Archive for the Objections Category

A Dialogue on Epistemology and Christ’s Lordship

Posted in Objections, Objections to Presuppositonalism, Presuppositionalism on August 12, 2010 by fisher219

This is a recent dialogue that I had with a person who professes to be a Christian yet whose reasoning is grounded upon humanistic principles. This is an example of what happens when a person’s thinking is based upon worldly ideology rather than the self-consistent word of God.

Much of the dialogue has been left unedited. I only removed some superfluous comments and took out our names. The other person shall be known only by the initials “C.D.H.”

C.D.H:

If we are to forfeit reason at the foot of the cross then all is lost and I’m out.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use.

– Galileo Galilei

Wise words from a man of God who was ironically imprisoned by the Catholic Church for challenging the geocentric model of astronomy in favor of a heliocentric one. Should we learn a lesson from him or are we doomed to repeat the Catholic Churches mistake? If we find that Faith, and I mean the concept of ” accepting things blindly,” type faith, takes off where reason leaves off… then we find ourselves in a dead end. Only confirming what the “new atheists” think of Christians. How sad.

Fisher:

There’s a difference between abandoning reason and having a self-consistent foundation on which we are able to reason from.

By all means, come let us reason, but let’s not come with this ridiculous notion that our ability to reason is somehow autonomous.

So what do we base our reasoning upon? In other words, what should be our final authority?

‎C.D.H:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

-Siddhārtha Gautama

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

– Buddha

I’m unsure what the final authority ought to be, but how can something be true if I can poke holes in it with my own common sense? I have had no reason to doubt the authority of the bible thus far, but establishing it as the objective frame of reference is an entirely different story. If the laws of logic are contingent upon God’s personal revelation, then I will have no problem establishing it as my objective frame of reference. But if this position is bankrupt, then using the Bible as an objective reference is… utter foolery.

Fisher:

So, fallible human reasoning is the measure of all things? How very… humanistic…

The buddha quotes tell all. Your own reason, and your own common sense. With all due respect, good sir, men are not gods; our reasoning is fallible and thus cannot be the basis on which we can establish what is ultimately true and what is not.

Please note, I am not picking at you for the sake of theological nitpicking. It is just that if you are to confess Jesus as Lord, you ought to confess that He is Lord over our epistemology as well. After all, it is in only Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3, NIV)

So regarding what you said: How do you know if the divine revelation is bankrupt or not as an objective frame of reference? Easy: Verify its consistency. If the Bible is what is says it is, then it will not only be consistent with itself, but will also give us a consistent way of interpreting all facts (as opposed to interpreting the facts using our own fallible reasoning as the final frame of reference).

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments… Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

(Colossians 2:4,8, NLT)

C.D.H:

Okay then… then what is to happen should scripture say something incoherent?

Fisher:

Then it is not a self-consistent objective frame of reference, and would thus prove not to be of God.

Here’s my question: When you ask whether scripture can say something “incoherent,” on what grounds can we say whether something is coherentor not?

C.D.H:

I really am unsure as to how it logically follow that finding one flaw in Scripture = the entire thing is not of God. And to answer your question, simple common sense really…

‎Fisher:

“Your own reason and your own common sense” again?

Since you quoted Buddha, allow me to quote some Christian writers:

Do not, I beg you, bring in human reason. I shall yield to scripture alone.

(Theodoret of Cyrus. Eranistes. Ch. 1.)

In regard to the divine and holy mysteries of the faith, not the least part may be handed on without the Holy Scriptures. Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved from clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures.

(Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lectures. 4:17.)

C.D.H:

*sigh* Warning: hypothetical situation… if the Bible clearly said 2 + 2 = 5, would you believe it? I wouldn’t, and yes, my own reason, and my own common sense. What I know for a fact is that axioms exist and I am capable of comprehending them to some degree. Do I understand or know how they are here? No, they may be metaphysically necessary for all I know. But if they themselves disagree with what you hold to be their source, then what source is left?

Fisher:

That’s precisely the point: Since truth is one, and is entirely self-consistent the Bible would never make a false claim such as “2 + 2 = 5.” Once again, I would like to ask that you not turn the doctrine of divine Revelation into a caricature of itself.

