Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Part 7

Can we pull a rabbit out of a hat? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

And for his next trick, Madison is going to try to convince us that Jesus taught we can do magic. Well, of course we can! I mean, it takes years of practice and learning how to trick people but get a wand and a hat and a book of tricks and….wait…you mean it’s not that kind of magic? Oh! You mean he thinks miracles and things like that are automatically magic!

Sorry. I forget evangelistic atheists are just ignorant and like to use the word magic as if that discredits everything.

Now you’re not going to find anything here like a reasoned case against miracles. I mean, at least throw out David Hume or something like that. But hey, when you’re arguing from his position, who needs to make a case for his worldview? It’s just those nutty Christians that have to defend theirs.

So let’s get to something he says about the Lord’s Supper.

The familiar words we know from Mark’s gospel, “this is my body…this is my blood of the new covenant,” are missing from John’s account of the Last Supper. Instead, much earlier in the story, in the 6th chapter of John, after Jesus had fed the 5,000, we find these words—and no matter how familiar you may be with communion—how can they not be disturbing?

 

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. (John 6:53-57, NRSV)

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 51-52). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Let’s agree on one point. These words should be very disturbing indeed! They were so disturbing that a majority of the people who had just witnessed a miracle and were ready to proclaim Jesus to be king turned and walked away. Jesus went straight from hero to zero in their eyes. They were at one moment ready to trust Him as king and the next they gave up any trust in Him.

So for a point, let’s consider Madison is right. We need to really take these words seriously.

Do I think Jesus is talking about the Eucharist here? No. I think instead that Jesus is pointing to the Wilderness wanderings and saying “Just as the manna was their sustenance in the wilderness, so it is that I must be your sustenance in all things.” Now you could say “And that takes place in the Eucharist” if you’re of that persuasion, but it is not a necessity.

Now moving on, we get this little gem:

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. (John 14:13-14, NRSV) Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24, NRSV)

I suspect many Christians know these texts are falsified by their own prayer experiences. I urge you to think long and hard about prayer. How can it not be classified as a form of magical thinking? In many cases, even an attempt at conjuring?

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 53). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

There’s a rule of interpretation that is to try to avoid making what your opponent say look as stupid as possible. If you think your opponent is saying something that is manifestly false, you need to check to see if you have misunderstood Him. Unfortunately, Madison has not done that.

For one thing, it should be blatantly obvious Jesus is not offering a blank check because any prayer that would come back unanswered would immediately disprove that. What is He offering then? He is offering that if you are fully in line with the will of God, you will get what you want, and very few people will be in such a place and if they are, they are not going to be asking for selfish things.

Not only that, but ancient Jews spoke in terms of hyperbole. When Salome dances for Herod, he offers her half of his kingdom. She could have just asked for the one that gave her authority to execute John the Baptist and got him executed and a kingdom then. Everyone knew he couldn’t give that literally. He himself knew it. They also knew what the gesture meant.

Madison doesn’t because he doesn’t understand any culture but his own.

But Madison isn’t done with prayer.

But how do the thoughts inside our heads—trapped there by our skulls—escape to be perceived by God? There are no known mechanisms by which that would work, just as there are no known ways by which the popular spells in the Harry Potter stories would work. Nobody even tries to explain how the Fairy God Mother in Cinderella, waving a wand, changes a pumpkin into a carriage—because that’s fantasy. Does prayer amount to waving a wand in our minds? The efficacy of prayer should not be off-limits for legitimate inquiry. Indeed, scientific studies of prayer have not yielded hoped-for results.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 53-54). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

I am sitting here and typing out a response and I am telling my hands through my brain to type. How does that work? I have no idea. Do I conclude then that I am not doing it because I do not know the mechanism by which this works? Not at all. How does God know what I am praying? As a Thomist, I contend He knows all things by knowing Himself, but even if I don’t understand that, a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing I am sure knows what I am thinking.

Madison dismisses prayer studies. I am skeptical of them as well, but then there are researchers like Candy Gunther-Brown and others who have observed miracles after prayer in certain settings. Of course, if Madison were being fair, he would research those, but we all know he won’t.

The last thing I plan to cover is he says there are two things that are troubling about prayer.

The concept of prayer brings us face-to-face, again, with the grim specter of totalitarian monotheism, that is to say, God monitors our very thoughts—the ultimate invasion of privacy for every person on earth. Doesn’t that make God a nosy busybody? Aside from the fact that there is no verifiable evidence to back up this idea—our feelings about prayer instilled since childhood are not the kind of hard evidence required—it’s simply a terrible idea.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 54). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

A terrible idea, therefore wrong. Got it. Besides that nonsense, why should I think I have a right to privacy from God? I owe everything to Him, including my very being. Also, if there is evidence that God exists, and there is, and that He’s all-knowing, and there is, then Madison’s claim is false. God knows what I am thinking. Yes, that should concern me, but knowing He is forgiving should also relieve me and I should seek to get my own thought life under control. Does Madison seriously have a problem with me wanting to have a good thought life?

It is incredibly implausible that a God who manages the cosmos, that is, who has hundreds of billions of galaxies, and trillions of planets under management, would be interested in monitoring the thoughts of more than seven billion human beings—as a way of keeping track of their sinful inclinations, their need for a parking space, or recovery from an ailment. Such an attentive God might have made sense long ago when the earth was regarded as the center of his attention, and when God was thought to reside in the realm above the clouds.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 54-55). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

This is just an appeal to incredulity. First off, the Christians never made the Earth the center of everything. God has always been. Second, God does not have limited resources or strength such that He has to use energy monitoring trillions of planets and everything else.

So alas, Madison again really gives us nothing.

We’ll continue next time.

