Monthly Archives: January 2010

Why are the Gospels the only detailed account of Jesus?

While the historicity of the Gospels may be defended at a future point in time, I will focus on why the Gospels are really the only histories of Jesus that we have. Many wonder why no secular source wrote anything in detail about this supposedly amazing man. And I have the answer… They didn’t care. I’ve never heard anybody ask why the Romans never wrote much about Chinese history or vice versa, and then discredited theChinese for having written their own histories. In this way, the Christians wrote about Jesus while nobody else gave a hoot.

So maybe the only ones who did write accurately about it ended up having their biographies of Jesus being selected into what is called the New Testament today. What we have to realize is that what we call the “Gospels” are really intended to be historical biographies. So we must treat them in that manner. They were histories before they were the four Gospels of the NT, not the other way around. Given that they are intended to be histories, what does this mean? It means that this man, Jesus, had four biographies written about Him within 60 years of His life (I would say death but obviously that would stir up a controversy). Now that’s what I call impressive! Julius Caesar had only one secular historian mention him till nearly 150 years after his life. The five main histories we have about Alexander the Great weren’t authored until 400 years after his life. And last time I checked, nobody wonders why Julius Caesar only had a few people that had a vested interest in him wrote about him.

Enough background info. The only times Jesus is mentioned outside of the Gospels is about stuff that concerned the parties writing. Like the fact that he “suffered the extreme penalty under the reign of Tiberius..”(Tacitus). So while the answer seems so simple, it really is. Jesus had more histories written within a shorter period of time than most figures of antiquity. And these sources happened to be canonized into the Bible and are now often considered unhistorical because of this.

Edumacation? What has it become?

The other day I was talking to a friend about world history. He knew all about the World Wars, the Plague, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the American Revolution, the Civil War, etc. But guess what he didn’t know much about other than his rise and fall? Stalin.

Yes, Joseph Stalin. Possibly the most murderous man in human history, but that part wasn’t in his history book. It didn’t mention how Stalin killed possibly 60 MILLION people. We hear all about Hitler and the Holocaust, but do you realize that Hitler killed less than 1/3 of the people Stalin killed? Whoa, crazy right?

Did you know that I’ve never heard much about Pol Pot during my entire academic career? Did you know that he killed nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population?

What about Mao in China? Did you know that he is responsible for the deaths of nearly 40 million of his own people? I have never heard him mentioned in the classroom.

So we all think of Hitler as the most evil man… but these there’s two that top him and one that comes close. The reason this is important for us today? All of these men were Communists of some sort, and that seems to be the biggest, but not the only, cause for the mass murders. So maybe, just maybe Communism/socialism isn’t a great idea, right?

And to see where this country is going…

Why Obama’s lieutenants love Mao

So why is this stuff not taught? I already said why it is important, so what’s the deal? Some say that there’s too much history to cover it all… so hit the big things, and these seem to jump out as some of the biggest. Others say its not necessary. But a fool is one who doesn’t learn from others mistakes as well as his own, and we can prevent another Stalin or Mao if we see what happened the first go ’round.

I could get all conspiracy theory about how the government this and the government that, but I think its the simple fact that our politicians, of all parties, want us to be out of the loop so that they can tell us what we want and need. Why would they do this? Again, refraining from the conspiracy ideas, I would have to say they are selfish and power hungry and don’t care what they have to do to get what they want. “Knowledge is power,” right? So if we have no knowledge, we have no power.

Comments encouraged, especially about the video, which I honestly thought was faked until looking into it a little more. HA, Mao as a role model? That’s ludicrous.

“What about Evil?”… what about it?

Many have made the claim that evil disproves an all-good, all-powerful God. My question is, how? The common argument is thus:

1. If a perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.

2. Evil exists.

3. Therefore, a perfectly good god does not exist.

or more complex:

1. God is all-good and all-powerful.

2. If God is all-good, He would prefer a world without evil.

3. If God is all powerful, He could make any world He wanted.

4. Being able to make any world and preferring one without evil, God would make one without evil.

5. There is evil, therefore, God is not all-good and all-powerful.

or even more:

1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.

2. A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.

3. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.

4. An omnipotent being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence and has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.

5. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.

6. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.

7. Evil exists…

However, running through the arguments, there seems to be a big leap into the mind of God. Do we know if He would necessarily desire a world without evil? If so, how do you know that? Because in order for this to be a sound argument, then it has to be necessarily true. So there can’t even be a single possible situation in which it is not true.

