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November 03, 2015

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>> Hezekiah the bandit, Simon of Peraea, Athronges the shepherd boy, and Judas the Galilean.

First reaction .... who?

Second reaction ... let's find out!

So off to my digital copy of Josephus' Works, set up a series of searches and ... voila!

A pack of Zealots, a politically motivated group of paramilitaries who saw the kingdom of God as the removal of the Roman dominance of the region (as opposed to Jesus, who taught that the kingdom of God is within the believer), and the messiah as the individual who could pull it off.

Small minds seek small messiahs. Jesus avoided such references to being that type of messiah and refused any effort to promote Him as an earthly king (cf. John 6:15). His role as redeemer was the true embodiment of Messiah. The deaths of the Zealots ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Jesus' death ended in ... resurrection.

As to all these Josephus references to failed political hacks, what of the Jewish historian's reference to Jesus of Nazareth?

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works — a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ;

When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Honestly, the Testimonium Flavium is the most critiqued set of lines from the historian. But this was all that Jesus drew from the pen of this prolific chronologist. Athronges got much more print from Josephus, but all in relating a doomed revolt.

In the same light of historical "fluke," consider the presidents Abraham Lincoln and Millard Fillmore. One is considered "great." By fluke? No, rather by the historical content and results.

Jesus was no politician nor a Zealot (Render unto Caesar, said He, but never ran for Caesar). But if you measure "greatness" by means of political achievement, you'll never understand the greatness of Messiah, the One sent to achieve the Lord's work.

Achieving the Lord's work gets buried in the last pages of the newspaper. What has been filling up page one lately?

Regarding the Testimonium Flavium the earliest secure reference to this passage is found in the writings of the fourth-century Christian apologist Eusebius, who used Josephus' works extensively as a source for his own Historia Ecclesiastica. Writing no later than 324, Eusebius quotes the passage in essentially the same form as that preserved in extant manuscripts. It has therefore been suggested that part or all of the passage may have been Eusebius' own invention, in order to provide an outside Jewish authority for the life of Christ. Some argue that the wording in the Testimonium differs from Josephus' usual writing style and that as a Jew, he would not have used a word like "Messiah".

Talking Donkey,

>> as a Jew, he would not have used a word like "Messiah".

As to your proposal of a Eusebian forgery, three difficulties.

1) Josephus was writing under the patronage of the Roman system. His history would relate the historical background of the Jewish people with even a tendency to defend Jewish culture. He could delete all messianic talk that would threaten the Roman system. He could be frank about the Zealot movement in the historical context of a failed project (Judas the Galilean was cited by Josephus as the most prominent of the fourth school of Jewish thought, after the Sadducee, Pharisee, and Essene parties. The Zealot movement could hold their political views without mention of messianic tendencies).

2. there is a contextual fit of the Jesus episode in Josephus' account of Antiquities 18:3. It opens with the administration of Pontius Pilate who put down hostile responses to his projects as an aqueduct system supplying Jerusalem (using Temple revenues), then Jesus' life and crucifixion, followed by a detailed political repression of the Jews in Rome leading to the crucifixion of some of the Jewish leadership. (Honestly pages and pages on the misadventures of Paulina and Jesus gets two paragraphs --- if that!).

3. Trends tend to see a fair portion of the Testimonium as legit, with some additions. One theory, holding Josephus as a closet Ebonite Christian, would see very few emendations. A full blown insertion could easily be detected in examination of all early copies.

One would have to consider Eusebius dishonest to advance this theory further.

His apostles thought that he was exceptional enough to give their lives for even after his departure from this world.

Additionally, he was exceptional enough for his enemies and ancient historians to talk about him to in their writings.

Now, the same could be said of Muhammad. However, Muhammad wrote scripture and conquered people with militant armies. Jesus did neither. His followers who had known him wrote the Scriptures testifying of him and they gave their lives for a message of life, not in the course of dealing out death.

Asked and answered - 2,000 years ago.

When the Sanhedrin tried to silence Jesus' disciples one of the rabbis, Gameliel by name, said, Not all that long ago a 'messiah' named Theudas gathered a band of 400 men or so. But he was killed and his men dispersed. Then, during our last census Judas the Galilean started a revolt. He was killed and his followers also scattered. So don't make a mountain out of a molehill. If Jesus was just another one of these fake messiahs, he's dead, just wait and his followers will fall by the wayside, too. But if there really is something divine going on here, you won't be able to shut them up.

Yes, there were a number of people around the first century BC who claimed to be the messiah. The prophecies of Daniel point to a date about 480 years after the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem (which was around 500 BC). And the burning topic among first century Jews was who the Messiah would be, what he would do, and how he would set about replacing Rome with Jerusalem. It was bigger in first century Judea than end-times/left-behind stuff is in the evangelical community today. But the fact that only one of them founded a movement that outlived him indicates that there was, in fact, something exceptional and unique about Jesus.

