Issue No. 81

Sept. 1989

COMMENTARY

PETER VERSUS THE OT (Part One of a Two-Part Series)--Nearly all of the NT verses in which Peter contradicted Jesus, Paul and himself were exposed in the commentary of Issue #44. This month's commentary and that to follow will reveal nearly all of the conflicts between the sayings of Peter and OT verses. What follows are the most prominent examples. (1) ACTS 10:34 ("Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, 'Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons'"). In effect, Peter said God does not play favorites. But, evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. God does have his chosen: DEUT. 14:2 ("For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the face of the earth"), DEUT. 7:6 ("...the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth"), DEUT. 7:14 ("Thou shalt be blessed above all people...."), 1 CHRON. 17:22 ("For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God"), 1 SAM. 12:22 ("For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people"), ISA. 51:16 ("...and say unto Zion, Thou art my people"), EX. 2:25 ("And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them"), EX. 11:7 ("...the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel"), AMOS 3:2 ("You only have I known of all the families of the earth...."), GEN. 4:4-5 ("And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect"), ISA. 65:9 ("And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains; and mine elect shall inherit it...."), and PSALM 138:6 ("Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off"). Clearly, the biblical God plays favorites. (2) 2 PETER 3:10-11 ("...the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved....") versus ECCLE. 1:4 ("One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever"), PSALM 104:5 ("Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever"), and DEUT. 4:40 ("...that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever"). (3) 1 PETER 3:18 ("For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that it might bring us to God....") versus DEUT. 24:16 ("The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin"). If God decreed that every man should be put to death for his own sins, then why would he accept the sacrifice of Jesus for the acts of others? (4) ACTS 1:24 ("And they [which includes Peter--Ed.] prayed, and said, 'Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen....") versus DEUT. 8:2 ("And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no"), DEUT. 13:3 ("Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul"), GEN. 18:21 ("I [God--Ed.] will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know") and GEN. 22:12. Although Peter claims God knows the hearts of all, some OT verses show he does not. (5) In ACTS 3:21 Peter said, "...which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began"; yet, prophets did not exist when the world began, even in the Book of Genesis. (6) JER. 51:26 ("...thou [Babylon--Ed.] shalt be a desolate for ever, saith the Lord"), JER. 51:62 ("...that none shall remain in it [Babylon--Ed.], neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever"), JER. 51:29 ("...for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant"), JER. 51:64 ("...Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her...."), and JER. 51:37 versus 1 PETER 5:13 ("The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you...."). Jeremiah repeatedly said Babylon was to be destroyed forever and never reinhabited; yet, Peter said there was a church and people at Babylon. (7) 1 PETER 1:25 ("But the word of the Lord endureth for ever") versus JONAH 3:10 ("When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it") and NUM. 14:30-34. Peter claims God's word endures forever; yet, God did not treat some people as he said he would. (8) 1 PETER 2:22 ("Who [Jesus--Ed.] did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth....") versus numerous false, misleading, and erroneous statements by Jesus that were discussed in the commentaries of Issues #24, #25, #27 and #28. (9) ACTS 2:22 ("Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know....") versus EX. 7:11-12 ("Then Pharaoh called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents....") and EX. 8:7 ("And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt"). If the ability to do miracles proves one is approved of God as Peter alleged, then the Pharaoh's magicians must be approved of God also. (10) 2 PETER 2:4 ("For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment") versus JOB 1:6-7 ("Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it"). Satan was one of the angels that sinned and was among those cast down into hell into the chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment; yet, Job states he presented himself before God after walking back and forth over the earth. If he was to be kept restrained in the chains of darkness until the judgment, how could he have been walking back and forth on earth? (11) In ACTS 3:22 Peter made the following statement: "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me...." Jesus was supposedly the prophet that was "like unto Moses." Yet, if Jesus was really like unto Moses, then he could not have been God incarnate, since Moses was not God incarnate nor did he ever claim to be such. Moreover, Jesus could not have been a prophet since he failed to meet the requirements outlined in DEUT. 18:22 ("When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptously...."). One is not a prophet if what he predicts fails to materialize and since much of what Jesus prophesied failed to come to pass (e.g., See Issue #28), he could not have been a true prophet. (12) 2 PETER 3:9 ("The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance") versus PROV. 16:4 NASB ("The Lord has made everything for its own purpose. Even the wicked for the day of evil"). Peter says the Lord wants all to come to repentance. Yet, he intentionally created wicked people. Why create something that is wicked if you want everything to come to repentance in order to be saved? Why create a problem you seek to abolish? (13) And 2 PETER 2:15 ("...and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor....") versus NUM. 22:5 ("He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor...."). Unless the "son of Bosor" and the "son of Beor" are identical, a contradiction exists.

PRO-INTELLECTUALISM--Although the Bible is essentially anti-intellectual as was shown by many verses cited in last month's issue, oddly enough, a lesser but distinct element of pro-intellectualism is evident in a few biblical comments. The Bible occasionally reverses itself by urging believers to engage in dialogue and debate with the opposition. I've found these verses to be useful when biblicists have refused to engage in a biblical exchange because of the anti-intellectual philosophy propounded by "God's Word." Because of those verses cited in last month's ANTI-INTELLECTUAL commentary, some believers avoid all contact or ideological interaction with freethought advocates. That's unfortunate because closed and indoctrinated minds are among those most difficult to penetrate. You can't influence someone who flatly rejects openness to any antibiblical ideas and mistakenly assumes everything in your inventory is erroneous. People such as these are as hard to persuade as those who have fallen into a purely metaphysical ideology entirely divorced from reason, logic, and proof. The former believe the Bible in spite of reason and proof, not because of them. They are all but impossible to reach and are often found in the back rooms of psychiatric hospitals. As the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, "I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those over 35, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life." Or, as Sigmund Freud said, "Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis." The Bible supports Ingersoll's comments that, "When religion becomes scientific, it ceases to be religion and becomes science. Religion is not intellectual--it is emotional. It does not appeal to the reason. The founder of a religion has always said, 'Let him that hath ears to hear, hear!' No founder has said: 'Let him that hath brains to think, think!" (Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 8. p. 606) and "In the OT no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, or upon intellectual development--nothing except simple brute force" ("Some Mistakes of Moses," Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 2, p. 260). On pages 131-132 of Vol. 9 in The Life and Works of Thomas Paine Paine said, "As you can make no appeal to reason in support of an unreasonable religion, you then...bring yourselves off by telling people they must not believe in reason but in revelation." Voltaire said, "The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason" and Havelock Ellis was probably as blunt as anyone when he said, "The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum."

The opposite of reason is faith, a concept biblicists readily admit lies at the core of Christianity and about which many notable individuals have made some poignant comments. H. L. Mencken said it's "an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable." On page 244 in Science and Christian Tradition Thomas Huxley said, "...the profound psychological truth, that men constantly feel certain about things for which they strongly hope, but have no evidence, in the legal or logical sense of the word; he calls this feeling 'faith.'" Ben Franklin said that "the way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye to Reason" and one writer defined faith as "belief without evidence in what is told by a preacher without knowledge." Ambrose Bierce probably encapsulated the concept as well as anyone when he defined faith as "belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."

Be that as it may, there are some biblical verses which all freethought advocates should have at their disposal for those occasions when biblicists in general and Christians in particular refuse to discuss the Bible's dilemmas. Prime examples are ISAIAH 1:18 ("Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord"), 2 COR. 10:5 ("We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God...."), 2 TIM. 4:2 ("...preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching"), JAMES 3:17 ("But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason...."), ACTS 17:17 ("Therefore disputed Paul in the synagogue with the Jews and with the devout persons and in the market daily with them that met with him"), ACTS 19:9 ("...Paul departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school...."), and 2 TIM. 2:24-25 RSV ("And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but...correcting his opponents with gentleness"). In fact, I would even recommend memorizing JUDE 3 ("...ye should earnestly contend for the faith"), 1 PETER 3:15 ("Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you...."), and 1 THESS. 5:21 ("Prove all things; hold fast that which is good") for those instances in which biblicists, especially those of a more fundamentalist variety, seek to flee to more comfortable terrain.

Other relevant verses which also tend to foster dialogue and debate are ACTS 18:4 ("And Paul reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks"), ACTS 18:19 ("And Paul...entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews"), ACTS 17:2 ("And Paul, as was his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days, reasoned with them out of the scriptures...."), 1 TIM. 6:12 ("Fight the good fight of faith...."), TITUS 1:9 ("...a bishop must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it"), TITUS 1:13 ("...Therefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith...."), 2 TIM. 1:7 ("...for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control"), ECCLE. 7:25 RSV, ACTS 15:39, 1 COR. 4:13 RSV, COL. 4:6, 2 TIM. 4:5, TITUS 2:15 RSV, and ACTS 24:25.

