Biblical Inerrantists, What Do You Do About the Following?

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I used to believe that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God. I believed this because I was told to believe it, and to question such things was to question God. And if I questioned God too much, or too often, then perhaps he was going to someday get tired of me and throw me into a lake of fire. The Bible was clear.

Well, that may have been what I was told, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Sound logic and reason have shown me that.

Nevertheless, many believers still cling to a theory of inspiration of Scripture that states: “If it’s in the Bible [the Protestant canon, no doubt], then it must be true—theologically, historically, everything.” For these, I offer the following question: What do you do about the following?

  1. Who incited David to take a census of Israel?

2 Samuel 24:1 tells us that “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

But . . .

1 Chronicles 21:1 begs to differ: “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”

  1. Did God desire Jehu to slaughter the house of Ahab at Jezreel?

2 Kings 9:7–8 tells us: “You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants and prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.”

But . . .

Hosea 1:4 begs to differ: “And the Lord said to him, ‘Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.”

  1. Who killed Goliath?

1 Samuel 17:49–51 says: “David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.”

But . . .

2 Samuel 21:18–19 begs to differ: “After this a battle took place with the Philistines, at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathhite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”

  1. Which genealogy of Jesus is correct?

Matthew 1:16 reads: “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

But . . .

Luke 3:23 begs to differ: “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli.”

  1. Was Jairus’ daughter alive or dead when Jesus is approached for healing?

Mark 5:22–23 tells us: “Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’”

But . . .

Matthew 9:18 begs to differ: “While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’”

  1. When did Jesus die?

According to Mark, Jesus has a Passover meal, is arrested, spends the night in jail, and then is executed at “nine o’clock in the morning” (Mark 15:25).

But . . .

John 19:14 begs to differ: “Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon.”

  1. Did both thieves on the cross revile Jesus?

Mark 15:27–32 tells us: “And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.”

But . . .

Luke 23:32, 39–43 begs to differ: “Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him . . . One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

I could go on and on, but I think that will suffice for now. What I’m trying to get at is that the Bible is not 100% accurate, 100% of the time. Please, though, do not take such a statement as an attack on the Bible. It is far from that. I revere the Bible, study it diligently, and even affirm that it is “inspired by God.” After all, it is the great tale of how we arrive at our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is just no reason to then believe the entire tale is inerrant—theologically, historically, or otherwise. If you do, then that’s fine. Just don’t expect most rational people to agree with you. Which is perfectly fine too.

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  • Scooter

    Matthew, A few years ago one of my high school students, a Muslim, gave me a booklet titled “101 Contradictions in the Bible” compiled by a Muslim cleric. We had been talking about some religious questions and this student wanted to prove to me that the Bible contains errors and therefore cannot be trusted. It was a worthwhile exercise to check out each of these so-called contradictions. I found helpful material such as http://www.gluefox.com/min/contrad.htm to prove these accusations unfounded.

  • Calling these “accusations” is unnecessary rhetoric.

  • I read through some of these and it seems the author is blending gospel accounts in order to write his own gospel account, so to speak.

  • And as for the genealogies, it seems more likely that the authors are making a theological point rather than an historical one.

  • dcsloan

    Why inerrancy doesn’t work.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ultPAIkFoRw

  • Frank Blasi

    May I make an offering: That there may have been more than one Goliath in the Philistine army. Also according to the first two chapters of Job, Satan had to receive permission from God before he could inflict harm on his possessions, his sons and on his health. Therefore, although Satan actually did the harm, it was authorised by God.The same could be applied to David taking of the census. As for the genealogy of Jesus’ ancestry, Matthew goes back via Joseph the son of Solomon the son of David, whilst Luke’s version goes back via Mary the daughter of Nathan, also David’s son (but not the prophet Nathan who rebuked David over Bathsheba), the brother of Solomon. As for the two thieves, they had up to three hours hanging on their crosses with Jesus. That is plenty of time for one of them to have changed his mind and realised that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who did nothing wrong, enough to rebuke the other thief.
    However, I admit the inconsistency between Mark and John’s timing of the Crucifixion. But according to Matthew’s record along with Luke’s, which features a trip to Herod’s palace, it does look as if a post-noon crucifixion was more likely.

  • Timothy Weston

    I ditched inerrancy about four years ago. This is something I will definitely share.

  • Maybe. The problem with the interpretation of Satan here is that it leads to some pretty ugly theological implications. And I’ve heard the Mary genealogy but find it rather unconvincing. So do many scholars. But I’m sure conservative scholars would disagree.

  • Frank Blasi

    The genealogies does cause problems, especially between Matthew and Luke. Mainly in the area of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. In Matthew’s version the father of Shealtiel is Jeconiah, in Luke it’s Neri. Likewise, the son of Zerubbabel according to Matthew is Abiud. In Luke, the son of Zerubbabel is Rhesa. According to some research I carried out a few years ago, when a Hebrew groom marries, the bride’s father becomes his actual father, rather than father-in law as we know at present. This could be why Luke writes that the supposed father of Jesus was Joseph the biological son of Jacob and son in law of Heli, Mary’s biological father.

  • I’ve also heard the theory that it could be because of the Levirate marriage custom (where, under certain circumstances, a man would have to marry his brother’s widow).

  • WisdomLover

    1. God used Satan to incite David. God is always using Satan to accomplish His will. Satan never acts except to be used by God to accomplish God’s will. In this respect, Satan is just like every other creature. None of us ever act except to by used by God to accomplish His will. God is Sovereign, His final will is always accomplished.

    2. God commanded Jehu to kill Ahab in the Jezreel Valley and He did not punish Jehu for doing so. God did not command Jehu to kill a bunch of other folks in the Jezreel Valley, like Ahaziah the King of Judah. It is this bloodshed in Jezreel that Jehu is cursed for.

    3. 1 Chronicles tells us that Ehanan killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath (whose spear was like a weaver’s beam). He did not kill Goliath himself. Chronicles does not say that Elhanan was a Bethlemite. The 1 Samuel account has Lahmi’s name getting mixed up with a description of Elhanan’s town. It’s something like “beth-elchmi ath” replacing “ath-lchmi ach”. Of course it was written in a different Script and so forth. The “beth-elchmi ath/ath-lchmi ach” bit is just meant to give a flavor of the mistake. In any case, this is a copyist’s error in 1 Samuel. The Doctrine of Inerrancy is that Scripture is Inerrant in the original manuscript…not in later copies. God does not inspire error. God does allow human error in copy-making.

    4. The Luke account definitely is an account which stems from Eli, Mary’s father and passes through Nathan, brother of Solomon to David. The way the Lukan genealogy goes is like this: Jesus descended (as is supposed) of Joseph, of Eli, of Matthat, etc. Now either this means that the entire genealogy gets the “(as is supposed)” bit, or only the first element in the genealogy gets it.

    So which is it? Is the entire genealogy an incorrect genealogy that was supposed correct, or is it just the first step…where the supposition modification occurs…that was supposed incorrectly to be the case, while the rest of the steps were accurate?

    It is absurd to suppose that Luke would spill that much ink going through a genealogy that he believes to be wholly inaccurate, but that is supposed by some to be accurate. It is especially absurd to suppose that he would bother telling us that it is inaccurate and then painstakingly record the (inaccurate) genealogy.

    So the mere supposition of descent only attaches to Joseph. Luke means to be reporting the actual descent of Jesus from Eli downward. And telling us that Jesus is only supposed to be descended of Joseph. That means that Eli is the name of the first actual ancestor of Jesus in that list. Meaning that Eli is either Mary’s lover, and Jesus’s real father, or Eli is Mary’s father. Obviously, Luke intended the latter.

    Legally speaking, Joseph is Jesus’ real father. Jesus stands legally to inherit everything that belongs to Joseph…thus his descent from David is significant. And that’s why Matthew reports it.

    Luke reports Jesus biological descent to David (and onward to Adam), Matthew reports His legal descent to David (and onward to Abraham). No contradiction.

    5. “My daughter is at the point of death (literally, my daughter is clinging with her last gasp)”, vs. “my daughter just now died”. Either way, by the time Jairus finishes telling Jesus all about it, the daughter’s last gasp is over and she is dead.

    But which did Jairus actually say?

    Well, obviously, neither. He said something, probably in Aramaic, heard by Peter and reported to Mark, again probably in Aramaic, but recorded by Mark in Greek. This same Aramaic statement was again heard by Matthew and written by him in Hebrew and later translated into Greek. The statement as recorded by Mark is probably closer to the actual words of Jesus. But even there, Peter, through Mark, may have summarized the conversation. The doctrine of Inerrancy does not assume contemporary notions of verbatim recordings of conversation.