Is the church a "fluke" or did it survive precisely because it is founded on something Real? This isn't a challenge to the claims of Jesus and Christianity, it's evidence for their Truth.

Just trying to keep objectivity in mind, nearly impossible with certain subject matter such as politics and religion.

Eusebius has been described as the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity. He favored doctoring history, in his own words to "be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity".

It is no accident that the only pervasive survivors comprise the trinity of No-God (Atheism, Buddhism, Jainism, others), Pantheism (Hinduism, and even the “new ager” in its various amorphous forms), and the Root which springs from YHWH, itself a trinity in the tree which constitutes Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Indeed, it is a bit uncanny and enigmatically archetypical but the fact is that No-God, All-God, and YHWH are the three predicted vectors given Christianity’s metaphysical claims upon reality.

1) Pantheism
2) YHWH
3) Non-Theism


The challenge of the OP is incredibly unsophisticated as it takes a lens and zooms in upon irrelevancies such that it cannot help but ultimately miss the forest for the trees. As described below, Man is ubiquitously religious and the only “accident” is the bizarrely postured and contrived odd-man-out standing alone on the street corner – none other than Nietzsche’s Madman artificially poised in Atheism’s unnatural drag:

“Religion” is typically considered as a “belief system” or a “structure of beliefs and practices concerning the divine.” It’s a recent development in the meaning of the word, and it would have been foreign to, say, Aquinas, for whom religion was a virtue.

A virtue is the perfection of a power of the soul, or, in modern parlance, an excellence of the human person. We see a height of humanity in courageous actions, a greatness we are all capable of. We admire courage, not as something for just this or that person, but as something every human being can and ought to aspire to. Virtue, then, is not the addition of some pleasing quality, slapped on like a sticker on the surface of this or that person. Virtue is the perfection of those powers and capacities every person really does have, our indwelling capacities for courage, patience, justice — and religion.

If religion is a virtue, then we have “religion,” not because it is one option among many, nor a “belief system” one may or may not take on, but because the human being is that type of being who is capable of the divine as he is capable of courage — as a power intrinsic to his person. In this view, there can be no clear distinction between the religious and the non-religious. To be human is to be religious, and the only distinction is the degree to which we perfect or do not perfect this power. There are those who are excellent in religion and those who are not; those growing in this particular capacity and those atrophying; the flourishing and the wilting.

Atheism does not a non-religious make. The lack of belief does not exempt anyone from the capacity to suffer the divine…….. Watch them speak late into the night and deep into the beer about theological issues the Christian has forgotten are issues at all — the doctrine of Hell and the problem of suffering. To deny God as a theoretical concept proffered by the Christian is not to cauterize the capacity for God always already present as a real possibility of human existence.

Theism, for its part, does not a religious man make. One is no more religious by believing in God than one is excellent in justice by believing in an ordered human community. The order of intellectual assent is not equatable with the order of virtue. Satan is a committed believer – a theist deficient in the virtue of religion. Only the theist has a real capacity for satanism – to believe in the divine while refusing Him honor and reverence.

Of course, the theist who wilts in the virtue of religion lives a painful contradiction between the content of his rational beliefs and the state of his life, as does the atheist who awkwardly — and even ironically — flourishes in his reverence and interest in the non-existent deity. Both flirt with the moment in which they will either unify their beliefs and actions into a consistent life, or content themselves with being a contradiction.

This, I think, is why our age wants to make religion a matter of rational choice rather than a matter of excellence. If it is something we are all capable of by virtue of being human (rather than something believers are capable of by virtue of an intellectual assent to the proposition “there is a God”), then we are all responsible. The theist is not saved by his belief, and the atheist is not exempted from the issue by his unbelief. The capacity for honor, reverence and right relation to the divine is written on every human heart, and expresses itself as a demand to be realized, whether we’d like it or not. If it is true, and if the modern intellectualizing of religion is bogus, then it is a lovely truth. For I am often confused, and I often doubt, and there are many moments when I stutter, stall, and find myself without the capacity of “proving” or even giving “strong evidence” for God’s existence in any intellectual fashion. But I am religious. I suffer the divine, whether or not I can defend its presence in the intellectual sphere. While the arguments fluctuate according to the conversation and my own place on the scale of Density to Wit, the capacity remains, the virtue sticks, the power of the soul is the same power that has gnawed at me from childhood, demanding to be allowed to flourish in the full light of day.


The only “accident” is the bizarrely postured and contrived odd-man-out standing alone on the street corner – none other than Nietzsche’s Madman artificially poised in Atheism’s unnatural drag.