Simple question: If Christ Jesus is Lord over all things, is He Lord over your epistemology and rational thought as well?

C.D.H:

I’m ending this for the night… This is all going to go into pointless circles until I make up my mind on presuppositionalism. To be honest with you, right now.. it looks really, really dumb. If logic is metaphysically necessary, then no — but if they are contingent upon the Lord himself, then yes.

Fisher:

I’m done for the night as well. We shall continue this some other time. But as for your last comment: Christ’s Lordship admits of no exceptions. That includes logic and reasoning. We submit mind, body and soul to Him, and we ought not to allow any part of our life and thought to remain autonomous.

Here is my final exhortation to you: Think biblically, since “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NASB)

That is all. God bless.

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Briefly Explaining the Trinity

Posted in Christology, Objections on July 16, 2010 by fisher219

During the early phase of writing and preparing my article on the deity of Christ, I had a dialogue with a Muslim regarding some of the passages I discussed in chapter one. When we came to John 1:1, he asked me a question that went somewhere along these lines: “If the word is with God and the word is God, then doesn’t that mean God is with God?” Unfortunately, this kind of misunderstanding leads to all sorts of strawman arguments against Trinitarian beliefs. They will quote, for example, the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 which goes, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Many Christians will respond by saying that God is one, but He is three-in-one. Unfortunately, this just leads to even more confusion on the part of those who do not understand Trinitarian theology (and unfortunately, the Christian making this response probably does not understand it himself/herself either), especially since it is usually not explained in what sense God is three-in-one. Thus, it is necessary to give a brief explanation of what we actually believe regarding the Trinity.

Perhaps the most concise and accurate definition of the Trinity that I can think of is the one provided by Dr. James White in The Forgotten Trinity. It goes something like this: Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

There, we see what it means when Christians say that God is three-in-one. Actually, there are two Greek words that all Christians (and non-Christians who wish to understand what biblical Christianity teaches) need to know. The first word is ousia, and this is the word which we translate as being, essence or substance. This is the word that is used in the Nicene Creed when we say that Jesus Christ is “of one being [homoousion] with the Father.” The second Greek word is the word hypostasis, which is generally translated as person. Thus, when we say that the Word was with God and is God, what we mean to say is that within the one ousia of God, there are three hypostases that have eternally been together. So when we say that the Word was with God and was God. There are various places in the Old Testament wherein God is presented as being multi-personal, such as Genesis 19:24 and Zechariah 2:8-11. In these passages, Yahweh interacts with Yahweh (a strange thing to behold if He was Unitarian in nature). In addition, this doctrine is encapsulated in the Trinitarian formula that appears in these passages:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

(Matthew 28:19)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

(2 Corinthians 13:14)

…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…

(1 Peter 1:2)

Please note that merely quoting these verses in and of itself does not prove the Trinity. Now, I believe that these passages do support Trinitarian theology, but that careful exegesis of these verses must be done first, which I do not have the space to do here. Also, much of what has already been written in this booklet should help to provide a solid foundation for an orthodox Trinitarian view of the nature of God. In summary remember that there are three foundations of Trinitarian theology that must always be kept in mind, and that denial of any one of these three foundations results in a heretical viewpoint that is no longer biblical Christianity. These three foundations are:

1. Monotheism, that there is only one God (denial of this foundation leads to Polytheism).

2. There are three Divine persons (denial of this foundation leads to Modalism or Sabellianism).

3. The three Divine persons are coequal and coeternal (denial of this foundation leads to Subordinationism or Arianism).

Responding to an Islamic Objector

Posted in Christology, Islam, Objections on July 13, 2010 by fisher219

Within 48-hours of my posting of my article on the deity of Christ on facebook, a certain Muslim started writing his response on my comment box, which I promptly responded back to. Herein is how I responded to him (with his comments in boldface):

let me take some parts and start debaeting [sic] with u about it

1- For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,… See More
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

if u read it in a jewish translation its will be like this

ה כִּי-יֶלֶד יֻלַּד-לָנוּ, בֵּן נִתַּן-לָנוּ, וַתְּהִי הַמִּשְׂרָה, עַל-שִׁכְמוֹ; וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ פֶּלֶא יוֹעֵץ, אֵל גִּבּוֹר, אֲבִי-עַד, שַׂר-שָׁלוֹם.

