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 10

Did the Christians make Jesus into God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Fatoohi starts with a chapter on how Jesus was a spiritual Messiah and not a militaristic one. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us what it means to be a spiritual Messiah or even what it means to be a Messiah. He says only a minority of the population became Christian and so it was easy for Paul to turn Jesus into a God.

Then he says this:

As the Jews did to their Messiah before Jesus, Christians changed the nature of their Messiah, Jesus, after him. But the Jews always believed that the Messiah was a human being, so Christianity’s claim that the Messiah was divine is unhistorical.

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

The Christians also always believed Jesus was a human being and that the Messiah was a human being. If anything, the first heresies did not deny the divinity of Jesus. They denied His humanity.

Jesus taught the oneness of God. He realized that he was going to be turned into a god, so he used the expression “son of man” as one way of emphasizing his human nature. Yet ironically, and as irrationally as it may be, this very term was hijacked by those who promoted his divinity and turned it into another way of saying “son of God” in the Christian sense, i.e. as another confirmation of Jesus’ divinity.

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

Fatoohi seems to go back and forth. At first, he argues no one would have turned Jesus into a God since that goes against Judaism. Then He regularly has throughout the book that during Jesus’s ministry, He had to show that He wasn’t God regularly. So which was it? Were the Jews wanting to turn Him into God or not?

Besides that, who was disputing His human nature? Fatoohi still has this assumption that one can’t be both God and man. He doesn’t back this.

The Trinity was developed centuries after Jesus, yet it also became a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. Anyone who has any doubts about the fact that Christian theologians have substantially changed Jesus’ image after him need only learn about how this alien doctrine was developed and incorporated into Christian theology.

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

Unfortunately, he gives us no resources on how to do this. Most any good book on church history would help you with this. He had earlier referenced Larry Hurtado. A shame he doesn’t mention him here. Richard Bauckham is another great mind to read on this topic.

Anyway, I have done this research. I find it consistent with what I read in the New Testament. It’s definitely much more so than the Qur’an which can’t even get the definition of the Trinity right.

And with that, we’re done with this one as the only other section is an appendix of Qur’an verses on this and well, that’s fine if you’re a Muslim, but I see no reason to take it seriously.

So on to another book!

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 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: Unbelievable Part 5

Is the gospel good news? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the first chapter by David Johnson and would that it had been the last. For some reason, Johnson was given multiple chapters to write which befuddles me since I got so tired of highlighting after awhile in my Kindle because so much was wrong. Well, let’s dive in so I can demonstrate my point.

In this chapter, Johnson is going to accept everything about Christianity is true but argue that it isn’t good news. Some of you might be wondering how that could be. I finished the chapter and I’m still wondering. Let’s start at the beginning with a Scriptural citation.

Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it. Matt. 7:13-14

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Johnson argues that this means the majority of the human race will not make it to the presence of God.  Now someone wanting to study this might look and see if this has always been understood to mean that very few people overall will make it, but nah. Why bother doing that? If one wanted to take in all of Scripture, you could go to Revelation 7 with a great crowd no man could number from every people group, but no, we have an agenda to fulfill.

I contend that Jesus is speaking about His immediate audience. He is not speaking on a global scale. He is saying of the people listening, few will find the way.

And then he told them, “You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved. But those who refuse to believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16 That is quite the sales pitch. Believe or be condemned! I’m not sure how that differs from conversion by sword. Believe or perish! Just to add some modern context, Grant me sexual favors or be fired, might also go well on the list. Any talk of hell renders all other motives for faith moot. If you learn of the tortures of hell as a child, you are going to do everything in your power to avoid it. If that means you have to believe with all your heart things that don’t seem to make sense, you are going to believe them with all your heart.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Let’s leave aside that it’s doubtful Mark 16:9-20 is original. Atheists regularly tout this out not getting they’re misrepresenting the story. It’s not “Love me or burn!” It’s more “You are already guilty of a crime and if you pledge loyalty, I will set you free and give you great benefits.” Not only that, but most evangelicals today do not hold that Hell is a fiery torture chamber.

And the coercion doesn’t stop there. The manipulation continues: If you really love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. John 14:15 I like the way the Amplified puts it because it is more in keeping with the way we would say it today. And it makes it easier to recognize the manipulative nature of the passage. Just think of all the evil, twisted, manipulative things that started with, if you really love me.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Meanwhile, think about all the true things that start with this conditional statement.

If you love your spouse, you will be faithful to them.
If you love your children, you will provide for them.
If you love your parents, you will respect them.

All of these are true. So it is with Jesus. If you call Him Lord and don’t do what He says, it is right to question if He is Lord or not. That the statement can be misused does not mean it is never properly used, unless Johnson wants to question the above three statements I have.

