Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Hall of Shame - Vintage
11/08/2012 - James White
Below I deal with a few classic examples of the kind of errors made by McKinsey in BE over the years. This is by no means anywhere near an exhaustive list - just a few (to use his own words) imbroglios he has managed to get himself into in his attack upon God’s Word.
In the December 1983 issue of BE McKinsey says on page 5, ‘The word “Sanhedrin” never appears in the Bible.” The Greek term “sunedrion" - (translated ‘Sanhedrin”) is found 22 times in the New Testament (Mt. 5:22, 10:17, 26:59, Mk. 13:9, 14:55, 15:1, Lk. 22:66, Jn. 11:47, Acts 4:15, 5:21, 27, 34, 41, 6:12, 15, 22:30, 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28, and 24:20). McKinsey’s studying methods are seen here to be based on an exhaustive concordance following the KJV, for the term is normally translated “council” by the King James, hiding its true significance. (McKinsey did say, in a later issue, that the term never appears in the King James Version - whether this was an acknowledgment on his part of the earlier mistake is unclear).
In the February 1983 issue, page 3, McKinsey alleges that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy of Matthew 12:40 concerning the sign of Jonah. This he bases on the idea that Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, but Jesus was not in the tomb seventy two hours (Friday evening to Sunday morning). He bluntly says "His prophecy failed." Now, some have taken a Wednesday crucifixion position to avoid this, but that is not only unnecessary, but Biblically insupportable. Rather, the answer lies in the obvious fact that the Jews counted any portion of a day as a full day. Therefore, Friday was day one, Saturday day two, Sunday day three. The push for an absurdly literalistic interpretation of Matthew 12:40 seems just a little inconsistent for Mr. McKinsey, does it not?
In the next month’s issue (March 1983) we find the following: According to McKinsey, Matthew 8:20 (“...the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”) is contradicted by Mark 2:15, where McKinsey claims that the Bible says Jesus owned a house! This one is truly amazing, as the passage makes it clear that the house was Matthew’s home, not Jesus’, and this is corroborated by the parallel passages in Matthew 8:10 and Luke 5:29. So much for close study!
A classic example of how to completely ignore context can be found in the August, 1987 issue, page 1 under the title “Paul the Deceptive Disciple.” I won’t even bother commenting on it, as anyone even somewhat familiar with the Bible will recognize the vast difference in the contexts of the two passages, rendering any charge of “contradiction" or duplicity on Paul’s part absolutely inane. McKinsey writes: " “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing....” (Rom. 7:18) versus “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal. 2:20). Paul said no good thing dwells within him yet he has Christ within.”
Finally (certainly not due to lack of examples - one could literally find hundreds and hundreds of examples in BE over the past four years) in the March 1983 issue, page 3, it is alleged that Deuteronomy 23:3 is a “false prophecy” due to Ruth 1:4, 22, etc. Deuteronomy 23:3 says that "no Ammonite or Moabite shall enter into the congregation of the LORD.” Since Ruth was a Moabitess, McKinsey alleges that this is a false prophecy But is it? Certainly not! First, Deuteronomy 23 is not a prophecy - it is a law! Are we to say that every time a law is broken that it was a false prophecy to have made the law? Ridiculous! One cannot make a prophecy out of a law. Second, the “assembly of the LORD” was restricted to men only, therefore Ruth could not have entered into it anyway. A little more study into the Old Testament law and Old Testament customs could have saved this anti-theist another embarrassing error.
The above supposed "contradiction" (Deuteronomy 23:3/Ruth 1:4) came up on a local talk program while debating a representative of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Mr. Dan Barker. Mr. Barker called my explanation of the case “weak" (though he did not elaborate on that). During a break the subject of what might be the most well-known alleged contradiction came up - that of Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9. In October of 1986, I received a letter from Mr. Barker. He sent me a four page document entitled “Did Paul’s Men Hear A Voice?” In it he gave a great deal of information on the usage of the genitive and accusative cases relevant to the word akouo (to hear) and its direct objects, primarily phone (sound, voice) since these are the important terms in discussing Acts 9:7/22:9. Though not dealing with all of the issues involved (in my opinion), Mr. Barker did a fine job in stating his belief that the two passages are contradictory. To close our presentation of "Letters to an Anti-Theist,” we will examine this “contradiction."
It is quite easy to see the supposed contradiction at this point. The King James Version reads:
9:7 - “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
22:9 - "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
Clearly the question is - did the men hear the voice or not? To answer that question, we must, obviously, deal with the text as written by Luke in its original languages. This is an excellent example of a situation where the original words must be allowed to be heard in the argument, for we could be charging Luke with a simple mistake that he did not make. Also, we need to notice that modern versions translate the passage differently. For example, the New International Version reads as follows:
9:7 - “The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
22:9 - “My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.”
Note that in the NIV the contradiction no longer exists; in the first passage the men hear a sound; in the second they do not understand the voice of the one speaking to Saul. Mr. Barker and other critics would assert that the NIV has translated in accordance with interpretation and convenience rather than according to language and usage. But is this so? Lets examine these passages and see.
First, before going into the text itself, we must address the issue of “what is a contradiction?” The law of contradiction, stated briefly, would be that you cannot have A and non-A simultaneously. You cannot have a chair in a room and outside the room at the same time. That would be a contradiction. But, is this what we have in this case in Acts?
The answer can only be no, we do not have a contradiction here. First, let’s transliterate the passages so that their differences can be seen:
9:7 - akouontes men tes phones
22:9 - ten de phonen ouk ekousan phones legouses moi
It would be good to list the differences between the passages:
1. In 9:7 akouo is found as a nominative plural participle; in 22:9 it is a plural aorist verb.
2. In 9:7 phone is a singular genitive noun; in 22:9 it is a singular accusative noun.
3. In 9:7 akouo precedes its object; in 22:9 it follows its object.
4. In 9:7 the phrase is not modified; in 22:9 it is modified by “of the one speaking to me.”
5. In 9:7 Luke is narrating an event in Greek; in 22:9 Paul is speaking to a crowd in Hebrew (or Aramaic).
Clearly the critic is placed in an impossible position of forcing the argument here, for the differences between the two passages are quite significant. Hence, the argument must proceed on the grounds of contradictory meanings only, for the grammar of the two passages will not support a clear “A vs. non-A” proposition.
We then must answer the question, are the differences between these passages significant enough to warrant the NIV’s translation? Do we have a solid basis upon which to assert that what Paul meant was that the men heard a sound but did not understand what the voice was saving? I believe we do, and I am not alone on this. Following are some of the comments made by some eminent Greek scholars about these passages:
Thus in Acts 9:7, “hearing the voice,” the noun “voice’ is in the partitive genitive case [i.e., hearing (something) of], whereas in 22:9, "they heard not the voice," the construction is with the accusative. This removes the idea of any contradiction. The former indicates a hearing of the sound, the latter indicates the meaning or message of the voice (this they did not hear). “The former denotes the sensational perception, the latter (the accusative case) the thing perceived." (Cremer). In John 5:25, 28, the genitive case is used, indicating a “sensational perception” that the Lord’s voice is sounding; in 3:8, of hearing the wind, the accusative is used, stressing “the thing perceived." (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, pages 204-205).
Instead of this being a flat contradiction of what Luke says in 9:7 it is natural to take it as being likewise (as with the “light” and “no one’) a distinction between the “sound’ (original sense of phone as in John 3:8) and the separate words spoken. It so happens that akouo is used either with the accusative (extent of the hearing) or the genitive (the specifying). It is possible that such a distinction here coincides with the two senses of phone. They heard the sound (9:7), but did not understand the words (22:9). However, this distinction in case with akouo, though possible and even probable here, is by no means a necessary one for in John 3:8 where phonen undoubtedly means “sound” the accusative occurs as Luke uses ekousa phonen about Saul in Acts 9:4. Besides in Acts 22:7 Paul uses ekousa phones about himself, but ekousa phonen about himself in 26:14, interchangeably. (Word Pictures in the New Testament by Dr. A.T. Robertson, volume III, pages 117- 118).
The fact that the maintenance of an old and well-known distinction between the acc. and the gen. with akouo saves the author of Acts 9:7 and 22:9 from a patent self-contradiction, should by itself be enough to make us recognize it for Luke, and for other writers until it is proved wrong. (A Grammar of New Testament Creek by James Hope Moulton, vol I., page 66. Robertson quotes this approvingly in A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research on pages 448-449).
The partitive gen. occurs in NT with verbs of perception, especially with a personal object. For akouo, the class(ical) rule is that the person whose words are heard is in the gen. ...but the thing (or person) about which one hears is in the accus., and akouo c. accus. may mean to understand...We have to ask whether the class, distinction between gen. and accus. has significance for exegesis in NT. There may be something in the difference between the gen. in Ac. 9:7 (the men with Paul heard the sound ) and the accus. in Ac 22:9 (they did not understand the voice). (A Grammar of New Testament Greek vol. III by Nigel Turner, pg. 233).
Basically, these writers are referring to the possibility that the difference in the case of the term akouo would in this instance (9:7, 22:9) point to a difference in meaning. However, as Mr. Barker points out in his letter to me, and as Dr. A. T. Robertson said above many years earlier, this distinction cannot be written in stone. Why then do we feel that we are correct in asserting this difference as the the "answer” to this supposed contradiction? Context. Though none of the above authors went deeply into the subject, an examination of the context of the passages in question here make it very clear that Luke meant a difference to be understood in what he was writing.
The key element in this investigation is pointed out by R. J. Knowling (Expositor’s Greek Testament vol. 2 ed. by W. Robertson Nicoll pages 231 -233) and by John Aberly (New Testament Commentary edited by H. C. Alleman page 414). In Acts 22:9 Paul is speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem. According to Acts 21:40 Paul addressed the crowd in Hebrew (NIV says Aramaic - exactly which dialect it was is not very relevant). He mentions to his Hebrew listeners that when Jesus called him, he called him in their own language - Hebrew. How do we know this? In both Acts 9:4 and in Acts 22:7 Saul is not spelled in its normal form, but is spelled in its Hebrew (or Aramaic) form Saoul. What does this tell us? It tells us that the “voice” spoke in Hebrew. Therefore, Acts 22:9 would he referring to the fact that the men who accompanied Paul did not understand what was said for they could not understand Hebrew! The text supports this very strongly, for Paul modifies his saying “they did not hear (understand) the voice” by adding the vital phrase, “of the one speaking to me (to lalountos moi).” The emphasis is on the speaking of the voice, which would indicate comprehension and understanding. Now, given the above scholar’s quotations, and the context of the passages, can anyone seriously deny that there is a perfectly plausible explanation for this supposed contradiction? I think not.
Finally, it must he stated that part and parcel of dealing with almost any ancient or even modern writing is the basic idea that the author gets the benefit of the doubt. It is highly unlikely that a writer will contradict himself within short spans of time or space. Luke was a careful historian, and it is sheer speculation that he would he so forgetful as to forget what he wrote in Acts 9 by the time he wrote Acts 22. Some critics of the Bible seem to forget the old axiom “innocent until proven guilty.” The person who will not allow for the harmonization of the text (as we did above) is in effect claiming omniscience of all the facts surrounding an event that took place nearly two millennia ago. Most careful scholars do not make such claims. The above presented explanation is perfectly reasonable, it coincides with the known facts, and does not engage in unwarranted “special pleading.” If a person wishes to continue to claim that Acts 9:7 contradicts Acts 22:9, there is little I or anyone else can do about that. But let that person realize that 1) his position cannot be proved; 2) he (or she) is operating on unproven assumptions (Luke was not intelligent enough to notice a contradiction in his own writing); and 3) there is a perfectly logical explanation, based on the original languages and contexts.
It is my prayer that this short look at some of the issues raised by anti-theists in their seemingly never ending quest to discredit the Bible as God’s Word has been helpful to you, the reader, no matter what your current position or belief. If you are a Christian, I hope you have been strengthened in your faith and encouraged to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). If you are an atheist, or a skeptic, I certainly don’t think that this short examination of a narrow spectrum of subjects is sufficient to cause you to change your thinking. Rather, my hope for you is that you will realize that there are answers to the questions posed by people such as McKinsey, and that you will take the time to honestly examine the claims of Christ and His Word.
