when Jesus would return in an attempt to falsify Christianity and here you are, 3,300 years later awaiting the Messiah at all.

    You are reading rabbinic literature literally which is a very dangerous game to play as the rabbis have went to great lengths to cover up the true intent of their words.

    We can’t believe the Bible without a Rabbinic tradition, and we can’t believe a Rabbinic tradition without an interpretation. Nice work if you can get it.

    That’s right the jews screwed up over and over again but God already made a promise 3300 years ago that no matter how much the jews screwed up His covenant with the jews would not be broken. And God does not break His promise no matter what. No problem with that. he fulfilled His promise, and the Law, in Jesus.

    Read leviticus ch 26 culminating in this verse “But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the Lord their God.”

    Did someone say that God annihilated Israel? I didn’t mean to.
    What I said was that only a portion of Israel – you said about 20% – really made anything of God’s talking to them. In fact, no sooner had He told them not to make any graven image than did they throw their gold in a fire and out popped a calf.
    The Israelites often got it wrong, no matter what God did for them; even when He sent His own Son, Who was rejected just as the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah said.

    When did God say He will not be incarnate? This was THE major lesson jews had to learn on mount sinai. Our entire tradition is based on this knowledge. That’s why God was so angry with the jews with the whole golden calf incident. Do you think there was no spirit of God in the golden calf? Everything has God’s spirit in it otherwise it wont exist.

    You say so many strange things that have no bearing on the conversation; it’s almost like you are rehearsing from a anti-missionary site.

    The whole point God was making to us is that we must never worship any form no matter what it is because God’s essence is immaterial. And that’s the truth that we were charged to reveal to the entire world. God is one. God is immaterial. If you’re looking for a specific verse you wont find it. I told you before the written torah was never meant to be read on its own.

    Right, so you say.
    So there is no record of it in the Bible.
    Do you have anything that predates Jesus, or are you talking about the later Talmudic claim that God said “if anyone comes claiming to be My Son he is lying”?
    It would seem strange that your interpretation is correct since God appeared as a burning bush, a pillar of fire and cloud, and even as a man to Abraham, Joshua, and Gideon, at the least. So it appears He did manifest Himself in Flesh – He even ate in that body.
    Whatever you are saying about His Spirit, I don’t see what it is meant to convey to me.

  384. Charlie says:

    Regarding two Messiahs:
    http://messianicart.com/chazak/yeshua/barukh.htm

    On Jews crying out for the Messiah ,and Isaiah 53 …
    http://realmessiah.com/watch/search-messiah

  385. Charlie says:

    So I am through here for a day or so.
    Tonight I remember the betrayal of the Messiah and tomorrow His Crucifixion.

    May you all have a blessed Good Friday and Easter, and, to you, Vadim, a blessed Passover.

  386. Charlie says:

    Missed this somehow:

    If tomorrow a man comes and does miracles and starts resurrecting people and proclaims himself God should I believe him?

    Asked and answered, Vadim.
    Put your trust in God, read the actual Bible, and pray for your eyes to be opened. Christianity is a great safeguard against all kinds of worldly superstitions and believers will not be fooled though the Satan attempts to duplicate Jesus’ miracles.

  387. Charlie says:

    Aargh, last thing …
    I missed a nuance here, where you changed the point.
    I had responded to the original claim, forgetting about this:

    The whole point God was making to us is that we must never worship any form no matter what it is because God’s essence is immaterial

    Fair enough. And, of course, nobody is worshiping a “form”. Nobody is worshiping Jesus, the human body. We are worshiping God who revealed Himself in the Hebrew Scriptures and then who fully indwelt the man, Jesus. We don’t make a graven image, but God gave us Christ, His image.

  388. Doug says:

    @Vadim,

    even if you never saw a miracle in your life and then you witness someone perform a real miracle the only conclusion you can draw from that is now I know there’s someone who can do miracles.

    Quite in keeping with history, yes. In fact, John 12:37 says exactly that:

    Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

    And I agree that while the inference that God is involved in miracles per se is not a given, the miracles attributed to Jesus (for example, healing lepers, casting out demons, raising Lazarus) were of the kind that one could legitimately assign to God’s approval (not to mention their Messianic significance).