And don't forget to quote PROV. 15:10 NIV ("...he who hates correction will die"), PROV. 12:1 ("Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid"), and PROV. 14:15 ("The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going") to those who don't like being told they have been victimized.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #322 from PD of Mesick, Michigan

A biblicist I know is using as proof for the Resurrection the claim that the writers of the Gospels suffered terrible deaths for not renouncing their message. If their story was a jointly concocted lie, surely one of them, at least, would have renounced it to save his life. Since they were separated by great distances from each other, the other disciples would never have known about any member's defection from the cause. Sounds persuasive, but I suspect a shell game!

What historical evidence do you know of that tells about the tortuous deaths of Jesus' disciples? For that matter, what reliable information is there about any part of the life of any disciple?

Editor's Response to Letter #322

Dear PD. Biblicists constantly allege that the willingness of the apostles and other prominent adherents of Jesus to die for the cause substantiates Christianity because who would die for something they knew was a lie. Two major flaws are immediately obvious in this attitude. First, where is the evidence that the apostles and other prominent disciples of Jesus died for the cause. A lot is said about the martyred deaths of Paul and Peter, for example, but no proof is provided. Certainly the Bible is silent in this regard. In fact, the only NT believers that could even be considered martyrs for the cause are Stephen and John the Baptist. The Bible says nothing about the deaths of Peter, Paul, Mark, John, Matthew, James, etc. From whence Christians derive this mythology one can only speculate. Secondly, millions of people have perished for what they erroneously believed was a just cause. Hitler's troops died believing God was on their side. The fact that people are willing to die for a cause has nothing to do with its validity. True, most people would probably not die for what they knew was a lie, but many would be willing to die for what they erroneously thought was true.

Several years ago while participating in a seminar sponsored by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, I challenged a group of members on this very point. They repeatedly referred to the martyrdom of Peter and Paul as if it was biblically-based. When pressed for chapter and verse, a silence, liberally sprinkled with consternation and disbelief, permeated the room. They couldn't imagine anyone challenging a belief so long accepted by them without question. Despite a period of argumentation, they were unable to provide textual support for their position.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #323 from Paul Keller of Grand Forks, North Dakota

Dear Dennis....I spoke to another "Bible as Literature" class on May 25. One of the questions asked (and there were many thanks to your leaflets) in a sarcastic manner was, "What do atheists have to look forward to? My reply was, "What do Christians have to look forward to?" Either they will be burnt alive forever or they will spend an eternity in the company of an infinite torturer who could turn on them at any time." No humane person would want either alternative, even if they were themselves never tortured. They would rather be dead. The fact that this is the only life there is makes it more precious, not less. All the more important is to be in control of your own life, rather than living imprisoned in a maze of illusion and misdirection called religion.....

Letter #324 from GN of Phoenix, Arizona

Gentlemen: A friend of mine sent me "Jesus Christ is the Answer? and "The Bible Is God's Word?" I found both pamphlets extremely interesting. I, too, have found many mistakes and immoral passages in the Bible. Do you have a complete work of more inconsistencies?....

The following are a few things that I discovered when doing Bible research. (1) Abraham was asked by God to murder his innocent son, Isaac. Those hearing such a "voice" today would not consider the "voice" to be coming from God but from the Devil and persons such as Abraham would be put in the mental ward, not held up as examples of religious piety.... (2) 1 Thess. 4:15 says "WE who are ALIVE, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep." "We" meaning Paul and his listeners, who were to remain ALIVE until the coming of Jesus. Paul is gone, his listeners are gone, and Jesus didn't arrive. (3) Christians say that God does not change. How can it be that Yahweh of the OT commanded "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," and yet Jesus negated this simple law of retribution with "but I say to you, turn the other cheek." How could Jesus contradict an earlier commandment of God?.... (4) Was it just for God to harden the heart of Pharoah so that he could punish the entire community of Egypt even down to the lowest slave girl? What ego-maniac god has to "prove his power" by the suffering of the innocent? (5) Where did Pharoah get the horses to pursue Israel when all the "livestock" was destroyed in one of the plagues?....

Letter #325 from DT of Queensland, Australia

Dear Dennis. Many thanks for sending me your June issue of Biblical Errancy. Sometime in the past I noticed advertisements for your periodical, but for one reason or another have never got around to writing to you. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your publication. As it is the only one of this kind in the States, I would be very interested to know how much involvement you have been able to attract from Bible believers and also from non-believers...

I was born into a very religious family who belonged to the Exclusive Brethren sect. You may be familiar with this sect; it is basically Christian, fundamentalist, Protestant, and very fanatical. In my late teens I separated from the sect and was ostracized by my family. After a year or two of flirting with Presbyterianism, I became an atheist--almost overnight. However, I have always retained an interest in the Bible and Bible criticism and have written a short book called "The Bible Examined and Found Wanting." I have also compiled a list of 1,000 contradictions in the Bible. If you are interested, I will send you a copy of it.... I am sending you a copy of my book "The Bible Examined and Found Wanting" with another article or two which you should find interesting.....Keep up the good work and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. I hope to hear from you again before too long.

Editor's Response to Letter #325

Dear DT. We appreciate your compliments. As far as our readership is concerned we, too, would like to know how many proponents and opponents of the Bible are subscribers to BE. But there is really no effective way to tell since our readers are on a wide spectrum encompassing everyone from avid defenders to bitter critics.

Although your booklet, "The Bible Examined and Found Wanting" had a few miscitations and some inadequacies, I found it to be better than most writings of that nature. Although BE focuses on more than just biblical contradictions, I'd be interested in having a copy of the 1,000 contradictions you mentioned. Keep up the good work.

Letter #326 from DW of RoSharon, Texas

Dear Dennis. I must apologize for the delay in writing to thank you for the "Sample Copy" of BE that deals with the alleged Flood. I shared it with some of the Christians I know and they could not come up with answers to the simple questions you asked....

Letter #327 from HM of Lubbock, Texas

Dear Dennis.... Your work and your level of scholarship are absolutely invaluable.... P.S. I know the nature of your work requires a pretty serious image, but I really hope you are able to occasionally sit back, blow the foam off a cold one, and really make fun of them! They make it so eeeeesay! It's so therapeutic!

Editor's Response to Letter #327

Dear HM. You are probably right. I probably should belt out some belly-shakers now and then with intermittent satire, but that's never been my style as you've probably noticed. Our subject is as serious as a heart attack for millions and I've never felt people will think I'm taking it seriously if I try to influence and persuade with humor.

Another problem with humor is that it's usually based on a clash of opposites which, technically speaking, are often exaggerated or inaccurate. Humor usually sacrifices precision for effect. I guess I'm saying I've always chosen to be right rather than popular and that's probably why I'm neither rich nor famous. Everything that's prospering appears to be pandering to the LCD (the Lowest Common Denominator). Is it any wonder television and radio can rightfully be described as a vast desert with an occasional oasis!!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Because of some wonderful assistance by several friends of BE, I spoke on a San Antonio radio station on July 11, 1989. I only mention this appearance because it was a particularly flagrant example of the kind of reception I sometimes receive on-the-air. First, besides the obvious time limitations on my presentation imposed by multiple advertisements, the host was particularly one-sided and obnoxious. He began with a question about our March issue in an obvious attempt to put me on the defensive and sought to dwell on the point until I said "uncle." I shouldn't have to remind the host of any call-in program that BE is not on trial; the Bible is. The Bible is being scrutinized, not BE. The Bible is claiming infallibility, not BE. The Bible is alleging divine inspiration; not BE. Secondly, the host seemed determined that I was not going to present my case with any degree of depth or breadth. In fact, I was rarely able to present more than a fact or two before he would either ask a question to throw me off, switch to another subject, engage a caller, or cut to a commercial. Thirdly, after I left the show I don't doubt that the remainder of the program, if it was open forum, was primarily devoted to a litany of callers teaming with the host to denounce me and everything I said, while fully cognizant of my inability to respond.

The main question in issues of this nature is whether radio talk show hosts want to know what is wrong with the Bible or merely engage a controversial speaker to hype their ratings on what would probably otherwise be a dull afternoon.

What should be done on a program of this kind is similar to that which occurs in a courtroom. Since the Bible is on trial, the prosecutor should be able to present his case without interruption for at least five to ten minutes. Then the defense attorneys can leap on anything said with fangs glaring. Unfortunately, as things now stand, many people are so incapable of hearing anything critical about the Bible that disorder often breaks out after a couple of initial comments and the program deteriorates from there.

