Is Jesus God? Paper 3. Melanie Zens' Rebuttal

05:33 Posted by tekno freek

Debate on the topic, "Is Jesus God?" between Saaib Ahmed and Melanie Zens.

Format: 


1. Opening statement by P1. (1500 Words)
2. Opening statement and rebuttal by P2. (2500 Words)
3. Counter rebuttal by P1. (2000 Words)
4. Response by P2. (3000 Words)
5. Response by P1. (2000 Words)
6. Conclusions published same date. (1500 words).


Introducing Melanie Zens: Melanie Zens is a non-denominational Christian. She has been a Christian for more than a decade now and for the same time she has been studying religion also. She is researching Quran also and the best part of it is that she is learning Arabic to comprehend and memorise Quran properly. She is also learning Greek which she requires for NT studies. She is not a staunch critique of Islam or its prophet. She takes a moderate approach between two extremes. She believes that Jesus came to earth in a human body, his human body was killed, and Jesus himself as a spirit went to sheol. He then rose back into his body and sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel to the whole world and then he ascended into heaven. She believes God created people for the purpose of serving, worshiping, and personally coming to know him.

Melanie Zens' Rebuttal.


Saaib began his rebuttal by drawing into question the reliability of any claims Jesus made in the Bible. He then argued that the amount of people in Jesus' time who doubted his divinity is a basis for rejecting the doctrine that Jesus is divine. From there, he brought up statements that Jesus had made that would also suggest he isn't God. Lastly, he commented on some of the passages that I brought up in my opening statement. I hope to address these points now.

Saaib first attempts to detract from the strength of the Gospels by grouping the 4 canonical ones in with the Gospel of Thomas (GThom), and the Gospel of Judas (GoJ) as if they were somehow equal in measure of reliability, or even in the same league as one another. On the contrary, the majority of scholars consider both GThom and GoJ second century forgeries (and the copy we have of GoJ is a 3rd or 4th century coptic translation.) In contrast, the 4 Gospels Christians take seriously are dated around 100 years earlier than GThom and GoJ, and have numerous attestation to their authorship from church fathers and authors. GThom is mentioned as well of course, by the 3rd century church writers Hippolytus and Origen, but they claim this writing is a forgery, and GoJ is mentioned by the church author Irenaeus as being a heretical Gospel. To even put these 2 in with the same category as the other 4 is, at best, laughable.



Saaib would have us believe that the authors of the Gospels “built stories out of traditions which had reached them from different people.” Actually, John, Peter, and Matthew were close disciples of Jesus who followed him wherever he went (though the author of John could also be John the Presbyter rather than John the Apostle, but he was also an eyewitness to Jesus' life). Luke was a doctor who diligently researched the evidence available to him and wrote a carefully documented account of his own (and the fact that he provided a genealogical record of Jesus' family should clue you in on how detailed and accurate he wished his account to be). And Mark was a contemporary of Peter, and wrote a Gospel off of everything he learned from him. That's not exactly what I would term “traditional building”.



Then Saaib mentions that Jesus spoke Aramaic, but the Gospels are not written in Aramaic, so we cannot be certain as to the meaning of his words. A good point. The authors of the Gospels at the time were living in Hebrew speaking, or Greek speaking locations, and so they translated their work into those languages. But although translation is not a good way to know word for word what someone had said, the meaning of any teaching can be easily conveyed through translation, and this is perhaps why Jesus used parables and examples so often, so that the meaning of his words could be understood by anyone anywhere. So I don't think this fact detracts from the accuracy of the Gospels.



This being said, I think we can conclude that Saaib's description of the Gospels being “chaotic” and “uncertain” is unfair, nonsensical, and extremely inaccurate. Now I will deal with the question as to the divine inspiration of these Gospels. Saaib states that the authors of the Gospels do not claim it is divinely inspired. The authors recorded the words and teachings and life of God. Exactly how much more inspired can you get? Had they gone out of their way to include a sentence like, “What I am writing is divinely inspired by God” then readers would have been immediately skeptical. The author protests too much me thinks.



Now we get into the verses that supposedly show Jesus is not God. Saaib provides many cases in the Bible where people doubted Jesus, and somehow believes this negates his divinity. If that's the case with Jesus, then since many people doubted Muhammad was a Prophet of God, Muhammad must not be a prophet of God. After all, if Muhammad could not convince the Jews over 1,000 years ago that he was sent by God, then how can Saaib hope to prove this to us now? God must also not exist since many people do not believe in him. Is God unable to convince us or what? The fact is, people will doubt no matter what the circumstance. In the Old Testament, God had struck the Egyptians with many plagues, including turning water into blood, and somehow the Israelites were never affected by these plagues. Then he parted the seas before their very eyes. Then he had Moses hit a rock and cause water to gush from it. Then he sent bread to rain from the sky. Then he sent quail, and caused fish to wash up from the seas. And yet still, whenever the Israelites faced a hardship, they thought God had abandoned them, and wished he'd never brought them from Egypt. They disbelieved again, and again. Likewise, Jesus performed countless miracles, including healing a man born blind, which was supposed to be something only the Messiah can do. The people had every reason to believe Jesus was God and the Messiah. This is just the way people are, there will always be doubters. People doubting a belief has no bearing on the truth value of it.



