Can I get a different attorney?


I always liked the concept of Jesus acting as an advocate on my behalf in front of God. We all think the YHWH of the Tanakh is a bit scary—a judgmental entity that demands swift, immediate and harsh punishment on any transgression and the Jehovah of the New Testament as more loving, compassionate and sympathetic with the human cause. (Heb. 4:15)

It made sense to harmonize the two different compilations of Holy Scriptures by painting God the Father as the invoker of Justice, and Jesus the son as the intermediary pleader for mercy. We have all heard the parable of the Judge that ruled his daughter had to pay a traffic fine, and then took off his black robe, came down in front of the bench and paid it.

It is comforting to believe that somewhere between that awful God sending people to be tortured forever, is another God contending on our behalf.

However, as Christians we often gave conflicting pictures of God. While the advocate concept is comforting, how exactly does that work?

How do two separate manifestations of God, which both have the ability to foreknow, argue with each other? They each know what the other is about to say or do for the next million years or so!


First, we should note that both the Holy Spirit AND Jesus are interceding on our behalf. Well, not exactly, our behalf, in that they only are pleading on behalf of the “true Christians.” Not the unsaved. Every verse discussing this intercession refers to these parts of God arguing on behalf of “the saints,” (Rom. 8:27) “us” (Rom. 8:26, 34) and “those who come to God” (Heb. 7:25)

What, perchance, do the saved need interceding for? They have heaven. Locked in the bag, if “true Christianity” is Calvinism. Is Jesus asking that God NOT judge them? I thought they were free from judgment. (John 5:24) Is it to not be persecuted? I thought persecution was to be expected for all who live Godly lives. (2 Tim. 3:12). Is it to not have their faith tested? I thought they should count it all joy, because it brings patience. (James 1:2-3)

We could speculate, but in doing so must be wary of the trap involved. Anything proposed that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) is attempting to advocate FOR, means that God is AGAINST. The very reason for an advocate is to persuade another to do some action which the other person is not inclined. If the person is going to do it anyway, an intermediary is unnecessary.

It is meaningless to point out Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) has any benefit interceding for us to ask God the Father to do what God the Father was going to do anyway. The impression is further given that this is not an easy task. The Spirit ist “groaning” and Jesus is perpetually contending. In fact, it requires both of them to persuade God! He must really be a handful.

Whatever the Christian proposes Jesus is fighting for, they must acknowledge it is something the Father is fighting against. Which leaves us with the question: “If God wants something, can God convince God to do something God doesn’t want to do?”

Can Jesus “Rabbit Season. Duck Season” the Father?

God: I want Bob to get well.
God: Nope. I want Bob to stay sick.
God: Please make him well.
God: No I want him sick.
God: Well.
God: Sick
God: Well
God: Sick.
God: Sick.
God: Well.
God: Sick.
God: Well. I said “well” and I meant it! *Poof.*
God: He. He. He.

Now, one might argue that the “us” Paul uses is universal for humanity, and part of what Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) is arguing for is to have persons saved. Was this an argument that took place long, long ago, before election? And can Jesus convince God to save someone He doesn’t want to?

Interestingly, Romans 8, which refers to both the Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding, has a section in-between that mentions God’s ability to foreknow. Now tell me how this works—how do two entities that have foreknowledge dispute with each other? They already know not only what each other’s arguments are, but what the end result will be!

God: Well, I think we should do this because of these reasons.
God: Ha! I knew you were going to use those reasons, so I already prepared counter-reasons.
God: Aha! But I knew you knew, so I prepared responses.
God: Oh, but did you know that I knew you knew I knew? So here is my reply.
God: Mmm, but I knew that you knew that I knew that….

The only possible method, in which any reasonable discussion could occur, is for them to turn off their foreknowledge.

God: O.K. On the count of three. 1….2….3. STOP foreknowing.
God: You didn’t stop.
God: How do you know?
God: I saw that you were going to foreknow a few minutes from now.
God: But that means YOU didn’t stop!

Worse, how does Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) know what God is about to do, and know to intercede. Does he tell them? God has to tell God what he is about to do? What parts are delegated to the Holy Spirit to “know” and what parts to Jesus? Or does God (regardless of which manifestation) already know what He is going to do?

If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God, what limits are placed upon them by God the Father? Does the Father have veto power? Why should they intercede? They can make the decision and act upon it themselves—they are God, after all!

What would end up is similar to the fairies making Cinderella’s dress in the Disney cartoon version:

God: Pink! *poof*
God: Blue! *poof*
God: Pink! *poof*
God: Blue! *poof*

Which is humorous to a degree, but in Christianity there are much more dire consequences. What if Jesus would like to save me? He would like me to become a believer. No one comes to the Father, but through Jesus. (John 14:6) But God the Father refuses to draw me to Jesus. (John 6:44) No longer is it the color of a dress, but where I will be spending eternity.

God: Hell.
God: Heaven.
God: Hell.
God: Heaven.

I would be bouncing back and forth. How is this feasible? How can God the Father want/not want someone in Heaven, and Jesus be able to convince him otherwise? Aren’t they both God? Or does it take a 2/3 vote?

We were informed that this blog brings up the some objections to Christianity that have been responded to for centuries. True, but I am looking for a better response than “We don’t know.” It is hardly persuasive there is such a thing as a triune entity that pleads with itself to persuade itself to do that which it does (or does not) want to do, and to explain such a thing say, “We don’t know.”

The Bible claims that two of the three manifestations of God advocate on behalf of humans to the third manifestation. That makes no pragmatic sense.

OR, is it more likely that Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) actually being part of God, and not separate entities was a later development? That when Paul wrote Romans, and when Hebrews was written, the concept of a trinity and equal parts of one God was not conceived?

If Jesus and the Holy Spirit were considered separate persons (albeit supernatural) by the authors of Romans and Hebrews, the claim of intermediary makes cohesive sense. To claim they are all equally God results in (yet another) explanation of “We don’t know.”

Oh, and on a final note, since I am not considered a “true Christian” by any of those that consider themselves “true Christians” I might add that if Jesus IS advocating on my behalf, I would like a different lawyer.

At the moment, according to those “true Christians” I am doomed for hell. If Jesus can’t persuade God to save me, who could do any worse?

22 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

We were informed that this blog brings up the some objections to Christianity that have been responded to for centuries. True, but I am looking for a better response than “We don’t know.”

Ours are old objections, yes. But they are still unanswered objections. If our objections have been soundly answered, as they claim, then here is a test case. Answer Dagoods!

Professor Doktor Matthias Flay said...

I remember telling somebody about some of my reasons for eventually rejecting Christianity, and rather than hearing about why my objections were wrong, I just heard that they were old objections. Hm.

Even the most cliche, boring stuff is basically unrefuted. Two genealogies? Judas' death? Two creation accounts? None of the answers to these very obvious and very tired objections are very good. The best retort seems to be to refer to the very perserverence of the objection!

Jason Hughes said...

Have you met Christians? Who can blame God for not wanting them there, in his pristine heaven? But then again, God is interceding for them to God, with God as side counsel...

All sounds a bit schizophrenic to me... I mean, three gods in one? Forget the judge, jury and lawyer... find him a psychologist!!!

Chris said...

The reason its so confusing is because the Trinity is not a bible based teaching. It krept into the faith during the apostacy following the death of the apostles. The KJV of the bible is based on the worst traditions of scriptural reproduction. Errors by the countless thousands were noted by textual critics over the last 2 centuries. Some were simple copying errors but others involved active changes to support specific doctrines endorsed by individual scribes. The most common scriptural changes were those that involved the deity of Christ, which were not supported by the earliest manuscripts and attested to by the early church leaders. The term Trinity was coined by Tertullian in the 3rd century and codified under the Nicene Creed in the 4th. Both time periods fall outside the canon of the bible.

John W. Loftus said...

Chris, we here are debunking evangelical Christianity. If this isn't what you believe, then we have other arguments for you, but you have to understand our targeted audience. If it's not something you believe, then ignore it.

Rich said...

John, Don't you want answers to your questions also? I understand that you are debunking Evangelical christianity but I also thought you wanted answers to your questions? This is what Chris appears to be doing. I don't belive the Evangelists have the whole of the true gospel and I don't agree with many of their views.
It is three different persons that make up the Godhead. Christ is the one who fulfilled the law of justice by suffering for all our sins. This is why it is through him that we are able to return to our heavenly father, God the Father. Chris has also touched on why Christianity is so confusing, apostasy. Many of the truths contained in the gospel were lost or changed which adds to the confusion.

Dale Callahan said...

Does the church teach that God the Father and God the Son are at odds with each other on judgment day?

That would really be putting words into many, many Christians mouths.

The Bible teaches that God is Just and the justifier of those who trust in Christ.

Jesus said all that the Father gives to Me, will come to Me.

Satan is the accuser...He stands accusing the Lords people and Jesus stands on their behalf...there will be no debate between the Father and the Son though.

Taliesin said...

I always liked the concept of Jesus acting as an advocate on my behalf in front of God. We all think the YHWH of the Tanakh is a bit scary—a judgmental entity that demands swift, immediate and harsh punishment on any transgression and the Jehovah of the New Testament as more loving, compassionate and sympathetic with the human cause. (Heb. 4:15)

First, the portrayal that God somehow changed in character from the Old Testament to the New Testament is a misconception. One that I was taught in World History class during the discussions on the rise of Christianity.

However, after God brought me to faith and I started reading the Old Testament, I was surprised by how similar the portrayal of God is both the Old and New Testament. The New Testatment talks as much about judgment as the Old Testament, and the Old Testament contains multiple passages like Psalm 136, where every other line is a reminder that God's "steadfast love endures forever."

It made sense to harmonize the two different compilations of Holy Scriptures by painting God the Father as the invoker of Justice, and Jesus the son as the intermediary pleader for mercy. We have all heard the parable of the Judge that ruled his daughter had to pay a traffic fine, and then took off his black robe, came down in front of the bench and paid it.

This is another mistaken assumption about Bible, that New Testament presents the Father as a judge who only loves us because of the work of the Son.

However, the most frequently translated and cited verse of the New Testament is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.(ESV)". What is being described here is the Father's love which results in (not from) the cross.

Later in this same gospel John records that Jesus said, "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son." Therefore the contention that the Father is the invoker of justice and Jesus is at odds with Him as the pleader of mercy is mistaken. They are not in opposition at all. They work together with the Holy Spirit both in salvation and in judgment.

It is comforting to believe that somewhere between that awful God sending people to be tortured forever, is another God contending on our behalf.

However, as Christians we often gave conflicting pictures of God.


It is comforting to believe that the merciful God who justly condemns sin also works to save a people out of that sin. I see little comfort in a dualistic view of God. If that was your understanding of Christianity, I can see why you abondoned it.

While the advocate concept is comforting, how exactly does that work?

How do two separate manifestations of God, which both have the ability to foreknow, argue with each other? They each know what the other is about to say or do for the next million years or so!


Don't sell it short. The Father and the Son both know what the other is going to do forever. A million years is a drop in the bucket of eternity.

