October 7, 2020

with David Palm

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 — 57 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob reiterated and rationalized his intellectual cowardice yet again on 10-17-20: “Every engagement with him devolves into pointlessness. I don’t believe I’ve ever learned anything from him. But if you find a compelling argument of his, summarize it for us.” And again the next day: “He has certainly not earned a spot in my heart, so I will pass on funding his evidence-free project. Like you, I also find that he’s frustrating to talk with. Again, I evaluate such conversations as useful if I can learn something–find a mistake in my argument, uncover an error I made in Christians’ worldview, and so on. Dave is good at bluster, and that’s about it.”

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.

*****

Bob writes in his article, “Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions (3 of 4)” (10-24-18):

Jesus should’ve returned already.

Jesus promised to return within the lifetimes of those listening to him. This Apocalyptic message (Apocalypticism claims that the end times are very close) is found in the three synoptic gospels. It takes a passage in Isaiah 13 that predicts calamity for Babylon—that the sun and moon will darken and the stars will fall—and repurposes it as a prediction of the end. It also predicts:

[All people on earth will] see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds. (Matthew 24:30–31)

The prediction ends saying that this will all happen soon.

This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Matthew 24:34).

Let me emphasize those two points: “these things” will happen soon (within months or years, not centuries), and “these things” are obvious and world-destroyingly calamitous. The popular Christian response that this referred to the fall of the Temple won’t fly.

Earlier in the same gospel, we find other references to the imminent coming of the Son of Man:

When you are persecuted in one place [as you spread the gospel], flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23)

Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

It’s been a lot longer than one generation. Jesus made a mistake.

I’ve already covered this general topic at least three times: including twice with other Bible-Bashing atheists or agnostics:

Debate with an Agnostic on the Meaning of “Last Days” and Whether the Author of Hebrews Was a False Prophet (9-13-06)

“The Last Days”: Meaning in Hebrew, Biblical Thought [12-5-08]

Dr. David Madison vs. Jesus #3: Nature & Time of 2nd Coming [8-3-19]

But I was just made aware of an online copy of a master’s thesis on this topic by a friend of mine, David Palm, entitled “The Signs of His Coming”: for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois (1993). He wrote it as an evangelical Protestant, later became a Catholic, and recently noted that he would change nothing in it. I thought it would be very instructive to delve into that to give more thorough and researched answers to Bob’s cynically skeptical assertions above. Palm summarizes (his words in green henceforth):

Our view is that the predictions of Mark 13:5-29 [parallel passage to Matthew 24] depict events leading up to and surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not some mixture of Jerusalem’s demise and the parousia . 4 Instead of mingling the destruction of the Temple and the parousia in his answer to the disciple’s query, Jesus clearly demarcates the two. Verses 5-29 concern the events leading up to the Jewish War, culminating in the destruction of the Temple. Jesus declares that, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (v.30). But then, switching topics to discuss the time of his parousia he states, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (v.32). The disciples are told to watch diligently for this event because, unlike the fall of Jerusalem, it may be a long time in coming and will not be accompanied by such remarkable signs. Thus the two events, which were mingled in the disciple’s minds, are separated and expounded individually by Jesus. (pp. 4-6)

Palm finds clues in the text of an interpretation other than the end times:

[W]hy would the elect need to be concerned to flee to the mountains [Mt 24:16; Mk 13:14] if the parousia and the end of time were to occur “immediately” after that tribulation [Mt 24:29-31; Mk 13:24-26]? And why would it matter if their flight was in the winter, if their ultimate deliverance was so close at hand [Mt 24:20; Mk 13:18]? . . . In the same vein, the statement that, “those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning . . . and never to be equaled again,” (v.19) [Mt 24:21] may be somewhat hyperbolic if applied to the Jewish War, but makes little sense if applied to a final catastrophe that precedes the end of the world. If some Great Tribulation at the end of history is portrayed here, then it goes without saying that its severity will not be equaled again. (pp. 14-15)