    6. In learned circles of the day, time was routinely measured starting from Midnight and Midday. Times through the night could also be measured accurately with water clocks. Hours measured in this way were of a standard length. Though in wide use among the leaned in the time of Christ, A.M and P.M reckoning with standard length hours was adopted as the fully standard practice throughout the Roman world about 50 or 60 years later. Before that, the common people used sundials and marked time from sunrise. Hours were approximate. Actually this means of measuring time continued among the common folk even after the official adoption of A.M./P.M. time for quite some time.

    John, using Roman time, says that He was handed over to be crucified at 6:00 AM…the sixth hour measuring from midnight. Luke, using common time, says that darkness fell from 12:00 PM to 3 PM…the sixth through the ninth hour measuring from sunrise. Mark, using common time, says that Jesus was actually crucified at 9:00 AM…the third hour measuring from sunrise.

    These times of day are consistent.

    Why did John alone report the hour in Roman time? Because John alone was a witness that reported from Pilate’s court.

    As for the day, the Jews at the time used an ad hoc method of resynchronizing their lunar calendar with solar time. This meant that one could not predict what day new years day would occur. As such, the day that the new year started had to be communicated to far flung Israel. This used to be done by a system of beacon fires, but owing to a man-in-the-middle attack it happened once that the wrong date was communicated. As such many Jews ended up celebrating Passover on the wrong day. To fix this, the Jews adopted the practice to celebrate the first two days and the last two days of an eight-day passover festival as high days. This replaced a seven day festival where only the first and last days were treated as High Days. Two passover lambs, therefore, would be slaughtered on the last two days of the festival.

    Now, in Jerusalem, there was really no need to observe the extra High Days, and most Jews probably did not. Jesus did. That year, Jesus slaughered a passover lamb on the sixth day of the eight day festival, that is on the day known by everyone in Jerusalem to be the 13th day of Nisan. Jesus ate the first of the two Passover meals on the 14th day of Nisan with his disciples. On the 14th day of Nisan, the seventh day of the eight day festival, a day known in Jerusalem to be only a preparation day, Jesus himself was slaughtered as the Passover Lamb by the priests. Those same priests knew that the real day of Passover was coming up, and made sure that he was taken down from the cross before the eighth day started, which that year was the actual 15th day of Nisan.

    7. Both of the thieves on the cross started out by reviling Jesus, but over the course of the hours in which they hung there, one of them was converted to Christianity by Christ Himself. This new convert then rebuked the person with whom he had been reviling Christ. No contradiction there.

    You know, these seven examples of ‘bible contradictions’ really aren’t even all that challenging. Then again, few are. Nice try though.

  • Louis Fields

    I was with you up until number 7. That feels a LOT like supposition. Where do you get that information?

  • WisdomLover

    I’m going to tell you a story.

    There was once a fair and clever woman who overheard a man implying things that were very insulting to her. She decided then and there she didn’t like him. This dislike caused her to interpret many of his later actions in the worst possible light until she came to positively despise him. Later on, after the man had gotten to know her he asked her to marry him, but she rejected him utterly.

    Then they got married and lived happily ever after.

    Contradiction?

  • Louis Fields

    My question was: how did you come to the place where you know for certain that the biblical acct of the second thief went down the way you say? extra biblical commentary? there is no indication in the scripture that it happened the way you suggest. unless i’m totally missing something. As a note, I’m not a “contradiction theorist”, I am someone who merely questions some things that don’t seem to line up, which always causes me to search to find out WHY i feel like it doesn’t.

  • WisdomLover

    Who said that I know for certain how it went down?

    The question is “Is there an evident error in the Bible?”

    Certainly not in the texts that speak of the thieves.

    P.S. my story about the girl getting married also has two accounts that ‘don’t seem to line up’. Is there an evident error there? Is there a contradiction? Or might it be a coherent story?

  • Louis Fields

    I see where you’re coming from. I guess i just want the story to at least end the same. One says they both cursed him, with *no mention* of the defense/repentance part, the other never even *mentions* that there was a moment when he was cursed by BOTH thieves. Here’s the other thing: my faith in God doesn’t hinge on whether or not I believe that are no errors in the Bible. All agree that Jesus came to be sin for us and that we have to believe in him to inherit eternal life. That’s a greater import to me than the minute details. it is, however, interesting to dive into discussions such as these!

  • WisdomLover

    The story of the thieves is certainly not the only story in the Bible where you don’t get all the details except by combining accounts. That’s actually pretty typical, and it’s what you would expect from eyewitness accounts.

  • Louis Fields

    The thief’s moment of repentance is a pretty big deal. If both people saw/heard the same thing, why wouldn’t they say it?

  • WisdomLover

    Who said that both people heard the same thing?

    Luke’s source is generally thought to be Mary, whereas Matthew’s source is Matthew himself.

    Since Matthew deserted Christ in the garden, it’s entirely possible that he was standing a fair way away form the cross in shame.

    This is borne out by the fact that Matthew reports only those things that Jesus cried out in a loud voice.

    But Mary and John were right there next to the cross…Luke and John, consequently report what Jesus spoke and even breathed at the last.

  • Louis Fields

    Ok….ok. I like that.

  • Tim

    Although some of these are plausible explanations, a few niggles:

    1) A house divided against itself cannot stand… Religious leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons using demonic power. So, not God’s M.O. , but certainly could be certain individuals’ differing perceptions of who/ what was responsible.

    7) Jesus could not have converted this man to “Christianity”, because it didn’t exist yet. Jesus was a Jew, and one who didn’t come to start a new religion to “convert” people to. Your approach here is apologetic revisionism, I’m afraid.

  • WisdomLover

    1) Saying that God used Satan as a tool is quite different from saying that Jesus power comes from Satan. There’s no parallel there.

    2) Christianity started existing when the first person looked to Jesus in trust for deliverance from sin, death and the devil. And that was Adam or Eve, though they did not know at the time that the seed of the Woman who would bruise the serpent’s head would be named “Jesus”.

    But even if you don’t like that, there is clearly nothing in my argument about the thieves that depends on a specific time for the begining of the Church. The question is why the one thief stopped reviling Jesus. The answer is that he came to trust in Jesus for deliverance from sin, death and the devil. That’s why he asked Him to remember him in His Father’s kingdom you see.

    I call what the thief did “becoming a Christian”. And clearly it IS that.

    But even if we adopt some idiosyncratic definition of “becoming a Christian” like “trusting in Jesus for deliverance from sin, death and the devil after some time t (e.g. Pentecost)”, the answer to why the thief stopped reviling Jesus remains unchanged…he came to trust in Jesus.

  • Tim

    1) Perhaps, but I’m not convinced the two things are as different as you claim.
    2) And then there’s the whole question of whether these conversations on the cross even took place; the physical realities of crucifixion being what they are. My point though was that I took issue with your statement about Jesus “converting him to a religion” that didn’t exist yet. I question both the ideas contained within that statement, as it is, at least on the face of it, technically incorrect.

  • WisdomLover

    It is not technically incorrect the the thief was converted to Christianity.

    It is incorrect on your view of what it means to be converted to Christianity.

    A view that I, and most Christians, would identify as idiosyncratic.

    And it is also utterly irrelevant to the answer I gave to the supposed Biblical error.

    As for the error, if your point is that people on crosses are struck dumb even within the first few hours, then I’m not sure why a supposed contradiction in what the thieves say would be of interest.

    But just for the record, those crucified do eventually die because they can’t breathe. You wouldn’t expect them to be able to speak at that point. But they arrive at that point only after their legs and arms grow too weary to pull up the weight of their body any further to prevent the constriction on their lungs. This is why breaking the legs, an expedient they actually had to use on the thieves, will bring a quick end to a crucifixion. As long as their arms and legs can still pull up their weight, their lungs (and, thus, voice) can function. But the point is for the whole ordeal to drag on for days. That’s how long people’s arms and legs were expected to last. So the thieves and Christ certainly could have carried on this conversation during the first three to six hours of the ordeal.

  • Tim

    Technically, You can’t convert someone to something that technically doesn’t exist yet, but we’ve already been through that. It’s self-evident. It’s a stretch to say that Christianity in some sense existed at that point.

    Regardless of all that; the truth is, we don’t really know what, if anything, was said. We weren’t there. And since we have conflicting witness reports, we can’t really be sure. One of the gospel writers doesn’t even mention that anything was said, and IIRC, it was the earliest source.

    Here are your statements:
    “1. God used Satan to incite David. God is always using Satan to accomplish His will. Satan never acts except to be used by God to accomplish God’s will. In this respect, Satan is just like every other creature. None of us ever act except to by used by God to accomplish His will. God is Sovereign, His final will is always accomplished.”

    What is the evidence that God used the satan to incite David? You say that God is always using satan to accomplish his will. Why would you think this? “Satan” is not a creature at all, but a non-personal manifestation/ principality or power that accuses. The satan is a functional title, a role, not a being controlled by God. it is the same anti-christ spirit that Jesus rebuked in Peter. I think you’d find it very hard to support the notion that none of us ever act except to be used by God to accomplish his will, because that would necessarily mean that everything that happens is God’s will. That would make God evil.

