Jesus: Man, Myth, or Misunderstood

July 30, 2007 at 4:25 pm 52 comments

Jesus 7As a follow up to Simen’s post C.S. Lewis’ Trilemma – Liar, Lunatic or Divine?, I’d like to post a comment by Michael Turton’s from one of my earlier blogs.

Quotation Marks 1Let me share with you something I wrote for a friend on Lewis’ Trilemma (which as I understand Lewis actually got from Chesterton). This is presented thusly on p55 of Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

If you type this into Google, you’ll find thousands of Christian websites that apparently feel this is a high point of Christian apologetics. It’s actually illogical and uninformed, and it does not reflect well on people who accept it as serious thinking.

You can see the first problem here. Lewis writes “A man who said the sort of things Jesus said…” but accepting this premise first requires that we establish what Jesus said. It is not easy to separate what Jesus said from what was added to his sayings later. There is widespread disagreement among scholars on what goes back to Jesus. Many scholars believe, for example, that nothing in John goes back to Jesus. Others argue that anything about Gentiles or food laws is a later addition. Still others point out that Jesus’ sayings closely resemble popular philosophical sayings of his time.

What arguments or evidence does Lewis offer about what Jesus said? Well, I’ve read Mere Christianity, and I didn’t see any. So unless Lewis can tell me how he knows what Jesus intended, I do not see that there is any support for his claim from that direction. In fact, Lewis even writes that Jesus claimed to be God, but nowhere is there a clear statement of that in the Gospels (even a statement like “I and the Father are one” can be interpreted in many ways). Many, many scholars would dispute that historical Jesus ever made such a claim.

But it gets worse, because in addition to lacking scriptural support, Lewis’ position is a string of logical fallacies. First, he offers you three choices. Either Jesus was really God, or he was a devil, or he was crazy. “A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.” Any time someone gives you violently opposed choices you should start becoming suspicious about his arguments.

Think about it. Could a liar be a great moral teacher? Of course! All the great moral teachers of history were human beings, and like all humans, must have been liars. Martin Luther King plagiarized his doctoral thesis and cheated on his wife. His “I have a dream” is taken unacknowledged from a speech written by a friend of his. Does that mean he wasn’t a great moral teacher and leader? Of course not! Just imagine all the great moral leaders and teachers you know – didn’t they all have human failings? So with Jesus. There is no reason to imagine that simply because he was a great moral teacher, he must be divine.

Furthermore, there is no reason to imagine that Jesus had to have been a liar to make the claims that he did. He might have sincerely believed in what he said. He might even have sincerely believed he was God. His followers might have believed it too. That sort of thing has happened before as well. But even if he were crazy, would that invalidate him as a great moral teacher? Crazy people are as likely to say intelligent and insightful things as anybody. After all, saying Jesus was a nut doesn’t really say anything about what kind of nut he was. He might have been a nut like Kurt Godel, one of the great philosophers of all time, who in his later years insisted on communicating with everyone by phone even if they were in the same room. Yet his social strangenesses did not prevent him from being a truly great thinker and teacher.

Another problem with this point of view is that in fact there is nothing particularly divine about Jesus’ teachings in any case; they can be found in the popular philosophy, Cynic and Stoic, of his day, and in the Old Testament. For example, when Jesus tells people that the physicians do not heal the healthy, he quotes a famous Cynic maxim going back several centuries. Do we then claim that the Cynic philosopher who first thought that up was divine? Probably most people would not. When Jesus cites the famous Shema in Mark 12:29-31, he is citing a bit of Jewish moral teaching. So should we then regard all the Jewish teachers who taught this as divine also? The Golden Rule, found in many cultures, is another example of this. Were all those teachers divine?

In fact, there are many more than the three dramatic choices – God, Devil, or Nutcase – that Lewis offers us. Maybe Jesus was just a human like you and me. Maybe he was misunderstood. Maybe the thingsQuotation Mark 2 he said were made up, or spoken by others and then attributed to Jesus. So next time someone says “Lord, liar, or lunatic?” You can respond by thoughtfully saying, “No, more like man, myth, or misunderstood.” – Michael Turton

- The de-Convert


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52 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Zoe  |  July 30, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I like how Michael puts it. “No, more like man, myth, or misunderstood.”

  • 2. Thinking Ape  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Shouldn’t it be “man, myth, AND misunderstood?”

  • 3. Justin  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Hi The de-Convert,
    Good post. I always enjoy your stuff.

    I’m doing a series about Jesus on my blog (historical Jesus, Jesus as Messiah, etc.). I have installment thus far so if you wish, take a look :)

    Analyzing Jesus: The Historical Figure

  • 4. Xan  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Hey everyone!

    Interesting blog you have here. I’m not sure if you all get “angry” or “over-saved” Christians who come here and either bash or over-empathize; I’ve only read a few of your original posts and haven’t had the chance to read through the many comments. Either way, I really appreciate that a blog of this nature exists – with the aim of looking at the issues logically, impassionately, and maturely. If I may make a few comments concerning 1) Lewis’ trilemma and 2) your de-conversion wager. Quite honestly, I’m not all concerned with (1), it’s (2) that caught my attention; but I wasn’t sure where I might post such thoughts. :)

    Regarding (1): Though an extremely avid fan of Lewis, I think your objections are predominantly well-placed. The trilemma is relatively weak argument. I don’t believe this for all of the reasons you said, nor do I think it was given its proper due; but I do agree, it’s a weak argument for theism. Thankfully, I consider their to be stronger one’s circulating – for my sake. :) Anyhow, some comments regarding Lewis’ Trilemma. First, I think it is pretty evident that Christ, if we are to use Scripture as a worthy and reliable source, claimed He was God (Mark 14: 61-62); where, to paraphrase, Christ is asked if He is the Son of the Blessed, and He answers “I am”. Now, I forsee two main objections: 1) What does Son of the Blessed mean? Based on the comments concerning “the Father and I are one”, I think we are stretching intellectual honesty to claim that this probabilisitcally suggest that Christ is notclaiming He is God. If the Father is God, and Christ is claiming to be the Father; well, you finish the syllogism (if Socrates is man, and all men are mortal: then Socrates is mortal). So that is one area I think we need to check ourselves with regards to whether we are being intellectually honest with ourselves.