Another significant change in the text, Palm argues (p. 28), is in the switch from the terminology of “those days” (Mt 24:19, 22 [2], 29; Mk 13:17, 19, 24, RSV) — i.e., plural –or “days” (Mk 13:20 [2]) to “that day” or “day” (Mt 24:36, 42, 50; Mk 13:32): the latter referring to the last day or the final judgment. Palm adds:

Jesus had already spoken of “that day” in connection with the universal day of judgment at the end of all things (Matt 7:22; 11:22). 48 It seems likely that he is speaking of that same event here. This is borne out further by Matthew’s insertion of the parables of the talents (25:14-30) and of the sheep and goats (25:31-46) with their depiction of eternal punishment. (p. 29)

The two separate sections of the discourse differ in how events (or lack thereof) are described:

There is no set time frame, such as one generation, in which this will take place; instead, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father knows the time,” (v.32) and, “you do not know when that time will come” (v.33). They need to “stay alert ” (vv.33) and “keep watch” (v.35), presumably because the long delay and lack of signs could cause them to become lackadaisical in their faith. The first section is dominated by signs that the disciples are to look for and act upon, because all will certainly take place very shortly. The second section, on the other hand, assumes that there may be a long delay before the Lord’s coming. The disciples are told that patient watchfulness is paramount, “because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn” (v.35). The parousia will not be preceded by signs as will the destruction of Jerusalem. There is no corollary in this section to the parable of the fig tree. Whereas earlier the disciples are bidden to look around and see the wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution, spread of the gospel and finally the abomination of desolation, which all point to Jerusalem’s imminent downfall, here they are given no signs that will evidence the parousia but are instead told only to “watch” (vv.34-35). The Master can come back at any time and if his servants are not looking for him they will be caught unaware (v.36). Whereas Jesus tells them “everything ahead of time” (v.23) about the fall of Jerusalem he gives them no details at all about what signs might precede his parousia. (pp. 29-30)

Matthew has made all of this even more explicit by including a number of parables to heighten the contrast between the soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem and the potentially distant parousia. The second section depicts an almost tranquil scene. Life continues normally—with people “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (24:38), tending their fields and caring for their households (vv.40-41)—right up to the time when they are “taken”. All of this is in contrast to the time preceding the fall of Jerusalem in which the peace is shattered by calamitous events: wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution and a “great tribulation”. And while there will be ample time for some to flee to the mountains before Jerusalem’s downfall (v.16), the people in the latter section are taken totally by surprise, for the Son of Man comes like a “thief” (v.43), 49 Again, there is no fixing of a time frame such as “this generation” in which the parousia must take place. Rather, the parable of the two servants shows that a long delay is anticipated, for the wicked servant schemes to himself, “My master is staying away a long time” (v.48). The parable of the ten virgins (25:1-13) again highlights the possibility of long delay. Both the “wise” and “foolish” virgins fall asleep because “the bridegroom was a long time coming” (v.5) . The same is true of the parable of the talents (25:14-30); the master returns after a “long time” (v.19). So we find that while a transition between the near and distant future in vv.5-31 does not readily present itself, we find just such a transition in v.32ff. All of the material that follows assumes that the parousia may be far in the future. (pp. 30-32)

Palm cites Old Testament analogies of the mingling of historical, place-bound events and the last day:

[W]e again see imagery of almost cosmic proportions attached to events that occur within history. In an oracle concerning judgment on Nineveh (ca. 615 B.C.), Nahum says:

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. [Nahum 1:2-6]

Micah says of God’s coming in judgment against Samaria and Jerusalem (ca. 722 and 701 B.C.):

Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. [Micah 1:3-4]

In both of these passages we have a blend of the universal and the local. Nahum states that “the earth and all who live in it” tremble when the Lord comes in judgment (1:5), and yet the oracle is very specifically confined to Nineveh (cf. 1:1, 8, 11, 14). And Micah calls all the nations of the earth to account (1:2), even though God’s vengeance is relegated in this instance to Judea and Samaria (1: 5-6). (pp. 57-58)

In Ezekiel political upheaval and impending judgment is portrayed as signs among the heavenly bodies:

When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. [Ezek 32:7-8]

