Issue No. 77

May 1989

COMMENTARY

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES (Part Two of a Five Part Series)--This month's commentary will continue last month's listing of messianic prophecies attributed to Jesus and explain why they are inapplicable. (25) PSALMS 35:11 and 35:19 ("False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not....Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without cause") are not fulfilled by Matt. 26:59-61, Mark 14:57-58 and John 15:24-25 for several reasons. (a) When did witnesses come forward to ask Jesus questions? Some testified, but they didn't query him. (b) If the Psalms are referring to Jesus and Jesus is God, how could he not know something? (c) Psalm 35:16 says, "they gnashed upon me with their teeth." When was Jesus bitten, literally bitten, by his opponents? (d) Psalm 35:7 RSV ("...without cause they dug a pit for my life") and Psalm 35:19 say he was hated without a cause. Jesus, on the other hand, was hated with justifiable cause in that he did not deny he claimed to be "The King of the Jews." (e) In Psalm 35:23 the speaker, who is allegedly Jesus, is talking to a being he refers to as "my God and my Lord." Did Jesus have a God? (f) The speaker asks to be judged by God in the next verse ("Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me"). Would Jesus ask to be judged and did God ever judge Jesus? (26) Jesus supposedly fulfilled PSALM 38:11 ("My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off") in Matt. 27:55 ("And many women were there beholding afar off...."), Mark 15:40, and Luke 23:49. But it couldn't be referring to him because of the following verses which are referring to the same person: (a) Psalm 38:3 ("...neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin") says he sinned. (b) Psalm 38:4 ("For mine iniquities are gone over mine head....") says he committed iniquities. (c) In Psalm 38:5 ("My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness") the speaker says he is foolish. (d) In Psalm 38:7 ("For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease; and there is no soundness in my flesh") the speaker says he has a loathsome disease. (e) In verse 11 the speaker says he has "lovers." (f) In Psalm 38:11 ("For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin") he says he committed sin and iniquity. (g) And in Psalm 38:22 ("Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation") the speaker seeks salvation. Could these verses apply to Jesus? Would the perfect Jesus need to be saved? (27) PSALM 40:7-8 ("Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea thy law is within my heart"). (a) Would Jesus call God, "my God"? (b) The same speaker also uttered Psalm 40:12 ("...mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head....") which could not be applicable to Jesus. (c) In Psalm 40:13 ("Be pleased, O Lord to deliver me: O' Lord, make haste to help me") the speaker prayed earnestly to be delivered which conflicts with Paul's statements in Gal. 1:4, 2:20, Eph. 5:2, 25, 1 Tim. 2:6, Heb. 7:27, & Heb. 9:14 that Jesus died willingly. (28) PSALM 41:9 ("Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me") is not a reference to Judas by Jesus because: (a) The speaker in Psalm 41:4, who is also allegedly Jesus, says, "...Lord, be merciful unto me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee." Would Jesus have sinned against God? Moreover, it's hard to imagine Jesus, who is God, having a soul. (b) The speaker says in Psalm 41:8 ("An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him; and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more"). Yet Jesus died by crucifixion, not a disease. (c) The same speaker, who is allegedly Jesus, says in Psalm 41:11 ("By this I know that thou favorest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me"). But his enemies clearly triumphed over Jesus since they killed and buried him. (d) The speaker also says in Psalm 41:10 ("But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them"). Jesus, the perfect, forgiving being, wants to get even? (29) PSALM 45:3, 5 ("Gird thy {allegedly Jesus--Ed.} sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty....Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee"). (a) These verses do not suit the purported character of Jesus. Who can apply the praises of these warlike attributes to the "Prince of Peace?" This language is contrary to the idea of Christ presented in the NT. (b) When did the people fall under Jesus' arrows? (c) Psalm 45:8 says, "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces...." Would a poor peasant have clothes that smelled of expensive fragrances? According to Scripture Jesus was poor and possessed few garments. (d) Psalm 45:8 RSV ("From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad....") doesn't apply to a lowly man of the people. Moreover, what ivory palaces had stringed instruments that were making Jesus glad? (e) Since Psalm 45:9 says, "Kings' daughters were among thy honorable women", most apologists would prefer to avoid this one entirely. (f) Psalm 45:9 ("...at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir"). What queen stood at the right hand of Jesus in gold of Ophir? (30) PSALM 55:12-13 RSV ("It is not an enemy who taunts me; then I could bear it: it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me, then I could hide from him. But it is you {allegedly Judas--Ed.}, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend"). (a) Judas was far from being the equal of Jesus. (b) Would Jesus say "Destroy, Oh Lord" which the speaker says in verse 9? (c) Would pacific Jesus ask God to let his enemies "go down quick into hell" as is stated in verse 15? AGAIN AND AGAIN WE SEE THAT CONTEXT IS FATAL TO THE APOLOGETIC POSITION. (31) PSALM 68:18 ("Thou didst ascend the high mount, leading captives in thy train, and receiving gifts among men...."). When did Jesus lead captives to a high mount? (32) The speaker in PSALM 69:5 ("O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from thee") and PSALM 69:9 ("For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me {allegedly Jesus--Ed.} up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are falled upon me") couldn't be Jesus since he is allegedly perfection personified and couldn't have committed sins. (33) PSALM 69:4 ("They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty...."). Jesus allegedly fulfills this prophecy in John 15:23-25. Yet, the verse is clearly not referring to him because: (a) The next verse says, "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee." According to NT verses Jesus was neither foolish nor sinful. (b) Nowhere in John 15:23-25 does Jesus state that his enemies are more than the hairs of his head. (c) And, as was stated earlier, Jesus was not hated without cause. (34) PSALM 69:21 ("They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink"). Jesus did not fulfill this prophecy either because: (a) the same sinful person is speaking who spoke in Psalms 69:4-5. (b) Matt. 27:34 ("They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall") says the gall and vinegar were mingled together, not given separately. (c) Matt. 27:34 RSV ("...they offered him wine to drink....") says he was given wine to drink, not vinegar. Wine is not vinegar. (d) Referring to the same person, the 26th verse says, "For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and him whom thou hast wounded, they afflict still more". God never smote Jesus nor did he ever wound him. (e) Would the allegedly kind and forgiving Jesus curse his enemies as the same individual did in verses 22 to 29 ("Let their own table before them become a snare; let their sacrificial feasts be a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see; and make their loins tremble continually. Pour out thy indignation upon them and let thy burning anger overtake them...."). (35) PSALM 72:1 ("Give the King thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King's son") is not applicable to Jesus either because: (a) If "the King's son" is Jesus, who was the father of Jesus who was also a King? (b) If the King is Jesus, when did Jesus have a son and when was he a king? (c) How could Jesus be given righteousness when he already had it? (d) How could God give Jesus anything when Jesus already had everything God had? According to John 10:30 ("I and my father are one") they are equal? (36) PSALM 72:2, 4 ("He shall judge the people with righteousness, and the poor with judgment....He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor"). (a) Jesus never judged the poor of the people or saved the children of the needy. (b) He never broke the oppressor into pieces. (37) PSALM 72:7 ("In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth"). The righteous did not flourish in his days and there was no peace, although the moon still endures. (38) PSALM 72:8 ("He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth"), PSALM 72:9 ("They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust"), PSALM 72:11 ("Yea, all Kings shall fall down before him: All nations shall serve him"), PSALM 72:14 ("...and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba...."), and PSALM 72:17 ("All nations shall call him blessed") say that Jesus shall rule. None of these occurred while he dwelled on earth. (39) PSALM 72:14 ("He shall redeem their {the poor and needy} soul from deceit and violence"). Jesus never redeemed the soul of the needy from deceit or violence. (40) PSALM 88:8 ("Thou {God--Ed.} hast put away mine acquaintance far from me {Jesus--Ed.}; thou hast made me an abomination unto them...."). This verse couldn't be referring to Jesus because: (a) The 1st verse ("O Lord God of my salvation....") says the speaker seeks salvation which the perfect Jesus wouldn't need. (b) In the 4th verse ("I am a man that hath no strength") the speaker says he has no strength while Matt. 28:18 ("And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth") says Jesus was all powerful. (c) In Psalm 88:7 ("Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves") the speaker says God afflicted him; in Psalm 88:14 ("Lord, why castest thou off my soul") the speaker says God cast off his soul, and in Psalm 88:15 ("...I suffer thy terrors I am distracted") and Psalm 88:16 ("Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off") the speaker says he was a victim of God's terrors. In none of these verses could the speaker be Jesus. (41) In PSALM 89:3-4 ("I {God--Ed.} have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever: and build up thy throne to all generations"). As was stated previously, "seed" is referring to all of David's descendants, not just one particular individual. The RSV translation actually says "descendants." The same principle applies to Psalm 89:29-30 ("His {David's--Ed.} seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law...."). The verse mentions "his children" so why assume its referring to Jesus specifically? (42) PSALM 109:6-8 RSV ("Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser bring him to trial. When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin! May his days be few; may another seize his goods!") is allegedly referring to the trial, possessions, and lifespan of Jesus but is inapplicable because: (a) A prayer of Jesus couldn't be counted as sin. (b) Jesus had no goods to seize according to Luke 9:58 ("...but the Son of man hath no where to lay his head"). (c) Verse 9 ("Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow") clearly shows Jesus is not the person under discussion since he had neither a wife nor children. (43) Finally, we have PSALM 109:4-5 ("In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good and hatred for my love"). The magnanimity of love shown in these verses couldn't apply to Jesus because subsequent verses demonstrate the speaker wanted retaliation. Psalm 109:20 and 28-29 ("May this be the reward of my accusers from the Lord, of those who speak evil against my life!... Let my assailants be put to shame; may thy servant be glad! May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle") express an attitude that is directly contrary to that exhibited by Jesus in Luke 23:34 ("Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do").