Then, from there, lens zoomed out, the inevitable (given the nature of Man's privation) "All-God / YHWH / No-God" in view, we zoom the lens in. Should the nature and fabric of Man find the sacred in his unavoidable encounter with the Divine inside of the shadows of the stuff of truth, inside of the shadows of the stuff of love, and so on, then we are forced to declare the oddity of No-God a simple mistake, an accident of neglect, and shift our lens over a few degrees, and look upon All-God and YHWH. Once there, the inevitable rise of Christ begins to emerge within the available topography of World, of Man, of Pain, of Joy. We can stop here, as it's enough, for now. Making our way forward from there is easy enough, and it becomes all too obvious that the challenge leaves out far, far too much, and hedges all its bets on far, far too little.

No different? The empty tomb trumps that idea.

This challenge seems to assume the false Jesus/Christ dichotomy of the Historical Jesus crowd. That is, it brushes over everything that makes Jesus Christ unique: his claim to be God, the unique authority with which he preached, his spiritual understanding of the Kingdom of God, his resurrection and writes them all off as additions to Jesus' original "non-unique" apocalyptic Rabbinic Judaism. This makes Jesus just another faith healer with messianic delusions like all the other Jewish claimants to the title messiah running around Judea and Galilee at the time.

It also falls into the rut typical of evolutionist minded atheists of finding similarities and assuming connections and relationships while missing the crucial differences. It's a variation on the obviously flawed notion that all religions are essentially the same because they all have rites like sacred meals (like Christian communion) and ceremonial washing (like baptism). They only differ on minor things like the nature of God, the nature of good and evil, heaven, hell, and the afterlife, the nature of the spirit, creation, sin, redemption, and the ultimate point of everything. The atheist these considers central ideas like these "minor" because they are "only" the superstitious/spiritual, that is imaginary, parts that aren't as important as the cultural and ceremonial forms, norms, and taboos they impose upon their adherents.

So, because the challenge looks at the similarities and ignores or writes off the differences as latter accretions to the "Jesus Legend", the challenge falls flat because it is self-contradictory. Jesus wasn't unique, the challenge states. Twice. All the other self-styled messiahs from the century or so before the temple was destroyed have been largely forgotten by history. But, oddly, out of all of them, we only remember Jesus.

What is the definition of "unique", again? To quote Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Maybe, as you stand wondering why the movement the "un-unique" Jesus started uniquely carries on thousands of years after his death, while all the other messiah wannabes were largely forgotten before they were cold in their graves, consider you may have missed a unique thing or two about Jesus. I would advise looking at his grave as a good starting point.

T. Gilson expands on the inadequacy of the Jesus as legend theory. That article is then discussed along with other components of the uniqueness of Christ which stand out. A quick review of the long comment box following the second article is easily achieved by “searching” the text for “legend” and also for “GM”, GM being one of the commentators etc. A teeny tiny peek:

………I think you’ve missed the point. There is no one in all of history or literature who was so perfectly other-centered as Jesus Christ. How does this fit with the legend theory?

……….I’ve read enough literature to serve as the analogy to the local art museum. (I’ve also been to the Hermitage, the museums of the Smithsonian, the Norton Simon, ….) The point of my article is precisely that there is no analogue to Jesus in his perfect other-centeredness in spite of having such immense power; and if there were ever thought to be such an analogue, it’s impossible to believe it would have been crafted by the legendary processes skeptics typically propose.


Those "legend-processes" often foisted by critics are discussed in various ways in the links to Gilson's two items.


The Critic misses the magnitude of just why Christ rises far above other claims because the Critic sits in an Ivory Tower immune from the depths of darkness that *is* slavery, that *is* Privation’s gutting of love’s reciprocity within Mankind, and o on. The Critic thinks that all that *can* be available are ultimate non-solutions, that all can be offered to “fix” such pains are a few melodious platitudes. But Christ comes with something very different – He comes with something that men through the ages have intuited addresses reality with reality, and the inescapable Christ emerges:


Jesus’ teachings are about as far away from “values” as you can get. If there’s a single statement in the Gospels that sums up Christ’s moral vision, it’s “Be ye perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” It’s as outrageous a statement today as it was 2000 years ago.


Any concept that suggests we’ve made the scope and subversive nature of Jesus’s teachings “dated” through modern psychology makes me wonder, sincerely, without being cavalier: What planet are you living on?


In the last hundred years, I can’t think of a western moral leader who’s had more positive impact than Martin Luther King. Christ was a plain-as-day guiding imperative on his work, and if you asked him if he had come close to approaching the limits of how far Christ’s teaching can be taken, how far it DEMANDS to be taken, I can only imagine a single possible response.


“Lord have mercy, no.”