We see in the passages cited above evidence that descriptions of celestial signs are not found exclusively in passages that deal with universal disaster. Rather, it appears that the ancient Hebrew used such phrases idiomatically, much as we might speak of a particularly bad event in our life as a time when “the world came to an end,” or when “my world came crashing down,” or perhaps as “a dark, dark day.” (pp. 58-59)

In several places, a judgment on Israel, and specifically the destruction of Jerusalem, is described as if it were the destruction of the whole world. For instance, Deut 32:22 says, “For a fire has been kindled by my wrath, one that burns to the realm of death below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.”   Here the judgment that will fall on Israel if she forsakes the Covenant is depicted as engulfing the entire earth. (pp. 59-60)

In Mark 13:24-27, Jesus uses language replete with references to the Old Testament prophets. Although the majority of scholars have concluded that his statements must be taken literally, we believe that the evidence cited above demonstrates that it was common for the Hebrew prophets to speak of calamitous events within history using the language of cosmic doom. Thus, it seems entirely reasonable that Jesus also could speak of an event as monumental as the fall of Jerusalem using the extravagant imagery of the prophets, without intending his words to be interpreted literally. And the context of the Olivet Discourse seems to bear out our conclusion that the parousia is not in view until Mark 13:32. (p. 73)

Palm notes how “cosmic events” were often used symbolically to denote the fall of cities or nations in the Old Testament:

[T]his language in its original Old Testament context refers not to actual astronomical phenomena that signal the end of the world, but to the fall of nations within history. It is probably safe to say that the authors never intended their language to be taken in a strictly literal sense. The sun, moon, and stars symbolize what is immovable and steadfast; when they are darkened or cast down it symbolizes great change and upheaval. In the Old Testament it is the kind of language used first and foremost to refer to the downfall of nations: Babylon (Isa 13:10), Edom (Isa 34:4), Egypt (Ezek 32:7), and Israel (Jer 4:23; Joel 2:10; Mic 3:6). Thus, its application is primarily to the political, not the astronomical, sphere. Luke adds that in addition to, “signs in the sun, moon and stars” the nations of the earth, “will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea” (Luke 21:25). . . . But the background to this verse, Isa 17:12, says, “Oh, the raging of many nations—they rage like the raging sea! Oh the uproar of the peoples—they roar like the roaring of great waters!” It seems clear that here the churning of the ocean is an apocalyptic symbol for national upheaval. . . . 

We contend, then, that the darkening of sun and moon, and falling of the stars have nothing to do with literal disturbances of the heavenly bodies but rather is a metaphorical way of describing the fall of a nation. (pp. 105-106)

Palm tackles a passage that atheists and pother biblical skeptics feel to be an ironclad proof that He made an error:

Jesus solemnly affirms that, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” We have already responded to the many different ways that exegetes have attempted to evade the force of this verse. But we believe that the intent is clear. Jesus expected the whole of what he had predicted prior to this verse to take place within the lifetimes of his contemporaries. This verse sets the definitive terminus ad queum for the events described, including the coming of the Son of man on the clouds. But it is important to note that our view in no way assumes that there is no future parousia presented in the Olivet Discourse.

As we have argued at length above, Jesus addresses two subjects in the Olivet Discourse; the fall of Jerusalem and his Second Coming. But he does so separately. “But of that day or that hour no one knows” (Mark 13:32; RSV) . With this statement we believe Jesus introduces a new topic, his parousia at the end of history. Matthew expands this material (Matt 24:36ff.) and in doing so makes more clear the contrast. The fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple will be preceded by clearly visible signs and will take place within the lifetimes of the disciples. The parousia, on the other hand, will come like a thief, completely unannounced, and may be a long time in the future. (pp. 131-132)

It’s clear, then, I submit, that the interpretation of these passages is not nearly as simple as Bob the Bible-Basher makes out.

Matthew 10:23 (RSV) When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.

Bob highlights this passage as supposedly referring to the Second Coming of Jesus very soon: in the disciples’ lifetime? But is that necessarily the meaning here? The entire context of the saying (chapter 10) is not about the last days: it is about the present age. There is nothing whatsoever about Jesus coming, nothing about seeing “the sign of the Son of man in heaven” or “the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30).

