Indiana and Arkansas are still in the news for their controversial bills adding the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It seems another polarizing issue and both the Left and the Right are completely unwilling to compromise. Should there be a compromise on discrimination? The clear answer is “no”, or is it?
Let’s put these vendors and purveyors of goods in a context outside LGBTQ rights.
A black photographer is hired by the KKK to cover a rally. The photographer doesn’t realize it’s the KKK and the KKK don’t know she is black. Now both parties surely don’t want to work with one another, but money has been exchanged and contracts are signed. The KKK cannot find another photographer to cover this important event and so they begrudgingly settle for this woman’s service, but she refuses returning the money. The KKK sues for breech of contract.
Next we have a doctor who specializes in cosmetic surgery. He consults with a woman who wants to augment her features. They come to a mutual agreement and exchange the proper funds and paper work. Just before he performs the surgery he notices bruises on the woman’s body and makes inquiry. She says it’s her boyfriend and she’s getting the surgery thinking it will please him, thus mitigating the abuse. The doctor decides he did not have all the information and it would be unethical to perform the surgery. He takes his fees for the consultation and returns the rest. The woman sues him for breech of contract.
You can think of myriad situations where people may have scruples differing with a client’s belief or reasons for soliciting services. A tattooist refusing to do a Swastika or a daycare center refusing service to the unvaccinated. The point being, are Christian’s practicing discrimination by sticking to their beliefs anymore than any of these aforementioned businesses?
The simple answer is “no”. Christians simply want the right to deny service to an act they view as an abomination and these people truly believe LGBTQ are living in hateful defiance of their loving god. However, marginalizing an already marginalized group never moves society forward. Should whites be able to refuse service to blacks? Absolutely not. So what is the difference? Is there one? Not really.
Christians have no just reason for treating LGBTQ differently and are terribly inconsistent with their claimed reasons. We know LGBTQ people are not sexual devious any more than straight cisgender people. They struggle to maintain healthy loving partnerships just as much as straight cisgenders. They are just as terrified about that wedding day. So LGBTQs aren’t psychologically bent, it’s not about perverse sex, and they are not demanding straight cisgenders act in any way counter to their natural state. The only reason left is religion.
Christians are ridiculously disingenuous about what they choose to defend as traditional marriage. They rightly claim god despises gay sex, but a closer Biblical reading shows men can have many wives (in fact this is recommended). Women may be bought and sold as wives. Men must marry their rape victims and vice versa. On and on, the Bible has obscene recommendations regarding traditional marriage and yet Christians are only hung up on discriminating against LGBTQ people. Where’s the legislation demanding rape marriage and polygamy?
Thankfully society’s backlash to these bills indicate sure defeat, but in the interest of compromise and freedom to practice religion and run a business in a free market society this is my recommendation: If you want to make badly reasoned discrimination a legally backed business plan you must show bigotry is part of your business model. Put it on the shop door, the website header, and your mission statement. “No service for LGBTQ”. Put it out there big and bold if you are that sure your god wants that. You want to treat people badly for a completely natural state of being, you own it. Let the free market teach you how it feels to be discriminated against.
Obviously there are parts of this country where those businesses would thrive and possibly expand as we’ve seen with Chick-fil-Aand Hobby Lobby, so contact your legislators and let this know this is discrimination for the dumbest of reasons and you won’t stand for it. Christians are wrong and hateful for thinking any part of this could be justice, but that’s the beauty of this country. You have the right to be wrong. If the law won’t hold them accountable, then it is up to us to boycott their services. Maybe we should start with the source of all this non-sense and stop going to Church. If you really care about human rights, stop supporting one of the worst violators in all of history, or don’t. That’s your right.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – A critique (Chapter Twelve: The (True) Story of the Cross)Posted: November 13, 2013
For those of you who have been following along thus far I apologize for the repetitiveness of this post, but as Pastor Keller reiterates his arguments so must I with counter arguments.
Chapter Twelve: The (True) Story of the Cross
This chapter starts with a quote from Ganhdi accepting the teachings, sacrifice, and example of Jesus but not accepting there was “a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it”. (P. 186) The next quote is from Malcolm Muggeridge bemoaning his turning away from the cross even though he “should have worn it.” (P.186)
Pastor Keller demonstrated his ignorance of his faith in the first sentence saying, “The primary symbol of Christianity has always been the cross.” (P. 186) Christians used signs of life like the fish or lamb for the three or so centuries of its youth. Not until Constantine do we see the faith represented by a torture device. Interestingly this is not long after the introduction of original sin. Keller says people often struggle with forgiveness more than the existence of God. They wonder why God had to use “divine child abuse” (P.187).
The First Reason: Real Forgiveness Is Costly Suffering
Keller apologizes an event where you lend a neighbor your car and he backs into your gate. He lists three options: One, He pays the damage. Two, you pay the damage. Three, you share the cost. The point he is making is ” damage must be borne by someone. ” (P.187) He’s forgetting there is a fourth option. Let it go. Splitting hairs maybe, but at least round out your analogy.