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

 

 

Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Chapter 4

Will you give me everything you have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Remember the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Well, David Madison doesn’t like that commandment.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, ponder the implications of this text for your own life. Is it even possible to give God all? And why does the powerful God who is described as self-sufficient require this level of commitment—a level that few, if any, believers even strive for, let alone attain.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 31). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

So in Christian thinking, God is the greatest good of all, the one who gives every good gift, redeems eventually from every suffering, forgives all your sin, loves you beyond measure, and everything else. Please, make sure you don’t overdo it in loving Him back.

God calls for the best and He deserves the best. What would it say if Jesus had said, “Oh, and make sure you give a little bit of honor to this God dude. Alright?”

He also talks about Ananias and Sapphira as an example and says most Christians either ignore it or explain it away.

I guess explain it away means “Give an explanation for it.”

Quite simple. They were never required to give everything. Peter says so in the text. They could have kept back some of it for themselves had they wanted. The problem was dishonesty and lying. They wanted to get all the glory for giving it all. For the fledgling church, it was needed to show that God is still serious about sin.

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. (Mark 12:43-44, NRSV) This script fits Mark’s theme about extreme commitment earlier in the same chapter, and religious bureaucrats have commonly championed “giving until it hurts.” Yes, it’s a legitimate point that the rich don’t deserve high praise for giving away what they won’t miss, but commending the poor widow for her deed? That’s another matter. Under any normal, rational idea of what makes sense, it was not smart that the widow “put in all she had to live on.” It’s more logical to wonder why Jesus didn’t help her get the money back. Why would Jesus commend a mindset that prompts a widow to give away—to a mammoth religious bureaucracy—all the money she has to live on?

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 33). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Something to note here is all Jesus says is she gave more than the others did since she gave all she had to live on. He never directly praises her. Could He have been doing that in showing her faithfulness? Yes. Could it be though that the temple was charging higher taxes and she had to give in all that she had? Also, yes. Did Jesus do anything to help this widow out after? The text doesn’t say.

So what about this one?

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (Luke 14:33 NRSV) Certainly this teaching has not stood the test of time. Even the most faithful believers pay little or no attention to it—sure evidence that Christians wish Jesus hadn’t said it.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 34-35). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Actually, the original text doesn’t say possessions. It says all that he has. Looking at the text, what Jesus is talking about is total devotion. Don’t start building a tower unless you are ready to give it your all to finish it. Don’t go to war unless your all is sufficient to handle it. In the same way, if you want to be a disciple, make sure you’re all in.

Which would be standard for a disciple if he wanted to be devoted to a master’s teaching.

So once again, Madison gets basic things wrong that simple research could have answered.

We’ll continue next time.

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

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Improbable Issues With The God Hypothesis Part 7

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

It’s always amazing to me when someone like Brucker mocks Christians for going against the reigning orthodoxy in science which is evolution. Now whether you agree with it or not, it is absolutely true that evolution is the reigning scientific theory now. If someone goes against it, they need strong evidence. Brucker would accept that, but then he goes against the hugely overwhelming number of New Testament scholars of all theological viewpoints.

He can do that, but he needs really good evidence. While Moses is covered, I am going to focus on Jesus.

If such men were to have existed and the fantastic powers that are described of them were to have happened, then the historical data ought to match up without a doubt. When comparing these individuals with what the historical data represents, there exists nothing but doubt.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 119). Kindle Edition.

This assumes that everyone would have believed the claims of miracle working and then that those people who would be capable of writing would write it. Never mind also that there are plenty of historical figures that were written about much later than their time, such as Hannibal, Queen Boudica, or the German general Arminius. When Vesuvius erupted, we have only an off-the-cuff remark in a dialogue between Pliny and Tacitus. There are allusions, but historians aren’t writing about it. It’s not until we get to Cassius Dio that we learn that Herculaneum was also destroyed. Who wrote about the destruction of Jerusalem, a major event? Josephus.

Brucker just doesn’t know how history works.

The very idea that a supernatural and all-knowing creator must send his very son – who is also himself – to relinquish the born-in-sin from people whom he prescribed, absolutely seems irrational once analyzed objectively.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (pp. 124-125). Kindle Edition.

Since that hasn’t been analyzed objectively by Brucker, it’s a wonder how he would know. Also, if Brucker wants to talk about the Trinity, he should learn about the topic. Brucker would not put up with any Christian speaking on evolution who hasn’t studied it, and he shouldn’t, but he will speak freely on matters he knows nothing about.

The story abruptly ends with that, but in the book of Luke, it is described that, as a boy, Jesus visits the holy temple to sacrifice simply two doves as an offering to their God. After that, he returns home with Mary and Joseph where again, the story ends.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 126). Kindle Edition.

What a bizarre story! Did he not look at the text? The visit to the temple was the circumcision of Jesus and yet Jesus is the one offering the two doves? Jesus is also a their now? Did Brucker not edit this work at all? Did he not study the text at all?

Three of the four gospels again pick up with Jesus’ baptism being performed by the conspicuously-named John the Baptist.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 126). Kindle Edition.

Ah yes. Conspicuously named. It never occurs to Brucker that maybe he was called John the Baptist because he, I don’t know, baptized. Brucker must think any title or nickname was a conspicuous name. This is not someone who is an intellectual at all. He really seems to think that his parents nicknamed him “The Baptist” and he just started baptizing people. (No word on if he prepared casseroles or ate fried chicken.)

It’s apparent that not all four have corroborating accounts, which is in and of itself problematic.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 128). Kindle Edition.

Which actually means that they didn’t collude and didn’t try to work out the edges. That would mean that we have independent accounts which is somehow a problem? Go to most any event in history and you will find supposed inconsistencies between the accounts. The central core is still there regardless.

