Book Plunge: The Myth of the Divinity of Jesus Christ Part 2

Why didn’t He just say it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

News flash! Jesus never came out and explicitly said, “I am God!”

This is something cultists and Muslims and others expect, to which I say “Why should you?” Think about this. What would it have meant for Jesus to say that? Would they hear Him saying He is the Father? As soon as He says “I am not” then they ask “Well if you’re God, but not the Father, who are you?” (Assuming they hadn’t already stoned Him.) With each answer, more and more questions come out.

No. Jesus handled this the same way as He did His being the Messiah, which He also very rarely came out and claimed for Himself. Others were claiming it of Him before He was claiming it of Himself. Could it be because like the God question, people had an idea of who the Messiah was to be as in what kind of person he was to be? Could it be He didn’t want to be tied to that image?

It’s not a shock that John 10 is pointed to as Jesus denying that He is God. (You know, that place where He said “I and the Father are one.”) I have already covered this one here. Not only did Jesus not deny it, He really upped the ante on His claim.

Iqbal goes on from there to make a number of other nonsense arguments, such as Moses being called a god. Yes. That was an analogical sense. No one understood Jesus as ever speaking in that way. This is also an argument Jehovah’s Witnesses make and it’s just as awful when they do it.

Israel is the firstborn. Yes. And?

Israel is referred to as the children of God. Yes. They are. Context determines meaning. In an analogical sense, we can say Jesus is the one who is the true Israel of God seeing as He is the true Son of God.

David is begotten. Yes. All kings of Israel were declared to be begotten, but again, this is not in the same way. David is a type of the greater one who was to come. The greater one of Jesus is begotten in the most unique way of all, eternally begotten from the Father and declared to be the king forevermore.

The righteous are called children of God. Yes. Our righteousness is not found in ourselves. It is found in the one who is the most righteous of all, the spotless lamb Christ. He is the righteousness and if we are in Him, then we are declared to be righteous. The sad reality is that if Iqbal had bothered to really understand these passages, he would have seen that they really argue against his position more.

I really wish I had more to give you all, but really this is it. The bulk of the argument that Iqbal had was based on John 10 which is a pathetically weak argument. I know I have often gone after internet atheists on here, but in a way, Muslim argumentation is often sadly worse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 9

What does Fatoohi say about the Trinity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The opening paragraph of the chapter on the Trinity sets the scene:

The New Testament, as well as other early Christian writings, contains passages that promote monotheism and others that ascribe to Jesus divine attributes, and passages that stress the distinctness of the Father and the Son and others that fuse the two. These contradictory writings served as a fertile environment for the development of a number of conflicting and ambiguous doctrines. This confused theological language reflects more influence by the Roman understanding of divinity than by Jewish monotheism. Even if only the Gospel of John is considered and all other canonical and apocryphal Christian books are ignored, this single book would still provide too many discrepant, confusing, and vague statements to allow a harmonious, coherent, and clear picture of Jesus.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Well that’s a fine little mess you’ve gotten us into!

To begin with, what contradictory writings? We’re not told? These writings show the distinction between the Father and the Son. Yes. They are distinct persons. That’s not a problem. The language has more influence from Roman polytheism than Jewish monotheism? How? We are not told.

And yet not long after this, he says in his words:

Tertullian of Carthage (ca. 155- after 220), who introduced the term “Trinity” from the Latin “trinitas” (three or triad), taught the concept of one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are distinct, but not separate. Because these three persons are not separate or divided, God is one, not three. Tertullian’s Trinity is, therefore, a form of monotheism not tritheism.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Wait. What was that?

This doctrine of the Trinity is a form of monotheism?

Could that be….Jewish monotheism?

We can all thank Mr. Fatoohi for establishing that a Muslim can agree that the Trinity is monotheistic.

Unfortunately, he messes up in the next sentence.

Another form of the Trinity, which Tertullian considered heresy is known as “Sabellianism,” after the 3rd century theologian Sabellius.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Except this isn’t the Trinity. This is modalism as we would call it today. It is one God but putting on three different costumes as it were. Today it is found in movements like Oneness Pentecostalism.

It’s not a shock that after this, we get to Nicea and who is the villain? Constantine!

The spread of this controversy prompted Emperor Constantine to arrange and oversee the first Ecumenical Council, which was held in Nicea in 325 CE. The convening bishops, whose number has been put by different sources between 250 and 318, released the first decree that addressed the status of the Father and the Son and their relationship, but it only affirmed the belief in the Holy Spirit. This decree was not the result of as much consensus as Constantine’s influence and pressure.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

All Constantine did was call the council. After that, he did not oversee the events and have influence on them. He was even baptized by an Arian as he was dying. Also, the council was not about the Trinity, but about the nature of the person of Jesus. That is an aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity, but not the Trinity itself.

In speaking about the dual natures of Jesus, Fatoohi says:

The Qur’an’s argument rejects this duality as an impossibility. Verse 4.171 also clearly considers the Trinity as a form of tritheism not monotheism.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So this is interesting.

Earlier, he told us the Trinity is a form of monotheism.

Now he says the Qur’an says it is tritheism. Does Fatoohi disagree with the Qur’an?

We are also not told how Jesus having two natures is an impossibility. We are not told how one person who fully has the nature of God serves another person who fully has the nature of God. These kinds of assertions from anti-Trinitarianism never really hold for people who really study the doctrine.