Answering Common Questions and Objections Part 2 - Vintage
11/08/2012 - James White
8. How can Exodus 33:20 and John 1:18 (both stating that no one can see God) be reconciled with Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 which say that men have seen God?
Answer to Question #8: Seeing God.
Using John 1:18 to demonstrate the Deity of Christ has been a long tradition in apologetics. There is indeed a contradiction here if one does not have a Tri-Une conception of God. Indeed, I have pointed this out more than once to representatives of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Deity of Christ, so they obviously do not believe that Jesus is Jehovah. I have often used John 1:18 in comparison with Isaiah 6:1 to demonstrate that the Bible shows that the Jehovah of the Old Testament who was seen by men was the Jesus of the New. This can be seen in the comparison of Isaiah 6 with John 12:39-41. Indeed, a proper understanding of John 1:18 would have cleared up the original problem, for here John is using the first term "God" to specifically refer to the Father, not the Son. He calls the Son the "only-begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father" and says that Jesus has "made Him (the Father) known." Jesus is the Word who has made the Father known. Therefore, the Bible is again correct - no one has seen God the Father at any time. But man has seen God the Son on numerous occasions in the Old Testament as well as in the New.
9. How can the resurrection be so important when others were raised before Jesus was?
Question #9: Jesus’ Resurrection
It is true that others were raised from the dead before Jesus was. This statement assumes that the Biblical statements concerning those resurrections are true, and therefore the question is really a theological one, and must be answered in that way.
There is no indication in the Bible that any of the others who were raised from the dead lived eternally. Instead, it is clear that they lived on and then died a natural death. Jesus did not die again - he lives eternally.
This makes His resurrection unique as it is a true resurrection to life eternal.
Secondly, Jesus was God in human flesh. None of the other people who were resurrected were Deity!
Third, Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied long before. He himself foretold it (none of the others foretold their deaths and resurrections). He also said that he had authority to take hack his life again (John 10:17-18). No other person claimed to have a part in raising himself (or herself)!
Finally, Jesus’ resurrection makes possible the resurrection of all who trust in him. We as believers have the promise of our own resurrection because of the resurrection of our Lord. My resurrection is not guaranteed because of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain or of Lazarus; but, as I am united with Christ, and he was raised, so shall I be.
Just these few points are sufficient to demonstrate to anyone willing to examine the information the uniqueness and importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
10. How can Jesus be our perfect savior when he made many false and deceptive statements?
Answer to Question #10: Jesus’ integrity
The question of going to the feast (John 7:8) revolves around a textual variant and is therefore hardly something that can be the proverbial "smoking gun." The reading "not yet going up to this feast” is supported impressively by P66 and P75 (two of the earliest known manuscripts of John) as well as by B (Vaticanus) and the majority of the tradition. This reading is also in harmony with the contextual mention of Jesus’ time not yet being fulfilled. Even if the reading “not going up to this feast" is accepted, a number of things mitigate against a charge of duplicity on Jesus part. First, the meaning of “going up” may refer to the public ascension in procession to Jerusalem with its attendant festivities, psalm singing, etc. Also, the situation in which Jesus was living (the death threats of the Jews should he go into Judah again) comes into play as well. Perhaps the statement of Jesus was nothing more than a non-announcement of his plans? Given the fact that his brothers were at this time antagonistic to Jesus’ claims and would undoubtedly reveal his arrival, prudence would be the better course in that situation.
Be that as it may, the other references hold no weight. What is deceptive about Jesus’ promise that the thief would be with him in paradise that day when it was true? The atheist must assume that Jesus was lying to prove that he was! Circular argumentation at its best. In an earlier issue of BE McKinsey expanded on his charge at this point. He states that since Jesus did not go to heaven until three days later, and paradise is heaven, then Jesus was lying. He then takes Dr. Gleason Archer to task for what he said concerning this in his book Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (pages 367-368) charging Dr. Archer with coming up with an explanation that "abounds in suppositions, conjectures and hypotheses...’ Actually, it is McKinsey’s attack that abounds with suppositions, none of which he can prove. First, why does he say paradise is in heaven? Is he aware of the Biblical teaching concerning sheol, the realm of the dead? Has he allowed Jesus’ story concerning the rich man and Lazarus to be a factor here? Why does he assume that paradise could not have been moved from sheol to heaven after the resurrection of Jesus? Why does he consistently (and here McKinsey is always consistent!) deny the Bible the ability to explain itself? Why does he apply rules to the Scriptures that he would never apply to anything else? His consistent underlying assumption is that the Bible is contradictory, and therefore any explanation that would deal with his "proof” can be nothing but "rationalization."
Matthew 5:22 is hardly an immoral statement. As above, McKinsey elaborates on what he means by pointing out that Jesus called the religious leaders “fools" thus supposedly contradicting himself. He lists Matthew 23:17, 19 and Luke 11:40 as his examples. Here again we see the “foolishness” of attacking Scripture in the way McKinsey does without knowing the languages of the Bible. In Matthew 5:22 Jesus uses the technical term "Raca" followed by the term “More” which means "fool." In Matthew 23:17 the term is moroi which is the normal term for “foolish persons." Whether verse 19 uses moroi is questionable on textual grounds. The term in Luke 11:40 is aphrones, meaning "one without understanding.” Therefore, we must look at two things - first, Matthew 23:17 is the only reference to Jesus calling someone a "fool” (the corrupt religious leaders) and second, what is the context of the original passage in Matthew 5:22? Jesus there uses Hebrew parallelism to connect the terms “raca” and "more." What does this mean?
It is clear that the context of the two statements is completely different. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus is speaking of the true intent of the law and how this relates to each individual. In 5:21 he points to the command against murder, and then in verse 22 goes beyond this to say that to harbor hatred in one’s heart against one’s brother is to start on the path to murder. Here the Lord shows us what we know ourselves - few murder without first hating, and Jesus warns us that obedience to the law is a matter of the heart preeminently. The outer actions are determined by the inner motives. What then of Matthew 23:17? Was Jesus harboring hatred in his heart for the Jewish leadership? Was he breaking his own rules, so to speak? No indeed! In the 23rd chapter of Matthew we have hard words spoken to equally hard men. The occasion more than justifies the terminology! Here we have the men who were supposedly the stewards of God’s law twisting that law to the opposite end. Jesus uses the term “fools" precisely in the context of true "foolishness." Jesus is not using it as a pejorative term as he proscribed in 5:22; rather, he is using it as an accurate description of the "foolishness" of the religious system they had built up. The Jews were saying that if someone swore by the gold in the temple that he was hound by the oath. Jesus rightly points out that the gold is made "special" by the temple, not vice versa. Their position on oaths was “foolish” and was accurately described by the Lord. In no way is Jesus’ usage of the term "fools” here the same as what was discussed in Matthew 5:22 if for not other reason than the fact that Matthew 5 relates to relationships between believers ("he who calls his brother") while Jesus is dealing with un-believers in Matthew 23 (the Jewish leadership).
In addition to the above, it might he noted briefly that God, the one described in the Bible as “seeing the hearts of men” is in the proper position to judge whether a man is a "fool” or not. It is precisely because we as humans are not able to see the attitudes of the heart that we are told not to call anyone fool, nor even to judge the intents of another’s heart in these matters.
What is meant by a "non-existent cross” is anyone’s guess, as everyone in Judea knew what Jesus meant by the term "cross." Crucifixion was a common mode of death at the time, and to “take up one’s cross” would be filled with meaning for anyone living in that culture.
Of all the people of the world, Jesus’ integrity is the last to be questioned. This is admitted by believer and infidel alike. His moral teachings and standards have been the basis of civilization and society ever since.
11. How can the Bible he the epitome of morality and virtue when it uses profanity such as that found in 2 Kings 18:27, Ezekiel 23:20-21 and Song of Solomon 5:4?
Answer to Question #11: Supposed Profanity in the Bible
We here encounter a question that is based on a common misconception - the Bible was not written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some chapters in Aramaic) and the New Testament was written in Greek. Therefore, we must differentiate between translations of the Bible (such as the King James Version or the New International Version) and the Bible itself. The Bible does not use “profanity” as the above question says. The Bible does refer to such items as "urine” (2 Kings 18:27) and feces (note the context of these items - that of the stark reality of the siege of a city and the resulting starvation) as well as to the genitalia of animals and man as well (what Song of Solomon 5:4 has to do with anything is very unclear). But the frank way in which the Bible deals with these subjects is hardly grounds for impugning its high morality and virtue! Such is silliness! Because the law mentions specific sinful acts and says thou shalt not does that make the law any less holy? Certainly not! Such a question is based on an obviously irrational desire to put the Bible down and to judge it by standards that are completely capricious and without basis.
12. How can the various accounts of the Resurrection he reconciled?
Answer to Question #t2: The Resurrection Accounts
Though a full discussion of all the factors inherent in the discussion of the various accounts of the Resurrection would take quite some time and space, it would be good to deal with a few of the more common objections. Some of the objections are inane simply due to the fact that they will not allow for harmonization . This is a vital point - the Gospels are four different perspectives on the same events. They do not say the same thing about each and every story - one emphasizes one thing, one another. It is only logical to allow for this fact in our interpretation and study of the books. Now, if one of the Gospels says “Jesus did A at B time” and another says “Jesus did not do A at B time’ then we obviously have a contradiction. We cannot have “A” and "non-A” at the same time, obviously. However, one Gospel writer may say “Jesus met with A” and another may say “Jesus met with A along with B” without contradicting one another. The second writer is simply providing additional information that the first did not. This is by far the most common occurrence (i.e., Matthew 20:30/Mark 10:46; Mark 5:2/Matthew 8:28). Other objections are impossible to answer due to lack on information. For example, Mark 16:2 indicates that the women traveled to the tomb “after the sunrise.” John 20:1 says it was still dark. We don’t know whether the sun rose as the women arrived and that they started out in the pre-dawn darkness or just how that all worked - the text simply is not exact enough to make a decision about that. This, however, does not make the text “wrong” or "errant.” It just means the author did not give the information needed to answer the question. It is like faulting the Bible for not being able to answer the question, “what color were Jesus’ eyes?” We don’t know, neither does it matter.
Some point out that some gospels (Matthew and John) mention angels while others (Luke and Mark) mention men. This is not a contradiction, of course, but simply two ways of referring to the same beings. Angels normally appear in human form in the Old Testament, and seemingly did so here. In the same way it is wrong to limit the angels’ movements to an either/or situation - in some instances they are in the tomb speaking to the believers (Mark, Luke, John) while Matthew says the angel was outside. However, Matthew only mentions the angel being outside; he does not restrict the angel to the outside of the tomb nor does he say that the angel spoke to the women while still outside.
Another point need he made that will be vital to any Christian who is called on to face the attacks of anti -theists. Before you get defensive in a situation with an anti-theist, stop long enough to examine the claims he or she is making. Very often an anti-theist such as McKinsey will make statements that would require the maker of that statement to have all -knowledge of the surrounding events. They are in effect claiming omniscience! It is completely illogical to fault the Biblical record for not providing answers to every question that could be asked - no book ever written could do so. Simply because there are questions concerning the events that took place 2,000 years ago does not mean that we should doubt that those events took place. We don’t know what color of cloak Caesar wore the day he was murdered - should we therefore say that we don’t know that Caesar died because we can’t answer all the questions that might be asked about the events of that day? Shalt we say that a historian’s record is false simply because it is not exhaustive in what it says? No one would seriously suggest that this is true, yet this is exactly what Biblical critics have done and continue to do with the Bible. Now, before the anti-theist says “but you claim that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God so it must be open to more scrutiny than any other book” allow me to point out that in matters relating to that claim, the anti-theist is perfectly right - we must examine the Bible as closely as possible to support such a claim as we Christians make. However, this does not mean that we abandon logic and reason in some wild search for supposed errors.” When dealing with historical subjects we need to utilize our best historical knowledge and technique. We must do what we do with all other books of antiquity - we must give the book the “benefit of the doubt” for a very basic reason - we weren’t there! We don’t know all of the facts. The writer was a whole lot closer to the events than we are, so, unless there is some overriding reason to do so, the ancient writer is judged to be correct in what he or she has to say. We are optimistic to say that we have so much as 5% of the information needed for a “complete” picture of all the events taking place in Palestine in those days. Are we wise to contradict those who lived at that time from such a position that we find ourselves in? I think not. The New Testament provides us with a wealth of information - far more than we would need to make historical decisions. It does not, however, lend itself to the fancies of man. It does not describe “non-essentials." Faulting it for this is illogical.