5 For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom;

ו לם רבה (לְמַרְבֵּה) הַמִּשְׂרָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם אֵין-קֵץ, עַל-כִּסֵּא דָוִד וְעַל-
מַמְלַכְתּוֹ, לְהָכִין אֹתָהּ וּלְסַעֲדָהּ, בְּמִשְׁפָּט וּבִצְדָקָה; מֵעַתָּה, וְעַד-עוֹלָם, קִנְאַת יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, תַּעֲשֶׂה-זֹּאת. {פ}

6 That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts doth perform this. {P}

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1009.htm

notice here ( and his name is called ) not his name shall be called

witch mean [sic] this was prophecy that was in the past

The verb for “call” (וַיִּקְרָא) isn’t quite translated properly here. It’s a passive future tense verb that should literally be translated “One will call his name…”

Besides, who on earth would make a prophecy about something that happens in the past? That doesn’t make sense, since prophecies are supposed to be about the future…. See More

now let us talked [sic] about and see if its about jesus or not

1-For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given

you know that the bible has many sons so it can be any one

That’s why the context of the whole passage needs to be taken into account. The passage has to be a Messianic prophecy (The Jews back in Jesus’ time would certainly agree, although modern Jews may not necessarily do so). If it’s not, then what else could it possibly be referring to?

2-and the government shall be upon his shoulder

Jesus did not come to be the government upon his shoulder

John 18:36 (English Standard Version)

36Jesus answered, (A) “My kingdom(B) is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world,(C) my servants would have been fighting, that(D) I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

and when the Jew try to make him a king what did he do ?

John 6:15 (New International Version)

15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

You cited John 18:36 to argue against me, yet what you don’t realize is that John 18:36 is the exact same verse that I would use to disprove your point. You see, you make the same error the Jews make in assuming “the government” (הַמִּשְׂרָה) refers to an earthly kingdom.

Remember how Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God? That is the government that is being talked about in Isaiah 9:6. Again, I would like to refer you to the coming of the son of Man in 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.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a 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.

This eschatological kingdom is the one that is being talked about in Isaiah 9:6, and unlike earthly kingdoms which pass away, this is the only type of kingdom “of [which] the increase… there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).

3-and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

can u show me where did any one called Jesus by the name of Mighty ? God

Notice that the Messiah is said to be his name shall be called “mighty God” (אֵל גִּבֹּור).

If you look at early Christian writings that came immediately after the New Testament, you will find that the early Christians did indeed say that Christ is the “mighty god” that is mentioned here. For example, Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew states:

And how Christ after He was born was to escape the notice of other men until He grew to man’s estate, which also came to pass, hear what was foretold regarding this. There are the following predictions: —“Unto us a child is born, and unto us a young man is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders;” —“Unto us a child is born, and unto us a young man is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders;
(Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 35.)

Justin Martyr cits this passage more than once. He mentions it again in chapter 76 of his dialogue, once again affirming that Jesus is the one being talked about. In addition Irenaeus of Lyons also cites Isaiah 9:6 in Against Heresies (III:16:3) and clearly affirms that Jesus is the one being spoken of. Thus we see that the early Church did in fact believe that the “mighty god” of Isaiah 9:6 is Jesus.

Besides, if Jesus isn’t the “mighty god” of Isaiah 9:6, then who is? 😉

4- Prince of Peace

and more than that Jesus did not come to bring Peace

read what Jesus said

Matthew 10:34 (New International Version)

34″Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Luke 12:49 (New International Version)

Not Peace but Division
49″I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Luke 14:26 (New International Version)

26″If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 19:27 (New International Version)

27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.”

is Jesus here a Prince of Peace ?


I would like to refer you to these two sayings of Jesus:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Now, you brought up Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:49 and a bunch of other verses to argue agains this. What you need to realize is that Jesus already answers this in John 14:27 when He says that the kind of peace He gives is not the kind of peace the world gives. So clearly He is distinguishing two different nuances of the word “peace” here. Worldly peace is characterized by lack of division (and since faith in Christ causes division, this cannot be the kind of peace Christ offers). The true peace that Christ offers is peace with God, which is brought about by justification by grace through faith in His finished work on the cross.

Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t -intend- to cause the kinds of divisions mentioned in the verses you brought up. Now, they have their place in God’s decretive will, obviously, but from a temporal perspective, these divisions are the (unfortunately) necessary consequences of believers coming to faith while their own loved ones and relatives remain in unbelief and proceed to hate them for their faith.

as u can see this prophecy does not talk about Jesus

Pretty much everybody during the ancient and medieval periods have agreed that Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to the coming Messiah. Modern Jews may deny this, but they do so in contradiction to what Jews in earlier centuries have taught. That being said, if this is not about the Messiah (whom both Christians and Muslims agree is Jesus), who does it talk about then? (More information here)

Now, let’s talk about John 1:1:

B – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made…

IF U MEAN THAT THE WORD HERE MEANS (JESUS ) AND JESUS IS GOD

John clearly means to convey that, as is made evident in verse 14 where he says “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο και εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν).

then the verses have to be understand [sic] like this way

In the beginning was the Word ( God), and the Word (God) was with God, and the Word (God) was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made…

can u explan fro [sic] me this part please ( and the Word (God) was with God ) ?

i will stop here and wait for your reply to my first response

You see Omar, in Christian theology, we define the nature of God using two Greek words: Ousia (ουσια, usually translated as essence or being) and hypostasis (υποστασις, usually translated as person). We as Christians say God is one in His ousia (essence/being), but that within the one ousia of God, we have three coequal and coeternal hypostases (who are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Thus, when when we say that the Word was with God and is God at the same time, we mean that the two hypostases of the Father and the Son (plus the Holy Spirit, even though He is not explicitly mentioned in the verse) are with each other in eternity past. In doing so, however, they are not regarded as separate gods. Rather, they constitute one divine being (ousia).

Who Is Jesus?: A Case for His Divinity

Posted in Christology, Islam, Objections on July 12, 2010 by fisher219

Introduction

I have spent over a year now writing about the person and work of Jesus Christ, defending orthodox Christian belief regarding who He is from Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Age Spiritualists, Liberal theologians, Dan Brown devotees and other assorted detractors of the deity of Christ. Because many of the same arguments get repeated over and over again by these groups (who apparently just borrow each other’s arguments anyway), I have felt the necessity of producing this lengthy post on the defence of the deity of Christ.

Those who read most of the blog articles I have written in the past will probably notice that I am herein reusing many of the same citations and arguments that I have used plenty of times before in the past, sometimes almost verbatim. The reason behind this is that I have already written most of the information down in the past. However, I have not yet collated all of them and produced one single article dealing with all of the relevant issues. Thus, I am pulling together my past writings on this subject (as well as some new information that I have not written before) into one comprehensive article.

Part One: The Scriptural Case

Nobody denies that the Messiah is going to be a man. Jews, Christians and Muslims alike will all agree on this part. However, the part which remains a stumbling block both to Jews and to Muslims is the Christian belief that the Messiah will also be divine as well as human. However, even from the Old Testament, it can already be inferred that the expected Messiah is to be a Divine Saviour figure, who is more than just a mere human being. For example, in the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read this prophecy:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Notice that the Messiah is said to be “mighty God” (אֵל גִּבֹּור). Those who object to the idea of the Messiah being God in the flesh try to argue that this merely means that he will be a godlike warrior. However, the context of the passage simply does not allow that, since the same phrase is used of Yahweh Himself in the very next chapter:

In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God [אֶל־אֵל גִּבֹּֽור].
(Isaiah 10:20-21)

The Gospels contain plenty of evidence that Jesus claimed to be Divine. While all four Gospels present this portrait to a certain extent, this is most clearly seen in the Gospel of John. For example, John states in his highly poetic and well-worked out prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made…

…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…

…No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
(John 1:1-3,14,18)

The prologue of John (and the first verse in particular) is very significant, as it sets the pace for the rest of the gospel of John. Not only is the Word referred to explicitly as God, but eternality and creative power are also attributed to the Word. The little word “was” may not seem like much in English, but the Greek word (ην, a perfect tense form of ειμι) carries much more meaning than that. By saying that “in the beginning was the word” (εν αρχη ην ο λογος), he is saying that even from the very beginning, the Word already existed. Continue reading