This next section is long but worth quoting in full:

Some scholars have suggested that the Qur’an mistakenly takes the Trinity to be the Father, the Mother, and the Son, i.e. the divine family. This conclusion is probably influenced by the fact that in verses 5.72-75 the denouncement of deification of Mary, as well as that of Jesus, occurs after the rejection of the Trinity. I agree with Parrinder (1995: 135) that there is actually nothing in the Qur’an to suggest this interpretation. The weakness of the conclusion above becomes clear when we observe that the rejection of the Trinity in verses 4.171 is followed in verses 4.172 by the confirmation that the Messiah and the nearest angels would not scorn to be servants to God. The Qur’an could not have defined the Trinity in one verse as being God, the Messiah, and the nearest angels, and in another as God, Jesus, and Mary. The names mentioned after the Trinity are not meant to be its members. In verse 5.116, God asks Jesus: “Did you say to people: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?’” This may be taken by some to mean that the Trinity is presented as consisting of God, Jesus, and Mary. But, unlike verses 4.171 and 5.73, this verse does not mention the concept of three. The Qur’an contains a large number of verses criticizingthose who “take gods besides Allah,” and most of these verses have nothing to do with Jesus or the concept of the Trinity (e.g. 19.81, 36.74).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Okay. So the Qur’an never mentions the concept of three. All it says is “Did you say to people: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?’ ”

Folks. We’re going to get into complex math here. Get prepared. We have Allah + Jesus + Mary. Now here comes the hard part. How many persons do you see there?

Now I have ran this through numerous computers and got out my white board and ran the numbers several times, but I keep getting that the number is three.

Face it. The Qur’an got the definition of the Trinity wrong. Hard to believe that a being like Allah wouldn’t even know the doctrine His book was arguing against. It’s almost as if the book is just a book by someone who wasn’t in communication with the deity….

Verse 5.75 makes the interesting observation that both Jesus and his mother ate food, which is a sign of being human. Having to eat food in order to live is used elsewhere in the Qur’an as a sign that the messengers were ordinary human beings:

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Breaking news everyone! Jesus was human! Amazing isn’t it?! Not only that, this is a test the New Testament itself has in Luke to show that Jesus is not a ghost!

There’s a reason Muslim apologetics is just so incredibly bad.

Next time, we’ll return to looking more at the doctrine of Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 8

Did Paul invent Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Fatoohi looks at Pauline Christianity with the idea that Paul made the Christianity that we all know today. Of course, some people did used to say Paul invented Christianity, but that idea has really dropped out of sight for some time. E.P. Sanders with his work on Paul and Palestinian Judaism was integral in this.

Fatoohi also uses a lot of tropes that fundamentalist atheists use. He says Paul shows no interest in the life of Jesus aside from events like the crucifixion and the Last Supper. Completely ignored is that Paul is not writing a biography of Jesus. He is dealing with circumstantial issues that were not covered in the ministry of Jesus. (Believe it or not, there weren’t big debates in Israel on what to do about meat offered to idols)

He also says that Paul says he got his information about Jesus from revelation referencing Galatians 1. Fatoohi makes no mention first off that Paul says in that same letter he checked with the apostles in Jerusalem to make sure he had it right and he was not running the race in vain. Also, Paul is not talking about the facts of the historical Jesus, but about coming to see the reality of who Jesus is. He is actually comparing himself to Jeremiah with similar language throughout.

Paul was open about the fact that he had no contact whatsoever with the historical Jesus, claiming that his contact with the divine/spiritual Jesus told him all he needed to know about the truth of Jesus. He clearly believed that he knew Jesus more than anybody else. Paul’s letters show him as an absolutely determined, single-minded person, so it is highly unlikely that he was not influenced by others in his decision to deify Jesus. Jesus’ Jewish followers in Palestine could not have started the move to deify him and his mother. Judaism is a strictly monotheistic religion, so even if someone wanted to promote Jesus’ divinity, he would have met very little acceptance and strong opposition.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m really not sure how Mary got into this. I don’t support all the accolades that my Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ put on Mary, but I am sure they would be aghast at the idea of deifying her. Also, Paul himself was a Jew. Why are we to believe he would go against his strict monotheism? There is not a shade of otherwise in his letters. If we look especially at passages like 1 Cor. 8:6, Paul held to monotheism, but at the same time included Jesus in the divine identity. Fatoohi makes the same assumption others make in that saying that God is one means that God is one in person. Monotheism does not necessitate unipersonalism.

He says presenting Jesus as divine would look logical and natural for pagan converts. Seriously? Pagan converts would easily understand the idea of a man who is deity dying on a cross?

He says Gentile converts accepted Jesus’s deity easily and could have even needed that to believe in him. They accepted it so easily that Paul was imprisoned many times. It was such a non-issue to them that Paul was executed in Rome. If Paul’s life is easy acceptance, one wonders what hard rejection would look like.

I find it amusing how Fatoohi cites Robert Miller in this and then says:

Miller also believes that the story of Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus was made up because it was required by the title “son of God.” This suggestion also ignores completely the Jewish influence on the authors of Matthew and Luke, in which this story appears.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So when pagan copycat claims are made about what Fatoohi disbelieves in, that’s okay. When they are made about what he believes in, he suddenly cares about what the Jews really thought. Jews wouldn’t have been open to a virgin birth, which I do affirm, any more than pagans would, perhaps even less so. That would implicate YHWH. If anything, I think they would have an easier time with a multiplicity of persons in the Godhead, something that was already being seen as an option, than they would the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

We know, for instance, that Paul did not hesitate in dropping circumcision as a requirement from Gentile converts to the religion he was preaching (e.g. Rom. 2:25-29, 3:29-30; 1 Cor. 7:18-19). The Book of Acts and Paul’s letters recount sharp disputes that Paul had with prominent Jerusalemite Christians because of his abolishment of certain legal requirements, which he clearly did to convert as many Gentiles as possible.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But if you’re going to accept Acts, you also need to accept that in Acts 10, uncircumcised Gentiles received the Holy Spirit long before Paul began His ministry. In Acts 11, it is acknowledged that God had granted Gentiles repentance unto faith. In Acts 15, a council is held where it is agreed Gentiles do not need to be circumcised.