First, we should note that both the Holy Spirit AND Jesus are interceding on our behalf. Well, not exactly, our behalf, in that they only are pleading on behalf of the "true Christians." Not the unsaved. Every verse discussing this intercession refers to these parts of God arguing on behalf of "the saints," (Rom. 8:27) "us" (Rom. 8:26, 34) and "those who come to
God" (Heb. 7:25)

What, perchance, do the saved need interceding for? They have heaven. Locked in the bag, if "true Christianity" is Calvinism. Is Jesus asking that God NOT judge them? I thought they were free from judgment. (John 5:24) Is it to not be persecuted? I thought persecution was to be expected for all who live Godly lives. (2 Tim. 3:12). Is it to not have their faith tested? I thought they should count it all joy, because it brings patience. (James 1:2-3)


You are correct that the intercession is only for believers. Not a popular concept in our pluralistic society, I know. You are also correct that all who have truly believed are secure in salvation, though there are those who would disagree. They, obviously, would have an easier case justifying the need for intercession, but that's not my view so I will not defend in that manner.

The "box" I'm in is what good does any intercession - my prayers, the Spirit's intercession (Biblically the Spirit's intercession isn't presented as a lawyer/advocate, but as a child requesting something from a Father, but let's go with it), or Jesus as my High Priest - do me? If God has guaranteed me heaven, shouldn't I be able to just coast? Ce sera sera?

No. True Christianity is more than believing a set propositions, it is a change in my relationship to God. Prior to God's redemption, I was an enemy of God. Now, I may have been religious (even very religious - those who are most condemned in Scripture are the merely religious), but I was still God's enemy.

Salvation serves to reconcile me to God. Part of that reconciliation is seeing my previous deeds, including my religious actions, as sin. So I am now more aware of my sin, even within my spiritual disciplines, like prayer, Bible study, worship, communion, etc. When sin is taken as seriously as it should be, believers could easily fall into a morbid preoccupation with sin. This, however, is not what God desires; it is not beneficial for the believer or to the lost person who sees the believer.

What then is the solution? Should the Bible not paint sin as ugly as it really is and downplay the whole matter? No, that's not the right solution. The Bible presents sin to us as an offense against a Holy God.

But believers need to be reminded that their sin has been covered, and they
have a right relationship with God. The realities of how this occurs is beyond human language and complete comprehension. So the truth is presented in a manner that we can understand. Jesus is an "advocate." The Spirit "intercedes." The real change in all this is not within the Godhead, but in the believer, who now should be empowered to live the Christian life boldly.

The other key point in understanding this is the way in which one could say that interceding has an effect. Again, the following applies to human prayer in the same way as it does the mediation of Jesus and the intercession of the Spirit. Much of this intercession is not related to my eternal salvation, but to the temporal effects of my sin. This intercession does not change God's eternal plan, but is part of the means He uses to change a temporal plan. Stated another way, God not only ordains the ends, He ordains the means, which include my prayers, Christ's mediatorial work, the Holy Spirit's intercession, and other things as well (like the prayers of others for me).

So this intercession has been planned from the beginning by both the Father and the Son. That plan might have been for the intercession to be effective (like Hezekiah being granted healing from illness that he was originally told would end in death) or to be ineffective (like David losing the son of his adultry with Bathsheba), whichever result ultimately serves the end of God being glorified and me finding the greatest joy in Him.

We could speculate, but in doing so must be wary of the trap involved. Anything proposed that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) is attempting to advocate FOR, means that God is AGAINST. The very reason for an advocate is to persuade another to do some action which the other person is not inclined. If the person is going to do it anyway, an intermediary is unnecessary.

It is meaningless to point out Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) has any benefit interceding for us to ask God the Father to do what God the Father was going to do anyway. The impression is further given that this is not an easy task. The Spirit ist "groaning" and Jesus is perpetually contending. In fact, it requires both of them to persuade God! He must really be a handful.

Whatever the Christian proposes Jesus is fighting for, they must acknowledge it is something the Father is fighting against. Which leaves us with the question: "If God wants something, can God convince God to do something God doesn’t want to do?"


You are the lawyer, so if you insist, I'll have to assume you are right about the quote I emphasized, but I thought an advocate (lawyer, in our modern terminology) worked for the defendent who had the benefit of being presumed innocent. In other words, the judge and the jury should not be inclined against the defendent, for whom the advocate works.

Regarding the larger section, as I explained above, the Bible does not present them as working toward differing purposes.

"If God [the Father] is for us, who can be against us. He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things."

The point of the Biblical writers is to change the believer not God. Their language is adapted to do such.

But, for the sake of argument, what does the Bible present that this advocacy is? The Bible says that we are "in Christ", that is, that the Father sees us as having Christ's righteousness.

Then, when we sin, Christ "reminds" (God does not need a reminder, this terminology is for our benefit) the Father of His sacrifice which has covered the sin. The eternal effect of my sin is not held against me, and the temporal effects may be reduced (or they may not be reduced).

We were informed that this blog brings up the some objections to Christianity that have been responded to for centuries. True, but I am looking for a better response than "We don’t know."

It is hardly persuasive there is such a thing as a triune entity that pleads with itself to persuade itself to do that which it does (or does not) want to do, and to explain such a thing say, "We don’t know."

The Bible claims that two of the three manifestations of God advocate on behalf of humans to the third manifestation. That makes no pragmatic sense.


I'm sorry you don't like the "I don't know response." If we converse about anything long enough, you'll get it from me, about any number of topics, not just theology. There are some things I just don't know. And there are some points of theology I don't believe I'm intended to know ("The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." - Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

Regarding your description of the relationship within the Trinity, if that were the Biblical description, you would have a point. But, the Bible clearly presents the will of the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) as being in unity. Jesus says, "I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me." - John 5:30 ESV.

The description of Jesus as High Priest is designed to encourage believers accept forgiveness and live bold lives. Luther, in his typical hyperbole, put it this way, "Sin boldly, but boldly still believe."

OR, is it more likely that Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) actually being part of God, and not separate entities was a later development? That when Paul wrote Romans, and when Hebrews was written, the concept of a trinity and equal parts of one God was not conceived?

If Jesus and the Holy Spirit were considered separate persons (albeit supernatural) by the authors of Romans and Hebrews, the claim of intermediary makes cohesive sense. To claim they are all equally God results in (yet another) explanation of "We don’t know."


And I don't (know). Sorry, but Three in One is out of my league to explain.
However, the Biblical author's clearly present a Trinitarian view. John states, "In the beginning was
the Word
[Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So I cannot explain how this is (and I think John was probably stretching Himself here too) but Jesus was with God and He was God.

John also records that the Jewish leaders realized Jesus was claiming to be equal with God (John 5:18). Matthew records Jesus saying that we should baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Names and naming carried greater significance in that culture than in ours, indicated by the fact that God frequently renames those whom He calls. The name signifies character and essence. So, Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, Saul becomes Paul, etc. To use the singular "name" with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to indicate equality of nature.

Seeing God as Three in One is not unique to the gospel authors. Paul uses the terms "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Christ" interchangeably in Romans 8:9. In his letters, and also the letters of Peter and Jude, we see all three persons of the Trinity mentioned as working together, most frequently in relation to the work of salvation.

Oh, and on a final note, since I am not considered a "true Christian" by any of those that consider themselves "true Christians" I might add that if Jesus IS advocating on my behalf, I
would like a different lawyer.

At the moment, according to those "true Christians" I am doomed for hell. If Jesus can’t persuade God to save me, who could do any worse?


Posting on a blog called "Debunking Christianity" I would have assumed you made no claim to being a Christian at all. As for "doomed to hell" I don't have the knowledge to make that judgment. Many of those who are not believers now will be believers in the future, and I have no way to tell the difference. But if Jesus ever becomes your advocate, you don't have to worry about Hell.

Phoenician in a time of Romans said...

First, the portrayal that God somehow changed in character from the Old Testament to the New Testament is a misconception.

How many children did Jesus have torn to pieces by bears, again?

Taliesin said...

Not familiar with the verse. Got a reference?

Micah 7:18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (ESV)

I'm not denying that God judged in the OT, but that's not really the emphasis.

Psalm 103:8-14 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (ESV)

Phoenician in a time of Romans said...

Not familiar with the verse. Got a reference?

2 Kings 2:23-25.

DagoodS said...

Taliespin,

I appreciated and truly enjoyed your long, thought-out comment with ACTUAL Bible verses, instead of analogies, and ACTUAL argument, rather than mere assertion. A rare joy to be savored.

Alas, I can savor only a moment, and now it is time to dig in. *wink*

Why is it surprising that the God of the Tanakh and the God of the New Testament have similarities? In fact, the similarities you pointed out seem common to ALL Gods. I cannot think of a God that does not involve some type of judgment of some, and a penchant for those that worship it. So the fact that the God of the Tanakh exhibits both judgment and love, as well as the God of the New Testament exhibits both judgment and love is as remarkable as the fact that the God of the Mormons and Allah also exhibit both judgment and love.

However, each God depiction has differences as well. And the God of the Tanakh is a much different creature than is depicted by the God of the New Testament. Ask any Jew. To claim it is the same God fails to give recognition to the fact that vastly differing religions have come out of both sets of Holy writings. You may claim the Jews have an incomplete picture, because they fail to be inclusive enough, but in the same way the Mormons and the Muslims can state the same about you.

Where do we determine the appropriate number of Holy Writings have been written, and we should stop? The Jews say in the Tanakh. The Christians say, “No, no—we must add the New Testament.” The Mormons say, “No, no—we must add the Book of Mormon.”

Do you see Jesus killing 70,000 people for one person’s sin? Do you see Jesus counting gold while virgins are being forced into marriage, and their baby brothers are being slaughtered? Do you see YHWH crying over Sodom, and its lack of belief?

While there ARE similarities, there are vast differences that cannot be absolved, merely by the same resemblance by virtue of both being God(s).

The trinity is an interesting thing. It doesn’t seem right to call each separate part an “entity” because technically it is only one entity—God. Christianity’s claim for monotheism demands it. Nor do I like “manifestation” because they act as separate individuals, not as just differing aspects of the same creature. They interact separately, have separate functions, and have separate names, even.

But the clever part of the Trinity is that if the Christian wants only one God, they claim that all three are “one God.” If they want separate functions, they claim three “manifestations.” (Still the best word, I think.) And, depending on the situation, they hope from one foot to the other, whichever is more convenient.

Look at the verse(s) you cited. Take John 3:16. “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son…” But wait. His “begotten son” IS God! So we could equally read this verse, “God loved the world so he gave God…” Or to continue, “that whoever believes in Him..” Which Him? The Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit? Aren’t they interchangeable? If not, when are they interchangeable or not?

You just got done telling me that the God of the Tanakh is the same as the God of the New Testament, so at least THOSE are interchangeable. Why are (or not) are the God(s) of John 3:16 interchangeable?

Or John 5:22, which you mention. God gives God the right of Judgment. How did God NOT have it in the first place, but obtain it from himself to give to himself? Does that make any sense? Worse, if you look two verses above that God (the father) shows God (the son) all the marvels God (the father) does. Is God (the son) surprised because he had never seen what God (the father) could do? Now re-read my last two sentences WITHOUT the parenthetical statements. Hard to explain.

Or John 5:30: “I can of Myself do nothing… because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me.” Read that replacing every God manifestation with “God” it reads, “God can, of himself, do nothing…because God does not seek out God’s will, but the will of God who sent God.” Does God and Jesus have differing wills? Doesn’t this support my claim that “intercession” would require Jesus to contend with the Father, in that they have differing wills? That would, inherent in advocacy, disagree?