Moreover, there are different senses of Jesus “coming” to the disciples. Jesus stated at the Last Supper:

John 14:18-19, 28 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. [19] Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. . . . [28] You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.’ . . .

What happened in “a little while” was that Jesus was resurrected and came to, or appeared to the disciples: which was indeed during the time that they were still evangelizing in the towns of Israel. Thus, in the same book, a post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to the disciples is recounted (Jn 19:20-23) and the word “came” is used  to describe it: “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). We see the same terminology again, two verses later:

John 20:26 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.”

A similar reference appears also in Matthew, referring to another post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus: “And Jesus came . . .” (Mt 28:18).

Matthew 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

This is another alleged “problem verse” that Bob submits as proof that Jesus was wrong, and in error (a thing that Christians believe is not possible). Presbyterian Bible scholar Keith Mathison offers a plausible explanation of it:

In order to come to an understanding of this saying, we must again be reminded that when Jesus speaks of the “coming of the Son of Man,” he is purposefully alluding to Daniel 7:13–14. And again we must recall that the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 is set within a judgment scene before the throne of God (cf. Dan. 7:9–10). Unlike the saying in Matthew 10:23, the saying in 16:28 is found in the immediate context of words regarding judgment (v. 27). The point that Jesus is making when he says that there are some standing here who will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom is that there are some to whom he is speaking who will not die before the prophecy of Daniel 7 is fulfilled, in other words, before Jesus receives the kingdom from his Father.

A comparison of Matthew 16:28 with its parallels in Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27 lends support to this interpretation. All three sayings are set within the same context immediately before the Transfiguration, yet whereas Matthew speaks of some living long enough to see the coming of the Son of Man, Mark and Luke speak of some living long enough to see the coming of the kingdom of God. The “coming of the Son of Man” then is simply another way of saying “the coming of the kingdom of God.” It is the assumption that the words “coming of the Son of Man” must mean “Second Coming” that has caused much of the confusion. Once we realize that Jesus is simply using a phrase from Daniel 7 to allude to the whole prophecy, texts such as Matthew 16:28 are much more readily understood. Jesus was not predicting that his Second Coming would occur within the lifetime of some of his hearers. He wasn’t speaking of the Second Coming at all.v He was referring to the fulfillment of Daniel 7, his reception of the kingdom from the Father, and this was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers (cf. Matt. 28:18). (“Some Standing Here Will Not Taste Death — The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology,” Ligonier Ministries, 5-14-12)

Of course, such extensive cross-referencing, exegesis, and systematic theology is far beyond Bible-Bashing Bob’s capacity to grasp: which shortcoming has been glaringly obvious throughout these 58 refutations of his critical assertions.

But that is no skin off of our backs. His ignorance and ridiculous, foolish presumption of “knowledge of the Bible and Christianity” doesn’t change the fact that there are students of the Bible who have an infinitely deeper and more accurate comprehension of the Bible than Bob does.

***

Photo credit: Daniel Arrhakis, Jesus – The Second Coming (2018) [Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0 license]

***

September 14, 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 — 56 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.

*****

Bob writes in his article, “Christians Reveal! How to Defeat Christianity” (5-13-20):

0. What evidence would prove a resurrection?

Koukl wants to establish the ground rules first. To prove a resurrection, he says, you’d need to show that (1) someone was dead and then (2) later alive. With that, you could claim a resurrection.

But read the gospels carefully, and you don’t find that! Matthew and Mark make clear that no men witnessed the death, so they don’t satisfy the first requirement. It’s true that women disciples saw Jesus dead, but conservative scholars like Koukl emphasize that women at that time were unreliable witnesses. (They do this to defend their argument that women finding the empty tomb was surprising and therefore historically accurate. I respond to that here.)

Apologists can clumsily salvage their argument by pointing out that Luke and John don’t have this problem. With these gospels, the male disciples stay to witness the death. But by pointing this out, they’ve created a new problem, that the Bible is contradictory and therefore unreliable.

First of all, the Gospel of John, of course, notes the fact that John the disciple was present at the crucifixion (Jn 19:25-27). That is sufficient in and of itself. The others do not have to mention this for it to be true. From whence comes this notion that they need to do that? It certainly is no requirement of the accepted laws of logic. The other Gospels simply mention (or highlight) the fact that women followers of Jesus — including Jesus’ mother — were present.