    “2) Christianity started existing when the first person looked to Jesus in trust for deliverance from sin, death and the devil. And that was Adam or Eve, though they did not know at the time that the seed of the Woman who would bruise the serpent’s head would be named “Jesus”.

    This is just nonsense. Adam or Eve (being figurative themselves anyway) could not have looked to Jesus in trust for deliverance from sin, etc. because Jesus didn’t exist yet, either.

  • WisdomLover

    ‘Technically’ you are misusing the phrase “self-evident”. 1=1 is self-evident. “Christianity did not exist when people were looking forward to Christ” is anything but that.

    Contrary to your claim, Satan is a creature…what else could he be? Everything that isn’t the Creator is a creature. (That last claim actually is self-evident btw). All creatures obey the final will of the Creator in all things…Satan included. Because, you see, the Creator created them and all their actions.

    This does not make God evil, that is entirely your assumption…an assumption based on less than full knowledge. The only individual in a position to judge God on the basis of the consequences of God’s choices is God Himself. Any other judge speaks from ignorance.

    Also, you know, we have accounts of some of what Jesus and the thieves said. Contrary to your bald assertion, these accounts do not conflict. Period. So we actually do know very well some of the things that Jesus and the thieves said.

    P.S. Matthew was the earliest source. And he mentions some of the words of Jesus and the thieves.

    P.P.S. the second Person of the Godhead, Jesus, has always existed. In fact Adam and Eve were made by Him. But even if He didn’t, it is possible to trust in something that does not exist yet but will, so you’ve got no argument anyway.

  • Tim

    Incorrect. Mark, not Matthew is considered the earliest source.
    The rest is merely your opinion.
    No, “Jesus” was a person, the only thing that existed prior to this (according to John) is the Word. Jesus didn’t exist until the Word became flesh, so you are incorrect again.
    Also, Jesus never claims to be God in scripture, and actually makes many statements to the contrary. See here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kermitzarleyblog/2017/11/christians-scrutinize-doctrine-trinity/
    Somewhere on his blog, he has a link to a list of all the scriptures that directly imply that Jesus never claimed to be God.

    You’ve got some great theological gymnastic ability though, I’ll give you that.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t saying what is considered the earliest source by contemporary scholars (who are, quite frankly, in no position to judge on the matter).

    I was saying what really is the earliest source according to the only people competent to judge on the question (the early church).

    And there is no question there, the earliest source is Matthew.

    =================================================

    No, “Jesus” was a person, the only thing that existed prior to this (according to John) is the Word. Jesus didn’t exist until the Word became flesh, so you are incorrect again.

    There is only one person that is the second person of the Godhead. That person took on human nature. There is some debate about whether He has that nature from all eternity, but really the argument can only come down on one side…of course He does.

    The fact of incarnation was seen by us at a certain time, but the Hypostatic Union of God and Man is eternal in the Second Person.

    =================================================

    As for His never claiming to be God, that’s poppycock. “Before Abraham was, I AM”.

    =================================================

    I looked at the post you linked this time. I generally don’t follow links if they are meant to advance an argument…for several reasons. I think it is up to the person arguing to present his argument in his own words.

    I read the article you linked only. I am not going to go poking about on his blog somewhere to find a list of passages I’ve probably seen a hundred times. If you think one or more of those passages is particularly enlightening, I’d ask you to find it and share it here and explain why it is so telling against the established doctrine of the Deity of Christ.

    =================================================

    In the article you actually linked, it seems that the person running that blog, found Jesus’ claim that He doesn’t know the time of His return, but only the Father knows it to be a difficult claim for ordinary Christian thought.

    One problem you can see right away is that the argument, if good (and it isn’t), proves too much. The argument has the implication that the Holy Spirit is not God, because only the Father knows…the Holy Spirit, then, doesn’t know.

    What this argument overlooks is the communication of the Divine attributes among the Divine Persons. It is claimed by Trinitarians that the Father does not suffer. In fact, there’s a whole heresy, called Patripassionism, that is condemned because the heretics contend that the Father suffers. Notice that this would seem to imply the the Father did not know what Jesus was going through.

    So the Father, according to this teaching also lacks Omniscience? Is that what Trinitarians claim?

    No.

    No more do they claim that the Omniscience of the Second Person of the Godhead is somehow undermined by His not knowing the time of His own return.

    There are certain qualities God has only because of the nature of one of the three Persons. Knowledge of suffering He has only because of the Son. The other two persons have that knowledge by the communication of the Divine attributes.

    The same goes for knowledge of the coming of Christ. Jesus and the Holy Ghost don’t know except by the communication of the Divine attributes from the Father.

    =================================================

    The author of the blog also tries to say that when read in context John 10:30 “I and the Father are One” is not a claim of deity.

    This is utterly laughable. Because, you see, the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus for claiming to be God right after He said that. He asked them why they were trying to stone Him, and they said “It is because you claim to be God”.

    You know, the Jews who picked up those stones actually knew and spoke the same language as Jesus. It was their common living tongue. They knew exactly what He was saying…He was claiming to be God.

    The Jews had a similar reaction, BTW, after Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I AM”

    The absurdity of a contemporary person saying that he knows better and that Jesus wasn’t claiming to be God there is almost pathetic.

    =================================================

    The blog author then goes on to reference Peter’s words in the sermon on the day of Pentecost. He mentions a section of the sermon where Peter refers to Jesus as a man, but not as God. As if that somehow shows that Peter did not think Jesus is God.

    What that argument actually shows is that Peter thought Jesus was a Man…a very important doctrine, btw, denied by the earliest gnostic heretics. To say that it shows that Peter did not think Jesus is God is the fallacious appeal to silence.

    And anyway, in that Pentecost sermon, Peter does imply that Jesus is God. He quotes a number of Old Testament passages that speak of the LORD. The word used in Hebrew in those passages was “YHWH”, though of course the Septuagint would have used the Greek term “Kurios”. Peter then identifies Jesus as the Lord. That is to say, Jesus is YHWH.

    One of the more pivotal links Peter makes is that he identifies the current time as the time prophesied by Joel when “whoever calls on the name of the LORD (YHWH) shall be saved.”

    But it is the name of Jesus Christ that Peter instructs them to call upon. That’s because Peter thought of Jesus and YHWH as essentially the same.

    =================================================

    You’ve got some great theological gymnastic ability though, I’ll give you that.

    I get that a lot from people whose arguments are in shambles.

  • Tim

    I tried finding the specific link, but for some reason it wasn’t where it usually is. I’ll have to look for it again when I have more time.

    I’m surprised at your unwillingness to credit modern biblical scholarship with any authority, as we know things now that we didn’t then.
    I think you’re putting a bit more faith in tradition than is warranted.

  • Tim
  • WisdomLover

    Jesus says “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God alone.”
    That’s about as direct an admission by Jesus that he’s not God as you can get.

    Historically, this passage has been used as an argument for the deity of Christ.

    In the Matthew parallel it is even clearer. Jesus also asked why the person asked Him about the good. The idea seems to be that only someone actually good can speak with authority about the good. And only God is actually good and can speak with such authority.

    Jesus then proceeds to speak with authority about the good.

    ===========================================

    In another passage of Scripture, Jesus refers to the Father as “your God, and my God.” This makes no sense if Jesus is God.

    I’m not sure where you get that.

    Does God not have a God?

    Does He, can He, have a God different from Himself?

    All of your blogger friend’s passages based on Jesus saying “My God” simply lose their force when you recognize that, of course, God also has a God (and, of course, that God is Himself).

    ===========================================

    Your blogger friend is mistaken in saying that the Divine Periphrases used frequently by Paul and others (“God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ”) somehow imply the non-Deity of Christ.

    For one thing, not-saying-Jesus-is-God is not the same as saying-that-Jesus is not God.

    Beside that, Paul and every other author of the NT except James and Jude identify Jesus as YHWH at least once in their writings. The Septuagint translates both “YHWH” (I AM) and “Adonai” (Lord) as Kurios. That is also the Greek word used in the Divine Periphrases. So the question becomes how to translate “Kurios”. As “Adonai” or as “YHWH”?

    Well since the authors all agree that Jesus is YHWH, it seems plain to me that “Kurios”, when applied to Jesus, typically means “YHWH”. That is to say that the Divine Periphrases is “God the Father and YHWH-Jesus Christ.”

    ===========================================

    Paul himself, in Titus, refers to Jesus as God (contrary to you blogger friend’s claims).

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

    ===========================================

    Also, “…God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” If they were seen as one and the same, the distinction would be superfluous.

    Not tracking here. Why is impossible for God to raise God from the dead? Indeed, I think that the fact that Jesus raised Himself from the dead is one of the things that points to His Deity. Lazarus was raised, but not by Himself.