You attempt to tie in Paul claiming Jesus was God by equating the “Sprit of God” as being the same as “the Spirit of Christ” in Rom. 8:9. Yet two verses later, Paul indicates that the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the Dead. Did the Spirit of Christ raise Christ from the Dead? According to Paul? Did Paul ever indicate that Christ raised Himself from the Dead? Or does Paul treat those two as separate creatures?

I don’t mind—all I ask is for some way in which I can determine consistency. If you want the God of the Tanakh and the God of the New Testament to be the same—O.K. If you want God the Father and God the Son of John 3:16 to be different—also O.K. But when I see another verse that ALSO treats them differently, as in Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) interceding to God, why is it that I must be wrong in doing exactly what the Christian just did—treat them differently?

It is EXTREMELY suspect when the Christian reads certain verses of the New Testament, and proudly points out the different personhoods of God, and when I attempt to look at verses that also show different personhoods, but raise questions, the Christian slams the book shut and flatly states, “No, there is only one God, so that is the same.” When I ask how I, the poor non-believer, the non-True Christian, can determine the difference I hear another chorus of “I don’t know. It just can’t be.”

When all the “I don’t knows” must be read in the Christian’s favor, according to the Christian, it is not persuasive. At least to me. Sorry.

If I am reading you correctly, the story of intercession is NOT that Jesus is actually pleading on the believer’s behalf, but this is a word-type, a picture if you will, to remind the believer of what Jesus did on their behalf. So Paul was not actually indicating actual intercession, but rather an analogy. Do I have that right? I am not trying to mislead your argument, or create a strawman, just trying to see if I state it correctly.

What methodology do you use to determine what, in the Bible, is not “actual” but rather a description of what Jesus did? For example, if I state that Jesus did not actually appear on earth, did not actually die, did not actually resurrect, but rather this is just a story created for the believer’s benefit to describe something that God Himself did in Heaven years and years before creation—does your methodology show how that could not be true?

Or can we say the “belief” is not actual, but a “type” to describe what a person does, in being a better person, and it is not belief that brings salvation, but the actions of an individual?

Don’t get me wrong—it was a good defense of the situation. It just introduces problems by stating what Scripture indicates is actually happening, as NOT actually happening, by creating a situation in which we are left divining which events must be happening, and which not.

When Jesus says he is preparing a place for believers (John 14:2) is that actually happening, or is it just a “type” for the benefit of the believer, to give them some incentive? And will Jesus “actually” come again (John 14:3) or is that also something stated just for the benefit of the believer?

Do you start to see the concern? In interacting with God the Father, what is Jesus ACTUALLY doing or is Jesus NOT actually doing, but is CLAIMED he is doing, for the benefit of the Believer?

Further, even if this WAS just a type, how awful a word picture it is for the non-believer. You indicate (and I think the verses also strongly suggest) that this intercession is only for the believer. What is this saying to the non-believer? That until the human gets it right, Jesus doesn’t give a hoot?

Here I am, unsaved as can be. Jesus is doing nothing for me, is what you are saying. The word picture I am to understand is that until I give Jesus what he wants (belief) he isn’t giving me what I need—intercession. Is that really what picture Christians want to portray their religion?

As a Christian, Taliespin, I saw God as having great compassion on the unsaved. Apparently you do not.

And Yes, the work of an advocate IS to persuade someone to do something they are disinclined to do. The example of a defense attorney representing someone who is presumed innocent until proven guilty is incorrect for two reasons:

1) You forgot there are TWO advocates in every trial. The prosecutor is attempting to persuade a jury that a person is guilty—something the jury is disinclined to do, and the defendant is attempting to persuade their innocence, ALSO something the jury is disinclined to do. If the jury had its way, it wouldn’t be there! It has no “inclination” either way!

2) Comparison of the American Judicial system to the Bible is inaccurate. Under Christianity’s rules, we are NOT presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are simply guilty. There is no presumption, no innocence, no proof. Christians would claim that God withholds judgment from those that deserve it, but inherent in that belief is their guilt. Innocents are not under judgment.

You do not have to apologize for an inability to explain the Trinity. No one can. They can claim to “get it” or can give lengthy explanations that look a bit like Three-Card Monty, But the reality is: All explanations boil down to “We don’t know.”

Again, I don’t mind as much, but when I start to look at the inner workings of this trinity, and ask questions, to hear that I have it wrong, without any method by which we can determine what is right is not

According to what you have stated, you are correct in claiming that if Jesus was my advocate, I would not be going to Hell--Because I already did all the work in believing in the first place. Nothing more useless than an attorney one doesn’t need.

Taliesin said...

D: Taliespin,

Cute. If you don't want a serious debate, I can go elsewhere and be insulted by IFBx'ers. At least they're funny.


D: Why is it surprising that the God of the Tanakh and the God of the New Testament have similarities? ...

"I say yes, you say no. . ." Any support other than your word stating that they are different (not that I don't trust you, but ...)?

Again, I once held your position. It's what I was taught. Reading the text tells me something different. For example, immediately preceding the incident with the bears, the Bible reports the following:

"Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke." (ESV)

Does the judgment that follows seem harsh? Sure, just like the judgment of Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:5-8). Even David was angry after the Uzzah was struck down. But you maintain that the New Testament paints a different picture.

"There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he [Jesus] answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV)

Judgment, it appears, is still falling. The incident Jesus refers to first is probably a group of people who were coming to worship, matching with historical records of Pilate mixing the blood of some Jews coming to worship, but who refused to pay Roman taxes, with an offerring.

As for the Jewish rabbis, the early church was primarily Jewish, and apparently didn't see a difference. Even today there are "Messianic Jews" who accept the New Testament.

Regarding the Mormons and the Muslims, the teachings of their Scriptures are vastly different than that of the Bible. While the Old and New Testament
teachings are in concert.

Take Abraham for example. Moses tells us in Genesis (15:6), "And he [Abram/Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness." (ESV) Paul picks this up in Romans 4 and recognizes this has been God's working all along, justification by faith. He further cites David in the Psalm's (32:1-2) saying, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit."(ESV) as evidence that he was following the Old Testament.

So, am I arguing that there is no discontinuity between the Old and New Testatments? No. The author of Hebrews points out that the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. However, he does so on the basis of the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34) that had promised a New Covenant. After quoting Jeremiah, he writes: "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”(ESV) This acknowledges that the covenant with Moses had a different character than the New Covenant.

So, there is discontinuity between the two testaments, but even the Old Testament teaches that this will be. Paul, in Galatians, points out that the purpose of the Law was to convict of sin, but that the overriding Covenant of the Old Testament was the Abrahamic Covenant (the Promise). Because it preceeds the Mosaic Covenant, it is binding and not replaced. "To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void." (ESV)

So is there a different character to the Mosaic and New Covenants? Yes. But the same God establishes both, for differnt purposes. As evidence, He first established the Abrahamic Covenant which has the same character as the New Covenant, but in promise form.


D: Where do we determine the appropriate number of Holy Writings have been written, and we should stop? The Jews say in the Tanakh. The Christians say, “No, no—we must add the New Testament.” The Mormons say, “No, no—we must add the Book of Mormon.”

It's a question of continuity. Again, while there is discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments, it is discontinuity that is predicted by the Old Testament. Therefore, if someone shows up with a book that can show it was anticipated by the New Testament, I'll consider it.


D: Do you see Jesus killing 70,000 people for one person’s sin? Do you see Jesus counting gold while virgins are being forced into marriage, and their baby brothers are being slaughtered? Do you see YHWH crying over Sodom, and its lack of belief?

While there ARE similarities, there are vast differences that cannot be absolved, merely by the same resemblance by virtue of both being God(s).


I quoted Luke 13:1-5 above as an example of Jesus being consistent with the Old Testament idea of judgment. As for God crying over Sodom, He agrees to spare it if there are but five righteous people in the entire city.

Also, when the people of Ninevh repent, what does God do? He relents from destroying the city. What does Jonah do then? "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.'"(ESV)

So, is the Old Testament picture of God different than the New Testament picture of Jesus. Isaiah says of God (40:11), "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." (ESV) But Jesus is called the "Good Shepherd" reflecting back to the verse in Isaiah about God.

Again, asserting does not make it so. What other than your assertions can you argue that there is a clear difference between the depictions of God in the two Testaments?


D: The trinity is an interesting thing. . . You just got done telling me that the God of the Tanakh is the same as the God of the New Testament, so at least THOSE are interchangeable. Why are (or not) are the God(s) of John 3:16 interchangeable?

In most instances they are. Except the person of the Father in the Godhead did not unite with humanity, only the Son did so. Each person of the Trinity takes on a role in our salvation. The Father sends the Son; the Son is incarnated, fulfills the Law, and bears the penalty for our sin; and the Holy Spirit applies the work of the Son to the elect. The longest discourse in the Bible on the subject is Ephesians 1:3-14.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

Here we see each person of the Trinity working in unity to bring out the fullness of salvation.


D: Or John 5:22, which you mention. God gives God the right of Judgment. How did God NOT have it in the first place, but obtain it from himself to give to himself? . . .

But it is God, the Father, showing the incarnate God the Son, who in some sense, because He was human, "increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52 - ESV) Jesus, while on earth, becomes tired and thirsty, though in His deity He is omnipotent. It is similar with the wills. The Incarnate Son is subjecting Himself to the Father as an example to the rest of humanity. Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 writes, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (ESV)

The example of Jesus to believers is that of humility (and it is to our shame that we so infrequently display it) and submission.


D: You attempt to tie in Paul claiming Jesus was God by equating the “Sprit of God” as being the same as “the Spirit of Christ” in Rom. 8:9. Yet two verses later, Paul indicates that the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the Dead. Did the Spirit of Christ raise Christ from the Dead? . . .

Regarding the resurrection, Jesus said that He would lay down His life, and that He has the power to take it up again. And the Bible affirms that the Father raised Him from the dead. There
is one God. Almost any statement about what One person in the Godhead has done can be said about another person in the Godhead (exceptions are noted above - that is that the Father did not become incarnate, etc.).

But there is relationship within the Godhead. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Father. Both the Father and the Son love, and are loved by, the Holy Spirit. Part of being created in the image of God is being created as persons who have relationship with one another. Why is it not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)? Because there is no other person like him to which he can relate. We can relate to God as a person, but not in the same way that we relate to other people.


D: If I am reading you correctly, the story of intercession is NOT that Jesus is actually pleading on the believer’s behalf, but this is a word-type, a picture if you will, to remind the believer of what Jesus did on their behalf. So Paul was not actually indicating actual intercession, but rather an analogy. Do I have that right? . . .

Very close to what I was saying. As I said to someone else recently, nearly every discussion of spiritual matters is a metaphor and every metaphor and analogy falls short on some point. The sense in which the intercession is real is that Jesus stands in my place before the Father, just like the High Priest of the Old Testament stood to represent the people of Israel.

Why your example is not correct is that this act of intercession requires a real sacrifice. Paul says if there was not a literal resurrection, we are of all men most to be pitied. When the
Bible describes an earthly scene, it should be taken literally unless there is a literary reason to assume otherwise. When the Bible speaks of spiritual relationships, we should assume that we are talking a analogy that has been fitted to our physical nature.

