The following correspondence took place between myself and a Christian during October 2000, when the Christian wrote and began by saying that he did not believe the Bible was infallible as God has used imperfect human beings throughout history to achieve his will and while the Bible was 'inspired', it included flaws.
The correspondence, for the greater part, dealt with the evidence, or rather the lack of evidence for the historical Jesus. I found that in this case, several questions were not answered, e.g., when asking to which 'Jewish sanhedrin' records he was referring, no response was given. I gained the impression that the writer had read (in Christian literature) of a supposed 'numerous writings which make reference to Jesus' existence' and accepted this without making further enquiry, e.g., no one who had made a serious enquiry would cite the Talmud as evidence in view of the chronological confusion within it. The writer also says that Tacitus' Annals served 'as Roman records for the execution'. As this is not so, I asked on what he based this statement but again, there was no response. In sum, one gains the impreassion that Christians use a 'blunderbuss approach'; on being asked to elaborate upon something said (which was no doubt read in some Christian literature), instead of any reply, other 'defences' (which are as weak as what was said earlier and queried) are then thrown out. And so it goes on.
What does become clear, so far, is that very few Christians bother to read, or familiarize themselves with material which offers a different perspective to the one that they hold.
But how do you account for the lack of evidence or Jesus' historicity (covered in my website)?
>Well, there is evidence to support that Jesus DID
>exist as well. Your website only has a different
>interpretation of the evidence that many
>have thoroughly studied and come to alternate
>conclusions. Flavius Josephus (1st century, who was
>not a Christian) mentions him twice in *Jewish Antiquities*,
>one of his historical works, as you have pointed out in
>your website. Despite the appearance that the
>'phrase Jesus is the Christ' may be a later insertion into
>Josphus' work, the very fact Josephus wrote at all about
>Christ indicates that he most likely was real.
No, both texts are/include interpolations, i.e., the longer one is, which then makes the short one an interpolation also as it would make no sense on its own. On what evidence do you base your belief that the longer text was written by Josephus, albeit without 'the Christ' reference?
NB. G.A. Wells' books covers this in considerable detail.
>Again as you mentioned, Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman
>Senator in the 1st century, verifies the death of
>Christ in his work Annals, serving as Roman records
>for the execution.
(i)This is answered on page3.htm on my website.
(ii)A statement in the following century is hardly contemporary evidence! In fact if you read it, he is simply repeating what Christians had told him of their beliefs.
(iii)It was not 'a record of Roman executions' - on what do you base this statement?
>Jewish Sanhedrin records of the time also mention
Jewish records date Yeshu BenPandira (or different) anytime between 200 BCE and 200 CE. To what reference are you alluding here? Also these were not written in early 1st cent. Palestine.
>If we throw all this out, we have to throw out evidence
>of any number of things accepted historically from other
>sources of the same level and quality of evidence.
Not at all. I repeat, what is your evidence for Jesus' historical existence? - one brief text in Josephus and another brief reference in the following century? What other beliefs have been based - and verified - on such evidence?
>Well, many of the instances you mentioned on your
>site were often taken well
>outside their written context. It is something that
>many people do in using
>the Bible to make their point--including fundys.
The Bible reports God instructing the wholesale slaughter of innocent people - how is this taken 'out of context'???
>Well, in deciding the canon, previous church fathers
>did have to leave out
>certain texts (the apocrypha, pseudopigrapha).
>Unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians that do
>ignore texts that are
>inconvenient. But in only pointing out the texts
>that show the wrath of God
>on your website, you have done the same thing.
>There are plethora of texts
>in the Bible thatr reflect positive values, and that
>alone is good reason to at least consider Christ.
My website doesn't only make weight of the wrath of God texts, but the overall inconsistency. The Bible does teach good things, but these are found in the scriptures of other religions/philosophies, so this surely invalidates any Christian claim to be 'the only way' to God.
>I find that so much of your
>reactions to ancient sources are speculative.
