Friday, January 13, 2017

Is Jesus in the Hebrew Bible?


As a writer who loves metaphor, symbol and analogy, I love the Hebrew Bible, (the Old Testament.) It provides beautiful images of Jesus. But more than that it offers the reality of God’s promises concerning the Messiah. And here and there one sees glimpses of the eternal Son in person. Read the story of the “angel of the Lord” who appears to Samson’s parents in Judges 13. He calls himself Wonderful.

 And I must quickly say it is also the truthful narrative of God’s promises to and covenant with the Jewish people. The Hebrew Bible is, in reality, two stories that intertwine.  It is the history of Israel and God’s dealings and care for them. It is also, from beginning to end, the story of God’s redemptive purposes and promises. And the Messiah of God, Jesus, the begotten God in the bosom of the Father, looms large in the text.

Why am I writing this? Because a Presbyterian on a Presbyterian site I belong to, posted an advertisement for a Bible entitled The Jesus Bible. The ad states, “There is No B.C.: Sixty Six Books, One Story, All about One Name, Jesus.”  That is placed within the midst of the names of all of the books of the Bible. I don’t think the commenters, who mostly didn’t like the ad, realized that this particular Bible, published by Zondervan, is meant for young people. It is meant as a study Bible. But many felt that because the ad was saying that Jesus was also in the Old Testament that it sounded anti-Semitic.

I want to emphasize that the Hebrew Bible cannot be read out of context. A great deal of it is definitely the history of the Jewish people. The rest is their wonderful Writings and Prophets. But within the text is the glorious promises of the coming King and Messiah, a suffering King and a Suffering Messiah. Remember the very first Christians had only the Hebrew Scriptures as their Bible.  

In the book of Acts, the history of the early church, we read the story of the Ethiopian official who on his journey home is reading Isaiah 53. He asks the disciple Philip who the author is speaking of, himself or of someone else.

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth. In humiliation his judgement was taken away; who will relate his generation? For his life is removed from the earth.”

 
Philip explains that the Old Testament text is about Jesus. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to Him.” (Acts 8: 35)

If we fail to open the texts of the Hebrew Bible and teach others of our Lord Jesus Christ we fail to be his disciples.

One of the commenters in the thread I was reading reminded us all that Jesus in fact turned to the Hebrew Bible to explain who he was and how it was that he should be, and suffer crucifixion, and rise again. The apostle Luke writes of Jesus’ words and actions:

Oh foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in the Scriptures.”

Beginning in Genesis with the promise to Eve (and one might say to Satan also because it is God’s foretelling and curse to him) “… I shall put enmity between you and the woman. And between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel,” there are promises of the Messiah throughout the Old Testament.

I think one of my favorites was given by a man who wanted to curse Israel but was only allowed to bless her:

“I see him but not now;

I behold him but not near;

A star shall come forth from Jacob,

A scepter shall rise from Israel … (Numbers 24:17a)

Friday, January 6, 2017

The 2016-17 Horizons Bible Study "Who is Jesus? - a continuing review- according to the non-Canonical Gospels


We have come to those last three lessons in the Presbyterian Women’ Bible study, “Who is Jesus?: What a Difference a Lens Makes,” where the author bypasses the biblical text. Using non-canonical texts, the perspectives of Islam and Judaism and lastly contemporary culture, Judy Yates Siker looks at non-scriptural answers to the question “who is Jesus?” With this review I will focus on the questions that Siker fails to address. Why were the fanciful, too often gnostic and docetic, texts used by Siker rejected by the early church? And why must we, as Christians, also reject the non-canonical texts?

Yes, Siker does explain some of the differences between the non-canonical texts and the biblical texts but she fails to warn her readers that the non-canonical ones are damaging to the faith of the church. Most of them were written after the biblical texts were written and were rejected by the early church and the church universal through all ages.  They were rejected because they redefine the person of Jesus, the redemption of the saints and the God of the Hebrew Bible.

Siker’s reasons for turning to texts outside of the Bible are twofold. In her view concerning the three final lessons, she insists that the question, who is Jesus, for this study, is not “Who is Jesus according to our New Testament.” Siker writes:

 “I believe the question is broader than this, and I think we owe it to ourselves, as world citizens, to have a broader understanding of how this significant figure, Jesus, is seen and understood beyond the bounds of the New Testament.”