So, for example, when Jesus is talking to the woman at the well, that's real. When He tells her that He can give her water that will become a spring within her, He's speaking by analogy of spiritual things.

So, when Jesus says He's preparing a place, is He using the carpentry skills Joseph taught Him? I don't think so, but He is gathering together His church. And, yes, He is literally returning.


D: Do you start to see the concern? In interacting with God the Father, what is Jesus ACTUALLY doing or is Jesus NOT actually doing, but is CLAIMED he is doing, for the benefit of the Believer? . . .

God has great compassion. Jesus has already done everything that needs to be done for you to be saved. But you don't want to be saved, do you? He will not force upon you what you do not want. You want to be separated from God. Hell is a place of torment, but it is so because it is separation from God. "Every good and perfect gift is from above." The problem is there is no gift without the giver.

Heaven is primarily about being near God, the source of all life and joy and peace. You want to be removed from God, and so you shall be, unless you repent and trust in the work that has already been done.


D: And Yes, the work of an advocate IS to persuade someone to do something they are disinclined to do. The example of a defense attorney representing someone who is presumed innocent until proven guilty is incorrect for two reasons:

1) You forgot there are TWO advocates in every trial. The prosecutor is attempting to persuade a jury that a person is guilty—something the jury is disinclined to do, and the defendant is attempting to persuade their innocence, ALSO something the jury is disinclined to do. If the jury had its way, it wouldn’t be there! It has no “inclination” either way!


If they have no inclination, how are they disinclined?

Also, the jury is not applicable to the Biblical judgment. It is not your peers who will decide the verdict (and contrary to what you may be thinking, when that day comes, you don't want your peers deciding the verdict).


D: 2) Comparison of the American Judicial system to the Bible is inaccurate. Under Christianity’s rules, we are NOT presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are simply guilty. There is no presumption, no innocence, no proof. Christians would claim that God withholds judgment from
those that deserve it, but inherent in that belief is their guilt. Innocents are not under judgment.


We are all guilty. In that sense it would be correct to say that God is inclined to judge us. But to those whom Christ represents, He sees our debt as paid (Colossians 2:13-14 - "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." - ESV).


D: According to what you have stated, you are correct in claiming that if Jesus was my advocate, I would not be going to Hell--Because I already did all the work in believing in the first place. Nothing more useless than an attorney one doesn’t need.

No, your concept of belief is incorrect (though widely taught). You are not saved because you "believe." You are saved because you believe that the work of Christ, your advocate/mediator/sin-bearer was sufficient to cover all your sins. You are saved because of His work. As James says, even the demons believe. Biblical faith is not intellectual assent to a set of propositions, it's trust in a historical event. I acknowledge with Paul, if that event did not occur, then I am of all men to be most pitied. But I trust otherwise.

So here's my question about the logical consistency of your position. The universe is dying. Slowly the atoms will drift apart and the universe will turn cold. All our science is useless. Put up a sign that says DagoodS was here, but it will not last. So why, in this universe, should I be ethical at all? Obviously I don't want to do something illegal, because I don't want to end up in jail (of course, if I'm fairly sure I will not get caught . . .). But if I can step on people to get ahead, why not go for it. I and they are just random collections of chemicals that are moving toward a cold future.

Likewise, I can't trust emotions as they are just meaningless electrical charges in my brain. So I can delude myself and say that they mean something, or I can live for myself with little or no concern for anyone else. Statistically it's a crapshoot whether a marriage/relationship will last, so I can try, but if it goes south, why shouldn't I just hasten her journey into the darkness if it makes me "feel" better, or even if it doesn't? After all, she's just a fairly random collection of matter. I can talk about morality, but that's drivel. All that exists is the material world. Ethics is just more electrical impulses in the brain. Society is an imaginary construct meant to make us feel better about the dismal future. We're accomplishing something and learning about the universe. Of course, the day after tomorrow, no one will know, no one will care.

So how is my logic flawed. If the entire universe is meaningless, how can there be meaning in an individual life?

DagoodS said...

Taliesin,

I apologize profusely for mis-stating your name. If you review my history (here or anywhere I have ever posted) you will see that this is vastly out of character for me. In fact, it is extremely rare for me to even reduce or shorten someone’s moniker. (I once had a conversation with a poster that used “John 3:16 is a very good verse” and was sorely tempted.)

I can assure you it was a genuine mistake. I know why I did it. In the early 90’s, for a short period I watched a cartoon called ”TaleSpin” and in reading your name, it brought back a fond memory of a time of carefree cartoon-watching days. Obviously, I transposed over the “p” unconsciously. Please forgive me. It will not happen again.

Back to our discussion.

Disparity between the Tanakh God and the New Testament God.

A quick note. The early church was Hellenized Jews. And in fact, the church itself was a non-starter in Judea. The primary emphasis, very quickly, was changed to gentiles. The first writings were to places other than Judea. Even if we took Acts as History (I do not) we see that the church changed its emphasis from Jews to Gentiles in short order.

But if you want proof of the difference of the depictions of God(s)—the proof is in the pudding. While you may not agree with it, a very large religion (and its various branches) known as Judaism holds to the difference. You can start here if you are truly interested in the argumentation.

I would hope you realize, though, that millions of people have been convinced that the God of the Tanakh is very different, and in fact, the correct God, and not the God of the New Testament. Argumentation from Paul that the God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Tanakh is circular. You are using the source (the New Testament) to prove the source (the New Testament.) Of course it is going to say it is the same God—that is exactly the point it is attempting to prove.

Yes, the teaching of the Mormons, Muslims and Christian Science (all using the Bible as inspired) are different than Christians. So what? Christians are different than Jews.

I am applying YOUR methodology (one sacred writing predicts another) and see that YOU will not stay consistent within it.

You claim the Tanakh predicts the New Testament. For many reasons, the Jews disagree. You use the New Testament to demonstrate that the Tanakh predicts the New Testament.

Let’s apply your methodology to the Muslims. They claim that the New Testament predicts Mohammed. For many reasons, Christians disagree. They use the Qur’an to demonstrate that the Christian Bible predicts the Qur’an.

Using the exact same methodology we have proven both Christianity AND Islam. You may not like it—you may not agree with it. I have just used the same set of criteria that you indicate I should use and came up with a differing result.

Do you believe Allah is the same God as the God of the Bible? Of course not! Yet Muslims can point out the same similarities/differences between their God and yours. If they use this method, but you are not persuaded; why should I be persuaded when you use the exact same method?

You once held my position? That all the sacred writings are humans attempting to describe a human creation known as “god” and human’s relationship to this entity? That since humans disagree amongst themselves, it is of little shock that descriptions of this “god” also disagree? That, over time, with differing societies, and learned information, the humans’ description of that god and how it works has equally changed? That sacred writings (such as the various books within the Bible, and the various competing writings between religions) inherently will conflict by virtue of having different human authors?

That any attempt to align these books is done by 20-20 hindsight, or after-the-fact? For example, Deut 26:16 (as well as 11:1, 11:32, 12:1) state that the Jews are to observe all of God’s Statutes (i.e. Mosaic Law) forever. However, we eventually have the New Testament doing away with such things as…oh….say, circumcision, (1 Cor. 7:19) which is considered no longer a statute. To resolve the apparent conflict? Simple. “Re-Read” Deuteronomy to mean that it only meant keep the statutes until the Messiah comes. So “forever” REALLY means “for a very long time.”

This is how we can say that the God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Tanakh. Re-interpret the Tanakh to conform to the New Testament. I have two (2) problems with this.

1) It does an outlandish disservice to the Tanakh. Have you noticed that I never, NEVER use the term “Old” Testament? As if the Christians got the “updated” version, and the Jews are stuck with the old model. After having a discussion with a Jew, it became evident how thoughtless and insulting that was. The Tanakh stands on its own quite nicely, thank you, without some attached label or thought that is insufficient or incomplete.

2) What the Christian freely does to the Tanakh, they become indignant when others perform the same action to their sacred writing. When the Qur’an says, “close, but no cigar” the Christian is outraged. When the Christian Science follower states, “You got part of it right, but there is more..” the Christian exclaims their annoyance. Yet when the Jew states it, the Christian exhibits pity. “Poor Jew. Can’t figure out that their writings are just not enough. If they would only re-interpret their works along my interpretation, they could see just how wrong they are.”

Why should the Jew grant you consideration you refuse to give to others?

Trinity

Each person of the Trinity takes on a role in our salvation. I fully agree that the Bible indicates each “person” (not sure I like that word either, but its O.K.) takes on a role. It ALSO indicates that each manifestation takes on a role in intercession.

Yet when I choose to inspect what the Bible says about those different roles in advocacy, you indicated that there are not different roles. If the Bible indicates different roles in salvation and different roles in intercession, why can’t I trust it to mean….gasp!...different roles in both? As I pointed out earlier, Christians tend to vacillate between whether God is God, or God is Three separate persons, whichever is convenient.

It is convenient for salvation, inconvenient for intercession so voila—it must not be for intercession with no real reason.

Almost any statement about what One person in the Godhead has done can be said about another person in the Godhead (exceptions are noted above … And one of the exceptions I wanted to discuss was advocacy and how that works. Now I am told that even though the Bible carves out that exception, it really isn’t.

When the Bible speaks of spiritual relationships, we should assume that we are talking a analogy that has been fitted to our physical nature. Can we stay consistent in that methodology? (I purposely did not address the issue of what happens on earth as compared to elsewhere. Are you saying God is limited in that He can only act a certain way in a certain spot of the universe, or are you saying he is universal, and his actions are applicable everywhere?)

The most important aspect of a spiritual relationship with God would be, I think, its loss and restoration. The loss occurred, according to the Bible, in the Garden. Applying your methodology, that this is an “analogy fitted to our physical nature” we presume that it did not actually happen, but is only analogous.

The restoration happened in the death and resurrection of Jesus, correct? Again, applying your methodology, we should assume that this is just an analogy, fitted to our physical nature.

Maintaining that relationship is through following the precepts of God. Where did we obtain those precepts, but through the teaching of Jesus? Again, applying your methodology, these teachings should be assumed as analogy not fitted to our physical nature.

I presume, in following your methodology, you are a mythical Jesus believer? Not many Christians are, rare to find one. Or do you not stay consistent within your methodology.

You make the assertion, without the knowledge, as to what happens on a spiritual level as compared to an actual level. Does Satan exist? Or is that an analogy. See, once you claim that advocacy is an analogy, we have to determine a way in which we can tell which parts of the Bible are actual and which are analogy. “Speaking of spiritual relationships are analogous” as a methodology produces interesting results, don’t you think?

Sacrifice is not necessary for intercession. What sacrifice did the Holy Spirit do, yet it, too, is interceding? And “standing in the place” is not advocacy. That is substitution. Various words are treated with various meanings. I give Christianity the deference of not treating “justification” and “sanctification” as the same, even though both are alleged to occur in the Believer. The Bible clearly indicates a role of advocacy with God by Jesus and the Holy spirit. To reduce it to substitution (which the Holy Spirit, AGAIN does not have) diminishes the word, and even diminishes the analogy.

Rabbit Trails

But you don't want to be saved, do you? How silly. Of course I would want to be saved. Do you REALLY think I would look forward to an eternity of torture, just to have a few laughs and giggles for a moment? Sadly, I understand that some humans have informed you that God claims I do want to be saved, and my saying I do appears to fly in the face of what a God is claimed to have said. Why believe a mere human when you sincerely believe God says otherwise?