13. How can women support the Bible in light of the demeaning status accorded them in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 9, Ephesians 5:22-24, and other appropriate verses?
Answer to Question #13: Women in the Bible
I have encountered this type of question on numerous occasions in radio debates. I recall that Ben Ackerly, the gay/atheist author of The X-Rated Bible brought this up as well, as did a representative of “Fundamentalists Anonymous.” I have little patience for such drivel, sorry to say. Anyone familiar with the cultural background would know - the revolutionary stance that Christianity took relative to women. I find it very offensive when people “pontificate” on matters when they have never taken the time to do the necessary background study to give them the authority to make such statements. Such is the case here. Women were nothing more than property in the ancient culture in which Christianity found itself. They were not “persons” of equal standing before God. The Gospel narratives make this very clear. Jesus treated women as women individuals who were created in God’s image and were of worth as people. He elevated them far above anything that was known at the time, or even today!
The modern critic, however, is zeroing in on the fact that the Bible, old fashioned book that it is, naively suggests that there is a difference between men and women, and that God designed that difference for a reason. Gracious! How backwards! How out-of-date! I do hope I can get my tongue out of my cheek, but this is the very objection that is being made. Since the Bible does not conform to modern, liberal standards of “unisex" and “liberated women" then it must be archaic! Hardly! My wife is happy to be a woman and I’m happy to be a man and I sure am glad my wife is a woman and she’s glad that I’m a man! God made us differently and we don’t try to play around with God’s design. He has a purpose for it, and his purpose in my opinion is very wise.
The New Testament presents women as co-heirs right along with the men in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. See if you can find that in any culture of the day! Interestingly enough. McKinsey’s citation of Ephesians 5 ends with only the woman’s duties to her husband, but does not include what is an amazing passage for a Jewish man like Paul to write: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Eph. 5:25, 29, 33). This is a “demeaning status"??? Hardly!
14. How can Jesus, who is allegedly God, talk to God the Father and yet only one God exist?
Answer to Question #14: The Trinity
Since we provide tapes and information on the subject of the Trinity and its basis in the Bible, I will not take too much time here to deal with this objection. However, for some reason, critics seem to enjoy taking “shots” at that which they know precious little about, and the Tri-Une nature of God seems to be a favorite target. Therefore a brief answer is in order.
The Bible is abundantly clear on the fact that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10 etc.). It is also beyond serious dispute that three persons are called by the one title of God in the New Testament - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now, some have denied the separate personhood of the Three, but the Bible will not allow for this. The Father is a Person, the Son another Person, and the Spirit the third Person. McKinsey calls this a “rationalization” which is OK since it is rational and it conforms to the Biblical evidence. Therefore we have one God presented to us in three Persons. This can be seen in a multitude of facts, one of which is that the Father is identified as Jehovah, the Son also is identified as Jehovah (Isaiah 6/John 12:41 is one example) and the Spirit is said to share in that same name as the Father and Son (Matthew 28:19). Now, given the fact that the Bible teaches an infinite God, there is no problem with three co-equal and co-eternal persons sharing the one Being that is God. The anti-theist may not be able to comprehend this, but that does not make it untrue. We cannot comprehend eternity, but that does not mean that eternity does not exist. I suggest the study of our tape "The Tri-Une Nature of God” as well as our material on the Deity of Christ (series title: “Son of God, Lord of Glory") and our information sheet “Is Jesus Yahweh?”
Answering Common Questions and Objections Part 1 - Vintage
11/07/2012 - James White
1. Why are people today being punished for Adam’s sin? Why do women have to endure pain in childbirth because of Eve’s sin, especially in the light of Deuteronomy 24:16 and other references?
Answer to Question #1: Original sin.
Few doctrines come under more consistent and heavy fire than that of man’s sin. This is hardly to surprise us, as man does not like to be reminded of his sin, nor of his responsibilities before God. So we can see the basis for such a question about original sin.
First, we are not being “punished" for Adam’s sin. Instead, we are living with the consequences of Adam’s sin. There is a big difference between them. God does not punish someone else for Adam’s sin, and if someone thinks he does, that person is mistaken. First, we must remember that in the Eastern culture of the peoples of the Bible, we do not encounter the fierce individualism that marks the Western mindset. Rather, we see much more of a communal system. The individual is subserviated to the good of the whole. So, when Achan sinned (Joshua 7:20) he was punished by death and his whole family perished with him. They were not punished, but they experienced the results of Achan’s sin. They were not said to he guilty, but Achan, as the head of his house, was their representative, and what he did was considered to be their responsibility as well.
The same goes for Adam. As our representative, Adam fell, and (according to Paul in Romans 5) we fell with him. We are not punished for his one act - rather, we live in a world that is completely affected by that act. Now, the Christian message is that God, in his mercy, is willing to do the same again - this time with our representative as Jesus Christ. We can have the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ when we are united with him (Romans 5:12-19).
Therefore, it is inaccurate to say that we are punished in Adam’s place or for Adam’s sin. Of course, the anti-theist may reply, but that’s not fair! Why should I live in a messed-up world because of what someone else did?” That is true - it’s not fair. It is not fair that an innocent person dies when a drunk crosses the line and collides with the innocent person’s car. But it happens. It is also not fair that God would allow anyone salvation in Jesus Christ. Mercy is not fair. So, if we want only justice, we are in big trouble, for there is none righteous, no not one. I’m glad God shows mercy, fair or not!
2. How could two perfect beings, Adam and Eve, have sinned?
Answer to Question #2: Adam’s Fall
This is an extremely common question which is based on a purely false assumption. Indeed, the Christian must learn to recognize the false assumptions that underlie most of atheistic thinking, and be prepared to point those errors out. This question provides us with a classic example of this.
The flawed assumption inherent in this question is as follows: if a perfect being sins, then that being was not perfect to begin with. Or, in other words, Adam and Eve’s “perfection" also made it impossible for them to sin. The question is, where does the Bible say that? Where does the Bible say that Adam and Eve could not sin? Where does
it say that because God created them innocent that they did not have the ability to sin? On what basis can we say that if something created by God and proclaimed by him to he "good" sins, then it wasn’t perfect? As you can see, we have to assume that perfection = inability to sin, and therefore, the inability to choose! This means that the only beings God could create that were perfect are those who have no personal choice. But we are now seeing the foolishness of this line of reasoning. There is no basis for stating that perfection includes within it the inability to become imperfect. Besides all of this, where does the Bible use the term "perfect” of Adam and Eve in this context? It doesn’t. Always remember this kind of false logic when dealing with anti-theists - it will come up every single time!
3. Christians claim that in order to be saved you must accept Jesus as your savior. If so, then how are babies who die in infancy, the mentally infirm, those who lived before Jesus, and those who lived in the New World before missionaries arrived, saved, and how could God be just if he condemned people because of where or when they were born?
Answer to Question #3: The Pygmies in Africa
Few Christians have been able to avoid this type of question that basically objects to the specificity of salvation in Jesus Christ. The lost do not like Jesus’ claim to be the “way, the truth, and the life, and they constantly bring this question up. Two things - first, Christians need to do better in their understanding of God and sin to he able to deal with this, and second, we must again deal with a false assumption at this point as well.
The first and most basic thing that must be asserted is the holiness of God. God is holy, and he is sovereign, and has the perfect right to do with his creation as he sees fit. God does not sit before the judgment bar of man’s reason or man’s sense of what is right and wrong. Instead, our senses and reasoning must be attuned to his. I say this because many Christians are afraid to state what the Bible says so clearly: "The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth..." (Psalm 135:6).
The most basic error in thinking in this question is the idea that God somehow “owes" everyone an equal chance at salvation. This error is so common that many Christians have fallen into it. It is wrong to think that God owes us anything - salvation is a matter of grace, and grace is never “owed." God did not have to save anyone at all - he could have allowed us to go on our way, under his judgment and wrath. He did not have to devise the plan of salvation. He did because of his mercy, grace, and love. But we must remember that he did not have to provide salvation for anyone. Given this we can see the problem with the above question - it is based on the false assumption that God owes everyone salvation - he doesn’t. This brings up the question of those who have not heard the gospel. Can God possibly condemn someone who has never heard the Gospel? The Biblical answer is, yes, he can. God does not judge on the basis of whether one has or has not heard the Gospel - sin is the criterion, and all have sinned. We must remember that all are condemned regardless of the matter of having heard or not heard. Only God’s grace and mercy makes possible the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. How can we complain that God shows his mercy to some and not to all? This would be like faulting the governor of a state who extends a pardon to one man on death row. Would we be right to say, "he pardoned one, but he is unfair because he did not pardon the other 65 people who are condemned to die”? Of course not, since the governor was under no compulsion to pardon the one that he did. In the same way, God is under no compulsion to save anyone, so how can we get angry with him when he saves some and not all? Every man receives either justice or mercy - none receive injustice.
The question above also asked about infants and mentally incompetent individuals. The Bible does mention an “age of accountability as we call it, where a youth knows the difference between good and evil and is responsible for that decision (Isaiah 7:15- 16). Little is said other than this. Therefore, we have little to go on in discussing the condition of the infant or the mentally incompetent. Since they have made no conscious decisions against God, it is inconceivable that they undergo any kind of punishment. Rather, it is clear that they are ushered into the presence of the Lord. Huldreich Zwingli felt that all who died in infancy or who were mentally incompetent were of the elect of God, and I feel comfortable with that idea. Now, of course, anyone who asks you this question is neither an infant, nor mentally incompetent, nor someone who has never heard the Gospel, so they cannot hide from the clear implications of the Gospel in their lives.
In our radio debate, McKinsey pushed the idea that since Jesus said that no man comes to the Father but by him, and babies can’t accept Jesus, then they must to hell. I tried to point out to Mr. McKinsey that people are punished for sin; babies have committed no sin, therefore how could they be punished? At that point Mr. McKinsey said, “I don’t know where you got the idea that you had to be a sinner in order to go to hell - you go to hell not because of your acts - you go to hell because of whether or not you accept Jesus.” I tried to get him to see that Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 is in reference to all men because all have sinned, not in reference to those who died in infancy and never committed sin. Interestingly enough, this is what McKinsey would call an “extra-biblical” topic, and he claims to avoid such topics. The Bible nowhere says "Babies go to hell" - McKinsey is making up his own ideas as he goes along on this one. Since he has created a position that is not biblical, am I not just as safe to say the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all infants and mental incompetents? I could say that if I wished (if someone simply would not allow for babies to be innocent - i.e., have a sin nature while not yet being guilty of individual sin).
McKinsey added something about escaping via Romans 1 and 2. His comments show that again he knows little of Biblical theology. Romans 1:18-20 definitely says that man is inexcusable before God. But McKinsey makes it sound as if the biblicist will say that ‘belief in God and inherently knowing the good’ is how we “escape” from this dilemma. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and no good apologist would make that statement.
4. How could Noah (Genesis 6:9) and Job (1:1) have been perfect if all have sinned (Romans 3:23)?
Answer to Question #4: Perfection and Sinlessness
Little time need he spent on this, as it is clearly answered by asking the question, “why do you equate perfection and sinlessness?” The Hebrew terms used in these passages do not mean sinlessness. Rather, the Hebrew word is tarn, which refers to completeness, not sinless perfection. When applied to man, it would refer to a complete man with moral integrity (see Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon for details). Also, we see that Noah offered sacrifices (Genesis 8:20) as did Job, for it was his “regular custom” (Job 1:5). Why would these men sacrifice if they did not know of their own sin?