So now, let’s look at Brucker’s four main points.

1. The events, including miracle work, would have found their way into secular writing. 2. The Epistles written by Paul would have corroborated such events. 3. The Gospels were written much later than the Epistles were written by Paul, suggesting that many elements could have been fabricated. 4. Jesus resembles other demigods from that period of history.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 129). Kindle Edition.

For 1, Brucker gives us no reason to think this. I have written about why this is not the case.

For 2, Paul’s letter were situational and assumed high background knowledge on the part of the listeners. He was not writing to give a biography.

For 3, they could be fabricated, but he needs to show that. For instance, why do the Gospels consistently use the term “Son of Man” when it doesn’t show up abundantly in the epistles or even the church fathers? Why do they not talk about issues so often that Gentile Christians were concerned with? Why do the resurrection accounts not contain any Scriptural citations explaining the doctrine of the atonement?

For 4, this is simply not the case. The largest collection I know of online can be found here. Most scholars today don’t really take this hypothesis seriously and even Ehrman argues against it in Did Jesus Exist?

There exists only one some-what contemporary account of John the Baptist outside of New Testament writings, done so by the Jewish scholar Josephus from the first century CE. In his work Antiquities of the Jews, he claims John the Baptist may have in fact been killed as a result of his growing popularity among the Jewish community. If this was true, it most certainly disputes the Biblical claim presented.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 130). Kindle Edition.

Why? Let’s consider both claims are true. Herod arrested John because he was popular and wanted to silence them, came to like him, and then reluctantly put him to death based on his foolish oath. Problem resolved. Can I prove this is what happened? No, but if it could have happened that way and it’s easy to picture, then the burden is on Brucker.

Of course, Brucker writes about miracles and how they violate science. It’s as if he thinks ancient people didn’t understand how the world worked. Brucker assumes an approach that says miracles can’t happen without giving an argument for it.

Little evidence has been discovered linking his presence in Jerusalem during what would have been Jesus’ court appearance. Though not much is known of the man, historians and literature experts do believe he may have been an important figure in Judea during that time. From a stone tablet found in Judea in 1961 bearing the phrase “Pontius Pilate…Prefect of Judea…Has Dedicated”, it’s been common knowledge he reigned over Jerusalem, but most of the details remain unclear as much of it has been clouded in mystery.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 131). Kindle Edition.

I have never read of anyone doubting that Pilate was there. Maybe some have, but I haven’t read it. There can be no doubt that Pilate is a historical figure mentioned by others. (By the way, Tacitus mentions him one time and that is the same place he mentions Jesus, and this is someone Brucker doesn’t interact with.)

For that matter, he doesn’t interact with ANY extra-biblical references to the historical Jesus.

Finally, speaking about Moses and Jesus, he says:

Accepting the existence of such men has spawned nothing but hatred, bloodshed, bigotry, and ignorance.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 134). Kindle Edition.

Jesus presented the world with the greatest moral code we have ever had and the greatest incentive. He has provided hope and freedom to many. He has sponsored great artwork and literature and learning. True, some people have misused His life and message, but overall, the world is the better because of Jesus.

Brucker certainly has a chip on his shoulder quite likely driving his approach to the data.

Next time, we will conclude.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Improbable Issues With The God Hypothesis Part 6

Is the Bible history? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is one that seems to get worse as it goes along. So this chapter is talking about history. Let’s see what we have.

Throughout the Old Testament, when God is being quoted he’s often speaking in plurality – flying in the face of most religious apologists who adamantly insist on there being only one God.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 104). Kindle Edition.

Right. Right. Obviously, every apologist has a problem with this. There are plenty of reasons for plurality.

One is the Trinity is speaking.

Two is the royal three is being used.

Three is that God is speaking to the Divine Council.

Any of these would work. It’s hard to imagine why Brucker doesn’t know about these. Nah! It’s easy to! Brucker just hates contrary thought!

I will touch on the existence of Jesus later in this work, but it is understood by historians that the following who claimed Jesus as their Messiah believed in a very different Jesus than the man whom Paul would eventually describe. He was not God-made-man, and he did not die for our sins – merely a self-described prophet who rose from the dead after death. It wasn’t until Paul and others elaborated on those beliefs and carried on with such did there become a distinction between Judaism and Christianity. It is very possible that the Jesus as we commonly understand today is only the product of the human imagination.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 109). Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us who these historians are. The idea of Paul inventing Christianity was dealt a death blow years ago by E.P. Sanders. Since then, we know Paul fit in just fine with the Judaism of his time.

Jesus is said to have died roughly 33 CE, and Paul is said to have converted approximately 36 CE, but history tells us that Jewish and Judeo-Christians coexisted without quarrel for much longer than described.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 111). Kindle Edition.

It would be great to know which history this is. Does Brucker have one of Jews and Christians meeting together and holding hands and singing Kum-Bu-Yah?

Most who support the Christian faith may not know that the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – were not written by those who’ve been given the credit. In fact, most contemporary Biblical scholars would also agree with me on this point, alluding to the fact that the stories of Jesus may have only been an oral tradition for fifty to 100 years. I find it impossible to believe that the story of Jesus remained the same as it was when he supposedly lived until it was first written down.

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (pp. 111-112). Kindle Edition.

Brucker again doesn’t name any of these historians or why they think the way that they do. We accept authorship for other works on far weaker grounds than we do for the Gospels. Brucker can also say he finds it hard to believe a story remained the same. His disbelief is not an argument. (I plan on sometime soon doing a series on the Gospels with dating and authorship.)

If Christianity was true, and what is being taught today is meant to be believed as the word of God, why would it take such time to formulate the Gospels? If Jesus’ apostles were real, why would history suggest they weren’t the likely authors?

