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September 12, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He added in June 2017 in a combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Delighted to oblige his wishes . . . 

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But b10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog, he banned me from commenting there. I also banned him for violation of my rules for discussion, but (unlike him) provided detailed reasons for why it was justified.

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. On 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 54 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blueTo find these posts, follow this link: Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

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Bob made a number of false statements and lies about Jesus in his article, “BSR 15: Jesus Didn’t Even Think He Was God” [link] (5-20-20). Its 2587 comments as of this writing is, I think, the highest number I’ve ever seen in a combox anywhere. But I’ll bet none or very few of those dealt with the information I will be bringing up. Bob wrote:

[T]he Bible says lots of things. Some verses argue that Jesus thought he was God, but others say something else.

That people worshipped Jesus isn’t the surprising thing; it’s that he allowed it. And Jesus only claimed to be divine in John. How could something that momentous have slipped the notice of the other gospel authors? . . . [my bolding]

Jesus didn’t even think He was God. . . . 

The Bible is contradictory. You can make it say that Jesus is God or that he’s not.

Jesus in the Bible says that he is God, but then he also says that he isn’t God. A contradictory Bible isn’t a reliable source of history. . . . 

The bigger issue isn’t people eager to worship but a god allowing worship. Being treated like a god is what shallow but powerful people want, not a perfect god.

That Jesus did accept worship suggests that the Bible is just another book of ancient mythology. . . . 

[I’ve dealt with this asinine line of “reasoning” in my papers:

Seidensticker Folly #47: Does God Need Praise? [8-31-20]

Seidensticker Folly #51: God and Praise, Part II [9-8-20] ]

Did Jesus say he was God? Not the messiah, not the Son of Man, but God? If so, that would have been the central message in all the gospels, but we only get this in John. The state of divinity of Jesus seems to have been an editorial decision of the author of each gospel[.]

Jesus claimed to be divine, but only in John. This claim is glaringly absent in the other gospels. Did it just slip the mind of the authors of those gospels, or was Jesus’s divinity a literary invention? [my bolding]

There are actually many indications of the divinity or deity or Godhood of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, but one has to be familiar with the Bible and Hebraic thinking (which Bob is assuredly not: as he has proven innumerable times) in order to see them (as they are often deductive in nature). Whether indirect or not, they are definitely massively and undeniably present.

Direct Statements of Jesus’ Equality with God the Father

Matthew 4:7 (RSV, as throughout) Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” [the devil was tempting Jesus: 4:3, 5-6]

Matthew 13:15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them. (cf. Mt 13:13-14 and Is 6:9-10) [Jesus is citing an Old Testament passage about God and applying it to Himself]

Judge of Mankind

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man… will repay every man for what he has done. (cf. Rev 22:12; Ps 62:12; Is 40:10)

Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, (cf. Ezek 34:17)

The Old Testament plainly taught that God was the judge of men:

1 Samuel 2:10 …The LORD will judge the ends of the earth… (cf. Gen 18:25; 1 Chr 16:33; Ps 7:11; 9:8; 96:10; Is 2:4; 33:22)

Psalm 50:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! (cf. 58:11; 67:4; 82:8; 94:2; Jer 11:20)

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (cf. 3:17; Ezek 18:30; 33:20; Joel 3:12)]

Zephaniah 1:14-15 The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the mighty man cries aloud there. [15] A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

Psalm 2:9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Psalm 110:5-6 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. [6] He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.

Divine “I” 

Jesus teaches in His own authority (“I say to you”) in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:18-34, etc.), and many other passages. The prophets, in contrast, spoke as God’s messengers in the second person (“The Lord says…”). He often talks in a way in which only God could speak, and distinguishes Himself from the prophets (Mt 13:17). Perhaps the most striking example of this occurs in Matthew 23:

Matthew 23:34, 37 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes… [37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (cf. Jud 6:8; 2 Ki 17:13; 2 Chr 24:19; Jer 7:25; 25:4; 26:5; 29:19; 35:15; 44:4; Hag 1:12; Zech 7:12)

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (cf. Mt 23:37; Dt 32:11-12; Ruth 2:12; Ps 36:7; 57:1; 63:7; 91:4)

Acceptance of Worship (Reserved for God Only)

Matthew 14:33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (cf. 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 20:20)

Matthew 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. (cf. 28:17)

Mark 5:6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him;

Mark 5:22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja’irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet,

Mark 7:25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet.

Mark 10:17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

God alone is to be worshiped (as Jesus Himself noted):

Exodus 34:14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), (cf. 20:3)

Deuteronomy 8:19 And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish. (cf. 11:16; 17:3; 29:26; 30:17; 1 Ki 9:6-9; Jer 16:11; 22:9; 25:6; Dan 3:28)

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” (cf. Mt 4:10) 

Omniscient (All -Knowing)

Omniscience is implied (though not proven) in many passages that describe Jesus’ extraordinary knowledge; these are consistent with omniscience (Mt 9:4; 12:25; Mk 2:8; 14:13-15; Lk 5:22; 6:8; 9:47; 22:10-13).

Additionally, there are many other verses illustrating that Jesus knew the future perfectly, which is also consistent with, and suggestive of omniscience, though not a proof (Mt 12:40; 13:1; 16:21; 17:9, 11-12, 22-23; 20:18-19; 21:39; 24:2; 26:2, 12, 21, 31-34, 54; Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34; 14:9, 18, 27-30, 42, 49; Lk 9:22, 44; 11:30; 12:50; 17:25; 18:31-33; 22:15, 21-22, 32, 34, 37).

The Old Testament taught that God alone is omniscient:

1 Chronicles 28:9 …the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought.… (cf. 1 Ki 8:39; 2 Chr 6:30; Ps 44:21; Is 66:18; Ezek 11:5; Mt 6:8; Lk 16:15)

Psalm 147:5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power;  his understanding is beyond measure. (cf. Job 36:4; 37:16; Is 40:28; 46:10; 48:3)

Omnipresent (Present Everywhere)

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 28:20 “. . . I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

God alone is omnipresent:

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee…. (cf. 2 Chr 2:6)

Psalm 139:7-8 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!

Jeremiah 23:24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.