5. How could Paul have said we are saved through faith in Jesus when Jesus himself repeatedly said good works are the pre-requisite?
Answer to Question #5: Grace and Works
Pauline theology most definitely teaches that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Paul does emphasize good works for the Christian, but those works always follow - salvation and are the results of the indwelling Spirit - good works are never the pre-requisite of gaining salvation. The above question posits a contradiction between Paul and Jesus at this point. But does such a contradiction exist?
By no means!
When asked by the Jews “What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’ (John 6:28-29). Note that the “work” Jesus mentions is belief - faith! Jesus never taught that a man could come to God by his works, nor that good works brought salvation. Instead, he taught that he was the way to God, and that salvation was by faith in his atoning sacrifice (John 3, etc). Therefore, the skeptic’s question is again seen to be based on a falsehood - the assumption that Jesus taught works-salvation. Now, certainly, if one wishes to sacrifice context, and if one assumes that Jesus was inconsistent with himself, then one could assert that Jesus taught works salvation. But if one takes Jesus’ words at face value, and examines the context and over-all meaning of his teaching, one will quickly see that Jesus, and his foremost disciple, Paul, were completely in agreement on this most vital subject. The burden of evidence, then, lies with the skeptic to prove that Jesus taught what he asserts above. It is clear, though, that such an assertion is false.
6. Ask someone if they believe. The answer is nearly always yes. Then ask if they would be willing to drink arsenic or handle deadly snakes since Mark 16:18 says, those who believe shall take up serpents and drink any deadly thing with impunity.
Answer to Question #6: Demonstrating how little one knows.
I saw an entire little “tract” built around this theme once - I cannot express in words the stupidity of such a question, and I sometimes wonder why I bother even dealing with it. But, it does crop up once in a while (rarely from an honest person) and therefore it should be addressed.
The first and most obvious thing is the simple fact that Mark 16:9-20 is not included in the best and most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, and it is not included in the actual text of most modern editions of the Bible. (For further information on this, write and request our information sheet entitled Mark 16:9-20: Scripture or Not?) But, I have learned that it is fruitless to expect anti-theists to be willing to study such subjects as textual criticism, so it does not bother them that they are using a passage that is not original in the Bible. What is worse, many of the believers they encounter are not aware of textual criticism either, and therefore such inane, senseless, and idiotic questions as the above tend to carry more weight with the uninformed Christians. Of course, such questions as the above completely discredit the questioner in the eyes of anyone who has done more than a cursory study of the Bible.
7. How can Numbers 23:19 and I Samuel 15:29 (both stating that God does not repent) be reconciled with Exodus 32:14 and I Samuel 15:35 (which say that he does)?
Answer to Question #7: Repentance and God.
This is again a rather common question. The answer lies, of course, in realizing that the context of the usage of any word must be examined before a “contradiction” can be alleged. We must also examine the meaning of the term itself, for words can be used in different contexts with different emphases. This is especially so in Hebrew which uses one word in one form for one meaning, and then turns around and uses the same word with a completely different meaning a little later on. This is not as common in Greek, but since we are dealing with the Old Testament here, that is irrelevant.
The Hebrew term nacham is used to express a range of meanings, from the idea of “relenting" or “repenting" to "grieving" and “being sorry.” It can mean a changing of the mind or simply a permissive action, all depending on the context of the passage. Now, atheists like to make fun of the fact that the Hebrews could use a word within one minute in two different ways, but this objection does not weigh much with those who have studied the subject. Indeed, if one would take the time and trouble to learn to read Hebrew writing, one would be better able to determine if the objection is right or wrong. And notice also the fact that in the last two sentences I used two sets of words with completely different meanings (ways/weigh; writing/right). I doubt anyone was confused by those words because the context was clear in each instance. We normally assume that a person who is relating a story does not desire to contradict himself - in other words, we give the writer the benefit of the doubt.
This can clearly be seen in the example given by the question itself: 1 Samuel 15:29 and I Samuel 15:35. Here the writer uses the term nacham in two different settings - first, in verse 29, in reference to God’s unchanging purposes and will - that of the fact that God would tear the kingdom from Saul. Only seven verses later the author writes, “And Jehovah was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.” The context is completely different. In the first we are told what God does not do - that is, change. In verse 35 we are told that God experiences sorrow over Saul and his state. Given the range of meaning of the word itself, and the fact that it is completely illogical to assume that the same author would contradict himself within seven short verses, the objector is left searching for some reason for his objection; unless, of course, we assume guilt a priori, something that no one does with any other book of antiquity. Why the Bible is treated differently is left unanswered. However, when one admits the possibility of harmonization and the idea that accounts can be complimentary, many objections fade away.
Dealing with Common Questions and Objections - Vintage
11/07/2012 - James White
Having finished the published debate itself, I will now turn to dealing with some of the common questions and tactics utilized by anti-theists when talking with Christians about the Bible. Notice first of all that I have used the term anti-theist. Many atheists like to say that they have no beliefs, hence they have nothing to defend. But, if atheists have no beliefs, how can they write books about atheism? How can they publish monthly periodicals attacking the Bible? Are they not by doing so asserting something even if that something is negative? Of course they are. So, when dealing with people such as Mr. McKinsey using the term anti-theist is perfectly accurate. It is clearly Mr. McKinsey’s goal to destroy any trust in the Bible and, by so doing, belief in God. Therefore, he is rightly called an anti-theist.
In the final installment of Mr. McKinsey’s response to my letters he suggested I deal with the issues raised in an earlier issue of BE. Since the fourteen questions listed by Mr. McKinsey are some of the most common raised by skeptics and atheists, I will take his advice and deal with these questions. I will begin by listing the questions, taking the liberty to edit them to be the most representative possible. I will then provide some possible answers for each.
1. Why are people today being punished for Adam’s sin? Why do women have to endure pain in childbirth because of Eve’s sin, especially in the light of Deuteronomy 24:16 and other references?
2. How could two perfect beings, Adam and Eve, have sinned? (Mr. McKinsey adds here, The usual reply that they had free will is of no substance. They can have all the free will desired, but if they chose to sin then they weren’t perfect.)
3. Christians claim that in order to he saved you must accept Jesus as your savior. If so, then how are babies who die in infancy, the mentally infirm, those who lived before Jesus, and those who lived in the New World before missionaries arrived, saved, and how could God be just if he condemned people because of where or when they were born? (McKinsey adds, “Don’t let them escape via Romans 1 and 2. Belief in God and good works does not save. Only belief in Jesus. If belief in God and inherently knowing the good is all that’s required, then many non-Christians are included).
4. How could Noah (Genesis 6:9) and Job (1:1) have been perfect if all have sinned (Romans 3:23)?
5. How could Paul have said we are saved through faith in Jesus when Jesus himself repeatedly said good works are the pre-requisite?
6. (I include this one only to show the insanity of some of these types of questions). Ask someone if they believe. The answer is nearly always yes. Then ask if they would be willing to drink arsenic or handle deadly snakes since Mark 16:18 says, those who believe shall take up serpents and drink any deadly thing with impunity.
7. How can Numbers 23:19 and / Samuel 15:29 (both stating that God does not repent) be reconciled with Exodus 32:14 and I Samuel 15:35 (which say that he does)?
8. How can Exodus 33:20 and John 1:18 (both stating that no one can see God) be reconciled with Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 which say that men have seen God? (One might add numerous other references to seeing God, such as Isaiah 6:1).
9. How can the resurrection be so important when others were raised before Jesus was?
10. How can Jesus be our perfect savior when he made many false and deceptive statements such as John 7:8-10), Luke 23:43 (you will be with me in paradise today) Matthew 5:22 and Mark 8:34 (at this point McKinsey says “take up a nonexistent cross.” What he means by that is a mystery)?
11. How can the Bible be the epitome of morality and virtue when it uses profanity such as that found in 2 Kings 18:27, Ezekiel 23:20-21 and Song of Solomon 5:4?
12. How can the various accounts of the Resurrection be reconciled?
13. How can women support the Bible in light of the demeaning status accorded them in I Corinthians 11:3, 9, Ephesians 5:22-24, and other appropriate verses?
14. How can Jesus, who is allegedly God, talk to God the Father and yet only one God exist? (McKinsey adds “Don’t let biblicists escape with the rationalization that there is only one God but three persons.")
Obviously many others could be added to this list and we will address other questions at a later point. But, since Mr. McKinsey suggested dealing with them, and as they do pose a fairly representative sample of the kind of questions posed by hostile non-believers, they will do for our present purposes.
3rd Reply to James White from Mr. McKinsey - Vintage
11/06/2012 - James White
(The following is Mr. McKinsey’s lengthy response to the first section of the above letter as it appears in the April 1987 edition of BiblicalErrancy).
Dear JW. After several months of correspondence it’s rather obvious, but unfortunate, that you have a notable array of shortcomings including a failure to listen very well, a strong propensity to belabor points that have already been answered, a tendency to uncritically parrot pat answers learned in Bible class and/or seminary, a deceptive and dishonest inclination to build strawmen for appearances sake, a poor grasp of logical processes in key areas, an attraction to glittering generalities rather than evidence, and a lamentable lack of comprehension of the overall imbroglio in which you find yourself. You hear what you want to hear, what you have been told to internalize. Your letters exude a distinct aura of deja vu and reek with examples of each failing. Apparently, you still don’t understand the problem but I’ll go through it one more time as succinctly as possible. Hopefully the audience can endure the repetition. I’m tempted to say, just re-read our correspondence and you’ll see the error of your ways, but I don’t think you’d do that any more than you’d read all of our back issues as I suggested. First, I never said, much less insisted, there was a textual variation in the Hebrew at Isaiah 7:14 nor did I say there was a textual variant between Matt. 19:18 KJ (‘Thou shalt not murder”) and Rom. 13:9 KJ (“Thou shalt not kill”). You attributed a position to me and then proceeded to dismantle your strawman. I never said the dispute was over text rather than rendering nor did I say how the contradiction arose. All I said was that a contradiction existed. Specifically, I stated the following which you chose to ignore. “You said there was no difference between Matt. 19:18 and Rom. 13:9 because both came from ‘ou phoneuseis’ in Greek... The translators of the KJV say ‘murder’ is the proper word in Matt. 19:18. while ‘kill’ is the best term to use in Rom. 13:9. Are you saying they don’t know the difference, that they don’t know how to translate? Are you saying you know Greek and Hebrew better than those who assembled the KJV? They say there is a difference, while you say there isn’t....several of the newest versions agree with the King James....8 The dispute as to whether ‘almah' in Isaiah 7:14 means a ‘virgin’ or a ‘young woman’ has never been resolved, I could become one of the world’s greatest Hebrew/Greek scholars and still find many knowledgeable people who disagree with my interpretation. So who is right? Who knows Greek and Hebrew best? 9 Many of these men have devoted decades to these languages (far more years than the 24 you have lived--Ed.) (Issue #44, p. 4). Later on page 4 of Issue 46 I provided three reasons translators may disagree with your equating of Matt. 19:18 with Rom. 13:9: (a) you picked inaccurate manuscripts, (b) you chose accurate manuscripts with identical words having different meanings, or (c) the original text is so imprecise as to be susceptible to several interpretations. As I stated months ago, your disagreement is with your colleagues as much as me. If all the manuscripts say “ou phoneuseis” as you contend and the words have identical meanings as you allege, then you have only scaled two lesser hurdles to reach an even higher barrier, namely, what does the Greek mean. If scholars can’t agree on how to translate the manuscripts, even though there are no textual differences, then what the text says is of no consequence. Locating the problem’s source is of less importance to this publication than noting the fact that it exists. If recognized experts give contradictory interpretations of the same words, then we have a problem equal in magnitude to that of contradictions between manuscripts. That’s the hurdle you either refuse to recognize or can’t surmount. If you think you have the solution then tell us what Matt. 19:18, Rom 13:9, and Isa. 7:14 say in English. 10 Whatever response you give will prove you view yourself as more knowledgeable in Greek and Hebrew than recognized experts in the field. If so, I again recommend that you write your own version of the Bible as did Wycliffe, Tyndale. Know, Lamsa, Moffatt, and Fenton. If you’re as capable as you seem to believe, then follow their lead and by all means send me a copy. You don’t seem to realize that translating or rendering is as serious a problem as disagreements among manuscripts. Contradictions in one instance are as fatal as in the other. What difference would it make if there were no contradictions among the manuscripts if authorities still couldn’t agree on what they said; the practical result would be the same.
