The Case for Christmas: Chapter 3

Or, Because the Bible Says So!

Really, The Profile Evidence: Did Jesus Fulfill the Attributes of God?

Real-life case: Richard Speck, who was caught (in part) because of a police artist’s sketch.

Strobel describes the “sketch” of God in the Bible as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  And he calls on D.A. Carson to help him.

I know you’ll all be shocked to hear this, but Carson is a professor at Trinity International University and is on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

So, yanno, it is yet another chapter in which Strobel is totally committed to investigating all sides of an issue.

My initial question centered on why Carson thinks Jesus is God in the first place.  “What did he say or do,” I asked, “that convinces you that he is divine?”  I wasn’t sure how he would respond, although I anticipated he would focus on Jesus’ supernatural feats.  I was wrong.

“One could point to such things as his miracles,” Carson said, “but other people have done miracles, so while this may be indicative, it is not decisive.  Of course, the resurrection was the ultimate vindication of his identity.  But of the many things he did, one of the most striking to me is the forgiving of sin.”

Well.  Strobel is absolutely fascinated by this.  (SIN? What’s that???)  Carson gives a long explanation, ending with this:

“So along comes Jesus and says to sinners, ‘I forgive you.’  The Jews immediately recognize the blasphemy of this.  They react by saying, ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’  To my mind, that is one of the most striking things Jesus did.”

“Not only did Jesus forgive sin,” I [Strobel] observed, “but he asserted that he himself was without sin.  And certainly sinlessness is an attribute of deity.”

image

So says the atheist, the skeptic, the guy who is “interested in facts, evidence, data, and concrete reality.”

Yep, you’ve got me convinced, Strobel.

But Strobel is determined to play the part of hard-hearted investigative journalist, so he “hit Carson in rapid succession with some of the biggest obstacles to Jesus’ claim of deity.”  Jesus wasn’t omnipresent because he couldn’t physically be in two places at once, etc.

Pointing my pen at him for emphasis, I concluded by saying, “Let’s admit it: the Bible itself seems to argue against Jesus being God.”

Oooo, he is such a tough journalist!  He pointed his pen and everything!

While Carson didn’t flinch, he did concede that these questions have no simple answers.

Okay, yeah, fully man and fully God, yadda yadda yadda.  Carson gives a mini “classroom lecture” about the different ways that Jesus’ humanity and deity are reconciled in various theorietical ways, but I can’t stop giggling at Strobel thinking that saying “Ha-HA!  Jesus wasn’t in two physical places at once!” is how atheists think they can pwn Christians.

Also, the explanations are kinda boring and again, just not what most atheists I know are concerned about when they think about Jesus.  Also also, at the end of the little lecture, Carson himself admits that “you’re talking about the incarnation, one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith.”

And hey, skeptical atheist and lover of hard data Strobel is just fine with that, thank you very much, because…

If the incarnation is true, it’s not surprising that finite minds couldn’t totally comprehend it.

WELL IF YOU BELIEVE THAT, THEN WHY DID YOU ASK IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU SAD, SAD EXCUSE FOR A SKEPTIC???

Strobel’s next point is that when the Bible says that Jesus was created, it implies that he at one point did not exist, and this is not an attribute of a god.  Carson picks apart some Greek grammar to show that those passages don’t really mean “created,” and I just don’t care because I get SO BORED when Christians use the Bible to prove the Bible is true.

AND IT JUST KEEPS HAPPENING

Strobel spends a few pages dealing with various god-like aspects (as he sees them) and supporting them with Bible quotes.

Omnipotence?  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus said in Matthew 28:18.

Eternality?  John 1:1 declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God.”

This (and I just cannot emphasize the point enough) does not really work when you haven’t established the Bible as an authoritative source.

DUDE, SERIOUSLY, WHAT KIND OF HALF-ASSED ATHEIST ARE YOU THAT YOU’RE JUST ACCEPTING THE BIBLE AS TRUE???

Lee Strobel: Worst Skeptic Ever.

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Posted on December 2, 2012, in Christmas, The Case for Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. “Not only did Jesus forgive sin,” I [Strobel] observed, “but he asserted that he himself was without sin. And certainly sinlessness is an attribute of deity.”

