Idolatry: Pharisees (C)

October 3, 2009 — 39 Comments

[This post is part of the Idolatry series]

Of all the musings on idolatry up to this point, this one that hits rather close to home for me personally. So while in some other instances I have been pointing out problems from the outside in, this one comes quite frankly from the inside out.

It was while I was attending a bible institute this actually became an issue for me. With the advent of a distinct understanding from God that I should pursue a life of ministry, most likely in a vocational sense, came the constant temptation to then make an idol out my study of God and my work for Him.

The idea comes from Ezekiel 14 and has been spoken on by Mark Driscoll (which you can listen to here) and also written on by Paul Tripp in Instruments in the Redeemers Hands. If you want an more extended discussion of what I’ll hit on here, watch the Driscoll video as it helped spawn this whole series in the first place (alongside Ortlund’s and Beale’s books, see the initial post).

Anyway, the idea is that for many of us who do not think of ourselves as being as interested in the things of this world like other people, and who are generally focused on our studies of the Bible and theology and the work of the ministry, we too can make idols out of our interests, however sanctified those interest might be.

If you live for ministry opportunities instead of living for God and knowing him, you are just as much as idolater as the people you are trying minister to who live for things like sex, money, or power.

If you live for the pursuit of theological knowledge and insights and the latest breakthrough in Biblical studies, you are just as much an idolater as the Pharisees were because that is exactly what they did.

And that is what I tend to do.

So how can you tell if this is you?

First off, just a caveat, the pursuit and enjoyment of learning theology is not a bad thing in and of itself, much like having a high regard for the Bible is not bad in and of itself. It is the pursuit of the Christian life, which is not to say it is the only pursuit, but it is the fuel for all other fires. But that being said, this is what makes it all the more easy to idolize. It much easier to stop short of worshiping Truth in the person of Christ and simply become a disciple of truth in the abstract sense, whether from Biblical revelation or the result of sound theological reasoning. This manifests itself when one champions truth rather than embodying grace and truth. In other words, seeking to be right rather than Christlike.

That in mind, the second thing to consider is that conflict is where this usually comes to a head. Until presented with a conflict in which you strongly disagree with someone doctrinally, you might not be afforded the opportunity to see whether or not this is your idolatrous bent. How you respond to a conflict shows evidence of your true loyalty, either to the person of Christ or to having right theology. Now in loyalty to Christ you should strive to have correct theology, but once again, if you stop short you can worship your theological system more so than the God it is attempting to make known.

So how does this play out?

If you tend to value being right over being loving or gracious, this probably applies to you. If you tend to “demonize” those who believe differently than you, that is, your argumentation against a particular doctrine is peppered with ad hominem attacks against your opponents; then you have probably “glorified” your theological position and so must “demonize” anyone who holds an alternate position. If you value theological arguments that ultimately serve no purpose, or you use what you know to frustrate those who know less than you, you are probably an idolater of correct theology rather than a worshiper of Christ. If you over zealously seek to correct bad doctrine whenever you see it, and usually succeed tactlessly, then this applies to you. If you tend to resent others who might encroach on your intellectual territory, you probably value being the sole arbiter of truth in a particular community of believers and in doing so are failing to love and show grace to those who may possess the ability to prove you wrong in an argument.

I know all of this of course because I either do things like this repeatedly or have done so at some point in the past. I could name names of others just as guilty as I am, but that would make this whole post vacuous and hypocritical. I’ll simply call attention to the problem, repent of this myself daily, and maybe the Spirit will use what is written here to expose the idols of others hearts as well.

This idea of having idols that have been taken into your heart first appears in Ezekiel 14 when the elders of Israel (the ministry leaders) come to Ezekiel seeking a word from the Lord. Ezekiel speaks the word of the Lord to them telling them that God is not interested in talking to them because of their unrepentant idolatry and so their ability to minister to others is failing accordingly.

This is no less true today and many of us who run into roadblocks in our ability to minister are probably guilty of having taken our idols into our hearts and they have become a stumbling block to us, blocking our vision and keeping us from seeing things clearly:

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, who separates himself from me, taking idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, ‘I the LORD will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD'” (Ezekiel 14:6-8 ESV)

As much as we may seek to throw stones at some theologians or pastors and label them heretics, it is we who are the heretics in action by not repenting of our idolatry. Luther’s first of the Ninety Five Theses that he nailed to the Wittenburg church door states that the whole of the believers life is to be repentance. If this is indeed true than those who do not repent are just a heretical as those who can’t get the gospel right. While the Emergents may stumble and be unable to rightly explain the Gospel or even distort it, along with other vital areas of doctrine, it is the error of some that while rightly pointing that out and attaching the label of heretic, we are unwilling to wear the name tag ourselves when we live like heretics by not continually repenting of our idolatry.

Heretic is a fluid category that one can drift in and out of both doctrinally and practically. Before being so quick to label one a heretic because of their explorations of doctrine (which may change) we should remember our own heresy in behavior (which also changes). The irony in all this is that in being to quick to point out someone else’s heresy in a doctrinal sense, you may be exposing your own heresy in an idolatrous behavioral sense. All this is speck and log theology all over again. Which again, who was Jesus talking to when he went into that?

Well it was the Pharisees of course.

Nate

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

39 responses to Idolatry: Pharisees (C)

  1. Yep, I’m right there with you. This is something that I too must repent of daily. By God’s grace I think I have progressed in this area; however, it is still something that I struggle with (and probably always will, to some degree or another!).

    Here’s where it gets difficult, though. I don’t think that pointing out doctrinal heresy is always necessarily an indicator of idolatrous behavioral heresy. There are some times in which pointing out theological error is necessary, but other times when it is an indicator of idolatry in my own heart. The difficulty is in evaluating myself and my motives in order to accurately make that distinction.

    • I don’t think it necessarily is either, but I think it can all too easily slip in that direction. It is helpful though to make a distinction between pointing out theological error, and pointing out heresy, or calling a person a heretic. It is a negative way of framing the discussion, which doesn’t always help the other person see things differently.

      But you’re right, the difficulty is in evaluating your own heart and discerning whether or not you are taking too much joy in calling someone else wrong, or whether your heart grieves for how they are missing the truth.

  2. Definitely. I am reminded of Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees’ attitude regarding his healing the man with the crippled hand on the Sabbath.

    “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart . . .” (Mark 3:5 ESV).

    The balance of passionate anger and sincere grief is one which is difficult to achieve. I have failed at this many times – unfortunately, sometimes in published (via the internet) writing; but, I am thankful for God’s grace in continually revealing my own wickedness, and for granting me grace to recognize it and repent.

  3. How do you pursue a christian life if you do not have a deep understanding of the scriptures. And how better to learn than explore other ideas. The Jews valued debate and still do. All their scripture is arguable and needs to be for understanding. They frown on studying alone.

    I think the Pharisees have gotten a bad rap in general. There were to distinct group of Pharisees, which I’m sure you know were really being called seperatists by the Sadducian led temples and Sanhedrin. The dead sea scroll, Damascus document, praises those who seperate for a life of purity. The Pharisees.

    The group Jesus curses were Shammaite pharisee. They were rigid literal readers of scripture but of course hypocrites and only for show. Hillel pharisees held the same belief Jesus demonstrates in John. I gathered this info through Christian and Jewish writings.

    I agree that we should be gracious and humble, but how can claiming the only way to heaven is Christianity, and often a certain sects way, ever be gracious. It is judgemental and hypocritical in nature.
    Pelagian7

    • I understand there are intricacies to the position the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked occupied, however, the argument of this particular blog has nothing to do with that per se, but is rather aimed at treating those who value doctrine over and above Christlike-ness. Both groups of Pharisees and the Sadducees are open to the charge of idolatry is they refused to come to Christ after his death, burial, and resurrection and vindication as God incarnate and the only way to be reconciled to God.