You erroneously created a strawman when you said I accused you of picking “inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available.” In point (b) above I repeated my original charge that your fellow apologists many (sic?) so contend. You also erred with another strawman when you said I “postulated a difference in meaning between the two instances of the same word,” i.e. “ou phoneuseis.” I postulated nothing of the sort.11 I originally said in point (c) above that your critics or fellow apologists may see a difference in meaning between two instances of the same word. On page 4 of Issue 46 1 noted that the word "pound” could have many different meanings. Your problem is with your colleagues while BE is primarily concerned with the bottom line, the contradiction that’s present. Whether its among manuscripts or interpretations of those manuscripts is of secondary importance. The result is the same. People don’t know what to believe. Even if the Greek/Hebrew manuscripts were in unison throughout, which is by no means true, the Bible would still be of no value in many areas because of contradictions within and between versions. 12
Second, with reference to these same verses, I stated that the problems problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude you, JW” (sic) and you responded by sending me two of your papers on textual criticism. How two textually critical papers on topics A and B, assuming they are valid throughout, proves your analysis with respect to topic C is correct, eludes me, JW.13 Using that kind of logic I might as well not grade Johnny’s paper because he got 100’s on the last two. Isn’t that known as a non sequitor?
Logic is also sadly deficient when you challenge me "to dispute the findings of such scholars as Bruce Metzger, Kurt Aland...." You mean I’m supposed to research their data? That’s your responsibility, not mine. Since the burden of proof lies on he who alleges, you, not I, are obligated to provide the findings. Imagine a defense attorney in court doing nothing more than saying, "I have three witnesses corroborating my client’s testimony. Prove them wrong." What do you think the judge would say? I seriously doubt he would instruct the prosecutor to research their data to see if it’s true. 14
Third, and in close conjunction with what has gone before, is your attraction to glittering generalities and summations to the jury without evidence. 15 You said I "did not at all deal with the facts... relevant to our main discussion” which is wholly inaccurate. I not only dealt with them but did so in some detail. The problem is that you didn’t like what you heard and chose to ignore that which did not fit your preconceptions of biblical criticism. 16 I again recommend that you re-read our dialogue, especially my responses in Issues 44, 46, and 47. You made a blanket indictment of some comments I made on page 4 of Issue 46 without providing evidence to the contrary. Specifically you denounced my disbelief that the original writings ever existed, my belief that textual criticism involves educated guesses, and my assertion that apologists can’t prove with certainty that most contradictions are the result of copyist errors. 17 Yet, you provided nothing than another demeaning generalization with respect to my knowledge of the field. It’s not that I “demonstrate a lamentable lack of knowledge of the field” hut that you demonstrate not only a lamentable lack of evidence for your sweeping generalizations and those of the people you quote with a mindset indicative of those who have been told what to accept as valid criticism and reply. Your repetition of the common apologetic defense that variations in the text provide “the means of its own correction” is not only notably unsubstantiated by concrete examples but exposed by my “homicide detective” analogy. Following your logic, one could more accurately recreate the “original manuscripts" as the number of contradictions and inconsistencies between and within manuscripts increased. I’ve never seen a solid example of this apologetic ploy which receives a lot of play but no proof. It’s comparable to saying that “the more chaotic things become the clearer they are.” 18
Incidentally, you built another strawman by intentionally giving a misleading impression of what I said regarding the original writings. I did not flatly state they never existed. I said there is little reason to believe they did. As in an earlier discussion of Jesus, which you apparently refuse to read, I never said he didn’t exist; I said there is practically no extrabiblical evidence that he did.
In essence, then, if you want to contend there is no contradiction in the Greek manuscripts between Matt. 19:18 and Rom. 13:9 while admitting these verses should be stricken from the Bible because reliable, non-contradictory interpretations don’t exist, I have no objection in this instance or others we could discuss. The result is the same. The verses mean nothing because nobody definitely knows what they are saying; only contradictory translations exist.
Again, if you’re sure you know their correct meaning, then, by all means, translate them into English.
I look favorably upon this discussion in general and the kill/murder example in particular because they strike at the heart of the Greek/Hebrew escapist defense and the basic fallacy contained therein. The principle underlying this discussion is also applicable to other verses of crucial importance.
In concluding, several additional observations are in order. First, you’re not really interested in objective scholarship and a comprehensive discussion of the Bible, JW, as much as forcing me to say uncle on one point. This accounts for your narrow focus and intense concentration. Your limited range of concern and failure to confront the substantive issues I’ve posed in prior issues only confirms my belief that you’re insecure in other areas and, like VT in earlier issues, are desperately trying to put me on the defensive. VT became almost obsessed with his “Sabbath Days Journey” problem to the exclusion of all else. If I followed that tactic, many an apologist could be nailed to the wall while many readers would become thoroughly bored with the repetition. One might have some respect for your scholarship if you discussed a far wider range of issues as do more capable apologists such as Gleason Archer, Josh McDowell, and Norman Geisler. They exhibit more intellectual honesty by facing a much broader spectrum. 19 On page 5 of November’s issue (#47) 1 said “I’d especially like for you to address more substantive problems such as most of those posed on pages 2 and 3 of Issue #34.” So far, your silence has been deafening. Literally hundreds of statements with respect to the Bible’s validity have been made throughout the history of this publication and the fact that your criticisms have been so narrow in scope is practically an endorsement of the 98% outside of your purview. Second, having read several issues of Alpha and Omega’s publication and witnessed the dearth of meaningful material contained therein, I’d say you’d do well to look homeward before complaining about other periodicals being intellectually wanting. 20
And finally, please don’t send critical letters while asking that they not be published. We prefer open debate so all can judge for themselves. Moreover, insufficient time is available for protracted off-camera discussions with single individuals. 21
End of Debate
[Note: On July 18th, 1987 Mr. McKinsey appeared on The Dividing Line, the radio ministry of Alpha and Omega Ministries. I brought up the main issue that we debated above - that of the supposed contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Mr. McKinsey was completely unable to defend his original charge at all - he had rather to go to a discussion of translations just as he did above. He masterfully avoided answering my question when I asked him if he was aware of the fact that Jesus and Paul had said the same thing before I had written to him. I do not believe that he did, but he would not answer that question when put to him. The best Mr. McKinsey could do was to challenge me to write my own translation and send it to him for his review, Since he admitted on the air that he could not read Greek or Hebrew. I’m not sure how he could evaluate such a project anyway. Should you wish to hear the discussion. write and ask for the tape from Alpha and Omega Ministries.]
8. What Mr. McKinsey seems ignorant of here is the fact that translations are not done by one big group sitting around discussing these things. Rather, translations are done by groups - one group might do the Gospels, another the Pauline epistles. etc. Therefore. it is impossible to say that the KJV translators specifically meant to differentiate between these two passages. Further, McKinsey will on numerous occasions accuse me of being in disagreement with scholars who are far better trained than I. He accuses me of putting myself up as some sort of expert. Problem is. McKinsey never sites so much as one “expert" who disagrees with me. Not once!
9. It absolutely must be pointed our here exactly what Mr. McKinsey is doing. Aside from the fact that everything Mr. McKinsey is here bringing up has already been answered in previous letters. I must point out that Mr. McKinsey is here abandoning his original charge and coming up with another one, and then faulting me for not addressing an issue that I never intended to address in the first place. If the reader will look back at the original quotations from Biblical Errancy, one will discover that what Mr. McKinsey first said was as follows: "Jesus and Paul can't seem to agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment regarding killing." Now that it has been shown conclusively that Jesus and Paul did agree on the wording of the commandment (as McKinsey admitted above). He is forced to change his original charge - now he is dealing with what he sees as “problems in translation.” What does that have to do with his original charge? Nothing, absolutely nothing. What people 2,000 years later would do in translating ou phoneuseis into a language that didn't even exist yet was probably of little concern to Paul or to Jesus. Jesus and Paul were in perfect agreement as to what the 6th Commandment said - McKinsey is shown to be wrong, but is just as obviously unwilling to admit it. When I began corresponding with him, it was my intention to deal only with the issues and not with a lot of side issues. McKinsey will criticize me for so doing, mainly to direct attention away from the fact that it is he who has avoided the real issue.
10. Can you imagine someone faulting Shakespeare for writing something in English that is difficult to translate into German? Can you imagine saying that the difficulty in translation from English to German is as serious as not knowing what it says in English? That is exactly what McKinsey is saying here.
11. I will leave it to the individual reader to decide whether Mr. McKinsey is correct in charging me with the creation of 'strawmen’ as he puts it. The implications of Mr. McKinsey’s words in his last response were very clear.
12. Therefore, anything not written in English is useless, for there will always be so-called "translational difficulties" present! Good logic!
13. Again Mr. McKinsey misses the whole point (or rather, changes the point of discussion in the middle of the river) - he had stated that the "problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude” me, and I simply provided him with evidence that he was wrong. I am, very familiar with the process of textual criticism and have taught informal seminars on that subject. The papers sent to him simply proved that he was wrong in saying that I was unfamiliar with the area of textual criticism.
14. The problem is, it was Mr. McKinsey who was attacking the Bible and the subject of textual criticism. It was he who was making completely unfounded and untrue allegations, and it was he who was showing an abysmal ignorance of the entire subject of textual criticism. Therefore, since it was he who was alleging, it is he who must provide the data. The simple fact is Mr. McKinsey is completely unable to deal with the facts as presented by the above mentioned scholars.
15. I must admit guilt at this point. I did attempt to be as brief as possible, and I also assumed that my opponent in the debate would be aware of the scholarly material on the subject. In respect to the latter point, I was obviously wrong - Mr. McKinsey proved himself to be very unfamiliar with the scholarly arena of discussion. Relevant to the former point, I made the mistake of trying to keep my responses brief due to the fact that BE is only six type-written pages long. I could have sent McKinsey pages and pages and pages of documentation and writing - but very little of it would have been printed. So, I stayed on the issue and tried to summarize the argument as much as possible. Mr. McKinsey will spend quite some time criticizing me for this.
16. It is amusing to note that this statement is a fantastic attempt of a “glittering generality” and a "summation” without any evidence. Mr. McKinsey does not know what I am thinking, nor why I react in certain ways, so he has no basis upon which to say this.
17. Actually. Mr. McKinsey did not mention anything about contradictions relevant to “copyist errors” - if you wilt reference his original comment, he was talking about textual variants, not contradictions. There is a world of difference there.
18. Here again Mr. McKinsey shows absolutely no familiarity with textual criticism. The use of ”famities" of manuscripts that contain similar variants (Alexandrian, Western, Byzantine, etc.) in textual criticism is very common amongst all who have taken the time to study it. Mr. McKinsey seemingly has not taken that time.
19. Here Mr. McKinsey is forced to throw in the proverbial “red herring’ to get the attention off of the fact that he is avoiding the issue even to the point of deleting half of my letter. I believe the reason for the deletion of that section of the letter is clear - he could not answer the clear errors he had made. Now he attacks me for not having dealt with three years worth of his publications. And just how was I supposed to do that? If Mr. McKinsey would provide me with half of his publication each month, I would gladly deal with the various points he has brought up in the past. As it is, I have been unable to see any other single person get more space in BE than I did in our debate, Mr. McKinsey, of course, would not be aware of the fact that I have dealt with the vast majority of his attacks on the Bible in the past as they we're brought up by members of various pseudo-Christian cult groups that I have been involved in evangelizing. But the point again is this - I wrote to Mr. McKinsey on three specific points. Why should I be faulted for following that topic to its conclusion? Is it my fault that Mr. McKinsey made as many substantive errors as he did in his replies?