I would also like calorie-free, fat-free, good-tasting chocolate. Wanting something, and the reality of it are two completely different things, true? But to stay (remotely) on topic, what does my “want” have anything to do with it? No one can come to God, unless God draws them to Him. (John 6:44) And, (even by analogy) God is not trying to convince God to draw me, until I go to Him. But I can’t go to Him, unless He Draws me…..

What does “want” have anything to do with it? I may sincerely, genuinely and whole-heartedly desire it, and if God can’t convince God to act, then I am screwed. Easier for you to believe, “But he doesn’t really, REALLY want it,” isn’t it? Understand this, though. I know me. I know how much I craved Christianity to be true. To have you (a person that does not know me in the least) claim I did not, is not even remotely persuasive. In fact, it hurts your argument, because many in my position would have a tendency to dismiss you. I won’t, in that I understand where you are coming from.

So why, in this universe, should I be ethical at all? Hello? I am discussing the claim of a Trinitarian God, and that would work, and we jump to ethics? Where did this come from?

Although I do appreciate you’re looking for ethical direction from an atheist. *wink*

How about aversion? I put my hand in a fire, feel the painful effects, and choose to “avert” that situation in the future. Looking at my family and friends, I can presume, based on my interaction with them (ethics are not created in a vacuum, you know) they, too would have an aversion to putting their hands in the fire.

Therefore, because I do not like it, and recognize they do not like it, I put measures in place to avoid hands going in fires.

Is it that complicated to apply ethics to the same situations? I would not desire to be a slave. I would not desire my wife and children to be slaves. Therefore I do not have slaves.

Even better, I have the ability to use my brain in a higher function to realize how to repress or even give up my desires, in order to have a more profitable life. For example, I desire to get home as quickly as possible. I recognize others do as well. I can drive through stop signs, in order to obtain my desire, but in doing so, invite others to fulfill their desires as well. Eventually we would have standstill and NO body would get home.

“Aha,” I think “If I limit my desires for a moment, my eventual goals will have a much greater chance of being achieved.”

Isn’t it great that humans can actually interact, persuade, discuss and determine that by limiting our actions, we can provide a better world and better lives by implementing morals?

And seriously—if you became convinced that Christianity was not true, you kill your wife rather than divorce her and move on? I find that….sad.

If the entire universe is meaningless, how can there be meaning in an individual life?
You are convoluting the definitions of “meaning.” Each human pursues various aspects in their lives, and from these aspects develop a sense of fulfillment. In order to rationally discuss with each other, in developing language, we have termed that sense of fulfillment as “meaning.”

Some may find “meaning” in being a parent, or restoring old tractors, or even in debating on-line.

Whether the universe, or another person, or very small rocks have “meaning” is completely irrelevant to the individual. I am certain there are some areas in your life, Taliesin, in which you find “meaning” and I would find none. Vice Versa. Doesn’t necessarily follow, then that neither you or I have meaning.

Further, as humans, we have a tendency to view inanimate objects in anthropocentric terms. We think of weather as having purpose in “intentionally” raining on our days of vacation. Or our car being “obstinate” by not starting when it is cold. Who hasn’t talked to their car to “convince” it to do something?

Or we bend and twist and shout at a bowling ball or golf ball, hoping it will somehow move in the fashion we desire. Sure, rationally we know these things do not happen, yet there we are, attributing human tendencies to inanimate objects.

In the same way, we tend to think of the universe as having the human attribute of “meaning.” It does not. You are correct, the universe will little care if I appeared or not, if I make a mark or not. But is your Christian God any different? According to what we have discussed, he has not “cared” to draw me to him. He has not “cared” to advocate on my behalf. He does not “care” where I spend my eternity. (If he did, he would do something about it.)

Just like the universe, your God concept little cares whether I ever appear or not.

There is little difference between our worlds—you and I.

So, just like you, I do the best I can with what I have, put a smile on my face, a laugh at life, and enjoy every minute I can. If the universe doesn’t care, that does not mean I do not have to!

Taliesin said...

DagoodS,

Disparity between the Tanakh God and the New Testament God

D: But if you want proof of the difference of the depictions of God(s)—the proof is in the pudding. While you may not agree with it, a very large religion (and its various branches) known as Judaism holds to the difference.

The Jews don’t believe the New Testament? I’m shocked. I thought everyone believed the New Testament. That changes everything. ;)

D: I would hope you realize, though, that millions of people have been convinced that the God of the Tanakh is very different, and in fact, the correct God, and not the God of the New Testament.

Come on, now, you don’t want to play numbers with me, not unless we both want to end up in Mass this weekend. If the fact that a large number of people believed something meant it were true, the sun would have been rotating around the earth 1000 years ago. So I’m sorry, but your proof ingredient got left out of the pudding.

I have supplied several examples to show how love and mercy are every bit as much attributed to God in the Old Testament as in the New. I have also supplied examples to show how judgment is every bit as much a characteristic of God in the New Testament as in the Old. But, don’t believe me. You don’t know me and have no reason to trust me. Read the book. You may come to a different conclusion than I, but then the reason will be better than a popularity contest.

As for You once held my position? , look at the context.

[D:] Why is it surprising that the God of the Tanakh and the God of the New Testament have similarities? ...

[T:] Again, I once held your position.


In the context what I was saying was that I once also believed that there was a difference between the ways God was presented in the two testaments. No, I was not an atheist, I was an all-theist. All paths lead to God and as long as you didn’t kill someone, you were probably okay. However, after reading both testaments, I came to a very different conclusion.

So, am I being inconsistent? No. The Muslim is free to interpret the Bible however he wants, as is the Mormon. My point is that if my interpretation is right, then there is a strict penalty for being wrong on the person and work of Jesus. But, I'm fully willing to acknowledge, if the Muslim is right, there will be a strict penalty for being wrong about the person of Mohammed.

To use another of my flawed analogies, if I'm arguing for gravity and you choose not to believe, then when you jump off a building, you'll have a rough landing. Now, maybe Jews are describing gravity and I'm proposing that man can fly using pixie dust and I'm the one in for a rough landing. But I’ve presented my argument for why I think the Jews are wrong.

As for my use of "Old" and "New" it is the Tanakh that promises a new covenant ("Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah" Jeremiah 31:31 - ESV). But, I have adopted the use of Tanakh here so as not to offend.


Trinity

Yet when I choose to inspect what the Bible says about those different roles in advocacy, you indicated that there are not different roles.

Me thinks we maybe drawing this discussion to a close because either (1) we are talking past each other; or (2) you are intentionally trying to obfuscate.

I indicated that they were not opposing roles. I acknowledged that the Son and the Spirit intercede (Jesus is an "advocate." The Spirit "intercedes." The real change in all this is not within the Godhead, but in the believer, who now should be empowered to live the Christian life boldly.). The key is that these activities are means that God has ordained from the beginning to bring about the desired end. T: So this intercession has been planned from the beginning by both the Father and the Son. That plan might have been for the intercession to be effective (like Hezekiah being granted healing from illness that he was originally told would end in death) or to be ineffective (like David losing the son of his adultry with Bathsheba), whichever result ultimately serves the end of God being glorified and me finding the greatest joy in Him..

I have reread my posts, and can find nowhere that I do that of which I am accused and you did not point them out, but again merely asserted.

Another example: I had mentioned that Paul equates the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ in Romans 8:9. You had responded with, " Did the Spirit of Christ raise Christ from the Dead?" I stated that Jesus had said He would lay down His life and take it up again, so that in some sense we can say that the Spirit of Christ raised Christ from the dead. I went on to say, " And the Bible affirms that the Father raised Him from the dead. There is one God. Almost any statement about what One person in the Godhead has done can be said about another person in the Godhead (exceptions are noted above - that is that the Father did not become incarnate, etc.).

You responded with, “And one of the exceptions I wanted to discuss was advocacy and how that works. Now I am told that even though the Bible carves out that exception, it really isn’t.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I have no idea what you are arguing here. The exceptions I mention immediately above relate to salvation which includes advocacy.

D: The restoration happened in the death and resurrection of Jesus, correct? Again, applying your methodology, we should assume that this is just an analogy, fitted to our physical nature.

I had already written above that a literal sacrifice was required. But you ignored or missed that statement and then you cut my quote short, leaving off the first part (“When the Bible describes an earthly scene, it should be taken literally unless there is a literary reason to assume otherwise. When the Bible speaks of spiritual relationships, we should assume that we are talking a analogy that has been fitted to our physical nature.”) So, since the death and resurrection of Jesus are an earthly scene, it should be taken literally.


Rabbit Trails

D: Of course I would want to be saved. Do you REALLY think I would look forward to an eternity of torture, just to have a few laughs and giggles for a moment?

No, what you just said is you want to escape judgment. Salvation may include escaping judgment, but salvation is primarily about having a restored relationship with God. Do you want to have a relationship with God? The Three in One? The God of 2 Kings 2:23-25? If not, you do not want to be saved, you merely do not want to be judged. My point is that what you want spiritually is like wanting, “calorie-free, fat-free, good-tasting chocolate.” You want the benefits of a relationship with God, but not the relationship itself.

As for the point about meaning in the universe, it is simple. You argue as if this argument is important. But in your worldview, it can’t be. You write, “ So, just like you, I do the best I can with what I have, put a smile on my face, a laugh at life, and enjoy every minute I can.” Yet you passionately try to convince people that Christianity is not true. A worldview consistent with atheism would say, “If person Y is content and has found peace of mind in believing Christianity (or Islam or animism), then that is okay as long as they do not try to force their beliefs on me.” But that’s not what you are doing. You are actively trying to “debunk” Christianity as if what we believed mattered apart from whether it made us feel better or not.

I, on the other hand, believe eternal destinies are at stake. I also believe I cannot force anyone to believe. The best thing I can do is live as Christ-like a life as possible and be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within me. You accuse me of being inconsistent. The point of this rabbit trail is that I am consistent with my worldview. You are the one who denies that there is any abstract meaning, and yet you argue as if there is.

paul said...

taliesin and DagoodS,

While I must qualify I've only been here a few months, this is one of the best exchanges I've read to date on this blog. Taliesin, hope you stick around.

I wanted to throw something into the mix regarding similarities/differences between the God of the Tanach and of the New Testament.

1. the ruach (Spirit) is all over the Tenach, He'd come to rest on prophets and they'd prophesy.
2. then there's the reference to God in the shema (Hear o Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one [echad]. check this out re echad:
www.halfshekel.com/echad/index.html
for a Christian interpretation, indication of triune God.
3. the judgement on Ananais and Saphira in Acts, for "lying to the Holy Spirit" seems pretty severe to me, not unlike the bear incident.
gotta run

DagoodS said...

paul, I am glad you enjoy the discussion. So am I. I heartily agree, Taliesin, that you need to discuss here more often. Since we have, for whatever reason, broken this conversation down into three main areas, I will stick with them.

Tanakh God v New Testament God

Please understand that “numbers” of any particular theism are not designed to impress, nor are they demonstrative of truth. You are quite correct that even a majority of humans can be very, very wrong.

The reason I was pointing out Judaism and Muslims, though, is that many claims of the viability of Christianity, by applying the SAME Method, pop out the equal viability for these major religions as well.