    Secondly, one will likely reject Scripture as reliable source. If I may, may I just leave it, at this point, as an agreement on disagreement. :) Yes, agree to disagree? I would much rather focus on (2), the de-conversion wager, and save what space I have here.

    I love the first sentence. Quite honestly, that is precisely how I would characterize Christ’s teaching. Granted, that’s not necessarily how Christians exemplify this teaching; as history as found fit to instantiate. But the tainted of a teaching does not invalidate the original teaching itself; as we all know. And so, I love the first portion; and admire you (and all of those who hold to it) who can claim and practice such beliefs and aims in the absence of the divine. Moreover, I do not agree with where we are left in the absence of God. Call me a pessimist, but I see no need for love, nor do I know what the “good”, or “positive impact” one is referring to. I find such terms to fall into subjectivity in the absence of any theism: and ultimately, we find ourselves in the Tragedy of Nietzsche and the Absurdity of Camus. But then again, those are just my beliefs and arguments. Nor do I give a damn about creeds. Christ died to the law through the law: Christianity is about love (regardless of how often Christians fail to do this). I can see this comment is way too long, so I’ll end it there. Consider this a light introduction… :)

    Thanks for the opportunity to post!

    – Xan

  • 5. The de-Convert  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    From Justin’s blog:

    Truth be told, no real legitimate scholar believes Jesus did not exist. “The entire English-speaking world divides history into two principle periods: BC (”Before Christ”) and AD (”Anno Domini” — Latin for “Year of Our Lord”). Whether one subscribes to the BC/AD labels or the new “politically correct” BCE/CE (”Common Era”) labels, the birth of Jesus Christ has always been the dividing line in history.

    Also, nobody can deny the fact that every leader of every major world religion has confronted the historical Jesus. Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet, while Jews either see him as a blaspheming rebel or an exceptional rabbi elevated to deity by idolatrous Gentiles. Many Buddhists regard Jesus as a “bodhisattva” (a perfectly enlightened being who vows to help others), while there’s a Hindu tradition that Jesus was actually a guru who learned yogic meditation in India” (Niles).

    Besides the impact Jesus has had on every major religion, we find evidence of his existence from the Babylonian Talmud, Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Seutonius, Mara Bar-Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, and so on (as I think you get the point). The plain truth is that Jesus of Nazareth lived, like it or not.

    Now that it is clear that Jesus did in fact exist….

    To respond: http://politicsandreligion.wordpress.com/2007/07/30/analyzing-jesus-the-historical-figure/#comments

  • 6. Heather  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Xan,

    First, I think it is pretty evident that Christ, if we are to use Scripture as a worthy and reliable source, claimed He was God (Mark 14: 61-62); where, to paraphrase, Christ is asked if He is the Son of the Blessed, and He answers “I am

    I’m a little confused as to how this says Jesus was claiming he was God. In a direct reading, he was simply answering a question. Such as someone asking if I am the daughter of my parents. My response: “I am.” Here, they are asking if he is the Messiah, who is the son of the Blessed one, and he says that he is. (I realize the standard response here might be along the lines of the ‘I am,’ but that is a basic response to a lot of questions. He’s not even saying that he is the “I am.” If read straightforward, it just looks like an answer).

    You can respond by thoughtfully saying, “No, more like man, myth, or misunderstood.”

    Or misunderstood man, period. It didn’t take long for Jesus’ message, or even his identity, to fragment, given the types of Christianities that flourished for the first few centuries.

    But I do like the response that a liar can deliver a moral message — after all, if one proposes that Jesus was a liar and thus his entire message is invalidated, isn’t that an ad hominem atttack? It’s combinging the message with the man, rather than focusing on the message itself. Same with the lunatic scenario.

  • 7. Xan  |  July 30, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Hey Heather!

    Thanks for the response. I can see this blog fills up quick with comments, and I imagine they’ll be a good many directed to my own (due to its length alone). So I apologize if I don’t manage to address them all; so either send them via a message or head over to my blog. But to answer Heather:

    Yes, He was answering a question. But what was the question? If He is asked, “Are you the Messiah?” as you concede He is asked, and He answered “I am”; what is the difficulty here? I’m not sure where your confusion rests. It does just look like an answer because it is an answer, and answer to a question, about whether He is the Messiah, who is the Son of God, and He answers “I am”. Just once case in Scripture where this occurs.

    Perhaps I am misundertanding your question though (which I am all to often prone to do) :).

    – Xan

  • 8. Thinking Ape  |  July 30, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    The de-Convert says,

    “From Justin’s blog:…..To respond: http://politicsandreligion.wordpress.com/2007/07/30/analyzing-jesus-the-historical-figure/#comments

    It is a moderated blog.

  • 9. Heather  |  July 30, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Hi, Xan.

    Oh, the comments fill up very quickly. :)

    My question was to using that Mark verse in terms of Jesus claiming he was God. From your first comment:

    , I think it is pretty evident that Christ, if we are to use Scripture as a worthy and reliable source, claimed He was God (Mark 14: 61-62

    That verse I see Jesus simply answering the question as to whether he was the Messiah, who was the Son of the Blessed One. I don’t see that as a claim to being God. I see the ‘I am’ statement as a response. Unless you’re saying that Jesus’ claim to God rests on being the Messiah or the Son of God?

  • 10. Xan  |  July 30, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks for reiterating Heather!

    I misunderstood you. :) I suppose you have every right to deny the inference (for it is a inference) that by “I am”; Christ is not claiming to be the “I Am”. But, I consider Christ to be a rather intelligent man (at least with regards to Scripture); as the parallels He makes are very numerous (and I think these cases of “I am” are also numerous). I also think “I and the Father are one” are very suggestive. Furthermore, the accusations against Jesus were that He claimed to be God (John 10:33). But whether He deliberately said the Greek word theos; no, it doesn’t appear He did in the text. But personally, I see enough parallels stemming from the Man’s words that He is suggesting this; and at least, if just a prophet, God looked on him with extraordinary favor (thus, the resurrection – the Holy Spirit descending and taking over His teaching).

