A Response to a Response: Yes, we’re doing that
https://clubschadenfreude.com has responded to a book by Lee Strobel, ‘A Case For Christmas.’ I haven’t read it, it’s not the sort of Christian book I enjoy because it’s a very specific topic. As usual, the author’s words will be in italic, mine in standard text. But since the author of the blog is also quoting a seperate author, I’ll place the second author’s words in bold. Make sense? Let’s go!
“Some people believe the Old Testament doesn’t apply to those of us who follow Jesus. They think the ancient history, poetry, and prophecies are irrelevant to today’s modern culture. Yet, the Old Testament is the foundation on which we stand.
Against all odds [the multiple Old Testament prophecies] were fulfilled only in Jesus… confirming His identity as the Messiah and the Son of God. ~ Lee Strobel
Someone has said the probability of a person fulfilling every single Old Testament promise and prophecy about the Messiah is as likely as if the entire state of Texas was covered in quarters 12 inches deep with only one quarter painted red and a blindfolded child selected that quarter on the first attempt: a 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 chance!
Jesus is the One! He’s the Lord! Whether we buy gifts or give our friends and family something homemade, whether we’re in the snow or sand, whether we’ve known him all our lives or we’ve only now put our faith in Jesus through this study, let’s praise him with joyful hearts this Christmas! He’s the Gift!”
No, no one has said that bit of nonsense Lee claims, unless we want to claim Lee himself. Always fun to see a Christian inventing someone else to agree with him. Hmmm, who else does that? Ah yes, Donald J. Trump, the orange moron we have as president for about another month (unless he resigns so Pence can pardon him and his family).
Not to do with the topic it hand, there’s no need to respond since I’m not responding to the first author, since it doesn’t go against what I believe. The original author has simply set the stage, they haven’t given a critique yet. I don’t think we need to give opinions on Donald Trump, this is a religious blog, not a political one. What the author does is suggest that the original writer shares a quality with Donald Trump, therefore the quality is a negative trait. This is an ‘association fallacy’- if a trait, term, quality etc can be recognized in a person considered ‘evil’, then the trait itself must be evil also.
That JC didn’t fulfill OT promises is notable since we still have Jews around who are quiet sure of it. I do enjoy the Jews for Judaism website when it comes to seeing just how badly Christians make up nonsense.
Of course, Lee is one of those Christians who want the OT for their supposed prophecies but oh when it comes to following those laws that JC himself said were to be followed until the earth and heavens pass away, well, those laws are legibus non grata.
Yes, there are Jews who deny that Jesus fulfilled the requirements that would identify Him as the Messiah. However, there are also Jews that (known as ‘Messianic Jews), that affirm that Jesus did fulfill Messianic prophecy. What does this prove? Nothing, not squat. One group believing that Jesus is the Messiah doesn’t equate to Him actually being such, and the same logic can be applied in the opposite direction. There are roughly two billion people who affirm Jesus’ divinity, but I don’t think that should be used as an argument for the belief. Neither should those denying the claim be used as evidence for that denial.
As for the statement that claims we ignore Jesus’ teachings in regards to the Law? Yeah, we don’t. Jesus never said the Law won’t pass away until the end of the earth. What He actually said was that
” I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18
From this verse we can see that Jesus claims that there will be a time when the Law will pass away: when it has been fulfilled, and that the world will not end until the Law is fulfilled. The author just seems to conclude that this fulfillment won’t be until the end of the world; but Jesus never actually said that. What He said was that the Law is binding until it has been brought to completion; the Lord never gave a time frame on what that would be. The author is reading into the text.
The fact of the matter is that all Christians regard the crucifixion of Jesus as the moment of fulfillment, when the Law was brought to it’s intended conclusion (John 18:28-30).
Lee starts with the claim that the OT “prophecies” only apply to this messiah of his, that they cannot apply to anyone else ever.
So, let’s start with his claims about Micah 5.
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;5 and he shall be the one of peace.” – Micah 5, NRSV
Other bibles break this set of verses up differently to get different meanings. Lee uses the NIV, strangely enough, and that’ll drive the KJV-onlyists right over the edge.
Now, why Lee doesn’t include verse 5 is a mystery. But looking at what we have, there is nothing to this that is unique and can apply to only one person. We also know that JC never made anyone secure or was considered great to the ends of the earth or made peace. Christians had to invent a “second coming” to get this to work, something never mentioned in the OT, a messiah that had to come twice to get things right. Finally, this passage has that the messiah is not God, showing that the claims of Christianity of this messiah being God doesn’t work.