When speaking about how Hebrews say without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, Johnson says:

Try to put this into a modern context so that you can fully grasp how dark this is. What civilized culture still believes that there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood? How would that even work?

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Considering a lot of civilized cultures today believe you can mutilate a child’s body and change their sex or rip apart a child in the womb, saying a civilized culture doesn’t really mean much. It boils down to him saying “We don’t like this, therefore it’s wrong.”

In reality, what is being said is that capital offenses require a capital payment and to forgive a capital offense also requires a capital payment. Why do I not need that to forgive you? Because you haven’t committed such an offense against me. For any sin against God, it’s divine treason. Johnson has a view more that God is Superman than God.

God was really big on punishing the children to the third and fourth generation for the sins of the father. The staggering weight of this unfair system is readily apparent. The curse would never be lifted as there would never be four generations of people who didn’t sin. No wonder people were so desperately begging for mercy.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Desperately begging for mercy? Not really. If they were doing that in the Old Testament, they sure had an odd way of doing that by running around constantly committing idolatry and adultery. As for the New Testament, you don’t see that either. About the only exception I can think of is the repentant tax collector in the parable. Johnson is telling more about himself than the world of the Bible.

As for the passage, yes. We still see this today. Many families bear the sins of the fathers down through the past. Lessons of abuse and alcoholism are easily passed on.

If humans could get unmerited guilt, they could get unmerited grace. This means that a person who spent his life murdering and destroying can ask for forgiveness just before he dies, and he will end up in heaven. This, while another who spent her life as a good person will burn in hell because she was raised in a muslim country, unable to do anything but follow tradition in her region. What could be more unfair?

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Ah. That little word fair. One of the most overused words today. If the claims of God were true and He was fair, no one would enjoy His loving presence. Can a repentant criminal be forgiven on his deathbed? Yes. Would Johnson prefer he wasn’t? As for those who have never heard, Johnson acts like this is an open and shut case. Not really. Consider many in Muslim countries are having dreams and visions of Jesus. Also, it is debatable whether those who never heard through no fault of their own are automatically lost, see here.

Johnson also says the message is unclear. Consider how many differences there are:

Catholicism vs. protestantism • Calvinism vs. Arminianism • Baptism? Sprinkling Pouring Immersion • Old Testament laws and observances • Salvation by: Grace alone Grace and faith Grace, faith, and other works • Women in authority • Marriage, remarriage, and divorce • Speaking in tongues: Actual language like Chinese you have studied? Unknown language that only the spirit understands?

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

However, very few in these groups will say that everyone else is automatically lost and condemned. We agree on far more than we disagree on.

In the paper, M. Bar-Ilan, ‘Illiteracy in the Land of Israel in the First Centuries C.E.’, we learn that the literacy rate among Jews in the Christian century would have been no higher than 3%. For a people of the book, there were precious few of them capable of reading it. (M. Bar-Ilan, ‘Illiteracy in the Land of Israel in the First Centuries C.E.’, S. Fishbane, S. Schoenfeld and A. Goldschlaeger (eds.), Essays in the Social Scientific Study of Judaism and Jewish Society, II, New York: Ktav, 1992, pp. 46-61.)  https://faculty.biu.ac.il/Given this low rate of literacy, it is curious that god would make a highly complex and intricate set of texts the primary way god delivered his message. The vast majority of Christian truth claims can only be found in the Bible. So it is critical to understand it well. It is somewhat ironic that the people least capable of synthesizing written information are the ones most called to do so. That situation has not changed in the modern era. Psychology Today reports that from a review of 63 studies, there is a negative correlation between religiosity and education. Again, the world’s most religious people have the least education to support it.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

I am not surprised on the supposed connection between religiosity and education seeing as much of education is extremely anti-religious. Getting to Johnson’s main claim, what would he propose instead? A book is a steady and objective form of communication. Would he prefer constant personal communication like many Mormons claim? Were Christianity based on people allegedly having God talk to them regularly and tell them about the life of Jesus, are we to think Johnson’s skepticism would disappear?

Not only that, but the Bible has led to the rise of literacy throughout the world. Christians have been known as people of the book and developed the codex to aid in reading and set up educational facilities and universities for study. Since Johnson can read, he should thank the church.

On another point, he later says:

And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) Justin puts a lot of stock in the resurrection of Jesus. But he, like many others, is focusing on the wrong resurrection. They should be talking about the one where many dead saints came out of their graves in the big city, and appeared to many people. This should be the most well-attested, undisputed resurrection miracle of them all. It isn’t. The reason why Christians do not focus on this resurrection story is because as a historical event, it is completely made up. It simply never happened. What’s more, they know it didn’t happen. And they are embarrassed by it.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Ah yes. Christians never talk about that because it never happened. Never mind that up until this point, we have been accepting that Christian claims are true for the sake of argument, but I guess that Scripture is wrong was suddenly inserted in. It’s almost like Johnson is inconsistent.