In view of the material available and the fact that variations exist which demonstrate that changes have been made, speculation is the only choice we have. Presumably you are not saying that you know for certain what the answers are?
>You point out that sections (the italicized ones) of
>Josephus' works are disputed as being legitimate.
>Yet you would go so far as to say that the whole passage is
>interpolated. This is, without question, pure speculation.
So, what is the actual basis of your argument that the text, with or without the italicized sections was originally there? It is no good throwing insults at people whose opinions you do not like. If you wish to advance a viewpoint, then supply the necessary evidence. You have not offered one piece of *evidence* in anything that you have written, only what you believe or what you want to be the case.
In fact, as is clearly stated at the beginning of the page, the material was from different sources, one of which suggested the italicized parts (only) were interpolated. As the material was written by different people, different opinions will (therefore) arise.
In my own case, I believe that common sense reasoning, based on what evidence is available (detailed in the articles and page3.htm indicates that the whole passage is an interpolation. However, to ensure that more than one opinion was reflected, different material was included.
>I would concur that the italicized sections could
>be interpolated, but to say that the whole section is not
>original due to its position in the whole text is at best
>If you remove the italicized parts, the mention of Christ
>is still there, validating His existence.
But in saying that the non-italicized text was there in the original is *also* speculation as we simply do not know. Furthermore, you offer no evidence for this conjecture/ speculation. You are saying this because you want to believe this is so. As a comparison between Antiquities and The Jewish War show interpolations were made by Christians to include references to Christ, it is surely hardly unreasonable to enquire about the extent of this dishonesty?
>Do you really think that *every one* of these examples of
>ancient references to Jesus is a forgery?
This is a rather foolish comment. Firstly you say *every one*, as if we are speaking of hundreds or even dozens; in reality we are only considering two texts, e.g., Josephus. The others texts in which Christ is mentioned are second century and are not contemporaneous and on discussing the nature of Christianity merely repeats what is known of Christian belief. For example, with regard to a suggestion that Pliny's reference to Christ in his letter to the emperor Trajan is 'proof' of Christ's existence.
(i)Pliny is obviously repeating what he knows of Christian belief:
'I have asked them whether they were Christian...they maintained...that it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god' (iii,vii) (Questioning Christians also occurs in viii).
What could be clearer than that? Why are you unable to see this?
(ii)As the letter is usually dated ca. 112 CE, it is not contemporaneous (and therefore worthless for evidential value).
The fact that such writings have to be cited by Christians in an attempt to show there was an acceptance of Christ's historical existence only demonstrates the extraordinary lengths needed to try to achieve this. In sum, if Christ existed when the Gospels say, why is there this amazing silence?
>What you are proposing is a conspiracy theory; that
>someone has either adjusted everything at some point
Again, you are being silly now. There is no suggestion of a 'conspiracy theory'; it is simply that when Christian copyists found texts with which they took issue, they amended them, as was done in Biblical texts, e.g., Matthew 24:36. In this case it was not an addition but a removal ('Nor the Son', affecting the Son's onmiscience).
There were of course interpolations made in the N.T text by Christian copyists as we can see by the textual variations, and therefore no Christian can claim the accusation of early Christian interpolation is unreasonable as evidence of this is plain to see by those variations.
I presume you are not arguing that no amendments were made by 1st-2nd cent. Christian copyists? If you are, how do you account for the variations which exist in New Testament texts (many of which all 'coincidentally' are doctrine- related). Take for example P45, P46, P47, P66, P72 and P75: a comparison of these shows:-
P45: Additions-28: Omissions-63
P46: Additions-55: Omissions-167
P47: Additions-5: Omissions-18
P66: Additions-14: Omissions-19
P72: Additions-16: Omissions-29
P75: Additions-12: Omissions-41
Of non-Biblical material, as stated on page8.htm of the website, Josephus' writings were copied by Christians and the silence regarding Jesus would have been startling for them and some would have seen the need to remedy this.