Concerning the ancient non-canonical texts featured in lesson seven, Siker writes:

“These writings are significant because they show us something of the diversity of early Christianity. As Christians today, we have a variety of views of Jesus and we certainly do not all agree on how we would answer the question “Who is Jesus?” It is important to realize that the earliest generations of Christians were dealing with similar questions, and were trying to determine just who Jesus had been and what was the most appropriate way to talk and teach about him. As we continue our efforts to understand and answer the question for ourselves, it can be interesting, enlightening, and valuable to know that even those among his earliest followers found the work of God in Christ to be expressed in various ways. It remains our task today to explore these ways and to engage the Gospel message of and about Jesus anew.”

So first, in answer to Siker’s statements, we are not only citizens of this world, we are citizens of heaven and we owe nothing to ourselves and everything to our Lord. If we study the texts she covers it must be to better answer those who have fallen into deceptive teaching.

Secondly, this is the PW’s Bible Study. To teach a biblical study exploring the person of Jesus and asking who he is one must understand that the New Testament is the Christian’s authoritative source in answering the question.  Also as a Christian one should connect the Word of the New Testament with the Word of the Old Testament. (And yes, I am speaking here of the eternal Son or as the NASB puts it in John 1:18, “The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.”)

Thirdly, studying the non-canonical texts can be beneficial, not because they are diverse forms of Christianity, but because they are heretical forms of Christianity that continually reappear and are a threat to the holiness and goodness of Christ’s church.

Looking at the Infancy Gospels Siker references, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of James. Within both the reader finds a fanciful child and a fanciful Mary. And the Infancy Gospel of Thomas entails more mythology then Siker tells. Biblical scholar Richard J. Bauckham writes:

“… Jesus makes sparrows out of clay and brings them to life … He heals the injured, raises the dead, curses his enemies so that they die, proves superior in knowledge to all his schoolteachers. …” (Italics mine)[1]

The distraction is away from the fact that the eternal Son took on human flesh and became like humanity but without sin. Jesus’ miracles in his adulthood were laced with the humility of the compassionate Savior who did not and does not curse the repentant sinner. “A bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish …” (Isaiah 42: 3a)

Siker also features the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas.

The Gospel of Peter which now only consists of small fragments is considered docetic by Siker and by other scholars. It carries within the text the possible idea that bodies are evil and that Jesus was not really human.  One scholar, Richard Bauckham, suggest that it may not have been docetic but rather had some misleading texts that were used by some heretical teachers. Using the early church historian Eusebius Bauckham writes:

“At the end of the second century Bishop Serapion of Antioch heard of a dispute over its use in the church of Rhossus. When he discovered it was being used to support docetic heresy and that a few passages in it were suspect from this point of view, he disallowed its use.”[2]

The Gospel of Thomas, which simply consists of supposed sayings of Jesus, has some sayings which align with biblical phrases and some which are clearly gnostic. While Elaine Pagels in her book, The Gnostic Gospels, seems to regard it as totally gnostic and uses those sayings which are gnostic, biblical scholar F.F. Bruce in his book, The Books and the Parchments, in an appendix writes:

“Some of these [sayings] could conceivably be genuine; at least they are sufficiently in keeping with the Lord’s character and teaching to deserve serious consideration. But the company they keep makes them suspect, for some of the sayings ascribed to him in this work are self-evidently spurious, and reflect the Gnostic outlook of the community to whose library this particular copy [the Coptic translation] of the work belonged.”