Why is that? We don’t know, but in my opinion (speculation), I think it is a sort of tribute to the loyalty and courage of women. I think that’s also why Jesus revealed Himself first to women after He rose from the dead, also to break up the chauvinistic notions prevalent at the time. That’s the kind of thing He habitually did.

Luke 23:47-49 (RSV) notes that a sympathetic Roman centurion and “all the multitudes” and “all his acquaintances” were present. Obviously, “all” is not literal, but this is often the case in Scripture. The ancient Jews did not think in linear rationalistic terms as we do today (influenced by classical Greek thought). Expressions and ways of thinking were often general, non-literal, or examples of hyperbole (as I have written about more than once with regard to the word “all”).

Even if Matthew and Mark had not mentioned that no men witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and/or His dead body, it wouldn’t prove that no men did, or (more specifically) that these authors thought no men did. That would require flat-out assertions to the effect of “no men were present at the crucifixion” or “no man saw Jesus’ dead body.” Or, “only women . . . ” And of course that is not the case.

So it’s the usual wishful thinking of the atheist, hoping for a contradiction where none is in fact demonstrable. Will they ever tire of this silly practice? I certainly tire of reiterating this elementary logical aspect and refuting atheist non-comprehension (or ignorance) of it times without number.

Furthermore, all four Gospels mention Joseph of Arimathea: a Pharisee sympathetic to Jesus, as definitely having seen Jesus dead (implied: also a witness to His crucifixion and death), since He laid Him in his own tomb (see Mt 27:57-60; Mk 15:43-46; Lk 23:50-53; Jn 19:38-40). John also mentions that Nicodemus: another Pharisee who admired Jesus, “came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes” (Jn 19:39), and helped to properly bury Jesus’ body, according to Jewish custom.

That’s an awful lot of men, for Bob to make the asinine claim that men were lacking as witnesses. And these include Joseph of Arimathea, according to Matthew and Mark; yet Bob claimed:Matthew and Mark make clear that no men witnessed the death, . . . the Bible is contradictory and therefore unreliable.” Huh?! It’s as if Bob lives in an alternate universe, where the laws of logic don’t apply.

Bob, however, after making these silly claims, and asserting contradiction in the Bible where there is none, has to (for the sake of ironic comedic relief) contradict himself (as so very often):

There’s another problem. In his description of the burial, Koukl mentioned the application of spices by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and the wrapping of the body with strips of linen. This comes from John. 

All the Gospels mention Joseph of Arimathea doing this. John adds the additional person of Nicodemus (not in a contradictory fashion, but a logically complimentary one).

But both points conflict with claims that the famous fourteenth-century Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus in that (1) the image on that shroud doesn’t show the enormous quantity of spices, and (2) the Shroud is a single large rectangle rather than strips (which was the Jewish custom  according to John 19:40b).

The Shroud of Turin: marvelous relic though it may be, or is purported to be (one which I believe in), is — first of all — not required belief for Catholics or any other Christians. Secondly, it’s irrelevant to this question, which is dealing with the biblical accounts and historical evidences. Thirdly, as I’ve noted for years myself, the Shroud need not necessarily be the actual burial cloth of Christ. It can simply be a piece of cloth from His time that has a miraculous image of Him on it.

People could (again, logically speaking) simply be mistaken as to whether it was Jesus’ actual burial cloth. There may also very well be other proposed explanations to reconcile the Shroud with the biblical accounts of the burial wrappings of Jesus. None come to mind, but it doesn’t follow that they don’t exist.

In any event, introducing this non sequitur into the discussion doesn’t annihilate the fact that Joseph of Arimathea was mentioned as a male witness (and follower of Jesus) in the two Gospels that Bob claimed mentioned no such witness. That is the only contradiction present in this discussion, and it is because Bob foolishly stated: “Matthew and Mark make clear that no men witnessed the death.” Now, I can see that Bob might quibble that, “Joseph didn’t actually witness Jesus’ moment of death on the cross.”