It may have even been a sidenote later incorporated into the main text as happened with 1 John 5:7.
>Again, this is all of speculative nature. You are heavily
>influenced by Wells, but he is certainly controversial in
>and of himself.
I am not influenced by him and certainly do not agree with everything that he says; I simply find that his explanations satisfy most of the questions which arise. Indeed he is controversial but so were many Christian apologists, so why criticize him for this? As you say 'You are heavily influenced by Wells', this means you are familiar with his ideas - what is your opinion of the shift in the preface of his 'The Jesus Myth'? I presume you have read at least some of his works to be able to make the above comment?
>Besides that, this only pertains to Christ. Are you also
>to say that the whole of the Old Testament (Semitic literature)
>is also forgery? If you question Josephus, the Talmud,
>and others on the existence of Christ, what do you do with
>references to Moses, Joshua, David, and many other figures in
>Jewish thought? They were influential as well, especially
>Moses. Are you also suggesting that all references to
>YHWH in Jewish literature were interpolated into an original
Once again you are being rather silly. I am not questioning the historicity of O.T figures as they are not relevant to the discussion.
Your above comment suggests that you have not actually grasped (or want to grasp) the actual point of the discussion. The point being made is that early N.T writings (e.g. Paul) consistently fail to locate Christ in a chronological setting and/or give expected historical information about him, e.g., when/where he lived. When this does occur it is only towards the close of the first century in the later writings (e.g. Gospels, Pastorals). However, reference to his historic existence as a fact by non-Christians is wholly absent at this time.
In the case of contemporary non-Biblical material, as we have seen, there appear to be no genuine confirmations of Christ's historical existence in the first cent. and even in the second, the writers are only repeating what they have heard of Christian belief.
One then has to ask why such an important figure, who fed thousands with handfuls of food, raised the dead, healed countless incurables, had thousands following him wherever he went, and caused near-revolt (Matt 27:24), went completely unnoticed other than in biased religious documents? Why do for example, Philo and Justus of Tiberius (writing 80 CE) not make any mention of him?
Is it not rather coincidental that it is only Josephus who mentions him (rather clumsily), and Josephus' works were copied by Christians?
You seem to be horrified at the very idea of interpolation by Christians and yet you have all the evidence you need, e.g. some versions of The Jewish War (the Slavonic/Old Russian I believe) have many references about Jesus added. Its not as if Christians did not amend texts when it suited them.
(i)Even Goldstein who accepts that the (rather few) early texts that refer to Jesus are genuine admits 'they do not conclusively establish that he [Jesus] existed at all'. (M. Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition).
(ii)A rare 5th/6th cent. table of Antiquities also fails to mention the longer Josephus passage.
>I am aware that your website deals with the Bible in a
>wholistic way too.
>Perhaps the greatest defense of the existence and
>ressurection of Christ would be that of motive. In a
>political climate of persecution, an overbearing Roman
>government, the fact that Christians were killed
>(even early on),
>and the fact that there were far more reasons NOT to be a
>Christian than be one (by worldly standards, anyway), the
>only reason one would likely do so in the first century
>would be by personal experience of Christ.
As you are saying a willingness to suffer/die reflects a personal experience of Christ? If so this must mean that all people who have accepted hardship for their beliefs, e.g., Jehovah Witnesses in Malawi and China, Communists in Nazi Germany, athiests and freethinkers in the middle ages, and Mormons in 1850s America, had a 'personal experience of Christ'?