      Please explain more how claiming what Jesus himself claimed in John 14:6 is not being gracious and is also hypocritical and judgmental. The mere existence of a way to God that not only involves Christ, but involves Christ coming down to us instead of us working our way up to God is the epitome of grace.

      I am curious as well how your thoughts on Pelagius and if you also hold to his views on the nature of man and salvation.

  4. Pelagius, wrote nothing that survived so I can only go by those who wrote against him. But yes, I believe sin is not inherited and Adam and Eve did not burden me. I agree with Pelagius on other points too.

    Check into Egyptian lore. The saying from John14:6 is carved into the stone of a pyramid. It is said of Horus, a dying and resurrected sun God. There is no doubt that the saying pre-dated Jesus by many centuries, which means the saying was well known and not proof of divinity or a single way to salvation. It was likely said of and by many claiming divine status, including the Buddha, 500 years before Christ. In the earliest copy of John this saying is absent, look up Hanna, who donated the manuscript to the vatican.

    If your logic holds true, then the Egyptian religion is the only way. However, I have been inspired to learn through revelation the truth. The truth is simpler and purer.

    The Egyptian tale describes Horus as sun God, half human, of virgin birth. His depictions have been mistaken for Jesus. He has a halo behind his head (Sun Disc) and his mother Isis looks like our Madonna.

    Some of Christ’s followers were pharisees, including Paul, so your generalization doesn’t work. I have two good friends who are former clergy. One went on to start a messianic Jewish church, the other was so disillusioned that he became an atheist. When I informed each of my revelations and gnosis they both said that at seminary those topics were skimmed over. Rejected without investigation.

    My desire is to bring Jesus’ message to the masses. What is practiced now is a Pagan mutation, brought by Paul and adapted by the church. All the sects and different denominations are proof of the missing truths of Christianity. I found answers to every question I had. At no time did I have to say some things are meant to be mysteries.
    Pelagian7

    • Could you let me know which inscription you are speaking of? I am studying Egyptian literature at the moment in grad school and can verify your findings and whether or not you are just making uninformed conjectures.

      Also, please produce any proof of any other teacher making that particular statement, as in, let me know who said it and where the writing can be found. Otherwise, your claims are vacuous.

      From I’ve read over the past semester out of the Egyptian literature, you appear to not understand very well the Egyptians gods and what they did and did not do/represent.

      Of course some of Christ’s followers were Pharisees, not everyone who was a Pharisees was an idolater, just those who refused Christ.
      Your revelations and your gnosis are nothing new, I’m studying much of it right now in grad school. Please provide data to back your claims as many appear to just be your own uninformed conjecture.

  5. http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5b.htm is one web site to provide info. Gerald Massey wrote on Egypt. Of course Christian majority reject him as a source but only because he doesn’t follow the party-line.

    Read Tom Harpur, the Pagan Christ. Look up, Jesus Ben Patera. Your studies are based on a pre-made conclusion. What can be studied in this way. By the method used only one conclusion can be found, everything either supports Christianity or it must be rejected.
    Mithras had similar saying attributed to him too.
    Pelagian7

    • I went to the site, and I checked out Gerald Massey who it turns out is not just rejected by the Christian majority, but is rejected by Egyptologists (including non-religious ones) in general because he was particularly inept at interpreting Egyptian literature and had no credentials to do so whatsoever. That and the fact that he wrote over a century ago and Egyptology has long since advanced mean one thing: his writings are absolutely worthless to help one understand Egyptian thought and religion.

      Tom Harpur it turns out is just as ill-informed, as he relies heavily on someone named Alvin Boyd Kuhn, who like Harpur, was not an Egyptologist but just a high school language teacher, and who himself did not rely on primary sources, but simply other out of date ill-informed authors.

      For a more thorough refutation of both Harpur and Massey as being ignorant and uninformed, you can see the article here published by an actual scholar on an actual university’s history website:

      http://hnn.us/articles/6641.html

      Further, you seem overly optimistic about the ability to study things without pre-made conclusions, however you have the pre-made conclusion yourself that I am studying things in a biased manner. Yet, I am the one who has read and studied the primary sources in the actual Egyptian literature, and it is you who rests on others’ pure speculations about the matter that themselves appear to be driven by pre-made conclusions.

      So again, the invite stands to produce actual evidence within the ancient literature that support you ideas, not the musings of fanciful beatniks on the fringe of the academic world who both lack the credentials and reasoning power to produce sound conclusions.

  6. If you go to religious tolerance look at Horus Jesus comparisons. they cite info.p

    • This site you provided is riddled with inaccuracies about the Egyptian gods (like the relation of Horus to Osiris and so on), so try to find something that actually is derived from the literature and presents an accurate picture of who the gods are in relation to one another and what they did and did not do in the understanding of ancient Egyptians.

  7. How about Joseph Campbell or Graves? What about Spong, Erdman, Eisenman, Bultman, Eliade, Doresse, Pagals. Did you look at the comparison or just look for ammunition to refute with?

    Why is it so frightening to consider what we believe today is borrowed from others? For thirty years I read all the apologetic works and tried to make what was said mesh with the spirit. Finally I said, what if they have it wrong? Then I began studying all the books called heresy.

    The Gospels need commentaries and explanations to accept as are. With what I learned, little explanation is needed. Don’t assume I have only read or studied the couple books listed earlier. I immersed myself in every type of writing and even took koine when trying to believe in the inerrant Bible. I was troubled by some arbitrary oddities. Why was Yeshua spelled that way in one Gospel, when naming Jesus, then a (brother) character named Joses pops up once in the Gospels. Yet I’m sure you know the hebrew used only consonants thus Joses is the same as Jesus. So was this the twin of lore, Thomas?
    Pelagian7

    So, no I did not read the writings that would support my views alone. In fact over a two year period my beliefs evolved substantially. Did I have an open mind? How else could my belief change and grow? What did I end up believing? That Jesus’ example is how we need to live and even those who have never heard his name, but lived by his example, will be saved in his name. I ultimately reject inerrancy and a singular salvation as interpreted, all else is sound and inspired.

    • I see you’ve shifted the conversation away from the Egyptian writings as you list no Egyptologists, only NT scholars and comparative religion junkies. Rather than chase your argument, just please explain why you cannot produce any evidence from primary sources (i.e. the ancient writings the people you follow supposedly glean from) as to why anything you are saying is of any value, much less true.

      So far, it just sounds like your own refusal to acknowledge Christ as both Lord and God but rather you are seeking to be your own god and determine truth for yourself. It is not frightening to consider that what I believe may have been borrowed from elsewhere, but since I have access to the writings from the ancient world, I am simply asking you to provide me with evidence of your claims. I am simply trying to open minded-ly verify what you are saying, but you are not co-operating in providing the necessary evidence to support your ideas.

      I would say to stop blindly following the authors that are leading you along and think for yourself, but it looks like thinking for yourself and reasoning apart from any authority is what has gotten you into this mess in the first place where you are fooling yourself into thinking you are wise but are merely appearing more and more foolish as the argument progresses.

      So once again, please point me toward any source of ancient writings that provides evidence of ideas about Jesus being borrowed from another religion. It’s not a huge request, anyone seeking to be reasonable would be more than happy to accommodate it.

