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REPLY #68g TO
"RELIGION"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

This is the seventh of a nine-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.

It wasn't until the Council of Nicea in 325 CE that Christian doctrine changed Jesus from a man to God in the flesh.
(R) This is absurd! Where are you getting your information from? From secular critics I presume.
(MB) This is well-documented historical fact. Here's another quote from Schmuel Golding's "The Light of Reason":
Constantine, an unbaptized pagan, convened the Council of Nicea in the year 325 in order to settle these disputes. A major issue was the nature of the deity they worshipped. Based upon their decisions Jesus was changed from man to God in the flesh, the sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday, the Passover was changed to Easter ... and the NT was canonized as a holy book.


(R) All throughout the Bible Jesus is presented as God in human flesh. In fact, you even admitted to this above! Look at your own words! You admit that the John and Paul (John 1:3; Col. 1:17) referred to Jesus as God. I know it is easy to get confused when you are trying to defend a biased, non-supported answer, but try not to contradict yourself (just messin' with ya).
(MB) Who's getting confused here? If you'll look back to Reply #57a, you'll see that it was *you* and not me who offered those two verses and that my rebuttal was that those were not claims made by Jesus himself, but claims of those who are writing in support of his divinity. The only biased and contradictory non-support in this discussion is coming from the believers' side. Like you said, look at your own words.

(R) As was said before, most of the Bible was already in use long before 325 CE.
(MB) As well as a lot of other stuff that didn't pass the final vote to become a part of the official canon.

Therefore, it would seem that Jesus' contemporaries viewed him as a man -- albeit, a rather special man.
(R) This was already discussed before and can easily be refuted by simply reading the Bible in context.
(MB) That has been rebutted by both Biblical evidence and secular history.

Nowhere in the Bible is any mention made of a Trinity and many verses make it clear that there can be no such thing.
(R) This kind of logic makes no sense. Nowhere in the Bible is the word "theology" either. But the Bible clearly teaches us to study God.
(MB) I thought that you said earlier that we should be happy in our ignorance since wisdom and knowledge are foolishness.

(R) Nowhere in the Bible is the word "quantum physics." But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
(MB) This is a non-sequitur. Inclusion or exclusion of non-religious material in the Bible has no relevance on whether or not an important piece of Christian dogma *is* included. The Trinity doesn't have to appear by that name, but it should at least appear in an unquestioned description -- which it never does.

For example, Deuteronomy 4:39, Isaiah 45:6, 1 Samuel 2:2, and 2 Samuel 7:22 all clearly state that there is none other than God -- in other words, that God is a unity and is neither a composite entity or included in any multi-part Trinity.
(R) Thank you for bringing these examples up. You help my case for the Trinity greatly.
(MB) Impossible. The case is beyond help. Do you really think I would bring up things that would destroy my argument?

(R) In Deuteronomy 4:39, 1 Samuel 2:2, and 2 Samuel 7:22, the word used for God in the Hebrew is "elohim". Elohim is a common derivative of the word "El" which is a commonly used for God. In the Hebrew language the "im" ending imputes plurality. Therefore, "Elohim" is the PLURAL form of the word "El."
(MB) Actually, that's only true for the oldest books of the Bible (particularly those parts of the Pentateuch derived from the Elohistic and Priestly documents) where the early polytheism of the Hebrews still creeps in. In later books, the word is used in its singular connotation not only as an interchangeable substitute for Yahweh, but also in references to gods of other nations (such as Exodus 12:12 and Joshua 24:15) and as a generic term for gods (Exodus 22:28). Deuteronomy and 1&2 Samuel fall firmly into the category where Elohim and Yahweh are interchangeable and singular terms.

(R) According to these verses, God exists as a plural being.
(MB) Wrong. According to these verses, that is his name.

(R) Thus, the Trinity can be clearly seen through a look at the original Hebrew word.
(MB) Not only can the Trinity not be seen at all, most certainly it cannot be argued that the word "Elohim" equates to "Jesus" and "Holy Ghost" as well as "God".