Forgives Sins in His Own Name

Mark 2:5, 10 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”… [10] …the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins… (cf. Mt 9:2-6; Lk 5:20-24)

Luke 7:47-48 “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” [48] And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

God alone can forgive sins in His own name:

Exodus 34:7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,… (cf. 2 Sam 12:13; 1 Ki 8:34; Dan 9:9; Mic 7:18)

Psalm 25:11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (cf. 25:7, 18; 32:1-2, 5)

Psalm 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (cf. 65:3; 79:9; 85:2; 99:8; Is 1:18; 6:6; 44:22)

Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (cf. 130:4)

Isaiah 43:25 I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (cf. 55:7)

Jeremiah 33:8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. (cf. 31:34; Ezek 33:15-16)

Luke 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (cf. Mk 2:7)

Jesus Taught that the Messiah (“Christ”) — Which He Claimed to Be — is Lord (Kurios) and God

Matthew 22:43-45 He said to them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, [44] ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet’? [45] If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (cf. Mk 12:36-37; Lk 20:42-44)

Every time the New Testament refers to Jesus as Christ, it is declaring that He is the Messiah, since Christ is the Greek for the Hebrew Messiah:

Matthew 16:16-17, 20 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”… [20] Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (cf. Mk 8:27-30; 9:41; Lk 4:41; 9:18-21)

Mark 14:61-62 But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” [62] And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (cf. Mt 26:63-65; Lk 22:67-71; 24:25-27)

See also Mt 1:16-18; 5:17; 11:2, 10; 21:42; 24:5, 23-24; 26:56, 68; 27:17, 22; Mk 3:11; 5:7; 13:21-22, 26; Lk 1:31-33; 2:11, 26; 4:20-21; 22:37; 23:2, 35, 39; 24:44.

Son of Man When Jesus calls Himself “the Son of Man” (e.g., Mt 10:23, 32-33; 19:28; 23:37 ff.; 24:47; Mk 2:19-20; 3:28-29; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 31; 10:33, 38; 14:21, 41; Lk 11:30; 12:8, 49-50; 17:24; 18:6, 8; 21:36; 22:27, 48), He is claiming to be the Messiah, since He is referring (especially in Mk 13:26; 14:62) to a well-known messianic passage:

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. [14] And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

In Mark 14:61-62, Jesus assumes that the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of Man are one and the same (Himself). Matthew 16:16-17 establishes the fact that the Messiah and “the Son of God” are identical as well.

Source of Eternal Words

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Compare to the Old Testament, referring to God:

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Angels of Whom?

Matthew 13:41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, (cf. 16:27; 24:31; Lk 15:10; Gen 28:12; 32:1; Lk 12:8-9)

Second Coming

Matthew 24:30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; (Mt 16:27; 26:64; Mk 14:62)

The Old Testament presents God coming in judgment in an identical way:

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. (cf. 40:5; Ps 96:13; 98:9)

Isaiah 66:15-16 For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the stormwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. [16] For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. (cf. 59:20; Joel 2:11; Zech 2:10)

Zechariah 9:14 Then the LORD will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet, and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

Zechariah 12:10 …when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. 

Zechariah 14:3-5 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. [4] On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley;… [5]…. Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Isaiah 11:4 …he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

The evidence is overwhelming. How Bob could miss all of it and yet ridiculously pose as some sort of “expert” on the Bible: mocking and lecturing all Christians like children about how stupid and gullible they are, is the amazing thing and mystery here. The only fool and clueless person in this instance is him.

Related Reading

Jesus is God: Hundreds of Biblical Proofs (RSV edition) [1982; rev. 2012]

50 Biblical Proofs That Jesus is God [National Catholic Register, 2-12-17]

Holy Trinity: Hundreds of Biblical Proofs (RSV edition) [1982; rev. 2012]

Holy Trinity: Not Demonstrable From Scripture Alone? [5-4-08]

50 Biblical Evidences for the Holy Trinity [National Catholic Register, 11-14-16]

Seidensticker Folly #9: Trinity Unclear in the Bible? [8-17-18]

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Photo credit: Didgeman (8-20-15) [Pixabay / Pixabay license]

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September 12, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” 

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 53 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Leviticus 19:18 (RSV) You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Bob wrote in his article, Christians’ Damning Retreat into ‘Difficult Verses’ “ [link] (4-29-20; update of a post from 2-13-16), referring to the above Bible verse:

For starters, “Love your neighbor as yourself” means, “Love your fellow Jewish neighbor as yourself,” so let’s not imagine a big worldwide hug from Yahweh.

This is incorrect. By simple cross-referencing and logical deduction, we see that “neighbor” refers to “every person”. 16 verses later the same moral precept is applied to the non-Jew (thus neatly refuting Bob’s illusion: along with many other passages below):

Leviticus 19:34 The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 22:21-22, 25 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. [22] You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. . . . [25] If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him.”

And “neighbor” simply means “another man” in the next chapter:

Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.”

Reya: the Hebrew word for “neighbor” in Leviticus 19:18, is seen to be the equivalent of “any other person” in passages like this:

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” [one of the Ten Commandments]

In this regard, see my related paper, “Love Your Enemies”: Old Testament Teaching Too?

The “sojourner” or foreigner (not just the fellow Jew) was regarded as a neighbor and to be loved as such:

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. [18] He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. [19] Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15, 17-22 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; [15] you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down (for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it); lest he cry against you to the LORD, and it be sin in you. . . . [17] “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge; [18] but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. [19] “When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. [20] When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. [21] When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. [22] You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”

Deuteronomy 26:11-13 and you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. [12] “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within your towns and be filled, [13] then you shall say before the LORD your God, `I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all thy commandment which thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed any of thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them;

See also: “Stranger and Sojourner (in the Old Testament)” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online)

“All men” were referred to:

Wisdom 12:13 For neither is there any god besides thee, whose care is for all men, to whom thou shouldst prove that thou hast not judged unjustly;

Wisdom 16:12 For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.

And “every man”:

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Jeremiah 32:19 great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of men, rewarding every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings;

And “all nations” and “all the peoples”:

Psalms 67:1-5 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah] [2] that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations. [3] Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! [4] Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah] [5] Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!

Isaiah 66:18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory,”

Habakkuk 2:5 . . . He gathers for himself all nations, and collects as his own all peoples.”

The “whole world” and “earth” and “world” are referred to:

Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein;

Psalms 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalms 49:1 Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

Isaiah 26:9 . . . For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 27:6 In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.

Isaiah 34:1 Draw near, O nations, to hear, and hearken, O peoples! Let the earth listen, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it.

All of this cannot possibly be construed as a provincial “Jews Only” outlook. Bob is out to sea as usual: not only wrong, but as far from the truth as he can possibly be on this topic. When will he ever learn to do serious Bible study when he sets out to pose as some sort of “biblical expert”? He may fool and hoodwink the uneducated, ignorant Christian (and many atheist former Christians were clearly of this type), but he’s easy work for anyone with the least acquaintance with the Bible and how to sensibly, rationally interpret it.