Fatoohi uses Acts when he wants to, but ignores it when he doesn’t.

Next we get to the atonement:

Amazingly, despite its fundamental position in Christian theology, the doctrine of the Atonement is not found in any of the Gospels which are presented as collections of Jesus’ sayings and works. There is not even a passing mention by Jesus to this supposedly most fundamental doctrine that represents his whole mission in life, death, and resurrection. Even when Jesus tells his disciples about the suffering he was expecting, the Gospel writers do not attribute to him a single word indicating that this suffering has a vicarious function (Mark 8:31, 9:12; Matt. 16:21, 17:12; Luke 9:22, 17:25, 22:15, 24:26, 24:46)!

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Never mind also that when Jesus dies, He dies at the time of Passover. What was the point of Passover? It was a lamb being sacrificed for the sins of those in the household so the angel of death would pass over them. Surely that has nothing to do with the atonement. Right? Those interested in more on this are invited to read N.T. Wright’s The Day The Revolution Began.

As an aside, in comparing Christianity and Islam, Fatoohi says:

The credibility of the Islamic faith rests solely on the credibility of the Qur’an and the prophethood of Muhammad. Muhammad claimed to have received the Qur’an from God and that neither he nor anyone else contributed to it. The Qur’an is the only divine text in Islam. No spiritual experience of any other Muslim figure, ancient or modern, constitutes part of the faith, and no other writings have a claim to inerrability. This applies even to the words attributed to Muhammad, known as aḥādīth, or the special group of sayings known as aḥādīth qudsiyyahor “divine sayings” that are believed to represent divine revelation expressed in Muhammad’s words. These were reported down the centuries by numerous people. The fact that Muhammad’s prophethood is the only foundation of Islam is manifested in the fact that the following two verses form the declaration of faith in Islam: “There is no god save Allah” (37.35, 47.19) and “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” (48.29).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Here’s the problem for Fatoohi. We agree with that. We agree Islam rests entirely on Muhammad and the Qur’an. That is exactly why we reject it. Jesus is a far better figure in every way and the New Testament is far more reliable. In the next paragraph, Fatoohi says:

Western scholars have questioned whether the Qur’an we have today is the same Qur’an that Muhammad taught and they have suggested that the process of compiling it was far from perfect. But even this extreme claim, which is challenged by many, is completely different from the criticism above of the New Testament and the Old Testament.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This extreme claim….

Extreme….

Think about that.

If you dare suggest that the Qur’an was not compiled properly, then your claim is extreme. Fatoohi makes numerous claims about Paul and Jesus throughout this book and those are not extreme. Those interested in textual criticism with regard to the Qur’an are invited to see this work.

And if Fatoohi or anyone else who is a Muslim saw this and says “I bet you don’t want Christians reading Bart Ehrman!” you will be disappointed. I have no problem with them doing that. I read Ehrman myself and respond to him. If they care about truth, they will look to see what is said about his claims.

Next time, we see what happens when we start looking at the Trinity directly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 7

What does Son of Man mean?

Fatoohi is going to try to take on this one now. To his credit, he does at least interact with material like 1 Enoch. Fortunately, he comes to Daniel and the all-important passage in there on this topic, Daniel 7:13-14. One of his arguments for this not being the Messiah is the text says one like a Son of Man, not the Son of Man.

Which is really weak.

Daniel watched in awe as one “like a son of man [kĕbar ʾĕnāš]” descended into the throne room surrounded by the clouds of heaven (v. 13). “One like a son of man” means that this person was in human form. As Baldwin points out, however, he is more than a man.

Stephen R. Miller, Daniel (vol. 18; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 207.

Or

While still gazing at the destruction of the beast Daniel’s attention was arrested by a most amazing event. In his vision of the night another figure emerged. This was no beast. It had no animal features. There were no deep, dark, recesses here, but only light. It came as one like a son of man, a human figure. At the same time it was a heavenly figure, not an earthly one. Boldly this one approached the courtroom and was led into the presence of the Ancient of Days. Once there he was handed a kingdom, given authority and sovereign power. All peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him, for his dominion was an everlasting dominion that would not pass away. His kingdom was one that would not be destroyed.
It is important not to miss the contrast here. Here was a human being, one in the image of God, who was at the same time a heavenly figure who ruled like man was meant to rule, that is, under the rule of God. The contrast occurs at a number of levels: chaos versus order, beastly versus human, temporary versus eternal, seized versus given, condemned versus endorsed. Here was something Daniel and many others had longed and waited for since Adam’s failure: one who lived out the divine rule of God.

Andrew Reid, Daniel: Kingdoms in Conflict (ed. Paul Barnett; Reading the Bible Today Series; Sydney, South NSW: Aquila Press, 2004), 123.

With this last one, in a Jewish monotheistic context you have a human figure who is worshipped. This doesn’t fit with what Fatoohi says, but it is just fine within Judaism.

But then something totally unexpected occurs. Into the presence of the Ancient of Days steps “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven” (7:13). Who is this figure? While the language and imagery of this verse would have been familiar to the ancient reader (though strange to us), the implications would have shocked them.
First, we should realize that “son of man” is a phrase that occurs a number of times in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Ezekiel (2:1, 3, 6, and throughout the book), and always means “human being.” But notice this is one “like a human being,” not a human being per se. And his association, though not identification, with humanity is clear from the fact that this human-like figure is accompanied by the clouds of heaven. In other words, this person is a cloud rider, a sure indication of divinity.
In the first place, in the broader ancient Near East, cloud riding was the function of storm gods like Baal, who was often called “cloud rider” in the Ugaritic myths that describe his exploits. By the time of Daniel, many Old Testament texts had appropriated this description and applied it to God (Ps 18:1–9; 68:4; 103:3; Is 19:1; Nah 1:3). Thus, to ancient readers this human-like figure was God himself riding into the presence of the Ancient of Days, also God himself, after achieving victory over the beasts. No wonder this passage is cited so often in the New Testament in reference to Jesus, God’s Son and God himself (more on this in chapter 16).
But for now, restricting ourselves to an Old Testament reader’s perspective, we should notice that the vision ends with the Ancient of Days conferring great honor on the one like the son of man. Indeed, “he was given (presumably by the Ancient of Days) authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”

Tremper Longman III, How to Read Daniel (How to Read Series; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2020), 101–102.