    ===========================================

    The I AM statements were about representation, not identity.

    The Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus because Jesus claimed to be God.

    The scripture clearly identifies Jesus as the perfect image of God, etc., but never directly calls him God.

    I’m afraid it does.

    The Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

    In ancient cultures, a representative of Pharaoh, for example, representing his master in a matter, was for all intents and purposes Pharaoh with regard to the business at hand. But nobody imagined the individual actually literally WAS Pharaoh.

    You know, it was for purposes of speaking to Pharaoh that God told Moses to say that I AM sent him. I don’t think you’ve got this business about what I AM means right.

  • Tim

    “Not tracking here. Why is impossible for God to raise God from the dead? Indeed, I think that the fact that Jesus raised Himself from the dead is one of the things that points to His deity. Lazarus was raised, but not by Himself.”

    The first problem is, that God can’t die. If God can die, what would be left to raise him from the dead? The second is, The bible does not say that Jesus raised himself from the dead, it says God did.

    “Historically, this passage has been used as an argument for the deity of Crhist.”

    If that passage was used to identify Jesus as God, we’ve got a great example in that of presuppositional thinking. How they managed to twist that into the opposite of its obvious meaning is beyond me.

    “Does God not have a God?

    Does He, can He have a God different from Himself?”

    How can God have a God? Seriously? It would require some very circular reasoning to come to that conclusion.

    (The I AM statements were about representation, not identity.)
    “The Jews picked up stones because Jesus claimed to be God.”

    Er, no; they picked up stones because they either thought, that he was claiming to be God, or to be God’s representative.

    (The scripture clearly identifies Jesus as the perfect image of God, etc., but never directly calls him God.)

    “I’m afraid it does.”

    Asserting that it does does not make it so. Show me one passage of Scripture where Jesus is directly and unambiguously called God.

    “You know, it was for purposes of speaking to Pharaoh that God told Moses to say that I AM sent him. I don’t think you’ve got this business about what I AM means right.”

    And I’m not sure you’ve got ANY of this business right. You’re not making any logical sense.

  • WisdomLover

    The first problem is, that God can’t die. If God can die, what would be left to raise him from the dead?

    1. Says who?
    2. Yeah, that sounds really hard. It would take God to do that.

    Please bear in mind that annihilation of the self is no part of what Christians have ever meant by “death”. There, there might be all sorts of thing God could do while dead.

  • Tim

    1) Er, the scripture says God can’t die.

    I quote, from the definition of circular reasoning:
    “Circular reasoning is not a formal logical fallacy but a pragmatic defect in an argument whereby the premises are just as much in need of proof or evidence as the conclusion, and as a consequence the argument fails to persuade.”

    That is why your argument is circular reasoning. It doesn’t matter that “YHWH is the God of YHWH is not a premise of the argument.”

    All you’ve shown me as far as the rest is concerned is (a) particular interpretation(s) of scripture that is highly debatable.

  • WisdomLover

    1) Once again, annihilation of the self is no part of the Christian understanding of death. It is entirely possible for an entity to be dead and alive at the same time.

    Christians believe, for example, that St. Peter is dead. Yet he is also alive.

    There are Scriptures, e.g. Romans 1:23, 1 Timothy 6:16 that imply that God is always alive or that God is immortal. But so what?

    Is it impossible that someone be dead and alive at the same time? No, see St. Peter.

    As for immortality, just as the Father does not suffer, but does know suffering through the communication of the Divine Attributes. The Father can be immortal and yet know death through the communication of the Divine Attributes.

    2) It’s charming that you think there is such a thing as the definition of circular reasoning. I would call what you just gave a definition of the more general fallacy of begging the question.

    But in all events, there is no circular reasoning or begging the question going on in my argument. There is no debate among Christians or Jews that YHWH is the God of everything. Nor is there debate that YHWH is a thing. Together these two premises imply that YHWH is the God of YHWH.

    3) “All you’ve shown me as far as the rest is concerned is (a) particular interpretation(s) of scripture that is highly debatable.”

    This is another non-argument. What it shows me is that you don’t actually have an answer.

  • Tim

    1) So, what you’re essentially claiming here is that I should believe a self-contradictory paradox, simply because many other Christians have believed it. Sorry, no. I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with the last paragraph here. Are you trying to say that God died by extension through Jesus?

    2) That is PART of the definition of circular reasoning/ begging the question, or whatever you want to call it. Either way, it’s still a logical fallacy. And this particular example is logically incoherent. A God who has a God would not be God. Saying that God is the God of everything, which therefore includes himself, is nonsense.

    3) It’s not intended to be an argument. It’s simply a statement.

    I do have an answer, but you will not accept it any more than I accept yours, so why bother?

  • WisdomLover

    So, what you’re essentially claiming here is that I should believe a self-contradictory paradox, simply because many other Christians have believed it. Sorry, no.

    I’m sorry. What contradiction are you referring to here?

    “Alive” and “dead” are not contradictory concepts. If they were, then the claim that St. Peter is alive would be a contradiction. Do you truly believe that everyone should just accept the idea that “alive” and “dead” are incompatible?

    I mean, if you’re here to peddle the claim that the after-life is self-contradictory notion you are really going to need a bit more.

    ===============================================

    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with the last paragraph here. Are you trying to say that God died by extension through Jesus?

    What I’m saying is that there are some qualities that the Persons of the Godhead have in virtue of being the Person they are, and there are some qualities they have in virtue of being identical in substance…because the substance has that quality.

    It’s a question of what fact makes propositions like “God suffered and tasted death” or “God knows when Jesus will return” true. In the first case, it is the fact that Jesus died that makes it true. In the second case it is the fact that the Father planned when the second-coming would happen that makes it true.

    1. The fact that the Father planned the second coming of Christ makes the proposition that the Father knows when Jesus will return true.
    2. That same fact makes the proposition that God knows when Jesus will return true.
    3. The fact that God knows when Jesus will return makes the proposition that the Son knows when Jesus will return true.
    4. There is no fact of the Son knowing or planning when Jesus will return.

    Similarly, the Father does not suffer or taste death in virtue of being the Father, but only in virtue of having the same substance as the Son.

    ===============================================

    Saying that God is the God of everything, which therefore includes himself, is nonsense.

    Because…..why?

    Isn’t God a thing?

    Are you trying to say that atheism is true…that God does not exist…that He is not a thing?

    Do you expect Christians to find that proposition particularly compelling?

    ===============================================

    Or are you just saying that it is nonsense to say the God is the God even of Himself; therefore, God is not the God of Himself?

    Because, you see, that really is begging the question:

    1) It is nonsense to say that P is true.
    Therefore,
    2) P is false.

    Saying that a claim is nonsense, or contradictory, is quite a bit more difficult claim to prove or provide evidence for than to simply show that P is false. The premise of this argument form is “just as much in need of proof or evidence as the conclusion”.

    In fact the premise is in need of a heck of a lot more proof or evidence than the conclusion.

    This argument form is textbook question-begging.

    ===============================================

    I do have an answer, but you will not accept it any more than I accept yours, so why bother?

    One wonders why you bothered with your replies in other areas, if you really thought that any of the arguments I’ve seen so far would actually convince me

    Under the heading of “shoe on other foot”:

    Did you imagine that I ever thought you would accept my claims?
    You are obviously nursing some chip on your shoulder against orthodox Christianity. That’s been evident from the get go, and it’s why your arguments have generally been defective.

    I don’t reply to you, or to other critics who are your fellow travellers, because I am harboring any illusions about being able to convince you of anything (don’t get me wrong, it would be absolutely wonderful if I were to convince you).

    But, believe it or not, other people read these silly comments of ours. Also, if I can just put a pebble in your conceptual shoe I count that as a win.

  • Tim

    “I’m sorry. What contradiction are you referring to here?”

    This one:

    “Once again, annihilation of the self is no part of the Christian understanding of death. It is entirely possible for an entity to be dead and alive at the same time.

    Christians believe, for example, that St. Peter is dead. Yet he is also alive.”

    It is logically impossible for something to be dead, and alive at the same time. If you’re trying to claim that applies in the situation with Jesus to make your logic work here that God can raise himself from the dead, it doesn’t work. If Jesus truly died, then it had to be God (a separate entity from the human man Jesus) who raised him from the dead. If God himself had died, there would be no entity left to raise himself from the dead.
    If Jesus was not truly dead for three days before being raised from the dead, then there was no true resurrection from the dead and our faith and hope founded in that is founded on nothing at all.

    “What I’m saying is that there are some qualities that the Persons of the Godhead have in virtue of being the Person they are, and there are some qualities they have in virtue of being identical in substance…because the substance has that quality.”

    This is a collection of trinitarian assumptions that I do not share.

    “Saying that God is the God of everything, which therefore includes himself, is nonsense.
    Because…..why?

