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August 03, 2008


Great talk! Wish we could be there!

This tatement from lecture #1 should noted:

"One of the biggest 'heresies' taught today is salvation by faith. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. We are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus. The value of faith isn’t in the one believing, but the one believed."

Not sure I follow this article. Probably just someone's notes taken from the talk? Josh never has made sense to me, so that probably compounds things.

Let's say all the bibliographical evidence were there... would it change the way we live? You wouldn't even need faith, because all the evidence points you to the truth. Wierd as that would seen, play along. What if it were so?

Would it make a difference? How would you live differently?

And wouldn't we still be stuck with the interpretation of the (now undeniable) scripture? Would we understand Revelation any better? Would we pry out our eyeballs lest our eye offend us, or cut off our hands? Would we give all our posessions to the poor?


What a great shot of the back of my head!

I understand that this is just a summary, and not every point is being defended in exhaustive detail, but I'll just indicate the points where I would take issue.

We have four eyewitness accounts.

That's a very dubious claim.

Josh believes that Mark was Peter’s scribe, which is firsthand evidence.

I do not agree with this conclusion.

But Peter distinguishes between “cleverly devised tales” and the eyewitness accounts given.

Number 1 we don't know that Peter wrote that and Number 2 even if he did say this, this wouldn't me he wasn't gullible. Benny Hinn and his followers will also tell you that they are concerned for evidence and that they can recognize a scam.

Acts 2:22 – Peter spoke to an antagonistic audience and says to them...

Acts is rejected as unreliable narrative by critical scholars. That's not to say that they are right, but only that the case needs to be proved, not assumed.

Third, 11 of the 12 Apostles died martyr’s deaths.

That's another dubious claim, but even if true the key question is, what did they believe? Suppose they were willing to die, but they held beliefs about the resurrection that were not identical with what modern Protestants believe? Remember that according to I Peter Christ was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit." According to Paul flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom of God. I'm not saying that these two texts prove that they held to a spiritual view of the resurrection, but the case needs to be proved, not assumed.

What's happening is Christians are imposing the assertions of later biblical authors on to the disciples and claiming that since Matthew or Luke or John says this is what they believed about the resurrection, well this means all sides need to agree that this is what they believed and what they were willing to die for. But second hand claims about what people believed from anonymous sources written decades after the fact are quite different from first hand accounts. Neither 1 or 2 Peter says he believed Jesus was raised physically. Paul never says that in either his supposed authentic letters or the others. Not even Mark says that the disciples saw a physically resurrected Jesus. It is only with Matthew, Luke, John, and Acts, our very latest texts, that we are finally informed that the disciples were eyewitnesses to a physically resurrected Jesus. The very fact that we are only told the most fantastic version of the story in the very latest texts suggests that we're dealing with legendary embellishment.

I'm assuming by your intro ("just summary, and not every point is being defended in detail")that it wasn't your intention to present supporting arguments for your points, so I won't comment on your views regarding the eyewitness accounts, Mark as Peter's scribe, the authorship of 2 Peter, and the martyrdom of the apostles. Acts being rejected as unreliable narrative by critical scholars is an example of an ad populum fallacy- not sure why you included this. I'm in agreement with you about the passage in 1 Peter and Paul's view on resurrection-these texts do not prove that they held to a spiritual view. I would recommend you exegete 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 that may provide more on Paul's view. Your point about Christians imposing the assertions of later biblical authors on to the disciples is still a claim and not an argument isn't it? Equally, you state that second hand claims by anonymous sources written decades after the fact being different from first hand accounts is assuming the very premise that's at issue - whether or not these writings are eyewitness accounts. Implictly using your conclusion (doubt eyewitness claim) as a premise for an argument is begging the question, isn't it? Lastly, in some of the New Testament documents, there are passages that speak of the resurrection and do not describe a resurrected body in terms that specifically let us know what it looked and felt like; however there are NT documents that do describe a resurrected body in terms that address your concerns. 1 John is rather explicit: "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and and our hands have touched . . ." In the gospel of John, Jesus tells Thomas "put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe (John 20:27)." I know you conced this point - but you reject these writings as legendary embellishments. Again, you're offering up a claim: that the most fantastic version of the story in the latest texts suggests a legendary account - however you do not supply any supporting arguments why we should accept this claim as true. Because of your introductory comments, I'm not sure if this was your intention. My apologies if I am doing so, but am I reading your post wrong?