    Look, I can claim that I am a blue camel from the planet Omicron 5 who has taken a human avatar in order to interact with humans and I have the power to create paper out of thin air. My saying that does not constitute proof. If, in 70 years a handful of people who never met me claim that I really was a blue camel etc etc because I said that I was, it still does not constitute proof. What part of that does Strobel (and the rest) not understand?!

    “One could point to such things as his miracles,” Carson said, “but other people have done miracles, so while this may be indicative, it is not decisive. Of course, the resurrection was the ultimate vindication of his identity. But of the many things he did, one of the most striking to me is the forgiving of sin.”

    To be fair, Jesus’s treatment of sinners WAS striking, given his culture, its era, and its perception of sin and how sin should be punished. But that still doesn’t make it proof of divinity. . . . although I will accept it as proof that Jesus was a compassionate, reasonable guy.

    If the incarnation is true, it’s not surprising that finite minds couldn’t totally comprehend it.

    It’s not the comprehension of the incarnation that Strobel is (supposed to be) having problems with. It’s accepting it without adequate evidence.

  2. I now claim that I forgive all your sins and that I am sinless. As my eyewitnesses, you can passionately and sincerely say that I really did say (well, type) this. So the decendant of Strobel a few centuries from now can be amazed that reliable eyewitnesses wrote down that I claimed to have divine attributes, which will convince him that I must be god.

    • Right you are. Where d’you want the sacrifices sent?

    • To my central temple complex in Amsterdam if you please.

      For both my worshippers and my convenience, animal sacrifices may be sent in processed hamburger or steak form.

      Furthermore, I command that in case of any virgin sacrifices, the virgin should not be killed as part of the sacrifice. Just give her the adres of the temple and a plane ticket, I’ll handle the rest.

  3. inquisitiveraven

    Strobel’s next point is that when the Bible says that Jesus was created, it implies that he at one point did not exist, and this is not an attribute of a god.

    And this goes to show just how much Strobel has internalized the Abrahamic concept of god. There are plenty of gods from polytheistic religions who were born or created, and hence, if you take the myths at face value, did not exist at some point.

    • And plenty of gods from polytheistic religions who did things that were prohibited by the moral codes of those religions. (Loki, to take an obvious example.)

  4. Ah, raven kinda beat me to it. But yes, this case of divine is even worse than Ruby makes it out. Because not only do they use only Bible passages to prove Jesus meets the criterea, but the criterea for being a god are lifted directly from those same Bible passages. Here’s the Oxford Dictionary on ‘god’

    1(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

    2 (god) (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity:

    So this case is not only based on, for a real skeptic, worthless information, but it’s also circular. The Bible says god is sinless. Therefor if something is to be a god it must be sinless. The Bible says god is sinless. QED

  5. “So along comes Jesus and says to sinners, ‘I forgive you.’ The Jews immediately recognize the blasphemy of this. They react by saying, ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ To my mind, that is one of the most striking things Jesus did.

    A real skeptic would have asked some Jewish historians and rabbinical scholars for their thoughts on Jesus. They would have told Strobel all about the strong strand of Charismatic Judaism that sprung up at the time of the Roman occupation and the many Jewish Charismatic preachers that wandered though first-century Palestine; they’d have set him right on Jewish traditions about the Messiah, God and forgiveness and told him how the rabbinical court would really have reacted to somebody like Jesus. Of course, they wouldn’t – couldn’t – have told Strobel that Jesus really was divine. Which was all he was interested in hearing.

  6. The bible is no more 100% true than any other documentation of mythology. They all have basis in truth, but human story telling being what it is has changed that truth into a story.

    It reminds me of this video I recently came across– it’s a cute little song about how Jesus and his followers actually Occupy Jerusalem.

    Anyways, here it is: http://youtu.be/a6akkb_afqs

    Which, it has a point.

  7. So far, Strobel hasn’t come up with any evidence stronger than what would suffice to prove any religious claim. That is: if this is your standard of proof, then why not also accept the claims of the Qu’ran, or Joseph Smith’s golden plates?

  8. Holy wow. These arguments are even worse than I thought they’d be. Please, Strobel, please tell me you’ve got something a little better than that in coming chapters. Please.

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