Now Fatoohi does appreciate giving what scholars say since he quotes some of them. I have done the same. I wonder who I should trust.

Fatoohi will go on later to say there is no evidence that Son of Man was used in reference to the Messiah before Jesus. Let’s leave out Daniel for the time being. To that, let it be said, “So what?” Even if that is the case, we could just as well the same could apply to the virgin birth, which I do affirm. Jesus shattered a lot of ideas on what the Messiah would be.

He does say that Jesus did use the Son of Man saying to avoid His deification. After all, everyone would just think to that Daniel passage upon hearing it and think “Yep. No shades of deity there.” This also assumes that Jesus’s deity was being taught in His lifetime, but Fatoohi keeps saying that these were monotheistic  Jews who would not do this, so who were these Jews risking turning Jesus into deity?

So color me still puzzled by Fatoohi’s arguments.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 6

What does the Qur’an say about the sonship of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It rejects it.

Oh. You want more.

Well, alright. Just because I like you all so much and appreciate your reading.

Anyway, Fatoohi says that in the beginning, God was alone. There was no one else. I suppose this could explain why Allah is not all-loving. After all, who was there for Him to love before creation? This is a problem you have solved in a Trinity of persons.

One important difference between the presentations of God in the Qur’an and the New Testament, at least according to the most popular understanding of the latter, is that the God of the Qur’an is one whereas the God of the New Testament is a unity. Allah is not a number of persons in one, one person in multiple manifestations, one being in different aspects, one in more than one mode, or any such designations that Christianity developed.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This might sound like a shock, but a unity is one. That’s why it starts with “Uni.” It refers to something that is one. In this case, there is one divine nature. Unfortunately, none of these descriptions Fatoohi gives us are actually anything like orthodox Christianity.

Under pressure to reconcile contradictory statements in the New Testament, Christian theologians work hard to stress that the concepts of divine oneness and unity are one and the same. The Qur’an rejects this equation, as logic does. The God of the Qur’an is one, not united.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

We are not told what these contradictory statements are. Depending on the meaning, unity and oneness could mean the same. I fully agree the Qur’an rejects this, but if Fatoohi wants to say logic rejects this, he needs to show how. Many brilliant Christians throughout history have known logic quite well and yet somehow overlooked something right at the center of what they believe?

Jesus’ sonship of God in Christianity is no different from the concept of offspring of God of the polytheists of Arabia.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Unless the polytheists were holding on to some concept of Trinity, yes it was. Also, the polytheists would believe that a child was born in real time as a result of action on the part of the deity. In Christianity, Jesus is eternally begotten by the Father and is not an event that happened in time. The Son always was.

And when Allah said: “O Jesus son of Mary! Did you say to people: ‘Take me (ittakhithūnī) and my mother for two gods besides Allah?’” He said: “Glory be to You! I could never say what I have no right to say. If I have said it, then You know it. You know what is in my mind, but I do not know what is in Your mind. You know all unseen things. (5.116) I never said to them anything other than what You commanded me: ‘worship Allah, my and your Lord.’ I was a witness over them while I was among them, and when You took me You were the watcher over them. You are a witness over all things. (5.117) If You punish them, they are Your servants; and if You forgive them, You are the Invincible, the Wise.” (5.118) This dialog happened after God took Jesus to live in a heavenly place and rescued him from the attempt to get him crucified (Fatoohi, 2007: 445-452). Jesus lived until his middle age.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Where this took place, we do not know. How Jesus died, we do not know. This would all be news to New Testament scholars. Fatoohi uses them when it suits his goal, but when he wants to go with the assertions from the Qur’an that have no scholarly support in the subject area, he just ignores the scholarship entirely.

Most scholars also think that the deification of Jesus happened after he was gone. Larry Hurtado (2003: 131) stresses that “the Gospels confirm that the worship of Jesus in ‘post-Easter’ Christian circles represents a significant development beyond the sorts of homage given to Jesus during his ministry.”

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I was unable to track down the article, but I did notice that Fatoohi just cited the first page, which tells me he read enough to get what he wanted and then moved on. The reply to this is “Of course they did!” The resurrection was the confirmation of Jesus and His terms. The resurrection changed everything!

Using Hurtado still, to avoid a long quote, I will just say Fatoohi concludes saying that modern scholarship concludes with what the Qur’an said a long time ago. Jesus was a man and pagan beliefs changed him into a god. This would be news to Larry Hurtado who argues that Jesus’s devotion started early on and sprang from the soil of Judaism at the time. Either Fatoohi has never read Hurtado’s work seriously, in which case he is ignorant, or he knows it and is misrepresenting it, in which case he is a liar.