Keller argues forgiveness is agony since you are alleviating the need for justice but internalizing that debt. I would say the opposite is true of forgiveness. It is not internalizing debt, but rather let the loss and the hurt go. As T. D. Jakes says, “I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.” Not to say that is easy by any measure, but the lack of forgiveness rots us with anger and resentment. People are rarely bettered by refusing to move on from wrongdoing. Keller is trying to paint forgiveness as pain so Jesus’ blood sacrifice holds merit. He says, “Everyone who forgives great evil goes through death into resurrection, ” (P. 192) The moment you forgive a weight is lifted from you. Anyone who has truly forgiven even the smallest grievance knows this. There is no sense of death in act of forgiveness. You may attribute something akin to death in the wrong doing, but that is completely separate from forgiveness.
The Forgiveness of God
Keller attributes a very human issue to God in this section saying, “no one “just” forgives , if the evil is serious. ” (P. 192) He also points out Christians believe Jesus is God so God was inflicting “the pain violence, and evil of the world into himself. ” (P. 192) Even for the believers the one in three monotheism concept is difficult to wrap their heads around and most decide it is a matter of faith, but if you break it down in simplest terms: God made sin. Must punish us for that creation. Wants to forgive so he tortures and kills himself in physical form while simultaneously forsaking himself to pay the debt owed to himself incurred by the system he has utter control over from before the beginning.
The Second Reason: Real Love Is a Personal Exchange
Keller accurately points out to love someone who is need or in danger it costs something to the lover. If you are to love your children you must “decrease that they may increase”. (P. 194) I heartily agree. The problem comes when Keller attributes this to human limitation to God. He closes this section by saying, “how can God be a God of love if does not become personally involved in suffering, oppression, grief, weakness, and pain we experience? The answer to that question is twofold. First, God can’t. Second, only one major world religion claims that God does.” (p. 195) The first one “can’t” is unbelievable. Pastor Keller has argued over and over God’s ultimate power. His creation and control of everything. His infallibility. Suddenly when it matters most God “can’t”? If forgiveness without blood sacrifice is God’s kryptonite, how are we to believe all the other powers attributed to him have any merit? I would much rather a God who was divine in this area and human in every other. The fact he killed himself for the debt owed to himself is greatly diminished by this limitation humans overcome.
The Great Reversal
Christians often cite their deity as unique and special since Jesus experienced everything we do, which is simply not true. He didn’t experience old age, the loss of his mother, the temptation of cheating on his wife, mistreating his children, war and the evil and horrors only soldiers know, and most importantly mortality and the insecurity of what happens after death to name a few. Inspite of this Keller seeks to make a case based on God fully experiencing the human condition. Keller also tries to paint Christians as superior through “a reversal of values regard to power, recognition, status, and wealth.” (P. 196) He says Christians give away money, look at power to be used only as service, and doing away with racial and class superiority. Again, this is simply not true. Any Christian charity seeks to serve and further their message. History is clear on where Christians stand with classism and racism. To give an over simplified example: “Sell the Vatican. Feed the world.” –Sarah Silverman Christianity has many good tenants of service and forgiveness, but those are hardly unique to the faith and at day’s end they are just as concerned with the status and longevity of their religion as any other organization. Some would say more so.
The Story Of The Cross
Keller is painting the story of Jesus as something that is part of our story. Jesus having to die for our sins is humbling since he was glad to do it. In the previous section Keller points out Jesus asking God to do it some other way in the garden and while on the cross crying out “why”. This does not sound like someone glad to be in the situation. Commendable Jesus did it inspite of his qualms, but there’s no potency in it since he is in utter control of the situation. It makes no sense why an all powerful, all knowing being would ask himself to change the rules and then deny himself. He knows everything and can do anything. Why the theatrics and self limitation? It smacks of humans dipping from their own experience rather than the identity of an all powerful being.
Keller spends the chapter limiting God while simultaneously exalting him as utterly superior to humans. Moreover if a sixteen hour torture session resulting in temporary death is the payment required for the sin in all of time, how is eternal hell a justifiable punishment for an individual’s sin? Even if Jesus was perfect and willingly sacrificed, hell still seems rather steep payment for even the worst of us.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
Chapter Ten: The Problem Of Sin
Seeming to abandon quoting skeptics Keller quotes H. G. Wells instead. The first quote sings the praises to the accomplishments of humankind. The second, miserable in the horrid actions of humankind. After making the case the world’s perfection must indicate a creator Keller does a one-eighty and starts this chapter by saying, “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world.” (P. 159) He says Christianity points to sin as the culprit admitting the concept is ludicrous and offensive to many because they don’t understand what Christians mean by the term.
Sin and Human Hope
Keller says the impression the doctrine of sin as a bleak and pessimistic view of human nature is incorrect because we are not at its mercy the way the body is at the mercy of cancer. We can be redeemed and this is a cause for hope not pessimism. First, the idea humans at birth are literally doomed because of original sin (which wasn’t even formalized until the second century) is dismal. The idea our souls are created with something so repugnant God would send unbaptized babies (I realize this is not the universal stance) to eternal hell fire is nearly the worst possible concept of human nature, redemption available or not. Keller says until we can admit we are very flawed, sinners, we cannot be liberated and improve. I agree we can’t hold ourselves in too high of esteem. We need to identify and address our short comings and strive to improve the lives of others, some more than others, but the idea we enter this world with a blight on our very nature so evil God considers eternal hell a just punishment is sepulchral.