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter # 310 from TF of Pasadena, Maryland (Part a)

(TF is the founder and coordinator of the MENSA special interest group called "Bible Answers," and editor of its monthly publication, Bible Answers Newsletter. Two of his recent issues were devoted to rebuttals of BE's two pamphlets. Before beginning his critique he stated the following-Ed.). A reader of the July 1988 issue of our publication apparently noticed my statement, "We have not yet had the benefit of any challenges from atheists, let alone well-informed atheists." He has sent me two pamphlets written specifically to challenge Bible-believers. The pamphlets also give the name and address devoted to the goal of proving or demonstrating biblical errancy. The organization is not identified as atheistic, but it is explicitly opposed to the inerrancy of the Bible. Therefore it serves our purposes. Judge for yourselves whether the challenges are "well-informed." My thanks to the person who sent the material. He is not a subscriber but I will send him the issues which contain the answers proposed by our readers....I truly enjoyed doing the research. My job is a whole lot easier when readers submit specific questions or challenges. (After reproducing BE's pamphlet, THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD?, TF said--Ed.). I left the grammar and punctuation as they were, so that I would not misrepresent the author in any way. I now address the author: Before I respond to the numbered challenges, I extend a challenge of my own: Prove that your assertion is true, that the Bible "contains hundreds of problems and contradictions that can't be solved." Mere assertion is not enough.

(At this point TF addressed BE's first point which was: If you must accept Jesus as your savior in order to be saved {John 14:6}, what about the billions of beings that die as fetuses, infants, mental deficients, etc.? For them to accept Jesus would be impossible, so they are condemned to hell because of conditions over which they had no control. Deut. 32:4 says God is just, but where is the justice?--Ed.).

You assert that it is "impossible" for certain people to accept Jesus as Savior. 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.

However much we speculate about the degrees of penalty and reward for various individuals, all Bible-believers agree that God will judge with righteous judgment. You cite John 14:6 which states that "no man cometh unto the Father, but by" Jesus. All who are saved are saved by his power. That verse does not say that anyone goes to hell or that anyone goes to heaven. John 3:16-19 concludes with "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." People are responsible individually for the arrogant rejection of the truths God has made clear to them individually. Children are less culpable. "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 19:14).

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part a)

Dear TF. 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. The present example is a case in point. First, you say, "suppose each person has a conscious, competent soul at conception." Surely you not saying an embryo can consciously accept Jesus as his or her savior, because that is what is required. You admit you are "supposing" rather than providing evidence. I can understand your reluctance to advocate such a doctrine directly; it's inane. Leaving aside the tangential issue of whether or not an embryo is a "person" at conception, an embryo is neither competent nor conscious, in any meaningful sense, at conception. You say that I "haven't proved" my doctrine in this regard. But I am under no obligation to prove something does not exist which you claim does. The burden of proof lies on he who alleges; that's axiomatic. You are obligated to prove that an embryo is "conscious and competent" at conception sufficient to make a calculated decision to accept Jesus. You can "suppose" anything you like but that has nothing to do with proof. Second, if embryos and infants were as conscious and competent as you imply, why wouldn't they also be morally responsible for their behavior? Third, how would they even learn about Jesus? Were they preached to through the abdominal wall and in the crib? How far do you want to carry this? Fourth, mentally deficient people with very low IQ's couldn't accept Jesus no matter where they were. Many are not conscious of what is required nor are they competent to make decisions. Fifth, you say that, "all Bible-believers agree that God will judge with righteous judgment." But what people believe is irrelevant. The question is what the Book says. And the Book repeatedly says that if you don't accept Jesus as your saviour you are doomed. John 14:6 ("I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man {NO MAN--Ed.} cometh unto the Father, but by me"), 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"), John 3:36 ("He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him"), 1 John 5:12 ("He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life"), Acts 4:12 ("Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"), and 1 Cor. 3:11 make that abundantly clear. What biblicists, such as yourself, don't realize is that the Book has locked you in; there is no escape. Absolutist statements are always dangerous and this is a prime example. Christianity has no answer for this problem; it never has and never will. More sophisticated strategies try to employ the 1st chapter of Romans but that's doomed from the start because salvation requires acceptance of Jesus in particular as one's Savior not a general belief in God. Sixth, believers may believe that God will judge with righteous judgment but that's not in accordance with the text. The latter shows he will judge on the basis of one's attitude toward Jesus. Righteousness has nothing to do with the issue. Even if you were to find statements to the effect that judgment will be based on righteousness, you would have only escaped one contradiction to face another. Seventh, you say that "all who are saved are saved by his power." But the Book says we are saved by accepting Jesus, not "by his power," except in so far as it comes over you after you have accepted him. You save yourself; he doesn't do it for you. Eighth, you say that John 14:6 "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. Are you saying there is a third option? If so, could you provide biblical support? Ninth, I'm not sure why you quoted John 3:19 when the prior verse proves precisely the point I'm making and was quoted earlier. When read in context one can easily see that this is the kind of verse you should avoid. Tenth, after quoting John 3:19 you say that, "people are responsible individually for the arrogant rejection of the truths God has made clear to them individually." But what has this to do with the issue? When and how could fetuses, infants, and the mentally deficient "arrogantly reject" anything and how was the requisite information "made clear" to them? Eleventh, you say that, "children are less culpable." What do you mean, "less culpable"? They either are or they aren't culpable. The Bible rarely allows for shades of gray or intermediate stages. You either are or you aren't. You talk as if the Book were rational and allowed for gradations. And lastly, you quoted Matt. 19:14 which says that children compose heaven. As used by you, the verse means either that children, including fetuses and infants, have accepted Jesus and attained heaven or heaven is composed of people who did not accept Jesus, which would contradict the verses I quoted earlier. Either way, a problem remains.

Letter #310 Continues (Part b)

(After addressing our pamphlet's first point, TF criticised the second--Why are we being punished for Adam's sin? After all, he ate the forbidden fruit, we didn't; it's his problem not ours, especially in light of Deut. 24:16 which says the children shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers--Ed.). It is more accurate to say that we are penalized by Adam's sin, rather than for his sin. (A hemophiliac may die of AIDS because of someone else's sin.) We should recognize that we inherited the earth from Adam. As a result of Adam's offense, God chose not to renew some of the blessings he had previously renewed on a daily basis. God never took away anything that Adam (or you) had a right to possess. We may resent the fact that Adam did not give us a better inheritance. Better yet, let's rejoice that Jesus has obtained a greater inheritance than Adam ever could (and has offered it to us). See 1 Peter 1:4 ("To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you").

Incidentally, Deut. 24:16 refers only to the death penalty as enforced by the government of Israel, and is not otherwise generalized.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part b)

Your response to this contradiction also merits a reply, TF. First, your preference to use "by" rather than "for" Adam's sin only creates a distinction without a difference. The fact is that we are bearing the burden, we are being punished, for what someone else did. Your hemophiliac example isn't analogous because a conscious decision by a just being was not involved. Fate and chance rather than conscious intent determined the outcome. It was not consciously willed by an outside power that the hemophiliac would suffer because of another's behavior. Second, your comment that "...God chose not to renew some of the blessings he had previously renewed on a daily basis" is nothing more than an attempt to soft-pedal an event which gave rise to a catastrophic injustice. Because of Adam and Eve's sin, the world allegedly reeks with antisocial behavior, mankind was denied a heaven-on-earth, and women must bear pain in childbirth. Third, you say that "God never took away anything that Adam (or you) had a right to possess." I beg to differ. When I'm denied something which I would have received except for another's misbehavior, that's losing something I had a right to possess. I did nothing to lose it and would have received it but for another's bad deeds. That's injustice. Fourth, you say that "we may resent the fact that Adam did not give us a better inheritance." Judging from the world's condition, that's putting it mildly. But more importantly, we have a right to be resentful not only against Adam but against God. At least that's the logical conclusion to which Christian theology leads. Fifth, your comment that we should "rejoice that Jesus has obtained a greater inheritance than Adam ever could (and has offered it to us)" is one of the most common subterfuges used by the more subtle apologists. In effect, they are saying, "Wasn't Jesus marvelous to provide us a way out of this quagmire." But that's irrelevant. The fact remains that if God had been just from the beginning we would never have been in the dilemma to begin with. How we get out of the problem is not the issue. The issue is how we could have gotten into it from the beginning if God was just. Realizing the obvious injustice that is involved, apologists often try to shift the focus from how we got into the problem to how Jesus provided a way out. And lastly, your comment that 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") refers only to the death penalty as enforced by the government of Israel and is not otherwise generalized exemplifies a ruse often employed by biblicists. If they like an OT verse, or a NT verse for that matter, they say it applies to everybody. If they don't like it, such as verses requiring death for: striking your father or your mother (Ex. 21:15), committing adultery (Deut. 22:22), or being a witch (Ex. 22:18), they say it is no longer applicable. Upon what basis do you assume that it only applies to the government of Israel and is not to be generalized? Are you going to apply the same criterion to every maxim in the OT including the Ten Commandments and if not, why not? Where do you draw the line and upon what basis? (To Be Continued)

EDITOR'S NOTE: While praising BE, a couple of readers have criticised the quality of its printing. We admit the print is rather condensed and columns might help. But the latter would require a new computer and double-spacing would mean twice as many years would be required to exhaust our notes, unless we doubled our number of pages. The latter would entail increasing our prices substantially which we are determined to avoid. Although we recently experienced an increase in printing and mailing costs, we are determined to hold the line. More white space means less information. Deep inside I can't help but feel that anyone who can't or won't navigate 3 or 4 pages of single-spaced commentaries each month probably won't have sufficient stamina over the long run to cope with the determination of biblicists, regardless.

