« How Do We Know There's a God? | Main | Newly-Discovered Document Proves Resurrection Didn't Happen; Film at Eleven »

October 14, 2004

Comments

Douglas Anderson

I think you may be reading too much into these "inconsistencies." In fact, I don't think these exist if you look at scripture with the broad picture in mind.

First, The scripture make it clear the disciples never really got it until after Jesus death and resurrection. It seems reasonable that they would not really understand the idea of Jesus being resurrected because it was outside of their understanding of the time.

The trinity is a non-issue. People can argue all they want, but it does not matter what formula is used for baptism. The Bible does not take sides.

The hometown issue is not inconsistent either. The authors do not contradict themselves. There is no suggestion that "they settled in Nazareth for the first time."

Jesus died on a Friday and that is consistent through all of the Gospels. The sabbath and the passover are not the same day.

People will do anything to try and find inconsistencies in the Word, but they are not there. I am not saying we have not mistranslated some thing etc. I am saying that the Bible is infallabile in the original language and proper translation shows no inconsistencies.

D. C.

Thanks for stopping by, Doug. I fear you may have missed the point of the posting: Those who believe the Bible to be infallible (about anything) have a very steep hill to climb in trying to persuade people who don’t accept that proposition a priori. I'm one of those people. I don’t see how your arguments can be squared with the facts in respect of the scriptural texts.

1. Your first point seems clearly wrong. If we believe the scriptural accounts, the concept of resurrection indisputably was not outside the disciples’ understanding. Both the Gospels and Acts record a lively debate between Pharisees and Sadducees on the question whether there would be a resurrection. Jesus himself reportedly participated in this debate.

And as I said in the main posting, the Jesus of the Gospels repeatedly predicted to his disciples that he himself would be killed but then raised just days later. That's a shocking prediction, one which caused Peter to respond explosively and the other disciples to be "filled with grief." To assert now that the disciples supposedly failed to "get it" is simply not credible.

I can think of only one way out of this conundrum, and it's pure speculation: Perhaps what Jesus really predicted was that he would be raised as part of the general resurrection, presumably at the end of time, as opposed to on the third day following his execution. That would account for the disciples' grief, and for their later surprise at encountering their teacher again so soon after his death. As I say, this is pure speculation.

2. As to baptism in the name of the Trinity, I doubt Jesus really gave a hoot whether people were baptized at all, let along in whose name the baptisms were conducted. What seems to have mattered to Jesus was not some ritual bath that manifested and symbolized a sinner's repentance, but the repentance itself.

My point was this: Suppose that Jesus really did order the disciples to baptize in the name of the Trinity. Either the disciples didn’t take the details of Jesus’s command very seriously (in which case why should we ourselves take the Trinity seriously), or Acts got it wrong about what the disciples actually did (in which case we should question the reliability of Luke’s sources on other matters as well).

This isn’t a false dichotomy / false dilemma. It really does have to be one or the other.

3. As to where Jesus was born, or what day he died: It doesn't really matter one way or another, except to the extent that the inconsistencies raise still more questions about the reliability of the stories we now call the Gospels.

Again, thanks for stopping by; I appreciate your having taken the time to comment.

Douglas Anderson

I guess we are just going to have to disagree on the first point. I am not saying there was not a disagreement on the idea of a general resurrection at the end of time between the Pharisees and Saducees. I am saying that the idea of a person being resurrected in three days was a completely foreign concept. Sure Jesus said it. He has also said many other things we argue about today or did in the not to distant past. This includes the issues of how we treat those less fortunate, the role of government etc.

The way I read the Biblical acocunts (and I freely admit these are my opinions. Shared by some scholar and not by others.) is that the disciples were still looking at Jesus as the conquering earthly King until after his death. They did not see his predictions as predictions. They saw them as him talking about what the opposition would like to do to him.

I completely agree with point 2. We have gotten way to legalistic on the whole baptism issue. Baptism is simply and outward expression of an internal belief. Not getting baptized or being baptized in the name of Jesus or trinity does not really matter.

I still don't even see the inconsistencies of his place of residence or day of his death. As I read scripture consistency is there on these issues.

Let me end by saying this. I truly appreciate people who ask hard questions over those who don't question at all. The church is failing in the western world because we don't ask questions of ourselves and don't try to answer the questions the world is asking us.