Brucker, J. D.. Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis (p. 112). Kindle Edition.

First, history doesn’t suggest that.

Second, writing was a laborious process, took a long time, cost a lot of money, and could only reach the people who could read and their audience. Oral tradition was free, reliable, quick, and could reach anyone who spoke. On the surface, Brucker’s question is understandable, but alas, it totally ignores the fact that this was a pre-Gutenberg society.

Next time, we look at the historicity of Jesus. Brucker does talk some about Moses, but I will choose to focus on Jesus.

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

Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 7

Are those verses really about Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this section, Perry asks if some passages are really about Jesus. Let’s go through them.

The use of Joel 2:32 in Rom 10:13.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, ‘Lord Jesus’, and shalt believe in thine heart that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…For there is no difference between the Jew
and the Greek: for the same lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. Whosoever shall call
upon the name kyrios shall be saved. Rom 10:9-13 (KJV revised)
On the basis of the mention of the Lord Jesus in v. 9, it is assumed that ‘same lord over all’ and ‘call upon
the name kyrios’ equally refer to Jesus. Hence, Capes avers, “Since ku,rioj refers to Jesus in 10:9, he
probably had Jesus in mind here also.”

And this seems quite accurate to me, but what does Perry say?

An allusion or echo of Joel 2:32 exists in, “with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ
our Lord” (1 Cor 1:2). This places Jesus into the position of the saviour that Yahweh occupies in the
‘calling’ of Joel 2:32. It could be used to support the claim of Capes about Rom 10:13 but, equally, we
should observe that the name ‘Yhwh’ is not referenced in 1 Cor 1:2. Since salvation is a matter of God working through Jesus, the appeal for salvation can be described directly in terms of Joel 2:32 and
Yahweh or in allusive terms referring to Christ.

An allusion? It’s an outright quote. Paul doesn’t speak of Jesus as a representative. He speaks of Him as the Lord. The name YHWH is not referenced in 1 Cor. 1:2? What of it? We have Romans 10:9 right there and right next to it 10:13. Wouldn’t that be a better go-to?

The expression ‘lord of all’ evokes God’s rule over the nations (Jew and Greek). In 1 Chron 29:11-12,
Yahweh is ‘head above all’ (LXX has, differently, ‘lord of all’) and ‘riches’ are also said to come from him
in this text. These two points of contact suggest that Paul is quoting from this prayer, but it is also
common enough to address Yahweh in these terms (e.g. 2 Chron 20:6).
This in turn suggests that the use of Joel 2:32 is also a reference to Yahweh ‘calling upon the name of
the Lord’. This is a specific refrain74 in the Jewish Scriptures for invoking God to act as a saviour, see the
table below for examples.

Yet if we turned to Romans 9:5, we get that Jesus is God over all. The problem Perry has ultimately is “Well, if we take this and read it this way and look at it this way, it could possibly refer to this.” Maybe, but why should I pick that over the traditional interpretation that countless exegetes have said instead?

Another example of commentators mistaking identity is the quotation of Jer 9:23-24 in 1 Cor 1:31,
That, according as it is written, ‘He that glorieth, let him glory in kyrios’. 1 Cor 1:31 (KJV); cf. 2 Cor
10:17
Thus saith Yhwh, ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his
might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he
understandeth and knoweth me, that I am Yhwh which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and
righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight’, saith Yhwh Jer 9:23-24 (KJV revised)
The principal actor in Paul’s treatise in 1 Cor 1:19-31 is God: God destroys (v. 19); he brings to nothing
(v. 19); he has made (v. 20); he saves (v. 21); he chooses (vv. 27-28); and he makes (v. 30). Christ is the
‘object’ in the discourse – the ‘Wisdom of God’. It follows that v. 31 is a simple use of kyrios for ‘Yhwh’
and that the believer is to boast in God’s acts. Accordingly, Capes is simply wrong to conclude, “As indicated by his description of Christ’s work in 1:30, Paul quoted this Yahweh text (ku,riojin LXX,hwhy
in the Hebrew text) and applied it to Christ.”On the contrary, in v. 30 Christ is God’s work! The
boasting is related to the acts of God.

Yet again, what is the problem here? If we say Jesus is the Wisdom of God, then this fits with it. You can either glory in the Father at the work of Jesus or glory in Jesus that He is the one through whom the Father acts and either one works with a Trinitarian mindset.

So getting back to 1 Cor. 8:6, Perry says:

1 Corinthians 8:6 distinguishes God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ with its prepositional
statements. If we compare these to 1 Cor 10:26, they disambiguate Paul’s quotation: the earth is ‘of the
Lord’ (tou/ kuri,ou) and it is God the Father ‘from whom’ or ‘out of whom’ are all things (evx ou).

And again, reading this from a Wisdom approach, what is the problem? This is exactly what I would expect.

While Perry goes in, I really don’t see anything interacting with this Wisdom approach.

We shall continue next time.

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

Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 4

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

What dose it mean to say Jesus is included in the divine identity?

If we consider relative identity (‘a is the same F as b’),45 it doesn’t seem that this framework will give us
an understanding for inclusive identity. Logically, two are one (the same) relative to their satisfying a
categorical predicate (‘the same F’; Fido and Pooch are the same breed’). Does Paul think that Jesus is the
same God as Yahweh? One doubt would be that he distinguishes them in terms of ‘God the Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ’. However, putting this doubt aside, if Paul believed that they were the same God,
this doesn’t necessarily imply that he is ‘including’ Jesus in the divine identity of Yahweh/God of Israel

Yet Perry never seems to define what is meant by this. Do we mean they are the same God? If you mean they are the same person, then no. I am not surprised that Jesus is differentiated from the Father. If anything, this convinces me. They needed two different ways to speak of them to avoid confusion.