If you are saying that a willingness to suffer for a belief means that its origin must be Christ, how do you account for such groups? Incidentally, the number of Christians said to have been martyred is an exaggeration. There is no incontrovertible/unbiased evidence to suggest that the number of Christians who were martyred was as is described by late 2nd cent. Christian writers. Moreover, many Christians actually sought martyrdom, e.g., Origen. If one studies the 16th chapter of Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the following comments are made:(i)'The total disregard of truth and probability in the representation of these primitive martyrdoms was occasioned by a very natural mistake. The ecclesiastical writers of the fourth or fifth centuries ascribed to the magistrates of Rome the same degree of implacable and unrelenting zeal which filled their own breasts against the heretics or the idolaters of their own times....Hopefully the above shows that the argument that 'Christianity must be true because so many people were willing to die for their belief' is wholly invalid.
(ii)But it is certain, and we may appeal to the grateful confessions of the first Christians, that the greatest part of those magistrates who exercised in the provinces the authority of the emperor or of the senate, and to whose hands alone the jurisdiction of life and death was intrusted, behaved like men of polished manners and liberal education, who respected the rules of justice, and who were conversant with the precepts of philosophy. They frequently declined the odious task of persecution, dismissed the charge with contempt, or suggested to the accused Christian some legal evasion by which he might elude the severity of the laws.
(iii)Whenever they were invested with a discretionary power, they used it much less for the oppression than for the relief and benefit of the afflicted church. They were far from condemning all the Christians who were accused before their tribunal, and very far from punishing with death all those who were convicted of an obstinate adherence to the new superstition...
(iv)The learned [Christian] Origen, who, from his experience as well as readings, was intimately acquainted with the history of the Christians, declares, in the most express terms, that the number of martyrs was very inconsiderable. But the general assertion of Origen may be explained and confirmed by the particular testimony of his friend Dionysius, who, in the immense city of Alexandria, and under the rigorous persecution of Decius, reckons only ten men and seven women who suffered for the profession of the Christian name......
(v)It is not easy to extract any distinct ideas from the vague though eloquent declamations of the Fathers, or to ascertain the degree of immortal glory and happiness which they confidently promised to those who were so fortunate as to shed their blood in the cause of religion. They inculcated with becoming diligence that the fire of martyrdom supplied every defect and expiated every sin; that, while the souls of ordinary Christians were obliged to pass through a slow and painful purification, the triumphant sufferers entered into the immediate fruition of eternal bliss, where, in the society of the patriarchs, the apostles, and the prophets, they reigned with Christ, and acted as his assessors in the universal judgment of mankind. The assurance of a lasting reputation upon earth, a motive so congenial to the vanity of human nature, often served to animate the courage of the martyrs...
(vi)Two circumstances, however, have been unwarily mentioned, which insinuate that the general treatment of the Christians who had been apprehended by the officers of justice was less intolerable than it is usually imagined to have been.
1. The confessors who were condemned to work in the mines were permitted by the humanity or the negligence of their keepers to build chapels, and freely to profess their religion in the midst of those dreary habitations.
2. The bishops were obliged to check and to censure the forward zeal of the Christians, who voluntarily threw themselves into the hands of the magistrates. Some of these were persons oppressed by poverty and debts, who blindly sought to terminate a miserable existence by a glorious death. Others were allured by the hope that a short confinement would expiate the sins of a whole life; and others again were actuated by the less honourable motive of deriving a plentiful subsistence, and perhaps a considerable profit, from the alms which the charity of the faithful bestowed on the prisoners...
(vii)After the church had triumphed over all her enemies, the interest as well as vanity of the captives prompted them to magnify the merit of their respective suffering. A convenient distance of time or place gave an ample scope to the progress of fiction....
(viii)Number of martyrs: The vague descriptions of exile and imprisonment, of pain and torture, are so easily exaggerated or softened by the pencil of an artful orator...From the history of Eusebius it may however be collected that only nine bishops were punished with death; and we are assured, by his particular enumeration of the martyrs of Palestine, that no more than ninety-two Christians were entitled to that honourable appellation...According to the distribution of Roman provinces, Palestine may be considered as the sixteenth part of the Eastern empire: and since there were some governors who, from a real or affected clemency, had preserved theirs hands unstained with the blood of the faithful, it is reasonable to believe that the Country which had given birth to Christianity produced at least the sixteenth part of the martyrs who suffered death within the dominions of Galerius and Maximin; the whole might consequently amount to about fifteen hundred, a number which, if it is equally divided between the ten years of the persecution, will allow an annual consumption of one hundred and fifty martyrs. Allotting the same proportion to the provinces of Italy, Africa, and perhaps Spain, where, at the end of two or three years, the rigour of the penal laws was either suspended or abolished, the multitude of Christians in the Roman empire, on whom a capital punishment was inflicted by a judicial sentence, will be reduced to somewhat less than two thousand persons...