    Isn’t God a thing?”

    No, God is not a thing. God is an un-created, self existent entity.

    “Or are you just saying that it is nonsense to say the God is the God even of Himself; therefore, God is not the God of Himself?

    Because, you see, that really is begging the question:

    1) It is nonsense to say that P is true.
    Therefore,
    2) P is false.

    Saying that the claim, P, is nonsense, or contradictory, is quite a bit more difficult claim to prove or provide evidence for than to simply show that P is false. The premise of this argument form is “just as much in need of proof or evidence as the conclusion”.

    In fact the premise is in need of a heck of a lot more proof or evidence than the conclusion.

    This argument form is textbook question-begging.”

    If God has a God, then he is no longer God, as in order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having a God. Jesus called God “Father”, which implies an external other.
    I, for example, am not my own Father; that is logically impossible.
    So, regardless of the form, it’s still nonsense to say that God has a God, and it is himself. That is internally self-contradictory.

  • WisdomLover

    It is logically impossible for something to be dead, and alive at the same time.

    Please provide proof and show your work.

    I guarantee you that you will fail unless you engage in begging the question.

    ==================================================

    No, God is not a thing. God is an un-created, self existent entity.

    And un-created, self-existent entities are not things?

    I’m sorry my friend, but everything there is is a thing.

    The denial of that really is a contradiction.

    ==================================================

    there would be no entity left to raise himself from the dead

    I’m sorry, but if Jesus really died according to your understanding (where death is annihilation), then there would be nothing left for God to raise. It would be just as impossible for God to raise Jesus (or Lazarus or anyone else) as it is for Him to raise Himself.

    Oh, He might make some new thing and call it Jesus (or Lazarus). But if death is annihilation, that new thing might resemble Jesus (or Lazarus), but it wouldn’t be the Jesus (or Lazarus) that died.

    So your position is really quite self-defeating (unless you want to say that Jesus was not raised…which perhaps you do).

    ==================================================

    If God has a God, then he is no longer God, as in order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having a God.

    So your argument is:

    1. In order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having the God.
    Therefore,
    2. If God has a God, then he is no longer God.
    And (presumably).
    3. God is always God.
    Therefore,
    4. God does not have a God.

    Now, I’m not sure that this argument is even valid…that is that it’s premises imply it’s conclusion.

    I’m pretty sure that the part I added is valid, That is to say that if the intermediate conclusion (item-2) is true, and premise 3 is true, then conclusion 4 follows. BTW I also agree with premise 3.

    So one big question is whether item-2, the intermediate conclusion that you attempt to draw from premise 1, is itself true.

    Presumably, you want to say that item-2 follows logically from item-1. So, of course, item-2 is true (because item-1 is true)

    I frankly don’t see it. So a second big question in our debate is whether item-2 really does follow from item-1.

    I’m not going to spend any time on that…let’s pretend that item-2 really does follow from item-1.

    But there is a third big question.

    Is item-1 true?

    If it is not, then the whole argument is in shambles.

    So is it true that “In order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having the God.”?

    For starters, that’s quite a mouthful. It’s hard to tell what is even being said, let alone whether it is true. I think we can express it a little more simply.

    I think this would work:

    God must be external to the beings that He is the God of.

    One wonders, of course, what “external to” means. To bring the premise squarely in contact with the Trinitarian though you are trying to refute, this would do better:

    God must not be of the same substance with any being that He is the God of.

    Or to put it another way:

    God cannot be the God of any being He is of one substance with.

    The statement you are at pains to refute is usually expressed by me in this way:

    YHWH is the God of YHWH.

    I am using “YHWH” as the name of the substance of God.

    That is to say:

    God is the God of a being He is of one substance with.

    Thus, we see that if your conclusion is the claim that proposition-C is false, then your premise 1 is the claim that proposition-C cannot be true.

    Once again, begging the question.

    ==================================================

    “I, for example, am not my own Father; that is logically impossible.”

    No it isn’t logically impossible.

    The famed logician Kurt Gödel has proven that there are solutions to the field equations of general relativity that would allow one to always move forward within one’s future light-cone (i.e. without travelling faster than the speed of light) yet end up in one’s past. That is to say, he proved that time-travel is consistent with the laws of nature as we know them, though perhaps not with the configuration of the universe we actually live in (he did nothing to show that the universe we live in satisfies the field equations of general relativity according to his solution).

    What that shows is that Time travel, while perhaps not physically possible in the world we live in, is logically quite possible.

    If time travel is logically possible, then it is logically possible to be one’s own biological father. A number of delightful and logically consistent time travel stories have that very premise.

    And that’s limiting the concept of fatherhood to biological fatherhood. Clearly, God the Father is the Father of all of us (that is why Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father”). But He is not the biological father of any of us.

    He is our Father in some other way.

    I see no reason at all to think that one cannot be one’s own father…if we are talking about being a father the way God the Father is a father of us all.

    And in particular I see no reason to think that YHWH cannot be YHWH’s own Father in that same way.

  • Tim

    “It is logically impossible for something to be dead, and alive at the same time.
    Please provide proof and show your work.

    I guarantee you that you will fail unless you engage in begging the question.”

    Something that is both alive and dead at the same time is self contradicting; there is no work to be shown. It’s self-evident. The only way that could be “true” is to use an equivocation.

    The burden of proof here lies with your assertion, not mine.

    ==================================================

    “No, God is not a thing. God is an un-created, self existent entity.
    And un-created, self-existent entities are not things?

    I’m sorry my friend, but everything there is is a thing.

    The denial of that really is a contradiction.”

    For the sake of argument, I’ll suppose that what you say here is true. (although I suspect it’s an equivocation) There’s just one problem then. That flies in the face of the orthodox understanding of the nature of God. So which is it? It can’t be both. If God is a thing then God is a created being.

    ==================================================

    “there would be no entity left to raise himself from the dead
    I’m sorry, but if Jesus really died according to your understanding (where death is annihilation), then there would be nothing left for God to raise. It would be just as impossible for God to raise Jesus (or Lazarus or anyone else) as it is for Him to raise Himself.”

    What? That doesn’t make any sense at all. On your understanding, only part of God died. But Paul makes the argument that if Jesus wasn’t truly dead, and wasn’t truly raised from death, that we have no hope. If Jesus was God, and actually died, there would be no way for him to raise himself from the dead. That’s part of why scripture is careful to say that God raised Jesus from the dead. There is a very clear distinction there, and it is logically consistent. If we change that and say (for all practical purposes) that Jesus (being God, on your view) raised himself from the dead, that is saying something different than what is stated in scripture.
    John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
    There is a very clear distinction there that Jesus makes between God and himself in two different facets here. First, he says he can do nothing by, of himself, on my own in the various translations. He then goes on to more clearly distinguish himself from God by saying that he is not doing or seeking his own will but the will of him who sent me

    So here, Jesus is saying that he does everything through God’s power and authority because he can’t do anything on his own (being human), and that he has his own will vs. God’s, who is the (other) who sent him, and whose will he is doing.

    “Oh, He might make some new thing and call it Jesus (or Lazarus). But if death is annihilation, that new thing might resemble Jesus (or Lazarus), but it wouldn’t be the Jesus (or Lazarus) that died.”

    I’m not quite sure where you’re getting this death as annihilation thing. I think you’re splitting hairs that aren’t really there with this. Regardless, you also seem to be saying that God can’t bring things back from certain states of destruction.

    “So your position is really quite self-defeating (unless you want to say that Jesus was not raised…which perhaps you do).”

    No, what I’m saying is that Jesus WAS raised, but the significance of that changes theologically based on what his state was prior to that raising, and who did the raising.

    I’m saying that, in order to maintain theological consistency; on your view, Jesus wasn’t actually raised from the dead because he wasn’t truly dead.

  • Tim

    Part 2
    “So your argument is:

    1. In order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having the God.
    Therefore,
    2. If God has a God, then he is no longer God.
    And (presumably).
    3. God is always God.
    Therefore,
    4. God does not have a God.

    Now, I’m not sure that this argument is even valid…that is that it’s premises imply it’s conclusion.

    I’m pretty sure that the part I added is valid, That is to say that if the intermediate conclusion (item-2) is true, and premise 3 is true, then conclusion 4 follows. BTW I also agree with premise 3.

    So one big question is whether item-2, the intermediate conclusion that you attempt to draw from premise 1, is itself true.

    Presumably, you want to say that item-2 follows logically from item-1. So, of course, item-2 is true (because item-1 is true)

    I frankly don’t see it. So a second big question in our debate is whether item-2 really does follow from item-1.

    I’m not going to spend any time on that…let’s pretend that item-2 really does follow from item-1.

    But there is a third big question.

    Is item-1 true?

    If it is not, then the whole argument is in shambles.

    So is it true that “In order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having the God.”?”