Issue No. 78

June 1989

COMMENTARY

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES (Part Three of a Five-Part Series)--April and May's commentaries focused on the inapplicability of the alleged messianic prophecies and this month's commentary will continue that enumeration. (44) PSALM 110:1 ("The Lord {allegedly God--Ed.} said unto my Lord {allegedly Jesus--Ed.}, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool"). (a) If "my Lord" were Jesus this would contradict one of the primary tenets of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:24, 25, 28) which is that Jesus is to do the work of subduing the enemies of God and not God himself. (b) My "Lord" comes from the Hebrew word addressed to one of superior age, rank, or influence. It has nothing to do with Jesus, God, or any part of the Trinity. The Hebrew word for lord, "adonee," was applied by David to King Saul on at least two occasions (1 Sam. 24:8, 10). Thus, if this lord refers to a person who is part of and one with God, Saul, to whom David also refers as "adonee," could be also. If David wrote this Psalm, then Saul must be the "adonee" of the Psalm, since he is the only person David ever acknowledged as his lord and master. (c) "Adonee" appears often in the OT, but nowhere is it applied to the Almighty. However, it is applied to Abraham (Gen. 23:6, 11, 15), the king of Egypt (Gen. 40:1), Laban (Gen. 31:35), and Esau (Gen. 32:4). (d) The language implies God is speaking to a person already existing, i.e., David, not Jesus. David is the "my Lord." (e) "Lord" in "my Lord" should not be capitalized as the RSV shows. It refers to a lord here on earth, i.e. nobility, not a divine being. It is only a title of courtesy. There is only one Lord with a capital "L" and that refers to God as 1 Kings 1:36-37, for example, shows. (f) This was probably written by a contemporary of David who is referring to David, his sovereign, as "my lord." (45) PSALM 110:2-3 ("The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power...."). The rod of thy strength is inapplicable to Jesus because he never ruled in the midst of his enemies and never had a day of power. (46) PSALM 118:26 ("Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord...."). It says, "cometh in the name of the Lord." It did not say he was the Lord. Why assume it is referring to Jesus? (47) PROV. 30:4 ("Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"). This couldn't be referring to Jesus because his name was known then and is known now. Moreover, he had no son. (48) ISAIAH 9:6 ("For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"). Although taunted as a prime messianic prophecy this verse is inapplicable to Jesus for several reasons: (a) The use of "us" and "is" shows that he (Isaiah--Ed.) is speaking only in the present tense, to the Jews living in his own time around 742 B.C. Isaiah's contemporaries will receive the child, not their distant descendants. (b) Nobody calls or called Jesus Wonderful, Counsellor, or Everlasting Father. (c) He is the Everlasting Son, not Father. How could Jesus talk to God the Father if he were God the Father as this verse contends? (d) The "Prince of Peace" is contrary to Matt. 10:34 which says Jesus came to bring a sword, not peace. (49) ISAIAH 9:7 ("Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever"). Jesus did not set up a government of peace without end or, indeed, any government. (50) ISAIAH 11:1-3 ("And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord: And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord...."). (a) How could Jesus gain the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and the spirit of might? As God's co-equal he would already have had them. (b) Would Jesus fear his co-equal, God? (51) ISAIAH 11:4 ("But with righteousness shall he judge the poor,....and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked...."). When did Jesus judge the poor, smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and slay the wicked? The allegedly meek victim, i.e. Jesus, who went as a lamb to the slaughter, can hardly be described as slaying the wicked with the breath of his mouth. (52) ISAIAH 11:6-7 ("The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: And the lion shall eat straw like the ox"). When the Messiah came there was to be peace between ferocious and domestic animals and they were not to injure human beings. This is also predicted in Isa. 65:25, Ezek. 34:25, 28, and Hosea 2:18. Jesus certainly never brought in an era of universal peace. Beasts and nations still fight and slay as of yore. (53) ISAIAH 11:11 ("And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people...."). This isn't saying the Messiah will come a second time as some allege, but only that the Lord will again try to bring his Remnant back to Israel. (54) ISAIAH 16:5 RSV ("Then a throng will be established in steadfast love and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to righteousness"). Jesus never sat in David's tent or judged while he was on earth. (55) ISAIAH 32:1 ("Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment"). (a) There is no divinity implied here. Ishmaelites could just as easily say this passage refers to their supreme ruler. Their evidence is just as good as that for Jesus. (b) The entire verse is speculative, anyway. (56) ISAIAH 40:4-5 ("Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low...and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it"). Christians apply this prophecy to Christ; but "all flesh" have not seen this glorious revelation, or even heard of it, although nearly 2,000 years have elapsed since the boasted fulfillment in Christ. (57) ISAIAH 49:5 RSV ("...and my God has become my strength"). (a) Yet, God did not become Jesus' strength or protect him from his enemies. (b) Would Jesus, who is God's equal, say this or needs God's strength? (58) ISAIAH 49:6 ("I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth"). (a) If this is Jesus, it contradicts his description of his mission in Matthew 15:24 ("But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"). (b) How did Jesus illuminate the eyes of the Gentiles or the nations? Most of the nations, such as Moslems, do not accept him as the Savior. (59) ISAIAH 49:7 ("...Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves...."). Kings and princes have never paid homage to Jesus. (60) ISAIAH 49:8-9 RSV ("...I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, come forth, to those who are in darkness, Appear"). This could not be referring to Jesus since Christ did not conduct the people out of captivity. (61) ISAIAH 50:6 ("I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting"). (a) This could not be referring to Jesus because the same verse says his oppressors pulled out his beard. When did Jesus have his beard pulled out? (b) Verse 8 ("he who vindicates me is near....Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me") says the speaker's justifier is near. Yet, all of Jesus' justifiers were far away while his accusers were near. According to Matt. 27:46 and Psalm 22:1-2 ("My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not....") even his father in heaven was far away in his time of trouble. (62) 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 the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn"). (a) This couldn't be Jesus because it implies the person under discussion received the Spirit of the Lord which Jesus always had. (b) Jesus has always been anointed. He didn't receive it. (c) Ishmaelites and the other nations could also say that this was said of their leaders. (d) This statement was actually made by Isaiah concerning himself long before Jesus was born. (63) ISAIAH 63:3-6 ("I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come....therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury...."). (a) But Jesus did have some of the people with him. (b) The meek and mild Jesus admits he will exhibit anger and fury and tread people down?? (c) Since the NT never refers to "their blood" being sprinkled on the garments of Jesus, it is nothing more than speculation that this refers to Jesus. (d) Instead of "the year of my redeemed is come" the RSV and Mod. Lang. Versions have "my year of redemption" and "the year of my redemption has come" respectively. They certainly couldn't be referring to Jesus who needed no redemption. (e) How could the perfect Jesus have a "day of vengeance in his heart?" Would Jesus want to get even with people? (f) How could the arm of Jesus bring salvation to himself when he needed no salvation? (64) And finally, ISAIAH 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 my servants shall dwell there"). By saying "bring forth descendants" from Jacob, rather than "bring forth a seed," the RSV shows that "seed" refers to many people, not one. The RSV and Mod. Lang. Versions say "inheritors" not "an inheritor" which also shows that many people are being referred to rather than one. So the verse couldn't be referring only to Jesus.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #310 Continues from Last Month (Part c)

(BE's 7th point on its pamphlet, THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD, was: Rom. 3:23 says "All have sinned." All means all. Yet, Gen. 6:9 says Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. Job 1:1 and 1:8 say Job was perfect. How could these men have been perfect if all have sinned? What follows is TF's reply--Ed.). Noah and Job were "perfect." In 2 Tim. 3:16-17 Paul tells us that "all scripture is given by...God... that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Those who are "perfect" are complete, healthy, and exemplary in their relative moral development.