The language of the divine nature deals with this. There are two persons at least that share the divine nature. Again, what that is needs to be fleshed out for us, but for the ancient audience in a high-context society familiar with Jewish thought, that would have been much better understood.

If we think of shared identity or group identity, these are examples of ‘inclusive’ identity. We might say
‘a is a member of the same class as b’. There are many gods and many lords and these would be classes in
which we might place the God of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ. Putting it in this way, doesn’t
obviously include Jesus in the class of many gods, but rather the class of many lords. In fact, 1 Cor 8:6
doesn’t lend itself to an inclusivity thesis, since Paul would seem to affirm that the “tous” class of gods
has only one member and likewise the “tous” class of lords. He assigns deity to the Father and lordship
to Jesus

IF Perry goes with this, then he would have to deny that the Father is Lord since the Father is not in the class of Lords but Jesus is. If Jesus not being in the category of gods means He cannot have the divine nature, then the Father not being included in the category of lords means He cannot have the nature of Lord. Is there any Jew that would remotely think that possible?

It is one thing to claim that Paul includes Jesus within the divine identity of the God of Israel; it is another
thing to show this worked out in his writing. We have noted the declarative quality of Christological
Monotheism. For example, we might ask whether (for Paul) it was God the Father that included Jesus
within his identity. If this were the case, and suppose that he did so through the bestowal of his Spirit
upon Jesus, does this have any implication as regards intrinsic deity in respect of Jesus? If Jesus is
included within the divine identity of the God of Israel, is the identity nevertheless still retained by the
God of Israel as his identity in such an inclusion?

Perry is responding more to adoptionism in this case than to Trinitarianism. First off, there is nothing that says Paul has to work this all out in his writing. In his society, his listeners would be expected to work that out and know the background knowledge to do that. Perry wants an ancient writing to read like a modern one.

Next time, we will look at some verses that seem to identify Jesus with YHWH in the New Testament.

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

 

Book Plunge: Still Unbelievable Part 7

What’s it like for someone falling away? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, we return to Sophie and her testimony. I really don’t want to speak ill of her at all. If anything, I have sympathy for her, especially since I think she was sold a false bill of goods on what the Christian experience was to be like. A lot of that will be in the conclusion. For now, let’s see what all she has to say. This one is about the dealbreakers.

With regards human suffering, Lane Craig and other theists on the Unbelievable? show, ultimately concede at some point, that we don’t know why there is so much horrendous suffering in the world but that it must be justified to some extent, as in God must have his reasons, or at the very least, things will be made right in the future. This, of course is conjecture, rather than any type of evidence.

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 how is this conjecture? If you accept that for the sake of argument there is a God who has the omni traits, then yes, there has to be a good reason why He allows this evil. It is up to the skeptic to show that there is no good reason, and that’s a hard sell to do. Not only this, but what do you gain in the problem of evil if you remove God? The evil is still there. You’ve just removed the solution. How is this a help?

Epicurus puts it best with his idea rejecting the notion of evil with an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. It can of course apply to suffering too. If God willing to prevent suffering, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
If he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
If he both able and willing? Then why is there suffering?
If he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? No amount of books, explanation, sermons and teaching will ever make theodicy go away for Christianity, nor can it, or the issue would be put to bed by now. It’s a continual stumbling block to belief, which is never truly answered, much less an explanation given as to why it has arisen in the first place. And this brings me to my next deal breaker.

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.

Except it has as even atheists will admit. This is the logical problem of evil and it hasn’t really been used since Plantinga wrote his work on the topic. There are still other versions of the argument from evil, but this one is not really used anymore except on the internet.

With no Satan, hell or human fall, there is no real explanation as to why evil and suffering exist. Even, the free will argument which somewhat relies on these constructs, and states, that if there is no possibility to sin, you cannot have free creatures who liberally come to love you, doesn’t work. This argument, often brought up on the show, completely misses the fact that God can in fact arrange paradise, with free will and exempt from suffering, pain and the devil. It’s called heaven.

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.

But everyone who is in the blessed presence of God is there by choice. That is a huge distinction and it is one atheists meet regularly. The first time I ever encountered this question was in a systematic theology class when a student asked it and that was over 20 years ago. I thought of the solution then and have spent more time refining it and I still haven’t seen a response to it.

Besides, like human parents, let’s be honest, God could just choose to forgive us. There is no need to murder anyone. It was making less and less sense.

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.

And again, questions like this have already been answered.

The gospels were oral traditions written decades after the death of Jesus with the earliest being Mark dated at around 70CE and ending with the discovery of the empty tomb, and the latest gospel being John, possibly as early as 90CE. They are all of anonymous authorship and certainly the earliest manuscripts didn’t include the title by which we know them today. They do not claim to be authored by eyewitnesses to any of the events they describe. They are not written by people who knew Jesus. We do not have the originals, only copies of copies of copies of copies of copies. They are written in Greek by educated people living in a different country to Palestine. Jesus’ disciples would have spoken Aramaic, were quite possibly illiterate and were living in Palestine. Jesus himself, other than some writing in the sand, leaves no written record (which would have been very helpful), nor did He ask anyone to make notes as they went along. In addition, major events are undocumented by other sources, such as when the graves spill out their dead onto the streets after the resurrection mentioned only in Matthew. If these are in fact gross error or made up, how are we to distinguish what else is or isn’t invented or erroneous in the text?

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.

There’s a lot here and I have written plenty on it elsewhere. Does Sophie know the dates of when other books in the ancient world were written and when the earliest manuscripts are and how far apart the events are from the writing? The Gospels are a goldmine by comparison to most ancient literature.