    I think this also works even if we just dropped premise 1

    “For starters, that’s quite a mouthful. It’s hard to tell what is even being said, let alone whether it is true. I think we can express it a little more simply.

    I think this would work:

    God must be external to the beings that He is the God of.

    One wonders, of course, what “external to” means. To bring the premise squarely in contact with the Trinitarian though you are trying to refute, this would do better:

    God must not be of the same substance with any being that He is the God of.

    Or to put it another way:

    God cannot be the God of any being He is of one substance with.”

    That’s probably a better way to state it, yes.

    “The statement you are at pains to refute is usually expressed by me in this way:

    YHWH is the God of YHWH.

    I am using “YHWH” as the name of the substance of God.

    That is to say:

    God is the God of a being He is of one substance with.

    Thus, we see that if your conclusion is the claim that proposition-C is false, then your premise 1 is the claim that proposition-C cannot be true.

    Once again, begging the question.”

    Sorry, you lost me here. So, you’re making up your own definition, that “YHWH is the name of the substance of God”. I have never heard of this, though I do know what you mean by “substance” in relation to trinitarianism. I have never heard anyone say that YHWH is the name of the “substance” of God. This is a novel interpretation as far as I’m aware.

    So, if I’m understanding what you’re saying, God can be the God of a being that is part of himself? That seems very convoluted.
    That only works if you assume trinitarianism. Trinitarianism asserts that God and Jesus are separate persons, and yet are somehow both God. But this breaks down in our example here, because then God becomes his own God in order to maintain scriptural consistency, and that doesn’t work. If God and Jesus are ontologically the same, then this can’t be right.

    As I’ve already said though, the argument works without premise one at all.

    ==================================================

    “I, for example, am not my own Father; that is logically impossible.”

    “No it isn’t logically impossible.

    The famed logician Kurt Gödel has proven that there are solutions to the field equations of general relativity that would allow one to always move forward within one’s future light-cone (i.e. without travelling faster than the speed of light) yet end up in one’s past. That is to say, he proved that time-travel is consistent with the laws of nature as we know them, though perhaps not with the configuration of the universe we actually live in (he did nothing to show that the universe we live in satisfies the field equations of general relativity according to his solution).

    What that shows is that Time travel, while perhaps not physically possible in the world we live in, is logically quite possible.

    If time travel is logically possible, then it is logically possible to be one’s own biological father. A number of delightful and logically consistent time travel stories have that very premise.”

    Even if it’s theoretically possible, it isn’t practically possible. We can’t be two ontologically distinct beings at the same time. It is therefore irrelevant to the discussion.

    BTW: Professor Brian Cox has more recently stated that time travel is theoretically (but not practically, at least at this point) possible, but only in one direction, and that is forward. So it would still be impossible for me to be my own father.

  • WisdomLover

    You’re the one making the claim that something is logically impossible, not me. Insofar as there is any burden of proof, it would rest squarely on you.

    ==============================================

    “If God is a thing then God is a created being.”

    Umm….No. God is an uncreated thing.

    Look, you really don’t have a leg to stand on here. And it’s been evident for several posts. Why not just give that argument up?

    ==============================================

    “What? That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

    You’re right it doesn’t make a bit of sense, but then, since what you quote is me characterizing your view maybe that should you lead to some self-criticism.

    If death is annihilation, as your view implies, then there can be no resurrection at all, not done by Jesus, not done by God the Father, not done by anybody.

    Your view proves too much (a mark of incoherency).

    ==============================================

    “On your understanding, only part of God died.”

    I never said that. Nor do I confess the heresy of partialism.

    ==============================================

    You know, it is the mark of a losing argument that you feel the need to shift the goalposts.

    I’ve got lots of good answers to your misreading of John 5:30, but I am not going to allow you to distract from the focus of this discussion by answering them at this time.

    ==============================================

    “No, what I’m saying is that Jesus WAS raised”

    Something that cannot logically happen if death is annihilation.

    But if death is not annihilation, then it is possible for something to be dead and yet act.

    You can have it one way, but then you don’t get to say that Jesus was raised.

    Or you can have it the other way, but then you don’t get to say that God cannot raise Himself.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    You don’t get to treat death as annihilation when we are wondering whether Jesus can raise Himself, but then treat death as though it is not annihilation when we are wondering whether someone else can raise Jesus.

    You choose, but then you have to stick with that choice and all of its consequences.

    ==============================================

    “I’m saying that, in order to maintain theological consistency; on your view, Jesus wasn’t actually raised from the dead because he wasn’t truly dead.”

    Of course He was truly dead. Unlike you (apparently), I believe with all Christians in the immortality of the soul. So death does not imply, cannot imply, annihilation. You can be as dead as a door nail, yet your soul persists.

  • WisdomLover

    You know it really isn’t necessary to repeat the entire argument. You should, of course, include enough context so as not to be distorting the view, but you can really just focus in on the point you want to disagree with.

    For example, you leave the most important parts of my argument untouched in the above.

    What you want to focus in on is this relatively minor point:

    I am using “YHWH” as the name of the substance of God

    That allowed me to transform this claim:

    “YHWH is the God of YHWH” to “God is the God of a being He is of one substance with”

    To some extent it is utterly irrelevant to the argument what YHWH is the name of, since it is not as though we agree at all about the contention:

    “God is the God of a being He is of one substance with.”

    So, for the sake of argument I simply grant you the irrelevant straw you’re grasping at as a gift.

    Instead I simply affirm the following claim:

    “God is the God of a being He is of one substance with.”

    This allows me to say things like “The Father is the God of Jesus, yet is of one substance with Jesus”

    A point you are at pains to deny.

    The ‘argument’ you gave for your denial unquestionably begins with the ‘premise’ that God must not be of the same substance with any being that He is the God of.

    In other words, it begs the question by proceeding from a premise that is more controversial than the conclusion it purports to prove.

    (Recall that my argument…that proceeds from the contention that the One God is the God of everything that there is…does not beg the question in any way.)

    =========================================

    “As I’ve already said though, the argument works without premise one at all.”

    You never said any such thing.

    And in fact…this is your argument (again)

    “If God has a God, then he is no longer God, as in order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having a God.”

    The word “as” is a premise indicator.

    Your sole premise in this argument is “in order to have a God, that entity would have to be external to the one having a God.”

    You conclude “If God has a God, then he is no longer God” from that first and only premise.

    Now you want to say that you don’t even need your premise?

    Give me a break.

    But let’s say that we take out your premise (in which, as already shown, you assume the very thing you propose to prove). Then what you are saying is that “If God has a God, then he is no longer God” is logically true.

    This is because when an argument contains no premises and the conclusion is still provable, then the conclusion must be a logical truth.

    When you say that “If A, then B” is a logical truth, then you are saying that the following argument is logically valid:

    A
    Therefore
    B

    As such, in your case, saying that “If God has a God, then he is no longer God” is logically true is the same as saying that this argument is valid:

    1′) God has a God
    Therefore
    2′) God is no longer God

    Or, more simply:

    1′) God has a God
    Therefore
    2′) God is not God

    Now, the conclusion of this argument is logically impossible. “God is God” is a logically necessary truth in the same way that “Socrates is Socrates” is. The denial of a logically necessary truth is a logical impossibility.

    The only way to argue validly to a logical impossibility is to start with a logical impossibility. As such, your argument begins with the claim that “God has a God” is logically impossible.

    That is to say, it begins with a premise (that “God has a God” is logically impossible) that is far more controversial that the claim it purports to prove (that “God has a God” is false).

    And so, once again, it begs the question.

    Another way to put all this is that you have given no argument at all against my (proven) claim that YHWH is the God of YHWH. What you have done is simply declared that my claim is logically impossible and pretended that that is an argument.

    =========================================

    As for time travel, I really couldn’t care less whether it is practically impossible.

    You claimed that it is logically impossible to be one’s own father.

    If it is logically possible, but practically impossible for time travel to occur, then it is logically possible for an individual to be his own biological father. Though not practically possible.

    God is not limited by the practically impossible, but only by the logically impossible. So your whole discussion of practical impossibility is yet another distraction.

    BTW, I also couldn’t care less what Cox proved, since his proof is not a refutation of Gödel’s proof, and there is no refutation of Gödel’s proof.

  • Tim

    The refutation of Godel’s proof is that it is only mathematically possible under the right circumstances, which do not exist in our universe.
    It is only (and theoretically, at that) possible to time travel forward.

