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August 02, 2016

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In my conversations lately, I have been talking with people who have a materialistic mindset, characterized by the assertion that "If it's not proven, I don't have to believe it."

Wonderfully, this mindset is not rebuffed but encouraged by God's Word! Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (NAS) (below)...(note that anything written in the Bible is also something asserted by a person who claims to be a prophet, and I believe, subject to this test)

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your [j]countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘They have [k]spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their [l]countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, [m]that prophet shall die.’ 21 [n]You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

As Christians, we cannot ignore the rich reservoir of biblical passages that speak of the Bible itself.

Herein lies the problem, obvious to many yet I did not see its fallacy until years after I became a Christian.

How can the Bible speak of itself, when it did not exist in its present form at the time each individual book was written? This kind of illogic stops critical thinkers in their paths, and rightly so. How could Jesus speak to a collection of books as being authoritative, none of which were written (the N.T., specifically) in his lifetime?

Perry,

Jesus would be the first to admit that if you speak well of yourself, it doesn't do any good (John 5:31) although he does later claim for himself the superior status of perfectly true God---when pressed by Pharisees (John 8:14).

"Biblical passages that speak of the Bible itself" is probably too general, and you're right that it is open to the accusation of circular reasoning. But a closer look at what's happening should give the skeptic pause: the biggest biblical claim of biblical authority, in my opinion, is when Jesus talks about the Old Testament. Now clearly, these are two different things (Jesus / the Old Testament), and it's not like the Old Testament had not yet been canonized when Jesus came around... rather, it was so well canonized that we still sometimes use the same Greek Old Testament translation that was available to the entire Roman world--- the Septuagint.

As an aside, the fact that the latest book in the Old Testament was several hundred years before Jesus makes this a little easier historically because that gave the Old Testament some time to live as a whole before Scripture would get further additions from Christians.

May I suggest something for you to read, Perry? It's called "A Peculiar Glory" and written by a familiar Christian author, John Piper. He allows people to download it for free as a .pdf from his website http://www.desiringgod.org/books/peculiar-glory . The subject of this book is the authentication of the Bible, and he addresses this question like a dozen different ways.

Perry,

Jesus would be the first to admit that if you speak well of yourself, it doesn't do any good (John 5:31) although he does later claim for himself the superior status of perfectly true God---when pressed by Pharisees (John 8:14).

"Biblical passages that speak of the Bible itself" is probably too general, and you're right that it is open to the accusation of circular reasoning. But a closer look at what's happening should give the skeptic pause: the biggest biblical claim of biblical authority, in my opinion, is when Jesus talks about the Old Testament. Now clearly, these are two different things (Jesus / the Old Testament), and it's not like the Old Testament had not yet been canonized when Jesus came around... rather, it was so well canonized that we still sometimes use the same Greek Old Testament translation that was available to the entire Roman world--- the Septuagint.

As an aside, the fact that the latest book in the Old Testament was several hundred years before Jesus makes this a little easier historically because that gave the Old Testament some time to live as a whole before Scripture would get further additions from Christians.

May I suggest something for you to read, Perry? It's called "A Peculiar Glory" and written by a familiar Christian author, John Piper. He allows people to download it for free as a .pdf from his website http://www.desiringgod.org/books/peculiar-glory . The subject of this book is the authentication of the Bible, and he addresses this question like a dozen different ways.

There's also the ridiculous argument that because Jesus referenced Jonah, He affirmed that He accepts all of the OT as factually correct.

Some folks think that argument is real clever.

And Piper. Really?

We have no idea about what Jesus may have accepted as "factually correct." We are in possession of knowledge about Earth's history that the writers of the Biblical books were not. There is the question about whether, as God in human flesh, Jesus possessed knowledge too ahead of the time to share (i.e. knowledge we have now about the Earth's real age, dinosaurs, evolution, calculus, etc.) or whether he was limited in knowledge in accordance with what was the prevailing wisdom of the day. If the latter, he may have had technically incorrect beliefs if he was a Biblical literalist.

Perry,

It's seems Christ is of necessity a literalist with respect to the truth of the matter.

For example:

What about Jesus' knowledge of, affirmation of, the syntax of "X brought Y back to life" is unscientific?

Well nothing. The Non-Theist must assert that it is possible (in principle) to build a man, given the full knowledge of covalent bonds (and etc...), such that the benchtop awaits such syntax. We even see levels of such in trauma bays. The syntax is fine. As far as when and where, well, all that matters is one's presuppositions about the sort of Person/Persons involved and the Ability/Abilities involved.

