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November 05, 2015

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The conclusion of the challenge is that "It is a historical fluke that we pray to Jesus instead of John or Simon or Hezekiah." But that is obviously incorrect. Neither John, Simon, nor Hezekiah ever asked to be prayed to. You only pray to God, and only Jesus (out of all the messiah wannabes you can find in first century Judea) actually made the blasphemous claim to BE God.

The challenge only works if you take all the unique things about Jesus and brush them under the rug. You have to assume all the things that make him different from all the other people who claimed to be the messiah are myths, stories (that is, lies) added on by Jesus' followers later on. You have to assume all the stuff disciples taught about Jesus (his unique miracles: "no one ever opened the eyes of a man born blind", "who is this man that the wind and the waves obey him", the resurrection; his unique fulfillment of messianic prophecies; his unique teaching about the kingdom of God as something more than an ethnocentric Jewish political/military/religious empire), you have to assume the testimony of Christians for 2,000 years about the power and presence of Jesus transforming lives are like the wishful thinking of the people around Brian in the Monty Python movie who see this incredible, wise, miraculous leader they want to see in this guy who just wants people to get along and be nice to each other.

To restate the challenge: If we ignore all the things in the Gospels that make Jesus unique in all the world, if we write off two thousand years of the people whose lives were transformed by Jesus, he really wasn't any different from all the other Jewish claimants to the "messiah" title running around the Judean desert at the time. So it's kinds weird that people think there's anything special about him.

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