Is Jesus superior? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
In this chapter, Glenton Jelbert responds to Tal Davis on if Jesus is superior to all other religious leaders. I really have no interest in prooftexting from the Bible and such. If the Biblical view of Jesus is true, such as Him being fully God and fully man, I think He is ipso facto superior to all other religious leaders. None of the rest of them could claim such a thing. What I am interested in are the ways that Jelbert gets Jesus wrong.
Jelbert wants to know the evidence that Jesus is perfect and sinless. Of course, as a Christian, I point to the resurrection as the validation of His specific claims about Himself. Jelbert doesn’t accept that. If one does not accept Christianity as true, they will not accept Jesus as sinless. They will definitely not accept the resurrection.
From here, Jelbert goes into the idea that if Jesus does anything as a perfect person, it must be good. This is so. It doesn’t mean that it is for us. It is just fine for Jesus to stand up and proclaim Himself as God. It would be blasphemy and/or idiocy for me to do the same thing.
Jelbert brings up supposed genocides in the Old Testament as another example of this. The difference I see here is that not only does God command war in the Old Testament, but the Israelites had abundant evidence to think it was God doing it. After all, they had seen Egypt destroyed by plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling from Heaven, Mount Sinai burning with the presence of God, and numerous other miracles. If you want to claim God has told you to do something that seems contrary, you’d better have just as good evidence.
Jelbert also says that going with revealed truth requires suppressing intelligence, rationality, and one’s moral compass. No argument is given for this statement. I see no reason to accept it and think it just implies Jelbert is saying that Christianity requires checking ones’ brains at the door. No doubt, some Christians do, but it is not a requirement.
Jelbert also writes about the atonement. He has a series of questions.
Why does God need to kill Himself/Jesus because of our sins?
What is the mechanism by which this works?
If Jesus and God are one, how did Jesus die and God not?
What does death even mean when applied to an infinite being?
Why would God be satisfied by this?
Jelbert says that none of these questions have meaningful answers and the produced doctrines just assert that no contradiction exists. Well, thus far, no contradiction has been presented. Asking questions is not the same as presenting contradictions.
Also noteworthy is that Jelbert does not interact with ANY theories on the atonement. There are multiple ones. Jelbert just accepts that none of them work. This is hardly the way to do research.
But hey, let’s look at these questions.
First off, God doesn’t kill Himself at all. Jesus gives Himself because our sins put a barrier up between us and God. Sin has to be taken seriously and sin is rebellion against a good and holy God. For God to ignore sin is to put creation above Himself. That would be treating us as greater than God. Meanwhile, we could not pay such a price. It’s not so much guilt as it is a debt.
What is the mechanism by which this works? There are many different ways, but let’s suppose I just said, “I don’t know.” Meanwhile, I do know that Jesus rose from the dead and is God’s chosen king. Am I to reject Jesus just because I don’t know how atonement works?
If Jesus and God are one, how did Jesus die and God didn’t? Jelbert assumes that Jesus and the Father are one person. They are not. The Son experienced death in that He was separated from His body on the cross, which wouldn’t apply to the Father since the Father has no body.
What does death mean when applied to an infinite being? For Jesus, it means the separation of His soul from His body. That doesn’t have anything to do with infinity.
Why would God be satisfied by this? See the second answer.
With this, I have answered Jelbert’s questions. Perhaps my answers aren’t all right. Okay. However, they are answers. Others will have different answers. Even if one can’t be proven, they can still be seen as coherent.
Jelbert then goes on to list some problems with Jesus. One is that Jesus was wrong about the time of His coming, which we saw earlier was actually false. He also says this led to unwise advice such as not worrying about tomorrow since it will take care of itself. How this is unwise is not stated. Jesus also could not have been talking about saving up since most people were day-wage earners and had nothing to save up. He was just telling such people to trust in God for tomorrow.
Of course, there’s something on eternal punishment. Jelbert apparently takes a one size fits all approach to hell and heaven. Some people in each place will be better off and worse than others. If Jelbert is aware of this, he shows no knowledge of it.
He points to calling the Canaanite woman a dog in Matthew 15. He says he doesn’t find it funny, but the key is the woman herself was not offended by it and saw it as a challenge from Jesus to rise up. Jesus was not joking, but offering the lady a chance to show herself. I think He was also speaking the way His apostles would speak and then letting the woman show herself even better than they were, and in turn, He did heal her daughter.
He speaks about the pigs being slaughtered and how the owners weren’t compensated, but in this kind of area, pigs would not have been a herd that should have been there. As for the fig tree, I just think we’re getting into bizarre areas when people are concerned over a fig tree. God as the Lord of Life can restore or kill a fig tree whenever He wants.
In the end, I find Jelbert’s arguments again weak. Maybe he’ll do better next time.