    As for the rest, I don’t know how to demonstrate that God has a God is illogical; but it seems self evident to me. If I find someone who has successfully argued this according to the rules of logic, I’ll pass it on to you.
    I think one problem is the Omnipotence paradox. You seem to think that God can do absolutely anything, but there are significant problems with this view. Here’s a snippet from a Wikipedia article that highlights some of the problem:
    Omnipotence doesn’t mean breaking the laws of logic

    “A common response from Christian philosophers, such as Norman Geisler or William Lane Craig is that the paradox assumes a wrong definition of omnipotence. Omnipotence, they say, does not mean that God can do anything at all but, rather, that he can do anything that’s possible according to his nature. The distinction is important. God cannot perform logical absurdities; he cannot, for instance, make 1+1=3. Likewise, God cannot make a being greater than himself because he is, by definition, the greatest possible being. God is limited in his actions to his nature. The Bible supports this, they assert, in passages such as Hebrews 6:18, which says it is “impossible for God to lie.”

    Another common response to the omnipotence paradox is to try to define omnipotence to mean something weaker than absolute omnipotence, such as definition 3 or 4 above. The paradox can be resolved by simply stipulating that omnipotence does not require that the being have abilities that are logically impossible, but only be able to do anything that conforms to the laws of logic.”

    But as for now, I think I’m done with this conversation, as it is clearly not going anywhere.

  • Tim

    There are plenty of people who would disagree with you on the necessary immortality of the soul, such as those who subscribe to conditional immortality. There is nothing inherent in scripture to prove that our souls are necessarily immortal. There are things in there that may suggest this, but not prove it.

    According to quantum physics/ mechanics, it is theoretically possible for something to be dead and alive at the same time as a potential (relativistically speaking), at least until one state or the other is known observationally. So, while it is possible in theory, it is not practically possible.

  • WisdomLover

    The disagreement of conditionalists with the traditional view of the immortality of the soul is not based on claims of the inconsistency of the traditional view.

    And, it is not that they generally deny the immortality of the soul. It is that they differ on which souls are immortal and why.

    Conditionalism is based on the idea that immortality is given by God only to those saved from their sin.

    No one would contend that Christ could somehow fail to have an immortal soul based on this understanding.

    Given that a soul is immortal, then a person who is dead, e.g. Christ, or St. Peter, may yet be alive.

    Conditionalists would not, and cannot, disagree with that.

    So checkmate on the conditionalist gambit.

    ==========================================

    I think you don’t quite get the thought-experiment of Schrödinger’s cat.

    For one thing relativistic effects are not to the point here. Nothing need be moving terribly fast to set up the condition where there exists a superposition of quantum states half of them with a living cat and half of them with a dead cat. It is the mere fact that a toxin will be released over a certain time period based on the decay of a radioactive sample.

    Your could set up a similar Schrödinger’s Christ experiment, where the Roman Centurion, traditional called Longinus, is replaced with a device that will thrust the spear of destiny into Christ’s heart based on the same decay.

    Notice that Christ Himself is an observer in this case, so you will not be able to set up this weird superposition of quantum states.

    (Some have argued that Schrödinger’s cat is also defective because the cat itself is an observer).

    But even if you could set up this weird superposition, what you would be setting up is a superposition of states where Christ’s flesh is dead in half the cases, but His soul endures to complete His work. And where his flesh is not yet dead in half the cases.

    In other words, in the cases where Jesus is dead, He would be both dead and alive.

    Once again, death is not soul annihilation.

  • WisdomLover

    “The refutation of Godel’s proof is that it is only mathematically possible under the right circumstances, which do not exist in our universe.”

    For starters, the fact that the right circumstances for time travel probably do not apply in our universe is not a refutation of Gödel’s proof. Gödel himself believed that the right circumstances for time travel probably do not apply in our universe. Yet he proceeded with his proof just the same.

    The fact that the right circumstances for time travel probably do not apply in our universe is utterly irrelevant to the proof.

    The proof shows that time travel is logically possible. That is all I ever drew from it.

    It is true that because the right circumstances for time travel probably do not apply in our universe that we probably will not see time travel in our universe.

    But so what?

    The issue is not whether we can actually do time travel. The issue is whether time travel is logically possible.

    That issue seems to be settled.

    As such, your claim that it is logically impossible to be one’s own father is in ruins…even if we limit the notion of fatherhood to biological fatherhood.

    Add to this the fact that when we say that God the Father is the Father of God the Son, we are not even employing the constrained notion of biological fatherhood.

    Yet we can say this: If it is logically possible, even under the constrained notion of biological fatherhood, for an individual to be the father of himself, then it is certainly logically possible for God to be the Father of Himself.

    That is all that we need to see that your claim that it is logically impossible for God to be the Father of Himself is a complete non-starter.

    This non-starter claim served as your ‘refutation’ of Trinitarian claims about the relationship of the first and second persons of the Godhead.

    So we really can declare that refutation to be a failure at this point.

    ==========================================

    “It is only (and theoretically, at that) possible to time travel forward.”

    I don’t think you quite get the logic here.

    A) Gödel proved that travel into the past is theoretically possible.

    B) Cox proved that travel into the future is theoretically possible.

    Cox’s proof in no way invalidates Gödel’s proof any more than my proof that sheep are mammals would invalidate your proof that goats are mammals.

    BTW, Cox’s ‘proof’ is nothing special. Any Physics undergraduate who understands special relativity could pull it off.

    Indeed, you don’t even need to get into special relativity, since we are always time travelling into the future at the rate of one day per day.

    Cox is primarily a popularist of Physics. He gave his ‘amazing’ proof during a popular talk to Doctor Who fans. The was talk intended to give these lay fans a flavor of some of the physics of time travel.

    Kurt Gödel is one of the premier mathematicians in recent memory. He presented his proof in an actual scholarly treatise (in the academic journal Reviews of Modern Physics) on the logical consequences of the the general theory of relativity.

    It is probably a good idea not to confuse the weight and intent of these two proofs.

    ==========================================

    “As for the rest, I don’t know how to demonstrate that God has a God is illogical; but it seems self evident to me”

    If a thing seems self-evident, but you find yourself unable to prove that denying it leads to some sort of logical absurdity, there’s a very good chance that it is not self-evident…you just have a strong feeling that the statement is true.

    And, bear in mind, I actually have given a proof that God is the God of Himself.

    1) The entity that is God is the God of everything.
    2) The entity that is God is a thing.
    Therefore
    3) The entity that is God is the God of the entity that is God.

    Let’s elaborate a bit.

    For starters, the argument form my argument uses is a well-known valid form. Another argument that uses the same form is probably its most famous example is:

    1) All men are mortal.
    2) Socrates is a man.
    Therefore
    3) Socrates is mortal.

    You’ve probably run across that example at some point.

    In all events, the conclusion “The entity that is God is the God of the entity that is God” certainly follows from my two premises, because there really can be no question about the validity of the argument form.

    Of course, the question arises whether my premises are true. If they are, then we are stuck with the conclusion. If not, then not.

    To see that 1 is true, it is useful to think about what “is the God of” means.

    The best way of understanding this is to say that the God of a thing is in full control of that thing.

    And it seems also that the term “God” itself must be defined so that if there is even one thing that is outside of an entity’s full control, then that entity is not God. ***

    Another way to put this is that, by definition, the entity that is God is in full control of everything.

    To put it another way, the entity that is God is the God of everything.

    Thus premise 1 is true because of the definition of “God”.

    Next, this proposition:

    “The entity that is God is a thing”

    Is clearly logically true, since “entity” and “thing” are synonyms. The proposition is just saying this:

    “The entity that is God is an entity”

    No duh!

    Finally, we may reflect on what our conclusion is saying.

    Given our analysis of premise 1, our conclusion appears to be saying something like this:

    “The entity that is God is in full control of Himself”

    Is that a statement that really bears denial?

    ————–

    *** It is common enough to think that this leaves no room for freedom in lesser beings. But this is not so. The more precise claim would be that it leaves no room for free actions in lesser beings that do not have the concurrence of God.

    You might think of it like this. When I was younger, some driving schools had special cars that had a steering wheel and foot pedals and gearshift on both the driver and passenger side of the car. I don’t remember exactly how they worked, but we could easily imagine that the driver’s side controls guided the vehicle unless contrary commands came from the Passenger (i.e. instructor) side controls. The student drives freely, but the Instructor is in full control at all times.

    ==========================================

    I am aware of the so-called paradoxes of Omnipotence.

    Leave it to fallen humans to act is if their inability or refusal to express a logically coherent challenge to God constitutes some sort of limit on God.

    Needless to say, I’m not terribly impressed with the idea that logic somehow limits God’s power.

    Be that as it may, I fail to see how this is relevant to the current discussion. At no point did I insist that God can work a contradiction.

    Notice please that my refusal to see a contradiction where none exists, e.g. in “Jesus was alive and dead at the same time” or “God is the God of God”, is a million miles away from my saying that God can work a contradiction.

    If you are as done with this conversation as you claim, it is surprising to see you introducing this new distraction into the paradoxes of omnipotence.

  • Tim

    1) The entity that is God is the God of everything.
    2) The entity that is God is a thing.
    Therefore
    3) The entity that is God is the God of the entity that is God.