  389. Vadim says:

    Charlie

    If you wish to know when the true messiah will come then you should know he will come sometime in the next 228 years. (could be today, could be 228 years from now) How do I know this? Because God already told us 3300 years ago that the messiah must come by the year 6000 – that’s the deadline – and it is the year 5772 on the hebrew calendar. We pray that he would come as soon as possible and we await him everyday.

    That’s why I asked you when must Jesus come back to earth for the second time. Because a false religion can never make a claim like the one I just stated. The chance of failure is too great.

  390. Badger: Anyway you can believe what you like, I am only here to ask the question – is it essential to believe Jesus is God to be saved? If not then this debate can be ended and people can believe what they like regarding the trinity doctrine.

    Reply: I already answered. You did not respond to it.

    Badger: I personally believe that shutting the door in front of the faces of Jews like Vadim on a principle like deity of Jesus is counter prodcutive.

    Reply: You might as well say forcing Jews to believe in Jesus is counter-productive.

    Badger: The gospel to be preached is not about this. The good news is that God sent His Son so that those who follow him will be saved. This is the prophesied Messiah, the Christ.

    Reply: What does that mean? In what sense is Jesus the Son of God? For instance, we are called sons of God if we are Christians. Is Jesus a Christian like me? The good and evil angels are called sons of god. Is Jesus an angel? The emperor was called the son of God. Is Jesus Caesar? What does this mean?

    Notice the question Jesus was asked often was “Who are you?” Strangely for you, that question doesn’t seem important.

    Badger: I will write my evidence one more time all in one place – and thats it, if anyone wants to respond with their own evidence that’s cool. But this debate is not going to go anywhere. HERE IS A LOOOOONGGGG POST

    Reply: Yes it won’t because you’re replied to constantly and you don’t acknowledge the replies but go on and spew out whatever else you wish.

    Badger: Jesus took issue with him being called “good” and said no one is good except God.

    Reply: So you think Jesus is not good but that he should rule the universe and be trusted for salvation? It seems for you Jesus would fall under Paul’s condemnation of no one being good in Romans 3. If Jesus does, how can He save?

    Badger: The sentence clearly shows that Jesus included himself in that number.

    REply: Jesus asked the rich young ruler why He called Him good when no one is good but God alone. Please show where in there Jesus said “I am not good.” It only works if you assume Jesus is not ontologically equal to God.

    Badger: (Matthew 19:16-17) In fact he then tells the young ruler how to get saved! And it has nothing to do with believing Jesus is God! That is one proof.

    Reply: It also has nothing to do with believing Jesus died for your sins and rose again. Why push belief in Jesus on Vadim then? Go tell him to sell everything he has and give to the poor and he’ll be saved. In fact, why don’t you do that? Start with your computer.

    Badger: Jesus said the Father is greater than he. John 14:28);

    Reply: And Paul says man is the head of woman. You need to see what kind of superiority is spoken of here. Is it ontological or hierarchial?

    Badger: Jesus explicitly denied having omniscience as the Son and Jesus is the Son even after being resurrected! Think about that! John 8:28 and also found in Mark

    Reply: Jesus was also fully human and as God’s Wisdom played the game as it were on our own terms with not having things revealed to Him unless they were essential for His mission.

    Badger: Jesus is called the High Priest in Hebrews. On the order of Melchizedek – some king apparently in the time of Abraham and it says his name means “king of righteousness” and also “king of Peace” and they really say “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-4. Tell me why was Jesus compared to a priest who Abraham knew who was immortal? For that matter how could God be a priest to God?

    Reply: Actually, you have it backwards. Jesus is not compared to Melchy. Melchy is compared to Jesus. Note it says Melchy is like the Son of God, but there is a distinction. Melchy was without beginning of days or end of life in that there was no genealogical record of him. Jesus is that way in that He is eternal. Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same as Hebrews later says.

    Also, Jesus can be a priest easily. Your argument relies on God being unipersonal. You’re begging the question then.

    Badger: Jesus taught us how to pray. We should pray to the Father not to Jesus. Jesus himself prayed to the Father and he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And Jesus the Righteous King was raised from the dead!