(ix)We shall conclude this chapter by a melancholy truth which obtrudes itself on the reluctant mind; that, even admitting, without hesitation or inquiry, all that history has recorded, or devotion has feigned, on the subject of martyrdoms, it must still be acknowledged that the Christians, in the course of their intestine dissensions, have inflicted far greater severities on each other than they had experienced from the zeal of infidels...The church of Rome defended by violence the empire which she had acquired by fraud; a system of peace and benevolence was soon disgraced by the proscriptions, wars, massacres, and the institution of the holy office. And as the reformers were animated by the love of civil as well as of religious freedom, the Catholic princes connected their own interest with that of the clergy, and enforced by fire and the sword the terrors of spiritual censures. In the Netherlands alone more than one hundred thousand of the subjects of Charles V. are said to have suffered by the hand of the executioner... the number of Protestants who were executed in a single province and a single reign far exceeded that of the primitive martyrs in the space of three centuries and of the Roman empire...'
>There are 3 logical likely responses to Christ's
>death by the disciples:
>1. The disciples disband.
>2. The disciples go follow another religious or political
>or 3. The disciples go completely underground.
Or as is suggested in my website, that a group of messianists had visions of a saviour figure who had lived sometime in the past and was about to return to usher in the eschaton. I suggest you read this.
For the above you are relying upon New. Test documents and yet even you have admitted in a preious email, they are not infallible.
>The response was apparently none of these. SOMETHING
>happened to cause these men to "go evangelistic" and
>begin work as the church.
Indeed, but as stated above, others have had 'something happen' to them which has prompted them to give up their secular lives for the ensuing belief - but without being Christian.
>If I may predict your response, you might say that the
>events of the Book of Acts are made up too; that the
>disciples may also have been a fabrication.
>(It is logical you would since that would be the easiest
>way to deal with logical responses of the disciples. The
>easiest way to deal with any opposing premise argumentatively
>is to deny the premise altogether)
No, not at all. Christian theologians have suggested there is a fictional basis (or bias) to Acts, e.g., Prof. E. Haenchen. I wonder what commentatories you have actually read on Acts.
It is not a matter of simply denying what is undesirable, but seeking sufficient evidence. In the case of Christ, the early documents say little about his supposed earthly life and by the time he is provided with a historical setting, we have four different accounts which do not agree with each other (e.g., Christ's birth and the date of Christ's death, the resurrection appearances, the ministry chronology, etc). I do not consider it unreasonable to view the 'evidence' for Jesus to be insufficient but also strongly indicating a fictional basis, particularly in view of the religious cauldron and mythological world in which it appeared. The fact is that Christians do not believe because of any evidence but because they want to, or rather, need to.
(i)By the time the later writings appear, it is likely that the messages imparted by Christian prophets 'speaking in the name of the risen Lord' in Paul's time were collected and fed back into Jesus' time and placed in his mouth during his earthly ministry. Consider how the Didache instructs that wandering prophets are to be 'received as the Lord' and their behaviour should reflect something of his character (xi).
Paul's teachings are not from what he knew of the historical earthly Jesus, but from revelations, e.g., 1 Cor 7:29, 11:23, Gal 2:2. How do we know all other Christians did not fall in the same category? Quite simply, we do not.