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Photo credit: The Good Samaritan (1854), by Luigi Sciallero (1829-1920) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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September 11, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” 

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 52 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob wrote in his article, “Debunking 10 Popular Christian Principles for Reading the Bible (2 of 3)” (3-1-19; update of a post from 3-10-15):

And is that the best example of sloppy quoting from the Old Testament? Here’s a fun one: Matthew says that the resolution of what to do with the 30 pieces of silver, the “blood money” that Judas threw at the priests, was foretold: “Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled” (Matthew 27:9–10). But the 30 pieces of silver wasn’t a reference to Jeremiah but Zechariah 11:12–13.

Worse, the Zechariah passage is no prophecy. Say that Matthew was inspired by Zechariah if you want, but it certainly gives no fulfilled prophecy. 

It’s true that there are several ways in which Christian exegetes and commentators have tried to explain this, but there are, arguably, one or more plausible solutions among these attempts: not able to be dismissed out of hand.  Christian apologists Dave Miller and Eric Lyons grapple with the question:

[I]n Jesus’ day, rabbinical practice entailed identifying quotations by the name of the first book in a group of books that had been clustered by literary genre. Writing in the journal Bibliotheca Sacra over a half a century ago, Charles Feinberg commented on this point, saying, “The Talmudic tradition [e.g., Baba Bathra 14b—DM/EL] shows that the prophetic writings in order of their place in the sacred books was Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc. This order is found in many Hebrew MSS…. Matthew, then quoted the passage as from the roll of the prophets, which roll is cited by the first book” ([Jan.] 1945 [“Exegetical Studies in Zechariah,” 102:55-73, p. 72). Furthermore, in all of the quotations from Zechariah in the New Testament, no mention is ever made of his name in conjunction with the prophecies (cf. Matthew 21:4; 26:31; John 12:14; 19:37). Thus, it is logical to conclude that Matthew merely referred to this whole division of the Old Testament by naming its first book (Jeremiah), just as Jesus referred to the “writings” section of the Old Testament by the name of its first book, Psalms (Luke 24:44). Jeremiah could have served as the designation for quotations from any of the included books. . . . 

New Testament writers frequently were guided by the Holy Spirit to weave the thought of several Old Testament contexts into a single application. Matthew referred to a series of details in the following order: the thirty pieces of silver (vs. 3); Judas threw the silver down in the temple (vs. 5); the chief priests took the silver and bought the potter’s field (vs. 6-7); and the field is named (vs. 8).

Matthew then quoted from the Old Testament (vss. 9-10). (“Who was Matthew Quoting?”, [link] 2004)

Matthew can be said to have either cited or alluded to Jeremiah 18:2-3; 19:1-2, 11; 32:8-9; as well as Zechariah 11:12-13. Commentator William Hendriksen further elaborates:

What Matthew does, therefore, is this: he combines two prophecies, one from Zechariah and one from Jeremiah. Then he mentions not the minor prophet but the major prophet as the source of the reference The mention of only one source when the allusion is to two is not peculiar to Matthew. Mark does this also. Thus Mark 1:23 refers first to Malachi, then to Isaiah. Nevertheless, Mark ascribes both prophecies to ‘Isaiah,’ the major prophet. And similarly the quotation found in II Chron. 36:21 is drawn from Lev. 26:3435 and from Jer. 25:12 (cf. 29:10), but is ascribed only to ‘Jeremiah’” (An Exposition of Matthew [Baker,1975], p. 948).

The general topic of New Testament citation of the Old Testament is an exceedingly complex and fascinating one. Critics like Bob owe it to themselves and to the principle of intellectual honesty and integrity to at least have a passing familiarity with that topic. See, for example, the 1958 essay, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” by Roger Nicole, for an excellent introductory overview and summary.

***

Photo credit: Jeremiah sits amidst the rubble of Jerusalem, after its siege, by Eduard Bendemann (1811-1889) [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license]

***

September 10, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” 

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 51 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob wrote in his article, “Debunking 10 Popular Christian Principles for Reading the Bible” (2-27-19; update from 3-2-15):

Principle #3: Let the Bible Clarify the Bible.

Every Bible shows related verses in the margin or in a footnote. Read these other verses to clarify any difficult passages.

The puzzle given is Paul’s statement that “[the human body] is sown a natural body, [but] it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). Paul is rejecting the imperfect physical body and sees it perfected in the spiritual equivalent. While this was popular Greek thinking at the time, it was eventually rejected by the Christian church.

But Paul out of step with Christianity isn’t an embarrassing problem, . . . 

Let’s instead assume the reverse and impose the idea of a body-less spirit from the first verse onto the second verse: “The [spirit/ghost] makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments.” Now we’re talking about a risen spirit that has discarded its material body. . . . 

The only problem Wallace solves is how to hammer the Bible to fit his preconceptions. He goes into his Bible study certain that God raises bodies physically rather than spiritually, and he’s determined to wring that meaning from it. That’s not how an honest person reads the Bible. [my bolding; after the title]

In summary, Bob claims that St. Paul and the Bible do not teach a physical, resurrected body of those who are saved and go to heaven, and then notes that later Christianity rejects this (which is true, because it never was biblical teaching). There are several ways to show that this is an absurd and ludicrous misreading of the Bible; a falsehood and a lie.

The easiest way, I think, is to show that the resurrection of Jesus (the prototype of the general resurrection of the saved: the “first fruits: 1 Cor 15:20-22) was physical. He didn’t come back as a non-material spirit or “ghost”:

Luke 24:36-43 (RSV) As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” [41] And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” [42] They gave him a piece of broiled fish, [43] and he took it and ate before them.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, . . . “

John 20:24-27  Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” [26] Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” [27] Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”

John 21:12-15 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. [13] Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. [14] This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. [15] When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, . . . 

Mere spirits or ghosts can’t be held or touched, and they can’t eat fish or bread. Resurrection means “raising a body from the dead.” I could go into meanings of Greek biblical words, but why bother? Christians already know this, and Bob couldn’t care less, because he thinks all Christians are ignoramuses and can’t teach him anything. He refuses to learn or be corrected. So I will stick to Scripture itself for my present purposes. Even Bob (in a roundabout way) is calling for a consideration of all the Bible on any given topic, so we are doing precisely that. I’m all for it! It always shows that Bob is clueless and out to sea in his exegesis.