    Reply: Yes. We pray to the Father because the Son is the broker in the relationship and is our go-between. To the Father through the Son.

    Badger: If what you say is true and Jesus did tell people that he was God (which you have yet to prove – and which I think is false!) then the charges of blasphemy by the Jews would not be incorrect since at the time they thought he was just a man. AND YET you are making the exact same mistake! Jesus says to them

    Reply: Actually, the charges apply if Jesus is indeed not God. Note that what they were saying was that they knew Jesus was claiming to be deity. If He was just a man, then yes. He committed blasphemy and the Jews did a good thing. If He is not just a man but is ontologically equal to God, then the Jews did a wicked act.

    Badger: As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.

    Reply: This is a problem how?

    Badger: And you whoever said that Jesus did not claim to be the annointed KING OF ISRAEL and the Son of God is wrong. He did claim that. That is why all Christians believe this. But he did not claim to BE GOD! You are making the same misunderstanding of scripture as the Jews who killed him:

    Reply: I only said He did not speak clearly as you wish on the Messianic question, hence the Pharisees asked Him to speak clearly. If you think He did, then tell me when He spoke to the Pharisees and said “I am the messiah!”

    Badger: 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

    There was no blasphemy! Jesus explained it very well to the Jews and to you:

    Reply: Coming on the clouds is a term in the OT that refers to deity. You need to see what JEsus meant by “Son of Man” and “Coming on the Clouds”

    Badger: “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods” ‘ [d]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

    Jesus did not confirm what they accused him of, but indicated that he is God’s Son.

    Reply: And what does that mean? Note that I said that this is a qal wahomer argument. Jesus is taking a lesser point and making a greater point. You have not responded to that and repeating your argument does not work.

    Badger: Why dont we look at the actual teaching of the Christ to actual people. What did he teach about the greatest commandment?

    The Greatest Commandment

    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

    34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

    I tell you I have not studied ancient greek as you said I should but I know about this passage and “one” here is the greek word for really one, not compatible with trinity concept.

    Reply: One is not compatible with the Trinity? Why not? Trinitarians also agree that God is one. We are strong monotheists. Monotheism is essential to the Trinity.

    Badger: It even says look – there is no other but him. Look in Deuteronomy look at the context. You talk abotu languages and context well follow your own advice before answering.

    Reply: Already done. By the way, if you want to talk about spinning the Shema, go look at 1 Cor. 8:6 and see what Paul says to the Corinthians. Richard Bauckham in his book “God Crucified” demonstrates that what Paul has done in that passage is to Christianize the Shema. He has taken the statement and made the Father God in there and Jesus Lord and made them both deity.

    If you think someone has spun the Shema, start with Paul. He put Christ in it first.

  391. Vadim tells us to not trust a small group and thus not the Christians, when the Jews were the smallest group of all. He tells us that when YHWH spoke to Moses there was no doubt, but this was the same group that made the golden calf and also was not allowed to come into the promised land, at least that generation, because of their disbelief.

    Now as for the return of Christ, I have already told Vadim that that passage is not about the return of Christ but His vindication, His being declared king in the heavenlies and that being shown to those who rejected Him by the destruction of Jerusalem within one generation just as He said.

    No reply to this.

    I see more and more evidence that Vadim does not want to dialogue but just wants to make one point and ignore all responses.

  392. Vadim says:

    Doug

    I can see you are still smitten by the miracles. I suppose its a hard challenge to overcome. Someday humanity will overcome it! In the meantime google 7 noahide laws.

  393. Vadim says:

    Apologianick

    1) I am telling you to trust the jews not because of their numbers in comparison to the world but because of the evidence for their claim. Namely that the torah that they received was in a mass revelation as opposed to one person or a small group of people which is the claim of every other religion, faith, creed and cult on earth. And when a religion is founded on the claim of one person or a small group of people it is highly suspect.

    2) Why did the jews build the golden calf if they all just witnessed God speak to them and had no doubts? Simple answer – They had no doubt that God and his torah was true. But the overwhelming desire for idolatry was not taken away from them. God gives us full freedom to act as we like for better or for worse. The desire for idolatry was incredibly strong then. Even today people are still falling for it. Now you should know that of the roughly 600,000 males only 3000 participated so you can see that most held their ground. But unfortunately a few did not.