(ii)Of the silence of the early writings concerning Jesus' life, the conservative Catholic theologian Xavier Leon-Dufour says:-
'Why do these epistles...pay so little attention to the events in the public life of our Lord, and why do they not frequently cite his actual words ?... The difficulty becomes even more acute if we compare the teachings of the New Testament theologians with the message in the gospel. (The Gospels and the Jesus of History, p.53f).
>However, there obviously had to have been an early group
>of Christians somewhere, as we have other references to
>them very early on. It would still be unlikely that ANY
>group of Christians would give up their livlihood,
>families (possibly), reputation, and even their own lives
>unless they experienced something very life-changing.
>As far-reaching and overpowering as the Roman government
>and climate was, any idea that a group would fabricate such
>an elaborate and in-depth religious idea (that was quite
>revolutionary I might add) for alterior motives, just does
>not make any sense. They would have known that their
>obvious efforts to publiclyevangelize would bring
>persecution on them.
We simply return to what has been said above, i.e., Communists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Moonies, and countless other groups have done exactly the same at the time when they were in their infancy.
In contrast Christians simply now accept the doctrines, teachings, etc, which suit them, i.e., customize them.
With regard to your note that archeology supports the N.T, I would point out that archeology conflicts with some Old Testament texts, e.g., the stories of Jericho, Ai, Gibeon in Joshua 1-9 (Israelite and Judaean History, ed. J. J. Hayes and J Maxwell Miller, p.260).
I now find myself asking much the same questions that I did with previous writers, i.e.,
Why do so many Christians fail to comply with Biblical statements? For example, Christ is said to have raised the dead, walked on water, cured all manner of illnesses, and in John 14:12, he is reported to have said:-'He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do...'. Consequently, Christians should be achieving not only all that Christ is said to have done, but even more than this. And yet, this is not so. Why not?
Christ is reported to have told his disciples that the follower must 'take up his cross and follow me' (Matt 10:38, 16;24) and lose his life for Christ's sake (Matt 10:39, 16:25). How many Christians do this? Do you? Luke 14:26 has Christ saying that: 'if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children...he cannot be my disciple' (NB. The Greek word rendered 'hate' here means 'to hate, usually implying ill-will in words and conduct or a persecuting spirit'. Bullinger). Do you hate your parents, spouse and/or children?
In Matt 19:24 Christ is reported as warning: 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God'. Despite puerile attempts to give this a 'symbolic' or 'allegorical' meaning, the statement is absolutely clear: the 'rich' cannot enter heaven (Luke 16:19-23 emphasises this point.
Note how the faith or lack of faith of either man is not even mentioned: all we are told is that the rich man went to hell and the poor man/beggar to paradise). 'Rich' in first century Palestine would normally be understood as those who had wealth which far exceeded their day-to-day needs. However, on looking at the lifestyle of most Christians in the West (particularly fundamentalists), such people certainly satisfy the term 'rich' by owning their own home (or homes), the size of which far exceeds their actual need, many owning a car, or several cars, and having a plethora of material goods. The vast majority also have savings, investment portfolios, pension schemes, and so on (Ironically, such people are usually the first to proclaim 'moral' judgements on others).
Furthermore, this is also in stark contrast to Acts 2:44-45 which reports that believers: 'had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need'. How many Christians do this? Do you? In Matt 5:42, Jesus is reported to have instructed: 'Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you'. How many Christians do this? Do you?
Surely it is only reasonable to expect Christians to be complying with scriptural instructions before they begin preaching to others?
As far as I know, every person who runs a website that challenges Christian belief receives emails from Christians, which after only a short time degenerate; firstly because the Christian is unable to grasp the substance of the discussion because of their limited reading; secondly, due to the frustration of not being able to substantiate the claims made, the Christian begins to make statements which are infantile; and thirdly they show an unwillingness to carefully and objectively consider the evidence. This is hardly surprising as a Christian needs his/her faith to make sense of the world and his/her own being.