So why do Christians not talk about this? Because what difference does it make? Let’s suppose we never knew about the resurrection of Lazarus. Have we lost anything ultimately in Christianity? Has Christianity changed fundamentally? Not at all. That’s because Jesus’s resurrection is different in kind. A resurrection alone doesn’t bring salvation and change history. Jesus’s did. Jesus began new creation by a resurrection of a different nature and verifying His claims.

Not only that, but we just don’t know a lot about the Matthew 27 resurrection, assuming it to be a historical event. How many people were raised? With what kind of bodies were they raised? Did they just pass through or did they keep living? The text doesn’t tell us.

There is no need to quote it here. We all know the saying about the mustard seed. Jesus was making a point about the kingdom, and highlighted the mustard seed as the smallest seed of them all. In fairness, this is exactly what any Palestine man might have said who knew anything about botany.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

It could be entirely that Jesus was saying that it was the smallest seed that they used. That would not be a problem. However, the word micros is also used to describe children, which doesn’t mean the smallest child is the most valuable. It is saying that for the people of the time, the mustard seed was the least valuable seed, but it still could grow into something great. Either way works fine.

One of the easiest examples is this little nugget: Give to everyone who asks and don’t ask people to return what they have taken from you. Luke 6:30 A shorter and surer road to poverty, I have never seen. There is no context where any part of this advice makes sense. And Christians know it. Not one of them lives this way. Watch how I improve this advice just by saying the opposite:

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Yet in the world of Jesus, if someone was bigger than you, what could you do? Run to the police? Especially if the person was a Roman, they were the police. What is being said here is to not escalate violence. Johnson takes this from one setting, puts it in another, and then declares it invalid.

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:16-21 Ask yourself: What did the man in the story actually do wrong? Was it the fact that he had worked hard and done well for himself? Was it the fact that he could retire with confidence and enjoy the rest of his life without excessive labor? What was his real crime? It was that Jesus thinks savings are bad because one is relying on his own work, and not god’s providence.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

What did he do wrong? Greed. This man was only thinking of himself and what he could do and didn’t care about God or the world around Him. It is nothing against savings, of which the average person in Jesus’s audience would have none of.

Now Johnson could have studied any of these, but alas, we have an agenda.

When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, my imagination abandons me as I try to come up with something even stupider to say. Even if you don’t want to tell a person to fight back and defend yourself, here are a few other things one could try: • Run like the wind. • Fall to the ground. Curl up in a ball. And cry like a baby. • Beg for mercy. • Start praying for your enemy right there on the spot. Are any of these great pieces of advice? Probably not. But they are all infinitely better than defiantly turning the other cheek so that it makes an easy and inviting target for further assault. What Jesus says on this matter can get you killed. Do not do it at any time, for any reason.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

A slap on the cheek was a personal insult. It was not a cause of assault. Jesus is again telling people to not escalate violence. Yet if all of these show the intense ignorance of Johnson, the next one really puts it in full display in flashing neon lights.

Do you have two eyes and two hands? Jesus might wonder why. He famously said that if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it right out of your head. And if your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off with a sharp blade. Why are there so few one-eyed, one-armed Christians who have self-mutilated? Because they are not stupid enough to follow the advice of a mad man.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Every atheist and agnostic who contributed to this book should be ashamed to have their work alongside someone who writes like this. Jews spoke in hyperbole. They would have understood the point. Get to the root of the matter. No one would have understood Jesus as telling them to mutilate their own bodies.

Did you know that if you as much as looked at a woman with sexual desire in your heart, Jesus deems it the same as the physical act of adultery? That was a particularly incendiary thing to say in a place and time when adultery was a death penalty offense. Did you know that hating a person is the same as physically murdering a person? It is to Jesus. He said so. Do I even need to say more about the moral intuition of a person who can’t work out the difference between hating and killing?

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Jesus says that if you look at the woman with the purpose of desiring her, it is as adultery. He also says similar about hating your brother. Why? Because if you do these things in your heart, what will stop you from doing them in real life? The moment you think the benefits outweigh the consequences. Again, deal with the root and you can avoid murder and adultery both.

Unfortunately, this is not the last chapter by Johnson. He seems to have more than anyone else in the book, which is a shame.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening The Muslim World?

What is happening in the Muslim world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I really want to tell you a lot about what is in this book. I really do. The problem is that I think as soon as I tell you a story, I am going to be spoiling something great in the book that you will enjoy. This is a powerful book full of hope and I don’t want to ruin that for you.

Basically, what is happening in the Muslim world is dreams and visions of Jesus. One noted example not in this book, but recorded in his own book, is Nabeel Qureshi, who started having dreams about Jesus before he became a Christian. These dreams are so prevalent that some ads are being taken out in papers overseas with a picture of Jesus and saying that if you have seen this man in a dream, here’s who to call.