The important point here is that either “gospel” carries within it the seeds of heresy that can destroy the witness of true biblical faith. There is a failure to acknowledge the goodness of creation as well as the fall. Salvation in the Gospel of Thomas, turns out to be self-knowledge. And both gospels are aligned with other false gospels that totally obliterate the good news of God’s gift of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Siker, in the beginning of this lesson, attempts, in laying ground for the use of the non-canonical texts, to relativize the canonicity of the New Testament. She gives a slight history of that canonization using the Muratorian Canon, Athanasius’ list in an Easter letter in 367 AD, and the Council of Trent’s affirmation of the 27 books of the New Testament in 1546.  Contradicting Siker’s historical view of the canonization of the New Testament and her understanding of what canonization of the New Testament meant, F.F. Bruce writes:

“What is particularly important to notice is that the New Testament canon was not demarcated by the arbitrary degree of any Church Council. When at last a church council—the Synod of Hippo in A.D. 393—listed the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, it did not confer upon them any authority which they did not already possess, but simply recorded their previously established canonicity.  As Dr. Foakes-Jackson puts it: ‘The Church assuredly did not make the New Testament; the two grew up together.”[3]

It is in the holy Scriptures that we find the answer to the question “Who is Jesus.”




[1] Richard J. Bauckham, “Gospels (Apocryphal),” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I Howard Marshall, Editors, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press 1992).
[2] Ibid.
[3][3] F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible, revise and updated, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell 1984) 103-104.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A burnt plastic baby Jesus or an adored plastic baby Jesus? Or perhaps the Lord of all!


Several days ago my granddaughter, Melissa or grandson-in-law, Spencer (not sure which one) wrote on his timeline:

“Such a strange Christmas season, our church in Sac had their nativity scene out front vandalized with swastikas and other obscenities, and the baby Jesus doll was burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of Midtown. Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said “He’s risen. That was just a doll.”

That was Trinity Lutheran Church, (Missouri Synod) in Sacramento. My husband and I have attended there often, over many years, it is a blessed fellowship.

The outrage reminded me of an advent story I wrote about in one of my first Advent postings. Only in that case it was about someone whose focus was only on seeing the plastic Jesus. I wrote:

Another Christmas Eve I remember we attended a Catholic midnight mass. A group of young people from our church, [Warehouse Ministries], who had been nominal Catholics but had recently come to Christ, asked us to go with them to Christmas Eve mass. I only remember a few things about that night. The church, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, now restored, was huge and dark. We all set together filling a whole pew. When we were to ‘pass the peace’ it was with exuberant hugs. I remember the quiet Delta tule fog after service and the man under the streetlight asking for a little change.

But what I remember most clearly was the woman sitting behind me who whispered to the person next to her, “My dear, I only came to see the baby Jesus.”

Her statement and attitude projected not amazement that the Christ child was very God and very human, but that Christianity and Christmas were only about a good child and a fuzzy warmth. I wrote a small poem about this later, the next week. (And it is important to know that this was the years that a doll named ‘baby alive’ was marketed.)

“My Dear, I only came to see the baby Jesus!"

Release the babe!
The imaged doll,
Congregator of chained smiling humanity.
Oh Holy child, break out into the Man.

We worship before the gilded crib.
A pink and pampered god,
Baby Alive;
Never dead and never resurrected

Obeisance made a dreamy, diapered child;
A blood soaked God rejected in his cries and tears.
Preferable to hold our god
then a Lord to hold us, enfolding our fears

Yes he is risen, and he came and he is coming. Merry & holy Christmas even to the crazy people in Midtown Sacramento. May they find Him as Lord.as burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of midtown, Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning, and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said, "He's risen. That was just a doll."as burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of midtown, Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning, and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said, "He's risen. That was just a doll."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Bible study for women: any suggestions? UP-DATE


Someone, in a comment on my posting The 2016-17 Horizons Bible Study "Who is Jesus? - a continuing review- the introduction, has asked for recommendations for other Bible studies for women. I don’t have, at the time, any recommendations except I have been listening to Ann Voskamp author of The Broken Way: A daring path into the abundant life, and she has a study connected to that book. She has videos that go with the study. I will place the first session below. The study guide can be purchased at Zondervan or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Way-Study-Guide-Abundant/dp/031082074X 

If any of my readers know of a good Bible study for women please list it in the comment section.