20. I could fault Mr. McKinsey for not having dealt with the many issues brought up in our publication of The Dividing Line to which McKinsey here alludes - but I won’t. That would be using his logic.
21. Mr. McKinsey is here referring to the letters I had written to him asking if he was going to ever print this final letter, I also mentioned in one letter one other issue relevant to the "King James Only” controversy, to which he must be referring here.
3rd Letter to Mr. McKinsey from Dr. James White - Vintage
11/06/2012 - James White
Quickly, in reference to your material on immortality and eternal life, I would like to simply point out that you again made two very basic, factual errors. You referenced Mark 9:17 and John 10:20, indicating that my explanation of the usage of echon was in error due to the use of echon in these two passages. Unfortunately, echon is not used in either passage, as anyone familiar with the language could see. Echon at 1 Timothy 6:16 is in the present participle active nominative singular masculine form; the word at Mark 9:17 is echonta, the present participle active accusative singular masculine form (a completely different case), and the word at John 10:20 is not even a participle - it is a finite verb, echei. Hence, you completely misidentified the two examples you listed, while continuing to ignore the factual presentation I made concerning the syntax of the participle at 1 Tim. 6:16.
Finally, you wrote, “You also dwell on ad hominem comments to such an extent that if it continues you could notice a change in the tenor of my responses.” Seemingly, you have arbitrarily decided that when I point out errors on your part in regards to subjects that you are ignorant of (there is nothing wrong with being ignorant of something as long as you don’t try to act like you know what you are talking about) I am being “patronizing” and utilizing "ad hominem” argumentation. When you question my information and make ad hominem comments about me, you are simply debating. I have pointed out on a factual level that you made errors in the topics under discussion - if you can only respond by charging me with patronization and ad hominem argumentation while threatening me with a “change in the tenor” of your responses, I hardly see that further discussion is advisable. If you will admit your factual errors, and come up with facts and documentation of your own to support your charges, maybe we could continue this debate in the way debates are supposed to run. Till you are able to deal with this subject on a scholarly level, I thank you for your time and the opportunity of discussing this issue.
7. I did not go into depth in dealing with all the facts that demonstrate Mr. McKinsey’s errors at this point See footnote #1 for suggested sources for scholarly information on this subject. BE is only six pages long, and I could have filled all six pages with documentation on any one of the areas I here listed. Of course, Mr. McKinsey, in his response, will criticize my brevity, but as he knew, I could not send him a letter that was excessively long. Any person who bothers to read even an introductory text on the subject of textual criticism will he able to see Mr. McKinsey’s errors.
2nd Reply to James White from Mr. McKinsey - Vintage
11/05/2012 - James White
Mr. McKinsey's response to the above letter as contained in the October and November issues of "Biblical Errancy."
Dear JW. So many of your comments warrant analysis that one hardly knows where to begin. (1) You state that there is no reason to suppose that Jesus' original command to his disciples was meant to be eternal. But what else could have been intended when he said "I am not sent but unto?" If you're going to employ this line of defense you're going to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Literally thousands of biblical statements will be brought into question. One could ignore any biblical maxim by simply saying it only applied to the individuals directly involved and the period in which it was uttered. If the absolutist nature of many biblical teachings is jettisoned, the structure will begin to disintegrate. One could argue, for example, that the "Thou's" in the Ten Commandments only apply to the persons being directly addressed. Secondly, what evidence do you have that it was not eternal? I see no such qualifier in the text. You talk about a "supposition"; yet, you are supposing something less than eternity when nothing in the text justifies your belief. Thirdly, even if the statement were meant to be valid only for a short period, you have only shown that Jesus changed his mind and strategy. The perfect, omniscient being altered his course! This could he seen as more damaging than a contradiction. Fourth, you said "Jesus could direct His ministry in the best way possible." Yet, one can't help but ask, "What's best about it?" The supposedly prescient, perfect being changed tactics and abandoned a crucial teaching. (2) Your comment that Mal. 3:6 was misapplied and taken out of context has no merit not only because biblicists constantly quote the verse in any context deemed suitable but because it is appropriate. Jesus is God and God does not change his basic nature, which includes consistency. For Jesus to change a basic teaching, especially because it was rejected by those to whom it was directed, would not only be inconsistent but expedient. (3) You accuse me of contending that Jesus changed his mind because of his death and resurrection when that was your position. Remember saying, "Your final statement read, 'Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews'..." This ignores the fact that Jesus' statements were made before his death, burial and resurrection. After that event Jesus said...teach all nations (Issue #44, p. 3). (4) You accuse me of applying unrealistic standards to Jesus when all I'm requesting is consistency. Is that too much to ask of a perfect being? (5) What do you mean by saying, "the gospel was opened up...?" You mean Jesus only came to save the Jews and only turned to the gentiles because the Jews rejected him? You mean we can all be saved only because the Jews eschewed him. (sic) How does it feel to be a consolation prize, separate from God's first choice, especially when this flies in the face of Acts 10:34 and Rom. 2:11 which say God is impartial? (6) Finally, it isn't a question of whether I think this is a contradiction; I know it is. Jesus originally said I am notsenthutunto and later sent his followers to all nations. The "most" whom you contend would not feel this is a contradiction are biblicists and that's to be expected.
Again, JW, your comments are misleading. To begin with, you speak as if you had the autographs (the original writings) in your lap when, in truth, you and your compatriots have never seen them nor have any other living human beings. Apologists concede that they do not exist and I see little reason to believe they ever did. "The autographs are not extant so they must be reconstructed from early manuscripts and versions" (A General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix, p. 237). All scholars have are thousands of manuscripts, codices, lectionaries and other writings purported to be accurate representations of the non-existent originals. How, then, do we know for certain what the originals said? We don't! Scholars only make educated guesses based upon the best evidence available after analyzing and comparing those writings that are available. They boast about the large number of existing NT manuscripts as if this confirmed the reliability of today's NT. "There are now more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the NT. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the NT in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation" (Evidence that Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell, p. 39). "There are no known original manuscripts of the Bible; in fact, none are needed because of the abundance of manuscript copies" (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 267). Yet, they also admit there are over 200,000 disagreements among these writings on what verses should say and what verses should he included. "The multiplicity of manuscripts produces a corresponding number of variant readings, for the more manuscripts that are copied the greater will be the number of copyists' errors.... The gross number of variants increases with every new' manuscript discovery.... To date there are over 200,000 known variants and this figure will do doubt increase in the future as more manuscripts are discovered' (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 360-361). Notice that Geisler and Nix try to diminish the importance of this figure by attributing the variants to just copyist errors which they have no way of proving. They also minimize the problem by contending that some errors are merely repetitious and few have any real bearing on important Christian doctrine which is utterly false. Because of wide variances among manuscripts scholars can't agree on whether the last 12 verses of Mark (which involve some very important tests for belief) should even be in the Bible. They can't agree on whether Isa. 7:14 says virgin or a young woman, which has a direct bearing on the only OT prophecy of a virgin birth. They can't agree on whether the word "yet" should be in John 7:8, which is crucial to Jesus' honesty. One need only read critiques of the latest versions of the Bible written by the King James advocates to see that many disagreements over wording involve important beliefs. Apologists even go so far as to imply that the greater the number of variants the greater the precision. "At first, the great multitude of variants would seem to be a liability to the integrity of the Bible text. But, just the contrary is true, for the larger number of variants supplies at the same time the means of checking on those variants. As strange as it may appear, the corruption of the text provides the means for its own correction (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 366). "Strange is hardly the word; absurd" is much better. Imagine a homicide detective saying his knowledge of what occurred grows as the number of conflicting testimonies increases. Twenty- four thousand manuscripts would provide a tremendous support if they agreed, but when they don't, when over 200,000 disagreements exist, precisely the opposite occurs.1 Secondly, as a result of speaking as if you have the autographs and ignoring manuscript variances, you erroneously conclude that your source is the final authority. You said that if I "have problems with Matt. 19:18/Rom. 13:9" I should bring it up with the translators, not with the Bible. But it is not I but you who should consult with the translators. You said, "both Jesus and Paul said exactly the same thing -- "ou phoneuseis" -- yet translators used different words- - murder and kill -- which you erroneously called synonyms. You mean soldiers in battle and those shooting in self-defense or to protect loved ones are murderers? The translators with whom you disagree might have any one of several reasons for rejecting your interpretation and using "murder" in one instance and "kill" in another. The following are only a few available: (a) You (sic) picked inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available. Some translators might have good reasons for using manuscripts with something other than "ou phoneuseis." For example, 100 manuscripts may have "ou phoneuseis" and 50 something else yet the 50 are preferable because they are far older and closer to the source. (b) "You chose accurate manuscripts but don't realize that identical words can have different meanings." "Pound," for example, can refer to an enclosure for animals, English money, or hitting something, rather than weight, and "hand" can refer to a sailor, part of a clock, a unit of measurement or a game of cards rather than the end of an arm. One "ou phoneuseis" might mean something quite different from another and if you would consult with the translators they might show you why one was translated "murder" and the other "kill." A contradiction could exist even though the words are identical.2 Identical words need not have the same meaning. Context is a major factor. (c) If you manage to surmount these two obstacles as well as others, an even larger one could be looming on the horizon- -the imprecision of the Greek language. If "ou phoneuseis" can mean both "kill" and "murder" as your Greek- English lexicon of the NT says, then the verse means nothing and might just as well be stricken from the Bible. Unless definite guidelines exist by which to determine which is appropriate, and that's highly unlikely in light of the disagreements among the experts, the words can't be translated reliably. How do you know which to use in the English translation - - kill or murder? The distinction is crucial. If they were synonymous in English there would be no problem. But they are not. The problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude you, JW. The large number of disagreements among the major versions on the market today are something biblicists would just as soon avoid for obvious reasons. If people realize experts are at loggerheads over many key points then what is the layman to believe. (sic) Dissension erodes people's faith in the Bible to such an extent that biblicists would rather have you believe in any version than nothing at all.
Your comment with respect to the Jehovah's Witnesses New' World Translation exposes a distinct bias. BE quotes the most prominent versions available regardless of the source. We also quoted the Living Bible and for you to include it among the "truly scholarly editions" borders on the absurd. The NWT, with all its imperfections. is considerably more scholarly than the pathetic paraphrase known as the Living Bible.
You speak of ignorance, JW, when the tapes and literature I received from your organization continually try to make distinctions without differences in order to escape imbroglios. You assert that athanasia applies to Christ while zoen aionion applies to believers. Where does the Bible make such a distinction? First Cor. 15:53-54 says. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immorality (from athanasia -- Ed.)...and this mortal shall have put on immortality,..." As you see athanasia could apply to any believer and need not to be restricted to Jesus. Moreover, several verses show zoen aionion could apply to Jesus and need not be restricted to believers: "God hath given us eternal life (zoen aionion), and this life is in the Son" (1 John 5:11), "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath eternal life" (John 6:54), "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it...and shew unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (John 1:2) [note: McKinsey's citation is in error, it is 1 John 1:2] and 1 John 5:20. If eternal life is in the Son, if eternal life enters one by eating the Son, if Jesus can he called that eternal life which was with the Father, then it's safe to conclude "zoen aionion" can apply to Jesus as well as believers. You said, "Just because you don't understand the difference does not mean it doesn't exist," when the truth is that just because you created one doesn't mean it does. Your interpretation of "echon" (hath) in 1 Tim. 6:16 ("Who only hath immortality) is even more tenuous. On page 4 in the August issue you originally asserted that, "the word translating 'hath' in the KJV of I Tim. 6:16 is a participle in the original, echon, The (sic) continuous action, without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage." Although you are yet to make your point very clear, I assume you meant then, and are repeating now, that echon means Jesus had immortality throughout eternity while others merely obtained it at a point in time. Following your logic, echon (hath) at Mark 9:17 ("my son, which hath a dumb spirit") means his son had a dumb spirit throughout eternity and echon in John 10:20 ("He hath a devil and is mad") means he has been mad throughout eternity. These are only a couple of the many examples available. The question is not when immortality or eternal life is obtained but who has it. First Tim. 6:16 said only Jesus has it. Nearly every major version translates the verb in 1 Tim. 6:16 as "has," "possesses," or "is," and none even imply that the verb requires eternity. If it did then their translators aren't very proficient because that's a major distinction . .judging from the verbs they employed those on translation committees apparently don't see your capricious distinctions either. You need to either get with your apologetic colleagues on these committees and create a consensus version or devise a version of your own. Should you decide on the latter, send me a copy and I'll be glad to critique it.