Either way, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 5

How did Christians view the term “Son of God”? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. We’re finally getting into more substantial stuff. Fatoohi looks at John 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:19 and makes the following statement:

Reconciling these with passages in which the title “son of God” is applied to others would require the assumption that Jesus was considered as a special and unique son of God. While believers are sons of God, Jesus is The Son of God and the “only son” (John 1:14, 3:16). This could then explain the title “the Son,” which appears once in each of the Synoptics (Mark 13:32; Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22) and a number of times in the Gospel of John and First John. Jesus is also called God’s “belovedson” (Mark 1:11, 9:7; Matt. 3:17, 17:5; Luke 3:22) and the chosen son (Luke 9:35). It may be assumed that this specific sense of “son of God” is what the Jewish leaders objected to and led them to accuse Jesus of blasphemy and ask for his death. This would solve the historical problem in this account, which I highlighted earlier. But this assumption has no supportive evidence. The Jewish leaders are shown as being angry at the very claim to sonship of God.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

It’s amusing that when you refer to the Qur’an on its own, that’s good enough to back a claim for what everyone believed. When you refer to the New Testament on its own, that’s an assumption with no supportive evidence. Keep in mind the Qur’an never treats the New Testament as if it has been tampered with.  If anything, Muslims were to verify what was said with the “people of the book.”

But there is evidence. Jesus says that Caiaphas will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of glory. That is a claim of deity. Caiaphas knew exactly what it meant. That’s why he tore his robes immediately. Muslims (And atheists and JWs for that matter) live in a world where the only way Jesus could proclaim deity is if He walked down the street and said “Hey, man. Pleased to meet you. What’s up? I’m God.”

Then Fatoohi refers to John 5:16-18.

There is actually nothing in what Jesus said and did here that would justify the Jewish leaders’ conclusion that he was claiming equality with God. It looks like John believed that this equality with the Divine is what enraged the law experts and made them charge Jesus with blasphemy so he decided to introduce it here even though the context did not justify it.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So let’s look at the text itself:

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

What did Jesus say? Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath and then said He is at work just as His Father is. This was claiming to work alongside of the Father. That was only seen as claiming deity.

He says John 5:21-30 presents the Father and the Son as two distinct beings. Possible, but in light of John 1:1 and the rest of the prologue, not likely. It’s best to say two distinct persons. The problem is Muslims (and JWs and atheists) come with the assumption of unipersonalism, that God must be one in person.

He also says Jesus was nearly stoned for claiming to exist before Abraham. He was doing more than that. He was taking the very divine name. He didn’t say before Abraham was, I was, but I AM. The audience knew what He was saying.

In the Qur’anic account, Adam is the firstborn of his kind and the angels were commanded to pay homage to him as the representative of a new species that was destined to produce spiritually highly developed individuals, such as the prophets. Satan felt that the fact that he was created of fire, as he was a jinn, gave him a higher status than an individual made originally of clay, so he rejected God’s command. God threw him out of the special place in which he was living and became the Devil who wants to make the human beings reject and disobey God to prove his point and exact revenge. It looks like this original account was changed and reproduced by some Christian theologians, including the author of Hebrews, to make Jesus the firstborn, which made him eternal, and make the angel worship him, which made him divine.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Why should I think this account is the original account? Not told. No reason is given. Once again, when the New Testament says something, it’s an assumption with no supporting evidence. When an account 600 years after the New Testament events says something, that’s the solid truth. Again, this is convincing if you’re a Muslim, but not if you’re an outsider.

John still has passages that portray Jesus as having a lower status than the father. For instance, Jesus proclaims that he was sent by the father (John 20:21), the father is greater than him (John 14:28), and he is under the command of the father (John 12:49, 14:31). There is clear inconsistency in John’s portrayal of the divine Jesus and his relationship with God. As has been rightly pointed out, with his “plain affirmation of the pre-eminence of the Father contradicting all the metaphors which suggest equality, John created a doctrinal problem the resolution of which kept the church, the councils, the bishops, and the theologians fully occupied for several centuries” (Vermes, 2000: 48).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Kudos for at least quoting Vermes, an actual scholar in the field, but Fatoohi comes with an assumption that if there is a difference in authority and position, then there is one in nature. This is not backed again. It is merely assumed.

John’s doctrine of the Word, or Logos in Greek, is believed to have been inspired by the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo (ca. 15 BCE – ca. 45 CE) who taught that the Logos was the intermediary between God and the cosmos, as it is God’s tool of creation and the agent through which the human mind can apprehend and comprehend God. The idea of the Logos dates back to the 6th century BC Greek philosopher Heraclitus who believed that the cosmic processes have a logos, or reason, similar to the reasoning power in man. The concept was developed further by other Greek philosophers. Vermes suggests that John’s Logos doctrine was also influenced by Hermetism. According to this 1st century CE pagan Hellenistic mysticism, deification of man is achieved through knowledge, and the Logos is referred to as the “son of God” (Vermes, 2000: 51).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

There are plenty of ways for understanding where the ideas of Logos came from, but I would contend the best way is seeing it as God’s Wisdom. Jesus is the Wisdom of God from Proverbs 8 incarnate. That is why He is eternally in the bosom of the Father.

There is an interesting textual variation in one early Greek and several later Latin manuscripts of Luke. Most manuscripts copy Mark in stating that after Jesus’baptism, a voice from heaven said: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Yet the other manuscripts have instead this variant of the text: “You are my son; today I have begotten you.” Bard Ehrman (2007: 158-160), a leading authority on early Christianity, argues that this is what Luke originally wrote and that the text was later changed by copies who did not believe that Jesus became God’s son at baptism. The alternative text is clearly more precise in pinpointing the inauguration of Jesus as God’s special son to his baptism.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

No. That’s not a typo on my part. Fatoohi refers to Bard Ehrman. I had no idea Ehrman was a singer who was good with a bow and arrow. We will pass over Ehrman being a leading scholar in this area. Why would the way it is read there be a problem? It’s a quote from Psalm 2 that’s a coronation Psalm. It is saying that God is publicly declaring Jesus as His Messiah. That does not mean adoptionism as Luke has Jesus as Messiah at His birth and even before. This is the recognition of that publicly for Jesus’s first appearance in public.