UP-DATE: On the Gospel Coalition site Melissa Kruger under the title A Few of My Favorite Things from 2016 lists not only books and videos but also three Bible studies. They all three sound good; one From Garden to Glory; another on 1 Peter and the last on the book of Romans. Kruger has links to all three. Simply scroll to the end of her posting.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Federation of American Immigration: abortion & population control merges with anti-immigration


In the early 20th century it was not unusual in both the United States and Western Europe for a na├»ve nationalism to mix with progressive views about abortion and population control. The ultimate mix layered all of this with anti-immigration views and, yes, racism. The layering continues into the 21st century. Today on ChurchandWorld, Hans Cornelder linked to an article at Polizette, “Southern Poverty Law Center Turns Leftist Bully: Once-important civil rights organization has become liberal propaganda machine, according to new lawsuit.” The article is about a lawsuit the Federation of American Immigration Reform is filing against a hate-watch group The Southern Poverty Law Center. The article caught my attention because in the past, starting more than twenty years ago, when writing about racism I traded information with the SPLC.

Although I disagree with SPLC’s stances on homosexuality, I applaud their articles on racism and anti-Semitism. They, in fact, posted several articles on the vile anti-Semitic Veterans Today after I alerted them to its content.  So I decided to explore the Federation of American Immigration Reform. I was surprised to say the least, although perhaps I should not have been. The organization was birthed not from some fundamentalist sect but rather from those who have embraced population control and abortion. And, of course, environmentalism figures in the mix.  In their early beginnings they had and in some cases still do, close ties to Planned Parenthood.

John H. Tanton was the founder and chair of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In a footnote to an appendix written by Tanton, he points to his involvement with Planned Parenthood and other organizations concerned with population control:

“In pursuit of his demographic and immigration policy interests, Tanton has served as organizer and president of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood (1965-71); as chair of the National Sierra Club Population Committee (9171-74); as a member of the National Zero Population Growth Board (1973-75); as chair of its Immigration Study Committee (1973-75); as its national president (1975-79); as organizer (1979) of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and its chair (1979-87); and as a board member of Population/Environment Balance (190-80).[1]

Tanton’s wife, Mary Lou, who was involved with his various organizations was an advocate for abortion. Her essay on the subject was printed in the Charlevoix Courier in 1969.[2]

Dan Stein, now the president of FAIR, complains, according the Polizette article that “"The SPLC is deeply invested in promoting mass immigration, bullying political opponents into silence, and is nothing more than a daily smear machine uninterested in the free exchange of ideas. It uses the same ad hominem tactics year in and year out to try to manage political speech in the interests of its own agenda." But what about FAIR’s immigration ideas. On their site they are offering a comprehensive immigration reform plan they hope President elect Donald Trump and congress will buy into, “Fair Immigration Priorities for the 2017 Presidential Transition: A Special Report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The report is long and needs a great deal of analysis. However, it should be noted that the plan calls for no amnesty at all. No medical attention or schooling for illegal alien children. In fact, it calls for greater limitations on legal immigration.  It is definitely an anti-immigration document. It has two core concerns. One that illegal aliens are causing horrific problems in the United States:

“Illegal immigration and unchecked legal immigration are detrimental to the quality of life in the United States. The American family is increasingly bearing the costs of urban sprawl, environmental degradation, traffic congestion, increased crime, overburdened health care, overwhelmed public schools and debt-ridden state and municipal governments—all results of uncontrolled immigration. The fiscal costs of immigration, legal and illegal, have always been substantial, but with the recent economic downturn, these costs have become even more burdensome. The social, cultural and political costs are being felt more acutely as we receive immigrants in numbers too large to be successfully incorporated into our way of life and assimilated into our communities.”

 And secondly that America’s immigration policies should be absolutely focused on the needs and desires of United States’ citizens and therefore only those offering exceptional skills should be admitted. On the introduction page of this paper FAIR states:

“The U.S. immigration system must be reformed to reflect broad national interest, not the narrow special interests that seek cheap labor and increased political influence. This means ending illegal immigration, reducing overall levels of immigration and only admitting immigrants who have the education and skills to succeed in 21st Century America.”

While true conservatives complain about the brutality of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, FAIR complains about what is called the Mariel Boatlift when 125, 000 Cubans escaped from Cuba.  They write in their policy plan, “Stretching back to the Mariel boatlift and beyond, the United States has periodically been faced with mass migration events. The recent Unaccompanied Alien Minor crisis on the southern border clearly demonstrates that a comprehensive border control strategy requires a robust and sustainable capacity to confront and manage these migrant surges.”