All the psychology, psychiatric medication and post-modern education hasn’t added up to a fraction of the profound effect MLK’s work had on the cultural moral compass. This is because we have adopted a thoroughly legalistic approach to morality.


“How far can rights extend and how near can the limits of responsibilities be drawn?”


That is the entire scope of modern moral reasoning.


Christ says “You don’t need rights among men, you have rights as Children of God and heirs to His Kingdom. Your responsibilities are your vocation, they are what it is to be human, and you need to become more human than you’ve ever imagined. I don’t bring law, I bring life.”


Christ’s central message of “You must lose your life in order to save it.” will haunt modern man’s quest for moral actualization. Always. We tell ourselves “That’s not practical, we can find some balance of self-interest and shared values and with just a little more birth control and higher test scores and the right legislation, progress will continue, and the New Scientific Jerusalem awaits.”


Meanwhile, on CNN…..


You must lose your life in order to save it.” will never not be what man needs, it will never be overtaken in scope and promise, and when we as a culture finally really abandon it, we will discover new levels of misery, confusion and hopelessness.” (comment by GM)

Elsewhere GM notes a relevant fact on the uncanny uniqueness of Christ:


“Christianity is unique because it functions on a paradox. You must be perfect and you cannot be perfect. It superlatively affirms the greatness of man and superlatively confirms the misery of man. The intolerable thing about God is that He works within this context with an offensive grace. It is offensive to us as individuals because we do not want to need it. It is offensive to us when manifested in others because we demand justice to satisfy our outward-facing moral compasses. We do not want God to patiently and holistically deal with the problem of slavery in a creative way, we want a display of righteous power and judgement. Yet, we do not want God to judge us for our own evils, which could be just as destructive as slavery. Yes, our demands for explicit and manifest reckoning with slavery unto damnation on our 21st century terms would make us comfortable. For about 15 minutes, until God fulfills that wish on our preposterously inequitable western civilization.


Morality is all well and good, but morality alone will not accomplish the Christian ideal of rebuilding the glorious ruin of creation. Only the Cross and Resurrection will. In that is our greatest hope and greatest despair. Jesus’ ministry did not “invent” the Golden Rule. It didn’t need to. All rules pale in comparison to the outrageous claim of “Behold, I make all things new.”

"Christianity is unique because it functions on a paradox. You must be perfect and you cannot be perfect"

Apparently two opposites can be true as it is used above to prove the uniqueness of Christianity. However if you check out statement 2 of 12 statements that prove the Bible is the Word of God (its another blog on this site) it says that two opposites cannot both be true.

The Critic's version of an illogical statement:

I must get to NY, and, I cannot get to NY.


I can get to NY, I cannot get to NY

I must be perfect, I cannot be perfect

not I must get to NY and I cannot get to NY

Sorry scb, hit post when I should of hit preview. Yes, you are correct from a linguistics point of view.

TD,


Apologies.

I thought we were discussing Christ's claims within Christianity's truth predicates rather than some other set of non-Christian premises.

I can be perfect?

How so?

Laws?

Here inside of the pains of privation?

When and how does Scripture speak of this actualization taking place?

It does speak on all of that, but it's apparent you haven't taken the time to look based on your Can/Ought confusion.


Granted, in Naturalism there are no final causes, and hence the phrase "perfect reasoning" is an oxymoron, as Reason herself finds no paradigmatic shape which, should she contradict, will leave her as being factually *un*reasonable. However, on Christianity's premises, the perfection of "Being Human" referents factual means and factual ends, such that should Reason herself contradict such she shall be thereby factually *un*reasonable, factually contradicting the constitutional shape of "reality".

That is there in Christianity's paradigm, only, you are entirely mistaken, or confused, in your definitions and terms.

You should listen to Christians when they tell you your claims are not Christianity's claims upon reality.


There are non-Christian blogs elsewhere if you're interested.

TD,

The perfection of "Being Human"......

Just to clarify, you're correct that there *is* such a state of affairs, only, you're leaving out far too much should you just jump from "here" to "there". Reality isn't coherent with such a jump. And, linguistically speaking, Christ maps to reality, or, rather, reality maps to Christ.


scb,

I care about Christianity, thus my visits to this site. I used to visit this site a lot when I was an evangelical however my views have changed over the years to more liberal perspective and more in line with the Jesus Seminar. For Christianity to survive it needs to go through a new reformation and get beyond some things in the Bible we take to literally. Thus I still care albeit you and others no doubt feel I'm lost. If you read the 40 problems with Christianity via the link above you gotta acknowledge the author makes some good points and you can at least see why, even though you may not agree, the evangelical position keeps weakening.