    3) Do you believe that Jesus will return to earth for a second time?

  394. Doug says:

    @Vadim,

    I can see you are still smitten by the miracles.

    On the contrary, I find miracles delightful, but I am smitten by Love.

  395. Vadim: 1) I am telling you to trust the jews not because of their numbers in comparison to the world but because of the evidence for their claim.

    Reply: I do not trust the Jews. I trust the Scriptures. I also ask you to believe on the resurrection for the same reason, the evidence for the claim. Have you read any Wright or Licona or Habermas on the resurrection?

    Vadim: Namely that the torah that they received was in a mass revelation as opposed to one person or a small group of people which is the claim of every other religion, faith, creed and cult on earth.

    Reply: Actually, no. The Torah was received through Moses and Moses passed it on to the people. Moses brought down the Commandments by Himself from the mountain and Moses was the one that was the head in settling disputes. Maybe Moses just made it up….

    Vadim: And when a religion is founded on the claim of one person or a small group of people it is highly suspect.

    Reply: The Jews are a small group of people. Maybe the history didn’t happen the way you say. Maybe the JEPD hypothesis is correct and Moses is a later invention. You know how many Jews today even doubt the Exodus occurred?

    Also, the Jews were a small group. Maybe then they made up the account to give themselves some notoriety in the world.

    Of course I don’t believe that, but show otherwise.

    Also, Christianity is not based on the claim that one person saw the risen Christ, but that several saw Him, at least 500 at one time.

    Vadim: 2) Why did the jews build the golden calf if they all just witnessed God speak to them and had no doubts? Simple answer – They had no doubt that God and his torah was true.

    Reply: If they had no doubt, then why do we find them mumbling the whole time they’re in the wilderness and saying that God has brought them out to die and that they should just go back to Egypt? How about the simple explanation. They were doubters, as shown in that they did not inherit the promised land.

    Vadim: But the overwhelming desire for idolatry was not taken away from them.

    Reply: Then it would seem they did not know God was true since he had told them to not worship idols or make graven images. They blatantly denied the Torah that they knew was true? Cognitive dissonance anyone?

    Vadim: God gives us full freedom to act as we like for better or for worse. The desire for idolatry was incredibly strong then. Even today people are still falling for it. Now you should know that of the roughly 600,000 males only 3000 participated so you can see that most held their ground. But unfortunately a few did not.

    Reply: Actually, 3,000 died. It doesn’t say how many participated. The ones that died died because the Levites were willing to kill their brothers.

    Vadim: 3) Do you believe that Jesus will return to earth for a second time?

    Reply: Yep, but the Olivet Discourse says zip about that. It says instead about His vindication as King. Would you care to explain if the Jews were honoring the covenant why their temple was destroyed?

  396. Vadim says:

    Doug

    Good! To love God and your fellow man is one of the central messages of the torah!

  397. Vadim says:

    Apologianick

    I sent you a long reply but apparently it was too long because it got stuck on the server. Let me just answer your last question and hopefully my original reply will go through. Why was the temple destroyed? Both temples were destroyed because the jews sinned. They were exiled because they sinned. And we’re still in exile because we continue to sin until this day. However we have a promise from God that eventually God will bring us back to our land and will rebuild the 3rd temple with the coming of the true messiah. We have already begun to see this process unfold with the founding of the state of Israel and it will culmintate with messiah’s coming sometime in the next 228 years. May happen it soon in our days!

  398. Vadim. What sin did Israel commit that was worthy of God abandoning the temple as He did in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel? As long as Israel was faithful to the covenant, they would get what they had been promised, the land. Somehow, their temple, the sign that God was with them, was destroyed. Why?

    A third temple? Where do you see a promise for this in the Torah? It speaks of a second one that was built starting with prophets like Haggai and Zechariah and largely built up by Herod, but nowhere about a fourth.

    If your Messiah has not come, then with the Daniel 2 prophecy, it is already too late. That fourth kingdom has come and gone and I did not see a fifth kingdom as you would have thought established during that time. Either the Messiah came, or he will never come.