While it is true that Castro released some criminals and convicts to make that journey, nonetheless many Cubans found freedom in the United States and were welcomed here by their families.

The Southern Poverty Law Center would of course not complain about FAIR’s connection to abortion advocacy but they do have important information including FAIR’s connections to racist ideals. Their article “Federation for American Immigration Reform” is important and factual.

In the Federation for American Immigration Reform one sees, as I have stated, a merging of progressive views of population control including abortion, and nationalism tinged with racism, supposedly for the sake of environmentalism. There are several groups connected to this organization all concerned with immigration and population control. Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) is one. Another is The Social Contract Press.
Psalm one tells the faithful that we are blessed when we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers. Wickedness is growing ramped, may we be wise and discerning. And have mercy on the foreigner and the refugee.  

 




[1] Appendix B End of the Migration Epoch? Time for a New Paradigm by John H Tanton, in Mary Lon, John Tanton a Journey into American Conservatism by John F. Rohe,
 
[2] Appendix C Ibid. (A 1969 essay in the Charlevoix Courier by Mary Lou Tanton advocating for abortion. An appendix to Mary Lon, John Tanton a Journey into American Conservatism by John F. Rohe. )

Saturday, November 26, 2016

In that Secret Place & why I do not write so often


As a new Christian, a young teenager, I was allowed to lead the opening services for my church’s vacation Bible school. In this little store front Southern Baptist church, that position meant telling stories about different Christians and their lives and witness. One, for example was about John Newton, his life, and his song, Amazing Grace. One story that particularly impressed me was the story of a woman who had raised her family leaning heavily on Psalm 91. The one that begins, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

When my husband and I were married we had a picture taken of our hands together over that Psalms.  It is the first picture in our wedding album.

Recently, at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, which we have once again been attending, the choir sang an anthem that uses that Psalm as its focus. The music and words were so beautiful. And as I sat listening to the refrain I felt myself lifted into the presence of the Almighty, I felt myself in that place which is, as the song states, “the shadow of our mighty King” the “dwelling place where angels cry.”


Who dwells within His most secret place
Is never far from His blessed grace
'Neath His great shadow all will be well
No better place now for us to dwell

Refrain

The secret place of God Most High
The shadow of our mighty King
The dwelling place where angels cry
Is where our praise will forever ring

Fear not the terror that comes at night
Nor flaming arrows by morning light
His truth is always our sword and shield
Against His power, all foes must yield

Refrain

A thousand fall now at ev'ry side
Ten thousand more may have yet to die
Yet plague and sword can
Ne'er kill the soul
His angels guard us now safe and whole

Refrain

Refuge and fortress for all who trust
No safer pasture for men of dust
'Neath wings and feathers of Holy Lord
No greater comfort can He afford

Refrain

I write this to try and explain a little about why I do not write as often as I used to write. It is hard. I wrote earlier, more than a year ago that my husband has what is called mild cognitive impairment. It is getting worse, he is slowly losing word usage and deep abstract thinking. There is so much I could say but I simply can’t. I would recommend, for those who are interested a book, Second Forgetting: Remembering the Power of the Gospel During Alzheimer’s Disease by Dr. Benjamin Mast.

To add to my sadness, I am experiencing absolute rejection from two people that I love dearly.  And I cannot write about that either, but I want to recommend another book, Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way: A daring Path into the Abundant Life. It is about drawing close to Jesus and reaching out to others through our own brokenness.  I just finished it last week and it is so helpful.

But, needless to say, both the sadness and the interruptions of my days are keeping me away from writing. But it is that secret place that place under His shadow, that place where angels cry holy, holy that holds me in grief in peace and His comfort.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My answers to a Muslim's video- "10 Reasons Why Jesus is Not God!"


