Here’s why. To begin with, he says,
He would say that Jesus was God and therefore the creator of everything. Let’s ignore the fact that the Trinity was an invention centuries after the gospels and consider what God supposedly created.
The doctrine of the Trinity doesn’t enter in to my argument. I don’t know why he brought it up. I’m not sure why he would have said the following either, but this time it’s not because the point is irrelevant, but because it’s manifestly not true.
In Genesis 1, God reshapes existing Play-Doh to make the water-dome world of the Sumerians. The stars are insignificant in this story and their creation gets half a verse, though science tells us that the universe is 1027 times larger than the earth.
The actual universe is impressive, but God’s art project is minor by comparison. Sure, let’s add Jesus/God, but remember the tiny “universe” he’s credited with creating.
First, the Play-Doh thing is just as false as it could be, as I have written previously. The “tiny universe” jab is an amazing bit of chronological snobbery, laden with all kinds of presumptions and assumptions regarding what literature in a distant corner of the world should have been like several thousand years ago. What’s most remarkable is how confident he is that he’s right about it! Amazing.
Seidensticker goes on to discuss various other highly other-centered, self-sacrificial figures in history and literature. Fine; that’s how I started my Touchstone article.
Then he tells us Jesus’ self-sacrifice wasn’t much: ” Jesus didn’t experience any agonizing choice; he simply knew the right path and took it. His sacrifice was a painful weekend—frankly, not that big a deal.” This reflects ignorance and/or bias. Jesus’ sweat was mixed with blood: hydrohoresis, a condition only seen under conditions of incredible agony. And that was before it all began! And he really died on that cross; he was really cut off from the living and from the Father. That was after he made the choice to set aside the privileges of his godhead and subject himself willingly to birth as a baby and life on this crazy earth (Phillipians 2:5-11).
Then Bob tells us there were other heroes who belong on a list of supremely powerful and supremely self-sacrificial: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Neo, Shiva, and Prometheus. I don’t know what level of detail I need to go into on each of these. They just don’t match up to the perfect other-centeredness and supreme power of Christ.
Bear in mind that the question is whether the legendary provenance the skeptics proposed for Jesus makes any sense. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Neo were not the product of legend; Shiva was. Shiva, the “Destroyer,” is hardly a perfect character. Prometheus is a tragic figure precisely because of his lack of power, so he doesn’t belong on this list. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Neo could arguably be considered intentional Christ figures, and they had nothing like Jesus’ reported power; at any rate, they were not the product (as Jesus would have been, if legend theory were true) of a non-community of cognitive disfunction.
Bob asks, “What did Jesus do?” and he finds the answer wanting. Though I could dispute most of what he says about that, the main thing is that it misses the point completely. Suppose there are controversial points of possible imperfection in Jesus. That doesn’t change the fact that there is one supremely unique point of perfection in his character: his simultaneous possession of ultimate power and practice of perfect other-orientedness. That’s the fact that the skeptics’ legend theory has to account for, and which doesn’t fit at all in their version of the Jesus story.
So in sum, what Bob Seidensticker has provided us has been an exercise in getting facts wrong while missing the point.
I remain interested in finding out whether there’s a good critique available for this argument.