Taliesin, you originally asked me:

What other than your assertions can you argue that there is a clear difference between the depictions of God in the two Testaments?

I point out the site, “Jews for Judaism” and all the arguments therein, and you have now stated that you are pointing out arguments for why the Jews are wrong, saying the God of the Tanakh is NOT the God of the New Testament. So at least you recognize there ARE other arguments that there is a difference between the depictions of the Gods. I never use the word “clear” because, as I stated earlier, all gods have similarities.

I am in no position to argue for the viability of Judaism. I do, however, give it the courtesy of being its own set of beliefs, with its own arguments, rather than the aborted attempt of God, known as “Experiment No. 1—FAILED” as often depicted by Christians.

Yes, it is not a popularity contest. But which is more convincing? The Muslims point out that the God of the New Testament is not Allah. Again, not a popularity contest, but which arguments are more convincing. The God of the Mormons, the Catholics, the Protestants, the Christian Science, ALL of these Gods are different. Which arguments are more convincing?

The problem with extracting verses from the Tanakh and after-the-fact “forcing” them to fit into a triune God as a method to demonstrate the New Testament flows from the Tanakh, is that the Muslims can equally do so with the Qur’an, and it is just as viable.

Applying the same method, we get three VERY different results—the god of the Mormons, Jesus and Allah. Either all are God, or our method is faulty.

My point is that if my interpretation is right,… (emphasis added) That is a pretty big “if,” eh? I would like something stronger than that. Not the use of a method that comes up with three (or more) completely different results, and then “’If’ result one is correct…” Can we do better than that?

I strongly concur that “if” your interpretation is correct, I am screwed. “If” the Muslim interpretation is correct, you and I are most likely screwed. “If” the Universalist’s interpretation is correct, neither of us is screwed. “If” my interpretation is correct, neither of us is screwed. We could go on and on with “If” someone is right, what would happen. I would rather know, with the best of our ability, what possibilities we can eliminate.

You say you have presented argument why you think the Jews are wrong. I understand that. Yet you also say that the Tanakh teaches there will be “discontinuity” between it and the New Testament. Can you point out where in the Tanakh that sacrifice of animals would end, by virtue of an ultimate human sacrifice? Or where God would kill himself to appease his own anger? Or that there is a Hell for God to send people to? You did not address the verses in Deuteronomy that the Jews were to obey God’s statutes forever. Not abandon them at the sight of a sail.

Again, I agree that one CAN find similarities. But any method applied to find that the God of the New Testament is the God of the Tanakh, when applied to the Qur’an, also ends up proving Allah is the God of the New Testament.

It is not your arguments—it is your method that does not persuade.

Trinity

You indicated they were not opposing roles. Advocacy demands opposing roles. Are you agreeing, that when it comes to “intercession” they have “differing” roles?

You indicated that in most situations the word “God” would be interchangeable when discussing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, there are exceptions, one of which is their role in Salvation which includes advocacy. You also indicated that there is relationship within the Godhead.

Why can’t intercession and advocacy be one of those relationships? If part of being created in the image of God is the desire for relationships, I could equally claim that part of being created in the image of God is having differences of opinion, differences of wills and desires, and attempts to persuade others of the viability of our position. That, too, could be going on within the Godhead

You indicated that the only way in which intercession is “real” is that Jesus stands in your place, like the High Priest stood to “represent” the people of Israel. But the verses speak of “intercession” not substitution. What is the Holy Spirit groaning about if it is merely representative? Why is Jesus sitting at the right Hand of God, perpetually interceding if it is merely representative? Does God forget what God did?

Did the High Priest plead with God, like Moses pled with God? Exodus 32:11. Again, the problem with Advocacy is that it presumes different interests. There is no need for intercession, if God intends to do it anyway.

Even if you claim representative advocacy, Jesus appearance, in your stead, is STILL stopping God from doing something God apparently wants to do. God remains at odd with himself.

Let’s sidestep for a moment with this claim of “earthly=literal; non-earthly means analogous.” I considered that methodology, and as I pointed out above, rejected it. I did not ignore it. I did not miss it. It is a failed method. There are a number of reasons for this:

1) We cannot confirm what happens “non-earthly” as literal or not. If I tell you I felt like I could jump over a building, you understand, by observation, that I am not being literal. If God says he felt like a lawyer acting on behalf of a client, is that literal or analogous? Is he actually a lawyer? Is he actually advocating with himself? He CAN assume differing roles in his manifestations, we have already established that. One manifestation can love another. One can be incarnate, one not. One can “relate” to another. Can one fight and disagree with another? Why not?

Oh, that is right. We can’t verify what happens “non-earthly.”

2) I am giving your God deference. Not trying to limit Him to SOLELY literal on earth and SOLELY analogous not on earth. It makes little sense that as soon as God’s feet hit soil, he must become literal, but as long as he levitates in the ethereal, he must remain analogous. Such a limitation, if imposed by me, would be mocked. Why would you want to assume it?

3) Analogous to what? Part of the hidden trap of crying “analogy” is that it is comparing something to something real in order to be understood. When I say I could jump a building, you understand what “jump” and “building” are. That I feel, for some reason, that I can jump very high.

If advocacy is an analogy, for it to be applicable, we need to apply what “advocacy” means. Which inherent imply disagreement. To simply call it “analogous” does nor remove the problem of how these three are disagreeing. To say Jesus is representative of you, to keep God from exercising his wrath, as analogous to an advocate, is STILL implying that God is keeping God from doing something he wants. If God didn’t want to exercise his wrath upon you, the analogy makes no sense.

We are back to the very beginning—how does God change God’s mind to keep God from doing what God wants to do by convincing God to do what God wants to do?

4) This is not applied consistently.

For example, you indicated that God made humans in his image. (Gen 1:26) Is that literal or analogous? If God wasn’t standing on earth at that moment, it must be analogy. If God was on earth, it was literal. I would think the better argument is that it was a combination. But this methodology will not allow it.

Or Satan talking to God about Job. (Job 1:6) Since that was “non-earth” it must be analogous. Analogous of what? God talking to Himself? God taking a bet with himself?

Or Satan, taking Jesus up on a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the world. (Matthew 4:8) If that was literal, then God inspired a book which claims the earth is flat. I give Christians the benefit of the doubt that this was analogous. Your methodology does not allow it.

Or does it? You DO allow certain exceptions. If there are exceptions for literal actions being analogous on earth, why can’t there be exceptions for analogous actions being literal in heaven? Because we can’t verify what happens in heaven!

See, when the method is reviewed, it is more clearly seen that we cannot consistently apply it.

For those reasons, not to be rude, but I am sorry, I rejected it.

Rabbit Trails

I passionately argue against Christianity (thank you for the compliment, by the way) because it impinges the life I live. Whether the universe has some ultimate meaning is irrelevant. I see something that exists now. It is wrong. It is harmful. I attempt to persuade those within it to re-think their position.

And Christians attempt to “force” their beliefs on me every single day. Mostly in the legislative and judicial system of America.

Why I need some “ultimate purpose” for me to do this remains unclear to me.

Taliesin said...

Paul,

Thanks for the comments and the points. I had forgotten about the judgment on Ananais and Saphira but it is another good example that judgment can still be swift and severe in the New Testament.

DagoodS

World Religion

D: Can we do better than that?

Maybe, maybe not. There is an element of faith (surprise!) to my beliefs. I think there is an element of faith to everyone’s beliefs, that is to say that none of us are without assumptions that we take for granted. So …

D: I would rather know, with the best of our ability, what possibilities we can eliminate.

What can we throw out for sure? How sure? I’ve already said I’m with Paul, if I’m wrong I’m among men the most to be pitied. So that means I have a pretty high inner confidence that I’m right. But it doesn’t mean I believe I can convince anyone that I’m right. In fact, I don’t believe I can convince anyone I’m right. I’m called to bear witness for my hope, and to do that to the best of my ability. But I may be a modern day Noah, who no one believed. Or, God may use my witness to bring about the repentance of many, like He used Jonah’s words and Peter’s words.

D: Can you point out where in the Tanakh that sacrifice of animals would end, by virtue of an ultimate human sacrifice?

Why were animals sacrificed? Animals were sacrificed to cover the sins of the people or individual, depending on the offering. But the prescriptions for the sacrifices are part of the Mosaic covenant. The passage I’ve quoted before (Jeremiah 31:31) tells of the end of the Mosaic covenant – “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.” (ESV)

A more obtuse reference to this change is Psalm 110:4 – “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’” (ESV) Melchizedek is a contemporary of Abraham, clearly therefore not of the Levitical priesthood which would not be established for over 400 years. Therefore, this priest that is to be established forever is apart from the Mosaic Law.

Even in the Pentateuch the failure of Israel to keep the Mosaic covenant is foretold. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.’” (Deuteronomy 31:16-18 ESV)

As for the use of an ultimate human sacrifice, let’s group that with the next question:

D: Or where God would kill himself to appease his own anger?

The key passage on the ultimate human sacrifice in the Tanakh is Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Rather than quoting the entire passage, we’ll look at a few verses at the end. “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (ESV)

But this passage is also useful about the appeasement of God. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

The question is who is “the righteous one, my servant” in 53:11. Earlier in Isaiah the servant is described, and God says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”(Isaiah 43:6 - ESV) So while the Tanakh does not reveal the exact relationship between this servant and God, it is clear that a human sacrifice is in view for sin, and that the work of the servant extends far outside the nation of Israel.

D: Or that there is a Hell for God to send people to?

'For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me,’ says the Lord, ‘so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.’” (Isaiah 66:22-24 - ESV)

Regarding the verses you cited in Deuteronomy, the Jews were to keep the Law forever if they wanted to enjoy the blessings of the Mosaic covenant. Yet I cited verses from the end of Deuteronomy where God told Moses Israel would not keep the covenant, and verses in Jeremiah where God said they didn’t keep the covenant. Therefore, the Mosaic covenant was broken, and, per Jeremiah, God had to establish a “new covenant.”

D: But any method applied to find that the God of the New Testament is the God of the Tanakh, when applied to the Qur’an, also ends up proving Allah is the God of the New Testament.

Obviously I’m going to disagree with this statement. I’ve looked at the link you’ve provided, and there are a number of issues with the interpretation that Mohammed fulfills the promise of the Holy Spirit. The major reason is that their attempt to show that he does so requires them to reject every NT manuscript we have. Why? Because where the word in John that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit is parakletos, the Muslims insert the word periklytos. Someone with only a basic understanding of Greek, and whose primary language was Arabic, could easily assume that the words were the same (or the wrong vowels added) since Arabic, like Hebrew, does not include the vowels. But Greek is not like Arabic, the vowels are included in every word, so there is no chance that parakletos should be periklytos.

So the Muslim is not doing what I’m doing. I’m taking the Tanakh as it stands according to the manuscripts available and our best textual evaluation to get as close to the originals as possible (how good is that? See here). The Muslim has to assume that all the NT manuscripts are wrong. Like a Jehovah’s Witness, they do not argue from the NT, but a corrupted version of the NT.

Trinity

D: If part of being created in the image of God is the desire for relationships, I could equally claim that part of being created in the image of God is having differences of opinion, differences of wills and desires, and attempts to persuade others of the viability of our position. That, too, could be going on within the Godhead

It’s not the desire for relationship, but the existence of relationships that is part of the image of God in people.