    Not sure if I’ll be able to check back here much, any further comments, feel free to reply and hopefully I’ll get to see them. Otherwise, send me an email or something. :) Thanks for the remarks!

    – Xan

  • 11. Dan  |  July 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Heather

    I understand that we have discussed this before but you are in denial here and as you know I love to help. Name any definition what you think God is and it can be scriptural linked to Jesus also. Remember my link Deity of Christ It really helps those who really don’t think that Jesus was God himself. Define God and it will also be the definition of Jesus. Proof is in the Bible. Give it a try. He is man and God and you must have faith in that. It will be proven to the nay-sayers hopefully soon before the rapture. After the rapture the new believers will be beheaded for their faith. I hope you are all ready for that level of persecution.

    Sorry to do this but I have been gone for some time and playing catch up but a couple of posts ago Brad said “Please note that I am not saying there is not evidence of macro evolution, I am saying that I don’t believe there is enough evidence for it to be exclusive fact.” Well my friend there is NO proof of macro-evolution at all, ever, period. The same holds true for population 3 stars for the big bang theorist they call them theories but they are just guesses without evidence at all. Here I have proof of this. No one has collected on this offer since 1990. If anyone wants to collect $260,000. hard cash for anyone to show any proof at all for macro evolution go to here and another here

    Brad also said in that last post “When I stress the importance of tone, context, etc. I do so because I WANT you to be more effective in your evangelism, truth proclamation, etc. Truly.” I appreciate that advice buddy but I am not evangelizing here at this post. I would call it defending and debating but not evangelizing. You cannot preach the good news to people that publicly have literally declared war on God. Who will not listen to reason or logic. I enjoy a good debate now and again so I chime in often but to think anyone at this blog does not understand the “good news” is naive or in denial.

    For Him +†+
    Dan

  • 12. Thinking Ape  |  July 30, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    “You cannot preach the good news to people that publicly have literally declared war on God.”

    Didn’t someone on here say something about fundamentalist’s obsession with military terminology? Dan, the search for truth is not a war on anyone, anything, or any non-thing. Dan, you will never, so long as you hold “true to your convictions” allow any evidence to hold water. Consider the hypothetical penguin problem:

    1. An infallible, inerrant, inspired Holy Book contains no fallacies or errors.
    2. The aforementioned Book states that ‘penguins do not exist’.
    3. Penguins exist.
    4. (3) conflicts with (2).
    5. If (3) really is true, (1) must be false.
    6. If (1) really is true, (3) must be a trick of the devil.

    You will justify anything to keep your views. Debating a fundamentalist on the history of the universe is utterly futile for this reason. Once you accept that your scripture is NOT UNIQUE and NOT INERRANT, then we can talk. Until then, my cats offer more constructive debates.

  • 13. Thinking Ape  |  July 30, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    As for your first challenge to Heather, only a grasping theologian would find some illogical defence of Jesus as omniscient after reading Matthew 24:36 or 27:46.

  • 14. Stephen P  |  July 31, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Dan:

    Well my friend there is NO proof of macro-evolution at all, ever, period. … they call them theories but they are just guesses without evidence at all. Here I have proof of this. No one has collected on this offer since 1990. If anyone wants to collect $260,000. hard cash for anyone to show any proof at all for macro evolution go to here and another here

    Dan, if that is what constitutes “proof” to you, you have a decidedly shaky grip on reality. Your first link goes to Kent Hovind’s notorious “offer”, which has long since been shown to be not at all what it claims to be. See
    http://www.talkorigins.org for a particularly thorough analysis. Hovind’s statement “my word is good” is especially ironic when you know that he has since been sent to prison for ten years for fraud and other offences.

    In fact sums far greater than $260,000 are paid out every year for evidence of (macro) evolution. They are called research grants. Of course the subject has long since ceased to be whether macro-evolution takes place, but how it does, and how fast. The research has shed an immense and fascinating amount of light on living organisms, but I gather that you prefer to sit in the dark.

    As for your second link, I would suggest visiting the rest of the talkorigins site for a demolition of pretty well every creationist argument ever put forward. And as for the “without evidence”, try this page: 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution.

    (I won’t discuss this further here unless the regulars wish to do so, as it’s a bit off topic.)

  • 15. Justin  |  July 31, 2007 at 10:25 am

    TA,
    I approve all messages that people comment…the reason I leave it to moderating is because it allows me to see the comments as they come in so I can address them. I have never not approved one.

    -Justin

  • 16. The de-Convert  |  July 31, 2007 at 10:36 am

    TA,

    Shouldn’t it be “man, myth, AND misunderstood?”

    I’ve been thinking about this and you’re right. That pretty much sums up my view.

    Paul

  • 17. Brad  |  July 31, 2007 at 10:39 am

    OK,

    For the sake of time, I am going to ignore issues already discussed in past posts and will suffice to leave it at this.

    Dan: Dude. Come on. Go read Francis Schaefer. Please. At the minimum go read Ephesians 4:15.

    In Re: to the whole C.S. Lewis debate….

    Admittedly, partly due to Christians’ overemphasis on Lewis’ trilemma, Lewis (and “Mere Christianity” in particular) has been made into something he was not. This passage was never meant to be a confessional statement, doctrine, or even hard theology. Lewis was a creative writer first and foremost, and a theologian second. Like Jesus, he mostly used parables, illustrations, and a narrative style of writing to emphasize principles of Christianity. I sincerely doubt he would have been so arrogant as to believe this “theory” was watertight and the end-all apologetic for Christianity. Undoubtedly, he recognized holes.

    However, in the same way, Jesus told parables to illustrate key points of his teachings, not to represent a holistic theological system. This is evident whenever he starts them with phrases like “The kingdom of heaven is LIKE ______,” or “The Son of Man is LIKE ______.”

    If we view Lewis’ Trilemma in light of systematic theology, no doubt it is shaky at best. It is an illustration, not meant to be a legal brief. Lewis of all people understood the importance of organic narrative to speak to the human heart. He was most definitely not writing a mathematical equation or a logician’s proof.