Saaib points out that Jesus was called a servant of God. If there is a problem with one member of the Trinity of God serving the other member, then Saaib needs to clarify what that problem is. He appears to have the misconception that serving someone makes you inferior to them. He also tries to show that Paul believes Jesus was created by quoting 1 Corinthians 8:6 (which says nothing about Jesus being a creation) and Colossians 1:15, which says that Jesus is the firstborn of creation. Paul probably did not intend for this title to be taken literally though. He also says that he is the firstborn from among the dead, but that doesn't mean he was born of the dead. Jesus is called the Son of God, and the firstborn of this and that. But these titles are supposed to show his supremacy. It doesn't mean that Jesus was ever given birth to, or created.



Saaib quotes Jesus saying that the Father was greater than him. But at that time the Father was in a greater position, since he was in heaven ruling the earth, and Jesus was on earth in a weak human body. That doesn't mean Jesus' nature is weaker than the Father's though. He then quoted Isaiah 43:11, showing that in this case, the Father stated he was God. Why didn't Jesus communicate this way on earth? According to Saaib, it's because Jesus was afraid. That would indeed be ironic, being that Jesus on numerous occasions corrects and rebukes the most respected people of that era, even calling them a brood of vipers. Does that sound like a terrified person to you? After reading this verse, I believe that it was Jesus speaking in this instance. Jesus is the only one in the NT who is known as “Savior”, the Father has different titles. So Jesus probably communicated in this, “I am God” way before. What changed when he came to earth? Probably because directly stating that he is God, or that he is the Messiah would have been seen as glorifying himself (which would have weakened his ministry, just like asking for worship would) and it would have taken glory from his Father.



Saaib states that the God of the OT was violent, and Jesus is loving. Jesus is loving, but like I said, he did rebuke people authoritatively. But saying the God of the OT was violent is taking everything from that time out of context. In the OT, God was dealing with ancient, formerly enslaved, and barbaric people, in a barbaric and war like period. Not the modern more morally advanced Jews of Jesus' time. Jesus came at a peaceful time, God as a whole was with the Israelites at a time of war, when opposing nations were attacking them, and when God was using the Israelites to exact judgment on sinful nations. Saaib should be able to understand this, as his own Prophet engaged in numerous wars, and his God gave out very violent sounding orders (“and strike off the heads and fingertips of them” 8:12). But it all needs to be taken in context.



Next, he quotes Jesus telling a man that none is good but God. And this is a “clear” denouncement of his divinity according to Saaib. But Jesus does not clearly state that he himself is not good. In this context Jesus is calling into question the man's sincerity, and trying to make him realize what it is that he is calling Jesus. Jesus is trying to make the man see that by calling him good he is calling him God, but he isn't saying the man is wrong about that.



Saaib says that when we look at Jesus we see all human qualities. Well we see many human qualities when Jesus took on a human form, but as I pointed out, we also see qualities only God may have. He says that God cannot be man, and man cannot be God. Agreed, but God can take on a human body, though his nature is divine spirit, and not human. He points out that Jesus didn't know some things. Since the human brain with which Jesus functioned cannot have processed infinite knowledge, Jesus functioned with finite knowledge, though his nature was never lacking in this knowledge that his brain was. It is a distinction between possessing finite knowledge, and functioning with finite knowledge. Jesus was also never created, but he took on a created human shell. His body was creation, but his spirit is eternal.



Saaib also shows that Jesus is differentiated between God, and God and Father are used synonymously. But each member of the Trinity is called “God” or “Lord” at one point. Since each member is part of God, they are each given this God title. Consider Psalms 110:1: “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand.” They are both called Lords, and Jesus is who sits at the Fathers right.



And now to respond to the comments on my opening points, Saaib wonders why Jesus had to be given his authority. Does not God always have authority on heaven and earth? Firstly, he didn't actually address how it would be possible for a human to ever have this power, secondly, Jesus didn't have this power while on earth because he cannot rule everything and be in a limited form at the same time. He handed the authority over, and it was handed back. But it can only be handed back if he's divine. Saaib states that Matthew 28:19 is an interpolation and wonders how I could dare use it. He doesn't attempt to argue that it is, he simply states it as the case, and the “known” case, despite the fact that virtually all copies of Matthew contain this verse. Since he was running out of words, I'll forgive him for an unsupported assertion, but I see no reason to address something that has been stated rather than argued and will not make my opponent's arguments for him, and then attempt to address what he never even stated. His objection will thus be ignored until he can support it.



I wish I could elaborate 10x more on each point I have now made, but am forced to abandon you with this. Thanks to all who read this and to Saaib Ahmad for publishing it. I am very much enjoying our debate thus far and I look forward to Saaib's next response. Peace.

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4 Response to "Is Jesus God? Paper 3. Melanie Zens' Rebuttal"

  1. libraryguy Said,

    Very excellent work and interesting analysis! As I pointed out on my FB page, perhaps a better title would have something to do with Christology.

    Keep going with this interesting debate!

    Posted on 17 July 2012 at 03:05

     
  2. libraryguy Said,

    So the next question is as follows: when will Saaib publish the follow rebuttal to your arguments?

    Posted on 17 July 2012 at 03:06

     
  3. Anonymous Said,

    Very well rebuttal !!!

    You refuted well the “doubt“ issue of saaib...!!! Keep it up, GOD BLESS YOU

    Posted on 23 July 2012 at 21:36

     
  4. Saaib Ahmed Said,

    The response has been published

    http://exploringfo.blogspot.in/2012/07/is-jesus-god-paper-4-saaib-ahmeds.html

    Posted on 25 July 2012 at 07:41

     

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