  8. Nate, Jean Doresse is an Egyptologist and well respected so it is you who is sounding stupid. Especially since you responded to me in an hour, there is no way you could have read anything they wrote in that time. So my guess is you looked at apologetic critics and rather than think for yourself, quote them. “Jean Doresse is a renowned historian and a scholar of Egyptology and Greek papyrology.” From a university web-site. I have a book store and have read much, so, retracing my steps for quotes takes time. I provided you with mythologists and comparitive religion researchers as that is what we are talking about.

    Here in lies the problem for non-orthodox views. Most institutions won’t accredit someone who will alienate potential income producers. As to what my sources are, I have Origen on First Principles, Church History, by Eusebius, documents of the early church with several translations. . . and have read and discussed them with Christian and Jewish scholars.

    I can only assume you have not studied the Mythology of persia and the near east. From Isis, osiris, dionysis, and even Ishtar is resoundingly familiar to Jesus tale except in Ishtar the hero is a women. The seven sins of Mary Magdalene should take on new meaning in the context of Ishtar too.

    I guess a better way to look at this is why did the church try to eradicate these writings? Why would you call these scholars junkies? I have discussed all this, providing my essays with bibliographies, to more than one clergy. They were shocked and said that in seminary they didn’t go into the controversies except to debunk them. If you will take the time to review my sources yourself rather than respond with propaganda I’d be happy to take the time to gather them. Otherwise your cup is full and will hold no more.
    Pelagian7

    • My apologies, I should have been thorough in investigating the names you threw out there. Although, “Jean Doresse is a renowned historian and a scholar of Egyptology and Greek papyrology,” just seems to have come from the first hit on a google search.

      Your documents are valid in that they are ancient writings, but you are still failing to give me what I am requesting. Please produce some writings from the ancient world, Egyptian funerary texts, pyramid texts, anything that would be considered a primary source concerning your ideas about Horus and Jesus. Not a comparative religion scholar’s books, not a mythologist’s book, not even a book by an Egyptologist, although an Egyptologist is the most suitable person to interpret the texts from ancient Egypt as they understand both the original language and the cultural context. Comparative religion scholars are simply looking for similarities and tend to discount dis-similarities. They wouldn’t have a job if all they found was discontinuity.

      I would only ask, have you actually the read the primary sources concerning Ishtar, Isis, Osiris, and Dionysis? Primary sources mean the writings from that culture, not a comparative religion or mythology scholar’s interpretation of those writings. Have you read them and formulated your own opinions, or are you just relying on other people to do that for you?

      You seem to be enamored with Gnosticism and its writings and interpretations of other religions, can you produce any writings you have read for yourself from the ancient world? And I suppose I should qualify that as coming from earlier than 1000BCE. We are arguing over an interpretation of these texts, I would just assume read this texts myself and validate your ideas. I am not interested in what the scholars you have read have to say about them, I would like to read them for myself. These scholars have their own pre-made conclusions and biases just as you yourself have. You are not interested in changing your views any more than I am interested in changing mine. I just want to validate if there is any truth to your claims.

      So once again, do you have any sources in the ancient Egyptian literature, ancient Mesopotamian literature, or any other East or West Semitic culture that you would like to share? Remember, you came to me and started this discussion, the least you can do is provide the sources necessary to validate your claims.

  9. By the way, “An Egyptologist is any archaeologist, historian, linguist, or art historian who specializes in Egyptology”, [this is the definiton for egyptologist, none of these fields specialize in interpreting religion or myth, but they are who you want me to quote? In addition as an Egyptologist they specialize in the study of Egypt which can leave them at a comparitive disadvantage. Sounds uneducated to me to suggest only these people can give educated guesses.]

    • That’s a fair definition of an Egyptologist, but remember I want the actual sources in the Egyptian literature from you, not someone else’s opinion of them or interpretation of them. Comparative religion scholars are at a disadvantage as they are not as well informed about any one particular culture and themselves tend to over-emphasis the similarities at the expense of highlighting legitimate differences. I would not trust their ability to accurately interpret any primary sources.

    • Now we’re getting somewhere. So what is your understanding of this text and how does it relate to your original claims?

    • Also, since you only provided a single document and a late one at that, do you know how this relates to earlier funerary texts as well as the other cultic center’s understandings of both afterlife and the Duat? Do you know particularly which cultic center these writings originate from? That would be helpful if you know off-hand, if not, I can gather the information myself on Monday.

      I appreciate you finally complying on this, now we might actually get somewhere, but I doubt it. Neither of us are interested in revising our views. Why even comment on my page in the first place then? Was it just to start an argument?

  10. The Duat has several variations and in some tombs was abbreviated or highlighted certain aspects. I am like you, I choose to interpret for myself. When I do get info from secondary sources I scan their citations and check on them myself. I looked at several Duat interpretations and writings, writing the basics of each down. Then I compared them myself. I found aspects of several Biblical stories in the Duat texts. Cain and Abel could have been borrowed, as well as parts of genesis.

    The similarity in the coptic language and claims that the Jews came out of Egypt, as well as, Jesus being in Egypt, should it be surprising aspects were borrowed? Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Jesus all sound alike. (remember the J is a recent addition to our alphabet and these languages didn’t contain vowels as we use them)

    Do you know that the name ‘John’ comes from a word meaning water?
    Peter, of course means ‘rock’. And was a noun 1st century.
    Jesus had a twin, didymus thomas. (Early religions had twin themes) Jesus was also misspelled to create the number 888, sacred.
    Jesus represented ‘fire’ or (light of the world)
    Paul brought the spirit. Holy spirit inspired.

    This formula is a common gnostic theme.
    *Water
    *Earth
    *Fire or light
    *Spirit
    *The four elements of the Egyptian Cross, with four sectors.
    Elements that make up the world. Jean Doresse, in secret books of the egyptian gnostics translates writings similar that follow this theme, naming Jesus the bringer of light. Doresse is careful to not disenchant Christians, but also points out that these same themes are present in ancient funerary texts of the Egyptians.

    You suggest I accept what I read. If you said that to any of my friends they’d laugh at you. I am skeptical of everything and need to check sources. For example, even though I listed Tom Harpur’s, Pagan Christ, I checked his claims and found he did make some mistakes. Yet most of his claims were verifiable.

    What would you want to change my mind to? I was brought up a Lutheran, considered the ministry, and read all the recommended readings. I struggled with a few aspects of doctrine and decided to see if I could reconcile them. My goal was to accept what was taught without doubt, but my research revealed our certainties are manufactured.

    So no I will not accept a literal inerrant Bible, unless someone can provide me with the kind of evidence you are requesting from me. And that would be non-christian confirmation of the Bible from unbiased scholars, not testimonies, or claims based on the Bible.

    I work in the legal system and we investigate evidence with a skeptic eye. When I applied this to Christianity my eyes were opened wide! I had accepted so much just because I was told to, but, the litany of excuses and explanations crumbled when I allowed for the possibility of error or edit.
    Please check into my claims, my christianity allows for all good people to find salvation. This is my passion, and I am open to new info, it has just been a long time since a Christian hasn’t just recycled the same old testimonial reasoning.
    Pelagian7

    • I think you are misunderstanding the term “Duat.” I’m assuming maybe you mean the Amduat, but the Duat itself is the Egyptian underworld, not a body of writing. In my understanding of funerary texts and coffin texts, Duat is not a term used by scholars to refer to anything particular body of writings.

      It is interesting that you found correlations, but in a certain sense, the question is “So what?” Cain and Abel would have happened historically long before anything was written inside an Egyptian tomb. As for other elements of Genesis, the creation account in chapter 1 very closely parallels in the Egyptian literature. Doubtless, Moses’ aims in writing was to undercut the Egyptians and vindicate Yahweh as the sole God worthy of the Israelites worship. It is no difficulty in believing the inerrancy of Scripture that there are parallels within ancient literature. They do not somehow stand above the Bible and exist as more truthful in some way, but that is the assumption many of the authors you read are working with. You may have picked it up unawares.