You have several lamentable habits, JW, including inadequately explaining or proving your position, generating arbitrary distinctions to escape dilemmas, rationalizing the obvious, and patronizing your opponent. You also dwell on ad hominem comments to such an extent that if it continues you could notice a change in the tenor of my responses.
Again, JW, you continue to summarize to the jury before the facts are heard and make misleading or inaccurate statements. (1) You allege BE shows much less research than does material from groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses. Are you comparing newsletter to newsletter or newsletter to books? Have you compared their newsletters to BE, i.e., 6 pages to 6 pages? Have you compared their material to all of my notes, including 3 large loose-leaf binders? (2) Your comment that I obviously borrowed freely from the Jehovah's Witnesses is totally erroneous. I've never needed their literature to notice the same problems with orthodox biblicism. (3) If you wish to reject 1 Peter 1:2, Matt. 28:19 etc. as proofs for the Trinity, I certainly have no objections. Since these are among the few that directly link the three parts of the Godhead and have been interpreted as evidence for trinitarian beliefs, I support your efforts wholeheartedly. A few more comments like that, JW, and perhaps you might want to consider joining us.3 (4) You accuse me of "deliberately deleting" factors and predict that I will "not allow a logical, contextual, and linguistic interpretation of Scriptures." Apparently you consider yourself a long.distance mind-reader and a forecaster of the future as well. (6) You implied I did not address a trinitarian question with respect to the gender of the word "one" in "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) because I had no answer. The real reason was that the question is of little import since the gender of "one" is of less importance than the number. Incidentally, I listened to your trinitarian seminar tape-recording and found little more than typical Christian metaphysics in which rationalization and obfuscation are sold as erudition and perception. However, I do appreciate the fact that you sent your materials.
First, as far as your comment that "I had not demonstrated a single contradiction" is concerned, JW, that's merely an opinion and we all make mistakes. In your current frame of mind I don't think you would admit the Bible has contradictions if Jesus and Paul supported me. Secondly, I've never claimed to be a Greek and Hebrew scholar nor could you. As in-depth knowledge of these languages is not necessary as apologist W. Arndt explained quite well, "With the various revised versions at hand, with an analytical concordance, with reliable commentaries, and with the help of dictionaries of the Bible language, the reader need not know Greek or Hebrew to verify the original meaning of a given passage. He has in his mother tongue the means whereby he may determine the correctness of most of the obscure translations" (BibleDifficulties, page 20). Thirdly, as I've said before, JW, Greek and Hebrew scholars are by no means agreed on what texts say, what they mean, or how they should be translated. You seem to think that by throwing your chips into the Greek/Hebrew basket you are going to emerge with a body of beliefs, teachings, and words resting on granite after emerging from God's mouth. You have succumbed to one of the cornerstones of Christian mythology. Fourthly, your assertion that "classical Hebrew and koine Greek are not changing and evolving" is almost beneath comment. There is nothing so permanent as change and nowhere is this more evident than in languages. No language is fixed in time and above evolution. The classical Hebrew and koine Greek of 100 B.C. were different from those of 100 AD. and both were different from those of 200 A.D. So the question becomes one of determining which classical Hebrew and koine Greek you are referring to.4 You, not I, missed the point when you decided to find truths that were good at all times and under all conditions. Not I, but you, dodged the issue when you refused to acknowledge the fluidity and imprecision inherent in all languages, classical or otherwise. You tend to minimize the wide variances among modern translations and ignore the fact that knowledgeable scholars disagree on many points. Some of your disagreements are more with your compatriots than with me. You're seeking a kind of permanence in life that doesn't exist my friend. Good luck!
Again, JW, you summarized the jury without knowing or weighing many of the facts, took verses out-of-context, displayed a poor knowledge of a principle of logic, and exhibited a strong proclivity for tendentious reasoning. (1) 'What additional relevant information does Jude 6 ("And the angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation he hath reserved in everlasting chains...") add to 2 Peter? Nothing! 5 Both are merely noting the fact that some angels were punished for sin just as were those living in Sodom and Gomorrah. (2) Where does Peter say they were the ones (the angels- -Ed.) who sinned in the days of Noah, thus narrowing it down a good bit? Talk about taking verses out-of-context! After mentioning that some angels were punished for sinning (2 Peter 2:4) the text merely notes that people living in the days of Noah (verse 5) and those living in Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 6) were also punished for their wickedness. Nowhere does the text imply, much less state, that verse 4 is discussing angels who sinned in the days of Noah. (3) Where does the Bible ever say angels were cast down for their sins in the days of Noah? (4) I'm surprised you mentioned the parallel verse in Jude 6 because, following your logic, I could also conclude that some angels were also cast down for their sins when the Israelites were saved from Egypt. The prior verse (Jude 5) says, "...the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." if you are going to link 2 Peter 2:5 with 2:4, then I'm going to link Jude 5 with Jude 6 in the same manner. In fact, I think I'll also bring in 2 Peter 2:6 with 2:4 and say some angels were also east down when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. It's amazing what can be devised when you let your imagination run wild. If there is anyone who should refrain from attributing preconceived prejudices to others.... You read just enough of the text to try to create a plausible rationalization while ignoring that which went before and after. (5) Where did I "equate the angels who sinned" with Satan? I implied, then, and state now that he was included among those cast down. Obviously he couldn't be equated with them since "angels" is plural. My textual support lies with 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. "The angels who sinned" means all the angels who sinned, not some or most. I learned that logical construct years ago in college. And wasn't Satan among those who sinned and were cast down? You just displayed one of the great errors common to those who have been reared in an uncritical Christian environment, JW. You have been so thoroughly imbued with a cardinal belief, e.g., the Devil is loose throughout the world and responsible for so much evil, that any evidence to the contrary couldn't possibly he valid. You even closed you eyes to contrary biblical verses and dismissed them out-of-hand, thus showing why people want to reach children as soon as possible. You said you couldn't resist bringing up this issue, JW, but you should have.6
One final point. I recommend that you read all of the hack issues of BE before making additional criticisms, as some of your points have already been discussed. Since you apparently consider yourself an authority in biblical defense, I'd especially like for you to address more substantive problems such as most of those posed on pages 2 and 3 of issue #34.
1. The material presented here terribly misrepresents what these scholars have to say on the subject. Should the reader wish to read some truly scholarly information on the subject the above referenced book is to be recommended - A General Introduction to the Bible by Drs. Geisler and Nix, published by Moody Press. See also The Text of the New Testament by Dr. Bruce Metzger (Oxford Press) and for a good introduction. see Dr. Greenlee's Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture (Eerdman's Publishing Company). Needless to say Mr. McKinsey knows almost nothing about the subject he is here addressing.
2. Notice what is being said here - a contradiction could exist even though Mr. McKinsey's original accusation against the Bible was that Jesus and Paul could not agree on the WORDING of this commandment. Yet, here we clearly see that Jesus and Paul said exactly the same thing. Here Mr. McKinsey begins a process that will continue in the next letter - that of changing the supposed "contradiction' we are discussing.
3. This author cannot see how Mr. McKinsey could possibly misunderstand the statement upon which his comments here are based. The point made in my letter was that Mr. McKinsey misunderstood the Trinity and the fundamental basis of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible, that being the Biblical teachings of monotheism, the Deity of Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit.
4. Again, McKinsey's original point had been to dispute the accuracy of the rendering of Greek and Hebrew by pointing out that languages evolve and change, which of course, they do. But koine Greek and classical Hebrew are dead languages - they are not changing anymore (dead things normally do not engage in change). Therefore, we can study exactly what that language meant at that time and can thereby translate effectively.
5. Mr. McKinsey again missed the entire point. Jude 6 is speaking of a specific group of angels who sinned by "lusting after strange flesh" (v. 7). Satan is not included in this group by either Peter nor Jude, and neither writer says that all fallen angels are included in this group that are in chains. Unfortunately, Mr. McKinsey feels he has some basis upon which to make his comments.
6. I did not bother going into depth at this point in my reply, mainly due to my belief that it is useless to attempt to deal with any subject in context with Mr. McKinsey. The number of logical and factual errors made in the above statements is truly astounding. Possibly Mr. McKinsey had never read 1 Peter 5:8-9? Peter certainly differentiated between the "angels who sinned" and Satan, that is for sure!
2nd Letter to Mr. McKinsey from James White - Vintage
11/05/2012 - James White
Letter #2 from James White, responding to Mr. McKinsey’s comments as contained in the August 1986 edition of BiblicalErrancy. As above, sections correspond to Mr. McKinsey’s response as printed in the October and November issue of his publication.
I will attempt to he brief, as your space is limited. DM, your point that Jesus contradicted Jesus by, after His death and resurrection, commanding the disciples to go unto all the world is built upon the supposition that Jesus’ command to the disciples originally was meant to be eternal. There is no indication that it was. You don’t seem to feel Jesus could direct His ministry in the best way possible. Quoting Malachi 3:6 begs the issue as it removes the phrase from its context and misapplies it to a completely different issue. Jesus did not “change his teaching” merely because He died and was resurrected - the death and resurrection of Christ (as the Bible makes clear) was the focal point of the entire NT revelation. The standards you apply to Jesus are at best extremely unrealistic. During His ministry He sent the twelve to the Jew’s only as He came as their Messiah; upon their rejection of Him and His death and resurrection, the Gospel was opened up to all who would believe. If you think this is a contradiction, fine. Most would disagree.
Part (b) truly amazed me. The main point you attempted to argue had to do with the fact that you had claimed a contradiction between Paul and Jesus at Matthew 19:18 and Romans 13:9. You wrote, "Jesus and Paul can’t seem to agree on the wording of the 6th commandment regarding killing.” I simply pointed out to you that you were wrong. Both Jesus and Paul said the exact same thing - ou phoneuseis - hence, they did agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment. Your claim was wrong. How an English translator or German translator or French translator or anyone else renders ou phoneuseis into their own tongue is completely irrelevant to the issue you brought up. If you have problems with Matthew 19:18/Romans 13:9 bring it up with the translators, not with the Bible. There is no contradiction as the exact same word is used. You spent nearly a full page begging an issue that had not even been raised. I would challenge you to look up the passages in a modern critical text and see for yourself. And then to say that my comment is in direct opposition to some of the most widely accepted versions on the market today. Really, DM, this is ridiculous - phoneuo is defined as "murder, kill" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , p. 864). You contend that since various versions use synonyms (murder, kill) they are trying to point out a difference in the two passages - please, DM, since you failed to answer my question of your own ability to translate Greek I can only assume that you are unqualified to make the assertion that you do. These versions are not trying to differentiate these passages at all. Again, all of this is irrelevant as your charge was that Jesus and Paul used different wording which they obviously did not. Let the reader decide for himself. (By the way, the very fact that you list the NWT (New World Translation of Jehovah's Witness) along with truly scholarly editions is amazing - I would like to suggest you look into the NWT and find out what it really is - I enclose a tract pointing out some interesting facts about that subject).