Issue No. 82

Oct. 1989

COMMENTARY

PETER VERSUS THE OT (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)--Last month's commentary focused on the contradictions between the sayings of Peter and OT verses. This month's analysis will conclude that enumeration by listing instances in which Peter either misquoted or misinterpreted the OT. We'll begin with misquotations. (14) 1 PETER 2:6 ("Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be confounded") versus ISAIAH 28:16 ("...therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste"). Peter twisted Isaiah 28:16 in several respects: (a) Isaiah says, "he that believeth shall not make haste." It never uses the phrase "on him." (b) Isaiah says "make haste" not "be confounded." (c) Isaiah never implies the stone [which Christians think is Jesus] is "elect" or "precious." (d) And Isaiah never implies the stone is "chief" among many. (15) ACTS 1:20 ("For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein....") versus PSALM 69:25 ("Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents"). Psalm 69:25 says "their" habitation and "their" tents. At no time does it refer to one person or "his." The Psalm is actually an appeal by David to God for aid in David's struggle with his enemies. (16) ACTS 2:16-17 ("But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God....") versus JOEL 2:28 ("And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour...."). Joel says nothing about "the last days." (17) ACTS 1:20 ("For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his {Judas--Ed.} habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take") versus PSALM 109:8 ("Let his days be few; and let another take his office"). (a) Peter is quoting Psalm 109:8 which says nothing about a bishopric. Office and bishopric are not necessarily the same. (b) While Peter is referring to his habitation being desolate, the Psalmist is referring to his days being few. They are not identical since one could have many days and still conclude with a desolate habitation. (c) The Psalmist, David, is referring to his enemies, not Judas. David is saying he hopes his enemies are punished. The context of Psalm 109:8 shows it is not a Davidic prophecy about Judas. (18) ACTS 2:18-20 ("And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come") versus JOEL 2:29-31 ("And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come"). Peter misquoted Joel in several respects. (a) Joel says "the" servants and "the" handmaids rather than "my" servants and "my" handmaids and says nothing about them prophesying. (b) Joel says "the heavens," which is plural, rather than "heaven above." (c) Joel does not have "beneath" or "signs," and he has "pillars" instead of "vapour." (d) And Joel has "terrible day" rather than "notable day" which could hardly be a reference to the wonderful arrival of Jesus. (19) 1 PETER 2:22 ("Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth") versus ISAIAH 53:9 ("...because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth"). Peter misquoted Isaiah 53:9 which says "no violence," instead of "no sin." Sin and violence are not the same. Apparently Peter realized "he hath done no violence" could not be applied to Jesus because of the latter's treatment of the moneychangers at the temple.

And finally, we have instances in which Peter misinterpreted, either intentionally or otherwise, some OT verses. (20) ACTS 1:16 ("Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus"). David never said anything about Judas. Psalm 41:9 ("Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I (Jesus--Ed.) trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me"), which was discussed earlier, does not apply because the speaker in Psalm 41:9 said in Psalm 41:4, "I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee." If Jesus is the speaker in Psalm 41:9 then he is also the sinner in Psalm 41:4. Yet, the Bible states in 1 John 3:5 ("...and in him is no sin....") and 1 Peter 2:22 ("Who did no sin....") that Jesus was sinless. (21) 1 PETER 2:8 ("And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient....") versus ISAIAH 8:14 ("And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both houses of Israel...."). (a) Isaiah 8:13 ("Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread"), which precedes Isaiah 8:14, shows that the "he" in Isaiah 8:14 is referring to God not Jesus. (b) Moreover, Isaiah 8:14 says he is a rock of offence to both houses of Israel only, not to all those who are disobedient. (22) ACTS 2:27 ("Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption") versus PSALM 16:10 ("For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption"). Peter correctly quoted Psalm 16:10 but misapplied the statement. His interpretation of the Psalmist is incorrect for several reasons. (a) Holy One was translated from a Hebrew word meaning holy one or saints (plural), not Holy One (singular). The plural shows it refers to the pious generally. (b) "Corruption" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "grave" not corruption. Correctly translated it should have been "wilt not suffer thy saints to see destruction." (23) ACTS 2:30 ("...God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne") versus PSALM 132:11-12 ("The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore"). (a) The psalmist clearly shows that not one man only but any of David's descendants who keep God's covenant will sit upon David's throne. There is no hint whatsoever that only one man received the promise. (b) The psalmist does not mention Christ or Jesus. (24) Lastly, we have Peter's comments concerning the Suffering Jesus in 1 PETER 1:11 ("...the Spirit of Christ which was in them [the prophets--Ed.] did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow"), 1 PETER 2:21-24 ("...because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed"), and ACTS 3:18 ("But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he [Jesus--Ed.] hath so fulfilled"). The OT speaks of a suffering servant which Peter interprets as a suffering messiah, i.e. Jesus, but for reasons mentioned in the 30th Issue, the suffering servant mentioned in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah has nothing to do with Jesus.

That completes our two-month exposure of instances in which Peter not only misquoted but misinterpreted the OT. When these infractions are viewed in conjunction with the exposure of Peter's character in Issue #5 and his conflicts with Jesus, Paul and himself found in Issue #44, the credibility of this major NT figure is irreparably damaged. As we discovered earlier with Paul, one can't trust someone who is so loose with the facts and cavalier with the truth.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #328 from Edward McCartney, P.O. Box 770024, Lakewood, Ohio 44107-0011

Dear Dennis Concerning Issue #79, page 1, point 65a, you said, "Jesus could not be that Branch because he was not a physical descendant of David. Joseph was not his physical father...."

You are correct in saying that Joseph was not his physical father. However, concerning Jesus about whom you said that he was not a physical descendant of David, need I remind you of my 9 page letter to you dated Nov. 28, 1988? Did you forget Romans 1:3 which says, "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."

Editor's Response to Letter #328

Dear Ed. Could you provide textual support to corroborate Rom. 1:3? I know of nothing in the Bible showing Jesus was the son of David according to the flesh. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke trace the ancestry of Jesus back to David through Joseph, but Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus. Therefore there can be no physical connection between Jesus and David. The chain was broken at Joseph because of the Virgin Birth.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #329 from GN of Phoenix, Arizona

Dear Dennis. Enclosed is my check for a subscription to your newsletter Biblical Errancy. I, too, am interested in exposing the errors and immorality of the Bible. I have obtained a vast amount of biblical knowledge but I lack the courage to debate the fundamentalist fanatics. I would like to help support your work and to contribute some of the things that I have learned over the years.

Your sample issue of Biblical Errancy had a commentary on the Flood. You mentioned the animal sacrifice at the end of the year. Biblical apologists will point to the fact that the clean animals were taken in by SEVENS. Whether that means seven animals or seven pairs I'm not sure. At any rate one of the clean animals would have been sacrificed. Surviving through the flood didn't do them a whole lot of good.

Another point, however, would have been that in our day and age many species are in danger of extinction.... There are many many more of these animals in existence than just one pair or seven pairs and yet they are in danger of being totally wiped off the face of the earth. Yet, we are to believe that all these animals on the ark provided all the animals that are on the earth today even though they were not in a protected environment. I doubt that seven cows and seven sheep would have lasted long around the wolves, lions, tigers, etc. They would have been eaten up far sooner than they could have multiplied.

I certainly enjoyed the point about what the animals would have eaten since the earth was nothing but a muddy mess. How many seeds would have survived under water for a year? Would they have rotted? How did the dove get an olive leaf? Would not the olive leaf have rotted? What land vegetation could have survived a year of water?

....If I understand the Bible correctly, the window was not opened for 40 days. Whew, talk about oxygen!....What did they do with the...excrement for 40 days? What kind of disease would have manifested itself?....What about noise pollution? How would Noah and his family have slept with all those animals mooing, screaming, screetching, quacking, etc.? Where did the thousands of gallons of fresh water come from during those 40 days?....I also agree with your point about only 8 people taking care of all the animals on the ark. There isn't a zoo on earth with all the animals in it, let alone one being manned with only 8 people.....

Editor's Response to Letter #329

Dear GN. I'm sorry to hear you are afraid to debate fundamentalists. We need people who are willing to step into the fray. After all, how else are biblicists going to see the error of their ways. Certainly their clergymen aren't going to expose, much less dwell on, the Bible's inadequacies. If people such as ourselves don't provide the other side, who will? How are millions going to jettison a medieval mentality if we don't provide the other side? How will they advance? And if they don't, we are going to be fighting the church/state issues forever. Their positions on political and social issues are the obvious outcomes of a biblically-based philosophy. Unless you restructure the foundation, the superstructure will never change. Don't be afraid to engage in verbal combat. Sure, you'll lose some battles. I have. But do your research and learn from your mistakes. That's the key. You have to do your homework and you have to engage the other side.