Nevertheless, all have sinned, except for Jesus. Even our best actions are corrupted by impure motives (Isa. 64:6). Jesus alone was perfect and sinless.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part c)

You say "those who are perfect are complete...and exemplary in their 'relative' moral development." What does that mean? If it means they are perfect, then they are morally perfect, period, and that contradicts Rom. 3:23. If it means they are more moral than anyone else, but less than perfect, then they are morally imperfect like everyone else. Either they are morally perfect are they aren't. There is no inbetween. You are engaging in doubletalk, TF. The Bible says they are perfect and that settles it. If Noah was not morally perfect, then he had no more right to be saved on the Ark than anyone else because he was a sinner like everyone else. The difference between Noah and all others would be one of degree not kind. If Jesus, alone, was perfect and sinless, then Noah and Job were morally imperfect and Gen. 6:9 and Job 1:1 are false. You can't have it both ways.

Letter #310 Continues (Part d)

(BE's 23rd point on the same pamphlet was: For justice to exist, punishment must fit the crime. No matter how many bad deeds one commits in this world, there is a limit. Yet Hell's punishment is infinitely greater. What follows is TF's reply--Ed.). I haven't found the verse which defines hell's punishment as being "infinitely greater" than we deserve. Punishment must fit the crime. Hell is not "infinitely greater." It is infinite in its duration. It is easy to define an infinite series which has a finite total. Nevertheless, hell is clearly something to avoid.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part d)

Again, TF, your answer is wholly inadequate for several reasons. First, unless biblical authors completely take leave of their senses, no verse is going to admit "hell's punishment is 'infinitely greater' than we deserve." Logic rather than biblical authors provide the evidence. 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"), Dan. 12:2 ("And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt"), Rev. 14:11 ("And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast...."), Rev. 20:10 ("And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone...and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever"), and Rev. 20:15 show that people are punished in Hell for eternity. Yet, there is no way anyone can commit an infinite number of sins, since we only live for a finite number of years. The obvious conclusion is that if anyone is punished in hell for eternity, then the punishment is far greater than that which is warranted. Second, your assertion that "hell is not infinitely greater. It is infinite in its duration" is another distinction without substance. One's punishment in Hell is either infinite or it isn't; there is no inbetween. Since the prior verses show it is eternal, justice is impossible. No one's evil deeds are infinite. Third, perhaps you're trying to say Hell is eternal but punishment in Hell is finite? If so, could you provide biblical support for this and state where people go after serving their time in agony? Fourth, I'm not even sure you understand simple math. How can an infinite series have a finite total? The number of finites within an infinite series is infinite, not finite. (To Be Continued)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #311 from Paul Keller of Grand Forks, North Dakota

Dear Dennis. ....Last Thursday I spoke on atheism to two classes at a high school. They were "Bible as Literature" classes. Your leaflets were very useful for provoking questions. Please send 50 more of each. There were some questions about the "Jesus Christ is the Answer" pamphlet. The teacher looked up #5 in I don't know what version and found that the cock crowed after the second denial. Number 5 says it occurred after the first. Of course, it is still not the third, as was prophecied. Also, in #4 the bible says the first day of the week. She thought maybe that was Monday. I said it is considered to be Sunday.... My goal was to get the students to question and I sure did that. By the end of each class they were peppering me with questions even though both classes started out very quiet.

Editor's Response to Letter #311

Dear Paul. First, I want to congratulate you on getting into a high school class with this kind of information. Most "Bible as Literature" classes are little more than subterfuges used by biblicists for worming biblical indoctrination into public education. I'm surprised you even got a hearing. The teacher must have been exceptional. Second, I rechecked my pamphlets and found no errors. Mark 14:66-68 clearly contradicts the prophecy found in John 13:38. You might ask the teacher what she was referring to. I'd like to know. Third, I don't think there is much dispute about Sunday being the first day of the week. That's not a real issue. The seventh day is Saturday and that's the sabbath, the day of rest. Keep up your excellent work. If only more people were doing the same!

Letter #312 from DL of Ipswich, Massachusetts

(DL sent the following letter to a radio talk-show host. For this, we are most grateful--Ed.). Dear Mr. Burns. I had hoped that Dennis McKinsey, editor of the national periodical Biblical Errancy, would have been a guest on your talk show by now. Since that has not taken place I felt I should write to you again and include some additional BE literature. I don't think I could impress upon you in a letter the importance of the work that Mr. McKinsey is so dedicated to concerning the Bible. However, I have sent you his powerful commentary taken from Issue #31 of BE entitled What is Needed which I hope you will take the time to read. I've also included an article taken from Issue #69, on Heaven which I think is a classic.... I want to wish you continued success with the best and most informative talk show in the New England area. Yours in Freethought!

Letter #313 from DL of Ipswich, Massachusetts

(DL is undoubtedly one of BE's most energetic and dedicated supporters as another one of his letters demonstrates--Ed.). Dear Mr. Donahue. I try to look in on your program as often as possible. You are without question the number one host of all the talk show hosts. The wide variety of interesting topics and the superb manner in which you present them to the public is quite apparent. You are a really great communicator. Phil, you are deserving of many compliments, one being for having done a number of shows on religion....Just recently you had Dan Barker from the Freedom From Religion Foundation on one of your shows.

There is another gentleman that needs to be heard on a national talk show. His name is Dennis McKinsey and he has a national periodical called Biblical Errancy. I have been in contact by letter with three excellent local talk shows out of the Boston area and hope he will soon be a guest on at least one of those programs.... Mr. McKinsey has been on a number of local talk shows around the country and a little over a year ago I heard him on a radio program out of Buffalo, New York. The show was just about the most interesting and liveliest of programs on religion that I have ever heard! Dennis will be on national television eventually for it's just a matter of time, so why not have him make his first appearance as a guest on the Donahue Show. I can not think of one reason why the Bible should not be discussed on national television, can you?

I have been receiving Biblical Errancy for about two years and also have all of the prior issues of this periodical. Along with this letter, I have sent you his sample issue and issue #58. I might suggest to you or anyone else who will be reading these newsletters, and I hope they will, to read No. 58 first and be sure to read the letter from South Pasadena, California and the Editor's response in the sample issue. I've also included an article taken from the 1988 September issue on Heaven which I think is a classic.

Phil, I wish you continued success with the best and most informative talk show in the country and please don't pass up the opportunity to be the first to have Dennis McKinsey as your guest on a program in the near future. Yours in freethought!

Letter #314 from Dennis McKinsey to the Federal Communications Commissioner on Sept. 11, l976

(Long before BE existed I struggled against religious dominance of the air-ways. BE has published many letters from others so I thought it might be interesting and informative to print one of my own which was recently unearthed--Ed.). Dear Commissioner Wiley: My name is Dennis McKinsey and I live in the Miami Valley of Western Ohio. In my area there exists a call-in radio station known as WAVI which is hosted by several talk-masters, some of whom are quite unjust in the methodology by which they conduct conversations. One individual is particularly flagrant in this regard. His name is Keith Hardin and he acts as an emcee for a couple of religious call-in programs on Sunday mornings. Apparently he feels that callers should be allowed to speak, providing they do not imply that the Bible lacks validity or accuracy. One does not need to make statements; asking questions is sufficient. Several times he has found himself without an answer and rather than reason through the problem he has simply terminated the call. In so far as I can remember he has never allowed me to complete any concept I sought to develop. The censorship which he exercises is clear and obvious to anyone who cares to listen. After receiving far too many unwarranted cut-offs, I challenged him to a debate over the Bible and stated my willingness to go to the station on any Sunday of his choosing. He not only stated that he felt it would be a waste of time (something only the audience is prepared to judge objectively) but no longer will allow me to speak because I challenged him. I told him a much more balanced presentation of both positions would be possible if he did not "have all that electronic equipment down at the station to run interference." Several times, including the last Sunday in August, 1976, he has resorted to a clearly deceptive and quite dishonest maneuver by which to give the audience the impression that the caller is being unreasonable. Essentially what happens is as follows: When Hardin finds himself in a predicament from which there is no escape, he will turn down the volume which prevents the caller, i.e. me, from hearing him while all other controls remain the same. While the caller, i.e. me, is talking and hearing no response from the other end of the line he naturally assumes that the talkmaster is continuing to listen. The caller ends each sentence and, hearing no response, continues to speak. Deception lies in the fact that the caller does not realize that the talkmaster is simultaneously making such statements as, "But sir, may I say this" or "I would like to say" or "Could I just say this." Meanwhile the caller keeps talking not realizing that the host is trying to speak or, at least giving the impression of same. Finally the talkmaster will hang up the phone with such words as, "Well, if he isn't going to allow me to speak there is no since in continuing the conversation." Of course, members of the audience, who can hear everybody, have been deceived as to what really occurred and say to themselves, "I would have cut him off too if I had been the talkmaster."

It is clear that I am not going to receive a hearing with respect to the Sunday morning programs conducted by Keith Hardin. He not only hosts nearly two hours of programming but operates the electronic equipment during Mike Willis' one hour Bible Forum program. As now constituted the programs are little more than propaganda agencies for groups that will allow no significant criticism of the Bible. Arguments over interpretation of the Bible are permitted; discussions concerning the validity of the book itself are not. I have tape recordings of the conversations that have occurred and would be glad to make them available to anyone who may have questions as to what occurs. After listening to the tapes I am sure you would agree that a doctrine of fairness is not a significant factor in this matter. Even when one is allowed to propound a question, the talkmaster will often waste little time in terminating the call so that he can provide any response, no matter how weak, fully cognizant of the caller's inability to rebut. To be heard fully without interruption is my only concern. They seek a monologue; I seek a dialogue. I have called several talkmasters to express my dissatisfaction, but to no avail. The program manager told me he has received complaints from other people concerning Keith Hardin and promised to "talk to him." As of the present nothing has changed. I would appreciate action by your office in this matter. I might add that after many calls to Pastor Mike Willis he stated, "I am simply not going to allow you to destroy the effectiveness of this program."