One of the goals of Christianity is the goal of unity. So Paul encourages us to live “ with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6 – ESV)

This unity reflects the unity within the Godhead. Jesus is praying the night He was arrested, “ All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:10-11 - ESV) Just as relating is part of the image of God, so also is unity. After all, God is one.

D: But the verses speak of “intercession” not substitution. What is the Holy Spirit groaning about if it is merely representative? Why is Jesus sitting at the right Hand of God, perpetually interceding if it is merely representative? Does God forget what God did?

Did the High Priest plead with God, like Moses pled with God? Exodus 32:11. Again, the problem with Advocacy is that it presumes different interests. There is no need for intercession, if God intends to do it anyway.


Substitution is a form of intercession. Isaiah 53:12 specifically links the two. Also, Hebrews 7:25, which you noted in your original post, is comparing the priesthood which Jesus has with the Levitical priesthood. But, we can focus on intercession for the believer.

Intercession on behalf of a believer relates to the temporal effects of sin, whether that intercession is by the Son, by the Spirit, or by a believer (either for himself or on the behalf of another). This intercession does not change God's eternal plan, but is part of the means He uses to change a temporal plan. Stated another way, God not only ordains the ends, He ordains the means, which include the prayers of believers, Christ's mediatorial work, the Holy Spirit's intercession, and other things as well.

Perhaps a couple of Biblical illustrations will help. Isaiah 38:1-6 tells us that God sent Isaiah to Hezekiah, who was sick, to tell him to put his things in order, he was going to die. Hezekiah prays to God for mercy, and is granted by God fifteen more years of life. Hezekiah’s prayer changed God’s stated plan. However, one should note that God did not need to send Isaiah to reveal that He did not plan to heal Hezekiah.

When Jonah preaches to Nineveh, he proclaims that there are only forty days until God will overthrow the city. The leaders and people of the city repent of their sin, saying, “ Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3:9 - ESV) God does relent, and does not destroy the city. Jonah’s response is particularly revealing:

Jonah 4:1-3 “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”(ESV)

God uses Jonah, the reluctant prophet who wanted Nineveh to be destroyed, to cause God to change God’s plan. God does not always change what He has stated He will do. In the case of David, the son of David’s adultery with Bathsheba is lost (see 2 Samuel 12:14-18). Also, Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that God refused to remove (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

So how is the intercession of Jesus and the Spirit different or the same? It is the same in that it has been planned from the beginning and will accomplish exactly what God wants it to accomplish. It is different in that what Jesus and Spirit ask for is always granted. Jesus states, “ I knew that you [God the Father] always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:42 ESV) “Hear” is not merely receiving communication, but responding positively; no response or a negative response would not convince people that the Father had sent the Son.

So this intercession has been planned from the beginning. That plan might have been for the intercession to be effective (like Hezekiah being granted healing from illness that he was originally told would end in death) or to be ineffective (like David losing the son of his adultery with Bathsheba), whichever result ultimately serves the end of God being glorified and believers finding their greatest joy in Him.

D: Even if you claim representative advocacy, Jesus appearance, in your stead, is STILL stopping God from doing something God apparently wants to do. God remains at odd with himself.

God wants to judge the sin of believers on Jesus when Jesus is crucified (John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ESV) Jesus did not stop God from doing something God wanted to do. What occurred was exactly what God intended to occur.

The only way we can say that Jesus stops God from doing something that God wants to do is like the story of Jonah which I referenced earlier. God has an end result He wants to achieve (the repentance of Nineveh), so He sends a prophet to proclaim that the city will be destroyed because of their sin. As a result of this message, Nineveh repents. Therefore, God’s revealed purpose changes, but His ultimate purpose is fulfilled. In a similar manner we might say that Jesus stops the Father from doing something the Father “apparently” wants to do. It is not the Father’s true final purpose that was changed, but a revealed purpose that had the intention of bringing about the true final purpose.

D: Can one fight and disagree with another? Why not?

Oh, that is right. We can’t verify what happens “non-earthly.”


We can know what is revealed to us (Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” ESV). God has revealed that He is one, in essence and in purpose. The unity within the Trinity is to be reflected by unity in the church.

D: It makes little sense that as soon as God’s feet hit soil, he must become literal, but as long as he levitates in the ethereal, he must remain analogous. Such a limitation, if imposed by me, would be mocked. Why would you want to assume it?

I don’t. This is what I mean by talking past each other. I wrote, “When the Bible describes an earthly scene, it should be taken literally unless there is a literary reason to assume otherwise. When the Bible speaks of spiritual relationships, we should assume that we are talking a analogy that has been fitted to our physical nature.” You seem to assume that I mean physical = literal and spiritual = heaven. Then you claim I’m inconsistent. I reject that because as of yet I see no evidence that you understand my methodology. Now, maybe I’m explaining it poorly, but you aren’t getting it. Let me try again.

The best I can relate to God, wherever He is, is by analogy. God is holy. Contrary to popular opinion, holiness is not supped up righteousness. Holy means to be set apart, or different. God is so different from me that I cannot fully comprehend what He is like. So I’m left with analogy and negation, e.g. God is not finite (infinite). I am on the earth, human. But the Bible also tells me that I am part of the body of Christ. That’s an analogy. I am not literally part of the material body of Christ. But while I’m on earth, I have a spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and with other believers. That relationship has to be described by way of analogy (I have been adopted; I’m part of Christ’s body; I’m sealed with the Spirit). Spiritual relationships are not confined to heaven and sometimes analogies are used on earth (e.g. the parables).

D: To say Jesus is representative of you, to keep God from exercising his wrath, as analogous to an advocate, is STILL implying that God is keeping God from doing something he wants. If God didn’t want to exercise his wrath upon you, the analogy makes no sense.

We are back to the very beginning—how does God change God’s mind to keep God from doing what God wants to do by convincing God to do what God wants to do?


I’ve dealt with this earlier in this comment, but let me repeat it hear for clarity. God uses many different means to bring about a desired end. One of those means is to present an intention contrary to His true purpose in order to bring about the true purpose. The Biblical example I have been using is that of Jonah, where Jonah tells the people of Nineveh that God will judge the city for their sin. The people of Nineveh repented of their sin, which was God’s true purpose.

Applying this to your concept of advocacy, God wants me to understand how serious my sin is, and that there may be temporal consequences for my actions (like staying up so late working on this). So He warns me in Scripture that whatever I sow I will reap. Reading this, I’m convicted of my sin and repent. In my repentance, like the people of Nineveh I cry out to God. At this time, the Spirit is also interceding within me, and the Son is at the right hand of God as my advocate. The Son and the Spirit petition for my restoration. This is a request for God to either forego or end my chastisement for sin. This is not contrary to God’s will. God, like any Father, would prefer not to have to chastise me. So now I read in Scripture that Jesus does not condemn me, but advocates for me. I’m encouraged to live for Jesus and to walk more closely with Him. What, really, was the Father’s purpose in all this? “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV).

D: Or Satan talking to God about Job. (Job 1:6) Since that was “non-earth” it must be analogous.

As I (hopefully) explained above, your “non-earth” qualifier is not in accordance with what I was saying. But this is an interesting (and maybe clarifying) illustration. I would indeed claim that Satan talking to God about Job is an analogy. “Talk” occurs by forcing air out of our bodies, which creates waves that travel to ear canals, and then get interpreted as sounds. Satan and God are both spirit beings, and in their communication, no air moved. Satan “talking” to God is an analogy.

D: Or Satan, taking Jesus up on a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the world. (Matthew 4:8) If that was literal, then God inspired a book which claims the earth is flat. I give Christians the benefit of the doubt that this was analogous. Your methodology does not allow it.

As I noted above, it is your understanding of my methodology that would not allow it. Just because they were on earth does not negate the fact that Satan is a spirit being. But even if he were a physical being, my statement was, “When the Bible describes an earthly scene, it should be taken literally unless there is a literary reason to assume otherwise.” Again, you do not represent my position fairly.

D: If there are exceptions for literal actions being analogous on earth, why can’t there be exceptions for analogous actions being literal in heaven? Because we can’t verify what happens in heaven!

That sounds like Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” ESV I have quoted this verse a number of times now. We can know what God has revealed. We cannot know what He has not revealed.

D: See, when the method is reviewed, it is more clearly seen that we cannot consistently apply it.

One, as I’ve noted above, you have misstated my methodology in a number of places. Giving you the benefit of the doubt I will assume it is because I have not been clear. Hopefully this post will clarify some things. Two, even so I’m not sure what you are arguing or how you are drawing your conclusions. First you state that you are going to sidestep the claim of earthly=literal; non-earthly means analogous. But you don’t sidestep, you plunge in with four points. Second, in point one, it was not clear to me if you trying to define my position with the statement that we can’t determine what happens non-earthly, or if you were using that to refute my position. Third, in point two you clearly have not understood my position, as I explain earlier in this comment. Fourth, I have no idea to what the opening, “Analogous to what?” in point three is referencing, if anything. Fifth, I think in your fifth paragraph under point four that you mean to say, “If there are exceptions for actions on earth being analogous, why can’t there be exceptions for actions in heaven being literal?” but I’m not sure. Sixth, in point four I still don’t know what you mean by, “Because we can’t verify what happens in heaven!” Are you accusing me of resorting to this claim, or do you think it disproves something about your understanding of my position?

Rabbit Trails

D: I passionately argue against Christianity (thank you for the compliment, by the way) because it impinges the life I live. Whether the universe has some ultimate meaning is irrelevant. I see something that exists now. It is wrong. It is harmful. I attempt to persuade those within it to re-think their position.

And Christians attempt to “force” their beliefs on me every single day. Mostly in the legislative and judicial system of America.


Early you stated that you did not own slaves because you did not want to be a slave. Now you state that you don’t want others to “force” their beliefs on you, but you want to force your beliefs on them. That’s inconsistent.
You state that that you oppose Christianity because it is harmful. Most of the hospitals in your city, are they named something like Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or St. Somebody? The majority of soup kitchens in most major cities are run by whom? Who runs the largest relief agencies going into third world countries, working to supply food and potable water?

I know many atrocities have been perpetrated under the banner of Christianity, but Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were professing atheists. I have read comments by atheists lamenting that the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II was not successful (the man who forgave his assassin). You might argue that their actions were not consistent with their atheism, but I would argue the same about the atrocities committed under the banner of Christianity. So if your reason for opposing something is that it appears to be harmful, atheism in practice has proven to be as bad as or worse than Christianity yet you oppose only Christianity. That’s inconsistent.

DagoodS said...

Taliesin,

Thank you, again, for the thoughtful response. I appreciate the time and effort you are putting in to this conversation. Stick with my response, there is a surprise.

Tanakh God v. New Testament God

You may disagree with how the Muslims treat the New Testament, or even how they review it in light of Textual Criticism, but in the same way the Jews have every reason to disagree with how you treat their text, in order to conform with your belief. I see little difference.

For example, every single verse that you used in the Tanakh to answer my questions was taken out of context. Basically, you have taken a solitary passage, ignored its surroundings, and smashed it to remotely fit into what could be a “Christian” platitude, and thus claim that the Tanakh predicted Christianity.

While I am not in a position to defend Judaism, I certainly could see where they would protest. Just like your protesting what the Muslims do. You claim, “Textual Criticism,” the Jews could claim “Out of Context.”