(R) If this were not so, the word "El" or Yahweh would have been used instead.
(MB) The usage is just fine as it is. In fact, the variations are often used to determine multiple authorship for some OT books (such as Genesis and Isaiah).

(R) In fact, the very first time the word God is used, in Genesis 1:1, Elohim is the word used for God.
(MB) That, of course, is the oldest part of the whole story and is still influenced by the old polytheism of the Hebrews. Thus, the usage.

(R) Isaiah 45:6, along with all the others, clearly portrays that God is the one and only. And this is very true. Just because He decided to reveal Himself in three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) does not mean this is contradictory.
(MB) How? If he is clearly saying that he is the one and only, he can't also be three different persons.

(R) Again, it is hard to grasp the concept of the Trinity.
(MB) No, it's not. It simply doesn't exist. Non-existence is a very easy thing to understand. If you say that the OT supports the existence of the Trinity, you might wish to consult the Jewish scholars (since the OT is, for all intents and purposes, theirs).
    How about Gerald Sigal in "The Jew and the Christian Missionary", who says:
This belief, called the Trinity, is not only diametrically opposed to Jewish belief, but is the very antithesis of the teaching of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings concerning the oneness of God ... this teaching, the result of theological and doctrinal speculation, is not even a pale reflection of what is taught in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. ... Missionary Christianity manipulates the Scriptures to establish the doctrine of the Trinity. If it had a quaternity [four] to prove, this would be demonstrated just as easily from the biblical text.


(R) It is kind of like water. Water can appear in three forms (solid, liquid, gas) and yet it is still H20.
(MB) Very poor example. There is no single combination of temperature and pressure where a molecule of water can exist in all three states at the same time. It is always in one and only one state at any given time. This is not the case for the Christian description of the Trinity.

In addition, Genesis 6:3, God says "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for his is flesh". This means that Jesus could not be God if he existed in a flesh and blood human body.
(R) Which translation did you quote this from? If you want the most accurate, try a King James, New King James, or NASB.
(MB) My quote was from the RSV, but the KJV has it almost the same way: "My spirit shall nevermore abide in man since he too is flesh". Funny that you should refer to the KJV, New KJV and NASB as being among the most accurate translations when many of your quotations of Bible verses seem to be coming from the New International Version.

(R) If you look in the Hebrew, the word "abide in" is better translated "strive with."
(MB) So far, your "Hebrew" has been rather shoddy and this is no exception. You asked my to try "the most accurate" translation and the KJV (your choice) supports the quoted verse as I have presented it to you. Substituting "strive with" for "abide in" produces a sentence that doesn't make sense. There's no reason why a flesh and blood human body would prevent or hinder God's spirit from striving with man, but if that spirit chose not to *abide in* a flesh and blood body, that would be a more sensible statement.

(R) How is this verse contradictory to what Jesus did?
(MB) Simple. Jesus existed in a flesh and blood body. If you claim that Jesus is God and that God can't lie, then in light of Genesis 6:3, your story has a major problem. If you accept that Jesus is *not* God, then there is no problem with that verse.

(R) You are taking the verse way out of context.
(MB) Am I? Who had to butcher Hebrew again in order to make an argument?

(R) In context, God is discussing with Noah the sinful condition of the fallen world and how He will soon bring judgment upon the earth.
(MB) How does that change anything?

The concept of the Trinity is nothing but an invention of Christian doctrine.
(R) This was already disproven above.
(MB) If anything, you strengthened my case!

(R) You want more evidence for the Trinity?
(MB) Sure! I'm sure you can take your case apart while I sit back and enjoy the ride.

(R) How about Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus tells us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
(MB) How about it? If anything, that says that there are three different entities to which we should pray. In the verse, all three are listed separately when he says "...in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

(R) As stated before, the word "Elohim" is plural referring to the three persons of the Trinity. Genesis 1:26 says "Let US make man in OUR image."
(MB) As stated previously, that part of Genesis is from the documents which still contained the old polytheistic influences.