      I’m sure you’ll find parallels, that’s exactly what we are investigating in my doctoral seminar right now. But the question remains, “So what?” You will find parallels because that’s how our minds work, but what does that have to do with anything? Is the veracity of the Bible somehow diminished because similar stories show up elsewhere? Is the nightly news somehow less factual if it shows up in someone’s Twitter? But I am just asking rhetorical questions and that does not establish my argument. So I digress…

      I’m not sure how bringing Coptic into the discussion helps anything, the literature we are disputing was written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, not Coptic. “Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Jesus all sound alike” as you say in English. But etymologically they come from different, unrelated languages. Now I know they didn’t have vowels (at least Hebrew didn’t) but Egyptian didn’t have consonants either. I’m not sure what you’re getting at by just pointing out vague similarities in names, that hardly establishes anything. Just because you see a similarity in English doesn’t really count for much. And again, “so what?”

      I realize Petros is the Greek word for rock, but the Greek for John is not the same as the word for water. Please provide 1st century evidence of Jesus having a twin. Not some gnostic text that was written a couple of centuries later, something from the time when Jesus walking the earth, like say, the canonical Gospels, that substantiates your claim. “Fire” in the Bible is connected to the Spirit, not to Christ. Making your Gnostic theme work in the Scriptures seems rather contrived, and does not

      Has anyone else, (i.e. any other scholar of ancient literature, preferably one who specializes in Egyptian hieroglyphs) verified Doresse’s claims? They seem to be very interesting, but I wouldn’t take his word for it, mainly because he seems to be misusing the ancient literature to make it support his gnostic ideas, when the literature itself was not written to address the questions he is asking it. He seems to be imposing an interpretive grid over the text rather than honestly trying to interpret it on its own.

      I’m assuming you were answering my last post, but you didn’t actually provide a legitimate answer to the question. In light of that, I could guess you were answering the question “what is your understanding of this text and how does it relate to your original claim?” In which case, I see your answer, but I do not see how your research into the single Amduat document and Doresse’s writings on Egyptian gnostic writings (which is an anachronism if there ever was one as Gnosticism came a millennium later than the writings in question), has anything to do with Christianity borrowing from other religions. Similarities does not equal borrowing, and you have not pointed out how discontinuous they are, which is something I would expect anyone who has thoroughly studied the ancient writings would be aware of.

      Now you do bring up an interesting issue. You say you will not accept an inerrant Bible unless some non-Christian scholar verifies it as such. If you’ve done much research in this area, I’m assuming you aware that the Bible is the most well attested body of writing from the ancient world. The manuscript evidence is astounding. So as far as transmission, sure maybe there would be edits (as there certainly were in the Old Testament to update the Hebrew as the language evolved) can you name for me any errors within the text of Scripture? I would welcome you to list, chapter and verse from either Old or New Testament, any errors in the text.

      As to your claims, you can call it Christianity, but if you believe that all good people find salvation, that is not Christianity for the main reason that it excludes Christ. You simply believe a syncretism of Pelgaianism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism and are mislabeling it a form of Christianity. Also, to be a Christian means that you submit to the authority of Scripture, not to the authority of scholars, which is in essence what you are wishing to do. You would like for a scholar to authorize the Bible for you, rather than taking it on its own claims, which is what Christians by faith do. What I would invite you to do since you have a skeptic eye and like to investigate evidence is to investigate the historical claims of the gospel. By gospel I am referring to the news that Jesus Christ, lived, died, was buried, and rose again three days later. There is ample historical evidence outside of Christianity that Jesus in fact was a real historical person, that he claimed to be God incarnate and that he was crucified and then appeared later to many witnesses, I can provide some for you if you like, since as you say you are open to new info. You also have the Biblical account as well, unless you have pre-made conclusions that it is inaccurate, but that remains to be seen as you would need to provide substantial evidence that the Bible was incorrectly transmitted and that it contains errors, as you were invited to do above.

  11. [You simply believe a syncretism of Pelgaianism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism and are mislabeling it a form of Christianity. Also, to be a Christian means that you submit to the authority of Scripture, not to the authority of scholars, which is in essence what you are wishing to do. You would like for a scholar to authorize the Bible for you, rather than taking it on its own claims, which is what Christians by faith do. ]

    To be a Christian is to submit to scripture? Where does it say that biblically. I know the Old Testament does but we proceed under the assumption Jesus relegated the Law other than Moses. Doesn’t Jesus ridicule Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus doesn’t instruct anyone to write his story in the scriptures. He instructs his disciples to minister without possesions.

    Are you referring to Josephus, Tacitus, and others who mention Christians or Jesus. Josephus was quoted heavily by ante-Nicene fathers and none quoted him as it reads today in regards to Jesus. They certainly would have, had those two paragraphs existed then.
    The others write in the second century and may be repeating myth.
    One historian (can’t remember his name) is where the tradition that Mark wrote for Peter and the Gospel of Mark is really what Peter saw. However in the same letter, he says Mark followed Peter and wrote all the sayings of Jesus. Yet, our Mark is not a Gospel of sayings and is very short.

    You have to go into the Jewish, Hebrew, to find the predecessor of John as water. Didymus means what? And maybe Jesus was supposed to represent spirit and fire, you could be right there.

    Your point is, so the scriptures sound like myth, so what. So why would God copy the myths in his sons story? You make many claims that are not supported Biblically, and yet, often opposing positions can be supported if scripture is cherry picked, making any position debatable. If you are a student of Christianity you should know that many types of Christianity were popular until they were forcibly driven out of existence, which means my claim as a Christian is as legitimate as yours. Did God inspire the correct Christianity to win. Then why allow all these sects today?

    Errors, you know the errors, but the church has had two thousand years to make excuses and I don’t need to hear them again. I have examined their validity and found them wanting. The scriptures vary–oops, well you would expect some variance. (In God inspired works?) Many are geographical and any person there themselves would know better.

    The canonical scriptures are no more valid than these other documents. You don’t seem to have a very good grasp on the controversaries. I guess we have reached impass.
    Thanks for the discussion, Pelagian

    • I suppose in a certain sense one does not need to submit to Scriptures to call oneself a Christian and if we were to define “Christian” in its historical, orthodox usage dating back to its earliest forms (which started around 50AD, when believers were first called that) then a Christian is one who acknowledges that Christ is Lord and God and also that belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the only way of salvation. A Christian is one who believes this gospel of and about Christ. A corollary then of believing this is that the written account that has been historically accepted by these Christians from earliest times is the only proper authority of faith and practice in the life of a Christian. Paul’s writings are referred to as Scripture by Peter (2 Peter 3:15-18) placing it on par with the rest of Scripture (the OT) which is to imply, what was true of the authority of the Old Testament was now true of the New Testament as it was being written and collected.

      It is interesting you point out that Jesus ridiculed the Scribes and Pharisees. Lo and behold, that was that the original blog post we keep commenting on is about. I blogged to answer the question of why that is. Now I wonder if you actually read the post at all, or just decided to comment to stir things up. So far, that is what it seems like, and I am sure after this you will somehow walk away from the conversation “justified” in continuing to believe the things that you do.

      Josephus and Tacitus were some of the historical evidence I was referring to, I’m not sure what you were trying to say undercut the legitimacy of either. Your statements on Mark seem rather muddled and don’t really appear to making a point that undercuts that Gospel’s historicity in any real way.