    Furthermore, you look at the re-establishment of Israel supposedly in 1948. What conditions did Israel meet for that? Did they turn and repent and become faithful to YHWH? Are you saying that Israel over there entirely today is following the covenant?

  399. Vadim says:

    Vadim. What sin did Israel commit that was worthy of God abandoning the temple as He did in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel? As long as Israel was faithful to the covenant, they would get what they had been promised, the land. Somehow, their temple, the sign that God was with them, was destroyed. Why?

    Response: The first temple was destroyed chiefly because of idolatry. The second temple was destroyed for many sins but chiefly because jews acted hatefully towards each other for no reason.

    A third temple? Where do you see a promise for this in the Torah? It speaks of a second one that was built starting with prophets like Haggai and Zechariah and largely built up by Herod, but nowhere about a fourth.

    Response:The third temple will be built because the second temple wasn’t built according to the proper parameters as set out in Ezekiel. Why wasn’t it built according to those specifications as Ezekiel prophesied? Because the jews didn’t merit that it should be the final temple.

    If your Messiah has not come, then with the Daniel 2 prophecy, it is already too late. That fourth kingdom has come and gone and I did not see a fifth kingdom as you would have thought established during that time. Either the Messiah came, or he will never come.

    Response: The Daniel prophecy about the times is the most cryptic of all the prophecies in the Torah. It is a puzzle that very few know the correct answer too. The fourth kingdom is still enduring. The values of the Roman empire are still with us to this day. The civilized world are its heirs. The messiah will come by the year 6000 on the hebrew calendar.

    Furthermore, you look at the re-establishment of Israel supposedly in 1948. What conditions did Israel meet for that? Did they turn and repent and become faithful to YHWH? Are you saying that Israel over there entirely today is following the covenant?

    Response: Not yet. The creation of the state of Israel is only the beginning of this prophecy. It’ll come to complete fruition with the coming of the messiah.

  400. Vadim:Response: The first temple was destroyed chiefly because of idolatry. The second temple was destroyed for many sins but chiefly because jews acted hatefully towards each other for no reason.

    Reply: Do you have any evidence of this? The idea was that abandoning YHWH was breaking the covenant. Anything from Josephus, for instance, showing that the Jews had abandoned YHWH?

    Vadim:The third temple will be built because the second temple wasn’t built according to the proper parameters as set out in Ezekiel. Why wasn’t it built according to those specifications as Ezekiel prophesied? Because the jews didn’t merit that it should be the final temple.

    Reply: Sorry, but the Ezekiel temple cannot be built. That’s even why some hesitated to include it in the Canon. For instance, how could you build the river that keeps getting steeper? How can the prince offer up sacrifices if Judah is the line of kings and Levi is the line of priests? How could you even tell who is in the lineage of Levi and who is in the lineage of Judah anyway?

    You need to learn some of the history of the debates over the canonization of the OT books.

    Vadim: The Daniel prophecy about the times is the most cryptic of all the prophecies in the Torah. It is a puzzle that very few know the correct answer too.

    Reply: No. It’s quite clear. It corresponds with the four beasts that Daniel saw in his vision. Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, Roman.

    Vadim: The fourth kingdom is still enduring. The values of the Roman empire are still with us to this day.

    Reply: Do you have any understanding of history after the Easter event? The world was not the moral cesspool that it was in the time of Rome. Rome itself officially fell at 476. Unless, you want to hold to conspiracy theories, which wouldn’t surprise me since you seem to buy into Bible Codes hoopla.

    Vadim: The civilized world are its heirs. The messiah will come by the year 6000 on the hebrew calendar.

    Reply: The Messiah came and went according to the Daniel prophecy and the Ezekiel temple is impossible. That Dome of the Rock is there also. I see that as God’s big joke on the idea of building another temple.

    Vadim: Not yet. The creation of the state of Israel is only the beginning of this prophecy. It’ll come to complete fruition with the coming of the messiah.

    Reply: That was the requirement for Israel to return to the land. Since they did not so, then it is not an act of God. It’s simply a political move. Israel existing today has zip to do with prophecy.