The Bible is actually a grand narrative filled with poetry, selective history, wisdom sayings, symbloic writing and other form of literature. I fear we try to make it a ext book that it was never meant to be. Each other includes and leaves out certain material because it does not fit thier purpose in writing.

Thanks for being on the journey.

Jefferson Reed

Please allow me first to compliment you on your ability to clearly articulate your thoughts. You have exhausted your topic and have done so in a clearly understandable fashion.

Before discussing the individual issues you raise, I would first like to expose your un-stated presupposition; it is this: the Bible is worth believing, except where it is not--and it is your intellect that determines the difference. You replace the authority of the Bible with your own choosing when and where you will trust it.

Friend, while you and I have many differences our common humanity gives us much similarity. Even given that you are smarter that I, I must say that you are just as much a wretched sinner as I. While I don't suggest a blind acceptance of the Bible, I do suggest that perhaps when there appears to be a conflict, the limitation is our own understanding, blinded by our sinful position, and not in the text.

For the sake space and time, allow me the leniency to reduce your arguments to their primary points:

1. You believe the Bible is unreliable because the Disciples didn't understand Jesus' plain teaching.

I read a statistics book last month. I came a part (about multiple regression) but I didn't understand what it was saying. I read it again outloud. The words were not intending to prevent understanding, they intended to make it clear; however it wasn't until after I read through the example (multiple times) that I understood more clearly the teaching. I think this is a limitation of mental capacity and hardly a reason to not truth the text.

In fact, if the Bible were in error, it is more likely according to our human nature that the disciples would have boasted about how they were the first to understand what Jesus was saying. Just the opposite occurs, they describe their ignorance. To me, that lends credibility to the text.

Finally, Jesus says in John 14 that the, "Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." I trust in the Holy Spirit's ability to remind of what Jesus said more than I trust the ability of the disciples to understand what Jesus was saying (obviously, because of their natures, God and man)

2. Because Peter doesn't do exactly what Jesus said to do in Matthew, the Bible must be wrong.

As you get to know the people in the Bible, you'll soon realize that some people were more in need of forgiveness than others. Peter, as you remember, cut off the servant's ear, denied Christ three times, and had to be rebuke by Paul for his hypocrisy. Does Peter's inclination toward error mean that Bible is any less true?

I suggest 'no'. In fact, the Bible's ability to admit error in the main characters suggest its reliability. Who would believe a it if everyone was perfect? Because the people err, it clearly aligns with our understanding of humanity.

3. Because no written record of the post-resurrection era of some key Biblical figures exists, they must not have believed Jesus was resurrected.

As you'll remember from your study of church history, a great persecution of the church resulted in the diaspora, or the dispersion, of the Christians from Jerusalem. Believers got away from Jerusalem because they were not safe. It then makes sense that some key figures were not written about in the Gospels because the authors weren't around those individuals.

If you travel today to India, the lies near a small (relatively speaking) village a memorial to the disciple Thomas who, during the time of diaspora, traveled to India to share the news about Jesus' resurrection. Yet, no word is heard about Thomas in the gospels.

3 down; 2 more to go.

4. Because Jesus didn't do things the way you think it would have been most logical, the Bible must be wrong, or worse, Jesus wasn't divine.

Here is a most interesting fact: no less than 10 times in this point alone, you use a phrase like, "you'd expect, you'd think, probably". So I ask, if Jesus was truly God, don't you think his plan was good enough?

I agree with you that the time between Jesus' birth and the beginning of Jesus' ministry are a mystery. Boy, wouldn't it be neat to see Jesus grow up. But, I really find it hard to believe that because what Jesus does doesn't align with my expectation, the Bible is in error.

Frankly, the idea of Jesus' death on the cross doesn't align with my expectations; but to put God in the box of my understanding would limit his divinity and reduce him to the limits of my imagination.

5. Other discrepancies prove the Bible isn't trustworthy.

I have studied the Bible all my life, with several years devoted specifically to that undertaking. I have never, ever found a discrepancy in the Bible that takes away from its trustworthiness.

The study is important, but perhaps you'll permit me to tell you what I've found. Let's say you were to study the rest of your life to determine the validity of the Bible; at the end of your life, you'd still be a sinner in need of God's grace--you'd just have a lot of knowledge. See, intelletual growth does not address the human condition: it's selfishness, pride, arrogance. The only religious text in the world to address the true state of humanity and to provide a solution to our sinfulness, is the Bible.