(Readers of BE might be interested in knowing that I received a reply from the FCC to the effect that they do not, and will not, exercise any kind of oversight in matters of this nature. The moral of the story is that one need only buy himself a program or radio station in order to repeatedly tell the world that black is white without fear of correction--Ed.).

Letter #315 from RWH of Piqua, Ohio

Dear Dennis. Thanks to BE I have shown many people that the Bible does have major problems. I love it. Please send me #32 and #33. Also, please end me 10 each of your two pamphlets....

Issue No. 79

July 1989

COMMENTARY

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES (Part Four of a Five-Part Series)--For several months we have been listing the OT messianic prophecies that are allegedly referring to Jesus and explaining why they are inapplicable. This month's commentary will continue that enumeration and begin with the book of Jeremiah. (65) JER. 23:5-6 ("Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS"). (a) Jesus could not be that Branch because he was not a physical descendant of David. Joseph was not his physical father and that breaks the genealogical chain. (b) The Branch of David was to be a king who would save them from their enemies. Jesus was not a king and he did not save them from their enemies. (c) Jesus never reigned, prospered, or executed judgment. During his time Judah was still subjugated by Gentiles and Israel had apparently vanished amidst captivities. (d) Several Hebrew scholars claim the KJV should have translated the final underlined part as: "this is the name whereby they shall call themselves: The Eternal is our righteousness." They claim the following deceptive changes were made in the KJV: (d1) "The name" was changed to "his name." (d2) The pronoun "they" relating to the people of Judah and Israel was changed to "he." (d3) The word "Eternal" was incorrectly translated as "Lord." (d4) "The Lord our righteousness" was printed in capital letters to point to an atoning redeemer when the same phrase is used in Jer. 33:16 but not capitalized. (e) Some critics claim there should be an "is" between "Lord" and "our." Leaving out the "is" imputes both lordship and righteousness to Jesus rather than God. It wrongly imputes divinity to the Messiah. The RSV correctly translates this verse as "The Lord is our righteousness." (f) There are no indications of Jesus ever being called "The Lord our righteousness" except by those seeking to fulfill the prophecy. (66) DAN. 7:13 ("I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him"). (a) It says one "like" the Son of man came.... It doesn't say he "was" the Son of man. (b) Even if the Son of man is the Messiah, the text distinguishes between him and God by saying he was brought to God, the Ancient of Days. (67) DAN. 9:24-25 ("Seventy weeks (70 X 7 = 490 years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins....and to anoint the most Holy....from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks (7 + 62 =69) and (69 X 7 = 483 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times"). This begins, of course, the famous prophecy of Daniel which apologists have seized with maximum celerity. Unfortunately, problems abound. (a) The words "week" and "weeks" come from the Hebrew word which means 7 days, not 7 years. (b) Unlike the RSV which says, "Seventy weeks of years," the KJV says "Seventy weeks." These weeks are real weeks of seven days each, not years. Dan. 10:2-4 shows as much: (b1) "I Daniel was mourning 3 full weeks." Would he mourn 21 years? (b2) "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till 3 whole weeks are fulfilled." Would he have gone without eating these things for 21 years? (b3) "And in the four and twentieth day (24th) of the first month...." Would he talk about the 24th day in verse 4 after just talking about 21 days (3 weeks) in verse 2 if these 3 weeks meant anything other than 21 days, such as 21 years? If 21 days means 21 years then the 24th day should be the 24th year. The KJV does not mention "years." (c) 483 years were supposed to elapse from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of Jesus. The decree of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem was made in 536 B.C. (Isa. 44:28) which is 532 years before the birth of Jesus in 4 B.C., not 483 years. The prophecy was 49 years short. (d) The KJV says "the most Holy," which implies a person, not a place; while the RSV says "a most holy place" and shows a place, not a person, is being referred to. (e) The word "Messiah" is never applied to the expected deliverer of the Israelites in the whole Bible. It is indifferently applied to kings, priests, prophets, and those who are inducted into their office. (f) In order to make "Messiah the Prince" apply to Jesus one must distort the text because he was no prince or "Nagid". The Hebrew word "Nagid" always denotes a prince or ruler with temporal authority which Jesus lacked. (68) DAN. 9:26 ("And after threescore and two weeks (62) or (7 X 62) = 434 years shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood...."). (a) After what? If after Cyrus' decree in 536 B.C., there is a problem. Jesus died in 33 A.D according to most accounts. From 536 B.C. to 33 A.D. is 569 years. Five hundred and sixty-nine years exceeds 434 years by 135 years. The prophecy is 135 years short. (b) If after Jesus' birth, it would mean Jesus lived to be 434 years old. (c) How could Jesus be cut off, i.e. die, after 62 weeks when verse 25 said he would not be born or appear until after 69 weeks? (d) The word "and" implies that Jerusalem was destroyed when the Messiah came. Yet, this did not occur until 70 A.D. which was more than 40 years after the Messiah was cut off. (e) When was Jerusalem ever destroyed by a literal flood? Apologists will, no doubt, abandon their literal approach and claim this is referring to a flood of people. (69) HOSEA 6:1 ("Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up"). Apologists let their imaginations run wild in many instances and this is a good example. (a) "Us" shows that more than one being is under discussion, not Jesus alone. (b) How could Jesus return to the Lord unless he left him, which is impossible, since he is the Lord. (c) When did God tear Jesus? (d) When did God smite Jesus? (70) HOSEA 6:2-3 ("After two days will he revive us: in the 3rd day he will raise us up...Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord....and he shall come unto us...."). (a) Again, "us" and "we" show that more than one person is being raised, not Jesus alone. (b) In Matt. 27:63 and Mark 8:31 Jesus said he would rise after 3 days, not "in the 3rd day." (c) "To know the Lord" implies that Jesus did not yet know him which is impossible. (d) How could God come to "us," to Jesus, when Jesus is the Lord? (71) MICAH 5:1 ("...they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek"). Apologists claim this was fulfilled by Matt. 26:67 ("Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands....") when nothing is said in Matthew about hitting Jesus on the cheek with a rod. (72) HAGGAI 2:6-7 ("For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come"). (a) Jesus was never the desire of all nations. (b) The universal earthquake which was to precede his coming appears to have passed unnoticed. Haggai 2:21-23 ("Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of Kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the Kingdoms of the heathen.... In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel...And will make thee as a signet....") shows that Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, was to be taken when the earth and heavens quaked. He was to be taken by the Lord "in that day," which shows that this prophecy is referring to the immediate future and not to Jesus who lived 500 years later. (c) The verse says "a little while;" yet the "desire," which is allegedly Jesus, appeared over 500 years after the prophecy. (d) The RSV says "treasures" (pl.) rather than the "desire" (sing.) of all nations.

THE HOLY GHOST--Anyone who has studied the Trinity with any degree of objectivity knows that Christians believe in tritheism--three gods. They hold that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, yet we are to believe simultaneously that there is only one god. Supposedly, within the one God are three persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. With logic such as this, is it any wonder that they concede the Trinity is not to be understood but accepted on blind faith. Besides the problems with the Trinity that were discussed in the commentary of Issue #15 and on page 5 of Issue #36, several other points are worthy of note. First, the word "person" is never used in the Bible in the manner employed by biblicists. In fact, within the King James NT the words "person" and "persons" only appear 10 and 14 times respectively and none has any reference whatever to the Trinity. Creation of an artificial word such as "persons" is nothing more than a subterfuge to evade an obvious imbroglio. As used by biblicists the word "persons" refers to three separate and distinct beings with all the powers and prerogatives of a god. Thus, in effect, the deceptive euphemism, "person," becomes nothing more than another word for "god," and the words "god" or "godhead" become generic terms encompassing the three gods. "Godhead" or "god" no longer refer to a being per se but become general terms referring to three gods. Second, nowhere in the Bible is the third person in the Trinity--the Holy Ghost--directly referred to as God. The Father (1 Peter 1:17) and the Son (Titus 2:13) are referred to as God, but the Holy Ghost is not. Apologists seek to use Acts 5:3-4 ("But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost....thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God") but conveniently ignore the fact that "agency" is a well-known precept in communication. One does not have to have said something directly to someone in order for communication to have occurred. If someone says something to a company's lawyer that is treated as if one had said it to the company's executives or CEO. Communication with a person's physician is often treated as communication with that person. Many relationships are often considered so close that contact with one element is equated with contact with the other. But that does not mean the elements are identical. Third, many verses clearly show that the Holy Ghost is a spirit, not a person, as biblicists use the term. It has no mind, will, or personality, but is only a feeling or attitude. For example, Luke 1:15 ("...and he--Jesus--shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb") says that Jesus was filled with the Holy Ghost. How could this have occurred when they are separate persons? How can one person fill or indwell another person? Acts 10:38 says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power...." One person can not be anointed with another. The verse says Jesus was anointed "with the Holy Ghost" not "by the Holy Ghost." Matt. 3:11 makes the same point by saying "...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" not by the Holy Ghost. Luke 4:1 says, "Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost....". How could one person in the Trinity be filled with another person of the Trinity? Second Tim. 1:14 says, "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us". If one can be filled by the Holy Ghost which is allegedly one person of the Trinity, then why couldn't one be filled by Jesus the Son or God the Father as well, since they are all allegedly equal?

