Saturday, 5 May 2018

Jesus' Deity in the Gospel according to Mark

A common claim made by skeptics is that Mark was the first of the four Gospels to be written. The other longer Gospels that followed took what Mark wrote and added extra details, sometimes expanding on the legend. By the time John wrote his Gospel, Jesus had gone from a wise teacher as portrayed in Mark, to being God himself.

There are many problems with this theory. First that the church fathers are unanimous in saying that Matthew wrote first. Second that Mark has some details that the other Gospels don't have, so the idea that they just expanded on what he had said makes less sense if they were taking important things out too. Third that the length and content of the Gospels has more relation to who their intended audiences were than the order they were written in. And fourth, which is the point of this article, that there was no legendary embellishment of who Jesus is from Mark to the later authors.

So here we will go through Mark's Gospel and draw out how it tells us about Jesus' deity loud and clear. To me, Mark's Gospel seems the best place of the four to start, as it is the shortest, and the other Gospels do cover some of the same ground, so when I come to cover those books I can leave out the passages with events already looked over here. You may like to have a Bible handy while going through this for reference, though the most relevant details will be included. I have skipped some sections, so there's every likelihood I haven't noticed something that is a subtle clue to Jesus' deity, but there is more than enough here to cover it without doubt.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Is there room for Objective Morality in an Atheistic Worldview?

Having recently been through a conversation with some atheists who insist that moral values are objective, but that God is not required to ground them, this article has been bumped to the top of the to-do list.
These atheists were convinced that objective moral values are just a fact of reality, and that the concepts of 'goodness' and 'sentient well-being' were identical. They seemed to think that either moral values are weaved into the fabric of space somehow, or that sentient beings just have the intrinsic value of being good, that is to say, sentient beings, i.e. humans, are valuable and good in themselves without any need for further explanation.

That to me is nonsense. The idea that humans are basically good, but get things wrong a lot of the time is common belief. History tells a different story. From gladiator games to the Stanford prison experiment, we've seen that apparently good people can be barbaric given the chance. That's not to say all people would devolve into savagery at any opportunity, but it very much undercuts the idea that humans at core are fundamentally good.
I tend to think it's more like the Native American parable: inside each of us there are two wolves fighting, one represents good, one represents evil. Which will win the battle? The one that we feed.

But atheists tend to go further. They will say that other things or behaviours are intrinsically good too. If you found a starving child, giving up your lunch and feeding it would be the good thing to do for its own sake. While I agree that in that case that would be the good thing to do, I don't think it can be claimed that the only details you need are a starving child and some food to offer. There are a number of questions that can be asked.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Weakness of the Worldview of Atheism

Atheists tend to describe atheism as the most reasonable and rational position to hold. But then again I'm sure most people believe that of whatever worldview they hold to, so I wouldn't hold that against them.

The short explanation is that they believe science is on their side and the evidence for theism is wanting. I will here clarify that by 'atheist' and 'atheism' I refer to the views that "God does not exist" or "God probably does not exist".
This doesn't speak to the agnostic non-theist who is on the fence.

But consider this worldview. Does it stand up? Can it stand up? Maybe. But it is on the thinnest of ice.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Does Galatians 2 refer to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 or Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11?

One thing about the Bible that reminds us of God's glory and his perfect plan, is also something that can frustrate those of us who love details and trivia. The Bible is God's story. It only tells us about God and things that are relevant to him. So when we come to read a passage and we can't figure out what historical event it is referring to, we shouldn't take that as some kind of inaccuracy in the book, but a personal nudge that tells us we should probably be focusing more on the message that is being given to us.

Having said that... despite the overall unimportance of the detail of which visit to Jerusalem is described in 'Galatians 2'... figuring out details like this can be of use to us apologetically. In this case, figuring out which visit Paul writes about in Galatians can help us to put a date on when the letter was written, which in turn can give us confidence in how early the things he says were being taught in the Christian church, and go to disproving notions that the message changed over time. So it is with that in mind that I find this debate to have some value.

On to it then... Does Galatians 2 refer to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 or Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11?

Sunday, 28 January 2018

14 Reasons Why Jehovah's Witnesses Should Believe In The Divinity of Jesus

Probably the biggest difference in doctrine between Jehovah's Witnesses and the bulk of the rest of Christendom is the belief in who Jesus is.

While most Christians believe that Jesus is God himself incarnate in human flesh, JWs believe that he was the archangel Michael, the first created being, and a lesser god.

There are a number of doctrinal differences between JWs and other denominations but this topic is specifically about who God is, who Jesus is, and our salvation. It is a core issue. So while other doctrinal details are what separate the denominations within Christianity, this topic is what makes most Christians think that JWs are not Christians at all.

To some it may seem pointless to debate details, but this topic is no mere detail. Look at it this way. If we say that Jesus is not God, but he is, then we are not giving him the respect he deserves. On the other hand, if we say Jesus is God, but he is not, then we are not giving God his due respect because we have elevated someone else to be equal with him.

This article will look at the reasons why Jehovah's Witnesses and all Christians should believe in the divinity of Jesus. It will use the NWT version of the Bible to make the points and will be a little more focused than the previous article: What-does-Bible-really-teach-about-Trinity?

Saturday, 6 January 2018

What was the Date of Jesus' Resurrection?

John the Apostle helps to give us a very precise date for Jesus' crucifixion. If we follow a few historical and Biblical clues, we can find the answer!

In 'John 2:20' the Jews tell Jesus during his first year of ministry that the temple has been under construction for 46 years.
The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” -- John 2:20
The historian Josephus in his Antiquities tells us that construction began in the 18th year of Herod the Great, 734–735AUC.  (AUC = "ab urbe condita" a Latin phrase meaning "from the founding of the City" (Rome), 0AUC = 753 BC).
And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work; that is to build of himself the temple of God -- Josephus ANT XV.11.1
So the year construction began is 734 more than 0 in AUC, or 734 less than 753BC which counts in the other direction.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Generations in Genesis

I have put together this handy chart which allows us to have an interesting glance at the lifespans of the Biblical family tree from Adam to Joseph. There are a few generations skipped, otherwise the chart would be almost double the size.