So, I would encourage you to be very careful before claiming that it is trustworthy though prone to error. In doing so, you elevate your authority and may find yourself explaining away your need for a Savior.

D. C.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Jefferson. Unfortunately I don't think they get you even close to where you need to go. We'll have to agree to disagree on pretty much all of your arguments.

---------------

Jefferson writes: I would first like to expose your un-stated presupposition; it is this: the Bible is worth believing, except where it is not--and it is your intellect that determines the difference. You replace the authority of the Bible with your own choosing when and where you will trust it.

You're basically correct. I'm one of those people that feels a responsibility to think for myself, because I happen to believe that ultimately I'm personally accountable to God for what I do in this life. There's no question but that, among our gifts of memory, reason, and skill are the memory, reason, and skill of other people. But if I mess up, if I cause harm to others, intentionally or otherwise, I'm the one who's responsible; it's not a blanket excuse that I was following the Bible, or the church's teaching, or the sayings of a prophet, or any of the other excuses people have conjured over the centuries. There's ample scriptural support for this view. For example, arguably the most important passage in the Bible is the mandate of Deut. 18.21 that we subject all prophetic claims to empirical scrutiny: If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD doesn't come to pass or prove to be true, it wasn't a word the LORD told him to say; the prophet was speaking presumptuously, and we shouldn't be afraid of him. Jesus too seems to have been an empiricist in this regard; in the Gospels, he's reported to have said, beware of false prophets — and by their fruits will you know them.

-----------------

Jefferson writes: "In fact, if the Bible were in error, it is more likely according to our human nature that the disciples would have boasted about how they were the first to understand what Jesus was saying. Just the opposite occurs, they describe their ignorance. To me, that lends credibility to the text."

Actions speak louder than words. What you read as the disciples being unafraid to confess their ignorance, I read as the Gospel authors trying hard to explain away an extremely inconvenient fact, namely that the tale they were spinning was directly in conflict with the disciples' past actions.

--------------

Jefferson writes: "2. Because Peter doesn't do exactly what Jesus said to do in Matthew, the Bible must be wrong. ... In fact, the Bible's ability to admit error in the main characters suggest its reliability."

Where exactly does the Bible admit that Peter and the other apostles erred in baptizing in Jesus's name alone? It simply reports that they did so, not that they erred thereby. Sorry, Jefferson, but it seems to me that your argument falls considerably short of being persuasive.

--------------

Jefferson writes: "... Believers got away from Jerusalem because they were not safe. It then makes sense that some key figures were not written about in the Gospels because the authors weren't around those individuals."

I dealt with that in the main posting: If the apostles were as successful in making converts in Jerusalem, including from among the priests, as Acts claims they were, then there would have been little reason for either Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea to remain closeted as "secret" disciples.

(Frankly, I question whether Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were actually disciples at all; the extant evidence is just as consistent with their being simply neutral toward Jesus.)

-----------

Jefferson writes: "Here is a most interesting fact: no less than 10 times in this point alone, you use a phrase like, 'you'd expect, you'd think, probably'. So I ask, if Jesus was truly God, don't you think his plan was good enough?"

Jefferson, can't you see how circular your argument is? The claim that Jesus was God is purportedly derived entirely from the stories told in New Testament. That means you can't use the "fact" that Jesus was supposedly God to bootstrap those stories into being trustworthy.

(I say "purportedly" in the previous paragraph because an unbiased reading of the New Testament shows clearly that the apostles preached, repeatedly and explicitly, that Jesus was the long-awaited Anointed One — the warrior-king who would soon return to usher in the reign of God and restore Israel to its rightful place — not that he was God incarnate. If the apostles had thought Jesus was God himself, the New Testament would have been equally explicit and repetitive in saying so. It isn't.)

-----------

Jefferson writes: "The only religious text in the world to address the true state of humanity and to provide a solution to our sinfulness, is the Bible."

You've got a big, big hill to climb on that point. While the truth of religious beliefs isn't a numbers game (cf. Deut. 18.21, mentioned above), it's certainly of interest that historically, by far the majority of the world's people have disagreed with you.

I appreciate your having taken the time to post.

Tom

In my view your numerous speculations regarding the weakness of traditional Christianity are near to being worthless, certainly not worth the 0's & 1's necessary to form them on a computer.