The next thing we show, having demonstrated that Jesus had a glorified “spiritual” physical body after His resurrection, is that Paul describes our own resurrected bodies as like that of Jesus:

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.\

Philippians 3:20-21 . . . a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul talks about our resurrection bodies, which we “put on” being “imperishable.” In other words, he’s saying that according to natural law, physical bodies perish and die, but spiritual, resurrected bodies do not. He’s not talking about spirits. If it were a transformation of a physical body into a spirit, he wouldn’t use the terminology of “raised” either: because that refers to physical bodies, which died, and are now “raised”. Nor would he refer to a “spiritual body”: he would have simply referred to a “spirit” (which the New Testament does many times). The two are not at all identical, as Bob assumes. The whole point was Jesus conquering physical death, which applies to physical bodies, not spirits. 

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. [43] It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. [44] It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. [54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

The Gospel of Matthew exhibits the same understanding of resurrected bodies of the dead:

Matthew 27:52 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,

Here is another passage from Paul that plainly refer to bodily resurrection:

Romans 8:22-23 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; [23] and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Case closed. Bob the Bible-Basher is wrong yet again about what the Bible (agree or disagree) teaches. It’s amazing how often that happens. His goal was to make fools of Christians and Christianity and to mock the Bible. Instead he has made an ass of himself, and this is the 52nd time I have documented it. The Bible aptly and vividly describes what he does:

Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.

2 Peter 2:22 . . . the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

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Photo credit: Mark Peters (9-26-10) Yorkshire pigs wallow in mud at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license]

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September 8, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” 

He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.”

And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 48 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

I was browsing Bob’s website, looking for something else of the innumerable items that are ripe for Christian refutation, and I happened to come across a citation where he actually cited me (!!!). This was just before the period where he (very conveniently) dissed me as unworthy of anyone’s further attention. Here it is:

Let’s continue with Christian apologists’ justifications for praise and worship of God . . . 

3. Worship isn’t for God’s benefit but Man’s

We don’t worship God because He needs it (He needs nothing and is entirely self-sufficient), but because we need it. . . . God “needs” no worship whatever because in Christian theology, He needs nothing. He’s completely all-sufficient and self-sufficient. It’s for our sake that we “render unto God’s what is rightfully God’s.” (Source) (God as Donald Trump: Trying to Make Sense of Praise and Worship (part 3) ) (8-27-18)

This is an adequate summary of the Christian position on worship, I think, but as usual, it goes over (or through) Bob’s head, and he doesn’t get it. Just nine days ago I refuted Bob on this very topic (Seidensticker Folly #47: Does God Need Praise? [8-31-20] ). That’s the basic Christian response. Presently, I will highlight a few different aspects of the question.

Don’t tell me that God gets no benefit from human actions.

God gets no benefit from human actions. Sorry!

Burnt offerings are a “pleasing aroma” in the Bible, 

Of course, He says this because the idea is that “proper worship of human beings is good for them, because they ought to praise and worship the God Who created them.” But it’s not literal; rather, it’s an instance of the very common anthropopathism and anthropomorphism in the Bible. This is what Bob has to learn and understand. He obviously is completely unfamiliar with it, so this is what comes from biblical illiteracy and ignorance.

Again, God doesn’t need anything. This is standard theology proper (theology of God) in historic Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant alike. Moreover, the “pleasing aroma” is necessarily symbolic because God the Father is a non-material spirit and has no nostrils. He’s simply communicating in terms that human beings can understand: condescending to us. The idea is human obedience and doing what is best for us (serving and obeying God, for out own happiness and well-being). This was a poetic, easily comprehensible way to express, “yes, you’re doing well and good.”

But when His people disobeyed Him and became sinful and unrighteous, He expressed the opposite:

Amos 5:11-14, 21-24 (RSV) Therefore because you trample upon the poor and take from him exactions of wheat, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. [12] For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins — you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. [13] Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. [14] Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said . . . [21] I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. [22] Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. [23] Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. [24] But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

Proverbs 21:27  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent. 

Jeremiah 6:19-20 Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing evil upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. [20] To what purpose does frankincense come to me from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.

Malachi 1:6-14 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, `How have we despised thy name?’ [7] By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, `How have we polluted it?’ By thinking that the LORD’s table may be despised. [8] When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that no evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that no evil? Present that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. [9] And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. [10] Oh, that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire upon my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. [11] For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. [12] But you profane it when you say that the LORD’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised. [13] `What a weariness this is,’ you say, and you sniff at me, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. [14] Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished; for I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name is feared among the nations. 

It’s all anthropopathism (i.e., non-literal expression). What is true in this is that God’s will is for man to obey Him: precisely because that is how man will be happy and fulfilled and joyful; not because God needs anything at all. If Bob had the slightest understanding of the very complex, multi-faceted Hebrew literary / poetic idiom, he would grasp this.

but this wasn’t like incense, where God could take it or leave it.

As I just demonstrated, it was exactly like incense. If it was done correctly (whether incense or burnt offerings) by people who were seeking righteousness, God was said to be “pleased” with it (e.g., as regards incense: Lev 16:12-13). But if it was done by sinning hypocrites, He is said to not be pleased (e.g., Lev 26:30).

This is explicitly labeled a food offering 27 times in the Old Testament. 

Yes; so what? There was a right way and a wrong way to do it, depending on the righteousness of the offerer.

And in the Garden of Eden story, God created Adam to be the gardener (Genesis 2:15).

Sure; how is that relevant to the topic at hand?

Getting onto more cerebral or emotional needs, God refers to “everyone . . . whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:7). No, God isn’t “entirely self-sufficient” when humans support his Maslow’s pyramid, providing food and labor at the bottom and glory and esteem at the top.

Nice try. This gets into the silly atheist argument that God is supposedly a “cosmic narcissist” or “egomaniac” and so forth: that I dealt with in my previous paper. Any “glory” given or attributed to God is for our sake, not His: just as if a child honors or praises or obeys his or her parents, it is for his or her own good. In fact, God does share His glory and gives human beings glory, as Scripture informs us. Now why in the world would He do that, if indeed He were indeed such a crazed, insecure egomaniac?:

Psalm 8:5 Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.
*
Psalm 149:4-5, 9 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. [5] Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. . . . [9] . . . This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the LORD! 

Proverbs 16:31 A hoary head is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Proverbs 28:12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory; . . .