Other relevant verses in this regard are: Luke 1:41 ("...and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost"), Acts 2:4 ("And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost"), and Acts 13:9 ("Then Saul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes...."). Granted, another group of verses say the Holy Ghost is a being, but that only exacerbates the problem.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #310 from TF of MENSA in Pasadena, Maryland Continues from Last Month (Part e)

(The 4th point in BE's pamphlet, THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD?, was: How can Num. 23:19 ["God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent...."] which says God doesn't repent, be reconciled with Ex. 32:14 ["the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people"] which clearly says he does? What follows is TF's reply--Ed.).

God does not "repent" or "turn back" from his eternal principles, standards, and criteria. He does not "turn back" from his purposes and plans. Thus, if God provides an "umbrella" or shelter to deflect his wrath from us, we may seek that protection or reject it. God doesn't change as a result of our choices. Yet our relation to him changes. Our choice can "turn back" his wrath. Even in Exodus 32:11-14 when God chooses to "turn back" from imminent judgment of the children of Israel, he chooses on the basis of eternal criteria and objective facts which were eternally foreseen. The dialogue in that passage occurs and is recorded so that creatures may learn those eternal criteria.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part e)

Dear TF. This answer, like your others, is fatally flawed. First, the text says God does not repent, period. It says nothing about his eternal principles or standards. Could you show me where the text has qualifiers? Where does the text say "repent" only has your limited application? You are engaging more in esigesis than exegesis. Second, God's "umbrella" or "shelter to deflect his wrath" has nothing to do with the text and is something you have added gratuitously. Third, the text says nothing about our relationship to God changing. In effect, you are rewriting the script as you would like the Bible to read. Man's relationship to him is irrelevant. The fact is that the text says he does not repent and that settles the matter. He either does or he does not. If he does, regardless of the reason, then Num. 23:19 is false. Fourth, you obviously don't like the word "repent" and have created a phrase of your own--turn back--to minimize the clash. Why do you equate the two and are we going to use the words of the text or those you prefer?

Letter #310 Continues (Part f)

(The 5th point in BE's pamphlet, THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD? was: How can 2 Kings 8:26 ["Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign"] which says Ahaziah began to rule at age 22 be reconciled with 2 Chron. 22:2 ["Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign"] which says he was 42? The following is TF's reply--Ed.)

This one is easy. II Chron. 22:2 is copied incorrectly from the original. Ahaziah started his reign when his father died at the age of forty (2 Chron. 21:20). Therefore Ahaziah was 22 (rather than 42) when he replaced his father. Even in the Bible, at birth children are younger than their parents.

It is easy to copy parts of the Bible incorrectly. Try it yourself with any passage chosen at random. If your experience is like mine, the words will not disappear or correct themselves. The amazing thing is the degree of corrective support or "parity checking" made possible by the biblical context.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part f)

Unfortunately, TF, there is nothing easy about this one. First, how do you know it was copied incorrectly? This is the standard ploy that has been used by apologists for centuries. You have never seen the originals nor has anyone else in the modern era. This tactic is rather amusing as it is often employed when nothing else can be thought of. In his classic work, Alleged Bible Discrepancies, Haley used it profusely. When one group of writings say 2 Chron. 22:2 should be 42, how do you know it should say something else? How do you know 2 Kings 8:26 is copied correctly? Maybe it's in error and 2 Chron. is correct? Apparently you obtained your answer from one of the standard apologetic works and took no more account of the problem involved than most apologists. Second, there are many Hebraic texts supposedly accurately reproducing the original OT text. Surely you aren't saying the translators of the text into English based their translation on only one inaccurately copied text among many. If there were a copyist error, then many Hebrew texts would have to have precisely the same error, which would be incredible. Third, the fact that 22 would seem to be more in harmony with other parts of the text is hardly worthy of serious consideration since consistency is certainly not one of the Bible's hallmarks. Indeed, the entire history of this publication provides evidence to the contrary. (To Be Continued)

Letter #316 from DM of Pasadena, California

Dear Dennis. I suspect that we're mostly talking past one another, so I'll state my position again. I just don't see any "conspiracy" by the better translations of the Bible to eliminate legitimate discrepancies. I'm talking about the New English Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, Today's English Version, the Jerusalem Bible, and certain others. In fact, the great majority of the deviations from the King James Bible are probably justified. Note what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that the effects of prejudice are wholly absent in such works. Nor am I talking about the history of the Bible, its origins, or how it has been used down through the ages. Neither am I talking about inferior translations. I am saying that the above translations are worthy of scholarly acclaim, that they are the work of high standards and cannot justly be characterized as vehicles for eliminating legitimate difficulties.

Any translation of the Bible represents a tremendous number of decisions. Manuscripts or portions thereof must be selected. Rare words must be interpreted, and nebulous expressions must be clarified. And, of course, many words and expressions will have no precise counterpart in the new language. I've tried to illustrate some of those obstacles in previous letters. In many of these decisions there is a legitimate range of opinion, and thus even good translations will differ on many points.

It is my judgment, with respect to those difficulties which I have studied, that in some Bibles they may be toned down while in others they may be highlighted. With respect to other difficulties the roles are often reversed. This is the type of random effect one expects to find in good translations....

If you wish to believe that there is a general movement underfoot to gradually smoothe away the Bible's difficulties, a movement to which the above translations are a party, then that is your privilege. I just don't see that in the evidence currently available to me -- and that includes your input on the matter.

Editor's Response to Letter #316

Dear DM. Apparently I'm not making my position very clear on this matter so I'll try again. I do not believe the King James is the most reliable version nor do I think there has been a steady drift away from the KJV for the sake of political expediency. I do, however, feel that translations are political documents reflecting the theological orientation of their creators and the era in which they are produced. The purpose for which a version is created has more to do with the underlying motives of its creators and the milieu in which it emerged than the discovery of new documents or manuscripts. As far as actual validity is concerned, I'd say the Revised Standard Version of 1946/52 is the least political and most reliable version on the market, but it is by no means immune from tendentious interpretations.

Letter #317 from TD of Morgantown, West Virginia (Part a)

Dear Dennis. ...In my letter of last August, I criticized items (8), (10), (17), and (24) of the flyer "THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD?" Some of the others, I think, are also weak, and should be omitted or amended. Item 7 [Rom. 3:23 says, "All have sinned." All means all. Yet, Gen. 6:9 says, "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations." Job 1:1 and 1:8 say Job was perfect. How could these men have been perfect if all have sinned?--Ed.] could be criticized on the grounds that the term "perfect" as applied to Noah and Job only refers to their well-integrated personalities, not to any sinlessness. I do not go along with this criticism, but it seems to me that there are better contradictions that could be used instead of (7).

Editor's Response to Letter #317 (Part a)

Dear TD. I realize you are trying to provide assistance to BE but your criticisms resemble those of many apologists and must be addressed as such. First, probably the most common excuse employed by biblicists is: "that's what it says, but that's not what it means." It doesn't take long for one to become rather perturbed with this hackneyed approach. Nearly every time I quote the Bible or a version of same they'll come back with this overdone retort. I can't help but reply, "Then, write your own version and send me a copy and we'll discuss it. Before we can begin to analyze the Bible we have to agree on the version to be used. Since you are dissatisfied with the version I quoted, send me one you have created or one that is available that you support. In the meantime, I'm not going to engage in a guessing game of trying to pin down not only the phantom originals but a current version that is eternally in flux. You and other apologists are going to have to 'get anchored' on one version or the other." As I said many issues ago, I'm not going to accept apologists having 15 or 20 different versions of every verse in the Bible which they can insert or extract as expediency dictates. I work on the theory that the text means what it says and it says what it means. The text says "perfect" and it's the same "perfect" that is applied to God in Deut. 32:4 and Psalm 18:30. If you wish to argue that this does not mean Noah was sinless, then I'll argue with equal force that Deut. 32 and Psalm 18 are not alleging God is morally perfect. Second, the word "perfect" in Gen. 6:9 comes from the Hebrew word "taw-meen" which means without blemish, without spot, undefiled, upright, and perfect. If that does not mean he is morally sinless, then what does? How much clearer do you want it to be? What would the text have to say to convince you that it means Noah was morally sinless? Third, the verse must mean moral sinlessness or perfection; otherwise, the incident with respect to Noah and the Flood has no significance and reeks with injustice. If Noah was not morally perfect, then he had no more right to be saved than anyone else on the planet. If he was a sinner like everyone else, then he should have drowned like everyone else. The difference between his morality and that of others would be more one of kind than of degree. Fourth, what is a "well-integrated" personality? That's a nebulous phrase that can be interpreted at will. What I strongly suggest to anyone who seeks to use this defense is that they write their own version of the Bible, translate the text in such a manner that it says precisely what they want said, and send me a copy. In your case you'll need to change Gen. 6:9 to "Noah was a just man with a well-integrated personality in his generations."