Marc S

Well here's just another example of a bunch of Gnostics wasting their lives trying to disprove and discredit the Bible. Join the ranks of others who have tried and miserably failed. There's a fundamental problem here. The Bible can not be understood by the carnal minded but only by the spiritually minded. Therefore you and others will go on gaining knowledge, but as the Bible says, will never come to the knowledge of the truth. Stick to the man-made, secular humanist philosophy that permiates your thinking. That would be more conceivable for you to understand. Romans chapter 1 gives a clear outline of secular humanistic thinking and where it will ultimately lead. Also, while you continue in your failing attempt to debunk the Holy Scriptures, try studying it in its original languages which gives you a more in depth meaning of the scriptures. Whatever your conclusion is, go ahead and have your opinion, but at the end of the day are you willing to gamble eternity based on your opinion? In that case, you better be right or there will be hell to pay. Study the Bible and let the Holy Spirit teach you what it means. He is the One that giudes us into all truth. The so-called inconsistencies do not negate the fact that Jesus is Lord and that salvation comes through Him.

D. C. Toedt

Marc S writes: "... The Bible can not be understood by the carnal minded but only by the spiritually minded."

Marc, this sounds like the tailors in the story of the emperor's new clothes: they proclaimed that anyone who couldn't see how truly marvelous their handwork was, was proving himself too stupid to appreciate fine tailoring. We all know how that story turned out ....

---

Marc S writes: "... at the end of the day are you willing to gamble eternity based on your opinion? In that case, you better be right or there will be hell to pay."

Muslims say much the same thing, Marc — if their implied threat isn't enough to convince you, why should yours be enough to convince me?

------

Marc S writes: "The so-called inconsistencies do not negate the fact that Jesus is Lord and that salvation comes through Him."

There are lots of people who, for good reason, simply won't accept assertions like this without competent supporting evidence that admits of no other explanation — and "evidence" that assumes the desired conclusion won't suffice.

John

Hi D.C.,

Greetings from Florida. I just happened to come across your web site about the "Questioning Christian." I see nothing wrong with a person having doubts, questions, etc. I too question lots of things in life, including The Bible and illness. I've been battling colon cancer since December 2006 and that really makes you question things.

I'm not a Bible scholar or even very intellectual. But I do feel God calling me closer to Him since I've had cancer.

Regarding your "serious inconsistencies" mentioned on the web page, I see nothing wrong with such questions although I dislike the idea of using them to propose a significant discrepancy in the authorship or truth of the New Testament accounts.

Regarding the statement "You'd think John the Baptist would have been more involved in his kinsman's ministry," I agree with you. John the Baptish was probably a very unusual character. Wasn't he the last of the O.T. Prophets?

Yes I would think that Jesus and John would have known each other from childhood. But we probably don't know all the story. Maybe Elizabeth and Zacharias died shortly after John was born. How far apart did John live from Jesus? I read in Luke 1:80 that John "was in the deserts." Maybe he lived in the deserts or a desert community ( similar to the Qumran group )? If that's the case, then he and Jesus probably never met ( until Jesus was baptised ).

It does seem like John was only involved with Jesus for a short time. But Jesus certainly knew about John.

Why wasn't John a disciple of Jesus ? I don't know. Maybe he would have become a disciple if Herod had not beheaded him. I'm sure there are hundreds, even thousands, of disciples of Jesus who are not mentioned in the Bible.

I will have to continue my study about John. But no matter how much I doubt or question things, I hope I never deny how much God loved me by sending His only Son to die a horrible death for my miserable sins and selfishness.

John

Feel free to email me at tinmancafe@aol.com

Jhn Didymus op

Jesus died on a wednesday Abib 14, 31 AD and resurrected on a weekly Sabbath Abib 17, 31 AD. Matthew 12:40, 3 days and s nights is 72 hours, you cannot get 72 hours from friday to sunday. Sunday churches do not understand John 19:31 because they do not observe Gods Feast days of Leviticus 23. "(For that Sabbath was an High day" not a weekly Sabbath, and annual Sabbath. Jesus resurrected on a weekly Sabbath at sun set, Abib 17 during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Your email address:


Powered by FeedBlitz

Favorite Posts

Adv.

Episcopal Church

  • Come and Grow
Blog powered by Typepad