    On the basis and claim that Jesus never claimed to be God (which seems to be a foundational aspect of this argument), not in so many words. As Dan points out, he does use the same terms to describe himself as are used to describe God. Also, and this is huge, to be the “son of ____” in 1st century Hebrew culture is very often synonymous with “to be ____.”

    i.e. someone called the “son of a minstrel” is in fact, also a minstrel himself. This is one reason why Christians believe that Jesus was both wholly man (as he referred to himself as the “son of man” repeatedly) as well as wholly God (as the Son of God).

    Jesus claims repeatedly to be the son of God, which is why the priests and pharisees sought so desperately to kill him SPECIFICALLY for the crime of blasphemy.

    Additionally, we have Luke 3:22 where God is quoted, calling Jesus His “beloved Son.” Matthew 28:18 quotes Jesus saying “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That is quite a high claim, indeed, and is synonymous with divinity. The very next verse (19) has him telling the disciples to make disciples of all nations and baptize in the name of “the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” No one in the history of Judaism has baptized in the name of a prophet or other mortal. Only God.

    So no, we do not have Jesus stating verbatim “I am God,” but there are multiple statements that stand alone in support of that claim, and gain additional strength when collected together. In short, Jesus did in fact claim, and believed himself to be, God.

    That’s my two cents. First and foremost, this debate is truly moot as Lewis never intended for his writing to be a legal brief or mathematical equation. I think we can all find holes in each others’ arguments well enough, yet that should not totally invalidate every claim. Key example: Dan quoted me as saying that I do not deny macro-evolution has some evidence, yet I still believe it is far from complete or convincing. This does not mean I think anyone who believes it is stupid, or that the argument itself is not at least plausible.

  • 18. Heather  |  July 31, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Brad,

    Also, and this is huge, to be the “son of ____” in 1st century Hebrew culture is very often synonymous with “to be ____.”

    Is this how Judaism understands the term ‘son of God’, though? I believe they hold that angels are called the sons of God, as well. But that doesn’t make them equal with God. Plus, that phrasing is used in terms of an occupation. If a person said, “I am the son of David,” it doesn’t mean that I am David. God is a name, not an occupation.

    Matthew 28:18 quotes Jesus saying “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That is quite a high claim, indeed, and is synonymous with divinity.

    How is that synonymous, though? The key phrase in there is “given,” as in, the authority was given to him by God. God also gave authority to other prophets to speak for him. God could’ve given the authority to Jesus. Even with the ‘in the name of the …’ verse. One, it doesn’t look like that was carried out in Acts during baptisms (and the only mention of such a procedure is in that Matthew section), and two, even that is incredibly vague. It says nothing about all three being the same, or equal.

    This isn’t meant to detract from the Trilemma discussion, nor do I want to get into a debate about particular verses here. If we do that, it should be on one of our own blogs, rather than taking up space here. Rather — and I can’t speak for everyone — but anyone I’ve met who doesn’t hold to the Trinity doesn’t take that position lightly, and has put a lot of thought into it. The case in point is what I’ve mentioned above — I can find answers to what you posted above that, to me, are simpler than using the Trinity arrangement.

    I sincerely doubt he would have been so arrogant as to believe this “theory” was watertight and the end-all apologetic for Christianity. Undoubtedly, he recognized holes.

    One would hope so. If he tdid intend this to be an end-all apoletigic, that would be a little sobering. ;)

  • 19. Heather  |  July 31, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Paul,

    Shouldn’t it be “man, myth, AND misunderstood?”

    I’ve been thinking about this and you’re right. That pretty much sums up my view.

    Geniune curiousity here — do you have a way in which you categorize certain aspects? As in, this part of Jesus is the man, this part is the myth and so on.

  • 20. Thinking Ape  |  July 31, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Heather, this is probably the most oversimplistic way of putting it but essentially:
    man – the person that did actually exist in history, probably a Jewish teacher with some radical interpretations of Mosaic law.
    myth – various promotions of divinity by Paul and/or the Gnostics. Most mythmaking concerning a messiah figure came after the fall of the temple which created a crisis in the political and religious order of Jewish Palestine.
    misunderstood – the way that his own disciples viewed and probably the authors of the gospels (internal evidence is obvious).

  • 21. Heather  |  July 31, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks, TA.

    The misunderstood portion doesn’t surprise me. Just look at all the various interpretations before the 4th century. And, as you said, the author of the gospels. Each had a variation.

  • 22. Brad  |  July 31, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Heather,

    “Is this how Judaism understands the term ’son of God’, though?”
    – This is in fact part of the reason they were so adamant to having him killed for blasphemy. Yes, my example includes occupations, but Jesus himself tackles this argument in reference to the “son of David claim” in Luke 20: 39-44

    “39 Then some of the scribes answered, Teacher, you have spoken well. 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question. 41 But he said to them, How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,
    The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 43 until I make your enemies your footstool. 44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

    Jesus chose this way to point out how David considered the Christ (“my Lord” and a descendant of his) equal with “The Lord” (God). Jesus most definitely claimed to be the Christ.

    “One, it doesn’t look like that was carried out in Acts during baptisms (and the only mention of such a procedure is in that Matthew section), and two, even that is incredibly vague. It says nothing about all three being the same, or equal.”

    1.) Acts most likely does not address the specifics of what name people were baptized by because it was so well known by definition. In the same way, you would not feel the need to state that you used bread in making a sandwich. It is commonly known and assumed. Church tradition confirms this.
    2.) While they may not have been said to be the same or equal in that passage specifically, we cannot derive entire doctrine from individual verses. The doctrine of the Trinity is derived from a microscopic and macroscopic reading of the bible.

    As you very wisely state, that is a whole nother topic to be debated, and I will concur not to clog this post with that argument. Suffice to say that in forming doctrine (and critiquing it) you cannot have an effective argument without 4 categories satisfied:

    1.) Co-text (microscopic, where a verse it sits in the larger passage)
    2.) Inter-text (where it sits in relation to the rest of scripture)
    3.) Extra-text (cultural, social, and chronological circumstances)
    4.) Situational Context (i.e. What situation is Paul addressing specifically in his letters to the Corinthians.)

    It is the most widely accepted standard across biblical scholars of all backgrounds, faiths, and spectrum of opinion (McKnight).