I have had numerous contacts with a wide variety of freethinkers who employ, unfortunately, topics that interest them but are of little use in altering the minds of biblicists. Rather than using field-tested arguments, they resort to those that have been grown in greenhouses isolated and protected from the world of real combat. You have to expose your ideas to the opposition to perfect their effect, an activity shunned by many freethinkers. Not willing to take risks, they often float on ideas that need to be discarded or refined. Many of their concerns have no real value because they are of little or no interest to the other side. Stated bluntly, they don't turn biblicists on. So, even though their contentions may be factual, they aren't useful. Years ago, I learned that just because a point may be of concern to me doesn't mean it's going to be of interest to others. You can only discover where they are and what's effective by direct contact.

Secondly, you said clean beasts went into the ark by sevens and that would have made some available for sacrifice after they left the ark. Apparently you are referring to Gen. 7:2 which says, "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female." True, apologists use this verse as an escape mechanism. However, biblicists conveniently ignore the fact that this verse flatly contradicts Gen. 7:8-9 which says, "Of clean beasts and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah." This is a classic example of apologists using a verse that proves their point while ignoring one that doesn't.

Thirdly, you might note that Noah and his relatives were on the ark for more than 40 days.

Letter #330 from KB of Los Angeles, California

Dear Dennis....The only proper response to TF's "challenge" to "Prove that the Bible contains hundreds of problems and contradictions that can't be solved" is a stack of BE's and freethought publications, including Paine's The Age of Reason, and tell him not to bother you until he has shown conclusively that ALL of those problems and contradictions do not exist!

Letter #331 from REA of Norfolk, Virginia

Dear Mr. McKinsey: Don't you think it would be more appropriate for your publication to use the humanist terms BCE and ACE (or CE) instead of BC and AD.

Editor's Response to Letter #331

Dear REA. Not really. I capitalize words such as "God," "Devil," "Heaven," and "Hell," for example, because they are proper nouns, not out of any intended respect. Unlike some freethought advocates, I don't think that failure to capitalize is a sufficiently mature or effective manner in which to combat Christianity in general and the Bible in particular. It not only has little effect on the minds of readers but can be a positive hindrance to correct reading. "God" with a small "g" could lead one to believe that Christians believe in more than one God, a concept which could either include or exclude a supreme God.

A similar problem exists with respect to BCE (Before the Common Era) and ACE (After the Common Era). Most of the world uses the birth of the alleged Christian messiah as the point from which to date everything. That's an unfortunate fact of history based on aggression, suppression, proselytization, and co-optation by Christians. For the present and until the influence of religion diminishes considerably, we are stuck with a religious base from which to operate. At some time in the future a more rational standard will probably be chosen. Until then, more pressing problems are at hand.

If we are going to place struggles of this nature at the top of the agenda, then we will have to expunge a lot of religious influence in dating. Why restrict the conflict to Christianity? Tuesday is named after Tiu, a German god of war and the sky; Wednesday is named after Woden, a Teutonic god of art, culture, war and the dead; Thursday is named after Thor, a norse god of thunder, war, and strength, and Friday is named after the goddess, Frig. Months fare no better. January is named after Janus, a Roman god; March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war; May is named after the goddess of increase, etc. There is no need to belabor the point; I think you get the idea. The question is how much importance are we going to attach to this and how much time are we going to spend to correct the situation. Is it worth the effort at this stage of the game. I think not. There are much more pressing and winable battles that can be fought.

Moreover, the humanist switch to "Before the Common Era" and "After the Common Era" is of little value because one need consult any reputable dictionary, such as Webster's Collegiate, to see that the Common Era is the Christian Era. The definition of "Common Era" in my edition is: "Common Era same as Christian Era." And since the Christian Era begins with the birth of Christ, so does the Common Era. Humanists are dating everything from the same point as Christians but only applying another name. If they really expect to abolish the Christian domination of dating, then they must start with another event, not rename the same event. Jews, for instance, start dating events from their date of creation, which is 3761 BC according to Christian dating. So, from the Jewish perspective we are in the year 5750. But how many Jews actually use that date on an everyday basis?

Letter #332 from Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, P.O. Box 750, Madison, Wisconsin 53701

(Dan is probably the most effective anti-religious spokesman on the national scene today. He has appeared on the Donahue, Jessy Raphael, and Morton Downey shows among others--Ed.).

Dear Dennis. I enjoyed your recent B.E. When I get some time I will write to you about my radio dialogue with Jim Buick, CEO of Zondervan, publishers of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Zondervan's press office sent out press releases to hundreds of radio stations regarding our bible complaint (about having Bibles in the rooms of hotels and motels, I think--Ed.). I have done tons of phone hook-up radio shows opposite this guy Buick, who knows very little about the bible. Studying their NIV translation I conclude that it is quite dishonest. Buick didn't like me saying such things on the air, but I was able to support my criticisms. I pointed out that in the preface of the NIV, they admit that the translators are evangelicals -- "the translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form." This is hardly an objective criteria!

I asked Jim, suppose a group of 100 atheists were to produce a translation of the bible, claiming to be "committed to the unreliability and fallibility of the bible." Wouldn't he take our work with a grain of salt?

Anyway, when I have more time you will enjoy hearing some of our discussions. I think Zondervan's ploy backfired. They were hoping to use the gimmick to sell bibles -- instead, they gave the public an opportunity to hear bible criticism, perhaps for the first time. We have picked up some supporters from those shows....

Editor's Response to Letter #332

Dear Dan. It's always a pleasure to hear from you, especially because you are on the cutting edge. I'd certainly like to hear some of your discussions with Buick. Keep up the good work and let us know about the latest happenings in your area of concern.

Letter #333 from CB of Prescott, Arizona

Dear Dennis. I enjoy your newsletters very much as they are a source of education to me. I am not a student of "the" bible.

Editor's Response to Letter #333

Dear CB. The true rewards involved in writing this newsletter are the compliments we receive and the assistance we provide others. Without both, I'd probably reassess the entire endeavor. Rest assured, financial gain certainly isn't a factor.

Letter #334 from MS of Ames, Iowa

Dear Mr. McKinsey. People have always told me that there are contradictions in the Bible, but no one has been able to provide me with examples until now. I am told that you have all of the errors and contradictions in the Bible documented. I am very interested in getting hold of this information. I feel that all information, good or bad, pertaining to religion should be investigated if I am to decide whether religion is true or false. You offer a very important part to this puzzle. Thank you for your time and I eagerly await your reply.

Editor's Response to Letter #334

Dear MS. We don't have all the contradictions and errors in the Bible, but I think we have all but cornered the market. Your willingness to give the other side a hearing is to be complimented. If only more biblicists were as openminded!

Letter #335 from RAM of Annapolis, Maryland

Dennis. On page 4, line 9 of Issue #79 you said, "You are engaging more in eisogesis than exegesis." Webster's Unabridged does not have "eisogesis"!....

Editor's Response to Letter #335

Dear RAM. You are correct. We have occasionally used the subjective word "eisogesis" (Reading into the text something that isn't there) instead of the objective word "exegesis" (Getting out of the text the meaning that is there). Being unable to find the word "eisogesis" in the dictionary, a couple of readers, including yourself, have questioned it's existence. Don't worry; the word was not my invention and is sometimes used in Christian circles. In order to find it in a dictionary, however, you must consult one of those big, thick tomes such as Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary, Unabridged, Copyright 1976 or the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Edition, Unabridged, Copyright 1987.

Letter #336 from EST of Sanford, Maine

Dennis. I enjoy BE as always and am passing on to others what I learn from BE. I'm no debater; I just point out by chapter and verse the contradictions in the Bible and listen to the answers. Sometimes people convince themselves that they (and the Bible) are wrong while trying to defend it....Keep up the good work!

Letter #337 from RH of New York, New York

Hello Dennis....I look forward to BE every month. What a superb job you are doing! You are filling an important need. Best Wishes.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For some reason quite a few subscribers did not receive their July issue of BE. We've experienced this kind of problem before but not to such a degree. Hopefully it was accidental rather than intentional. We only mention the problem because other freethought publications have had similar difficulties. Unfortunately, biblicists not only read BE but deliver it as well, and one can't help but suspect foul play. Then, again, maybe it's only our imagination and the summer vacation postal replacements weren't up to snuff. Let's hope so.