(R) Colossians 1:15 says Jesus created all things.
(MB) No, it doesn't. It speaks of Jesus "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." If Jesus is a "firstborn", then he can't be equal to God, since God himself (as the story goes) was never born.

(R) Jesus made Himself equal with God by calling Him His own Father.
(MB) Just how does that work? I don't become equal to my father just because I acknowledge that I am his son.

(R) Acts 5:3-4 states that lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God.
(MB) We do a similar thing in the Army when, for example, an officer delegates authority to an NCO. If anybody gives that NCO a hard time, we consider it to be the same as if he had given the officer a hard time since that NCO is now standing in for the officer. This does not mean that the NCO and the officer are now one and the same entity. Along those same lines, since God is the Big Kahuna, it's reasonable to assume that he expects that those to which he delegates authority will be respected and obeyed. If not, you have to answer for it. But, this does not make his delegates the same as God.

(R) It seems the only inventing going on is by those who refuse to view the evidence.
(MB) Like the apologists, eh?

Furthermore, since God is said to have raised Jesus from the dead, God and Jesus cannot be one and the same.
(R) Yes, God did raise Jesus from the dead as stated in Romans 6:4. However, according to John 10:17, Jesus rose Himself from the dead. And Romans 8:11 tells us that the Spirit rose Jesus from the dead. Is this a contradiction? Not at all. Rather, it is further proof that substantiates the belief of the Trinity.
(MB) On the contrary, it's more problems for the story. If Jesus "died", yet he and God are one and the same, then he wouldn't have been around to raise himself from the dead. If he did raise himself, then he couldn't possibly have "died". If he didn't die, then there was no true resurrection, no sacrifice, and no redemption of anybody's sins. The only way that the accounts make any sense is either to accept that there is no such thing as a three-in-one Trinity or to accept that Jesus never actually died. There's no middle ground that isn't fraught with unsolvable problems.

Then again, I'm not an omnipotent being, either.
(R) I can vouch for that (just kiddin').
(MB) Well, actually you have to take my word for it......and I *might* not be telling the truth...:-)

Why should such a being have limits placed upon his ability to speak?
(R) No limits have been put on God. He can communicate to us any way He wants such as through dreams, the Bible, or audible communication.
(MB) You were originally pretty adamant about what God "had" to do and how he did it. That sounded like there wasn't much room for any other possibilities.

Why, indeed, should such a being need to speak at all?
(R) So he can communicate with His creation and reveal His wondrous grace, mercy, love, and compassion that He wants to bestow on us.
(MB) So, an omnipotent God needs *praise*? One has to wonder what all of the millions of victims depicted in the OT thought about God's "wondrous grace, mercy, love, and compassion". I would guess that they would have prayed to have had somewhat *less* of it bestowed upon them.

(R) If you read John 1:1-18, the Word is clearly portrayed as being Jesus. Verse 2 clearly says HE was with God.
(MB) Things aren't quite as clear as you might like. First, the Greek word translated as "Word" in John is "logos", which simply means "truth". Therefore, the first verse is doing little more than equating God with truth -- not an unreasonable thing for John to do. Then, in later verses, John shifts to using "the Light" instead of "the Word". This indicates a manifestation of the Word and not the actual Word itself.

(R) Verse six clearly says that John came testifying to the light in verse 4 referring to the Word.
(MB) You are making an assumption that "the Light" and "the Word" are exactly the same. John's usage indicates otherwise.

(R) We know that John testified to Jesus, therefore the Word is Jesus.
(MB) John continually uses the phrase "the Light" until the famous verse 14. It is thought that this may be a copyist's error and that this should also read "the Light". That would make sense in the context of John's prose and in his development of the story.
    Of course, let's not forget that this is just a story told by John. It is not self-verifying and cannot be accepted as accurate solely on its own say-so. Also, none of the other Gospels says anything similar to this so it can't even be cross-checked against other accounts.