1. Jeremiah 31:31 – A time is coming for a new covenant.

If we JUST read Jer. 31:31, we could arguably state that the “new covenant” was Christ. But the verse refers to “a time is coming.” Is that “time” when Christ came? Rather than look at just the one verse, perhaps look at the whole passage:

The day that God will free the Israelites from the Foreigners that enslave them. Jer. 30:8
A day Israel will have peace and security. Jer. 30:10
A day all their enemies will go into exile, and be plundered by the Israelites. Jer. 30:16
God will be God of all clans of Israel on that day. Jer. 31:1
God will bring them out of captivity. Jer. 31:23

And if we keep reading, the results AFTER that day:

God will put the law (the only possible Law would be Mosaic Law, here) in their minds and write it on their hearts. Jer. 31:33
All will know God, there will be no need for teaching. Jer. 31:34
God will no longer remember their sins. Jer. 31:34

See, in order for Jer. 31:31 to mean Christ as the new covenant, we must either completely ignore the surrounding passage, OR bring to make grander and more Herculean twists to conform the rest of the passage to mean a Second coming, or restoration from captivity, and be forced to bounce back and forth, from verse to verse, as to when God is speaking.

I would concur that God predicts that the Israelites will break covenant. He also indicates that he will restore them, despite this break. Jer. 30:14-17. Nowhere does it indicate (in fact it affirms) that God will eliminate Mosaic Law.

2. The suffering servant, Isaiah 52-53

Again, context. Judaism indicates that this is NOT a Messianic Prophecy, but rather the “Servant” is Israel itself. (Note that the Servant has offspring and descendants. Did Jesus have children?) Isa. 41:8; 44:1; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3.

Now, you pick Isa. 49:6 as where we would look for the “servant” yet if look at the whole passage, it switches from Israel being the servant in vs. 3, to a specific individual, the author, in vs. 5. If you keep reading in Isaiah 49, what happens when the servant restores Israel? Particularly vs. 22-23, where Gentiles will be subject to the Jews. Is THAT the New Covenant Jesus established?

3. Fire of Hell

Isaiah 66:15-24. God comes, bringing vengeance in the form of sword and fire, executing judgment and KILLING people. Not banishing them for eternity. God will then send out messengers to bring people to the TEMPLE as an offering. (I thought we had a new covenant, no longer necessary for a temple?)

God then selects some to be priests and Levites. Will there be need of priests and Levites in the Christian after-world?

Then all of mankind will march before God and look at the DEAD bodies of those who rebelled against God, and their fire will not be quenched.

See, at first brush, we may read a portion of the verses, and say, “Hey, that DOES sound close to a burning hell.” But when we read the whole thing, in order to conform to Christianity, you have to but the lake of fire in the New Heaven or New Earth (there is no other in Isaiah 66) and in full view of those in Heaven.

Not exactly the picture provided by Christianity of the after-life.

My point, Talesin, is that I agree that any religion can take portion of verses (whether from the Tanakh or the Bible) and retrofit their religion into by citing sentences that seem similar to what the new religion is espousing.

But in the end, just as Christians do it to the Tanakh, other religions do it to the Bible, and it appears to me that the God of the Tanakh (while having similarities to ALL gods) is not the same as the God of the New Testament.

I understand you disagree and have inner conviction of that truth.

Trinity

Actually, this post of yours clarified some of the straggling points. I still struggle with this “analogy/literal” differentiation you make, (How do use “literary reason to assume otherwise” to determine that Satan showing Jesus the world from a mountain was analogous? Or that God cannot talk to Satan, when he talks to Humans? And Satan talks to Humans. If they each can literally talk to humans, why can’t they literally talk to each other?) But you bring out some other points that perhaps can bring more clarification.

You indicate that intercession does not change God’s “eternal plan” but is part of the means to change his “temporal” plan.

We are talking about God here. The one that knows what will happen, as you indicated previously, not “millions of years” but forever. What is the difference between God’s “temporal plan” and God’s “eternal plan”? Further, you indicate that the intercession has been planned from the beginning.

So God has an eternal plan to use intercession to be part of a temporal plan, that is all part of his eternal plan? Honestly, you seem to be flip-flopping [sorry. :-)] back and forth with no way for us to determine what is “temporal” and what is “eternal.”

You used three examples of intercession, two of which were effective (Hezekiah and Jonah) and one of which was not (David.) In each of these situations, we have conflicting wills, in which the persons desired something God did not, but you are saying that in the eternal plan, God actually did.

Now, taking this as a background, let’s look at Christ as an intercessor. This is analogous to….what? Is it the same as Hezekiah and Jonah in that God eternally planned to save some by substitutionary intercession, eternally planned to use intercession, but that it was a “temporal plan”? I would think not!

And, like Hezekiah, Jonah and David, are we to analogize that God has pre-ordained that some of Jesus’ intercession will not be effective? How can God not be effective?

The analogy breaks down.

However……..

It is at this point I paused. Thought long and hard on this. In many discussion on the ‘net we often use analogies. And often they do not quite fit the situation, and rather than attempt to understand what the other person is saying, enter in a foray of “Your Analogy does not work because of _______” and the person responds with “Oh yes it does, because of ___” and we end up arguing over the analogy and not the point.

While I do not think it is a perfect analogy, for many of the issues I raised, I can see how a believer could use the concept of Jesus as an intercessor to consider their position with their God, regarding the current situation of sin. Not that it actually happens, but that those passages were written for the benefit of the believer.

I see how that could be a valid interpretation. You have convinced me, and I concede the point.

Surprised?

Rabbit Trails

Early you stated that you did not own slaves because you did not want to be a slave. Now you state that you don’t want others to “force” their beliefs on you, but you want to force your beliefs on them. That’s inconsistent.

I am not trying to “force” my belief on you. I am attempting to persuade you. There is a large difference. I have no object, and prefer discussion in which two persons with opposing views argue, debate and hash out, in an attempt to persuade the other as to the viability of their position.

If that was all Christians did, I would have no problem whatsoever with it. None.

But what do we see? Christians have failed in being persuasive that their beliefs are viable. (Primarily, sadly, because we see how they live.) Christians recognize this, because they no longer attempt to persuade; instead the Christians have decided to pass laws, and obtain court decisions to force Americans to conform to their belief system.

Do I see Christians out persuading homosexuals that it is a sin? In a kind and loving fashion? Not at all. What I see are Christians who have determined that homosexuality is a sin, and are hell-bent on passing laws in order to make it more difficult.

I would equally be opposed to atheists attempting to force laws to make churches illegal, simply because theism is wrong. Christians have an American right to practice their religion.

I stand up and shout, though, when they desire to impose their beliefs through law, rather than example. Seriously, do Christians believe Jesus claps when some court strikes a law allowing homosexuals to marry? Does Jesus say, “That’ll teach ‘em. DON’T show by example. DON’T get involved in the homosexual community. DON’T welcome people of all beliefs with open arms. DON’T show kindness, gentleness and love. PASS A LAW! Yippee! NOW Christianity is on the move!”

Inconsistent? Hardly.

And yes, there is good done by Christianity in the area of Charity. There was also good performed by Stalin and Mao, believe it or not. Russia and China may not be the super-powers that they were, without their influence.

Both Christianity and totalitarianism have benefit/detriment. Mussolini did make the trains run on time, to coin a cliché. However, the detriments of totalitarianism so far outweigh the benefits, that it should be dismissed.

Same with Christianity. While it does provide charitable relief (there can be little question of that, I would think) the harm it is causing far outweighs its benefit. We can (and are) Charitable without Christianity. We don’t need it.

Rich said...

"Do I see Christians out persuading homosexuals that it is a sin? In a kind and loving fashion? Not at all. What I see are Christians who have determined that homosexuality is a sin, and are hell-bent on passing laws in order to make it more difficult."
Beliefs? or lifstyles? They are different. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice not a belief. Its also a Sin so yes we do want to keep this from becoming a law. While it may be viewed by some as "OK" it isn't by God.

"I would equally be opposed to atheists attempting to force laws to make churches illegal, simply because theism is wrong. Christians have an American right to practice their religion."

What about parts of religious practice being made illegal? Thts ok with you though because its forcing my belief down you throat unlike making a law that I can't pray in a public forum? I bleiev the amendment reads freedom of religion not freedom from religion.

"I stand up and shout, though, when they desire to impose their beliefs through law, rather than example."
And do you stand up and shout when athiest views are trying to be imposed through law and not example? Or just be glad that a strike against christianity has been made?

Taliesin said...

DagoodS,

Tanakh God v. NT God

D: You may disagree with how the Muslims treat the New Testament, or even how they review it in light of Textual Criticism, but in the same way the Jews have every reason to disagree with how you treat their text, in order to conform with your belief. I see little difference.

I would argue it's not in the same way. Jews and Christians disagree over interpretation. Muslims and Christians disagree over actual content.

I also disagree that I was prooftexting (though can I use your definition? I will probably replace Christian platitude to fit the appropriate context, but otherwise, it - you have taken a solitary passage, ignored its surroundings, and smashed it to remotely fit into what could be a “Christian” platitude it one of the better definitions of prooftexting I've seen).

One quick example - in Jeremiah 31:32 (past the verse I referenced) God says the that the new covenant will "not [be] like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt." Law then in the passage should be interpreted not as the Mosaic Law, since new covenant will not be like the Mosaic covenant, but God's eternal law, of which the moral code of Moses was merely a reflection.

But, I will grant you, however deeply we would delve into this passages, orthodox Jews would disagree with my interpretation.

One other quick, maybe odd, point. Your description of the afterlife, where those in heaven will see those in hell - I'm not sure that is incorrect from an NT standpoint. At least in one of Jesus' teaching sessions, He implied that those currently in "paradise" (waiting for the New Heavens and the New Earth) could see those in Hades (waiting for the final judgment and the Lake of Fire). Should we assume this will change greatly after the final judgment? I don't know, but I would not be surprised if it doesn't change.

But you are correct that this is not the picture most people have of what the afterlife will be like.

Trinity

D: I see how that could be a valid interpretation. You have convinced me, and I concede the point.

Surprised?


Not in the slightest. ;)

Actually, yes I am. Reviewing your comments, I can see I still wasn't as clear as I would have liked. I intentionally avoided some more familiar language ("Christianese") but I can see now that my choice of "temporal" did not convey fully to you what I wanted. But apparently close enough.

Rabbit Trails

Let me use the following and please understand that this is not intended to offend. I don't think it will, because I think it reflects at least part of what you're saying, but just in case I want you to know that is not my intention.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

Which is not to say that there are not some Christians out doing the things you mention, e.g. ministering to homosexuals with love and compassion, especially those who have contracted aids.

I disagree (obviously) on where the scales tip regarding the good Christianity has done. But I would say that we have been weaker in our impact (at least in the west) since the second half of the 19th Century.

Anonymous said...

When I wondered if there WAS any existent God up there it was apparently one I didn't know if I
could rely on, - AND since then on whatever ground welcome to receive
whatever's e.g. if any the purpose of My honoured Buddhism, so that I
can at least find out what I'M myself all about - as a man whose mother was certainly against me trying to see myself as any selfrespected labourer on whatever was her ground. Greetings, J.A., any comments, please?