The Meaning of Sin
Keller cites Soren Kierkgaard saying humans are made to believe in God and love him supremely centering their lives on him above everything else. “Anything other than this is sin. ” (P. 162) This argument there is no fulfillment outside of God is an old and tired argument. If this is the case was everyone pre-Abraham miserable and listless? Are all who never heard about Jesus floating through life never finding meaning? All the joy, love, art, music, created and enjoyed apart from Christianity would beg to differ. This is an incredibly limited and myopic world view which asserts the vast majority of people who have ever existed were not only empty and without identity, but in the Christian view in eternal punishment. Keller says finding your identity apart from God “only sets the stage for continual disappointment.” (P. 163) He says we all want redemption and only God can impart it to us. Humanity may want purpose and affirmation their individual lives have meaning, but unless we are told there is something fundamentally wrong with us, redemption doesn’ t enter the picture. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Any of the Dalai Lamas likely found identity and meaning outside of God, but according to Keller this is impossible and they lived their lives from disappointment to disappointment.
The Personal Consequences of Sin
So under the definition identity is found in God and no where else Keller seeks to prove “there is no way to avoid this insecurity outside of God” (P. 165) saying if your identity is being a parent you can loose you children, if you are an athlete you can loose you physical prowess so on and so forth. Keller says God is the only constant. Clearly this is not the case since there are so many variations of Christianity and while when pressed Christians identify with whatever denomination they subscribe to e.g. Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Evangelical, so on. The interpretation of who God is, what he wants, how is to be worshiped, and how salvation is truly acquired varies wildly. They may see eye to eye on God’s name but more than once they have come to blows over the details. So if you make your identity as a Catholic you are at the same mercy of insecurity since you may end up in an area dominated by Protestants and they seem to be making sense. Yes, you still believe in the same God, but who he is and your relationship with him (your identity) is in utter peril. What if you subscribe to a specific preacher like Tedd Haggard and he fails so completely the way he did. Doesn’t that make you second guess the teachings you have built your identity? The point is the Christian God‘s personality and desires are up for debate and the identity you have you still chose and it can be lost or taken. A better assured identity is one of compassion and service. If you sculpt who you are around the service and love of self and others because it is empirically right, nothing can take it from you.
The Social Consequences of Sin
Keller propones the only way to social unity is through loving God and all other social identities are fodder for separation and tension. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the latter, the former is patently false. Not only is there constant disagreement within the Church, but history has shown religion to be one of the most polarizing organizations no matter who or where. Keller is essentially calling for a world wide Christian Theocracy. The horror that would be. The Fore Fathers were largely driven to escape theocracy because they saw the inherent evil it causes. “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782. They saw the only way for a society to be at peace is to leave God out of it.
The Cosmic Consequences of Sin
Keller once again shows his hubris on our role in the universe. He talks about the creation in Genesis and how it was “all good” until sin was introduced; then, “the entire warp and woof of the world unraveled.” (P. 170) First off Keller doesn’t seem to take Genesis literally until now. Its as if he actually thinks “disease, genetic disorders, famine, natural disasters, aging, and death…” (P. 170) are the result of original sin. We don’t have dominion over the planet; microbes like viruses and bacteria do. Most of the planet is uninhabitable by humans. Keller referring to the pitfalls of this planet as a cosmic event is ludicrously out of touch with size and state of the cosmos. The first definition of “cosmic” is: Of or relating to the regions of the universe distinct from the Earth, and yet Keller references only the earth when talking about the “cosmic consequences”. He cites an event which there is literally no proof, acts as though we are the reason for the planet earth, and has zero concept of microcosm this galaxy is in comparison with the cosmos. It is painfully stupid to read.
We Can Put It All Right?
Pastor Keller does his best to put the fear of God in the reader pointing out if you chase career, money, ambition, you will be left wanting. He reminds us family and career can’t die for your sins. If one does not believe in sin, the wages of, or redemption through human sacrifice the second tactic holds no water. I submit again the idea we are born damaged goods redeemed through human sacrifice is immoral and baseless. Keller argues something must become the “Lord of your life. ” (P. 173) and that lord should be Jesus because you will be fulfilled and forgiven of your sin. I agree a person who pursues tangible selfish goals will be less fulfilled, but God is not the necessary answer either. Compassion, love, service of others will bring fulfillment. If you choose to believe in original sin, that is your prerogative, but until its introduction two hundred years after Christ’s alleged existence all of humanity got on just fine without believing they were born bad and deserving of the worst of all possible punishments. Maybe if we spend more time focused on love and less on the hypothetical peril of our souls we can put it closer to right.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – A critique (Chapter Six: Science Has Disproved Christianity)Posted: October 4, 2013
Chapter Six: Science Has Disproved Christianity
Skeptics Assertion: “…scientific training makes it difficult if not impossible to accept the teachings of Christianity” (referencing the origin of life story differing from evolution).
“And the Bible is full of miracles, they simply couldn’t have happened.”
“Aren’t Miracles Scientifically Impossible?”
Keller admits at the beginning “the miraculous is particularly important for Christian belief.” citing the miracle of incarnation, the miracle birth of Christ, and his resurrection. (P. 85) He goes on accurately saying science is equipped to look for natural explanations only, however he loses it shortly thereafter saying “There is no experimental model for testing ‘No supernatural cause for any phenomenon is possible. ”
Now to be clear, I am not saying there are no such things as miracles (def: An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of a god), however, from that definition we need to look closely at what is required for a miracle to be genuine.