    Where our disagreement lies as to the validity of your argument, is your use of the word “thing”. While it can be used to describe “An abstract entity, quality, or concept”, it is not a proper usage to refer to God as a “thing” in any example of what they meant by this word in that context that I could find. And I have certainly never heard of God referred to as a “thing” in any theology I have ever come across. Quite the opposite.
    So in my view, God is not a thing (like creation, and everything in it), but rather is the ground of all things.

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/thing

    So, I do not accept this argument as valid.

  • Tim

    The paradox of Omnipotence intersects in that God limits itself in what it can do in line with its character. In light of God’s character/ identity, can death even exist within God (assuming that God can’t wholly die/ be annihilated)?

  • WisdomLover

    You are confusing validity with the truth of premises.

    Unfortunately I was still polishing my answer when you replied, so I encourage you to go back and look at my main answer.

    But I will say here that an argument is valid precisely when it is impossible for all of its premises to be true at the same time that its conclusion is false.

    Notice that a valid argument can have false premises.

    1) All planets have moons.
    2) Mercury is a planet.
    Therefore
    3) Mercury has moons.

    Is a perfectly valid argument in spite of the fact that the first premise is false.

    The defect in the argument is not invalidity. The defect is the falsehood of the first premise.

    What you are actually saying is that you believe that the second premise of my argument is false. The argument is perfectly valid.

    With that terminological confusion cleared, the second premise is of my argument is:

    “The entity that is God is a thing.”

    You believe this to be false because you are hung up in some way about the word “thing”.

    I don’t think there’s really much to your objection to my use of the word “thing”. But let’s leave that to one side. Instead, let’s just recast the argument without the word “thing”.

    1′) The entity that is God is the God of every existent.
    2′) The entity that is God is an existent.
    Therefore
    3′) The entity that is God is the God of the entity that is God.

    By “existent” I just mean that it is an entity that exists.

    With minor adjustments involving the replacement of “thing” with “existent”, the rationale I gave before about the first and second premises of this argument are largely unchanged.

    The argument goes through now without your concerns about the word “thing”.

  • WisdomLover

    Well, I suppose you may have your feelings about what God’s character is.

    You will forgive me for not throwing out 2000 years of orthodox Christianity over those feelings.

    Feelings which, btw, I do not share. I do not see how God could know everything if He does not know death.

    And, once again, God does not need to be annihilated in order to wholly die. Death is not annihilation.

  • Tim

    Well, there’s another point of contention. Your position is all based on assumptions about God which I do not share. God doesn’t necessarily know everything either, and a number of Christian philosophers smarter than either of us have discussed and debated this at length. But that’s a whole other discussion that I don’t want to get into.

  • Tim

    The first thing I learned in basic logic, is that you can have a logically valid argument that isn’t true.
    It simply doesn’t make sense that God is God’s own God. There is no point to it, it’s just silly. The only reason one would want to argue this is to attempt to prop up trinitarianism, which also doesn’t make sense.

    Good bye, I’m done.

  • WisdomLover

    “The first thing I learned in basic logic, is that you can have a logically valid argument that isn’t true.”

    Strictly speaking, arguments themselves are not true or false. The premises and conclusions they contain are the bearers of truth-value. But I think we agree on the basic point. An argument can be fully valid and have a false premise. Such an argument might also have a false conclusion. The point of thinking about validity is that if you have an argument that is valid, and it has all true premises, then the conclusion is, for that very reason, true.

    OK. So, as I was saying, your complaint with my argument is not its validity, but the truth of a premise.

    The premise you were particularly at pains to attack was the premise that said that the entity that is God is a thing. Something about the word “thing” was bothering you. I rather suspect it is that you want to think of things as created things only. As if you cannot have an uncreated thing.

    I must say that I don’t feel any particular need to understand thing in that way. But, if you recall, I gave up that point for the sake of argument and simply recast the argument in terms of existents. Having done so, the argument goes through pretty much the same.

    In this latest post, you proceed to directly attack the conclusion of my argument, insisting that it is silly and that the only reason one could have for insisting upon it is to prop up Trinitarianism.

    Well, I beg to differ. However silly it may feel to you there is a perfectly good reason to believe that it is true that makes no direct reference to Trinitarianism.

    What is that reason you ask?

    It is that the entity that is God is the God of every existent and that entity is Himself an existent.

  • WisdomLover

    There is no Christian philosopher who believes that God is not Omniscient. Though I will grant that there may be any number of non-Christian philosophers who like to style themselves as Christian who will gladly say that God is not Omniscient.

    I should also note that I have read plenty of those very smart philosopher’s stuff. Their arguments for why God cannot know everything are generally pretty lame. They usually turn on a rather sophomoric understanding of the so-called foreknowledge and predestination problems.

  • james warren

    Accuracy is not what the gospel writers were after. Factually correct information was the furthest thing from their minds.

    We are reading GOSPELS.
    And that word means “Good News.”
    And the word “good” is always a subjective interpretation.
    And to be “news,” the information presented has to be constantly updated.
    Matthew and Luke updated Mark and John updated the previous three accounts.

    Christianity is a DEVELOPING TRADITION.

    The different communities of believers that Mark, Matthew, Luke and John wanted to read and hear of a Jesus that made sense to them.

    Some communities today want a Jesus who is against welfare, abortion, liberalism or homosexuality.

    After the Enlightenment, we began to think those ancient people [“those OTHER people”] told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically.
    Not really.
    They told profound symbolical stores and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.

    For example, no one anywhere at any time causes dead people to emerge from their graves and walk around after being dead three days after horrific torture.
    So something else is clearly going on.
    The resurrection is true, but it had nothing to do with Jesus’ body.
    It was something that revealed that Jesus’ power and presence was still available to his followers after his death.

    When we take the sacred and holy metaphors of the Bible literally, we forfeit their epic claim and hope.

  • james warren

    “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”
    “God is greater than I.”
    “Friend, who made me a judge over you?”

    Jesus was a man: statement of FACT
    Jesus was God, Son of God, Savior, virgin-born: statements of FAITH

    And let’s bracket the Book of John for a moment.
    John presents Jesus as a mystical philosopher who talks on and on about himself and the importance of believing in him.
    John has no parables, no concern for the destitute, the word “repent” is found nowhere…. In John Jesus dies on the Day of Preparation–a full 24 hours BEFORE he dies in Mark, Matthew and Luke.
    John contains very little historical information. In John Jesus’ mission lasts only a year instead of the three years attested to by the synoptics.

    John’s Jesus is 180 degrees different from the man who teaches the Kingdom of God in parables and utters short epigrams and proverbs.

    Following Jesus instead of worshiping Christ on a pedestal of our own making.
    Let Jesus speak for himself. Let’s not accept the theology that was placed into his mouth decades after the crucifixion.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m interested in this distinction you draw between statements of fact and those of faith.

    Is every statement one or the other?

    Or how about this, can all statements be separated into those that are statements of fact and those that are not statements of fact?

    And when you say that a statement is a statement of fact, do you just mean that it is true, and not false, or are you saying something about the nature or scope of the statement.

    Some people have said that a statement of fact is a statement with a truth-value (true or false) that is determined by facts in reality. On this understanding, for example, the statement that grass is green and the statement that grass is purple are both statements of fact, that is, of a factual nature. the facts about reality make the first true and the second false. This, such thinkers suppose, distinguishes them from statements of faith or morality.

    So…what exactly do you mean when you say that “Jesus is a man” is a statement of fact?

  • WisdomLover

    “no one anywhere at any time causes dead people to emerge from their graves and walk around after being dead three days after horrific torture.”

    Uh huh.

    And you know that how?

    Have you seen every person at every place and time to know that ‘no one anywhere causes dead people to emerge from their graves’?

  • Michael

    As an Anglican, I affirm the inspiration and authority of scripture, but I don’t feel much need for the doctrine of inerrancy. I do believe that God speaks through scripture, and wherever God speaks, what is spoken is true. At the same time, I don’t find my faith hinging on whether or not everything in the Bible is accurate, since it is God’s prerogative to speak where he will. At the same time, I concur with Karl Barth that the kind of error-hunting going on in this article is a lack of faithfulness to scripture. Any inerrantist, as some have already demonstrated below, can easily explain away these “contradictions.” But these “contradictions” simply have no theological importance. The real question is whether or not the Bible presents a picture of the relation between God and humans. I say that it does. The real question is whether or not the Bible is where God has chosen to speak to his Church. I say it is. The real question is whether each part of scripture is a place that serves a role in communicating God’s message. I say each part plays a role. I’ve no desire to create a Jefferson Bible. Every time I’ve been faced with a difficult Bible passage, a combination of higher criticism, biblical theology, and a prayerful attitude has always led me to deeper possibilities in what God is saying through the whole of the text, rather than worrying about isolated, out-of-context verses like the ones offered here.