(R) Just use common sense. The text speaks for itself.
(MB) I do -- and it does.

But, Genesis 6:3 denies that such a thing could actually happen.
(R) As said before, if you would read the text in context instead of manipulating it to read what you want, you would see it does not say that.
(MB) The best you could do to support that claim was to mangle a Hebrew verb. Therefore, it would seem that I am not the one in dire need of context lessons.

Finally, let's remember that this is nothing but an attribution of John and is something that is not echoed in any of the other Gospels.
(R) I am glad to hear you say that John attributes the Word as Jesus. This seems a contradiction to what you just said above.
(MB) Why? An "attribution" is just a claim that says "A is B". In John's case, he said "The Word is Jesus". No other Gospel says that and there is no support for the claim outside of John's own writings. If you wish to claim the Gospel of John as being self-authenticating, you will be engaging in circular reasoning once again.

So, a non-sequitur comparison helps you understand?
(R) This was just an example. It was not meant for a deep theological debate but merely an example of how to view the Trinity.
(MB) So, your views can be satisfied by non-sequiturs? Little wonder that facts don't seem to have much impact on them.

The same one you and most other Christians read. The difference being that I read what it says and not what I want it to say.
(R) Rather, I think you read it with presuppositions of what you think it should say in order to back false beliefs so as to rationalize the Gospel into nothing more then a figment of human imagination.
(MB) Not at all. Remember that I was originally a believer who read the Bible to learn more about God and Jesus. Therefore, I was expecting to find support for my beliefs in its pages. Instead, what I found was bad enough to bring me to non-belief. I've continued my studies throughout my life and the situation has not improved. The Bible is bunk and anybody who can't see it hasn't given it more than the most superficial reading and thought.

The earliest Gospel, Mark, was written about 70 CE.
(R) Again, try to support your assumption with some form of proof.
(MB) I always do (and, in fact, have done so in several previous paragraphs)! Early Church tradition affirms that Mark's Gospel was influenced by the preaching of Peter and was written down a few years after Peter's death (67 CE). Mark 13:2 is often interpreted as a reference to the fall of Jerusalem and that happened in 70 CE. His Gospel couldn't have been written much later than that since it was the primary source for Matthew and Luke.

(R) Mark was probably written between 45-60 AD. How do we know this? Luke, in writing Acts, finishes the book without describing the outcome of Paul's trial thus putting the date about 63 AD. Luke was written before Acts and was reflecting Mark and thus Mark had to have been earlier around 45-60 AD.
(MB) The problem here is in your basis for the date of Acts. The fact that the last incident recorded was around 63 CE does not mean that the book was written in that year. The book ends at the high point in Paul's work and the omission of the uncomfortable details of Paul's trial and death was probably deliberate. Most scholars place the writing of Acts at around 80 CE. This gives a comfortable cushion for the writing of Luke in between Mark and Acts.

(R) People who claim it was written any later cannot support it with any evidence.
(MB) On the contrary, the most and best available evidence and the large majority of scholars all support the dates I have given. Where did you find the argument for the incorrect early dates you gave?
    Luke addresses his book to somebody named "Theophilus". With that in mind, you may be interested in this tidbit from Joseph Wheless ("Forgery in Christianity"):
It is very significant, for the date of the authorship of "Luke," to note the fact that the only Theophilus known to early Church history is a certain ex-Pagan by that name, who, after becoming Christian, and very probably before being instructed in the certainty of the faith by "Luke," himself turned Christian instructor and Father, and wrote the Tract, in three Books, under the title Epistle to Antolychus, preserved in the Collection of Ante-Niacin Fathers, vol. ii, pp. 89-121. This Theophilus became Bishop of Antioch about 169-177 A.D. (CE. xiv, 625); and thus illuminates the date of "Luke."
    This debunks your insinuation that later dates for Luke cannot be supported with any evidence.



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