If my response to your objection sounds rather acerbic, it's because over the years I've grown to disrespect biblical apologetics in general and certain apologists in particular. Apologetic scholarship is not really pursuing truth and honesty but is actually seeking to justify at all costs a belief-system which they feel is the only hope for mankind. They are willing to ignore or rationalize thousands of problems in search for what they mistakenly believe is the higher good. Although they'd never admit as much, they have surreptitiously adopted the time-honored maxim that the ends justifies the means. If you have to do some unscrupulous things in the short run for the good of all in the long run, then so be it. Unfortunately, as many of those who commit unlawful activities will admit, the problem with lying and distorting is that once you start down this road you have to create additional prevarications in order to be consistent with the original perversion. One is rarely sufficient. A chain reaction is set in motion that pulls the apologist down a slippery slope to an awaiting cliff. "Apologetics" is an appropriate description of biblical defenses, because if there is any book for which apologies need to be made it is the Bible. (To Be Continued)

EDITOR'S NOTE: (a) Several subscribers took exception to my final comment to TF on page 4 of Issue #78. In reference to the length of Hell's punishment I said, "How can an infinite series have a finite total? The number of finites within an infinite series is infinite, not finite." Apparently several people feel that the number of finites within an infinity can be finite and one even provided some mathematical calculations with a liberal sprinkling of calculus to prove as much. When I entered college decades ago, math was my major and calculus my nemesis. Perhaps I missed something by switching to philosophy, but after reading the explanations provided I still don't see how a restricted number of finite numbers can total an infinity. Perhaps I've erred; it's happened before. So I'll not pursue the issue.

(b) We'd like to express our appreciation to those who have successfully helped us appear in the media (radio, television, or print) by publishing their names, addresses, and the assistance rendered if they have no objection. It's entirely voluntary and no one will be entered unless we receive definite interest and permission.

Issue No. 80

Aug. 1989

COMMENTARY

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES (Part Five of a Five-Part Series)--This commentary will conclude our comprehensive listing of the main OT prophecies that are applied to Jesus of Nazareth by Christian apologists. (73) ZECH. 2:10-11 ("Sin and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee"). (a) If this refers to Jesus as Christians claim, then how did he dwell in their midst? He was actually killed and passed away from them. If it refers to the future, then it's pure speculation. (b) Christians may argue that his spirit rests in the midst of Zion, but the divine presence has not been found in Jerusalem from the time of the exile. As Isaiah 52:5 says, "Now therefore, what have I to do here, says the Lord, for my people have been taken away for naught." (74) ZECH. 6:12 ("Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord"). (a) Jesus never built the temple of the Lord. (b) When was Jesus ever called "The Branch"? (75) ZECH. 6:13 ("...and he shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both"). (a) Jesus never had much glory. (b) Jesus never sat or ruled on a throne. (c) Jesus was never a priest. (d) Who is "both"? Both means more than one. (76) ZECH. 9:9 ("...behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass"). (a) According to some Hebraic scholars, "having salvation" should have been translated as "having been saved." (b) The RSV translated "having been saved" as "triumphant and victorious is he" which is also inapplicable. Jesus was neither saved nor victorious. (c) This event could not refer to Jesus since it was to occur at the same time as the restoration of Israel and the establishment of peace and happiness. (d) Actually Zechariah is congratulating his countrymen who are returning from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem. Zech 1:16 ("I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies") shows that Zechariah was discussing the entry of the Jews into Jerusalem, not the entry of Jesus nearly 700 years later. Zech 8:7-8 ("Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem....") also shows it was referring to the return of the Jews from captivity. (e) The verse is also inapplicable to Jesus because Luke 19:30 and Mark 11:2 say there was a colt but no ass is mentioned. (77) ZECH. 9:10 ("...and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth"). (a) Jesus never had a dominion stretching from sea to sea or to the ends of the earth. (b) If Jesus had had a kingdom this would have violated his basic purpose and nature as set forth in Matt. 8:20 ("The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head") and Matt. 20:28 ("Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto...."). (c) In Matt. 10:34 Jesus said that he came not to bring peace but a sword. (78) ZECH. 12:10 ("And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him,...."). (a) It would make no sense to have the House of David be responsible for Jesus' death when that is the house of which Jesus was a member. Would his own house kill him? (b) "As one mourneth for." Why would this say as? Jesus is a son of the House of David. The House of David would not mourn for Jesus as if he were an only son when he was, in fact, a son of the House of David. (c) The text has "Upon me whom they have...." while the RSV has "on him whom they...." If "me" is the correct term, how could they pierce the speaker who is Jehovah (God)? (d) This verse has nothing to do with Jesus. Zechariah is saying that God will make Judah and Jerusalem very powerful in the future, such that those nations who attack them will be destroyed. Then the people of Jerusalem will look with compassion and mourning on those whom they have pierced and killed. Interest in the life of one's fellow man will be deeply felt in the latter days. (79) ZECH. 12:11 ("In that day shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house of David apart,...."). Yet, there was very little mourning for Jesus on the day he died. (80) ZECH. 13:2 ("And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that...I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land"). Jesus was a prophet, so according to this verse he will have to pass out of the land along with the unclean spirit. (81) ZECH. 13:3 ("And it shall come to pass that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth"). (a) If this verse applies to Jesus as some biblicists allege, it would mean Jesus: lied in the name of the Lord according to his parents, was killed by his parents, and died by being thrust through rather than by crucifixion. (b) The prophet spoken of in this verse says in verse 5 that he is a tiller of the soil; yet, Jesus was a carpenter. (82) ZECH. 13:4 ("And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied...."). If this applies to Jesus, then he must eventually be ashamed of his vision because he, too, is a prophet. (83) ZECH. 13:5 ("But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth"). How could this apply to Jesus since he was a prophet and carpenter, not a cattleman. (84) ZECH. 13:6 ("And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends"). (a) There is no biblical record of Jesus making this statement. (b) Jesus was not wounded in the house of his friends. (c) Biblicists apply the crucial part of this verse ("...What are these wounds in thine hands?....") to Jesus on the cross but conveniently ignore the fact that the five prior verses apply to the same individual who couldn't be Jesus. (85) ZECH. 13:7 ("Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones"). (a) The command given to the sword to "smite" the shepherd who is my fellow merely signifies that those kings who oppress the Jews and in their delusion believe that they are doing God's work shall be punished. (b) "Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered" indicates that the rulers of the Gentiles shall be overthrown and out of their fall shall arise the deliverance of Israel. Many shepherds must be struck prior to Israel's complete deliverance since Jews are scattered everywhere.

That completes our entire list of OT messianic prophecies that allegedly refer to Jesus. For those who stayed with us this far, congratulations. You have demonstrated the kind of sticktuitiveness that is indicative of one who is dedicated to a cause. For those who remain unconvinced, I'd suggest measures having more to do with fostering one's objectivity than investigating the Bible further.

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM--One of the most insidious biblical teachings is that the intellect is not to be trusted as the final arbiter of one's decisions. Faith in Jesus, theological insights, and spiritual gifts are to replace knowledge, disputation, and philosophy as the ultimate source of truth. In effect, faith is to replace proof, hope is to replace work, and trust is to replace evidence. People are to rely on forces and beings beyond their control rather than their own talents and abilities. This debilitating approach to life's challenges, which can only lead to self-effacement and low self-esteem, is exemplified in such verses as: HEB. 11:1 ("Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction (evidence--KJV) of things not seen"), ECCLE. 6:8 ("For what hath the wise more than the fool...."), 1 COR. 1:22-23 RSV ("For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles...."), 1 COR. 4:10 ("We are fool's for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ...."), 1 COR. 2:1-2 RSV ("I {Paul--Ed.} did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified"), 1 COR. 3:18-19 ("Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God"), 1 COR. 1:19-21 RSV ("For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom...."), 1 COR. 2:13-14 ("And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned"), 1 COR. 2:4 ("...and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom...."), ECCLE. 1:18 ("For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow"), 1 COR. 1:17 ("For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words...."), 1 COR. 4:4 ("For I know nothing by myself...."), 1 COR. 1:25-27 RSV ("For the foolishness of God is wiser than men....not many of you were wise according to worldly standards...but God chose what is foolishness in the world to shame the wise...."), 1 COR. 8:1-2 ("...knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know"), 1 COR. 2:6-7 RSV ("Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God...."), and COL. 2:8 RSV ("See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ").

Central to any sensible society is the belief that truth is discovered through the interchange of ideas in an open forum. Yet, Christians are repeatedly admonished to avoid those of another persuasion and shun the exchange of ideas through dialogue. They are told to flee non-biblical ideas because the latter are not only wrong and lead believers astray but possessed by those with less than honorable motives. Christian beliefs are not to be open to questions and doubts. Many verses expose these dogmatic sentiments: ROM. 16:17-18 RSV ("I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who created dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded"), 2 TIM. 2:16-17 ("Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene"), 1 TIM. 6:20 ("O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called...."), 2 TIM. 2:14 RSV ("Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers"), TITUS 3:9-10 ("But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him...."), ROM. 14:1 RSV ("As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions"), 1 TIM. 6:3-5 RSV ("If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissensions, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men...."), COL. 2:4 ("I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech"), 2 TIM. 2:23-25 RSV ("Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies, you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness"). How one corrects one's opponents with gentleness after one has been repeatedly told to avoid the opposition entirely is rather hard to fathom.