This argument is very odd, in that the author claims Jesus has never made someone secure. This is an act of omniscience on the author’s part! How can they possibly know that Jesus has never made someone ‘secure’? Firstly, the verse doesn’t give a break down of what it means to be ‘secure’, so it’s hard for the writer to say Jesus never accomplished that. Secondly, the author would have to know the feelings of every Christian throughout history! How do they know that we aren’t secure, that we don’t feel as such?
Jesus was never considered great to the ends of the earth? Don’t tell that to the billions of Christians who affirm Jesus’ greatness all around the world! We’d be most confused.
The blogger goes on to claim that we invented a ‘second coming’ in order to make up for the fact that not all things were accomplished, that this is never alluded to in the Old Testament. This is just plain false. There are verses that predict two advents of the Messiah. Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14 predict the first advent. Separately, Isaiah 53:8–9 predicts a suffering and dying Messiah, who will be given life and greatness according to Isaiah 53:11–12. Daniel 9:26 describes the Messiah being killed after His appearance. At the same time, prophets such as Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10) say this same “pierced” Messiah will be seen again by His enemies. So the clues are there.
Then we have passages that suggest a ‘second advent.’ These include statements from the books of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:14–15; 12:10–14; 13:1; 9:14–15); Amos (Amos 9:11–15); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:18; 32:44; 33:11, 26); and Joel (Joel 3:1); which describe the Messiah coming in triumph to lead Israel into salvation. Note that these are in the context of passages such as Deuteronomy 30:3–5 and so are predictions of the time of Messiah’s final victory.
The passage never suggests that the Messiah isn’t divine, nor does it suggest that He is. What it does is tell us the mission of the Messiah, not the nature. The author supposes that if the Messiah has a God, He cannot be divine. See the article ‘Catholic Doctrine: The Trinity’ for details on why that’s incorrect.
Again, Lee tries to claim dozens of fulfilled prophecies, but they don’t exist and he doesn’t give examples. What he does do is return to the false claims about verses in Isaiah about the supposed “virgin” birth. Lee tries to argue that the prophecy was for someone else but was somehow also for his version of the messiah. There is no reason to believe that this is the case, other than Lee needs a bit of verse to claim his god is special because of the virgin birth. Lee offers a theory that the “first” go through for the prophecy was for some other Jewish leader, but claims that might not be right since that one wasn’t named “Immanuel”.
Funny how his messiah wasn’t called Immanuel either
I haven’t read the original article, but again, I’m writing about this blog, not the article. I have no idea what the author claimed about the virgin birth, so I can’t defend or criticize it. But I can criticize the misconception that the author has about the name ‘Immanuel’. Every name in Hebrew had a very specific meaning, it usually alluded to the nature of the person; the same can be said about Jesus. For example ‘Jesus’ means ‘savior’, and He was named such because He saves us from sin. ‘Immanuel’ simply means ‘God with us’; we very much believe that Jesus is ‘God with us’ (John 8:58, Matthew 28:20, 18:20), so the name is quite fitting. It’s true that Jesus was never called ‘Immanuel’, but He was certainly called ‘God’ (John 20:28).
We end up in Isaiah 9, where Lee again tries the magic changing prophecy trick. What we read there is:
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
For all of the promises here, the christian messiah fails in all of them
No, Jesus doesn’t fail in all of them. Jesus was given authority over all of creation by the Father: He is the judge of all mankind (John 5:22), the Lord of Heaven (Revelation 5:6), and as such has established an eternal kingdom. Jesus even said that all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). The author seems to suggest that he should be able to recognize that authority in action, but there’s no reason to believe that’s the case. I would argue that the development of the Church into a great force, the workings of God’s redemptive plan through the Church: these point to the authority Christ has. Maybe the author is conflating what earthly authority looks like, with what divine authority should look like,
I always like to say that just because a fact isn’t apparent, doesn’t make it a falsehood. I can’t prove that Jesus is reigning in Heaven in authority, but the author can’t prove otherwise. He seems to claim that this absolutely isn’t the case, but is it?
Lee also tries to argue that since almah means young woman, then it has to mean virgin since all young women were assumed to be virgins. However, the verse makes no remark about how strange it would indeed be to have a virgin birth. We also have the problem of Lee’s claim that betulah can mean widow, when that isn’t exactly true. Folks who speak Hebrew can be assumed to know their language better than Lee or Glenn Miller, an apologist who presupposes that the popular mixed version of the Christmas story is true and does his best to make the bible fit.