Whether it 'makes sense' is not a relevant issue. In fact by virtue of what Christian belief is, some might consider it impossible to have a meaningful dialogue simply because the Christian will not concede anything that challenges his/her faith.
Possibly they choose to 'take on' the athiest in the hope that this will strengthen their faith, and on seeing that this is unsuccessful, have no option other than to resort to wild generalizations and extravagant claims. For example, in the above, you clearly consider Acts is a historical factual document whereas there is no evidence to support this and good reason, as some Christian academic commentators concede, to reject such a viewpoint.
If I cited the Upanishads or the Koran or Das Kapital to assert a point, I am sure that you would also want some evidence or sound reason for why these writings are authoritative.
In sum, there is really no point in continuing this discussion when you are not willing or able to consider the matter and the relevance of evidence.
Despite what I said at the conclusion, I received a reply which included the following:
>You feel that I have not considered your evidence, when in
>fact I have. The fact is, Christians, Jews, and members
>of most any religion do not base their belief on factual
>evidence ALONE, but on their own experience and faith.
>That may not seem very scientific to you, but the Bible
>was never a scientific endeavor, nor is Judaism, or
>Finally, you asked, after mentioning various things
>Jesus did, if I do them, and mentioned that you don't
>understand why Christians in general do not. We don't
>raise the dead, change water to wine, etc. because we
>are not Christ. In other words, He walked on water,
>not us. Just as Peter could not stay above water,
>we can't be God.
>Yes, we are to strive for his principles (the
>"perfection", Paul talks about). No, I do NOT do all
>that Jesus commanded. It is very common for non-religious
>people to use the hypocrisy of others to try to support
>their ideas. Its funny how Christians are expected
>by non-religious people to be perfect, when they
>themselves cannot live up to the claim either.
>Should you really hold even Christians to a standard
>if that standard is not yours as well? That too,
>is a form of hypocrisy.
The above clearly supports what I have already said. With regard to (1), the writer appears to be unaware of the meaning of 'evidence' and what is required by this, and the fact that one would reasonably expect to see at least some evidence for what is believed: in this case, Jesus' historical existence. The point that I also made was that religious transformations are found in most religions and therefore invalidate the Christian view that being 'born again' 'proves' the validity of their faith and experience, but this was left unanswered.
With regard to (2), the writer has chosen to overlook that I quoted Jesus' alleged words in which he says his followers will not only perform the same miracles that he had done, but even greater ones. While the writer complains 'We don't raise the dead, change water to wine, etc. because we are not Christ', this does not answer the point made. If he was familiar with the Bible and had bothered to read what I had quoted (John 14:12), he would have realized that Jesus is in fact reported to have said that his followers will be able to do precisely these things - and much more.
In respect of (3), supporting my contention that Christians customize their faith, the writer admits 'No, I do NOT do all that Jesus commanded' without explaining why this is. He continues by saying: 'Its funny how Christians are expected by non-religious people to be perfect, when they themselves cannot live up to the claim either'.
In fact Christians are taught to 'be perfect' (Matthew 5:48), so it is not unreasonable to question why they are not; and with regard to the puerile comment concerning unbelievers, I am unaware of any atheist claiming to be perfect in which case the obligation does not arise (and of course the writer again fails to substantiate this comment). If Christians claim to be of a certain nature or mode of being it is unclear why Christians should then resent the failure to achieve this being pointed out to them. To answer this challenge by simply saying that others (who in fact do not even claim to be perfect), are not perfect either is obviously absurd. Again it becomes obvious that when failings are pointed out, the best that Christians can do is to say that others do likewise, ignoring the fact that much of the New Testament says that Christians should be unlike non-believers and those 'of the world' (Romans 12:2, James 1:27).
In sum, because some wish to call themselves Christians, but also fully participate in the world and enjoy its material benefits, we reach the so very obvious contradiction in Christian living which consistently conflicts with the Biblical instructions which they claim to follow, and/or apply to them.
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