    Anyway, I still say that Lewis never intended his Trilemma to speak to the modernist claims that many Christians say it does, and thus a critique on the same basis is moot if it seeks to prove anything beyond that fact.

  • 23. Brad  |  July 31, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Oh, I forgot to include, the reference for “McKnight” is as follows:

    Introducing New Testament Interpretation, Scot McKnight, ed., from the “Guides to New Testament Exegesis” series. (Baker Books, 1989)

    I just happened to be reading it for class. :-)

  • 24. Heather  |  July 31, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Brad,

    This is in fact part of the reason they were so adamant to having him killed for blasphemy. Yes, my example includes occupations, but Jesus himself tackles this argument in reference to the “son of David claim” in Luke 20: 39-44

    Except this doesn’t address the fact that the angels are called the sons of God, in the Judaic tradition. And if we asked someone who was Jewish about the son of God aspect, would they agree with the Christian idea? I don’t think we can use the New Testament as a grasp of what the Judaic thought is, given the differences between the two religions, and that the NT is written from a Christian perspective. I’ve heard quite a few people say that the characteristics of the Pharisees are “off” in the NT.

    I mean, even as it is, with the Psalms you refer to — everything I’ve read says the second ‘lord’ in there referred to “adon” or “adoni,” which was what one used in addressing a human, as in a human lord or master. “Adonai” refers to the Lord. That’s how Judaism views that Pslams. It’s “Adonai said to adon/adoni …”

    I’m sorry, we were suppose to drop it. I just get really leery about interpreting one religion through the lens of another. A lot of what Christianity says about Judaism doesn’t seem to match what Jews say about Judaism.

  • 25. fontor  |  July 31, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    No one’s mentioned it here, but to continue on the ‘L’ theme…

    If someone offered me the choice between ‘liar, lunatic, or lord’, I’d make a counter-offer: legend.

    We know how legends can get out of hand, and I’d say that’s what happened with Christianity.

  • 26. joe  |  August 1, 2007 at 4:50 am

    I think the problem with the quote is that it is trite, and misses out at least one option.

    Jesus could have been mad, bad or God. Or he could have been misunderstood, misquoted or just plain wrong.

    By the way, I don’t think the idea was lifted from chesterton, but I know where to ask to find out definitively.

  • 27. rickhill  |  August 1, 2007 at 6:35 am

    was just chatting to Jesus this morning actually…

  • 28. Brad  |  August 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

    “And if we asked someone who was Jewish about the son of God aspect, would they agree with the Christian idea?”

    Well, it was a Jew who told me about the “son of” aspect. He cited it as why 1st century Jews were so pissed about Jesus’ claims. So I am getting from the mouth of at least one horse.

    “I don’t think we can use the New Testament as a grasp of what the Judaic thought is, given the differences between the two religions, and that the NT is written from a Christian perspective.”

    I beg to differ on so many levels… This is a key component of the “extra-text” that I spoke of in my last comment. The NT is written (depending on the author) from a VERY Jewish perspective. It was not for many decades after Jesus’ death that it was considered anything beyond a unique sect of Judaism. Paul, the most prolific author in the NT was a Pharisee himself! This, in fact, is N.T. Wright’s most adamant claim, that he was writing from the Hebrew tradition first and foremost. Your statement reflects an incorporation of the present cultural context far more than 1st century context.

    “A lot of what Christianity says about Judaism doesn’t seem to match what Jews say about Judaism.”

    With the exception of the identity of the messiah, and the accepted writings of the NT (allowing for various opinions and sects within the faith) we have the same faith, in the same God. It is the same covenant, and the same history (ICor. 10:1-11). Indeed, one CANNOT understand, appreciate, or believe in the Christian faith without having some understanding of Judaism.

  • 29. Heather  |  August 1, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Brad,

    Your statement reflects an incorporation of the present cultural context far more than 1st century context.

    Except I’m pulling my statement, and my information, from Judaism itself, and rabbis and so on. I take what Christianity says about their religion, and then see what they say about their own religion, and their own history. They wouldn’t agree with the Jewish perspective in the NT, and they haven’t. What they say about their history and culture, and what Christianity says about their history and culture is sometimes Yes, Paul was a Pharisee, but the reason why I say we can’t use the NT as a complete lens into Judaic thought is. I’ve heard from quite a few quarters that the behavior of the Pharisees in the gospels is not an accurate picture.

    With the exception of the identity of the messiah, and the accepted writings of the NT (allowing for various opinions and sects within the faith) we have the same faith, in the same God.

    The concept of the Messiah is a huge difference. And even the idea of God — I don’t think they’d agree, given the concept of the Trinity, and the idea that God could take human form. There’s also the matter of original sin, the Second Coming, the way the covenant operates, the way the OT is interpreted and so on.

  • 30. joe  |  August 1, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Further to my above comment, I’m told by the President of the American Chesterton Society that the quote is not directly from Chesterton but an abridgement of the first part of his (ie chesterton’s) masterpiece ‘Orthodoxy’. Which probably explains why it doesn’t make any sense.

  • 31. Thinking Ape  |  August 1, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Brad said,

    The NT is written (depending on the author) from a VERY Jewish perspective.

    What if I told you that the Book of Mormon is written from a Christian perspective? Or that the “Children of God” were just a little Christian denomination?

    Some of the NT is so Jewish that what later Christians warped it to be in its amalgamation with Paul’s letters is revolting. Even the fact that you refer to the NT as some homogeneous entity is disingenuous. Brad, I must say that anyone who cites only one theologian who has a very specific mission in his interpretations makes me wary. Why not Still, Ascough, Crossan, Mack, Mount, Kugler, Cosgrove, Carter, Glancy, or Wise?

    Heather,
    Remember that much of contemporary Judaism has been a reaction to the Christian usurpation and warping of its traditions and texts. The Judaism of today is not the Judaism of the 3rd or 1st century. And the Judaism of the 1st century differs from the Judaism of the 4th century BCE.

    The debate concerning the “son of God” must keep in mind that the term was common among Greco-Roman culture and that any attempt to convert non-Jews (i.e. Paul’s mission) would have needed to use those term. The problem with the text is that the term “Son of Man” continues to overshadow “Son of God” and yet the terms have been used so interchangeably in Christian history that we cannot trust the scriptural integrity of either.