TD,

In part I certainly agree with errors existing in various lines of theology. Eating plants just is death before the Fall (Etc...). However, the topic at hand is, basically, Christ in relation to final causes, and, then, "that" duo in relation to (actually) mapping to "reality". Love's means and ends, so to speak.

Ok, thanks scb. take care.

"For Christianity to survive it needs to go through a new reformation and get beyond some things in the Bible we take to literally"

With as much charity as I can muster Talking Donkey, being evangelical and now liberal hardly puts you in a position to say what Christianity needs, but even less that you dont know His voice, you are not in a position to know what Christianity needs...btw, the Church already has a Head.

Hi Brad,

Yeah, I know, its only my opinion. I just wonder what Christianity will be like in two hundred years if the church doesn't become more flexible in regards to what is a metaphor in the Bible and what to take literally. I'm no authority, that's for sure. Take care.

>> if the church doesn't become more flexible in regards to what is a metaphor in the Bible and what to take literally.
Grief, TD, but this sounds so much like the Church of the pre-Reformation, when Biblical analysis ranged from the literal level to the "deeper" allegorical and typo-logical interpretations.

Goodness, Talking Donkey, your progressive approach to Christianity would bomb us back to the late Medieval period! Your approach needs a better defined methodology, a firmer hermeneutic.

As for "40 Problems" ... it sounds more like 40 suggestions one would make to render Christianity something atheists could begin to stomach. But this is achieved through misunderstanding key elements as grace and messianic purpose, proper introspection, even acknowledgement of sin.

Future STR challenges could get a lot of mileage from this blog post for a solid year ... if they when back to weekly and not biweekly episodes.

oopsie! mea culpa (my bad!)

if they WENT back to ....

DGF,

Well stated. I peeked at the 40 problems and the theological claims made there are just bizarre.

Hence the mileage you speak of.

The typical pattern of setting up Non-Christian truth predicates and then arguing against those Non-Christian truth predicates and claiming one has argued successfully against Christian truth predicates.

Tedious.

The uniqueness of Christ emerges from all sorts of unexpected vectors:


It is good to see that the Skeptics agree with Scripture's definitions of Darkness, of Ugly, of Tragic.


A few of those “40 Points” find the moral geography of the OT objectionable, and well they should as Scripture's meta-narrative and metaphysical definitions affirm that God Himself agrees with the Skeptic’s definitions there inside of Man’s painful isolation . Actually, it is (obviously) the other way around, it is the Skeptic agreeing with God’s definitions. The existential reality of Man inside of what Scripture defines as Man in his painful Privation is a very low reality – far below that which the God of Scripture wills and plans for Man.


Hence the Law/Moses is defined by both the Old Testament and the New as Insufficiency – as the Ministry of Death – as that which sums to far less than Moral Excellence in all that it can deliver – in all that it can instantiate and actualize within Man. Even more obvious is the fact that God both hates “Action-X” (say, divorce, or whatever) and yet in Moses/Law goes ahead and proceeds to regulate actual transactions of “Action-X”. Moses/Law sums to – according to Scripture – a mere forerunner of far different Means towards far different Ends. Law merely restrains death, merely contains and confines and cannot ever enlarge, cannot ever redeem the elemental and constitutional nature of Man.


Genesis' fateful Protoevangelium is echoed by the OT Prophets as all such contours speak of a far higher, a far better, a far greater yet to come. It is good to see that the Skeptics agree with Scripture's definitions of Darkness, of Ugly, of Tragic.


But then the OT is where the Christian got his frame of reference for the high and "beloved of God" view of all tongues and all nations all those ages ago when the NT was still being compiled. Christ instantiates that which already *is* and thereby transposes Reality Himself both creating and loving worlds, His own Self poured out, and into, said beloved.


It's quite revealing that the Skeptic – though on target in defining the tragic nature of such ontological real-estate – seems to have no idea whatsoever as to how or why or where he's on target in agreeing with Scripture. He's merely spitting out – parroting – his own culture's little corner of normative milieu.


He could have just as easily been in Rome eons ago parroting that little nanosecond of some corner of the world – parroting that little nanosecond of normative milieu – inviting all of us to go enjoy a few fun hours of blood sports.


The Skeptic seems to just parrot his own culture's winds without actually knowing where such winds stream nor how it is they squall, neither historically nor metaphysically.


So he (probably) would have done the same there in Rome. Just like he's spitting out – parroting – his own little nanosecond of history's Christianized milieu from his own little corner of world history in the here-and-now unnoticeable in an abyss of infinite millennia. Indeed, one must research, think, invest, tear down, build up, investigate. Then – perhaps – one may actually know why or where or how or if one is on target with the Truth of what can only be reality's singular Meta-Narrative.


As is common – the Skeptic mistakenly expects the topography of ontological privation within lovelessness to somehow assume the anatomical form of immutable love despite the fact that the OT, the NT, logic, and sound ontology all assure him and us that such can never be the case.