      I realize you’ve closed the discussion, but I know Hebrew, so you are welcome to enlighten me to the Jewish/Hebrew roots of John as water. I was aware that Didymus means twin in Greek, I just didn’t see how that bears any relation to him being a twin of Jesus. The gospels never state as much, maybe your Gnostic texts do, but they were written much later and of course far removed from the actual history of Jesus.

      You are assuming if there is a similarity between myth and the Bible that God copied the myth, but again, that is just a pre-made conclusion you are making. You have no supporting evidence of dependence, you are just seeing what you want to see in the texts. Even you could prove that the mythological texts were written first, that still does not in a scholarly way establish dependence. it is just pure conjecture both on your part and on the part of whoever you are getting your ideas from.

      I may have made some claims that cannot be supported Biblically but that does not make them false. You have not made any claims that are supported from Scripture, which does not make your ideas false because of that either. There seems to be very little, if any real evidence actually supporting your views, just many assumptions that must be made in order for the data to fit the grid you’ve imposed on it. Your claim to Christianity is not legitimate just because you can find others supposedly early in the history of the church who thought similar things, it just means your heretical ideas are nothing new. The church deemed them un-orthodox early on and Paul even fought against proto-Gnostic views in his writings, especially in Colossians. Your particular brand of Christianity is not actually following Christ, in the sense of placing trust in him as God incarnate and the sole salvation from your sin against God accomplished by his death, burial and resurrection. Unless you are willing to plead the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to reconcile you to God, you can lay no legitimate claim to Christianity.

      I invited you to produce errors so that can show the other readers of this blog that you do not have any errors to demonstrate. It is still an open invitation, feel free to produce a single, verifiable error within the Greek or Hebrew text. They are textual variants, sure, but those are different than claiming there are errors within the text of Scripture. They arose because we possess different manuscripts faithfully copied over thousands of years. We would expect some variance, but to be honest, there should be many many more variants than there are, and the ones that do exist are mostly mispellings and so forth.

      The bottom line is that the Scriptures are more well attested and more widely accepted than these other documents you have chosen to follow at your own peril. You are ultimately your own god, as you are only interested in being the final arbiter of truth for yourself. Everything must pass your scrutiny and your tests to determine whether or not it is believe-able or not, and your made is already made up before the investigation begins. You see things through Gnostic eyes so everything is tainted. Admittedly, I do the same thing. I see things through Christian eyes and am just as biased for my views as you are for yours. Don’t pretend that you are somehow “objective” in your investigations. Only someone thoroughly naive would make such an assumption. I have chosen to submit my reasoning to the Scriptures and to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life (or am at least working on it) as he alone is the image of the invisible God and the only means of salvation, and the Bible is the only reliable revelation of his person and work.

      I think I have a better grasp on the real controversy than you do my friend, your non-sequiters in this conversation have abounded, as has your dodging of invitations to present adequate evidence for claims. To simply say I don’t grasp the controversies may have served as a nice way to sign off, but I’m sure those that read over this comment chain will arrive at different conclusions. But you are right, we have reached an impass, going round and round will get us nowhere. Like I said, I am not open to re-thinking my understanding of Christianity, and as you have shown, you aren’t either. I am biased against your views, you are biased against mine. Neither of us is objective, nor is that attainable. Neither of us reasons “neutrally” nor can I and still claim to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and neither can you and still remain your own functional god. One day I suppose, one way or another, you will find the Truth, and when you do, this life or the next, then you will really start to understand.

  12. Nothing you said was new, and it has been checked into by me. I could not have been convinced to alter my excepted view of Christianity (Lutheran) three years ago by blog excerpts.

    Therefore, I give you authors and clues to check into. Evidence gains strength with repetition and substantiation (independent). I can give you this verse, or that letter as evidence, but taken alone we would argue for two more millenia.

    I believe I have determined, as well as is possible, the truth of Christianity. I came to these conclusions by using Christian writings and then found others had found the same thing.

    Are there things that are just mysteries in Christianity? Well, I found the answers and it is really quite simple. Don’t you know you are the temple of God and God dwells in you?
    Pelagian7

    • I actually take pride in not saying anything new, it’s something I can claim that you can’t. I am defending the historic Christian faith, you are chasing a new spin on things. Do you mean to say your accepted view of Christianity? Or your exceptional views of Christianity?

      So far, you have not given me evidence, you generally speaking, dodged invitations to provide evidence that would actually substantiate your claims. If you’d like, I can go back through the comment thread and list everything you’ve opted not to address.

      I believe you have failed to determine the truth of Christianity, your views do not comport with the teachings of either the Old or the New Testament, the creeds of the church or the standard confessions of the faith. Your username derives from a condemned heresy and you hold to Gnostic ideas that many of the early church fathers ardently opposed. You do not submit to the Christ as either Savior or Lord in your belief or your practice, specifically your reasoning.

      You may have found answers, but eventually you will discover that you were asking the wrong questions. You can continue to argue, but as I wrote about today, the more you argue, the more you undermine your own position. I thought you had closed the discussion, but if you want to keep going around, I’ll still keep responding.

    • Also, just to clarify, I realize when you say that nothing I’ve said is new that you are saying you have heard all the arguments before. But there you are again, dismissing the argument by saying it has been checked into by you and it did not pass the test. There you are, standing over the argument as the final arbiter of truth. But considering the argumentation you’ve presented so far, why should anyone trust your judgment on the matter? You do not seem to be following my reasoning very well, or interpreting what I say very clearly, why should anyone trust your interpretation of other matters?

      I suspect that at bottom what is really driving all of this is not that you find the other evidence more compelling, but that you find it more appealing. You don’t like the idea of submitting to Christ as Lord, you do not like the idea of being told you are sinful from birth and need to repent in order to be saved and you certainly do not like the idea of having to submit your reasoning to the authority of some book like the Bible. You want to be in charge, you want to be your own functional god who decides what is true and what is not according to your own standard. You want to ascend to God by your own innate goodness rather than have God descend to you in your depravity and do for you what you can’t do for yourself.

      But here’s the question, on your worldview, how good is good enough? All good people go to heaven you say, but who determines what is “good” and how much “good” do you have to display? You can’t use the Bible to determine this, you’ve already dismissed it as containing errors. So who decides? Do you decide? Is your decision binding on everyone? Or does everyone determine for himself what is good and how good they have to be to qualify for heaven?

      Does heaven even exist? How could you know? You can’t refer to Scripture, it has errors remember? It if has errors in some places, then we can’t really know if any of it is true. Who decides what is true and not true in the Bible if we get to pick and choose? Heaven has not been independently verified, there is no evidence for its actual existence. How do you know it’s there? The Bible tells us about heaven, but on your worldview, why should we trust the Bible’s description of heaven?

      You want to follow Jesus’ example, but how do you know anything about how Jesus lived? The Bible has errors in its descriptions or it just borrowed from myths, so it must not be reliable right? How do you pick which “Jesus” to follow? If you’re going to search through all the other writings that mention or are about Jesus, which one is true? How could know? Who would have the most reliable understanding? A disciple maybe? But you’ve dismissed their writings as containing errors. Now you could appeal to other writings on any of these points, but the question remains, why should anyone accept those writings authority? Just because they are there and you like them?

      The point I am trying to make in all of this is not to give you a whole litany of questions to answer. I am just illustrating that without trusting that the Bible is an infallible reliable record of God’s revelation to mankind, you can’t really assert anything meaningful about the things you are saying. They merely collapse into just being your own opinion about things, not something that absolutely true in some sort of binding sense on anyone else. You’ve found something “true for you” in that, you’ve found the brand of “Christianity” that you like best and what suites you on your reading of things as an autonomous interpreter of reality. But if you are correct, then it shouldn’t matter to anyone else. If you’re ultimately right, you’ve only succeeded in locking yourself in your own subjective prison and are trying to convince others to join you. If they decline, they are not mired in error in any sort of absolute sense, they’ve just picked another “truth” off the shelf of their own autonomous reality. Why should that bother you at all?