To which I reply: “the accounts don’t deny that He watched Jesus die, so he may very well have seen that, seeing that he was present when it was time to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.” Secondly, it would seem that this detail doesn’t bother Bob, since he wrote: “women disciples saw Jesus dead.” If that’s all he thinks is required, then Joseph certainly met that criterion.

Conclusion?: Bob is dead-wrong: as he so often is, when he attempts “biblical exegesis.” This is what happens when one approaches the Bible like a butcher approaches a hog.

***

Photo credit: A Bearer at the Sepulchre (Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus), by Juan de Valmaseda (1487-1576) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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September 13, 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 — 55 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.

*****

Bob tries to outdo even his own rock-bottom standards for Bible “exegesis” [choke] in his article, “Responding to “10 Myths About God” (2 of 3)” (11-26-14):

What you do see in the New Testament is the divinity of Jesus evolving with time. Sort the books chronologically and see the evolution. In Romans, Jesus was “appointed the Son of God” at his resurrection. In Mark, Jesus becomes divine earlier, at his baptism. In Matthew and Luke, it’s at his birth. And in John, since forever. 

This is one of those hyper-ridiculous statements from atheists and Bob in particular, as an extraordinarily ignorant and self-deluded one, that makes a Christian apologist feel like a mosquito in a nudist camp: “where to begin?” But I shall barge ahead.

First, he spews this nonsense that the doctrine of Jesus evolves chronologically as the New Testament books are written. Like all good lies, this has a kernel of truth. All Christian doctrines develop, but that is a self-consistent notion, as opposed to the (not just biological) notion of evolution, where a thing can become a completely other thing. The latter does not occur in the New Testament, as regards the deity of Christ. He is always presented as God incarnate, and nothing in the New Testament denies that He is God in the flesh.

But let’s play Bob’s game for a moment and see what happens. I will deal with the Romans passage shortly. 2nd Thessalonians is one of the earliest New Testament books (estimated 52-53 AD), whereas Romans was written around 57-58. So, according to Bob, who thinks that Paul in Romans didn’t know that Jesus was God from all eternity (as indeed, God must be, by definition), 2 Thessalonians must have an even more primitive notion — and lack of knowledge and comprehension of — Jesus as God. But this is untrue. It teaches that Jesus judges the world in His Second Coming:

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 (RSV) . . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, [8] inflicting vengeance . . . 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 8 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, [2] not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [3] Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, . . . [8] And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.

Now how does that prove He is necessarily God? Well, for one who (unlike Bible-Basher Bob) actually studies and understands the Bible, it is comprehended that the Old Testament teaches that it is God Who does this at the end of the age:

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)

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)

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. [referring to the Messiah, Who is God]

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)

Conclusion: Jesus is God, and this is taught in 2 Thessalonians: one of the earliest book in the New Testament. There is no “evolution” in this respect. And that’s not the only evidence. Even more compelling is the fact that Jesus is called kurios (“Lord Jesus Christ”) 12 times in the book. This is, of course, calling Him God, since God the Father is called kurios many times in the New Testament. 1st Thessalonians was written at the same time and it also refers to “Lord Jesus Christ” or “Lord Jesus” another twelve times.

Yet Bob wants to pretend that St. Paul thinks Jesus became God at His Resurrection. He refers to this passage as his supposes “proof”:

Romans 1:4 and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

The key to understanding this passage is the clause “in power.” The Greek scholar A. T. Robertson explains the passage:

Who was declared (tou orisqento). Articular participle (first aorist passive) of orizw for which verb see on Luke 22:22 ; Acts 2:23 . He was the Son of God in his preincarnate state ( 2 Corinthians 8:9 ; Philippians 2:6 ) and still so after his Incarnation (verse Romans 1:3 , “of the seed of David”), but it was the Resurrection of the dead (ex anastasew nekrwn, the general resurrection implied by that of Christ) that definitely marked Jesus off as God’s Son because of his claims about himself as God’s Son and his prophecy that he would rise on the third day. This event (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1 ff.) gave God’s seal “with power” (en dunamei), “in power,” declared so in power ( 2 Corinthians 13:4 ). The Resurrection of Christ is the miracle of miracles. “The resurrection only declared him to be what he truly was” (Denney).