  • 32. Killer Convos « Confessions of a Seminarian  |  August 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

    [...] De-Conversion, as always, has raised a good question concerning Lewis’ Trilemma debate.  The conversation has been long and difficult, but certain foundational assumptions have come out in the process.  I highly recommend reading the full commentary. [...]

  • 33. Brad  |  August 1, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Heather,

    “but the reason why I say we can’t use the NT as a complete lens into Judaic thought is.”

    I do not claim that it is a complete lens into Judaic thought. I do claim that it is not contradiction to it. One cannot have a complete lens on Judaic thought without the OT, and neither can one have a complete lense on Christian thought without the OT. I am not speaking in absolutes.

    TA said,
    “Remember that much of contemporary Judaism has been a reaction to the Christian usurpation and warping of its traditions and texts. The Judaism of today is not the Judaism of the 3rd or 1st century. And the Judaism of the 1st century differs from the Judaism of the 4th century BCE.”

    While I would not use the term “warping,” I totally agree with TA. He is dead on. Judaism has undergone change over the centuries just as Christianity has, and both faiths do use the same text differently over the years.

    “Why not Still, Ascough, Crossan, Mack, Mount, Kugler, Cosgrove, Carter, Glancy, or Wise?”

    Time. Sheer time. I am reading all I can, as fast as I can. I am 23 years old (try not to hold it against me) and am continually expanding my horizons on many levels. I wholehearedly believe that if one reads and listens to only the views one agrees with, his kids are going to start looking a little funny. Doctrine unchallenged or unquestioned will retard. In short, I’m getting there! I have not read only one author, however, and am drawing on material from the likes of Piper, Keller, Carson, Perry, Williams, Marrienne Thompson (whom I VERY disagree with), and others as well. Trust me, I have not formed my views in a vaccuum.

    “The problem with the text is that the term “Son of Man” continues to overshadow “Son of God” and yet the terms have been used so interchangeably in Christian history that we cannot trust the scriptural integrity of either.”

    Can you be more specific with this? I feel there are multiple ways to take this and want to address what you mean specifically.

  • 34. Heather  |  August 1, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    TA,

    Remember that much of contemporary Judaism has been a reaction to the Christian usurpation and warping of its traditions and texts. The Judaism of today is not the Judaism of the 3rd or 1st century. And the Judaism of the 1st century differs from the Judaism of the 4th century BCE.

    I do — Judaism has adapted as the years have passed. So has Christianity. Every religion has changed throughout the years. It’s inevitable. But what I’ve read in terms of Judaism were the beliefs held 2,000 years ago, and even prior to that, and how those beliefs would’ve worked in terms of Christianity, as well as why it doesn’t accept Christian claims today. I’ve even analyzed the “warped” passages between Christianity and Judaism (which was really fascinating). I simply don’t think we can succesfully analyze any religion through another, because then we won’t get a full picture, and that’s why I cringe when I see someone saying that Jesus didn’t match what the Jews were looking for — because it’s so much deeper than that.

  • 35. Thinking Ape  |  August 1, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Heather, you and I are on the same page, I think I just wanted to make the clarification just in case you were read wrong.

    Brad says, “While I would not use the term “warping,”

    Christianity’s interpretations of the Tanakh are horrendous distortions in the eyes of Jews no matter what century we live in. Of course you are not going to call it “warping,” you call it “fulfillment” or “reinterpretation.”

    Brad, age has nothing to do with scholarship. I have, like several other contributors at d-C, had theological training (I am also one of the youngest contributors here). I have also had academic training in the secular study of religion. My biggest disappointment concerning the former was that we always had to start with a conclusion and then try and work the evidence into it. Marks were based more on how convincing you could make the same end result that your classmates were working towards. You can read anything under this way of thinking and you will also be forced into the conclusions and assumptions you started with (see Descartes’ overrated failed attempt). If, however, you have a concern for the truth of the matter, you must have some doubt – very few theologians are capable of this.

    I encourage anyone to purchase an online (or print if you have some extra cash) subscription to the Journal of Biblical Literature, especially if you are a student (they have a discount). Some of the best contemporary Biblical scholars contribute to the JBL.

    P.S.(Brad) I notice on your website that you have an appreciation for Schaeffer – I am not going to rant here, but I strongly encourage you to read up on those he “philosophically” opposes (although rarely cites, such as Kierkegaard). You might find some things surprising.

  • 36. Heather  |  August 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    TA,

    I think I just wanted to make the clarification just in case you were read wrong.

    Quite understandable — forums such as these can be tricky, due to the written-only format.

    Christianity’s interpretations of the Tanakh are horrendous distortions in the eyes of Jews no matter what century we live in.

    This is also true. About two years ago or so, I decided to investigate why Judaism didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. After all, the prophecies that Jesus “fufilled” were very clear, so what prevented them acknowledging Jesus?

    The answer I quickly found was that I was making a lot of assumptions based on a Christian mindset, and they didn’t have shallow or silly reasons for believing the way they did. It was actually a rather complex matter, and my initial assumptions had to do with something you stated: starting with the conclusion and going backwards. It was a good lesson.

  • 37. jacobpaulbreeze  |  August 2, 2007 at 1:43 am

    Greetings! I just found your blog. This is a very good post. For conversation’s sake, you should probably know that I am a Christian, but totally agree with most of your post.

    Lewis’ “logical box trap” is not really so water-tight. I think there are other ways to interpret and make sense of Jesus. Thanks for blogging, I’m glad to have a new conversation partner.

  • 38. StaCeY  |  August 2, 2007 at 4:44 am

    What of the healings?
    and all of the supernatural occurances?
    Jesus was far more than His words.

    How does calling Him a lunatic…
    or even just an ordinary Guy
    play into the supernatural life He lived?
    Do “ordinary” guys do the stuff he did?
    maybe….

    maybe that was the point?

    Maybe no one is just an “ordinary guy” …
    when they have found ONEness with The Father.

    “Father may they be One with You…
    as You and I are One”.