Such is impossible and the OT tells us exactly that – and hence we find the OT Frame through which and by which Christ tells us of Love's Reciprocity there in the OT's God as said God makes of His Own love the very Rod from which falls all those vectors which He defines as lesser, weaker, inferior realities. We there find God's far greater Actuality in Scripture's meta-narrative of mankind – that which by transposition emerges in the very shadows of our own painful fragmentation.


Uniqueness yet again: The highest claim upon Man is found here: “In His Image”. As the Image of God is written into Man, as His timeless Self-Sacrifice amid Self/Other motioning ceaselessly within the milieu of Trinity transposes into Time and Physicality – as the contours of Imago Dei revealed fully in Christ are issued by the God Who cares to the world He loves, as He wills to us the Image of His Own immutable love there in Trinity's ceaseless reciprocity – as such is etched within Man, upon Man, Man cannot help but discover contours of Joy. The paradigmatic Start/Stop points we find in Christ’s claims upon Man are utterly unique, brutally and painfully honest, unavoidably hopeful, and ultimately loving as such foci are unparalleled by all other paradigmatic claims on Man. The question, “What is Man worth?” spies in Christ that which is Reality’s unmistakable reply of "Ad Infinitum You are the Beloved" as Christ alone at once solidifies that very subtext beneath our feet even as He engraves that very context above our heads in the Face of the God Who intones His relentless love for each of us. As GM noted, Jesus’ ministry did not “invent” the Golden Rule. It didn’t need to. All rules pale in comparison to the outrageous claim of “Behold, I make all things new.”

Correction:


The next-to-last paragraph, beginning with, "Such is impossible...." misses a word in the middle of it and should have read as follows:


".......and hence we find the OT Frame through which and by which Christ tells us of Love's Reciprocity there in the OT's God as said God makes of His Own love the very Rod from which hangs – Falls – all those vectors which He defines as lesser, weaker, inferior realities. We there find God's far greater Actuality in Scripture's meta-narrative of mankind – that which by transposition emerges in the very shadows of our own painful fragmentation....."

No matter how much evidence or lack of evidence people argue, evidence is not the basis of faith. It is possible to believe in Christ on evidence alone but this is not faith. Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and only then can we believe in a saving sense. If a person is Born Again, faith follows and belief follows faith.

Many believed in Christ on a purely physical level because of the miracles, but Jesus did not commit himself to them (John 2:23–24).

But with Peter it was different; “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16–17)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” (Galatians 5:22)

Produce the dead-body and Christianity is dead and Jesus is just an ordinary man.

As for those trying to be Christianity, the Bible or Christ's undertaker, beware, lest he become your pallbearer.

There aren't actually 40 problems in that list, since some simply re-iterate the same problem over. The first 4 problems, for example, really boil down to this: Hell is bad, bad, bad.

Of course, what is said about Hell is inconsistent. It's unjust that it exists at all, and it's unjust if Ted Bundy doesn't go there. The brief human lifespan isn't adequate to justify eternal punishment, but we should be able, based on that same lifespan to distinguish Bill Gates from Ted Bundy and send the former to heaven but the latter to hell.

Basically, what we have, in most of the 40 problems, and in the first four in particular, is an arrogant little man presuming to tell the God of the universe how to handle things.

If the God of the Bible exists, then Hell exists. Get over the moral outrage. It's not up to us. It's up to a real just judge, who actually has the right, knowledge and reason to decide who shall go to Hell and why.

It may be debatable that the God of the Bible does not exist. But the fact that anyone is outraged by Hell is no reason at all to think that He does not exist.

What WisdomLover said.

"Hence the Law/Moses is defined by both the Old Testament and the New as Insufficiency – as the Ministry of Death – as that which sums to far less than Moral Excellence in all that it can deliver – in all that it can instantiate and actualize within Man."

Hi scbrownlhrm...just making a distinction, the law is not lacking in itself but because of the weakness of the flesh it didnt produce righteousness. You may be accounting for this, I just wanted to make the distinction for clarity.

Brad B,

Yes I fully agree. The "cure" never *can* sum to "rules" and that is proven every day still today. The reality of Law/Moses regulating and containing features which God hates, rather than annihilating said features, or expunging said features, is not primary, but is secondary.

"Actual" expunging would have meant nothing less than Man's annihilation. The *nature* of the problem that is *privation* is the proof thereof.

It had to be said annihilation or else He must simply have forever abandoned us - removing all hope - while yet sustaining our very being.

Love chose neither.

Instead, He came near.

Until Christ.

Whereby He enters into. Whereby we enter into.

God in Man. Man in God.

An annihilation of a privation.

There *can* be *no* such things as round squares.