The books were supposedly anonymous. Are we to think that no one knew who the books came from? Someone delivering the scrolls would say who they were from. We only know who wrote Plutarch because one of his descendants tells us. Other sources are also silent on major events, such as the eruption of Vesuvius and that TWO towns were destroyed in the blast. I plan on doing a series on the Gospels eventually so I will save this for then.

There is a lot of stuff I am going to skip over as I have addressed it elsewhere, but I want to say something about this:

And, it doesn’t even begin to explain why God would prefer to continue hiding when He is apparently desperate to have a relationship with us.

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.

This is a great reason why I oppose the personal relationship model in that Christianity is about Jesus wanting to have a personal relationship with you. Christianity is about Jesus being king. There is not a lonely God out there who is desperately seeking to find someone to love.

I hope Sophie finds out sometime soon more information than the atheists have sold her. It’s a shame there weren’t better-informed Christians in her life.

Brace yourselves because next time it’s David Johnson again. *Groan*

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

 

 

Book Plunge: Obsessed With Blood Part 5

Does Baker have a case with the New Testament? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is easily the worst chapter of the book. There’s really not much about blood in here. It reads more as a compendium of bad arguments against the New Testament. What am I talking about? Well….

Josephus never mentions anything about Jesus of Nazareth, Paul or the Acts of the Apostles in any of his historical records. In reading the gospels and the book of Acts, the events that occurred would surely have been known by everyone, including the historian Josephus. The known world was still a very small place and events of this magnitude would have definitely been noticed. Christians and non-Christians alike, would have recorded them. Yet not surprisingly these things are only recorded in Christian writings.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 87). Kindle Edition.

The first part is just wrong. Most scholars agree that while the Testimonium has some interpolations in it, there is a part of it there that is accurate and part of what Josephus wrote. The second reference is not nearly as debated at all. Both of these refer to the historical Jesus.

For the second one, he gives us no reason why anyone would write about these events. He just assumes it. I often present skeptics today with many claims of miracles taking place all over the world today. How many are investigated? None. The ancient Roman world was also not interested in claims they would deem bizarre coming from communities that were full of the ignorant. Some things never change.

Not only that, very few people could write in the ancient world and if they could, there were many other things they were interested in. What about Josephus? Josephus was interested in things relevant to Jerusalem and Judaism. Why would he care about saying anything about miracles going on in a sect that was deemed heretical by Jews at the time? As I have said before, in the ancient world, Jesus was not worth talking about.

It is very important to understand that not one of the New Testament writers actually witnessed the events they wrote about. In other words, they were writing hearsay. Secondhand accounts as told by supposed witnesses of the events recorded in the Gospels and Acts. Certainly, this cannot be considered as reliable information. The followers of any leader, religious or otherwise, most definitely exaggerate the character of the people they follow.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 87-88). Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately, not a single citation about this is given and if this was even true and Baker went with this consistently, he would have to throw out the majority of ancient history. However, there is no interaction with works like Redating the New Testament. There is no interaction with conservative arguments for early dates or even people like James Crossley, an agnostic who argues Mark was even written in the 40’s.

Fortunately for the writers of the New Testament, several of the Old Testament prophets spoke of a messiah, a savior who would put to death the enemies of God. So all the followers of Jesus had to do was start spreading the word that He was the prophesied messiah, the Son of God! Even though this was a slap in the face to many Jews, those desperate for change and freedom after years of oppression from the Roman Republic would easily follow such a belief. The early Christian church was still predominantly a Jewish sect that had simply added the belief Jesus was the prophesied messiah. Followers of this teaching were called “Jewish Christians.”

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 89-90). Kindle Edition.

Again, no citation is given for any of this. Why would they believe they could get freedom and oppression from Jesus? He was crucified by Rome. That was a dealbreaker. The only reason they would is they believed Jesus had already conquered by rising from the dead. Baker does not understand the social culture of the ancient world at all.

In the book of Acts we see Saul, a Roman and supposed persecutor of Christians, have an encounter with the long dead Jesus while travelling to his home in Damascus. Saul was convinced by a blinding apparition of light and a heavenly voice to take the message of Christ to the Gentiles. After a rather dubious miracle that restored his eyesight, he changed his name and became the Apostle Paul, writer of more than half the New Testament.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 90). Kindle Edition.

I am curious what he means by a supposed persecutor. I don’t know any scholar in the field really who doubts this. It is also unclear what is meant by a dubious miracle. I can understand saying “I don’t think the account is historical”, but I think if someone loses their eyesight and suddenly upon prayer has it back, it’s not dubious to think a miracle has taken place.

Although places like Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth and Athens looked magnificent, they were also home to tens of thousands of poor, desperate people who were the perfect audience for the Christian message of eternal life by faith, and not by works.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 91). Kindle Edition.

Look. I am fully Protestant apologist and I do believe in justification by faith definitely, but that was not the main message that would be preached, but rather the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Also, Jews at the time would actually think that they were not saved by works either. They were saved by being part of the covenant people. They would have to ask if they would truly be part of the covenant people if they became Christians. I actually recommend Baker read Paul Was Not A Christianwhich I have reviewed here. It is written by a non-Christian Jewish New Testament scholar and clarifies a number of points, even though I have a number of criticisms per my blog.

In much the same way, we have seen the prolific increase in the past century of religions such as the Latter Day Saints and Christian scientists. They have a basis in Christianity, yet their teachings differ, sometimes greatly, from the original. But still having recognizable themes interwoven throughout their theology makes them more readily acceptable. The one true God, that both Jews and gentiles alike were familiar with, began to evolve into something totally different.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 94). Kindle Edition.

Both of these groups also arose in America which has very different ways of handling movements like these than the Roman Empire did. In the Roman Empire, not embracing the Roman gods in any way was treason. Jews being an ancient sect were granted leniency so long as they at least sacrificed for and prayed for the emperor. This has not been the case in America.