Greek linguist Marvin Vincent adds: “He was declared or instated mightily; in a striking, triumphant manner, through His resurrection.” So as usual, the passage Bob simply mentions as proof of his idiotic interpretations, means nothing of the sort. It basically means, “The resurrection proved that Jesus was Who He claimed to be [God].” And Jesus is again called kurios in the same manner as in the two epistles to the Thessalonians 18 times in this book as well. Both God the Father and God the Son, Jesus, are called kurios in one passage:

Romans 10:9-13 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. [11] The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” [12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. [13] For, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 cites Joel 2:32: “And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Thus, the NT is applying OT passages about God directly to Jesus.

Having disposed of this nonsense, let’s see what Bob thinks about the Gospels and the divinity of Jesus. He claims that in Mark, Jesus “becomes divine . . . at his baptism. Does the text support this? Nope:

Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; [11] and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

How in the world can any rational person think that this proves that Mark thought that Jesus became God at His baptism? God the Father simply calls Jesus His Son. So what! It would be like a new father (which one of my sons will become in less than two months) saying when his son was three months old: “this is my beloved son, who greatly pleases me” and someone interpreting that to mean that the child became his son at three months because he said that. It’s ridiculous; beneath contempt as an “argument.”

Bob claims that in Matthew and Luke Jesus “becomes divine . . . at his birth.” This is equally ludicrous. The texts say no such thing. They simply never do; and if Bob claims otherwise, then let him produce the text, instead of making his typical idiotic summary with no textual argument or serious exegetical effort. What Matthew does state is that Jesus’ birth is a fulfillment of Micah 5:2, which was understood by “all the chief priests and scribes” to refer to the Messiah (Christ in Greek: see Mt 2:1-6).

The New Testament citation of Micah 5:2 here doesn’t include its final portion: “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” The Hebrew word for “from ancient days” here (KJV: “from everlasting”) is olam; it’s often used to describe God the Father’s eternal existence (e.g., Ps 41:13; 90:2; 93:2; 106:48; Is 40:28). If this word means “eternal and uncreated” when applied to God the Father (YHWH), then it must mean the same thing when it is applied to Jesus. This shows that the Messiah, Who is God, was eternal, as does another famous Old Testament messianic passage:

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

God the Father is also called “Mighty God” (the same phrase in Hebrew: El Gibbor): Dt 10:17; Neh 9:32; Is 10:21; Jer 32:18. The word for “everlasting,” ad, is applied to God the Father in Isaiah 57:15.

Jesus, then, obviously didn’t become God at His birth. Even though the final portion of Micah 5:2 wasn’t cited by Matthew, of course the Jews knew the entire passage, since it was a prominent messianic text. Matthew, like the other Gospels, consistently teaches that Jesus is God (therefore, eternal, since God is that by definition), as I showed at length in my reply yesterday to yet more errors and whoppers from Bob. If He’s eternal (which is made explicit in John, as even Bob admits), then He cannot have “become divine” at His birth.

As for Luke, proof is present showing that the author didn’t think Jesus became God when He was born, since Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist calls him “Lord” (kurios) — which term is massively applied to God the Father also — even before He was born:

Luke 1:43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

As for Bob’s silly, goofy “chronological” view that the Bible only gradually comes to learn that Jesus is God, St. Paul wrote in Colossians: estimated to be written at the same time as Luke: 

Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; [16] for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The Greek for “firstborn” is prototokos, which means “preeminence” and “eternal preexistence,” according to Greek lexicons. It does not mean “first-created.” Apart from being untrue linguistically, this heretical interpretation is contradicted in the next two verses, which inform us that Christ “created all things,” and that He “is before all things.” The same book states about Jesus:

Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily,

Case closed. Another pitiful argument from Bob is exposed for the worthless piece of anti-biblical, anti-Christian lying propaganda that it is: ignorant, cynical, and plain old stupid.

***

Photo credit: Christ Crowned with Thorns (c. 1633-1639), by Matthias Stom (fl. 1615-1649) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

***

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.

*****

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]

***

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

***

 

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.

***

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.

**

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]

***

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).

***

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.

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Photo credit: [public domain / NeedPix.com]

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