True, there is no model as the one Keller laid out, however for something to be miraculous every other experimental model must be applied and come up empty. Even then you could say we simply don’t have the science to explain it as of yet. I fully admit this could be considered a cop-out, but if you look at how much was considered miraculous and later explained by science, it warrants mention.
Keller goes on to misrepresent scientists being suspicious of any miraculous claims as “miracles cannot happen”. He takes this misrepresentation a step further, “the hidden premise of this statement, there can’t be God who does miracles” (P. 86)
This is another example of Keller not addressing what the issue is. The question is, can things happen against every natural explanation, not whether or not there is a super-being who is at work in the natural world. Clearly if a scientist believes in a super-being he/she is much more likely to accept the miracles Keller is arguing.
Keller quotes the philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s analogy of the drunk insisting to look for his car keys under the street light because the light was better.
This is a very condescending view of people who spend their lives looking to be beyond reproach by their contemporaries. Science is less like the drunk in the street light and more like a group of individuals working on all sorts of key finding lights, tools, tests, and options under the street light. If science found god just past a nebula or brown dwarf they would be the first to shout it from the roof tops. Can you say “Nobel”?
“Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity”
Keller accurately points out this idea is played on by media by showing the two sides and “protagonists and antagonists”. (P. 87) He also points out many Christians find no conflict in evolution apart from “philosophical naturalism” – the view evolution is guided by no particular being. This smacks of having your cake and eating it too.
I am relieved when Christians do not take the orthodox view of 6,000 year old universe, but Intelligent Design, even if it was a superior theory to evolution, wouldn’t necessarily point to the Trinity. Given all the creation stories of religion and myth anyone could take credit… if Intelligent Design proved superior.
Keller goes on to attack Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennet‘s assertion scientists are less likely to believe in god. He artfully uses statistics to void Dawkins and Dennet’s statistics. We are all aware you can make statistics prove almost anything, and even if scientists are split down the middle as Keller seems to say, it is fair to say believing scientists use science in the lab and faith in their personal life. If a believing scientist prays for his/her grandma to recover from cancer and she does, is it more or less likely the scientist will attribute it to medical science and say the prayers couldn’t have hurt?
Lastly, if we put aside what scientist believe personally as evidence for or against Christianity conflicting with science, what is left. Miracle stories of water to wine, the blind seeing, demons possessing pigs, and mass resurrections. These are in conflict with science. The scientific community would and does view fundamentalists, such as the staff of Answers in Genesis (AiG), as intellectual bigots and practicers of pseudo-science.
“Doesn’t Evolution Disprove The Bible?”
Keller basically says Christians read the Bible in two ways. Some passages are poetic (metaphors) and others are eye-witness accounts. While he admits there are passages when it is hard to tell which way to read it and there will aways be debates on interpretation (p. 93-94), he very conveniently puts the creation story in the “metaphor” category and Christ’s divinity in the “eye-witness” category.
Both of these examples are incredibly miraculous and require a high degree of faith. Should this book have be written pre-evolution would Keller have stated the Genesis story was poetic myth? More importantly if the Q document (the gospel, coupled with Mark, the other three are theoretically based on) was found and shown to be unequivocally fraudulent, would Pastor Keller close his ministry and renounce his faith? I realize neither of these questions are likely to be answered, but it is important to look at the mind-set of this argument.
After stating the Bible is open to interpretation and the creation story is not taken literally by him (P. 93), he abandons the initial question saying it isn’t really important and the skeptic inquirer “should concentrate and weigh the central claims of Christianity.” So let’s do that briefly.
Jesus Christ resided with God the Father in Heaven. He was immaculately conceived through the virgin Mary. He ministered to the middle east, performing miracles and teaching for 3 years. He is convicted of blasphemy, beaten and crucified to death. Rises from the dead three days later showing himself to many people.
First off, even if the authors of the Gospels had been writing everything down as they went along these events were not witnessed (Luke 1:1-2) by them. Mary’s pregnancy claim is difficulty to accept even with a scribe there from the beginning. Secondly the gospels (Matthew and Luke) which tell the story vary wildly and are often in outright conflict.
1. Issue: journey to Bethlehem
Luke states Joseph and Mary are in Nazareth and required to go to Bethlehem for a census. The reality of this census is considered dubious by most historians since there is no contemporary evidence for it and it would have thrown that region into chaos.
Matthew says nothing about Nazareth or a census and strongly implies Joseph and Mary are living in or around Bethlehem. (Matt 1:24)
Matthew doesn’t have a manger (Matt 2:1) and doesn’t make mention of Nazareth until after King Herod’s death. (Matt 2:23)
2 Issue – Problems surrounding the visit of the Magi to see Jesus.
Luke makes no mention of the wise men coming to see Jesus and according to Matthew (Matt 2:1-16) it was the visit of the “Magi” that set off events culminating with Herod ordering a massacre of male children under the age of 2 years old. Again there is no historian of the time who recorded this large scale infanticide. Luke also fails to mention it.
The Magi are lead by a star to Jesus but they have to stop and ask Herod for directions which is how the King hears of this newly born monarch. We are lead to believe two things which don’t make sense at this point. First Herod is jealous enough to later commit wide scale infanticide, but doesn’t send one assassin with the Maji to Bethlehem where he sends them. Secondly, the star can guide the maji to a specific house in Bethlehem (Matt 2:9), but they had to ask Herod what town to look in…?
