Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

30
Aug

Anthony Buzzard, the Shema, and the Trinity

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Christology, Trinity

On Monday, August 25, the Unitarian writer Anthony Buzzard sent me a private message on Facebook, asking a theological question with no explanation of the purpose of his communication. I responded briefly and he followed with a more elaborate statement of his argument thinly veiled as a question. When I asked the reason for his communication with me, he simply restated his argument. I then asked him again on Friday, August 29, why he was communicating privately with me and if his intention was a private conversation or to get me to say something he could quote somewhere. Before he answered my question, Buzzard posted a YouTube video quoting selectively from my book Putting Jesus in His Place[1] and attempting to make a case that I was knowingly contradicting Jesus’ own teaching! He then sent me another private Facebook message saying he thought the conversation should be with everyone.

Buzzard’s claim that he was seeking a conversation with everyone is strange. He and I are both on Facebook and we even used to be in the same public Facebook group, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Biblical Discussion Group. He could easily have initiated a public discussion in that group or in any of the other many online groups where I can be found, or by inviting me to join one of his groups. He still has not explained the reason for the private messages. This is not the first time he has done this. In November he sent me a private Facebook message taking issue with something else in my book. I very specifically told him that I was not going to get into a private discussion with him about such things.

In the YouTube video, Buzzard quoted selectively and out of context from Putting Jesus in His Place in order to pose his challenge. This is what he quoted:

If Judaism has a creed, it is the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, known as the Shema…. Jesus affirmed the Shema as the first and greatest commandment…. his view was in the mainstream of Judaism.[2]

Read the rest of this entry »

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20
Sep

Was Jesus Married? The Historical Evidence

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Biblical studies, Christology

In light of the so-called Jesus Wife Papyrus, it is worth revisiting the question of what historical evidence actually shows regarding the question of Jesus’ marital status. There are two questions here: Was Jesus married? More specifically, was he married to Mary Magdalene? Some people think so, but I will argue that this idea should be abandoned.

First, let’s assign the burden of proof. The burden of proof is on those who make the assertion that Jesus was married. Since the Bible doesn’t say he was married, and most Christians historically have thought he was not married, those who come along and assert that he was married have the responsibility to provide evidence for their claim. The burden of proof is not on me to prove beyond any possible doubt or loophole of reasoning that Jesus wasn’t married, or that he didn’t sire twelve children, or that he didn’t live in England between the ages of 13 and 29. The burden of proof is on those who make such assertions.

That having been said, a reasonably strong case can be made against the claim that Jesus was married. We will look at the most significant argument that have been made in support of Jesus being married and then present the arguments against this claim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Was Isaac Newton a real person of history? If we adopt the historical method of skeptics who question the historical existence of Jesus by constructing lists of parallels between Jesus and such mythical figures as Horus and Mithra, the answer would seem to be no. The table below presents 16 parallels between Jesus Christ and Isaac Newton—and unlike nearly all of the alleged parallels between Jesus and mythical figures, all of these parallels are completely accurate.

 

Jesus Christ

Isaac Newton

His birthday has been given both as December 25 and as January 6. His birthday has been given both as December 25 and as January 4.
His birthday is celebrated by his followers as “Christmas,” and the period between December 25 and January 6 has been called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” His birthday is celebrated by his followers as “Newtonmas,” and the period between December 25 and January 4 has been called “The Ten Days of Newtonmas.”
His name is that of a famous figure in the Old Testament (Joshua). His name is that of a famous figure in the Old Testament (Isaac).
John described him as “the true light that comes into the world.” He is described as bringing light to the world: “God said ‘Let Newton be’ and all was light” (Alexander Pope).
He was circumcised on the eighth day. He was baptized on the eighth day.
According to tradition, his grandmother’s name was Hannah (usually Anglicized as Anne.) His mother’s name was Hannah.
According to tradition, his mother’s husband died when he was young. His mother’s husband died before he was born.
He never married. He never married.
He was famous for his knowledgeable exposition of the Scriptures. He was famous for his knowledgeable exposition of the Scriptures.
He professed the same faith as that of his countrymen, but they regarded him as a heretic. He professed the same faith as that of his countrymen, but they regarded him as a heretic.
Commenting on the Book of Daniel, he stated that “this gospel of the kingdom must first be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Commenting on the Book of Daniel, he stated that “the Gospel must first be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world.”
He rejected the idea that people could determine a date for the end of the world. He rejected the idea that people could determine a date for the end of the world.
He is regarded by many as one of the greatest men ever to live on earth. He is regarded by many, in the words of Richard Dawkins, as “one of the truly great men ever to walk the earth.”
He was honored by the use of the Greek title kurios, which can be translated “Sir.” He was honored by the use of the title “Sir.”
Portraits of him depict him with strikingly different appearances. Portraits of him depict him with strikingly different appearances.
Marty McFly used his name in vain in the film Back to the Future. Doc Emmet Brown used his name in vain in the film Back to the Future II.

 

Perhaps we need a better historical method.

 

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Apologists for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church) frequently take exception to the criticism that they believe in “another Jesus.” A common strategy for refuting this criticism is to list various beliefs that Mormons have about Jesus that agree with the Bible and even with traditional or orthodox Christianity. The LDS apologetics group FAIR, for example, points out that they affirm that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, that Jesus lived a sinless life, that he performed the miracles recorded in the Gospels, and other traditional beliefs about Jesus. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks presented a table in their book that listed twenty points of belief about Jesus where they clearly agree with the Bible and traditional Christianity: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was Jewish, Jesus’ mother was Mary, Jesus taught in the temple, Jesus held no public office, and more (Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints [Aspen Books, 1992], 58).

I think it is quite reasonable for Mormons to point out that they do share some beliefs about Jesus in common with traditional Christians. If it’s not sufficient for critics to list only the differences, however, it’s also not sufficient for apologists to list only the similarities. Perhaps it would be helpful to list both the similarities and the differences in order to get a more accurate picture of the situation.

That’s what I have tried to do in my response to chapter 11 of Gospel Principles. It’s the latest installment of our Gospel Principles Scripture Study Guide, a free online resource that provides a chapter-by-chapter analysis and response to the LDS doctrinal manual. I explain why Joseph Fielding Smith was correct when he stated that Latter-day Saints “part paths with historical Christianity” in their view of Jesus Christ on a number of crucial issues. I also agree with him that “there is no salvation in the worship of a false Christ.” I list a dozen different issues on which Mormons and orthodox Christians agree, and ten issues on which LDS doctrine differs from the teaching of the Bible.

By the way, I don’t think (and I don’t know anyone else who does, either) that Mormons believe in a literally existing but different Jesus than the one who is the central figure of the New Testament. That is, we don’t think that there’s some other guy out there named Jesus that the Mormons are following by mistake. When Paul warned about those who preach “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4), he was warning about those whose teaching about Jesus fatally distorted the truth about him. In a sense, it’s “the same Jesus,” but a fundamentally different understanding of his identity, nature, work, or message, against which Paul is warning. Likewise, our concern about the LDS Church is that its teaching about Jesus Christ gravely distorts the truth about Jesus.

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Although the evidence from the New Testament for the deity of Christ is abundant, many people wonder why Jesus didn’t come out and say explicitly, “I am God.” Opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity often claim that Jesus’ failure to make such an explicit statement is proof that the Trinity is false. Some go further, insisting that the only statement that would satisfy them is if Jesus had said, “I am Almighty God, God the Son, second person of the Trinity.” Of course, since everyone knows there is no such statement by Jesus in the Bible, this objection is a simple way of dismissing the case for the Trinity.

There are several important responses we can make to this objection. Read the rest of this entry »

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