It is also true the Mormons had some persecution, but they also had soldiers known as Danites who were willing to fight for them. Not only that, they could easily pick up and move somewhere else. Eventually, they moved all the way out west to Utah. As for Christian Science, it was never really a movement that presented the problems that Mormons did so it was live and let live.

The ancient world was not like this.

Now, let’s talk about the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

I recently read a popular Christian rebuttal for this fact, and in the interest of fairness; I thought I would share it with you:

“This sort of objection [Paul not mentioning the virgin birth] demonstrates a lack of realization that there is NO relevance for the virgin birth in the places where it is lacking mention. Remember, the NT materials were written to people who ALREADY believed the Gospel. By the time they were reading this stuff, they had already accepted all of the basic tenets, and already had all the basic information.”

This would be a good defense except the Bible is supposed to be inspired for instruction and teaching – Surely God would want believers who were not around at the time of Paul’s writing, to also learn about this important point concerning His Son! If these believers already knew all the basic teachings, why did Paul say he could not write to them as spiritually mature but as mere infants in Christ?

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 97-98). Kindle Edition.

Baker might not realize it, but he isn’t even touching the argument. It is as if the audience of Paul can only believe what they read in a letter from him, which is Scripture, and get absolutely nothing from oral tradition. So, if the virgin birth is part of background knowledge, Paul would not have needed to mention it. Baker is assuming though that it wasn’t and then saying “Paul didn’t mention it so it couldn’t have been part of their knowledge.” He is essentially using circular reasoning.

Finally, why could Paul say they were not being spiritually mature? Simple. Maturity is not about having a lot of knowledge. Fans of a show like The Big Bang Theory can easily say Sheldon Cooper has a lot of knowledge. Does he have a lot of maturity? Not at first definitely. Fans of the series like myself see him growing throughout the series. Knowledge does not equal maturity.

During this translation from Hebrew to Greek it appears the translator made a mistake. Erroneously translating the Hebrew word almah into the Greek word parthenos which means virgin. Almah actually means, a young women or maid. There is even one case where the word almah is used to refer to an adulteress.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

There is no citation here from Baker and I cannot find where the word Almah is used to refer to an adulteress. The only possible reference could be the way of a man with a maid in Proverbs 30 not being understood, but that does not mean an adulteress. Men do crazy things around women they’re just attracted to.

So we have no reason for thinking this is a mistranslation then.

The writer of Matthew, familiar only with the erroneous Greek translation jumped to the crazy conclusion that Jesus, being the prophesied messiah, had to be born of a virgin. His understanding of Greek Mythology, which had several gods born of virgins, may have added to this delusion.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

Baker then assumes that Matthew made this up since this had to be the case for the Messiah, but no reason is given why he would do this. This would automatically be admitting Jesus was born out of wedlock. It would be a mark of shame to skeptics and would only be accepted by people who were believers, that is, those who already believed in the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

Finally, we have this:

If Jesus really was the messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, don’t you think that the Jewish people would have accepted him as such? The Jews had been living and studying the prophecies regarding their messiah for the previous 700 years or so – surely they would have been in the best position to verify this claim. They didn’t. They never have.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 103-104). Kindle Edition.

Well, no. I don’t. Jews sadly have a history of rejecting YHWH and His prophets. Why think when the greatest one of all who was YHWH Himself that things would be any different? Baker gives us no reason. He just assumes that they would be right about who the Messiah was.

By the way, this is also someone who claims to be a freethinker but apparently wants those people who had “bronze age beliefs” to determine what he should think.

Amusing in a sense.

We shall continue next time.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian Chapter 10

Does the Trinity contradict Math? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Once again, Buzzard pretty much has one main argument and that is how he keeps playing the game over and over. Here, he wants to keep stressing that there is one God. The Jews at the time of Jesus would have said they worshipped one God. This is never challenged in the New Testament. Nor should it be! Buzzard apparently doesn’t know that Trinitarianism doesn’t challenge this either. In reality, we couldn’t be Trinitarians if there was more than one God.

He says that the important point about Messiah is that He is a human representative. If He is God Himself, then we have two who are God and biblical monotheism is threatened. One would have hoped that by this point, Buzzard would have moved beyond this argument, but no. If you made a drinking game based on how many times he presented this argument, you would die of alcohol poisoning before finishing the book. (Except for my fellow Baptists as we would just have drunk a lot of grape juice.)

He says that in the Shema, Trinitarians have done verbal acrobatics to argue that one does not mean one. No. None of us have. Now there have been arguments that echad can refer to a compound unity, which is true, but no one has denied that an echad is one. One reads this wanting to see if Buzzard will ever get it through his head that his opponents believe in one God. I don’t know what position Buzzard is arguing against, but it sure isn’t one his opponents hold.

We have talked already about how he says the sense of the Greek word eis when used of Jesus and God is that they are one person. This is the game Buzzard plays. When we point to our interpretation, we are adding to the text. When Buzzard says eis means one person instead of just, you know, one, that’s solid and faithful interpretation!

Rules for thee, but not for me!

It’s arguments like this that lead me to think Buzzard is just being dishonest. He is counting on the average Christian reading this not being skilled in Biblical interpretation, and sadly, he will likely be right. We have plenty of Christians who will be able to jump to Revelation and argue for the rapture, but they won’t have a clue how to answer someone like this.

We have a problem.

He has also brought up the claim of Jesus and the rich man with Jesus asking “Why do you call me good?” This is one we have already dealt with in this series. He also says James was a unitarian also saying that you believe God is one? Good. So do the demons, and they tremble. Well, yes, but again, I as a Trinitarian will say the exact same statement. God is one.