According to Luke (Luke 2:21-22), Joseph and Mary only stayed in Bethlehem long enough to meet the requirements of the law which pertained to women that had given birth.
This law (Lev 12:1-8) states that a woman that gives birth to a male child must wait approximately 40 days to purify herself before a sacrifice is made and the child is consecrated to the Lord.
In order for the Matthew’s Magi to find Jesus, they would have had to visit him within a narrow window of about 40 days, while Joseph and Mary were still in Bethlehem, and that opens the door for yet another problem. Matthew leads us to believe Jesus was around two when they left Bethlehem.
Issue – The shepherds come to see Jesus and announce him to the world.
The Gospel of Matthew states that upon seeing the young child Jesus and Mary in a house (not a manger). Of course, the Magi and their gifts don’t exist in the Gospel of Luke, but when the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are combined, as they must be in order for all of this to be accurate and irrefutable history, this serious problem becomes evident.
3. Issue – The shepherds come to see Jesus and announce him to the world.
Luke tells this story: An angel appears and tells some shepherds in a field there is a new king, they need to go and see him, then tell everyone else about the virgin birthed savior which they do.
Again Matthew doesn’t tell this story and conflicts with Luke’s. Shepherds are telling everyone there has been a savior king born in the region and yet Herod doesn’t know until the pagan star gazers show up. Mind you this is a prophecy fulfilled and would have been very important to the Hebrews of the region including Herod and his court. If the locals did view it as nonsense, why would god bother sending an angel?
4. Issue – fleeing to Egypt
Matthew says after residing in Bethlehem for over year Joseph get’s an angelic warning about Herod’s death decree and that he should flee to Egypt which he does. They reside their until Herod’s death.
“When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son”
This is also some clear chicanery for the divinity of Christ since it is a very forced fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. There are many more which are less blatant but that’s for another time.
Luke says nothing about any of this. He states they were there for about 40 days after which they go to Jerusalem and then Nazareth. (Luke 2:39)
Ministry Of Christ
1. Issue – Miracles and evidence.
37 Miracles of Jesus
# Miracle Matthew Mark Luke John
1 Jesus Turns Water into Wine 2:1-11
2 Jesus Heals an Official’s Son 4:43-54
3 Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit 1:21-27 4:31-36
4 Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law 8:14-15 1:29-31 4:38-39
5 Jesus Heals Many Sick at Evening 8:16-17 1:32-34 4:40-41
6 First Miraculous Catch of Fish 5:1-11
7 Jesus Cleanses a Man With Leprosy 8:1-4 1:40-45 5:12-14
8 Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant 8:5-13 7:1-10
9 Jesus Heals a Paralytic 9:1-8 2:1-12 5:17-26
10 Jesus Heals a Man’s Withered Hand 12:9-14 3:1-6 6:6-11
11 Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son in Nain 7:11-17
12 Jesus Calms a Storm 8:23-27 4:35-41 8:22-25
13 Jesus Casts Demons into a Herd of Pigs 8:28-33 5:1-20 8:26-39
14 Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd 9:20-22 5:25-34 8:42-48
15 Jesus Raises Jairus’ Daughter to Life 9:18,
16 Jesus Heals Two Blind Men 9:27-31
17 Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak 9:32-34
18 Jesus Heals an Invalid at Bethesda 5:1-15
19 Jesus Feeds 5,000 14:13-21 6:30-44 9:10-17 6:1-15
20 Jesus Walks on Water 14:22-33 6:45-52 6:16-21
21 Jesus Heals Many Sick in Gennesaret 14:34-36 6:53-56
22 Jesus Heals a Gentile Woman’s Demon-Possessed Daughter 5:21-28 7:24-30
23 Jesus Heals a Deaf and Dumb Man 7:31-37
24 Jesus Feeds 4,000 15:32-39 8:1-13
25 Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida 8:22-26
26 Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind 9:1-12
27 Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon 17:14-20 9:14-29 9:37-43
28 Miraculous Temple Tax in a Fish’s Mouth 17:24-27
29 Jesus Heals a Blind, Mute Demoniac 12:22-23 11:14-23
30 Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman 13:10-17
31 Jesus Heals a Man With Dropsy on the Sabbath 14:1-6
32 Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers 17:11-19
33 Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead 11:1-45
34 Jesus Restores Sight to Bartimaeus 20:29-34 10:46-52 18:35-43
35 Jesus Withers the Fig Tree 21:18:22 11:12-14
36 Jesus Heals a Servant’s Severed Ear 22:50-51
37 Second Miraculous Catch of Fish 21:4-11
To date there are no contemporary reports of any of these events. No greek, Hebrew, or Roman records of these events or of Jesus the Nazarene. This was not a large region and all these event purportedly took place inside three years.
Historians question the physical existence of Socrates, Alexander the Great, and William Shakespeare and Keller is asking for belief not only did Jesus exist and did these amazing things, but no one besides his followers took note?
Death and Resurrection
Issues (Bare with me, I’ll keep it as concise as possible)
A. THE TRIALS
Before listing the contradictions regarding the trials of Jesus, it should be stated that the whole episode is quite obviously a fabrication. Anyone familiar with Jewish law recognizes the impossibility of the chief priests and scribes arresting Jesus and assembling to question him during one of the most holy of Jewish festivals.