Normally, what happens also in these dreams is Jesus appears, but then someone else will come along, who either Jesus in the dreams has said would come along and are described, or there is no description and the dream recipient finds someone they think they can trust. In the end, many of these people become Christians. These can sometimes be some of the people who are hardest against Christianity. This could even include people in an organization like Hamas.

And usually, these people are ready to die for Jesus.

I read this book a chapter a day like I usually do with books and found it quite powerful. What I would regularly do at the end of a chapter, and I encourage you to do so as well, is to stop then and pray a prayer for the people involved in the chapter. This book will give you a sense of excitement in what is going on in the Muslim world.

Not only this, but the author also gives you tips on how to communicate with Muslims. He understands the hesitancy that a lot of people have with Muslims. He used to have it. You hear stories in the news about Muslim terrorists and it’s easy to assume all Muslims are like that. Probably about 10% of Muslims in the world are according to the author. The rest are probably people you wouldn’t mind having as neighbors. They just want to live their lives peacefully.

Islam may seem to be growing, but in many cases, this is because of birth rate. Muslims have a lot of children. However, these dreams could be indicating that something is happening in the Muslim world as more and more people are leaving and becoming devout Christians.

Story after story left me amazed and again, I really don’t know what I could share from this book without spoiling it. It’s not often I get a book any more and I am more and more excited to see what the next chapter is, but this was one such exception. Please be praying for the Muslim world and those doing Christian work to evangelize over there. God is at work among Muslims and we should want to take part in it.

Get your copy of the book here.

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

Reading Disagreeing Material

Do you have guarded reading? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I encounter internet atheists, I usually ask them the same question. When was the last time you read an academic work on the topic that disagrees with you? The overwhelming majority of the time, I get nothing back. I find this fascinating since these people claim to be champions of reason and evidence, but are often only interested in seeing it from their perspective.

Yes. Sadly, too many Christians who argue do the same thing. Still, I do notice that it seems we do it less. I can’t claim to have data for this, but when I see Christians engage with atheists, many of them know the atheist arguments and can in many cases articulate them better.

I’m on pages for debate between Christians and Mormons. What do I notice? Christians seem a lot more familiar with Mormon arguments than the other way around. The same happens with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses I see nowadays don’t even get the Trinity described right, confusing it with modalism, let alone know how to argue against it.

For Muslims, I still remember a day several years ago when I was engaging with a Muslim online and in it I asked him “Have you ever read the New Testament?” He replied, “No. Have you ever read the Qur’an?” I am sure he expected a negative back, but unfortunately for him, he didn’t get it. I had indeed read it. Now, I have read it twice.

When Mormons come to visit me, I can assure them I have read all of their Scriptures and a number of other pro-Mormon writings. When a new Bart Ehrman book comes out, I’m one of the first to get it. I had this last one so quickly that when it came out, some of my professors on campus asked me what I thought of it.

When I read Christian writings arguing for their positions against their opponents, I find they constantly reference primary sources they disagree with. I have written long ago that sadly, atheist writers often don’t do this. Reading through them, I can tell. When you meet atheists espousing Jesus mythicism or saying “If God created everything, who created God?” and treating it like that refutes the cosmological argument, it’s clear that they don’t know the material.

As a Christian, if you do this, the advantage you have is that first off, you know the material that you are going up against. No one can know it exhaustively, but you know it enough to be familiar. A general rule of thumb is that before you argue against a position, you ought to be able to theoretically argue persuasively FOR that position. If you can’t make that case without making it a total joke, you probably don’t know the position at all.

This also increases your humility. Doing this is a way of saying “I could be wrong and I want to know.” If you are of the mindset that you don’t have to read the other side because you already know they’re bunk, odds are the only person being fooled is you.

Third, as a Christian, this can show you flaws in your own positions that you hold. Sometimes, you might change your mind. Other times, you can see a weakness and refine your position. Sometimes, you might find something you agree with in the writing. I can say I have learned from reading the material that I disagree with.

There can be something we can learn from so many other positions. I have said before that Richard Dawkins when writing about theism or philosophy or anything outside of his area has no clue and is just a train wreck. When he writes about science, what you would consider the most ordinary of all is made wondrous and alive and I could read him all day. The best work Dawkins does for science is not when he argues against Christianity. He does great damage to science then. The best work he does is when he just writes about science as science. He doesn’t tie his worldview into it. He just describes it. If he did this more often, he would encourage more people of all worldviews to go into science and study it.

Definitely if you’re an apologist, read what you disagree with. I’m always going through at least one book I disagree with on Kindle. I started a new one just recently, but before that, I had returned to some Islamic hadiths. The learning is always beneficial.

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