Interestingly, John tells us that Jesus did indeed contest the accusation of blasphemy, although not on the basis of the fact that was known to all that the claim to sonship of God was not blasphemous, but by pointing out that the Jewish scripture used the term “gods” itself for people: Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken — do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:32-36) Jesus argues that as the term “gods” is used figuratively in the scripture, and hence does not break the law, the title “son of God” is similarly metaphorical and cannot be considered blasphemous.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Jesus is actually engaging in a lesser to greater argument. He is saying that if the people to whom the word came were called gods, and those are figures mocked in the text since they are wicked people who will die like mere men, how much more does He, a righteous one, have the right to be called God. He never corrects the Jews on His claim of “I and the Father are one.” He amplifies it.

Well, at least we’re getting more.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 3

Is Jesus human? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes. He is.

Next time we’ll continue looking at this book and…..

Oh. You probably want to hear more.

There are some interesting aspects to point out in this chapter, but overall, the goal of Fatoohi in this chapter seems to be to keep pointing out that Jesus was human. I don’t know where these Christians are that he thinks he needs to convince of that are. It’s actually an essential part of Christianity not just that Jesus was human but that Jesus is STILL human.

I was surprised to hear him say that the Christ was killed on the cross. I do not know if he is somehow making some distinction between the Christ and Jesus, which strikes me as an odd position for a Muslim to take. Still, it is rare as well to find a Muslim that agrees that Jesus died on the cross. I don’t think the Qur’an necessarily rules it out, but I also know the majority of Muslims argue against it, even sometimes calling it the cruci-fiction.

Yet in the very next paragraph, he says that the Christians repudiated the view of the Jews that the Messiah would be a conquering warrior yet replaced him with a divine figure. He claims that this had no roots at all until Paul came along and until the Gospel of John was written. I do think he has other chapters on this later on. We’ll see but if so, I won’t fault him for not making his case now.

Later on, Fatoohi says that Jesus lived, died, and will be resurrected like everyone else. Again, this is a fascinating admission. He does say that Christians invented the concept of the second coming when the end of the world didn’t come. Readers can look through what I have written on Preterism to know how I see that concept.

So somehow, Fatoohi still thinks it’s a major point to stress that Jesus was a human being like all other Messiah figures in the Old Testament were. Again, no one is arguing against this. True, Christians do tend to downplay the humanity of Christ, but they still know He is human.

This is the problem I often find with reading material written to attack Christianity. I don’t care if we’re talking about Muslims or if we’re talking about internet atheists. Most of them do not really understand the position that they’re arguing against. They do not read the books that argue for the position they are opposed to. Meanwhile, when I realized I could be speaking to students about the doctrine of the Trinity for when they speak to Muslims, the first books I was buying were the Muslim books I could find on the topic.

Will it improve in this book? I’m doubtful. It would be good to have my position treated properly, but I honestly don’t remember the last time that happened. Still, there’s no stopping since I’ve started and next time we look at this we will see more on the idea of Jesus being the Son of God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Jesus The Muslim Prophet Part 1

What is Islam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have spoken to someone recently in Pakistan who is interested in having me speak via the internet to others in Pakistan interested in defending Christianity. I have heard they have had talks on Gospel reliability and the resurrection already. I can cover those, but I figured I could add something by answering objections to the Trinity.

I have spent considerable time debating Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for this, I decided I would then get some books on Kindle by Muslims arguing against the Trinity. If you are interested, this is the one that I chose to begin with.

So looking at the first part on just Islam, if I was being told that all of this is what the Muslim view of Jesus is, then there would be very little to argue with. I could tell you over and over what Muslims believe Islam is. You can 100% agree that they think that is what it is and 100% disagree that their claims correspond to reality.

It’s not really in dispute as far as I know that the name Islam means submission. What is under dispute is if Islam is really the universal religion that Islam claims it to be. The idea is not that Muhammad really revealed a new religion but was calling people back to the religion that supposedly was being followed by all the prophets in the Old and New Testament, including Jesus.

What is given to demonstrate this? Quotes from the Qur’an. If you’re a Muslim, that’s the gold standard and your case is made. If you’re not, then what you have been told is really meaningless. Quoting the Qur’an as an authority to outsiders is useless unless you’re given a reason to think the Qur’an has authority in what it describes. You can accept it as an authority on what Muslims believe, but that’s about it.

The only distinguishing mark given to Muhammad is that he is the last prophet. I’m inclined to think the Qur’an should be included in that also. It is quite convenient that this is the last prophet. It’s just amazing how a figure shows up and claims to be a prophet and gives a final revelation.

So this is the start and I could cover more than a brief section in my next reading, but for now, the problem is the only source that is quoted in all of this is the Qur’an. Thus far, there are no scholars of Islam or Christianity or even Judaism quoted. The only source referenced is one that lo and behold, happens to be by Muslim authorities and happens to agree with them. Imagine that.

As much as I give internet atheists a hard time, in many ways, Muslim apologetics often turns out to somehow be worse. We have thus far encountered no specific section on Jesus alone and the claims that Christianity makes about Him, but they are coming. I hope we’ll find something stronger, but I’m skeptical.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 5

Does Jesus just represent the Father? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this section, Perry claims that the best way to speak of Jesus is as one who has the name of YHWH not because He is YHWH, but because He is representing YHWH.

The best sense for ‘included within the divine identity’ is representative identity i.e. where someone
represents (acts for) someone else.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things
under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is kyrios, to the glory of God
the Father. Phil 2:9-11 (KJV revised); cf. Rom 14:1

First off, it’s noteworthy that in this passage, everything bows down to Jesus and to God, meaning that there is a differentiation going on between Jesus and everything else save the Father. Some of you astute readers will be thinking that Paul is quoting Isaiah here. We are about to get to that.