1. Where was Jesus taken immediately after his arrest?
a. Matthew, Mark and Luke say that Jesus was taken directly to the high priest (Matthew 26:57, Mark 14:53 and Luke 22:54).
b. John says that Jesus was taken first to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest (John 18:13) who, after an indeterminate period of time, sent Jesus to the high priest (John 18:24).
2. When did the priests and scribes gather together to question Jesus?
a. Matthew 26:57 says that on the night Jesus was arrested the priests and scribes were gathered together prior to Jesus being brought to the high priest.
b. Mark 14:53 says the priests and scribes gathered together on the night of Jesus’ arrest after Jesus was brought to the high priest.
c. Luke 22:66 says the priests and scribes assembled the day after Jesus was arrested.
d. John mentions only the high priest – no other priests or scribes play a role in questioning Jesus.
3. Was Jesus questioned by Herod?
a. Luke says that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod who questioned Jesus at length and then returned Jesus to Pilate (Luke 23:7-11).
b. Matthew, Mark and John make no mention of Herod. This, in itself, means nothing, but it brings about another contradiction later.
4. Who was responsible for Jesus’ death, Pilate or the Jews?
The Biblical account of Pilate’s offer to release Jesus but the Jews demanding the release of Barabbas is pure fiction, containing both contradictions and historical inaccuracies.
a. What had Barabbas done?
1. Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19 say that Barabbas was guilty of insurrection and murder.
2. John 18:40 says that Barabbas was a robber.
b. Pilate’s “custom” of releasing a prisoner at Passover.
This is pure invention – the only authority given by Rome to a Roman governor in situations like this was postponement of execution until after the religious festival. Release was out of the question. It is included in the gospels for the sole purpose of further removing blame for Jesus’ death from Pilate and placing it on the Jews.
c. Pilate gives in to the mob.
The gospels have Pilate giving in to an unruly mob. This is ridiculous in light of Pilate’s previous and subsequent history. Josephus tells us that Pilate’s method of crowd control was to send his soldiers into the mob and beat them (often killing them) into submission. Pilate was eventually recalled to Rome because of his brutality.
5. Who put the robe on Jesus?
a. Matthew 27:28, Mark 15:17 and John 19:2 say that after Pilate had Jesus scourged and turned over to his soldiers to be crucified, the soldiers placed a scarlet or purple robe on Jesus as well as a crown of thorns.
b. Luke 23:11, in contradiction to Matthew, Mark and John, says that the robe was placed on Jesus much earlier by Herod and his soldiers. Luke mentions no crown of thorns.
B. THE CRUCIFIXION
1. Crucified between two robbers
Matthew 27:38 and Mark 15:27 say that Jesus was crucified between two robbers (Luke just calls them criminals; John simply calls them men). It is a historical fact that the Romans did not crucify robbers. Crucifixion was reserved for insurrectionists and rebellious slaves.
2. Peter and Mary near the cross
When the gospel writers mention Jesus talking to his mother and to Peter from the cross, they run afoul of another historical fact – the Roman soldiers closely guarded the places of execution, and nobody was allowed near (least of all friends and family who might attempt to help the condemned person) since death by crucifixion often took days.
3. The opened tombs
According to Matthew 27:51-53, at the moment Jesus died there was an earthquake that opened tombs and many people were raised from the dead. For some reason they stayed in their tombs until after Jesus was resurrected, at which time they went into Jerusalem and were seen by many people.
Here Matthew gets too dramatic for his own good. If many people came back to life and were seen by many people, it must have created quite a stir (even if the corpses were in pretty good shape!). Yet Matthew seems to be the only person aware of this happening – historians of that time certainly know nothing of it – neither do the other gospel writers.
C. THE RESURRECTION
1. Who found the empty tomb?
a. According to Matthew 28:1, only “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.”
b. According to Mark 16:1, “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome.”
c. According to Luke 23:55, 24:1 and 24:10, “the women who had come with him out of Galilee.” Among these women were “Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James.” Luke indicates in verse 24:10 that there were at least two others.
d. According to John 20:1-4, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb alone, saw the stone removed, ran to find Peter, and returned to the tomb with Peter and another disciple.
2. Who did they find at the tomb?
a. According to Matthew 28:2-4, an angel of the Lord with an appearance like lightning was sitting on the stone that had been rolled away. Also present were the guards that Pilate had contributed. On the way back from the tomb the women meet Jesus (Matthew 28:9).
b. According to Mark 16:5, a young man in a white robe was sitting inside the tomb.
c. According to Luke 24:4, two men in dazzling apparel. It is not clear if the men were inside the tomb or outside of it.
d. According to John 20:4-14, Mary and Peter and the other disciple initially find just an empty tomb. Peter and the other disciple enter the tomb and find only the wrappings. Then Peter and the other disciple leave and Mary looks in the tomb to find two angels in white. After a short conversation with the angels, Mary turns around to find Jesus.
3. Who did the women tell about the empty tomb?
a. According to Mark 16:8, “they said nothing to anyone.”
b. According to Matthew 28:8, they “ran to report it to His disciples.”
c. According to Luke 24:9, “they reported these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”
d. According to John 20:18, Mary Magdalene announces to the disciples that she has seen the Lord.
V. THE ASCENSION
According to Luke 24:51, Jesus’ ascension took place in Bethany, on the same day as his resurrection.