Issue No. 83

Nov. 1989

COMMENTARY

JESUS, THE IMPERFECT BEACON (Part 5 of an Eight-Part Series)--In Issues 2, 3, and 9 BE opened with some major failings of Jesus that brought his role as mankind's beacon into serious doubt. That was later followed in Issues 24, 25, 27, and 28 by a much more extensive list that obviated any possibility of his claim to perfection and the messiahship. Despite the fact that the latter issues, alone, contained 96 of his shortcomings, the number of biblical deficiencies that are available was by no means exhausted. This issue, and those to follow, were written to rectify that shortfall by listing all of the remaining examples that are in BE's notebooks. Issue 28 concluded with the 96th example and we will proceed from there. (97) MARK 2:25-26 ("And Jesus said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?") versus 1 SAM. 21:1, 6, 22:20 ("Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, why art thou alone, and no man with thee?.... So the priest gave him hallowed bread; for there was no bread there but the shewbread.... And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David"). The OT shows that Abithar did not give David the shewbread but was the son of the priest, Ahimelech, who did, and David came alone, not with others. (98) JOHN 5:28-29 ("...for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation"), Matt. 25:46 ("And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"), Luke 20:37 ("Now that the dead are raised...."), and Dan. 12:2 ("And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt") versus JOB 7:9 ("As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more") and Eccle. 3:19-21 NIV ("Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal....all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"). Jesus' assertion that people will be resurrected is denied by the OT. (99) JOHN 7:38 ("He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, 'out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water'"). Contrary to Jesus' assertion, there is no such statement in the OT. Isa. 44:3 ("For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring...."), Isa. 55:1 ("Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters...."), Ezek. 47:1, Isa. 58:11, Zech. 13:1, Zech. 14:8, Prov. 18:4, and Isa. 12:3 just don't apply. (100) MARK 7:27 ("Jesus told her, First I should help my own family--the Jews. It isn't right to take the childrens food and throw it to the dogs"). Imagine! Jesus equated non-Jews with dogs. (101) MATT. 15:28 ("Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour"). Jesus cured the woman's daughter, not out of humaneness towards the child, but as a reward for the mother's faith. The 23rd verse ("But he answered her not a word") and the 25th verse ("Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me") show he didn't even answer her until she begged. (102) MARK 9:23 ("Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe all things are possible to him that believeth"), John 14:12-14 ("He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.... If ye shall ask anything in my name I will do it") and Luke 17:6 ("And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you") versus MARK 9:29 ("And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting"). First we are told only belief is needed to do anything; now it requires prayer and fasting. (103) MATT. 19:26 ("But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible") and Mark 10:27 ("...for with God all things are possible") versus JUDGES 1:19 ("And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron"). If all things are possible with God and he was with Judah, then why couldn't Judah drive out the inhabitants of the valley? (104) MATT. 26:56 ("But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled"). No quotation from the OT is provided nor is the name of the biblical author given. (105) MARK 13:32 ("But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father") versus JOHN 10:30 ("I and my Father are one"). If Jesus is one with God as he claims, then he is God's equal; yet, he doesn't know all as God does. (106) LUKE 24:17, 19 ("And Jesus said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one another.... And Jesus said unto them, What things?"). Jesus is deceiving his listeners. Since he knows all, there is no reason to ask questions. (107) LUKE 5:22 ("But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?") and Matt. 9:4 ("And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?"). Is Jesus' knowledge of science so poor as to believe people think in their hearts? Perhaps it's allegorical, but not necessarily. (108) LUKE 9:56 ("For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them") versus REV. 19:11-16 RSV ("Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.... He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron;.... On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of Kings and Lord of lords"). (109) MATT. 21:22 ("And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive") versus ISAIAH 1:15 ("And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yet, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear....") and Lam. 3:44 ("Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through"). (110) MARK 4:11-12 ("And Jesus said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them"). Jesus intentionally wants people to not understand, not convert, and not be forgiven?? (111) MARK 11:2, Luke 19:30 ("And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: And as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him") versus MATT. 21:2 ("Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them, and bring them unto me"). Is it "loose him" or "loose them" and which is tied, a colt or an ass? (112) MATT. 9:18 ("While Jesus spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, my daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live"). Later, in the 24th and 25th verses Jesus said, "Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose." If the ruler's daughter was dead, then, Jesus lied. If she was not dead, then he performed no miracle. (113) MATT. 12:40 ("...so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"). Was Jesus actually put in the earth, especially the heart of the earth? (114) Lastly, we have LUKE 4:17-21 ("And there was delivered unto Jesus the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord; And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.... And Jesus began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears") versus ISAIAH 61:1-2 ("The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all that mourn...."). Jesus' recitation of Isa. 61:1-2 is inaccurate. (a) Isaiah said nothing about healing the blind. (b) Isaiah says, "opening of the prison to them that bound," not "to set at liberty them that are bruised." (c) The statement in Isaiah was made by Isaiah concerning himself, long before Jesus was born, and can't be twisted into proving Jesus was anointed. (d) Actually what Jesus is quoting is a statement by Isaiah that he had been appointed by God to tell the exiled, broken, downtrodden, afflicted, captive Jews that the day is coming when they shall be saved, eat the riches of the Gentiles, and have eternal joy. (e) Jesus did not finish reading all of Isaiah's comments. If he had read down to Isa. 61:8, he would not have said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled."

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #338 from CF of New York, New York (Part a)

Dennis McKinsey. Re: Issue #80, Letter #317, Response C. What Jesus (allegedly) said was, "...take up his cross....," a concept that was probably a common thought and colloquial expression in the days of Roman crucifixions and was similar to "millstone around the neck," "monkey on the back," and "ball and chain" etc. It may have meant that whoever followed him was in for hardship and for threats of crucifixion by Jews or Romans. Neither Jesus nor the people he spoke to needed to know that he would be crucified and the cross would be the symbol of a religion when he said it.

Editor's Response to Letter #338 (Part a)

CF. First, how can you assert that Jesus "allegedly said take up his cross"? There is nothing "allegedly" about it. The text clearly says, and I'm quoting Mark 8:34 verbatim, "whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Maybe, on the other hand, you mean to imply that "his cross" refers to the cross each person must bear rather than the Christian Cross in particular. If so, you are basing your argument on supposition and conjecture. Do you have any evidence that "taking up your cross" was a colloquial expression in Roman times? Your comment that "it may have meant" shows you are guessing. Second, would Jesus have urged people to take up any other cross than the very symbol of Christianity? In Matt. 10:38 ("And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me") and Luke 14:27 ("And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple") Jesus made strong statements to the effect that if you didn't take up the cross to which he referred, you didn't merit being saved by him. What cross can that be other than the cross of Christianity? Third, the verse immediately after Mark 8:34, which is Mark 8:35 ("For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it"), shows that the cross under discussion is a cross having to do with matters as serious as salvation and damnation. What cross can that be other than the Christian cross? Fourth, in Gal. 6:24 Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...." For Paul there is only one cross, but your supposition implies there are others of comparable importance that should be taken up.

Letter #338 Concludes (Part b)

Since you never give-in or compromise or retract regarding your assertions, I've wondered if there is a conscious pragmatism at work to equal Biblicists/Apologists' characteristic refusal to admit error and to avoid having rare errors on your part used against you in an attempt to discredit the preponderance of correct information you present. As long as there's no real proof that you were incorrect, it's probably better not to admit doubts and then to avoid the specific topic when possible. Right?

Editor's Response to Letter 338 (Part b)

No, wrong! Apparently you missed what I said in the Editor's Note on page 6 of Issue #79 so I'll repeat my earlier comment: "Perhaps I've erred: it's happened before. So I'll not pursue the issue." Those aren't the words of someone who never gives in or retracts statements. Secondly, could you provide instances in which I hid among statements for which "there's no real proof" that I'm incorrect or that I avoided topics because of my own doubts? You have impugned my integrity without providing a shred of evidence. Do you often indict people based on speculation and conjecture? A wise maxim to follow when dealing with topics of this nature is that "If you can't prove it, don't say it." To even imply without evidence that someone is less than forthright, as you did with your "I've wondered" comment, reflects adversely on your integrity. However, I would like to thank you for referring to "rare errors on my part."

Letter #339 from DT of Queensland, Australia (Part a)

(Several months ago DT sent us a copy of The Bible Examined and Found Wanting, a 41 page biblical critique of his own creation. After reading it I made the following comment on page 5 of Issue #81: "Although your booklet, 'The Bible Examined and Found Wanting' had a few miscitations and some inadequacies, I found it to be better than most writings of that nature. Although BE focuses on more than just biblical contradictions, I'd be interested in having a copy of the 1,000 contradictions you mentioned. Keep up the good work." DT quickly sent me a letter wanting to know where the problems were and left the impression he doubted their existence. I responded with a note attached to his copy of BE stating that there weren't very many and he need not be concerned. Most people are not going to be that critical. DT sent the following letter in reply.--ED.).

Dear Dennis. Many thanks for your note. In view of the fact that you are such a stickler for facts, as is evidenced even in the latest issue of Biblical Errancy, Issue No. 82, where you write "one can't trust someone who is so loose with the facts and cavalier with the truth," I am very surprised that after claiming that my book contained a number of miscitations, you now tell me they are not worth worrying about. I am not satisfied with this, however; and request that you either provide me with a list of the miscitations, or retract your previous assertion in the next issue of your magazine. Whether I send you my list of 1000 contradictions in the Bible depends on your response to my request.