The uniqueness of Christ from yet other vectors:


Perhaps we are overlapping to some degree two non-identical-s. Mercy is not identical to Salvation, and while unmerited forgiveness is found linked with ignorance of light we must define our terms more carefully and realize that ignorance of light is itself not identical to goodness. Mercy (in Scripture) *is* linked to ignorance, but, the “metaphysical process” that sums to *salvation* is not so linked. A forgiven “mess” is still, well, a “mess”, whereas, God’s designed Ends for Man is not “that”.


We find, in one corner, all sorts of passages where Man’s perceived reality, where a person’s level of light, awareness, is linked, directly, to God’s motion toward Justice on the one hand or Mercy on the other. Forgive “for they know not”, or, “to whom much is given”, or, “it will be more tolerable for Gomorra than for you….”, and so on is echoed in all sorts of passages. Infants / babies and so forth are but one among many extensions of such passages. Of course, no-light is not identical to goodness, for, forgiveness is still needed, and we find that Man cannot simply insist before God, “I did not know, therefore, you must forgive”. In fact, there are no grounds for necessary forgiveness, for a lack of merit is built into the word itself, though, clearly, in scripture we do find in Him, in that Judge with Whom are dealing, that link. Repeatedly. We don’t send our five year old off to 20 years of hard labor for flunking a college exam. Five years olds can’t pass college exams. God does not, in truth, go about insisting that any five year old take, much less pass, a college exam.


That is one corner.
That is not salvation.
Mercy does not save us.
Because Mercy does not transform us.


Salvation entails a necessary amalgamation and, poor us, we have on necessity no capacity to pull All-Sufficiency “down” and into our Self, nor to push our Self “up” and into All-Sufficiency. In fact, we, necessarily, lack the capacity to contain All-Sufficiency. How can any Created Any-Thing contain the Creator?


The entire OT summed up: Should God pull Man in his painful fragmentation, Man in his privation, into Him we find that all that would await Man would be annihilation, not wholeness. Even worse: a decree of forgiven by our Judge, by God, is not what saves a Man, what changes Man. It, Mercy, is not the begetting of entity, but is, instead, Power, Justice, in restraint. Mercy begets a vacuum, void of Justice. Perfect Mercy aborts Perfect Justice. We are speaking of Law here, and not of Christ. The fruit of Mercy, and of Justice, inside of Law that is a void of *wholeness*, the non-entity of complete goodness. And whatever touches God must be found complete.


A forgiven Break is still a Broken Break, so to speak.


Well then what is wholeness? Well it is the perfected Man – Man in the Image of God – Imago Dei. Trinity’s (where Man/God is concerned) ontological landscape of Self / Other / Us.


Such carries us, necessarily, out of the OT’s geography of mere juxtaposition, which leaves Man right where he is – there in privation – and into the geography of amalgamation, of the Bride/Groom in concrete, literal, terms.


Enter Christ, love’s prescriptive for Moral Excellence:


Man in fragmentation, in privation, is simply the Pure-I, the Isolated-Self, wholly separated from Other, utterly void of that fully singular, that fully triune Self-Other-Us there in Genesis 3. Until John 3 actualization of Genesis 3’s Protoevangelium.


Love’s options:


All that is left of God for Man to taste is Power void of love, that is to say, Power void of change, void of amalgamation. We use the term “love” here in the sense of final causes, that of Trinity, that of the Imago Dei, that of a metaphysical singularity that is “Self / Other / Us”, not only in God but also of Man-In-God, God-In-Man.


What will Power do? What could Power do? What did Power do there in the OT?


1) Power could have, there, come near in utter approximation and, therein, Man would know nothing less than necessary annihilation. Anyone who understands the Christian truth predicates on the nature of evil will understand why that is (was) the case.


2) Power could have simply exited Man’s own loveless hell (love there is again used in the metaphysical sense of the immutable, of the amalgamated and factually singular Us) and forsaken Man in Man’s own love-less-ness, in Man’s own hell on Earth, removing all hope – while yet sustaining his (Man’s) very being.


Power did neither. Instead:


3) Power can do what Power did and follow Man into Man’s hell and, incognito, out of reach, hidden behind a shroud, behind a veil, atop a Mercy Seat, in proximity, void of intimacy, necessarily aggravate and hasten, by proximity, death, though, by void of intimacy, spare Man his bitter end, and such is articulated in what scripture calls “The Law of Moses”, and, “The Ministry of Death” and scripture tells us, plainly, that such could never change mere segregated juxtaposition into unity’s amalgamation. If we do not see the God who is love following Man into hell on Earth and redeeming Man to Himself in the OT it is only because we do not see this of Him in the NT, or, if we fail to see this of Him in the NT it is because we fail to see it of Him in the OT. The OT testifies of love’s motions – of Christ and that from A to Z. God, or, the immutable love of the Necessary Being, never changes, though, Man’s perception of Him does (necessarily) change.