    Oh how I love that prayer.

  • 39. jacobpaulbreeze  |  August 2, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Is there a way to look at the actions of Jesus (if you distrust which words were attributed to him) and interpret from there? Would we have reason to believe Jesus is the greatest model of humanity and divinity without his words?

    I would say this should be primary anyway. People can say anything they want, but when we examine their actions, many times their words end up being “explanations for their actions”.

    Why did Jesus “shut down” the Temple temporarily? Why did Jesus celebrate Passover on the wrong day? Why did Jesus ride a donkey over the hill with tears in his eyes? Why did Jesus breathe on his disciples?

    To me, this is a better starting point for interpreting Jesus than His words…

  • 40. girlwithnoname  |  August 2, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I am new here…and certainly not as scholarly or smart as most of you…but I believe the literal meaning of Messiah is “messenger” (from what I have studied in Judaism) so wouldn’t Jesus just be claiming to be a messenger…perhaps like the angels? Sons of God…a messenger…perhaps of how to live and bring the earth back to the Garden? Humility, healing, etc…I don’t know. I don’t think he ever claimed to be God. I think he will never be understood, and I believe he was a man. I don’t think he came (you know super virgin birth) to save the world from sin…I think he lived his life with a message. How you view that message obviously is in your interpretation. I hope my life has a message and my children will interpret it well in their own way. Anyway…I liked the post…Just my thoughts (from a de-converted girl)

  • 41. Thinking Ape  |  August 2, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    girlwithnoname,

    but I believe the literal meaning of Messiah is “messenger”

    “Messiah” is the Hebrew word for “the Anointed One”. It was attributed to all the kings of Israel until Babylonian captivity, when it became a word used for their next future king.

  • 42. Brad  |  August 2, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    TA,

    “Christianity’s interpretations of the Tanakh are horrendous distortions in the eyes of Jews no matter what century we live in. Of course you are not going to call it “warping,” you call it “fulfillment” or “reinterpretation.””

    I do not argue that they are not distortions in the eyes of the Jews. I very much agree and concede that it seems that Christianity hijacked the Jewish faith. However, “warping” has far more negative connotation, and does not reflect the truthfulness of the “reinterpretation” that shows Christ as Messiah. It is not so much a reinterpretation as it is a correction of a mostly correct interpretation. This however, is mincing words, as I suspect we will still disagree.

    “My biggest disappointment concerning the former was that we always had to start with a conclusion and then try and work the evidence into it. Marks were based more on how convincing you could make the same end result that your classmates were working towards.”

    Brother, you should have come to Covenant! I have been amazed at the humility of the professors here, and have not once encountered a situation like you describe. I do not deny that it is common place among other seminaries, though. I have been incredibly blessed.

    And in Re: to Schaefer, I am aware of some of the philosophies he critiques. His struggle was greatly reactionary toward the modernist “drive by tracting” and truth without love or relationship that many of his contemporaries preached. He was probably far more post-modern than many of us today. I appreciate his perspective, and adopt much of his style of apologetics because it is an incarnational theology (that is, it embodies the truth of scripture in deed as well as word) that reaches the postmodern mindset and restores Christianity from it’s hypocritical reputation.

    I am aware of his critique of Kierkegaard, but what else are you referring to?

  • 43. Heather  |  August 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Brad,

    However, “warping” has far more negative connotation, and does not reflect the truthfulness of the “reinterpretation” that shows Christ as Messiah.

    What it would come down to is one person’s warping is another person’s reinterpretation. Because warping is precisely how they see it, and so they aren’t going to modify their statements to reflect what Christianity perceives as true. Even to use the phrase of a mostly correct interpretation — in a lot of ways, I think they’d disagree with that, given the different prophecies in both religions (because I don’t think there were that many Christ-prophecies that were considered prophecies until after the fact), and the differences highlighted earlier — a divine Messiah, God as man, original sin, the purpose of the Messiah, the concept of heaven/hell, and even the portrayel of Judaism. One scholar I’ve read said that the idea of Paul showing that Judaism was a legalistic religion and one earning salvation/righteousness under the law is not an accurate description of Judaism, which is recognized by scholars outside “traditional” Christianity (in that obedience to the Torah is a response to being given the Torah, but salvation wasn’t earned through that obedience). You might already be familiar with this, actually, because I think N.T. Wright showcases this in his New Perspective on Paul idea?

    Reinterpretation seems a lot closer, imo.

  • 44. Brad  |  August 2, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    “Because warping is precisely how they see it, and so they aren’t going to modify their statements to reflect what Christianity perceives as true.”

    I don’t expect Jews to simply throw out their tradition or interpretation of Torah. I am saying that just because they believe it does not make it correct. Just as Christianity is, Judaism is a subjective viewing of objective truth. I do claim that Christianity is far more correct, but specifically in regards to the Messiah.

    “(because I don’t think there were that many Christ-prophecies that were considered prophecies until after the fact)”

    My response is a question: “Where in scripture has there been a prophecy that was seen to be fulfilled as it happened?” Furthermore, prophets have been known to be killed because the people did not like what they had to say (Zechariah, for instance). Is it any wonder that fulfillment of messianic prophecy was not so well received by some?

    “You might already be familiar with this, actually, because I think N.T. Wright showcases this in his New Perspective on Paul idea?”

    Yes and no. He does showcase it somewhat in his commentary on Romans. It is interesting, to be sure, and helps shed a lot of light on his hebrew heritage. However, his analysis of Paul (and I’m echoing a similar vein as John Piper and Greg Perry) does not incorporate his Roman/Hellenistic background, or that of his audience (that, or if it does, Wright puts an overemphasis on Paul’s Jewish background over Paul’s understanding of his gentile audience).

    Also, remember that Paul was a Pharisee, and of the most legalistic sect of Judaism. If his portrayal seems legalistic at times, it is because of his experience within it. The Pharisees at the time of his involvement, were advocating that their strict adherence to the law (and additional restrictions they placed on themselves) be “enforced” on all of Israel (Witherington, “Community and Conflict in Corinth”).