Imagine giving your followers the impression in 2 THESS. 3:2 ("And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith"), 1 JOHN 2:22 ("Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son"), and 2 JOHN 7 ("For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist") that all those who lack faith in Christianity in general and Jesus in particular are unreasonable and wicked! Who would be open to dialogue with anybody so portrayed? Additional relevant verses are TITUS 3:2, HEB. 13:9, and 2 JOHN 9-11.

DIALOGUE AND DEBATE

Letter #310 from TF of Pasadena, Maryland Continues from Last Month (Part g)

(TF also attacked the 6th point in BE's pamphlet, JESUS CHRIST IS THE ANSWER?, which says: How could Jesus be our model of sinless perfection when he denies his moral perfection in Matt. 19:17 ["And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God"]. What follows is TF's reply--Ed.).

Jesus did not deny his moral perfection in Matt. 19:17.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part g)

That's it! That's all you have to say, TF! I don't see how it can be any clearer. If there is only one who is good and that is God, then Jesus, along with everyone else, must be less than good. He must have some moral imperfection, no matter how small; otherwise he is as good as God. So, in fact, he is denying his moral perfection.

Letter #310 Continues (Part h)

(TF attacked the 18th point in BE's pamphlet, JESUS CHRIST IS THE ANSWER?, which says: In Mark 10:19 Jesus told a man to follow the commandments. Yet, one of those listed by Jesus was "defraud not" which isn't even an OT commandment. What follows is TF's reply--Ed.).

You are incorrect. Jewish tradition lists the total number of divine commandments at 613, of which ten are known best. "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor..." is found in Lev. 19:13.

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part h)

Are we going by the Bible and Jesus or Jewish tradition, TF? In Luke 18:18-22 a ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to follow the commandments which included the usual references to adultery, stealing, killing, bearing false witness, and honoring thy parents. After the ruler said he had kept the short list provided, Jesus told him he still needed to do one thing more--sell all you have and distribute it to the poor--in order to have treasure in heaven. Jesus' list of commandments follows the usual list of 10, not the 613 you mentioned, in which case the reference to defrauding thy neighbor found in Lev. 19:13 is irrelevant.

Letter #310 Concludes (Part i)

(TF attacked the 2nd point in BE's pamphlet, JESUS CHRIST IS THE ANSWER?, which says: "Jesus said, whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" [Matt. 5:22]. Yet, he repeatedly called people "fools" as Matt. 23:17, 19, Luke 11:40 and Luke 12:2 show. Shouldn't he be in danger of hell too?" What follows is TF's reply--Ed.)

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the councils: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt. 5:22, emphasis mine).

Read the context. The phrase "without a cause," in the first part of the verse is the failure that Jesus is condemning. We should condemn sin (in ourselves and in others). We should express anger (Prov. 20:2, Eph. 4:26) towards those who violate the rights of others. We should call the atheist a fool because God has already called him a fool (Psa. 14:1, 53:1).

Editor's Response to Letter #310 (Part i)

You ignored your own advice about context, TF. "Without a cause" applies to being angry, not to calling others fools. The verse prohibits being angry "without a cause," while saying Raca to one's brothers or calling others fools is prohibited, period. There is no qualifier. You have taken the phrase "without a cause" and applied it to everything in the verse. Secondly, as I mentioned approximately 10 issues ago, the phrase "without a cause" does not exist in 11 of the 14 versions I have in my inventory. You used the version which suits your purpose (the KJV) and ignored nearly all the others. I also recently mentioned that I not going to accept the apologetic attempt to have many different versions of each verse from which they can draw as expediency dictates. Thirdly, what does condemning sin have to do with the issue? You have "sin" on the brain when, in fact, the word is never mentioned. The verse is only condemning being angry, saying Raca, and calling others fools. You have made a broad generalization that is not warranted by the verse. You are not only "taking out-of-context," but expanding the text. Fourthly, the verse says we are not to call others "fools," period. Nothing is said about atheists, nor are they made an exception. Again, could you provide textual support for your theories? And lastly, bringing in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 contributes little other than exposing a contradiction: in the OT God, i.e Jesus, calls some people fools while later condemning such activities in Matt. 5:22.

Letter #317 from TD of Morgantown, West Virginia Continues from Last Month (Part b)

...In regard to item 14 in the pamphlet THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD? ("Matt 27:9-10 quotes a prophecy made by Jeremy the prophet. Yet, no believer in the Bible has ever been able to show me where it lies in the book of Jeremiah"), the prophecy occurs at Zec. 11:12-13. It is an error, of course, but a relatively minor one. Perhaps something stronger could be used instead.

Editor's Response to Letter #317 (Part b)

Unfortunately, you are incorrect on two major points, TD. The prophecy does not occur in Zec. 11:12-13 either. Although similar in some ways, the facts differ in important respects. That which occurs in Matt 27 conflicts with that which occurs in Zechariah 11 as will be detailed later in a section entitled ACCOMMODATIONS. Secondly, there is nothing minor about this mistake. It is one of the most obvious, important, and easily disproven references to a non-existent OT prophecy that can be found. When one can easily prove apologists are clearly asserting black is white, you don't dismiss that as of minor importance.

Letter #317 Concludes (Part c)

...Item 17 ("Jesus told a man in Mark 8:34 that 'whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.' What cross? He hadn't died on the cross yet. There was nothing to take up. That man would have had no idea what he was talking about") is also weak because the Roman method of crucifying on a cross was widely known in ancient Palestine, and was probably that to which Jesus was referring.

Editor's Response to Letter #317 (Part c)

Maybe I'm wrong, TD, but I don't think you understand the problem. Most people know that Romans often executed people by crucifying them on a cross and Jesus was referring to crucifixion. But you have not addressed the issue. The cross to which Jesus was referring was the cross as a Christian symbol. He was referring to a specific cross, not crosses in general, and that was the cross on which he was going to be killed. But that cross couldn't possibly be a symbol until after he died on it. There was no Christian cross when he spoke to this man; the cross was not a Christian symbol until after the crucifixion. Consequently, for Jesus to tell a man to pick up a symbol which did not yet exist is absurd. The man would have had no idea what Jesus meant unless he knew the future. You can't pick up something that's yet to be.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter #318 from Steven Overholt of the FRONTLINE, Box 154, San Juan Capistrano, California 92693

Dear Dennis. BIBLICAL ERRANCY is easily the most interesting and informative periodical on the Bible that I have ever encountered. I frequent major theological institutions in California as part of my independent research and cannot help noticing that most of their libraries seem determined not to carry your publication. Your readers may want to raise this issue whenever they encounter Christian fundamentalists seeking to challenge their sense of fairness.

I regret to report that BIBLICAL ERRANCY is not the only important publication being denied a hearing to Bible and divinity students. The same sort of censorship is being applied to the important New Testament history newsletter which I edit. Even though the background information we provide Bible students is uncannily relevant, very few Bible colleges see fit to allow their students--or even faculty--to include it among the reading material of their libraries....

Letter #319 from DES of Davenport, Iowa

Dear Dennis. Biblical Errancy (May 1989) arrived in the mail today and I was reading your note at the end in reference to suggestions (or bitches) about the quality of printing.

I have had the same problem with the minutes that I put out for the local ACLU chapter, of which I am the secretary. With my computer I have compacted the text with my word processor. A couple of members complained that the minutes were too short so I made up a sample with double spacing and normal pica 10 to the inch letters. The same text that I put on one sheet took two full sheets and a paragraph on a third sheet. When I made this demonstration, they (expletive deleted--Ed.) and moaned that the type was hard to read. At this point I told them to use a reading glass.

The point of all this is that you should stay with what you are doing. I think you are doing a fantastic job with BE and you are putting it out dirt cheap; so don't change a (expletive deleted--Ed.) thing.

Letter #320 from VEC of Hood River, Oregon

Dennis: A comment on "Editor's Note" at the end of Issue #77 (May 1989). Keep the format of BE as is. Just keep up this important work.

Letter #321 from JRC of Parlin, New Jersey

Dennis. Having only recently renewed my subscription after a year, I now need to catch up on your excellent periodical. I understand that you have published an index during the past year. If so, please send me one and bill me accordingly....

You and your staff are to be commended for a fantastic job on all-important issues such as these. Keep with it and if you have any radio or TV appearances scheduled in the near future, would you mention some dates and places? Your subscribers would love to follow such shows or debates. Maybe you could start listing them regularly in BE.

Editor's Response to Letter #321

Dear JRC. Your comments are only too kind. The only index we have at the present time is distributed free to everyone who requests a copy and is sent out with all sample issues. As far as radio and TV appearances are concerned, we try to inform our readers whenever possible. Unfortunately, publishing them ahead of time is risky because the schedules are often changed by the stations on a moment's notice.


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