Perfect mercy is good, as far as it goes, yet it aborts perfect justice. Perfect justice is good, as far as it goes, but it aborts perfect mercy. Man cannot find both in any perfect sense. And, unfortunately, that is exactly what is needed. Where do we find Mercy and Justice, not in segregated juxtaposition, but, instead, in unity’s amalgamation, in a metaphysical singularity?


Deuteronomy 28:63 carries us there: “And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.


The singularity that is the fullness of mercy in seamless amalgamation with the singularity that is the fullness of justice leaves, or begets, no vacuums, but, instead, abolishes all vacuums. We find in Deuteronomy 28:63 all of what love delights in (Full Blown Mercy / Full Blown Justice) racing to the epicenter of Man’s reality – all vectors seamlessly converging upon the Cross of love’s eternally Sacrificed Self Who – forever in Trinity – instantiates and fills reality to its bitter ends.


God is love – and – love delights in Perfect Justice, which is void of Mercy in and of itself, and this is amalgamated with another of love’s delights, that of Perfect Mercy, which is void of Justice in and of itself, and these Two Delights as a singularity we find only in the ontology of that fully singular, that fully triune landscape of Self-Other-Us wherein Christ is the full articulation of love’s eternally Sacrificed Self through and through every bit of actuality, from the Timeless Immaterial there within Trinity all the way to the bitter end of Time and Physicality.


Why the Cross inside of Time, inside of Physicality, why not just forgive?


Those who ask that simply do not allow reason to do her proper work, simply fail to see far enough into a proper metaphysics – nor far enough into love’s ontology – and seem to think (inexplicably) that “reality” can be something other than “reality itself” (which entails one whole “thing”). There is no such thing as “1.00089 realities” or “0.999999934 realities”. How maladroit and absurd such an attempt ends up being. Redeeming Worlds means something. Annihilating privations means something. The word “amalgamation” means something. And, too, the volitional contours of love within Trinity, within the Pure Self, the Pure Other, the Pure Us means something as all such land on the Great I AM there in God, in Trinity, in the immutable love of the Necessary Being. Man – the contingent Self – cannot (unlike God) in isolation know the fullness of love’s singular *us* – not in any coherent metaphysical sense. Christ – and Christ Alone – subsumes every rational claim upon reality – reason herself discovering in Him that which turns out to be necessary, that which fills reality to it bitter ends – literally. The inescapable semantics of incarnation transpose the Hope of Mankind as Trinity’s eternally Sacrificed Self, forever poured out in ceaseless reciprocity there in Trinity, the Other there in God forever filled – ad infinitum – void of First, void of Last – instantiate inside of Time and Physicality the annihilation of privation and births, by His Pouring, the ontology of God In Man, the ontology of Man in God.


Actuality is Perfectly-1. Such is what weddings are for, such is what weddings yield, such is what weddings do. And weddings are literal because reality, itself literal, is reality.


When you ask the Christian, "What does reality look like?" he will tell you, having allowed both reason and love to do their proper work, to look upon Christ.

A Ravi Zacharias addition to the premise of the inevitable rise of Christ:


Again from earlier it is a bit uncanny and enigmatically archetypical but the fact is that No-God, All-God, and YHWH are the three predicted vectors given Christianity’s metaphysical claims upon reality.


1. Pantheism
2. YHWH
3. Non-Theism


That unavoidable trio is also affirmed by Ravi Zacharias from a slightly different direction as the totality of vectors branch into that which does, or does not, in fact, exist:


1. God
2. God + Universe
3. Universe


Then, again, from there, the lens zoomed out, the inevitable (given the nature of Man's privation) "All-God / YHWH / No-God" in view, or, as Ravi Zacharias alludes to, the inevitable lines of truth predicates on the nature of that which is said to exist within the trio of “God / God + Universe / Universe” is well within view (lens zoomed out), and so we then zoom the lens in. Should the nature and fabric of Man find the sacred in his unavoidable encounter with the Divine inside of the shadows of the stuff of truth, inside of the shadows of the stuff of love, and so on, then we are forced to declare the oddity of No-God a simple mistake, an accident of neglect, an intellectual mishap, and shift our lens over a few degrees, and look upon All-God and YHWH. Once there, the inevitable rise of Christ begins to emerge within the available topography of Being and of Cosmos and of World and of Person and of the Adamic Man and of Evil and of Love. We can stop here, as it's enough (for now). Making our way forward from there is easy enough, and it becomes all too obvious that the challenge leaves out far, far too much, and hedges all its bets on far, far too little.

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