  13. Nate your last thread had some very well thought out points and finally we are on the same page. Early Church fathers said made statements such as,

    The spirit of God is man fully alive! (Iraneaus)
    Our Gospels and Epistles are ancient writings of the Essenes (Eusebius)

    In John 7 Jesus tells us to not judge according to appearances but judge according to what is right! We’re back to the Pharisees. Jesus himself suggests we use our own intellect and compassion, why should I then act like a Pharisee and quote the letter of the law?

    I use scripture to guide me and like Paul said, we are the temple and the spirit dwells in us, therefore scripture says (to me) that here are basic truths, rules and wisdom, but God’s spirit also dwells in us and use that to be just.

    No I don’t throw out the baby with the bath water and even though I depend on myself and others who don’t agree with you, I am depending no more or less on my own authority than you are.

    If you were born in Iran, to Muslim parents, we would be having a discussion about the merits of Islam. However, you chose to believe in Christianity and base it on faith over reason (as you said). That is your decision based on your own authority and no different than me. Before you point out how many more Christians believe like you do, consider the world and you are not a majority.
    Pelagian7 (By the way, I assumed you knew many aspects I didn’t go into detail about, that you criticised me for.)

    • We are on nowhere near the same page, I am still not completely sure you are following much of anything I am saying. Is there a way I can make things clearer for you?

      I think you have Irenaeus misquoted, and I am almost positive you have no idea what that phrase means or the context it comes from. As for Eusebius, I am aware of the Essenes sect, but not sure how that relates to anything particular.

      What Jesus actually says is, “Do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment,” and he is using that to combat the poor judgment of the Pharisees concerning his actions. That does not relate to the way you are trying to use it.

      The context of the phrase about the us being the temple and the spirit dwelling in us is used to denounce sexual immorality with temple prostitutes. So very clearly, what the Scripture says to you is just that, what the Scriptures says to you. It is not what that text is teaching, it is just what you have mistakenly drawn from it.

      Still more clearly, you are relying on your own judgment to determine which parts of Scripture to use and how to use it, you take the parts you like and discard the parts you don’t.

      If I were born in Iran, to Muslim parents, we would still be having this discussion, because God in his grace would have still chosen to save me. I would have different cultural perspective, but being born to Muslim parents does not put one outside the grace of Christ to save and regenerate. A good friend of mine experienced just that and was the one who helped to shape my thinking on apologetical matters like this one.

      I did not choose to believe in Christianity, God chose me, that is where we differ. I did not choose to be born in a Christian home and I did not ultimately choose to follow Christ, his grace and love compelled me to. There was a time when I did not follow him, but in his grace he chose to reveal himself to me through his word and captivate my heart.

      I could care less whether I am part of the majority, I am part of the historic orthodox Christian faith that dates back to the Reformers, to the early Church fathers, to the apostles, to the prophets, all the way back to the promises made to Abraham. There are many who believe like I do, sadly, there are many who do not. But the truthfulness of a belief is not judged by how many people hold to it.

      You shouldn’t assume things, it is poor argumentation and reasoning. I am guilty of it too, but you seem to be using the sweeping statement that you assumed things and therefore did not mention them to cover your lack of refinement in your arguments. In other words, it does not really mean much now and is just an ad hoc statement, added after the fact to cover the gaps. It is completely invalid, much like your enthymemes.

      You still have yet to really address the issues I am bringing up for your position, I don’t need to restate them, they’re still sitting there, waiting for you to attend to them. Until next time…

  14. I believe the heart of our disagreement is textual accuracy and interpretation. All the rest is dependant upon this issue.

    I shouldn’t have assumed you have read Erasmus biographies, Codex Sinaitcus and bodmer papyrus. Erasmus went to great personal expense to gather and study the oldest Greek scriptures. He remarked several times at the many variations and mistakes in them. Those texts I listed and many others support Erasmus claim.

    When he wrote his first draft he had only six 12th century greek texts and the vulgate. I am sure other traditions about his authorship exist, there are always many opinions. I learned of the poor consistency of the early texts through Roland Bainton bio. of Erasmus and more importantly, The life and Letters of Erasmus, by froude.

    Erasmus denounces the scribes of the Greek texts, very much like Jesus did. In the Catholic encyclopedia it reports Church fathers collected and corrected the Gospels. I have accepted the word of the men who were in charge of passing on the Gospels, therefore, I believe the Gospels were edited. The texts I listed and many others add to that belief since they have editing and annotations and mistakes (so to speak).

    Christians often quote the Old Testament books as proof of textual accuracy. Admittedly some of those Gospels have been passed on faithfully. Though, not all, the dead sea scrolls found Isaiah passed nearly the same but Song of Songs in multiple copies was missing verses 4:7 through 6:1. And the Vulgate was kept uniform once it was complete, but, it was not done well and did not always portray the Greek accurately. (According to Erasmus). The uniformity of late, offers no proof of early accuracy.

    There are other examples I could give but I’ll wait for your reply. The church tactic is to attack the evidence, if that doesn’t work then attack the provider, Erasmus. But let me remind you the german bible of the reformation used Erasmus Bible as part of their translation, as did the kjb.
    Pelagian7

    • I think I can go with textual accuracy as the crux of the argument, however, I view it more as a smokescreen masking other issues driven by your presuppositions more than a fair handling of the evidence.

      I have studied Erasmus, but not through his biographies. Luther hated him, I do know that much. Although that is irrelevant to your argument. Your argument seems to have a suppressed, un-argued premise on which your ideas hinge. I can grant your assessment of Erasmus, what he did, and what he thought about the early manuscripts he had available to him.

      However, you are using a premise that you are not explicitly arguing for, namely, that the manuscript evidence has not changed in the last 500 years. Why you would wish to rely on Erasmus’ assessment of the early Greek evidence only seems to point to your bias. Since Erasmus, numerous more manuscripts have been found, and very few make use of his copy of the Greek which as I remember underlies the Textus Receptus, which you are correct, underlies the Authorized Text, more affectionately known as the King James Version. We know now that it is not a very accurate critical edition of the Greek, and I’m sure you read in your biography how the manuscripts (all 6 of them) that Erasmus used did not have parts of Revelation so he had to translate from the Latin Vulgate to complete his Greek edition.

      But that is not the Greek edition most scholars use. Rather, it is the Nestle-Aland 27th critical edition (or the UBS 4) which is drawn from all the available manuscripts (all 10000 of them, including Codex Sinaiticus, and lists in the margin all the discrepancies between manuscripts). That is what I personally use, so I am aware of the differences in manuscripts, but I have yet to encounter one that made a significant doctrinal difference or would point to a lack of textual accuracy. Considering the transmission that NT has gone through, the manuscripts are remarkably uniform.

      That being said, I won’t deny that there are 400,000 total variations. But, and this is an important but, 356,000 of those are just either mis-spellings or other non-sense readings. Of the 4,000 that are left, most can be easily reconciled or explained, and none of them significantly alter any foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. This is why I asked you to produce evidence of errors within the NT. I can easily go check the Greek, consult the various manuscripts and evaluate your claims.

      I don’t think you want to dig into OT textual criticism, it is probably fair to say you do not know Hebrew and could not offer a fair analysis of any of the issues. Let’s stick with the NT since that seems to be where the center of the conflict lies.