    As such, I can very much see how Christian authors and commentators can mistakenly assign that role to all of Judaism, which is where Wright is writing from. However, we cannot take an extreme reaction to that, and deny that legalism had NO place, or that it was not a major aspect of, 2nd Temple Judaism.

  • 45. Heather  |  August 2, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Brad,

    My response is a question: “Where in scripture has there been a prophecy that was seen to be fulfilled as it happened?”

    What I’m saying with being interpreted ‘after the fact’ is that — well, take the Isaiah 7, with the virgin birth. Up until Christianity had the virgin birth, that wasn’t seen as a prophecy speaking towards that. Rather, it was to Azaz, in that the sign was a young woman was with child, bear the son and by the time the child learns to reject evil and choose good, desolation will come to the land and so forth. That was never part of any Messianic prophecy. And then Christianity has the virgin birth, and that’s considered part of the prophecies foretelling Jesus. That’s what I mean by ‘after the fact.’ The event occured, and then elements in the OT were used to support that event. I mean, if you simply read the Isaiah prophecy as translated in Hebrew, there is no sense that it applies to anything outside of Azaz, or an impregnanted virgin.

    Also, remember that Paul was a Pharisee, and of the most legalistic sect of Judaism.

    But again — this scholar was saying that, outside of the traditional Christian scholarship, Judaism isn’t shown as earning salvation through works. It had nothing to do with Paul’s sense of legalism, but how Judaism was interpreted through Paul’s statements in later generations, such as by Luther. I may not have been clear on that, but Christianity does give the impression that Jews operate as though they can earn salvation by obeying the law or doing good works. Rather, Jews follow the law, or perform good works out of gratitude for the covenant that God has made between him and the Jews. I think they hold that election/salvation are dependent upon God, not upon their actions.

    Did legalism creep in, and was it demonstrated by some? I’m sure it did/was, just as it’s demonstrated in certain Christians as well (note: I’m not saying that you are legalistic. But I’m sure you’ve met a CHristian or two who was legalistc).

  • 46. Heather  |  August 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    In retrospect, I’m not sure if the Isaiah verse is used to foretell Jesus as the Messiah, or just used to foretell the uniqueness of Jesus. But it still serves as an example for something interpreted ‘after the fact.’ And, wow, I’m getting tired of typing that. ;)

  • 47. Justin  |  August 2, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    This isn’t quite on topic…but I need to say something to Dan.

    Dan,

    I admire your Christian spirit and love. But a word of advice: do not rely on Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort only for your arguments. Those two do make an occasional good point, but any respectable scholar and theologian will tell you that they are incorrect in a lot of their blind assumptions.

    I used to be totally into what they were doing, but i have taken a step back, and a step up…and it is quite obvious that they are promoting a very limited Jesus and Christianity.

    Again, they make good points here and there, but I would strongly encourage you to broaden your theological horizons.

    -Justin

  • 48. girlwithnoname  |  August 3, 2007 at 10:21 am

    TA…Thanks…I am actually quite familiar with the Jewish faith and as it is said…three Jews…three different opinions…perhaps meanings too (Hebrew language). Ultimately they say pretty much the same thing. Mashiach (Moshiach)…Messiah…Anointed one, Prophet, Messenger….Pretty much all the same. Anointed to be a Prophet or Messenger (Basically what the king was intended to be). I hope this doesn’t sound rude…I’m not trying to be. I guess my point is once again that the people writing about Jesus didn’t come right out and say he was God…even in his quoted words. He didn’t say he was God. I just don’t understand why it is so hard to for christians to see him as a man and a messenger. Why is it so important that he’s God? Except suddenly the Big Kahuna needs a scapegoat to forgive the sins of its own creation? Why? I mean why so much later…why not right when they got kicked out of the Garden? When you really think about it…its pretty “pagan.” It is always about the “blood.” Maybe once again a little off topic…sorry…maybe I still have some de-conversion issues to work through. :-P (Please don’t hate the girl)
    I guess what I’ve decided is…there is no end all…maybe we need to be listening to the messengers. Like right now, I hear the message of “Go Green”….I’m kind of keen to the idea. I just hope it doesn’t get lost in some structured perverted religious dominated way. I hope it’s free and brings goodness…. And now I think I am babbling.

  • [...] The de-Convert: Jesus: Man, Myth, or Misunderstood [...]

  • 50. The C.S.Lewis Trilemma « A Thinking Man  |  November 1, 2007 at 8:15 am

    [...] Nov 1st, 2007 by athinkingman Regular readers will be aware of my recent Coming Out.  Since then, at least two friends have sincerely and earnestly said: “What about Lewis’s Trilemma?  Jesus had to be mad, bad, or God.”  Rather than rehearse the arguments myself, I have found at least two people who have already done it very well.  I am posting one of the articles below.  It was originally written by Michael Turton and was then picked up by The de-Convert and re-published in de-Conversion . [...]

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  • 52. Alban  |  August 29, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Jesus, The Christ…simply a human being, with a gift to inspire and to show to interested people something pure, something timeless. If you had the same ability, the same gift, would you offer it at all, or would you just let a circle of trusted friends or specifically interested people know, …or would you go public or keep it secret?

    Your choice, right? So, who are we as possibly ones to benefit or enrich our lives, to judge without knowing, the content within the acceptance of familiarizing ourselves with that experience, or critics assessing within limited means, what is actually possible to know?

    What if your next door neighbor had the same ability? Would you consider him or her, a god or ask him or her to be shown what IS obviously a gift?

    Think simply. Think practically. Eliminate implication. What could you stand to lose if you dive into knowing what you already possess? Cynicism, criticism, loss of structured, “ordained” belief?

    What is bigger for you? A historical belief or a fresh experience with no financial cost? What kind of appreciation about something so easy to take for granted, could draw attention…idealistic behavior modification or a simple experience of knowing something innate and beautiful?

    Think about it. If it were your next door neighbor and his or her suggestion for your benefit seemed odd at first, would it possibly seem practical to accept his or her showing you? Weigh the benefits contrasted to any possible detriment.

    Is there ANYTHING in life that purely has NO detriment, no ‘downside’? Maybe this one thing, this one gift, comes exclusively as a benefit…the only mechanism for knowing, being each component is literally alive -absent of imagination.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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