The name given to Jesus that is above every name is not the common Jewish name of ‘Jesus’ but that of
‘Yhwh’. As we have noted above, the type for this is the giving of the name to the Angel of the Lord.
This framework of name-bearing is indicative of representation (acting/speaking50 in someone’s name).
This is clear from the example of the Angel of the Lord where God instructs that the people were to obey
his voice because “my name is in/with him” (Exod 23:21). The identity here is representative, one in
which someone represents the authority and the will of another. As such, it does not confuse the persons
of God and the Angel of the Lord. We can, if we want, gloss this kind of identity as an ‘inclusive’ identity:
the representative is part of the identity of the one represented.

Nothing is said of what if someone does think the Angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Christ and actually an appearance of YHWH? There are numerous occasions in the Old Testament where someone talks to the Angel of the Lord and it is as if they are speaking to God. There are also times the Angel speaks as if He is God, notably in Exodus 3. Perry in a footnote says the prophets represented God, which is true, but no one ever confused Isaiah for YHWH.

Paul quotes Isa 45:23 in Phil 2:9-11 which, while ‘anthropomorphic’, is quite specific in its personal
language: ‘my mouth’ and ‘unto me’ – this singular language doesn’t seem to offer much room for others
to receive obeisance.
I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return,
that unto me (yl yk) every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isa 45:23 KJV)
Commentators assume that bowing ‘at the name of Jesus’ is equivalent to bowing before Jesus alone. It is
as if their exegesis drops ‘the name’ from their consideration of what Paul is saying. However, if you bow
‘at the name’ and that name is ‘Yhwh’, then Yahweh is involved as an indirect recipient of the obeisance
when the one being bowed to is a representative.

Absent is any mention of “I will not share my glory with another” from Isaiah 42:8. However, if Philippians says everyone bows at the name of Jesus and everyone is to bow to YHWH, it’s easy to make that parallel. It’s practically hard to avoid it.

In general, insofar as Christ does the same thing his Father does, the same action predicates are applied to
them both. For example,
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 1 Thess 3:13 (KJV)
…and kyrios my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. Zech 14:5 (KJV)

Yet this is not saying Jesus is doing the same action of YHWH. YHWH never comes to the Earth except at the end of Revelation and then it is the marriage of Heaven and Earth. It is Jesus that is coming to the Earth. Again, Paul is making a one-to-one parallel.

This allusion is an example of Yhwh texts that describe God acting on behalf of his people in the land.
The language of Yahweh coming in the person of another is seen, for example, in the case of the Arm of
the Lord (Isa 40:3; 10; 51:9; 53:1; John 12:38). This is God being manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16) and
fulfilling his own declaration, ‘I will be who I will be’ (Exod 3:1460). That God is manifest in someone on
the ground is indicated by the prediction that ‘his feet’ would stand on the Mount of Olives. As Adey
observes, “A Biblical criterion of being the true God is that God’s identity can be depicted by another”.
The predicates of action are equally applicable to Yahweh as they are to the person on the ground.
There are criteria of application for these predicates which are satisfied by Yahweh and the person on
the ground. The point here is not that the person bears the name ‘Yhwh’, nor that they necessarily
represent Yahweh (pace foreign potentates brought against Israel), though this may be true: the point is
that God is manifesting himself in someone through the Spirit their actions are the actions of God. In
this sense, that person is included in an identity with God (and vice-versa) but without any confusion of
persons.

The fact that some people can possibly have a confusion of persons shows why Paul wrote the way he did, regularly saying theos for the Father and kurios for the Lord Jesus. Of course, it would be difficult to describe in many ways, but the solution is not to change the doctrine, but to change the language the best we can. Yet what happens if someone says contrary to what Perry thinks about this?

Fletcher-Louis states, “Time and again we find divine action or functions ascribed to Christ in a way that
now makes sense if Christ belongs within the divine identity and if he fully participates in the divine
nature.” What we need to question here is the ‘fully participates in the divine nature’. This sounds like
theologically motivated eisegesis designed to support later church doctrine.

Unfortunately, Perry doesn’t question it. It is fine to question what it means and that would be a great discussion to have, but his response is “It sounds like theologically motivated eisegesis designed to support later church doctrine.” Obviously, Perry is free from any theological motivations whatsoever. Suppose I said “Perry’s writing sounds like theologically motivated eisegesis in order to avoid a doctrine he disagrees with.” Could I be right? Sure. Is that an argument to reject Perry? Not at all. The motivations don’t matter. The data does.

The framework for understanding the same divine action being attributed to God and to Christ is
representative. This is clear from the use of ‘parentheses’ in Paul,
Now God himself and our Father, (even our Lord Jesus Christ), direct our way unto you. 1 Thess
3:11 (KJV revised); cf. 2 Thess 3:5
The singular verb ‘to direct’ is attached to the subject ‘God’ as shown by the emphasis ‘himself’, but the
guidance is through the Lord Jesus, as shown by the ‘even’ sense of the conjunction. Paul uses the same
construction for emphasis in 1 Thess 5:23, “May the God of peace himself (Auvto.j de. o` qeo.j) sanctify you
wholly”, and 1 Cor 8:6 makes the relationship clear: spiritual things are of the Father but through the Son
(see below).

When I look at 2 Thess. 3:5, it’s hard to find a translation besides the KJV that translates it this way. The majority don’t have a problem. Looking at the other translations, it looks that Paul is asking that the audience be directed to qualities of the Father and of the Son, but it would not be as if these were mutually exclusive to one or the other. Consider this for an example:

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Are we to think that if you want love, you go to the Father, but if you want perseverance, you go to the Son? Now granted, the Son is the only one who has been incarnate and persevered in suffering, but we are also told that God is patient with us. I doubt Perry would also question that the Son has love for us.