Isaiah 60:1-2 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. [2] For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Isaiah 60:4 . . . the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Daniel 5:18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnez’zar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty;

John 5:44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

John 17:22 The glory which thou hast given me [Jesus] I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

Romans 2:9-10 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, [10] but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

Romans 5:2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Romans 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory,

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:19  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:4 . . . partakers of the Holy Spirit,

1 Peter 4:14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

1 Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. (cf. 5:4)

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, [4] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

See also:

“In Him” An Expression of the Oneness of Theosis? [3-13-14]

Theosis / Deification / Divinization in Western Spirituality [2015]

Christianity confuses itself because God evolved dramatically through the Bible. . . . early in his development, God needed humans, and that included their worship.

Sheer nonsense, as I have shown many times:

Seidensticker Folly #19: Torah & OT Teach Polytheism? [9-18-18]

Seidensticker Folly #20: An Evolving God in the OT? [9-18-18]

Madison vs. Jesus #6: Narcissistic, Love-Starved God? [8-6-19]

Loftus Atheist Error #8: Ancient Jews, “Body” of God, & Polytheism [9-10-19]

Do the OT & NT Teach Polytheism or Henotheism? [7-1-20]

The Bible Teaches That Other “Gods” are Imaginary [National Catholic Register, 7-10-20]

Perhaps an apologist could cherry pick Bible verses later in the Bible to show that God is aloof from human actions. Maybe this god sings along with Simon and Garfunkel, “I am a rock / I am an island.”

I suggest that Bob pick up a good book on the Christian theology of God and get up to speed, so he doesn’t embarrass himself any further (if indeed that is even possible).

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Photo credit: geralt (4-20-18) [Pixabay / Pixabay license]

***

September 8, 2020

And Does the Gospel of Mark Radically Differ from the Other Gospels in the “Family vs. Following Jesus” Aspect?

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” 

He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.”

And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 48 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob writes in his article,More Damning Bible Contradictions: #25 Was Jesus Crazy or God?” (12-12-19):

Jesus is crazy

Too little is made of a surprising passage from Mark. Jesus was preaching in Galilee, and then:

When [Jesus’s] family heard about [Jesus being nearby], they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).

The point of the story contrasts his actual family, who think he’s crazy, with his disciples, who have abandoned their professions to follow him. . . .

The interesting thing here is his family calling him crazy. How was that possible, when it was clear from other gospels that Jesus was divine?

Bob then correctly cites and interprets (stop the presses!) several passages which do indeed show that Jesus was God and that Mary knew He was (Mt 1:20-24; Lk 1:28-38; 2:8-19, 25-38). Of course, he thinks that this merely suggests contradiction between Matthew / Luke and Mark, but he has vastly misunderstood a passage in Mark, as I will proceed to demonstrate below. He again states correctly:

Not only are Mary and Joseph assured that their son is divine, but this isn’t a family secret. Word has spread far. The magi informed Herod’s court, and Herod killed infant boys for fear of a rival to the throne; the shepherds tell everyone they can about the angels’ message; Simeon publicly states in the Temple that Jesus is the Messiah; and the Temple teachers see his wisdom for themselves.

But then he presents his ludicrous thesis:

Making sense of the contradiction

Let’s return to Mark, where Jesus’s mother and brothers want to take charge of him because he’s crazy. Jesus can’t be both crazy and divine. But drop the requirement that these stories must harmonize, and the resolution is easy.

Matthew and Luke copy (sometimes verbatim) from Mark. In fact, 97 percent of Mark is copied by either Matthew or Luke or both. However, the nativity stories appear only in Matthew and Luke, and the “Jesus is crazy” story appears only in Mark. Mark threw the holy family under the bus to make the point that following Jesus is a higher calling than familial loyalty, but Matthew and Luke didn’t copy that story, perhaps because, as we’ve seen here, it conflicts with the clear evidence in the nativity stories that Jesus is different because he’s divine.

Mark and the other two synoptic gospels had different agendas. 

It so happens that I have already refuted this lie and total misunderstanding at great length in my article, “Did the Blessed Virgin Mary Think Jesus Was Nuts?” (7-2-20). I need not reiterate the entire argument, since the link will suffice, but let me present a few highlights:

Mark 3:21-22 (RSV) And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” [22] And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el’zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” (cf. Jn 10:20-21)

Note the italicized and bolded word. Other translations (including, unfortunately, KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB) make it sound like Jesus’ family were agreeing and/or saying that Jesus’ was mad, but in fact the text is saying that “people” in general were doing so (just as the Pharisees did).

But if the text doesn’t refer to them, it can simply be construed as His family coming out to remove Him from the crowds, who were massively misunderstanding Him, accusing, and perhaps becoming violent (as at Nazareth, when they tried to throw Him over a cliff). Hence, there would be no necessary implication of His family’s (let alone Mary’s) disbelief in Him. They were concerned for His safety. Other translations convey the true sense of the passage (which is interpreted by 3:22 indicating that the “scribes” were saying Jesus was crazy):

NRSV When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”

Good News / (TEV) When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him, because people were saying, “He’s gone mad!”

Moffatt . . . . . . for men were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

Phillips . . . for people were saying, “He must be mad!”

NEB . . . for people were saying that he was out of his mind. . . . 

We know that there was some unbelief in the former [His extended family] (“For even his brothers did not believe in him”: John 7:5). But this doesn’t include Mary, nor can any passage be found that directly implies any disbelief in Mary about her Son and His status as God Incarnate and MessiahShe knew about that from the time of the Annunciation.

Nor is disbelief on the part of some of His relatives the same as thinking He was crazy; out of His mind.

This absolutely pulverizes Bob’s contention that Mark (with his supposed particular agenda, etc., etc.) was portraying Jesus’ family as against Him; thinking He had gone mad. It takes out one of his key premises: obtained from all of his skeptical reading about the Bible, from those who despise it and Christianity and Christians: which he parrots and uncritically regurgitates. If the foundation of his argument is wiped out, then the “house” of his silly argument collapses as well.

Bob makes another false statement within his overall fictional false narrative. I repeat it from above: “Mark threw the holy family under the bus to make the point that following Jesus is a higher calling than familial loyalty, . . .”

This larger point and theory of a supposed peculiarity in Mark is demonstrably untrue as well. All four Gospels have definite elements of “following Jesus as a priority over one’s own family.” The Gospel of John, as we saw in my quotation of my past paper, above, states, “For even his brothers did not believe in him” (7:5, RSV, as throughout this paper). Luke records Jesus saying, after His townsfolk in Nazareth rejected Him and tried to throw him off a steep cliff: “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country” (4:24). Matthew concurs: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (13:57; cf. Mk 6:4).