According to Acts 1:9-12, Jesus’ ascension took place at Mount Olivet, forty days after his resurrection.
There are many, many more incongruities throughout the New Testament, but I felt this sufficient to show the Biblical recounting of events is errant, uncorroborated by contemporary texts, and archaeology to date.
Keller is perfectly willing to accept second-hand contradictory dictations put through a 1,000 year political game of telephone as “eyewitness” accounts proving the historicity Jesus and his divinity. Evolution may or may not disprove the Bible, but it is clear the Bible is not accurate or sufficient evidence to prove its incredible claims.
“Healing the Wound”
Pastor Keller attempts one last time to use the Bible as evidence for its claims citing the apostles doubt in Matt 28:17 saying these people are just as we are despite the era. They doubted the impossible as much as we do. Fair enough, although I feel the information posted above show’s the Bible is less than empirical evidence for the happenings of the day.
Keller ends here making a case for Christ’s miracles as restoration rather a wooing or coercive action. I agree. The Jesus of the Bible is a brave, intelligent, and kind individual. If he and his power did exist he wielded it incredibly responsibly and coolly. This is all for naught if you haven’t already decided all his previous arguments hold water.
While its fair to say science hasn’t disproved the Bible, it is clear it has not proven it and in light of the amazing claims it makes any rational person has to at the very least suspend judgement.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – A critique (Chapter Four: The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice)Posted: September 10, 2013
Chapter 4 The Church is Responsible for so Much Injustice
Skeptics Assertion: “I have to doubt an religion that has so many fanatics and hypocrites… There are so many people who are not religious at all who are more kind and even more moral than many of the Christians I know.” “The church has a history of supporting injustice, of destroying culture… If Christianity is the true religion, how can this be?” (P. 51)
Keller begins this chapter by correctly pointing out the Christian faith does not say that it is better or more likely to be better, but rather it is dependent on forgiveness for failure from their god. The grace received is contingent on God‘s mercy. If anything Christians believe humans are more evil by nature than the humanist does.
He also admits, “Church officials seem to be at least (if not more) corrupt than leaders in the world at large.” (P. 53) He successfully argues if you are at a character disadvantage from nurture even if you come to faith later in life, you are less likely to be of a higher character than a secularist who had a better roll of the dice. I agree with everything Pastor Keller starts out with as stand alone points, and think many secularists are unable to put themselves in the mindset of Christianity particularly regarding the sin nature issue causing them to make assumptions which negate their arguments and reasonings. I encourage all skeptics to look into dogma as much as the actual text; understanding religion from a personal standpoint and not just a sociopolitical/academic one. However, I do not feel the skeptic is asking why a person from a bad or disadvantaged back-round isn’t magically made perfect by Christianity. In fact it is more often Christians speak of miracle conversions which cause for absolute and immediate moral and social 180s.
The question stems from a basic difference in morality. The secularist and believers see tolerance, empathy, love, compassion, etc. fundamentally different. The secularist is compelled to make distinctions about homosexuals, unwed mothers and ones who have abortions, women’s place in the house and work force, so on based on the help or harm done to society. For them tolerance, love, compassion… etc. can evolve in real time. The secularist adapts their moral code as new verified and tested information comes in. The person of faith must adhere to the Bible, or whatever text they hold as holy. These texts cannot change or be adapted. Now, it is clear most Christians are not orthodox Jews, and cherry pick their way through the Bible as to what is “contextually important” in our day and age and while this cherry picking has been pivotal to keep Christianity current and relevant, there are two troubling questions religious adaptions begs.
First: If the Bible is God’s true word and he has not told anyone to amend it, what gives the believer the right to decide which of the laws God still cares about and doesn’t? What is the point of saying you have a pipeline to a deity but acknowledging only the bits which you agree with? Aren’t you doing the same as the skeptic but with one important difference: The believer must constantly weigh what’s more important along side their faith. What is culturally beneficial against what their holy text says which brings me to point two.
Holy texts universally retard progress both morally and scientifically. For instance, if Abolitionist Christians hadn’t cast off all the proslavery verses in the Bible to fight what is clearly an injustice where would we be? They saw an injustice and fought it despite their holy text. The South was clearly on the right side of slavery Biblically (Genesis 9:25, Leviticus 25:44-46, Exodus 21:20-21, Joel 3:8, Luke 12:46-47, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Colossians 3:22) and very successfully justified their way of life as good and Christian. They systematically used Christianity to control their slaves as well. We see this over and over in history from Galileo to woman’s lib. What’s worse, religion doesn’t admit being wrong, but rather says times are different and God must have had a reason for these laws before. There is no reason that a “man after god’s own heart” should ever collect 200 foreskins to by a wife (1 Samuel 18:27) or kill ever living thing (e.g. the flood). This is the issue secularists have with Christianity. Not that they should be more moral, but they claim to have a guide that is morally superior when it clearly is not morally superior even to some other texts of the time.
In this section Keller takes on the idea orthodox inevitably leads to violence as proposed by Christopher Hitchens in his book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Keller admits Hitch’s point, “Religion is not unlike racism,” “One version of it inspires and provokes the other. Religion has been an enormous multiplier of tribal suspicion and hatred…” Pastor Keller continues on with a laundry list of violence perpetrated by various religions from different times all over the world.