Hey BJ.

My point with my statement about "just a summary" was I understand Melinda isn't offering an exhaustive argument, so I don't want her to think that I'm not aware of that as I reply. But I do reply often by just saying that this point she's making needs to be argued, not assumed.

Take my statement about Acts. What I'm saying is that what Melinda is offering relies on an assumption that she knows that a skeptic won't grant. You say I'm committing a fallacy. But that's not true. I'm not claiming that Acts is unreliable. I'm saying that you can't form an argument that is based on the assumption that it is reliable without first showing that it is reliable, and Melinda hasn't done this. Not only that, but she has to know that the skeptic actually thinks she's wrong about this. So it's kind of silly to make an argument on this basis.

Likewise with I Cor 15. You say I should exegete the text and I'll have my answer. My point is, this is your argument. You are arguing that the disciples died as martyrs and since they died for the belief that they had seen Jesus physically raised, this lends credibility to the belief that Jesus was in fact physically raised. But you haven't shown that they claimed to have seen Jesus physically raised. If they died for certain beliefs about Jesus that we aren't certain of, then the fact that they died is not relelvant to the apologists claim. And keep in mind I'm not arguing that they believed in a non-physical resurrection. I'm making no claims about what they believed. I'm just saying you have to prove to me you know what they believed before you can claim that their martyrdoms are relevant to your case. To point to a broad text and claim that the evidence is there without showing it is really not sufficient.

What I'm really trying to do with my claim about "second hand, anonymous documents written decades after the fact" is do what Melinda and McDowell are doing right back at them to get them to understand that what they are claiming relies on critical assumptions that they, as smart people, must know the skeptic doesn't grant. So how can they make these arguments and carry on as if no supporting argumentation was needed? This is just what Klusendorf does. The abortionist forms arguments based on the assumption that the fetus is not a seperate human individual. By imposing his own assumption that the fetus is a seperate human individual on them and their arguments, the absurdity of their arguments become apparent and this makes it clear where the dispute between them lies. It's really about the status of the unborn.

That's what I see from the apologist. "Acts says that Peter's audience was antagonistic. The disciples died for the belief of the physical resurrection. Peter tells us that he didn't follow cleverly devised tales." All of these statements are based on assumptions that Melinda and McDowell must know that skeptics do not grant. So how can they just assert these things without justifying their assumptions? This is bad argumentation.

Thanks for the feedback; my apologies for misunderstanding that you were responding to what Melinda had written. I barely glanced at the original article; that probably explains why I didn't realize what you were attempting to do. A couple of points for clarification. I did say that I wasn't sure why you included the claim of Acts being rejected as unreliable by critical scholars; now had you offered this in support of your view, it clearly would have been an argumentum ad populum, but as I read your original post again, you didn't offer it as such; thanks for the clarification. However, my recommendation to exegete 1 Cor 15:35-57 was merely "to provide more on Paul's view" not that you'd have an answer to this resurrection question. I thought it was fairly clear I wasn't making any argument; just a recommendation to exegete a passage "that may provide more on Paul's view." Yet you interpreted this as a formal argument that included disciples being martyred, dying for a belief they had seen Jesus physically raised, and then you challenged me to "prove to you" that I know what they believed before I can claim that their martyrdoms are relevant to "my" case. You then admonish me: "To point to a broad text and claim that the evidence is there without showing it is really not sufficient." All of this from my recommendation to exegete a passage of Scripture, which I assume that you did not actually do, yet you seem to understood my supposed argument well enough to reply to it point-by-point. (By the way, this is the primary justification of my assumption that you did not exegete the passage; none of the points you take issue with are found in the passage.) Jon, I sincerely enjoy your posts, but in light of your response, I would ask you to seriously consider your motivation for engaging others here. Christians do make bad arguments, but they haven't cornered the market on it. I'm sure that at the time you responded to my post, you were certain, and not skeptical, of your own viewpoint. I would hope that in light of this response, you would reconsider what you wrote and more importantly, consider whether the assumptions that you made were justifiable, and how the degree of certainty you had at the time will impact your skepticism.

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