All the gospels agree in teaching this message about the conflict of loyalties between home / family and following Jesus / God as a called disciple. Mark is no different from the other three:

Matthew 4:18-22 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. [19] And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [20] Immediately they left their nets and followed him. [21] And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb’edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. [22] Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [25] For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 19:27-29 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” [28] Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.

Mark 1:16-20 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. [17] And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” [18] And immediately they left their nets and followed him. [19] And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. [20] And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb’edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

Mark 8:34-35 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [35] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 10:28-30 Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” [29] Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, [30] who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.

Luke 18:28-30 And Peter said, “Lo, we have left our homes and followed you.” [29] And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, [30] who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

John 1:35-47 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; [36] and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” [37] The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. [38] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” [39] He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [40] One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. [41] He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). [42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). [43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” [44] Now Philip was from Beth-sa’ida, the city of Andrew and Peter. [45] Philip found Nathan’a-el, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” [46] Nathan’a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” [47] Jesus saw Nathan’a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

John 12:26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.

So if Bob’s skeptical, irrational mythology of Mark supposedly emphasizingfollowing Jesus” as “a higher calling than familial loyalty” were true, why is it that Matthew and Luke (that he says copied most of Mark) — as well as John in a different way — contain the above passages about that very thing? There is simply no difference here.

Under Bob’s view, they should not. But since his view is false in the first place, they do. And when there is a proposed stark difference (the falsely alleged “his family — including His mother — thought He was nuts!” scenario), it’s seen to be utterly untrue in the first place.

So (shock and horror!) Bob is completely wrong yet again. Since he accepts no correction from a lowly Christian apologist like myself (now having completed 50 critiques / refutations of his errors), he never learns, and keeps repeating the same lies over and over; making a fool of himself and showing himself to be an intellectual coward.

Meanwhile, the Bible is again vindicated against his ceaseless attacks, as it always is, because it is inspired, infallible revelation from God.

***

Photo credit: Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles, by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

***

September 7, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” 

He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.”

And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 48 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob writes in his article, “The Leaky Noah’s Ark Tale” (7-2-13) [link]:

Contradictions

As with the two Genesis creation stories—six days vs. Garden of Eden—a flood story from the older J source (about 950 BCE) is squashed with one from the P source (500 BCE) to make an unhappy compromise. . . . 

See my articles: Documentary Theory of Biblical Authorship (JEPD): Dialogue [2-12-04]

Documentary Theory (Pentateuch): Critical Articles [6-21-10]

The P source says that Noah brought just one pair of all animals (Gen. 6:19–20), while the J source says that he also brought seven pairs of all birds and kosher (“clean”) animals (7:2–3).

According to [Robert] Price, these two sources each had their partisans, so each had to be preserved. Better to merge them, however imprecisely, than to drop a beloved story element.

First, let’s look at the passages:

Genesis 6:19-20 (RSV) And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. [20] Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive.

Genesis 7:2-3 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; [3] and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth.

Genesis 7:8-9 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground,
[9] two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah.

This alleged “contradiction is a favorite of atheist anti-theists and other biblical skeptics. Dr. Steven DiMattei in his ambitious series, “Contradictions in the Bible,” writes about Genesis 6 and 7:

[T]he two flood stories, J’s and P’s, have been skillfully stitched together to produce a single narrative—a narrative, however, that contains a number of inconsistencies and contradictions.

Matt Young bluntly asserts: “In short, there are two contradictory statements: Noah took two of each kind into the ark, and Noah took seven.”

It’s not often that Bob himself offers the solution to his own proposed biblical contradiction in another article (“Dismantling the Noah Story”: 3-31-14) eight months later (thus contradicting himself: which is a not infrequent occurrence):

God also commanded that he take seven pairs of all clean animals plus one pair of all other animals. . . . 

J demands seven pairs of clean animals, but P demands only one pair. This is because only J has a sacrifice at the end, and you can’t sacrifice animals if they’re the only ones of their species.

Thanks, Bob! You make my work even easier (in refuting you) than it already perpetually is.

Bible scholar Gleason Archer, in his famous Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, elaborates:

Some have suggested that these diverse numbers, two and seven, involve some sort of contradiction and indicate conflicting traditions later combined by some redactor who didn’t notice the difference between the two.

It seems strange that this point should ever have been raised, since the reason for having seven of the clean species is perfectly evident: they were to be used for sacrificial worship after the Flood had receded (as indeed they were, according to Gen. 8:20: . . .). Obviously if there had not been more than two of each of these clean species, they would have been rendered extinct by their being sacrificed on the altar. But in the case of the unclean animals and birds, a single pair would suffice, since they would not be needed for blood sacrifice.

Christian apologist Eric Lyons expands upon this understanding:

[T]he clean beasts and birds entered the ark “by sevens” (KJV), while the unclean animals went into the ark by twos. There is no contradiction here. Genesis 6:19 indicates that Noah was to take “two of every sort into the ark.” Then, four verses later, God supplemented this original instruction, informing Noah in a more detailed manner to take more of the clean animals. If a farmer told his son to take two of every kind of farm animal to the state fair, and then instructed his son to take several extra chickens and two extra pigs for a barbecue, would anyone accuse the farmer of contradicting himself? Certainly not. It was necessary for Noah to take additional clean animals because, upon his departure from the ark after the Flood, he “built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the alter” (Genesis 8:20). (“How Many Animals of Each Kind did Noah Take into the Ark?,” [linkApologetics Press, 2004)

Nor is Genesis 7:8-9 a supposed additional contradiction. It’s simply saying that all the animals went into the ark by pairs, “male and female”; in other words, it was always pairs, with each gender, whether it was two pairs (unclean animals) or seven pairs (clean animals).

Once again, then, — for the umpteenth time — we see that an alleged “biblical contradiction” (Bob’s self-deluded stock-in-trade) evaporates upon close inspection.

***

Photo credit: [public domain / NeedPix.com]

***

August 31, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 47 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob writes in his article, “More of the Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions (Part 6)” (4-18-19):

This example is of less importance, but it’s well known and shows yet another set of contradictions. At the Last Supper, Jesus said that his disciples will scatter once he is taken away, but Peter protests that he won’t. Jesus tells Peter that he will disavow him three times before the rooster crows, and indeed that’s what happens.

But read the accounts, and the story differs in each of the gospels.

  • In Mark, Peter is accused of being one of Jesus’s followers by a slave girl, then the same girl again, and then a crowd of people (Mark 14:66–71).
  • In Matthew, it’s a slave girl, another slave girl, and then a crowd of people (Matthew 26:69–73).
  • In Luke, it’s a slave girl, a man, and then another man (Luke 22:54–60).
  • In John, it’s a girl at the door, several anonymous persons, and one of the high priest’s servants (John 18:15–17, 25–27) . . . 