On a Facebook page that I belong to, Happy to be a Presbyterian, it is mostly progressive and PC (U.S.A), a fellow Presbyterian put up a video by a Muslim, I believe his name is Joshua Evans, who is offering ten reasons of why Jesus is not God. The person who placed the video there wrote, “he makes a lot of great points and arguments I would say; especially reasons 9, 7-4, and 2. Reason 3 is troublesome and seems contradictory to me because Jesus Himself was quoted to have said to His disciples before departing to "go and make disciples of ALL nations....and unto the ends of the earth"; not just to the Jews. But the majority of the rest of it seems to be quite accurate. Are there other things in this video that are wrong? If so, please leave in the comments below what they are, and why. Thank you.” I decided to write about this for several reasons.

The Muslim man is concerned about others salvation. That is good, so am I. But more importantly it is a false view of the incarnation, in fact a misunderstanding of Jesus. I am placing the video on this page and then answering the reasons below, starting with number 10 as he has:
*

10. The 10th reason this person gives for not believing Jesus is God is because God cannot be born. This is a problem he has throughout his presentation. He does not believe in the Incarnation, nor does he have any understanding of what that means. God took on flesh, took on humanity. Jesus is both human and divine. Jesus Christ is eternal since he is divine, but in his humanity he was born. And it should be noted that Jesus tells the Jewish leaders who did not believe him, “before Abraham was born, I am.”(John 8:58) (Only the Holy Spirit can cause the human mind and heart to understand. Pray for Mr. Evans.)

9. The 9th reason Jesus is not God, according to the speaker, is that God’s nature is one. Israel is to worship only the one God. He believes that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or the text state that Jesus is God. But this is not true. In the synoptic Gospels Jesus does the very acts of God. He stills the storm with his command, he rises the dead and heals.  John the Baptist is said to be making way for the Lord as he prepares the people for Jesus. John’s Gospel explicitly tells us that Jesus (the Word) was with God and is God. Jesus in this Gospel refers to himself many times with the “I Am” of Exodus. “ “God said to Moses, ‘I AM Who I Am.’” He is God. (Of course this is why we use the term Trinity)

8. The 8th reason that Jesus is not God according to the speaker is because no one has seen God and lived. However it should be noted that Moses saw his “backside” others saw him in Theophanies for instance Samson’s father and mother and Abraham before God told him he was going to destroy Sodom.

The speaker attempts to say that when Jesus says he and the Father are one, he is speaking of them being one in purpose not one in essence. On John 10:30, where Jesus states, “I and the Father are one,” biblical scholar William Hendriksen states:

“However, inasmuch as in other passages it is clearly taught that the oneness is a matter not only of outward operation but also (and basically) of inner essence (see especially 5:18 but also 1:14; 3:16) it is clear that also here nothing less than this can have been meant. Certainly if Son and Father are one essentially, then when Jesus states, “I and the Father, we are one,” he cannot merely mean, “We are one in providing protective care for the sheep.” The economic trinity rests forever upon the essential trinity. …”

In saying this Hendriksen means that the actions of the persons of the Trinity rests upon the oneness of the Trinity.  Hendriksen goes on to write, (and here I am sorry I do not have the computer capability to put the Greek text in the quote:

“Note how carefully both the diversity of the persons and the unity of the essence is expressed here. Jesus says, “I and the Father.” Hence, he clearly speaks about two persons. And this plurality is shown also by the verb (one word in Greek) “we are” … These two persons never become one person. Jesus does not say, “We are one person” …, but he says, “We are one substance ….’ Though two persons, the two are one substance or essence. … Thus in this passage Jesus affirms his complete equality with the Father.”[1]

The beauty of the good news here is that God now allows us to look on his image in the Son and we see him clearly in Scripture.

7. This seventh point is filled with misunderstandings and falsehood. He believes that because the early Christians worshiped in the synagogue they didn’t believe that Jesus was God. Added to that is his idea that it was only Paul and the Council of Nicaea that taught that Jesus was God. (He needs to reread the Gospels.) Early Christian worship in the Temple and the Synagogue was clearly connected to who they believed Jesus was, the promised Jewish messiah; the One who was meant to be king of the Jews, the savior who would save his people. And not only did they meet in Jewish places of worship, they met in homes.

Paul’s New Testament letters are the earliest writings, and the speaker fails to consider that Jesus was resurrected and Paul had a deep relationship with him. In the midst of controversy about the deity of Jesus, the Council of Nicaea simply confirmed the truths that the early churches already held.