What about Jesus knowledge of, affirmation of, the fact that God did not and could not have built Man (which outlives and outdistances covalent bonds) using dirt / covalent bonds, is unscientific?

Well, literally speaking, nothing. Unless God and that which outlives the body can be weighed in kilograms.

Is it unscientific to affirm that a man, or men, can live half a mile beneath the surface of the ocean?

Literally speaking, no.

We do it all the time.

The assertions then seemed bizarre, but, of course, now we know better. Once again the syntax is fine. As far as when and where, well, all that matters is one's presuppositions about the sort of Person/Persons involved and the Ability/Abilities involved.


In the same way, what is unscientific about Christ's affirmation of the OT's assertion that Time gives way, at some ontological seam somewhere, to Timelessness?

Literally speaking, it seems the answer is going to end up "nothing".

It seemed bizarre then to make such assertions, but now we know better.

Because of science. Well, in part because of science, as science is catching up.

Once again the syntax is fine. As far as when and where, well, all that matters is one's presuppositions about the sort of Person/Persons involved and the Ability/Abilities involved.


I'm not sure we can force physicalism or scientism onto this topic and expect to stay within our bounds. There's no scientific barrier to any of the above syntax, and, we all know that God is well within His bounds to move within nature while never "violating" her.

Christ redefined the OT in a few radical ways, particularly with respect to Law/Moses and to the (literal) theme which He was forever extricating from Scripture, namely Himself.

What is Jonah about? It was about Christ.

What did Christ believe about Genesis one?

Well He certainly didn't believe that God made Man out of dirt. Fear God who can kill the real you.

Christ drove the entire narrative of Scripture, from A to Z, towards Himself.

The attempt to force the assumption that science and Christianity are necessarily at odds with one another can only succeed by fairly precarious and questionable assumptions.

The data points over time reveal an incline in which it is not Christ (nor Scripture's syntax) Who is catching up to us, but, rather, it is we who are catching up to Christ.

Typo:

This: It's seems Christ is of necessity....

Should be: It seems Christ is of necessity a literalist with respect to the truth of the matter.


Clarification:


Obviously, Christ did not redefine the Law/Moses, but, rather, affirmed what Scripture had been saying all along about its own terms:

Case Law. Divorce. More case law. Ideal. Non-Ideal. Fence. Restraining Death. Permitting what God hates. The "Better To Come" and its instantiation of Moral Excellence. Abolitions of all kinds. Resurrection.

He just connected the dots for us.

Dots are cool that way.

Over time they reveal inclines and trajectories and....definitions.

One thing that occurs to me, regarding the knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth possessed, is whether one is speaking of His pre-resurrection Person, or His post-resurrection Person. While He set aside a number of divine prerogatives during His incarnation, He would have received them back after His resurrection; in Luke's narrative of His post-resurrection appearances, Jesus is explaining to the slow-witted disciples how the Hebrew Bible pointed to Him, which is something He did as well prior to His death. Any theory of what Jesus knew has to deal with this.

>> There's also the ridiculous argument that because Jesus referenced Jonah, He affirmed that He accepts all of the OT as factually correct.
Some folks think that argument is real clever.

GH5,

Here is the issue. Jesus referred to Jonah and incidents concerning him in two places:

Matthew 12:40. The comparison of Jesus' interment in the grave for three days and Jonah's stay in the great fish.

Matthew 12:41. the testimony of the people of Nineveh who repented at Jonah's preaching over against those who listened to Jesus without a dram of repentance.

This taken with 2 Kgs 14:25, where Jonah is presented as a historical figure active in the last years of Jehu's dynasty announcing better fortunes for the northern kingdom of Israel after years of oppressive treatment from the nation of Aram (Syria).

As to the Matthew 12:40 citation of Jonah, we can merely take this as a literary allusion. However, this cannot be the case in Matthew 12:41. The rejection of Jesus is historical, and Jesus speaks there of future consequences. If these people stand in judgment unfavorably compared to people who never really existed ... we've problems here. Much like comforting one enduring stage fright with the classic example of Linus Van Pelt (my stomach hurts!). The discomfort is quite real, and assuaging it with references to a cartoon character is anti-climactic. Even down-right weak.

Thus, the prophet Jonah is historical enough for Jesus' purposes.

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