Editor's Response to Letter #339 (Part a)

Dear DT. I thought I was quite complimentary toward your booklet. I clearly stated it was "better than most writings of that nature" and only had a "few miscitations and some inadequacies." I concluded my compliments by recommending that you "keep up the good work." The note which I sent you even suggested that you not worry about the mistakes contained therein since they were't very numerous. And how am I rewarded? By receiving a challenging letter that is downright unpleasant. Your put-up or shut-up approach is certainly not conducive to cooperation between those exposing the Bible. I'm tempted to say, "Would you be willing to pay me $100 for every error I find therein," but, instead, I'll simply enumerate the mistakes I found after a rather cursory reading. If I had gotten out my magnifying glass I probably would have found more. (1) On page 13 you state, "Isaiah 37:8 tells us of a case where the sun is actually supposed to have gone backwards!" That verse says nothing about the sun doing anything. (2) On page 40 you state, Eph. 2:12 says that one is saved by grace through faith given by God." It says nothing of the sort. (3) On page 27 you state, "But 2 Chron. 36:6 says that Jehoiakim reigned 11 years in Jerusalem." The verse says nothing about him reigning 11 years anywhere. (4) On page 30 you state, "Hebrews 1:2 and 9:26 say that Jesus had come 'at the end of the ages' to put away sin." One need only read these two verses to see that Hebrews 1:2, unlike Hebrews 9:26, says nothing about Jesus putting away sin. (5) On page 21 you state, "John 19:25 says that Jesus spoke to his mother who was standing by the cross with Mary Magdalene." In truth, Jesus said nothing whatever in that verse. (6) And on page 16 you state, "Luke 1:26 says that the angel came to Mary" when a more accurate citation would have been verses 27 and 28. I also stated there were some inadequacies in your booklet. On page 32 you state, "Circumcision, which is an essential element of this covenant, with its neglect being punishable by death (Gen. 17:14)...." Your exegesis should exhibit greater precision because apologists criticize whenever possible and this instance will provide them a good opportunity. Gen. 17:14 RSV actually says, "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." Why do you assume "cut off" means killed, when apologists could easily claim it only means banishment or expulsion from the group? You read more into the verse than is warranted. The same kind of laxity is also evident on page 35. You say, "1 Sam. 18 says that king Saul had two daughters, Merab and Michal. Verse 19 says that Merab married Adriel the Meholathite, and 1 Sam. 25:44 says that Michal married Palt: the son of Laish. However, 2 Sam. 21:8 says that Michal married Adriel the Meholathite." True, 1 Sam. 18:19 says Merab married Adriel, but where does 1 Sam. 25:44 say that Michal married Palt and where does 2 Sam. 21:8 say that Michal married Adriel. First Sam. 25:44 ("Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish....") and 2 Sam. 21:8 ("...and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel....") say nothing about marriage. Remember, Lot gave his daughters away, too, and that had nothing to do with marriage. Why would Saul give his daughter, Michal, to Phalti for marriage when he knew she was already married to David? And although 2 Sam. 21:8 says Michal brought up her five sons for Adriel, it does not say they were married. Don't assume more than the verse warrants or insert unjustified interpretations. That's eisogesis, not exegesis.

Letter #339 Concludes (Part b)

(At the top of DT's letter was a big cross giving the letter a distinctively Christian aura. I not only asked DT why he would put a cross at the top of his letter if he was as opposed to the Bible as his writings implied, but also if he was merely a Christian opposing the Bible--ED.).

Regarding your query as to why I should have put a Cross at the top of my letter, and as to whether I am really just a Christian who is opposed to the Bible. I can see that you have a wonderful sense of humour. Seeing that you also have a Holy Bible at the head of your magazine, I was wondering the same about you. Actually, I am a pagan, and the Cross is the phallic symbol of my religion. Because I no longer regard the Bible as sacred, I am no more anti-Bible than I am anti-pornography. I actually enjoy studying the Bible now that it no longer has any power over me....Hoping to hear from you again soon.

Editor's Response to Letter #339 (Part b)

I was unaware that humor would emanate from my question, DT. You mean you see no difference between your heading with the Cross and mine with the Bible? Since my Bible is torn in half, one would hardly assume that it arose from one who holds the Book in awe. Moreover, the words "Biblical Errancy" are found inbetween and project precisely the opposite impression of that which the Book's proponents claim is contained therein. Your cross, on the other hand, is in the normal position, has a prominent place in your heading, is rather large, and is not upside down, tilted, broken, enflamed or otherwise demeaned. If that doesn't warrant the questions I posed, I don't know what does. You call yourself a "pagan," a term normally applied by Christians to their opponents. I would never call myself a "pagan," or its synonym "heathen," not only because Webster defines the latter as "unenlightened" or "uncivilized" but also because adoption of the opponent's terminology concedes half the struggle and is tactically unwise. When you say "my religion," I assume you are still religious or accept some kind of religion. That makes my original question with reference to your cross on the letterhead all the more relevant.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #340 from BWF of Richmond, Indiana

Dear Dennis. Nice to get Issue #81 direct to my present address. Excellent as usual. Good to see your page 3 where you...show fundamentalist hardshells that their own scriptures urge them to argue and confute, not to pooh-pooh. I note the old bugaboo sp. Pharoah creeping in again, Dennis, and some typos: p. 2--prophesied; p. 3--occurrence; p. 5--ostracized; and it may have been PD's fault, p. 4--Stephen, not Steven. Just nitpicking--needn't advert to this in your next BE, of course. Keller needed quote marks at the end of his quote on the top of page 5.

Editor's Response to Letter #340

Dear BWF. What can I say? I compared my spellings with Webster's and discovered you are correct on every point. I'm a stickler for accuracy and corrected my originals after hearing from you. Corrections of this nature keep me on my toes and aren't nitpicks. I could use a proof-reader with your talents. Come what may, I'm going to get "pharaoh" correct. It is a simple word to spell but I repeatedly type the "a" and "o" in reverse order.

Letter #341 from EB of Canton, Michigan

Dear Dennis. At last I can pass out a pamphlet that gets to the foundation of the problem--the Bible. Your pamphlet is a great "eye opener" at work. Since a lot of people take on faith that the Bible is a "good book," they really listen when I'm discussing the problems the pamphlet raises. I can tell they have never heard these questions raised in church. Please send 100 more of THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD. Keep up the good work!

Letter #342 from JF of Decatur, Illinois

Hello Dennis. You got a plug in the July issue of the newsletter of the Religion and Ethics Institute. I have enclosed a copy for you. I've also enclosed another item of possible interest. I'm surprised you aren't burned out! You keep fighting the fight and hanging tough. Keep up the good work.

(The other item of possible interest is the following letter to Dear Abby--Ed.). Dear Abby: A member of my family keeps telling me that it is written in the Bible that the Lord approves of giving a person intoxicating drink to drown his sorrow and lessen his pain. This person is a very heavy drinker, and I think he just made it up as an excuse for his own drinking. If there is such a passage in the Holy Bible, please tell me and I will apologize, because I called him a liar to his face. Thank you.--Can't Believe It.

(Abby answered with--Ed.). Dear Can't: You should apologize. Proverbs 31:6-7 says, "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more."

Letter #343 from MD of Sacramento, California

Dear Mr. McKinsey. I was very happy to have reached you by phone the other night and to have had a brief chat....I really hate to see superstition spread like it does, and having attended Sunday School since the impressionable age of 2, I do love your statement in my sample issue that you're teaching "a kind of Sunday-School-In-Reverse." I do not look fondly on my days spent in church....I'm looking forward to reading your forthcoming issues of BE.