I am not sure why the speaker keeps referring to the Qumran community; it really has nothing to do with the early Christians. But instead it has to do with the Essene community who had preserved their own writings and a great deal of the Old Testament.

6. The 6th point is once again simply a denial of the Incarnation. Why did Jesus need to eat, to sleep, to pray? Jesus took on humanity and suffered all that entails for our sake. He prayed because the Son had always communed with the Father.

5. The speaker refers to those texts where Jesus states that only the Father knows the time of his coming. And to another text, John 14:28, where Jesus states that the Father is greater than him. This again has to do with the Incarnation and the Muslim’s misunderstanding. Jesus, according to early church fathers, is speaking of himself in his humanity. He was submissive to the Father as he waited to fulfill his purpose. Calvin, adding to this verse Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 15:24, 28, sees both Jesus and Paul referring to Jesus’ work as mediator between God and humanity. His conclusion is beautiful:

“Christ is not here comparing the Father’s divinity with his own, nor his own human nature with the Father’s divine essence, but rather his present state with the heavenly glory to which he was soon to be received. It is like saying, “You want to keep me in the world, but it is better for me to ascend to heaven.” Let us therefore learn to see Christ humbled in the flesh, so that he may lead us to the source of blessed immortality for he was not appointed to be our guide merely to raise us to the sphere of the moon or the sun, but to make us one with God the Father.”[2]

4. The complaint in number 4 is that Jesus in John 17:3 states that the way to God is to believe in the one true God and Jesus Christ who he sent. He believes Jesus is in this statement denies his own divinity. He also refers to Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene that he is ascending to my God and your God.   
On this point the speaker slips a little extra into the text. He states “and Jesus Christ as a messenger.” “As a messenger” turns the text into a Muslim text and changes the work that Jesus came to do which was to die on the cross for our salvation. God here in this context is the Christian term for addressing the Father rather than the Son. But Jesus is telling his listeners that knowing both the Father and the Son is having everlasting life. And that knowing is an intimate knowledge, it entails knowing Jesus in his life, death and resurrection. It is so much more then hearing the words of a messenger. And in knowing Jesus we know the Father.

3. His third point has to do with Jesus’ title as Son of God. He insist that many in the Bible are called sons of God. And they are. He speaks of a pastor who says that Jesus was unique, he was the begotten Son of God which the pastor supposedly defined as given because Jesus was conceived without a father. Islam teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin as Christians also believe. But this is not the meaning of begotten Son of God.

Answering the question about the meaning of begotten Son of God in his commentary, Hendriksen states, “We conclude that the reference must be to Christ’s Trinitarian sonship, i.e., to the fact that he is the Son of God from all eternity. This is favored by the context (1:1, 18) and by such passages as 3:16, 18, which prove that the Son was already, the only begotten before his incarnation.”

Indeed the New American Standard translation of John 1:1 states, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him.” And this is from the oldest manuscripts found.

2. For number 2.see 1 and 6. But it should be added that God’s nature is clearly seen in the Incarnation since in God’s compassion and mercy he took on human flesh and suffered for humanity.

1.This last point has to do with the worship of God. The speaker becomes totally confused. He states that in Matthew 15 & 18 Jesus tells them it is vain to worship him. But the quote in 15, it is not in 18, is Jesus quoting from the Hebrew Bible and it is God telling Israel it is vain to worship him since they hearts are far away from him and they are teaching traditions rather than God’s word.

The speaker then has to turn to the Koran to make his point about Jesus. He also says that Jesus never allowed anyone to worship him. But this is simply not true. There are several places in the Gospel where people do worship Jesus and he graciously receives their worship. The beautiful story of Thomas is perhaps the best. Thomas has doubted the resurrection, but when he touches the nail prints in Jesus ‘hands and the wound in his side Thomas states “My Lord and my God.” In the Greek it is the Lord of me and the God of me.

There is so much more that could be added but this is already too long.




[1] William Hendriksen, The Gospel of John, New Testament Commentary, eighth printing, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1979).
[2] John Calvin, John, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, Alister McGrath & J.I. Packer, (Wheaton: Crossway Books 1994).
* The video is a Merciful Servant Production