      So in conclusion, what you have said about Erasmus can stand, but you must realize we have far more manuscripts available now and they exhibit far more uniformity than Erasmus was able to evaluate. So, I am not exhibiting the typical “church tactic” and not questioning Erasmus as either a person, or the evidence he produces. I am just attacking your un-argued premise that nothing much has changed in the knowledge or availability of NT manuscripts in the last almost 500 years.

  15. Since you are familiar with the various texts, you must also realize that different manuscripts have parts added by different scribes. Taken in their final form they appear complete with little of importance in variation. I will give you that, however, these manuscripts, especially the oldest, look very uninspired.

    Additionally, what were they before the edits and additions. The Gnostic take, I lean towards, can be supported in the Gospels, and with minor grammar changes it becomes obvious. Early Church fathers admitted the Gnostics were popular in Rome and Antioch. From all the Gnostic writings found in north africa we know they were popular there too.

    Erasmus wasn’t the only scholar to find altered texts and variations. Jerome says the same thing when he writes. The first edtion of Erasmus translation had many wordings that bothered the Church. He left out the verses of Mark after 16:8 and changed or left out language in 1John that was used to support the trinity. No other place in the Bible is the trinity explicitly supported.

    Later editions were hurried to print with many errors, but Erasmus had said if the Church could provide him a Greek copy with the verses of John he would add them. They gave him a Greek copy manufactured in the 16th century.

    The Catholic Church was not beyond creating evidence to support their position and after some research Erasmus learned of his deception. He was vocal against the Church and they responded that he had fallen into the heresy of the arians.

    Martin Luther wanted to reform the Catholic church, not start a new denomination. He was thoroughly Catholic and had a poor opinion of Erasmus because he leaned towards metaphor and allegory intepretations and had been accused of heresy. This is a simplistic view I admit and certainly more was involved.

    For interpretation, the Gnostics (some, several views were likely) viewed Jesus as a man who was perfected or initiated when John witnesses a light like a dove make abode in him. Then on the cross they see it (the Holy Ghost) leave him. After it leaves he cries out to God, like an ordinary man would, and expires. This interpretation was used for centuries but the Church found it led to docetism, some Gospels were removed (Barnabas and Phillip) and slight alterations were made to others, as well as, new dogma and traditions attached to the scriptures.

    The last paragraph is primarily my own study and authority. Why would this type of Christianity fail? Simple, it did not require an organized church or Bishops to help one find salvation. It was uplifting, with the spirit of Christ potentially residing in each of us. This would make controling the populace and taxing impossible. Not a very good choice for ambitious people.

    My point is this; little of substance needs to be changed or left out to support the Gnostic or Ebionite traditions in the Gospels. This may seem hard for you to accept, however, look at how many heresies became large enough to require substantial rebuttal and attack. These people found affirmation of their interpretation in the Gospels.

    Gnostics were wisdom seeking like followers of plato. They were not stupid or evil and allowed to exist basically unhindered for two plus centuries, until doctrine was set and then needed to be defended. Constantine tired of bickering Bishops initiated the doctrine. But he acknowledges the multiple views existing side by side.

    In conclusion, the production of a manuscript with claims that it was older than it was, is evidence that the church would create and lie. A latin phrase is inspired by the church “Justa Causa” with this motto anything was possible.

    • So you know exactly what an inspired manuscript looks like I take it? You are exposing your pre-made conclusions again. Also, you seem to be rather naive about the manuscript evidence. Not every manuscript is a complete manuscript of the NT, they are copies of individuals books sometimes, and sometimes several books put together. You honestly have no idea what an “inspired manuscript” would look like. You also have no concrete evidence of scribal addition, only conjecture once again.

      You forget also that early church fathers fought against Gnosticism, and Gnosticism was not yet around at the time of the writing of the NT. It arose later, like most heresies do, in an ad hoc sort of way (like your reasoning) to explain things differently. Gnostic popularity is of little value to your argument, I would not want to align myself with the masses.

      I find it rather humorous that you think the Trinity hinges on the section of 1st John. If you would like, I can give you a list of well over 100 passages in the NT (and some even in the OT) that speak of the relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You need to check the accuracy of your claims before you just throw them out there as fact.

      I was aware of the story of the manufactured Greek text for Erasmus containing the addition in 1st John, but I do not see how that relates to anything we are talking about. There is actually more to that particular story than you have said, but it is irrelevant to this discussion.

      What the Gnostics view Jesus as is their own fanciful interpretation, it is not in any way supported by the actual text of the NT. This interpretation circulated (as in it was around, not it was the main one used) for a few centuries mainly, but that is different than saying it was used by the church. None of the early church fathers reflect this sort of understanding, and most speak rather ardently against it. It was the heresy of the day. And it seems like it doesn’t die out easily. The Gospels of Phillip and Barnabas were never widely accepted by the church, mainly since they were written much longer after the fact (remember, Gnostics are ad hoc in everything they do).

      You own study has led to little historical fact and only conjectures on your part that could be easily refuted by any knowledgeable student of the early church, its theology, and its understanding of the text. Tertullian wrote in his Prescription Against Heretics about still having the authentic writing (which can either mean original writing, or an exact copy) of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and Romans, in the churches and seemed awfully concerned to preserve the originals. He is speaking to people like you and saying “Look, stop doubting that we can know what the original text said, go over to the apostolic churches and look at the authentic writings for yourselves.” We may not have that opportunity today, but it is a blow to your argument to see that the early church was very careful to preserve the NT and authentic writings were still around while the early church fathers were writing.

      Additionally, if all we had were the early church father’s writings, because of their significant quotations of the NT, we could almost reconstruct the entire thing from their writings. Since you’ve just seen they had authentic copies according to Tertullian, that the church father’s writings represent a significant stream of manuscript evidence to verify that we have the NT as it was written. And from the manuscripts we do possess, the reconcile very well with quotes from the early church fathers, meaning, the text was not significantly altered in transmission. The Greek I have today on my desk lines up very well with the quotes in Greek in the early church fathers of the NT.

      You have a rather naive understanding of the theology of the NT for you to assume that little would need to be changed or left out to support the Gnostic or Ebionite traditions in the Gospels. Vast portions of the Gospels and the rest of the NT for that matter would be to altered, as would parts of the Old Testament to which the New Testament claims to be fulfilling. You are working your argument in reverse to say that the large number of heresies requiring significant rebuttal supports that they have claims to the original text. The found affirmation in their interpretation of the Gospels, but others, who knew how to interpret things more soundly, discovered their errors and refuted them. I would expect that the population at large would be ill-equipped to understand things properly and would make ill-informed conjectures and assumptions when reading the text much like you yourself do. You need to read the Gospel of John more carefully than you have, the understanding you cite cannot account for much of what Jesus himself says, or what is said about him by John. And sure, you’ll just punt to saying that that is what was added later or altered, but that is just your biased conjecture, there is no evidence to back it up. It’s just an inconvenient truth for your position you so will ad hoc away.

      Gnostics were not allowed to exist unhindered for 2+ centuries, they were denounced almost from the start. Paul even wrote against incipient forms of Gnosticism in his letter to the Colossians. It was not Constantine’s dislike of bickering bishops that started the church councils, but the fact that now during Constantine’s reign the church was not being fed to wild animals in the Colosseum and could settled the doctrinal issues that had arisen in the time since the founding of the church that was almost immediately persecuted. It was because of this that other views and heresies had arisen, the church was fighting for its life against the outside threats, and did not have time to sit around having theological discussion examining the inside threats. Once they did though, heresies much like your were quickly stamped out and denounced.