Issue No. 84

Dec. 1989

COMMENTARY

JESUS, THE IMPERFECT BEACON (Part 6 of an Eight-Part Series)--This month's commentary will continue the enumeration of Jesus' failings begun is last month's issue: (115) JOHN 5:37 ("And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape"). Yet, many verses show that God has been seen and heard on numerous occasions. Obvious examples are: Gen. 3:8-10 ("And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.... And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him. Where art thou? And Adam said, I heard thy voice in the garden...."), Ex. 19:19 ("...Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice"), Deut. 4:36 ("Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee...."), Ex. 20:22, Deut. 4:12, 33, 5:23-26, and Job 38:1. (116) JOHN 18:36 ("Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my Kingdom were of this world....") versus ZECH. 9:10, Psalm 72:8 ("...and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth"), Zech. 14:9 ("And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one"), Luke 1:32-33 ("He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his Kingdom there shall be no end"), Dan. 7:14, 27, and Isa. 60:12. (117) MATT. 10:9-10 ("Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves....") versus MARK 6:8-9 ("And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse"). Jesus can't seem to decide whether or not his followers should take staffs on their journeys. (118) JOHN 5:46 ("For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me"). Moses never wrote of Jesus and numerous discussions of the Mosaic prophecies in earlier issues of BE prove as much. (119) MARK 12:26 ("And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses how in the bush God spake unto him, saying...."). It may be called the "Book of Moses" but the commentaries entitled Moses and the Pentateuch in Issues 19 and 20 clearly show Moses was not the author. (120) MATT. 22:19-21 ("Show me {Jesus--Ed.} the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesars....") versus MATT. 17:24-26 RSV ("When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half shekel tax went up to Peter and said, Does not your teacher pay the tax? Peter said, 'Yes" And when Peter came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others? And when Peter said, From others, Jesus said to him, Then the sons are free"). In other words, if you are not a foreigner but are one of the Kings sons, i.e. subjects, it is not really necessary to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. (121) JOHN 3:18 ("He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God") versus MATT. 7:21 ("Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven...."). (122)

LUKE 14:8-10 NEB ("When you are asked by someone to a wedding-feast, do not sit down in the place of honour. It may be that some person more distinguished than yourself has been invited; and the host will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then you will look foolish as you begin to take the lowest place. No, when you receive an invitation, go and sit down in the lowest place...."). Jesus is teaching classism more than humility. (123) JOHN 4:24 ("God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth") versus GEN. 18:1-3 ("And the Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plains of Mamre: and Abraham sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord...."). We are told God is spirit; yet, he appeared to Abraham in a purely physical form. (124) MATT. 5:34-36 ("But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head....") versus DEUT. 10:20 ("Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name"), Deut. 6:13 ("Thou shalt fear the Lord God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name"), Num. 30:2 ("If a man vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth"), Isa. 45:23 ("I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear"), Isa. 65:16 ("...and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth...."), Jer. 4:2, and Psalm 63:11. Either we have a contradiction or Jesus has repealed that part of the old law which promotes swearing. (125) MATT. 11:27 ("...And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him"). If this is true, then how could the prophets have known about God. Since they lived before Jesus and God could not have been revealed to them except through Jesus, they could not have known God or spoken to him. Moreover, since the authors of the gospels, as well as Peter and Paul, based their claims about Jesus on the prophecies of prophets who could not have known God, the entire structure collapses. (126) JOHN 8:7 ("Jesus lifted himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her"). If this principle were adopted as a general rule, mankind might as well abolish all courts and punishments. Following this approach would require the liberation of every one who is imprisoned, because we are all fallible. Moreover, if we can't punish anyone because we are not free from sin ourselves, then how can God justly punish man for sinning. After all, Lam. 3:38 ("Is it not from the Most High that good and evil come?") shows God is not immaculate either. (127) MARK 10:29-30 ("There is no man that hath left house...for my sake...But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses...and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life"). Jesus promised vast riches to those who would follow him. Yet, in verses such as Luke 14:33, 18:22, 12:33, 11:41, 3:11, 9:3, Matt. 19:21, and Matt. 6:19 he repeatedly admonished his followers to surrender all of their worldly possessions. (128) MARK 10:30 ("But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers...."). How one person can have "mothers," and have them retrospectively as Jesus promised, is rather hard to imagine also. (129) MICAH 7:18 ("...he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy") versus MATT. 25:46 ("And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"), Matt. 3:12 ("...but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire"), and Matt. 18:8 ("...it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire"). Since one can spend an eternity in hell, obviously God can retain his anger forever. (130) JOHN 14:12-14 ("Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.... If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it"), John 15:7 ("If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you"), John 15:16, 16:23 ("whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you"), and Matt. 21:22 ("And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive") contend prayers will provide everything requested. Yet, millions of believers have prayed to Jesus millions of times and met only failure. His promise of the universal efficacy of prayer has proven as miserable a sham as his promise of all power to those with faith. (131) LUKE 22:31-33 ("Simon, Simon [Peter--Ed.], behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren. And Peter said to him, Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death") versus MATT. 26:69-70 ("Now Peter sat without in the palace; and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all saying, I know not what thou sayest"), Matt. 26:74 ("Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man"), Matt. 14:31 ("And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught Peter, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?"), Matt. 16:23 ("But Jesus turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men"). How can praying be useful when even the prayers of Jesus failed? Even though he prayed for Peter's faith to endure, Peter denied him in the end.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #344 from TF, Editor of Bible Answers Newsletter of Pasadena, Maryland (Part a)

(In Parts a through i of Letter #310 in Issues 77, 78, 79, and 80 TF and I clashed on some biblical assertions and he now seeks to resume the encounter--Ed.). In the December 1988 issue, I responded to some assertions made by Dennis McKinsey, editor of "Biblical Errancy." Speaking of "the billions of beings that die as fetuses, infants, mental deficients, etc.," McKinsey asserts, "For them to accept Jesus would be impossible...."

I answered, "Suppose each person has a conscious, competent, soul at conception? I don't advocate that doctrine, but I see that you haven't proved yours." Since McKinsey had made an assertion, he needed reasoning or evidence to support it. I merely pointed out that the consciousness or competence of a fetus is a possibility which is not subject to proof or disproof by empirical study. McKinsey must remain silent (open-minded) on the subject or take a dogmatic position. If he chooses dogma, he ought to be honest about it.

The (epistemological) problem is that we cannot presume that the currently available memories of children and adults are complete. It may be that people have clear, vivid, and very sophisticated experiences as fetuses, and that some fundamental value judgments occur even with a single cell, but that the resources for long-term memory are undeveloped. Such a doctrine has some very interesting arguments on its behalf. Furthermore, the epistemological method of Phenomenology allows for the possibility that a fetus experiences the essential intuitive recognition of interpersonal relations, the reality of God, sin, love, forgiveness, atonement, contract/covenant, etc.

McKinsey writes, "I am under no obligation to prove something does not exist which you claim does. The burden of proof lies on he (sic) who alleges; that's axiomatic. You are obligated to prove that an embryo is 'conscious and competent' at conception sufficient to make a...decision to accept Jesus."

Wrong again, McKinsey. You have asserted the existence of people who were not "conscious and competent" at conception. That assertion requires support. To assert the existence of some who were "conscious and competent" at conception would likewise call for support. I have not asserted either doctrine, because I am open-minded on that question. I asked you to consider the fact that your assumption might be false, since it cannot be proven. I asked you to "suppose" the hypothetical contrary doctrine merely as an aid to your understanding, and clearly stated that "I don't advocate that doctrine." Now I challenge you again to support your assertion or admit that it is dogma.

Editor's Response to Letter #344 (Part a)