But I can name one right now, and that would be that God may have a desire for us to become dependent on Him, as the Bible claims, and that the best way to do this would be to make a world with evil and suffering so that He could show them that they need Him and can’t fix things on their own.

Ir if you don’t like that, maybe He has another reason to allow evil, such as knowing that a certain amount of evil can lead to a higher quality of good than in a world without evil. Now this one is speculative, yes, but is it possible, yes. What if He desires quality over quantity?

But let’s say these examples don’t work. Let’s say He does desire a world without evil. What if He can’t do it based on His other attributes. He must allow free will, and if there is free will, what if he can’t prevent evil. But this seems to contradict premise 1 of the latter two arguments, right? Or does it? It depends on how one defines “omnipotence.” Is it the ability to do anything, or just the ability to do anything logically possible? Can such an entity make a round circle or a married bachelor? Well, common sense would say not. But let’s throw out common sense. Why does that seem impossible, even for an entity that can do  literally anything? Well, by definition, the two terms in each set of words are contradictory. A square is a shape with 4 congruent sides and 4 right angles, while a circle has no sides and no angles and all points equidistant from its center. And to be married means… to be married, and a bachelor is an unmarried man… So that seems to be a problem. But why can’t an omnipotent being produce such a thing? Some will say that this shows that an omnipotent being is itself contradictory, as the idea is paradoxical to say it can create anything but can’t create some things. So maybe we could use the word “omnipotence” to simply mean “maximally great,” as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it.  So yes, it is semantics, but this is where the whole thing seems to hinge if we accept that God wills there to be no evil. For an entity that really can do anything can make people freely do things, which is a contradiction of terms and is therefore not something a maximally great entity could bring about. So while it may be possible to have a world without evil, it may not be plausible, in the sense that it can be actualized.

Having said this, I think we have great grounds to throw out the logical problem of evil from our category of “evidence against God.” And if someone wishes to use it as such, they have the burden of proof to show that none of these things are even possible.

Is Hell eternal or finite?

I was recently listening to a podcast from the UK on the doctrine of Hell. It was basically over its eternality or finality, and it was quite intriguing. You can check out the podcast on iTunes, it was Unbelievable? 08August2009.

At one point I would have agreed that it was finite and that those there would have their souls destroyed. But after some recent thought, I have come to the belief that it is eternal, just as heaven is, and that people will continue in their sin there and continue there torment at only their faults. This is an idea many are uncomfortable with, as nobody likes the idea of Hell, and we often try to make it seem as nice as possible. But that does not seem to be the case. It really is a bad place, and should make us uncomfortable, that seems to be the point.

So the million dollar question is, does a finite sin demand an eternal consequence?

There are many answers, and I am tempted to say that when it is against an infinite God, then it does. But that seems to easy to say. I think it would be wiser to think of it in more practical terms. Would someone who had rejected God their whole lives really want to bask in His glory and Worship Him for eternity? Or would they rather keep to their ways and be apart from Him? I think that answer is fairly self explanatory. So let’s say that is the case. That would mean that they would continue in their sin after death on earth, and therefore increase their punishment ad infinitum, making the question of finite sin meriting infinite punishment trivial and unnecessary.

But what if there are some people who truly would change and want to worship God after seeing Him in His glory, what happens to them? Are they still damned, or are they allowed into heaven? This is where it gets really tricky. Because being the loving person that I am, I would like for them to spend eternity in a perfect place rather than an evil place, and I would hope God would wish the same. But, unfortunately, what anyone wishes has no effect on its truth value, and in this case, what I want doesn’t matter. It will be the way it will be no matter how I feel about the issue. And having read the Bible, I find nowhere where it says there will be a second chance for repentance after death. So I firmly, and reluctantly I must admit, affirm the notion that they are screwed if they didn’t respond to God’s revelation, whether special or general accordingly, they don’t get to come in.

I guess my favorite analogy would be a marriage, and I have used it before on friends. Let’s say you are dating someone (God in this case), and He proposes to you. If you ignore Him or deny Him, are you still engaged? Of course not. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say you say yes, but on your wedding day you run off with another man. Are you married to the man you had previously had said yes to? Of course not. So to analyze my “parable,” we can see how the non-Christian is the “proposee” and God the proposer. And then we see the Christian turned non-Christian as the one who ran off, leaving God behind. In both cases, the non-Christian does not receive the reward of marriage, although that was the goal of some sort. Just as they do not get into heaven.

So where does that leave us? Hell being eternal due to our stubbornness, not God’s lack of love, for He wants everybody to come to know Him, no second chances after death, and “born again lost again” people getting the same sentence as never found people.