I don’t quite understand why the verse would have to point out that virgin births are strange. That’s a given. Yes, the word ‘almah’ can mean ‘young woman’, so it doesn’t mean virgin. It’s interesting to note, that in the 3rd century B.C., when a panel of Hebrew scholars and Jewish rabbis began the process of translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, they used the specific Greek word for virgin, “parthenos,” not the more generic Greek word for “young woman.” The Septuagint translators, 200+ years before the birth of Christ, and with no inherent belief in a “virgin birth,” translated “almah” in Isaiah 7:14 as “virgin,” not “young woman.” This gives evidence that “virgin” is a possible, even likely, meaning of the term.
Lee’s claim that ‘bethula’ means ‘widow’ isn’t right, we agree. Bethulah can be applied to a virgin regard- less of age, whether young or old ; na’arah to a young girl, but. ‘ almah to a virgin in her girlish years.
Lee does try to get around the problem of JC never once being called Immanuel, and saying that bible names can be symbolic. Yep, they can be. But Lee just wants to claim that since people want to pretend that this god is with them, then that’s why no one ever called Joshua ben Joseph Immanuel but it’s okay. Problem is that Lee’s millions of people never ever call JC Immanuel either.
This is a bit hard to understand, but I’ll try. We don’t need to call Jesus ‘Immanuel’, we use the literal meaning of the name. We say Jesus is ‘God with us’ in regards to His omnipresence, and His presence in the Eucharist. So we have called Jesus ‘God with us’, just not by the term/name ‘Immanuel.’ It’s like saying we never call Jesus ‘savior’, when actually we do because Jesus’ name means exactly that.
Unlike what Lee says, this supposed messiah didn’t fulfill prophecies and most certainly not all before the destruction of the second temple. That’s why we have the “second coming” nonsense. The psalms never “predicted” the nailing of cruxifiction, but the bites of animals.
It would be hard for the Psalmist to predict the crucifixion; don’t forget that the prophecies were written to help those in David’s time to recognize the Messiah. But the act of crucifixion that Jesus suffered didn’t exist when the prophecies were written.
To be fair, the writer of Isaiah never stated that the wounds were the bites of animals. I think the author is referring to the verses that states ‘many bulls encompass me’, but the verse doesn’t tell us what these ‘bulls’ are doing, and certainly doesn’t say animals are biting the Suffering Servant.
It’s Isaiah 53 that supports the belief that the Messiah will be crucified, not the Psalm the author is referring to. The writer of Isaiah predicts that He will be ‘pierced for our transgressions.’ Yes, the cause of the piercing is never detailed, but that doesn’t tell us anything. It would be disingenuous to say that the meaning is or isn’t something, simply by the verse alone.
We finally seem to be ended up at Isaiah 53 and Lee does try to pretend it describes his messiah. But we have problems:
“He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.”
however, JC is claimed to have been followed by crowds who lauded him.
There’s no problem here. The prophecy never tells us how many people ‘despised and rejected’ the servant, only that people did. The chief Rabbis plotted to kill Jesus (John 11:53), and the crowds were persuaded to call for Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:22). This would be enough to say this prophecy points to Christ.
The author claims that Jesus was ‘lauded’ by the crowds, but that just isn’t the case. We see Jesus welcomed as the hero when He first enters Jerusalem (John 12:13), because they believed Jesus would be the man who overthrew the Roman occupation. What actually happens is that the people reject Him because of His claims to divinity, and His teachings on the Eucharist (John 10:33, John 8:59, John 6:60 and so on.) Jesus goes from having seventy disciples, to twelve (and one of them was useless!)
The author goes on about statistical probability and why that’s bunk (I don’t like those arguments either, to be fair). He concludes with:
There is indeed something to take away from Lee’s videos. Christianity is based on nonsense, cherry picking and ignorance. The promise that everyone would kneel at the mere mention of JC’s name is just one more failure of the bible.
I’m going to be picky. This is a misquote, and it makes a big difference. The verse states that ‘at the name of Jesus, every knee ‘should’ bend.’ See the difference? The author suggests an absolute, uncontrollable response. The verse actually says that we ‘should’ bend our knee, implying that there’s an option not to.
Everything else about Christianity being based on nonsense, cherry picking etc is a purely subjective opinion.