Dear TF. The first point I made to you during our initial exchange last May was that, "With all due respect, I think you would do well to consult notable apologists before engaging in apologetics. I'd suggest Josh McDowell and Gleason Archer for openers. Their grasp of the imbroglios our pamphlets expose is much more perceptive and their rationalizations are more relevant. Your explanations, on the other hand, are often without substance, disjointed, and not germane." Obviously, you ignored my advice as your current infatuation vividly demonstrates. If it wasn't for the fact that your publication may influence the unwary, I'd be inclined to ignore such an inane defense. If that is the best you can do, I'd say desperation has set in. First, if you don't believe "each person has a conscious, competent soul at conception," then why do you keep bringing it up? Why don't you admit you are surreptiously trying to give a vacuous idea some degree of credibility? Second, do you have so much as a scintilla of scientific evidence that "some fundamental value judgments occur even with a single cell" or that a fetus "experiences the essential intuitive recognition of interpersonal relations, the reality of God, sin, love, forgiveness, atonement, contracts etc.?" Your assertion that my assumption...cannot be proven is false because competent neurologists can show that the brain and nervous system of a fetus is not capable of conceiving ideas such as God, sin, atonement, and covenant. One of your readers criticized you on the same point in the same issue of your periodical. On page 6 he said, "If you seriously believe that a human zygote might be fully conscious, then you must either be lost in some metaphysical muddle or out of touch with the science of biology. Science has demonstrated a relationship between consciousness and neural development. A zygote only has a blueprint for a mind -- not the real thing. You've demonstrated a profound failure to understand what is meant by 'scientific proof'." Third, you say "the epistemological method of Phenomenology allows for the possibility that a fetus experiences...." which is typical of the epistemological metaphysical doubletalk I occasionally experienced in philosophy classes. Until you provide some concrete proof to validate your theoretical concoction, your answer remains senseless. A major problem, if not the major problem, with all people of a religious, metaphysical, superstitious orientation is that they assume any statement by anyone is true or has serious plausibility unless it can be disproven. Wrong! It's not to be accepted until it can be proven true. That's fundamental to rational thought and, yet, it's ignored by millions. The burden of proof rests with you my friend. Your comment that "I don't advocate that doctrine, but I see that you haven't proved yours" is fallacious because I have no doctrine to prove in this regard. But you do. As I've said so often, "The burden of proof lies on he who alleges." Otherwise, rational minds are required to disprove every ludicrous idea that ever came down the pike and they are to be accepted as true or seriously plausible until disproven. If I told you I physically fought the devil this morning, had lunch with a real angel on Mars, shook hands with Jesus one hour ago, and threw a rock to the moon, my assertions would all be true or seriously plausible under your line of reasoning until they were disproven. Evidence is not required. I need only assert as much. By the same token your claim that a fetus may have a consciousness of God, sin, etc. becomes a distinct possibility until I provide evidence to the contrary. If you are going to hold to that position, then I'm going to claim I threw a rock to the moon. Prove me wrong! I challenge you to prove I didn't throw a rock to the moon or wrestle the devil. If you ask me to repeat the deed, I'll either say it was a unique event or I don't like being tested. Sound familiar! Fourth, if there is any dogma involved, it's yours. You repeatedly talk about something for which no evidence is provided and then denounce others because they won't accept your imaginings until evidence is forthcoming. Dogma lies not in my refusal to accept the possibility of your hypothesis but in your adherence to an idea for which you feel no obligation to provide some corroboration. I have no problem with accepting your hypothesis, or any other for that matter, as long as some substantiation is provided. But what you want is for me to accept the possibility without any support. According to you, I'm dogmatic when I refuse to accept your hypothesis without valid evidence, but, in truth, I'd be foolish if I accepted your hypothesis without some corroboration. You work on the assumption that any idea has credibility until disproven, which leaves your mind vulnerable to a world of unsubstantiated concepts of the most insane variety. The sky is the limit. You say that "McKinsey must remain silent (open-minded) on the subject or take a dogmatic position." On the contrary, I'm quite open-minded but I'm certainly not silent. And until evidence is produced from your side, silence is something you might want to consider. Fifth, you claim "such a doctrine has some very interesting arguments on its behalf." Can you name one? Sixth, you claimed that I "have asserted the existence of people who were not 'conscious and competent' at conception" without providing support. Apparently, you are having trouble reading, TF. I said that you are obligated to prove that an embryo is "conscious and competent" at conception...," not merely assert there is the possibility. I never said it wasn't; I said you are required to prove it was, since you are the one who concocted the idea. Lastly, even if your incredible hypothesis were valid, you haven't solved the original problem. Even if fetuses and infants could comprehend abstract concepts such as God, sin and the atonement, they would have two additional hurdles to surmount. Prior to their death they would have to hear or read the Bible in some way in order to know about Jesus, and they would have to accept Jesus as their savior according to the dictates of John 14:6. Both are too ridiculous to discuss.

Letter #344 Continues (Part b)

McKinsey continues, "...you say that John 14:6 ('I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me') does not say that anyone goes to hell or that anyone goes to heaven. But it most assuredly does. If you aren't saved, where else can you go except to hell? If being saved means attaining heaven, then being lost means condemnation to hell."

McKinsey's first error is his assumption that "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" must refer to admission into heaven (rather than submission to the Father as a result of Christ's transforming power in the individual).

The second error was his assumption that the verse said that some would go to hell or that some would go to heaven. Even if we accept the verse as saying, in effect, "Believers are going to heaven, unbelievers to hell, and there is no third alternative," there is no existential quantifier in the statement. One possible outcome is that nobody has true faith. Another possible outcome is that everybody will have true faith. The third possible outcome is that some go to heaven and some to hell. I simply pointed out that the verse, by itself, does not rule out the first or the second of the three possible outcomes. My wording was clear enough: John 14:6 "does not say that anyone goes to hell or that anyone goes to heaven."

Editor's Response to the Letter #344 (Part b)

Again, your commentary is vacuous, TF. First, you say that, "McKinsey's first error is his assumption...." You are trying to make a distinction without a biblically-based difference. The ultimate goal of all Christians is to be with God in heaven. Being with God is equivalent to being in heaven, for how can one be with God and not be in heaven. If you are not with God ultimately, where else can you be but in hell. If you go to the Father by accepting Jesus, you automatically enter heaven. They are synonymous. You are trying to say you can accept Jesus as your savior and go to the Father as a result without entering heaven. This would not only be non-biblical but pointless. Why go to the Father through Jesus, if heaven is not attained thereby? Moreover, where and what is this third place you feel people can ultimately attain, and could you provide textual support for your belief? Second, you say, "One possible outcome is that nobody has true faith. Another possible outcome is that everybody will have true faith. The third possible outcome is that some go to heaven and some to hell. I simply pointed out that the verse, by itself, does not rule out the first or the second of the three possible outcomes." Now you are not only being petty but deceptive. I never said it did. You'd do a lot better if you spent less time trying to devise deceitful defenses and more time trying to honestly confront your difficulties, TF. I never said your first, second, or third possibilities were ruled out. Each is nothing but an obvious possibility based on John 14:6. In fact, what else could occur. According to John 14:6 all will be saved, none will be saved or a split decision will occur. How does that conflict with my assertion that according to John 14:6 you must accept Jesus as your savior in order to attain heaven or face damnation? Third, your "existential quantifier" comment is little more than an attempt to appear profound when profundity is noticeably absent from most of your writings. Again, in all seriousness, I'd suggest you consult notable apologists. (To Be Continued Next Month)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #345 from DEM of Pasadena, California

(After reading the earlier exchange between TF and myself, one of BE's subscribers sent TF the following letter--Ed.).

Dear Mr. TF. ...many of your replies to Dennis McKinsey (as well as to myself) are wholly misguided and inappropriate. Mere possibility is no badge of respectability in the world of inductive reasoning. It may be that the earth is under the control of a band of green spiders living in San Diego, but that hypothesis will impress no one of sound mind and rudimentary reasoning ability. It lacks supportive evidence and a believable mechanism, and a great mountain of evidence suggests otherwise. Needless to say, the flat-earth "theories" and the hollow-earth "theories" are in the same bucket. Philosophically speaking, none of these ideas can be disproven with absolute certainty, but that fact does not confer the slightest respectability on any of them.

TF, under the paradigm which you seem to be functioning, at least to some degree, we ought to take the Green Spider conspiracy seriously! After all, can anyone really disprove that "theory"? We have to consider the possibility that it might be true! Or do we?

Mr. McKinsey is quite correct in dismissing the cells-for-Jesus scenario. The word "impossible" is often understood to mean "very, very unlikely." The flat-earth "theories," the Green Spider conspiracy, and the zygotes-for-Jesus idea can safely be dropped into the same trash bin. None of these ideas currently generate enough voltage to be taken seriously. If any of them ever show signs of coming to life, then we can always pluck them out of the trash. But, until then, that's exactly where they belong.

It is neither dogmatic nor closed-minded to reject a claim which is totally devoid of evidential support; rejection should not be confused with denial, the latter being a positive claim which requires evidence.

The burden of proof is on the shoulders of those who allege. All the critic has to do is ask, "Where's the beef?" The critic is not obliged to entertain a claim which lacks evidence, which has no discernible mechanism, and which runs contrary to established findings. Effective thinking requires that such claims be rejected as baseless, as unworthy of consideration. The alternative is to spend time worrying about the Green Spider conspiracy!

In your joust with Dennis McKinsey you did score a clean point in the mathematical arena (a point to be discussed next month--ED). But, even there it looks like you won the battle only to lose the war. Surely, the mere fact of being in hell must be considered as a form of punishment. If nothing else, one is deprived of being in heaven. Since one day in hell (without flames) would presumably be like any other day in hell (without flames) we must assign a constant punishment value--however small--to the mere fact of being in hell for a day. As the days go by without limit the accumulated punishment exceeds all bounds. That is, an infinite punishment is awarded even with the "flames" turn off! Thus, it appears that McKinsey is right after all, at least in spirit if not in mathematical detail!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Appearances on the media are undoubtedly one of our most effective methods by which to spread the word. Can anybody get into our hands a copy of TALK SHOW "SELECTS" [Sold for $185 by Broadcast Interview Source, 2233 Wisconsin Ave. Washington, D.C. 20007-4104 Phone 202-333-4904], RADIO INTERVIEW GUIDE [Sold for $165 by Newsclip, 213 West Institute Place, Suite 201, Chicago, Illinois 60610 Phone 312-644-1720], or NATIONAL RADIO PUBLICITY OUTLETS [Sold for $149 by Public Relations Plus, Inc., P.O. Drawer 1197, New Milford, Conn. 06776 Phone 203-354-9361]? Probably suspecting duplication on our part, the publishers will not loan them to us for preview; we can't find them in any library, and money is an object.


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