Allowing for synonymous descriptions (Mark’s slave girl could’ve been John’s girl at the door, for example) and squashing these confrontations together, we have Peter denying Jesus to a slave girl, another slave girl, a crowd, a man, another man, and perhaps more. That’s a lot more than Jesus’s promised three.

An excellent refutation of this charge was given by professor of the New Testament Craig L. Blomberg, in his piece, “You Asked: Are the Differing Narratives of Peter’s Denials Reconcilable?” (The Gospel Coalition, 12-12-11):

But what of the identity of the three interrogators?

Matthew, Luke, and John all agree that a servant girl (Gk. paidiskē) was the first person to approach Peter (Matt. 26:69Luke 22:56John 18:17). John also calls her a doorkeeper. Matthew calls the second person to query Jesus allē (the feminine form of “another”), presumably meaning another servant girl (Matt. 26:71). Luke calls this second individual heteros (the generic use of the masculine form of another word for “another”), thus not specifying the individual’s gender (Luke 22:58). John is vaguer still, using merely a third person plural verb eipon (“they said”) to introduce the second accusation. The third and final question for Peter comes from “the bystanders” (Matt. 26:73). Luke speaks merely of another person (allosLuke 22:59), while John specifies him as a servant of the high priest (John 18:26). But again there is no contradiction.

That leaves Mark’s version. The first accusation in Mark comes from one of the servant girls (mia tōn paidiskōnMark 14:66)—-no problem. The last challenge comes from the bystanders, just as in Matthew (Mark 14:70). That leaves only the person who prompted Peter’s second denial. Mark calls her hē paidiskē. Often this would be translated, “the servant girl.” Coming after the reference in verse 66, it is natural to take this article as resumptive, referring back to the same girl. But not all uses of the article in Greek are best translated with articles in English. If this is a generic or categorical use of the article, then it means one of a class and can be translated “a servant girl” and be understood as referring to a different one. . . . Alternately, we may just have to assume that more than three people accused Peter, even if he denied it only three times. After all, “the bystanders” already suggests more than one person making the final accusation.

Next question?

***

Photo credit: Peter’s Denial, by Carl Bloch (1834-1890) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

August 31, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 46 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

Bob shows us yet again that he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about when it comes to Christianity and the Bible: this time in his article, “25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God (Part 2)” (2-21-18):

There’s a progression of wisdom from sociopath, to average person, to wise person, to sage. As we move along this spectrum, base personality traits such as the desire for adulation fall away, but the opposite is true for the Christian god. Not only do we hear this from Christianity itself (“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,” according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism), we read it in the Bible (“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”).

What’s the point of praise? Obviously, God already understands his position relative to us. We’re informing him of nothing new when we squeal, “Golly, you’re so fantastic!”

Imagine a human equivalent where you have an ant farm, and the ants are aware that you’re the Creator and Destroyer. It would be petty to revel in the ants’ worshipping you and telling you how great you are. Just how insecure would you need to be?

This sycophantic praise makes sense for a narcissistic and insecure king, but can God really want or need to hear this? We respect no human leader who demands this. Christianity would have us believe that the personality of a perfect being is that of a spoiled child. . . . 

God should be a magnification of good human qualities and an elimination of the bad ones. But the petty, praise-demanding, vindictive, and intolerant God of the Bible is simply a Bronze Age caricature, a magnification of all human inclinations, good and bad.

How melodramatic! And how very ignorant. Wouldn’t you think that if God was as Bob portrays Him, that we could and would find explicit indication of it in the Bible? Surely if his account is true, and God is a cosmic narcissist and egomaniac Who exists in order to receive human praise, which is to Him like blood to the mosquito and applause to the opera star, then the Bible would be filled with descriptions such as God desires praise, or needs it, or wants it or demands it, right?

In fact, when I went to do a search for such phrases with the online Bible that I use, I could find no such thing: zero, zip, zilch. It can search phrases and also “proximity” searches, where you put in two words and see if they are found within 80 characters of each other. I did both kinds of searches for the following words:

desire praise

want praise

demand praise

need praise

praise me

command praise

It produced absolutely nothing. Odd, ain’t it? God’s supposedly full of Himself and obsessive about receiving praise, yet we can’t find any explicit indication of such a thing. And we don’t because the fact of the matter is, that according to standard orthodox Christian theology regarding God (what we call “theology proper”), it’s not only true that God needs no praise, but also that He needs nothing whatsoever. If Bob had gotten to first base in his study of Christian theology, he would know this. The Bible does teach that:

Acts 17:24-25 (RSV) The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, [25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.

Before I explain the Christian concepts that describe these attributes of God, I shall use a human analogy to illustrate how Christians view the praise of God. It’s like war heroes: say the soldier who risks his life in an extraordinary way and saves 20 of his fellow soldiers. Or men or women who come back from battle with missing arms or legs or permanent brain damage, having voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, or, say, the firefighters in New York City on 9-11 who repeatedly went back into the twin towers to save people, thinking nothing of their own safety.

The heroes who did these things and managed to survive, invariably don’t think of themselves as heroes, and they seek no praise or adulation. No doubt (as they are human beings, and want to feel loved and appreciated like we all do) they feel grateful if someone compliments or thanks them, but they don’t seek it. Now, does it follow that we shouldn’t praise and honor them, because they feel that way? No. We do it because it is right and because it is good for us. It makes us better people to recognize heroism and noble behavior.

That’s how it is with God and our praise of Him, for all He has done for us. He doesn’t need it because He doesn’t need anything. God the Father doesn’t experience emotions as we do, at all. This is the doctrine of impassibility. For further information on that, see:

Does God Suffer?, Thomas G. Weinandy (Capuchin priest), First Things, November 2001.

Does God Have Emotions?, Patrick Lee.

Concepts of God (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: 2nd section)

God is entirely self-sufficient: what is called aseity. He needs nothing and besides being impassible, is also immutable, meaning that He doesn’t change (a thing that would be required for Him to have emotions and change from one state to another). Someone might say, “now, the Bible does refer often to God changing His mind and ‘repenting’ etc. How is that to be explained?” It’s explained by anthropomorphism and anthropopathism: which mean that God is often portrayed non-literally in the Bible in order for human beings to better understand him. Not one atheist in 50 understands this, but they should. It’s important to know.