      Your final thoughts again do not work the way you would like. I won’t dispute the evidence that the Catholic Church in the middle ages did many horrible things, including making a manuscript seem older than it is. But it is evidence that the church did create and lie not that it would, and you can’t reason backward and say that just since it did in the 1500’s it must have done so in the 100’s. Your logical fallacies abound. It is much more likely that the church had become so corrupted by the 1500’s that it would stoop to that sort of thing, not that it had been doing it all long. Again, you just keep exposing your pre-made conclusions and your bias.

      While it seems the issue is textual transmission and accuracy, the real issue is your unbelief and your denial of Christ as Lord and God. You just using the textual issues to support your unbelief and your rejection of the Christian faith. I’ll give you one more opportunity to respond and then I am going to close the discussion. Not because, like the others you have encountered, I am intimidated by your “evidence” but because we will just keep going round and round with you offering conjectures and assumptions and getting refuted. Until you reckon with your unbelief and rejection of Christ as God, this discussion will never go anywhere productive for either of us.

  16. You have thoroughly bought all the excuses and justifications of the Church. You fail to see how your reasoning makes no sense.

    I mean seriously, you can’t figure out how the church forging documents indicates they can’t be trusted. The Gospels were likely changed and edited in the second, third and fourth centuries. This would make all your evidence valueless.

    You quote men who had bias and much to gain by promoting the type of Christianity they supported. Even with their bias evidence suggests you are wrong. I am not insulted by you telling me I have a poor grasp on the scriptures, it is what I would expect from someone blinded by fear and a desire to feel accepted.

    I thought you used the texts I listed? If you had seen the originals, you can on-line, you would see the different handwriting. And if I provided you with texts of the Gnostics and said this one is incomplete and I need to add from another and another . . . when would you say wait this is bs.

    • And so our discussion comes to an end, looks like just in time as you’ve run out of steam and are having to resort to ad hominem and emotional appeals to make your point. My reasoning makes perfect sense, but only to people who know how to reason properly.

      The church forging documents means that those particular people at that place in time cannot be trusted. You can’t universalize it, unless you’re biased against the church and are looking for ammunition.

      “The Gospels were likely changed and edited in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries.” To say they were “likely changed” is really just expressing a wish or desire on your part. I am assuming most of what you have been parroting about textual accuracy and transmission comes from Ehrman’s writings, maybe Misquoting Jesus or the Orthodox Corruption of Scriptures. You were looking for a fair and balanced handling of the evidence, Ehrman does not do that and has been thoroughly critiqued by others in the scholarly community, particularly Dan Wallace and to a lesser extent Darrell Bock, both of whom, are far more well versed in the nature of NT manuscripts than Ehrman or Pagels. There is evidence of scribal emendation, however, once you assert there is evidence, you are resting on the assumption that we in fact know what the NT originally said, and the scribal alterations do not drastically distort that picture of what we know for a fact the original autographa have said. If you are interested in an actual scholarly treatment of the issues that takes into account the truths that Ehrman brings to the table but also show his faults and misgivings, you should check out Dethroning Jesus by Wallace and Bock, or Reinventing Jesus. You’ve really only read one side of the story, I doubt you’ve looked into the matter far enough or kept up with the scholarly discussion from both sides like I have, or other students have actually studied and been trained in NT textual criticism. You certainly know how to criticize the text, but you are void of an understanding of the scholarly discipline of actually conducting sound textual criticism.

      You rely on men who are biased and have much to gain by undermining the church as if they succeed it justifies in their mind their rejection of Christ and of the Scriptures. Actually, it kinda seems like you are a bit insulted as you are resorting to ad hominems against me that are just merely assumptions. I am neither blinded by fear, nor have a desire to feel accepted. I’m sorry if you were insulted by the last post, you seem rather defensive and angry. I do not take back anything I said though, I still stand by my argument and assessment of things. But I think I finally hit a nerve, so this again is probably the best place to end.

      So here we are again, both unchanged in position, both still biased towards our own view. This is why I didn’t entirely think textual accuracy was the real issue, but rather it was your rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You have chosen to reject the clear teachings of Scripture and to instead suppose there were edits and changes and to prefer the late coming Gnostic’s take on things. Professing to be wise, you are becoming more and more foolish as you cling tightly to your beliefs in the face of God himself and his Word and those whom he has commissioned to defend and articulate the faith. You say they are biased, and of course they are, but you are not without your own bias, and neither are the individuals you are choosing to trust for their opinion on the matter. Every individual you have listed can be shown to have some underlying bias. You have accused me of it, and I have not denied it.

      Your emotions are blinding you from seeing the truth, your last post makes that more than evident to those that will read it. You have generally not been able to clearly respond to my rebuttals and either change the subject or elaborate further only to get further undermined by additional evidence. This whole chain of threads is here for anyone to read and very few I would imagine will wade through and find anything you say compelling. I am sorry that you cannot see how you have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings (Rom 1:21ff). You have become futile in your thoughts and your heart is darkened because you will not submit to and worship Christ as Lord and God. But as long as you continue to trade the truth of God for a lie and worship creation rather than the Creator, Christ Jesus who alone is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), you will only keep reasoning in circles and continue to wallow in your sin. You need to repent of your rebellion against Christ and his Word.

      But that is not something I can just convince you do, it is something God himself will have to do. It is the Father’s kindness to us through Christ that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). If you would only, by the work of Spirit in your heart, acknowledge your rebellion and your desire for autonomy, If you would confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, that is, He is God, and believe in your heart that God the Father raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9). But if you will not, no amount of good on your part will count for anything with God. Don’t you see that is the beauty of the Christian teaching on grace? In your view, all good people go to heaven, whereas Christians believe God saves and justifies bad and even wicked people in His grace through Christ and by the Spirit. On your view, you, like the Catholics themselves are left wondering if you are good enough, or how to absolve your sins, but Christians do not have that problem. We know in whom we have believed and I am depending on the righteousness of Christ and his work on the cross to reconcile me to God and allow me entrance into eternal fellowship with Jesus in heaven, as it is Christ’s perfect life that is reckoned to my account and my sins were atoned for 2,000 years ago on a bloody Roman cross.

      Someone will have to suffer for your sins if Christ did not, as God himself, atone for them on the cross. They don’t just go away. No matter how good you think you are, we all know that deep down inside we are not wholly good and there is propensities to evil inside all of us, myself included. Christ as the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity came to earth to live the perfect life we could not live and to die on the cross to atone for our sins and satisfy the wrath of God. He was our perfect substitute and by trusting in Him and admitting we cannot do anything to ascend to God, by burying our pride and admitting our sinfulness and our need, God in his grace saves and unites us with Christ and molds us into his image. My only plea with you is that will one day come to see this as the truth that is, and not continue to reject it in favor of your own way. But again, that is something that God will have to do in your heart and mind, and we can only pray that He, in His mercy, does so. You are entirely dependent on the mercy of God to save you from this mess you’ve made for yourself. But He saved me, so you are not outside of his reach. If you seek the Truth, He will find you.

  17. Nate, I am disappointed in my own inspiration, I have made you consider nothing new. Maybe God is letting me down. Yet, he tries us and challenges our belief.

    Even though you beleve I lean towards false beliefs, I wanted to accept orthodox beliefs. Nate, if the devil exists, which I doubt, he or she played me big time. I was led to discoveries that were impossible to stumble upon.

    So either God led me or the devil. If it was the devil, how would I know? Everything you said is as likely to be fiction as what I said. The qoutes offerred are from theologians who lived long after Jesus and can be repeating dogma as you are.

    Can I give you a positive finally? We will both be saved. We both are passionate about religion and want to do what is right. In the end our discussion will be moot and we will be brothers of the lord. Have a good life Nate and find the christ within you.

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