As for from the Father and through the Son, I agree with this. This is because I see Jesus as God’s Wisdom. This does not remove Jesus from the divine nature.

The singular verb attaches to the emphasized subject, God the Father, but the parenthesis provides a
substitution for the reader, a device which therefore does not contravene the normal grammar of noun-verb agreement.66 Fletcher-Louis’ grammatical analysis is therefore wrong “two persons grammatically
expressed as one acting subject”. It is rather, two grammatical subjects (one primary, one secondary)
available for one action verb.

And Perry can win this battle and lose the war. I don’t have a problem with this in my view of Jesus. It’s also something that really makes sense to me seeing as I don’t hold to unipersonalism.

Next time, we will discuss typological identity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 8

Is Jesus God’s Wisdom? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In these replies, I have been contending that Jesus is God’s Wisdom. Today, we’re going to look into that a little bit more.

The most common interpretation of ‘all things’ in 1 Cor 8:6 is that this embraces the Genesis creation and
that the Son is being placed as the one through whom that creation came into being “through/by
whom are all things”.
But to us there is one God, the Father, out of whom are85 all things, and we to/for him; and
one Lord Jesus Christ, through/by whom are all things, and we through/by him. 1 Cor 8:6
(KJV revised)

Yes. This is the most common interpretation and that’s for good reason. It makes sense of the passage. This is especially clear when you get to chapter 10 still about meat offered to idols and are told that the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. (1 Cor. 10:25-26)

But Perry says:

J. Murphy-O’Conner discusses cosmological readings of 1 Cor 8:6, showing how they are often based
on extra-Biblical comparisons with parallel texts that have ‘all things’ being of one God but through an
agent such as Wisdom or the Logos. He notes example philosophical texts from the Stoics and Philo, but
several Second Temple religious texts can be adduced for Wisdom having a role in creation. One
argument for a cosmological reading is that all things come from God, and so food comes from God, and
is acceptable. The problem with the argument is that vv. 1-7 is directed to those who already have this
knowledge; it is not directed to those who need persuasion. Another argument is a comparison with 1
Cor 11:12 where Paul states “but all things are of God”. However, it is not certain that Paul is making a
point here about creation; he could be making a contrast with the new creation as with 2 Cor 5:18 (“But
all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”). If we exclude creation as the
topic of v. 6, then the parallel between Christ and Wisdom vis-à-vis creative agency is diminished.

Naturally, Perry is not interacting with Second Temple thought, but he says that if Paul is saying this, then it seems that it would be something that they didn’t know. Well, by this standard, let’s point out some other things they didn’t know in the letter.

1 Cor. 11:23-26:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Cor. 15:3-7:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles

So by Perry’s argument then, this material that Paul says he passed on to them, they would not have known about. Why present something they already knew?

Or maybe, just maybe, Paul is using what they already know to make a point….

We can certainly say if we exclude creation, then the Wisdom argument is diminished, but what difference does new creation make to Paul’s argument? Paul is talking about how to interact in this creation, not the new one. Does Perry think there will be meat for sale from pagan markets in the new creation?

The competing interpretation is soteriological. Within 1 Corinthians, Paul uses ‘all things’ to embrace
different concepts. First, he says that the spiritual man judges all things (1 Cor 2:10-16). Such a person is
the recipient of the Spirit from God who works ‘all things in all’ (1 Cor 12:6; Eph 1:23) – all these things
are distributed throughout the body in terms of the spiritual gifts (‘spiritual things’, 1 Cor 12:1ff). All
things are for the believers so that the abundance of grace might be spread to all (Rom 8:28, 31-32; 2 Cor
4:14-15). This is why all things are ‘new’ in the new creation (2 Cor 5:17-18). Secondly, and politically, the
day will come when God will put all things under the feet of Christ, and after fulfilling his work, Christ
will deliver all things to the Father (1 Cor 15:27-28; Eph 1:10-11). Of these two uses of ‘all things’, 1 Cor
8:6 would fall into the first category of ‘spiritual things’ because Paul is talking about knowledge in 1
Corinthians 8.88 Christians judge, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

But this faces the same problem. Paul throughout the section is talking about this creation. Why think the context has switched so spiritual matters when the question is about meat in the marketplace?

The underlying point here is that ‘all things’ is a common enough way to talk generally. Elsewhere, Paul
will refer to thrones, rulers, lordships and authorities as ‘all things’ (Col 1:16); he will comment that he has
suffered the loss of all things (Phil 3:8); and in his Mars Hill speech, Paul declares that God gives all
things to all. The ‘all things’ of 1 Cor 8:6 are the gifts of the Spirit which are ‘of’ the Father but ‘through’
Jesus Christ (e.g. Eph 2:18; Tit 3:5-6).

Perry has thrown this out without a reason why I should accept it. At this point, Hitchens’s Razor applies. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Perry has given me no reason to take his claim seriously and I see plenty to the contrary.

There is a further point of contrast with the cosmological reading. Paul states that believers are
‘through/by’ Jesus Christ – this is a reference to the new creation of men and women in Christ (Rom 6:11,
23; 2 Cor 5:17; Col 1:20; Gal 3:14; 6:15), who in turn receive the spiritual gifts. Paul’s point is based in the
present and not the past of the Genesis creation.

And when did those present things come about? Oh yes. In the Genesis creation. Paul is pointing to the beginning and the order God established. How else could He have done this?

Thus I conclude this paper thoroughly unpersuaded, at least of Perry’s point. If anything, I am more persuaded that the more traditional reading is the correct one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)