Keller unfortunately does what most Christian apologists do and plays the, “Well non-believers do it too!” card. He cites Communist Russia, Chinese, Cambodia, and Nazi’s and the atrocities each committed. Agreed, horrible things happened in the name of state and race. In point of fact religion never left these areas. After Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. To quote Hitler, “We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” Saying you are no worse than Stalinists or Nazis is a horrible defense. Really, really, really bad.
Keller argues since violence persists with religion or devoid of it, the violence must be in us. I agree to some extent, however the amount of violence in the name of religion still severely outweighs the amount of violence done in the name of atheism. Stalinists did not do what they did “in the name of no God ’cause there isn’t one and we need to make the world see!” Atheists don’t blow up religious buildings but abortionists must wear bullet proof vests and have security around their clinics. In point of fact Hitler based his Aryan ideals on his Christian faith:
“What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe.”
-Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
To quote God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Hitchens,
Those who invoke “Secular” tyranny in contrast to religion are hoping that we will forget two things: the connection between the Christian churches and fascism, and the capitulation of the churches to National Socialism. (p. 242)
Yes, violence is inherent in the human condition to some extent but faith in God seems to give credibility to taking action on the insanely evil sides of it with vindication.
Keller makes excellent points in section say the new believer may often become fanatical in their new found faith raging against a litany of things particularly “movies and television”. These people “often appear intolerant and self-righteous”
He argues the truth of Christianity, that is saved by grace, is humbling and not an instigation of arrogance. I agree with Keller the Gospel does have a message of humility, meekness, love, and so forth. I also agree people who are fanatical in faith, like The Westboro Baptists, are very far from what Jesus Christ taught. I do have a very important caveat however.
There is absolutely no way for a Christian to present their faith to a non-believer without saying in some way, “I have knowledge you do not and am better for having this knowledge.” Now this may not seem fanatical, but consider the origin of this knowledge. If you look the faith summarily as I did in the Critique of chapter one, it is on its face insane and the amount of faith required to believe it is at a fanatical level. That fanaticism of confidence in something no one can know comes off as condescending to boot. Christians refer to non-believers as “lost”, which by transitive property puts the believer in a better, you could say, superior position. So even if the believer doesn’t say, “God hates fags.” or “Harry Potter is the work of witchcraft and the Devil.” Having the mindset of being in a superior position by a postulation no one can reach without a fanatical level of faith lays Pastor Keller’s argument good Christians are not fanatical to waste.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary Defines fanatic as: marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. Even more telling the origin of the word fanatic is Latin, fanaticus, inspired by a deity, frenzied, from fanum temple. The very word originated with religion.
“The Biblical Critique Of Religion”
Pastor Keller says the Prophets and Jesus were the first to critique legalism. The failure of the Church is because of poor application of the Gospels. From a purely gospel stand point this is more or less true, although the New Testament is clear we are to keep the Old Testament law,
John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments,
Matthew 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law.
Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
and as I have pointed out several times, Keller seems to forget about the rest of the Bible. If Christians considered Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to be the Word of God and the rest cast aside in the Council of Nicaea there would be less for the skeptic to be concerned about. This is not the case. If all the Bible is Holy and God Breathed, then to be Christian is to follow all of it.
“Justice In Jesus’s Name”
In this section Keller tries to argue slavery was abolished by Christians “not because of some general understanding of human rights, but because they saw as violating the will of God.” He attempts to paint the picture of the church rising up in Christ’s name to end slavery by showing examples of different church bodies and leaders, like Dr. King and Bonhoeffer at the forefront of the civil rights movement, and while I am confident these men did truly believe God opposed the injustice they fought against, this is a poor argument for two reasons. First, I can find far more Christian organizations and leaders who were patently for slavery. Episcopal Bishop Stephen Elliott, James Henley Thornwell, Calvin Henderson Wiley, Josiah Priest, and Frederick Ross all were Christian Pro-slavery speakers and writers. Papal bulls such as Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex and their derivatives, sanctioned slavery and were used to justify enslavement of natives and the appropriation of their lands during the Age of Discovery. The Transatlantic slave trade, was initiated at the request of Bishop Las Casas and authorised by Charles V in 1517. The Ku Klux Klan to this day is a deeply Christian Organization. Their website has this on the opening page: “Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way – law and order – love of family – love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization.” -National Director of The Knights, Pastor Thomas Robb.
Keller doesn’t use the Bible once in this section to show how the Trinity views slavery so I’ll do this for him.
“Thy bond-men and thy bond-maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land. And they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-man forever.”
“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.”
“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”
“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.”
—1 Timothy 6:1-2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever.
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.
Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.
-1 Timothy 6:1-2
The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” -Luke 12:47-48
Clearly both the Bible and Church leaders have fought for and proliferated slavery as much (if not more) as they attempted to end it. Just to put this in today’s perspective the Church and its leaders are still trying to keep basic human rights from groups of people, namely LGBTQ. Some day the Pastor Kellers of the future will be trying to argue “Justice in Jesus’s Name” citing all the Christians who fought so tirelessly to get rights to LGBTQers.
At best Pastor Keller can say the Church comes out even on the Social Justice issue, but that seems like a stretch given the Word of God.
Pastor Keller commits the same crimes he does in every other chapter. He has good insight into his own faith but truly does not understand how the skeptic views his faith.
Drive fast. Take Chances. Thanks for reading.