Again, Buzzard is counting on his audience being ignorant and suspecting they won’t know the counter-arguments to his positions. I fear he is right in that. We need to do a lot more to educate our churches on the essential positions of their faith and what they believe instead of secondary doctrines and making every sermon about application.

He later makes another type of argument meant to fool the unsuspecting saying:

Later church fathers admitted that their Trinitarian view of God was not found in Moses. Church father Epiphanius says: “The divine unity was first and foremost proclaimed by Moses, the duality (the distinction between Father and Son) was heavily stressed by the prophets, and the Trinity was clearly shown forth in the Gospel.”

But this is just progressive revelation. We might as well say to Buzzard, “Then please show where in Moses we find the Messiah will be crucified and raised from the dead in the middle of space and time and sit at the Father’s right hand? Oh! You can’t find it spelled out there? Then your view of Jesus is not found in Moses!”

This is the absurdity of Buzzard’s position. If the rules were changed for the doctrines he believes, then they would be seen just as false. Does he want to say nothing new about God was revealed in Jesus? If he believes in any kind of progressive revelation in Jesus, then he has views that aren’t found in Moses.

Keep in mind the rules. They only apply to what Trinitarians believe. What Buzzard already believes is exempt.

Lastly, he concludes with saying that if the Torah had wanted us to know God was more than one, it would have told us about the Trinity. Again, we hold that God is one. We might as well still ask where the Torah talks about the crucified Messiah.

Rules for thee, but not for me.

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

 

 

 

Book Plunge: Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian Chapter 3

Is the Trinity dogma? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, we’re again going to not bother dealing with the number of times Buzzard repeats the same Shema and Unitarian arguments ad nauseum. Of course, had he eliminated them, this book would be considerably shorter, thus part of my great regret he didn’t. At any rate, in this chapter, Buzzard wants to pit biblical fact against dogma. That’s fine, but I contend the dogma is only on one side.

So at one point, he cites Karen Armstrong on the Trinity saying the makers of the dogma did not intend for the doctrine to be subjected to reasoned analysis.

It’s hard to believe anyone claiming to be taken seriously on church history could think such a thing. I don’t know what got Armstrong to think such a thing if she is being represented accurately and I don’t know why Buzzard would even believe such a thing. These guys were analyzing every single bit of their theology, but their doctrine of God was one they were going to be careless about?

He also says Gregory of Nazianzus considered three men ought to be one since they shared a common humanity. Unfortunately, this is not quoted at all. It’s my understanding that Gregory was asking why that wouldn’t be the case and was responding to that.

He barely touches Matthew 28:19 and 2 Cor. 13:14 just saying that this doesn’t mean the three are one God. On their own? No. In connection with all the other data we have? They certainly help the case. Buzzard has nothing to say about the Matthew reference referring to the singular name of three different persons.

He also says the word God never refers to all three persons. In the Old Testament, I think this would be far more likely. However, with the New Testament, I think the term God is normally referred to the Father and Lord refers to Jesus. There are exceptions, of course, but this seems to be the general principle. If anything, that God has to be given the explanation of, the Father, regularly shows that some differentiation is going on.

Romans 9:5 and 1 John 5:20 are both mentioned, but they are not interacted with. Instead, right after that, lo and behold, Buzzard references the Shema. It’s getting to the point where Buzzard pointing to the Shema is like Mormons pointing to their testimony relentlessly.

He says that for Jesus to say He was God while presenting His Father as God would lead the people to think there were two Gods. I agree with this. Hence, I think if the Trinity is to be revealed correctly, it has to be done slowly and cautiously. Unfortunately, Buzzard never goes down this route.

Buzzard also says the same thing about if Jesus had said “I am God.” However, he says that Jesus’s dependence on God doesn’t make sense. What would He prefer Jesus to say? “I don’t need the Father for anything. I can do whatever I want!” We certainly wouldn’t have a Trinity then.

Buzzard says Christian Theology speaks of God as He and not it, but does the Trinity consider God to be a person? He references Lewis in Christian Reflections saying that Christianity does not believe God to be a person but a Trinity of persons. Lewis says this saying that it’s the same way a cube is not the same as a square. This does not mean that one cannot use singular pronouns when speaking of God though. Buzzard gives no reason to think we can’t.

He also says that the term Echad used in the Shema refers to a one. Yes, but the word echad also refers to a unity one, just as the man and woman become one flesh, even there are definitely two bodies. He also refers to N.T. Wright and the Christianization of the Shema in 1 Cor. 8:4-6. Buzzard doesn’t reply to the arguments but if anything, pits Paul against Jesus.

This is a quite strange path. Are we going to look at Scripture and say what Jesus says is more valid than Paul if we think all of it is God-breathed? If there is no contradiction, then Paul will fully agree with Jesus. Is this what it takes to avoid the Trinity?

He says something about Psalm 110:1, but that’s largely spoken of in a later chapter.

He returns to Wright and the Shema in 1 Cor. 8 but instead of dealing with Wright’s argument, goes to his talking point again and says that Paul sees God as one person in 1 Tim. 2:5 and in Gal. 3:20. Neither of these say God is one person and he even adds in the word person in Gal. 3:20.

He then returns to Wright and says God and Jesus are not Lord in the same sense. Amusingly, he accuses Wright of begging the question, despite how many times Buzzard trumpets the Shema. If we go with Buzzard, then if there is one Lord, then the Father cannot be Lord. Does Buzzard want to go that route? When he gets to Bauckham saying the same thing, Buzzard says this wouldn’t be done since it would violate the creed and adding a person to the Godhead was unthinkable.

But keep in mind, Wright is the one begging the question.

So once again, Buzzard has pretty much one argument consistently. It doesn’t work no matter how many times he repeats it.

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