In summary, we praise God because He is worthy of praise, as the Creator of the universe and a loving God Who will save us, and provide us with a blissful never-ending life in heaven when we die, because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf, if only we will let Him do so. He’s utterly worthy of it. We do it because we are grateful and because we are only fully ourselves if we acknowledge the God who made us and designed us to be most happy and joyful when in communion with Him. But He doesn’t need it (let alone demand it). He has need of nothing whatsoever.

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Photo credit: BarbaraJackson (12-18-14) [Pixabay / Pixabay license]

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August 30, 2020

Atheist Neil Carter Promptly Banned Me During the Discussion on His Blog

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 45 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

*****

It’s been a couple years, I think. I was commenting underneath an article by atheist Neil Carter, entitled, “What Atheists Wish Christians Knew About Them” [linkBob’s words will be in blue.

*****

I thank you for writing this and will share it on my Catholic Facebook page [which I did] because I think it is important that human beings understand those who are different from them.

I can’t help but notice the irony, however, that even when the writer of such an article is not an anti-theist, as you say about yourself, the combox below the article is (inevitably?) full of anti-theists and the usual echo chamber-type yucking it up and mockery of Christians and Christianity. I’ve never seen an atheist combox that wasn’t like that. Does one exist anywhere?

And you say this because of the contrast between atheist blogs and Christian blogs? You’re saying this because the atheist blogs are echo chambers while the Christian blogs are open and friendly discussions of a wide variety of topics with nothing off limits? You need to show me where you hang out, because I haven’t seen such Christian blogs.

I wasn’t discussing Christian blogs, but since you brought it up (and since I’m banned on yours),

You say that as if I haven’t been banned on yours. Twice.

I heartily agree that almost all Christian blogs have worthless comboxes as well (inter-Christian squabbles are as boorish and tedious as atheist-Christian ones: believe me!).

For those sites (STR, Cold Case Christianity, and many others) without commenting features, I think I can see their reasoning. They want a monologue rather than a dialogue. Of course, the rules are theirs to set, and I’m free to go elsewhere, so I can’t complain. Still, I do sense that part of that motivation is the realization that they couldn’t win a fair fight and must rig the game.

My own is welcoming of those of all beliefs under the sun, as long as they behave in a civil fashion.

That’s why I’m banned? Oh, OK.

Hence, recently, I’ve been in discussion with two atheists: “gusbovona” (also active on your blog), who enjoyed the discussion (said so), as did I. I just put up our exchange two days ago. We were discussing my response to one of your arguments (since you have refused to reply to now 44 of my critiques of your stuff, after directly challenging me to critique it).

Ironic, isn’t it? I respond to what seems like countless Christian articles, and I rarely get a Christian responding to my stuff. I live for debate. And I finally find someone who has written, apparently, 44 replies, but I have zero interest in engaging. Ain’t life crazy?

The other one goes by “abb3w”.

Yes, those are thoughtful commenters.

Perfectly amiable, non-insulting discussion. It’s a joy to me when this happens. Therefore, I hang out on my blog, where such discussion actually exists. Granted, it’s relatively rare (because few atheists want to actually talk to and dialogue with us Christians), but the possibility is always there, if any atheist wants to come and discuss things. As long as they don’t start insulting and mocking, they are always welcome (serious, constructive, inquiring, person-to-person dialogue). But if they do act up, I will ban (just as you do yourself).

Let’s not imagine a perfect symmetry here. I’m very slow to ban. Perhaps you’ve seen commenters complain about that (and they are likely correct). Before I do ban, I almost always coach the offender with the good behavior I’m looking for. Unfortunately, they have never reformed.

I’ve banned many more Christians than atheists. When you banned me from your site, I was in a serious, amiable discussion with someone else there. But you didn’t want that to take place, I guess, so you hit the eject button.

Yeah, seeing you have a fruitful conversation must’ve been too much for my stony heart. I confess that I don’t remember the details of either banning. I think an objective observer would see the unfairness differently than you do.

***

When I banned you from my site, it was because you violated my ethical guidelines, as I explained at length at the time. I’ve also written several articles of a conciliatory nature, regarding atheists:

Secular Humanism & Christianity: Seeking Common Ground (with Sue Strandberg) [5-25-01]

Are Atheists “Evil”? Multiple Causes of Atheist Disbelief and the Possibility of Salvation [2-17-03]

16 Atheists / Agnostics & Me (At a Meeting) [11-24-10]

Should We Ignore Atheists or Charitably Dialogue? [7-21-10 and 1-7-11]

My Enjoyable Dinner with Six Atheist Friends [6-9-15]

Dialogue: Constructive Atheist-Christian Discussion [9-17-15]

Legitimate Atheist Anger [10-7-15]

New Testament on God-Rejecters vs. Open-Minded Agnostics [10-9-15]

[the above material was all (initially) posted on Neil Carter’s site. When I went to respond to Bob’s second reply, I discovered that Neil had banned me, too, and deleted my comments. Very impressive. But here is the reply I (would have) made, if I was allowed to]:

As I have said, I explained why you were banned. You violated my ethical standards for conduct (precisely as you think I did on your blog). It has nothing to do with what you believe, and certainly not for any imagined prowess in argument that you think you have against Christianity. I have refuted you 44 times now without reply. But I’m scared of you, according to you.

That’s certainly an interesting “see no evil / hear no evil” spin that the facts massively refute. But carry on. Should you ever decide to engage my critiques and live up to your triumphalistic rhetoric I’d be more than happy to counter-reply.

[meanwhile, Bob, thinking I deleted my own comments and not knowing I was banned, posted further]:

(Dave deleted his comment above.) It is odd how memories differ. In Dave’s mind, he has a well-publicized and quite reasonable list of rules that any civil person would want to follow, but I just couldn’t be bothered. And he was a gentleman on my site, but I just couldn’t tolerate him making so much gosh-darned sense. My memories are rather different. 

***

I’ll let you, dear reader, detect and enjoy the numerous delicious ironies and ludicrous hypocrisies in this incident with regard to both Bible-Basher Bob and Hair-Trigger Neil Carter. These are the folks who are supposedly so vastly intellectually superior to us poor, lowly Christians? This is how they act? I had critiqued Neil as part of my previous critique of bob, on the issue of the “zombies” who rose from the dead: described in Matthew 27:51-53. Apparently, that critique was too much for him to take, and so he decided to ban me and try to forget that it ever happened.

Not impressive . . . If one has a case, then they defend their arguments in the face of criticism, rather than ban and flee for the hills and hope  their readers never saw their arguments being roundly refuted.

***

Photo credit: [public domain / Piqsels]

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