Again, DM, you beg the question by dodging the clear fact that the Bible differentiates between athanasia which is Christ’s by right, and zeon aionion which is given to the believer at the time of the new birth. Just because you don’t understand the difference does not mean it doesn’t exist. In the same way, you said that my explanation of the use of echon in relation to immortality was "muddled" and that what the relationship of the continuous action of the participle to the passage was “one can only surmise.” Again, simply because you do not understand the passage as it was written is no excuse for continuing to suppose contradiction. Anyone familiar with the language would be able to follow what I said and would see that you are arguing from ignorance. You simply will not allow for the possibility that the Bible might indeed be consistent on this point., DM. You are making the exact same kind of error you decry in others.
You mentioned a list of issues that dealt with the Trinity - I now have access only to #15 and #18, hence I can only comment on them. Our ministry deals with the cults, and what you wrote in those articles shows much less research than does the material printed by such groups as Jehovah’s Witnesses (from whom you obviously borrowed freely). The very fact that you could list as the Trinitarian’s main support such passages as I Peter 1:2, I John 5:7 (are you kidding?), 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Matthew 28:19 demonstrates one of two things: 1) you have not read much on the subject, which obviously is not true as you make reference to a number of works in your article, or 2) you are deliberately deleting a number of important factors. I would hope the reason for #2 is that you don’t have a lot of room with which to work. At any rate, the view you gave of the Biblical view of the Trinity is, at the very best, contorted and twisted. It is not my desire to enter into a long discussion of the Trinity with you, as you would not allow a for a logical, contextual and linguistic interpretation of the Scriptures. I enclose more information on the subject for your personal reading. By the way, I asked you a simple question that anyone familiar with the subject of the Trinity would know the significance of and would be able to answer. It was not meant to insult you - it was meant to make you deal with the issues. You did not.
I did not condemn BE in my letter - I mentioned only the single issue I had at that time. I simply stated that you had not demonstrated a single contradiction in that paper, and I hold to that claim. I would like to kindly submit to you, DM, that it is you who will not admit your own limitations with respect to Greek and Hebrew." I have given my qualifications* - what are yours? And finally, I would like to point out that Greek and Hebrew as modern languages are indeed always changing - but that misses the whole point. We are dealing with classical Hebrew and koine Greek - they are not changing and evolving. Such a dodge does not work. I do hope that in your reply you will answer the issues rather than attacking me personally - much more good could he accomplished in that way.
(Under Peter versus Peter on page 3 of Issue #44 is the following “contradiction": "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4) versus “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The question then became one of determining how the devil could be walking around if he was chained in hell until judgment--Ed.). [The above section preceded the next section of this letter when published in BE to give the proper background and context.]
One other point I cannot resist bringing up - in the August issue of BE, page 3 under “Peter vs. Peter” #3 - please give me the reason you equate "the angels who sinned” with Satan. Jude gives more information about those angels mentioned in 2 Peter, and even Peter says that they were the ones who sinned in the days of Noah. That narrows it down a good bit. This again demonstrates that it is your misunderstanding of the passage that creates the difficulty - the Bible nowhere says that Satan is chained, awaiting judgment. That is only your erroneous conclusion based on preconceived prejudices and mistakes.
*I had given Mr. McKinsey my educational background in a separate part of the letter, which, at that time included three years of koine Greek and basic training in Hebrew through Fuller Theological Seminary. Aside from this, I also graduated summa cum laude from Grand Canyon College with a B. A. in Bible.
1st Reply to James White from Dennis McKinsey - Vintage
11/04/2012 - James White
Reply by Mr. McKinsey, as contained in the August 1986 edition of “Biblical Errancy." Sections correspond to the sections placed in the above letter.
Dear JW. Like you, I have encountered the same arguments on numerous occasions and your “out-of-context” pleading is one of the most common. You alluded to point #18 in the May 1986 commentary and held that there was no contradiction between Jesus and Paul because the former adopted a new position after his death and resurrection. Oddly enough, we agree on one point. His posture did change. Before his death Jesus said, ”l am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt.l5:24) and “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:5), while afterwards he said, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matt.28:19). So which view represents the real Jesus? I’m not sure. Are we to assume God, i.e. Jesus, changed his mind and completely reversed a very important teaching. (sic) I assumed he did not, which accounts for the disagreement with Paul who said, "For there is no difference between Jew and Greek." If you insist he altered his stance, then you have eliminated a contradiction between Jesus and Paul by creating one between Jesus and Jesus (which was discussed in Issue 28’s commentary- -#78). Jesus initially said one thing; afterwards he said another. One of his comments is false unless he originally came to save only a small group instead of all mankind. Is that what you are contending? If so, then you had better rewrite some Christian theology. Or, are you saying Jesus, i.e. God, the perfect being who changes not (Mal. 3:6), changed his mind and reversed his teaching merely because he died and was resurrected? Why would his death, burial and resurrection warrant such a major change or be of significance and weren’t those to whom he spoke before his death on the cross given false information? After all he knew he was sent to save more than just the Jews.
I realize that apologists, such as yourself, place great reliance on the "back to Greek and Hebrew” defense, JW. Some even like to think of it as their ace-in-the-hole. If there were unanimity among scholars and only one version available, their dreams would be plausible. But, unfortunately for them, anything but agreement reigns supreme and widely varying versions abound. Your own example shows this quite well. You said there was no difference between Matt. 19:18 (Thou shalt do no murder”) and Rom. 13:9 (Thou shalt not kill”) because both came from "ou phoneuseis” in Greek. That is in direct opposition to some of the most widely accepted versions on the market today. Since you questioned my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, I’d like to pose some questions to you. How many years have you studied Greek and Hebrew? Have you ever taught it on a professional, full-time basis? Are you an expert, a recognized authority on these languages? With all due respect, I doubt it. Those who translated Greek and Hebrew into such versions as the King James, the Revised Standard, the New American Standard, the New American Bible etc. are such experts. indeed, many have devoted their lives to linguistics. And the consensus of several of these committees is opposed to your analysis of our example. The translators of the KJV say “murder” is the proper word in Matt. 19:18, while ”kill" is the best term to use in Rom.13:9. Are you saying they don’t know the difference, that they don’t know how to translate? Are you saying you know Greek and Hebrew better than those who assembled the KJV? They say there is a difference, while you say there isn’t. Before leaping to the common response that later research has corrected some errors in the KJV, you had better take note of the fact that several of the newest versions agree with the King James. The Modern Language says “murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rom. 13:9). the New American Bible says “kill” (Matt. 19:18) and “murder” (Rom. 13:9), and the New English Bible says “murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rom. 13:9). So clearly the experts on several committees say there is a difference where you deny one exists. This is typical of the problem that arises when you return to the “original” Greek and Hebrew to see what the text says. Even the experts clash. They often don’t agree on which text to use among the multitude available and they often don’t agree on what the text says even when agreement is reached on the text to use. The dispute as to whether “almah” in Isaiah 7:14 means “virgin” or a “young woman" has never been resolved. I could become one of the world’s greatest Hebrew/Greek scholars and still find many knowledgeable people who disagree with my interpretation. The example you gave demonstrates the problem clearly. Does “ou phoneuseis” mean “kill” or "murder."(sic) Certainly there is a difference between killing and murdering. The KJ, and NAS, the Modern Language, and the NE versions contend one “ou phoneuseis” does not equal the other. So we have disagreement within these versions. We also have the problem of versions that are internally consistent but in opposition to one another. For example, the RSV says “kill” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rorn. 13:9) as does the Living Bible, the New American Standard and the New Jerusalem. The NIV, the NASB, the NWT, and the TEV, on the other hand, say "murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “murder” (Rom. 13:9). So who is right? Who knows Greek best? Which group of Greek scholars should we accept? And these men have devoted decades to these languages. That’s why BE does not become involved in linguistics and translations. It’s a never-ending struggle often decided more by political expediency than objective scholarship It’s the same kind of expediency that decided which books would enter the canon to begin with. BE only requires apologists to stay with one version or the other and relates problems primarily from the KJV because it’s accepted by the largest number of people. Relating every disagreement within and between all versions is out of the question.
Your reconciliation of the disagreement between 1 Tim. 6:16 (“Jesus only hath immortality”) and John 3:16 (“whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) doesn’t fare much better, JW. You say the word in 1 Tim. 6:16 is athanasian which Webster defines as “immortal (Greek: a-without + thanatos-death) and view that as different from the “eternal life” in John 3:16. How “immortality” differs from “eternal life” is a distinction only theologians can visualize. I’d say we are comparing apples to apples. Like many apologetic theologians you are trying to create a distinction where none exists.
Your attempt to solve the “only Jesus has immortality” problem is muddled at best. You said, “the word translating ‘hath’ in the KJV is a participle in the original, echon. The continuous action without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage.” How it is significant and what “continuous action” has to do with the issue, one can only surmise. Either Jesus is or is not the only immortal being.
You implied that only those fluent in Greek and Hebrew are qualified to critique the Bible. But, that goes two ways. Are you sufficiently fluent in these languages to defend the Book? And, even more importantly, are you more fluent than recognized experts on translation committees such that you can tell them their understanding of a passage is in error? You need to realize that some of your points exhibit disagreement more with them than with me, JW. You say there is no difference between the “ou phoneuseis” of Matt. 19:18 and the “ou phoneuseis” of Roman 13:9; whereas, the translators of the KJ the NAB, the ML, and the NE versions say there is. With all due respect, I’m more inclined to believe them than you. And since BE can only focus on one version at a time we have stressed problems within the KJ.
In all honesty, JW, I fail to see the humor in #31. Seems like a clear-cut inconsistency to me! Your comment with respect to #33 does, however, have some merit. As long as you are willing to admit that the statement attributed to Jesus by Paul does not exist in Scripture, I am willing to admit there could be an extra-biblical comment to that effect. But don’t give people the impressions, as is often done, that such a statement by Jesus can be found in the Bible. As far as #34 is concerned, some of that “in-depth theology" on the Trinity was covered in Issues 15, 18, 36. and 38 which you don’t appear to have read. Instead of answering the trinitarian dilemma posed, you merely belittled my understanding and asked an innocuous rhetorical question about gender which has little relevance and less impact. I’ve debated the Trinity on numerous occasions and seriously doubt you could add anything new. But I’m willing to listen.
Do you honestly expect me to believe that you “do not blindly accept anything”, JW. (sic) You condemned BE before hearing my responses, without reading prior issues, without addressing many other points that were made; without giving clear, unmuddled responses to the problems you chose to discuss, and without acknowledging your own limitations with respect to Greek and Hebrew. You have not examined my “facts” hut only examined some facts, very few, in fact. Moreover, confounding the “Word of God” is not the purpose of this publication, JW. We only ask that you examine all the evidence before accepting the Bible as the “Word of God.” But you have acted in precisely the opposite manner. You accepted it as the Word of God long ago and have been judging all evidence accordingly. That which corroborates your belief has been retained; that which doesn’t has been discarded.
And finally, since you are rather generous with gratuitous advice let me respond with some of my own. Never talk as if you have the final word on what the text says when even the experts don’t agree and, remember, Greek and Hebrew are no different from other languages. They are constantly changing and often open to varying interpretations.
1st Letter to Mr. McKinsey from James White - Vintage
11/04/2012 - James White
(I first give the specific sections of the May 1986 edition of "Biblical Errancy" that I cite in my first letter).
Jesus Vs. Paul ...(18) Jesus -- “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24) and "...Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6) and “Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine..." (Matt. 7:6) and (Matt. 15:26, Mark 8:27, John 4:22) versus Paul -- "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him" (Rom. 10:12) and For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom. 1:16) and "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and [upon] all them that believe: for there is no difference" (Rom. 3:22) and (1 Tim. 2:6, Rom. 4:16, 2:26-29, 4:9-13, 23-24, 11:19-25). Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews, while Paul said there was no difference between Jews and Greeks.
(21) Paul -- "Who (Jesus -- Ed.) only hath immortality..." (1 Tim. 6:16) versus Jesus -- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul had said only Jesus had immortality, while Jesus said others have everlasting life, too. If Paul had said only Jesus can provide immortality to others, there would have been no problem. But he said only Jesus has immortality. Incidentally, how can Paul say only Jesus is immortal when everyone is immortal according to Christian beliefs whether desired or not. It’s not a question of whether we are immortal but one of where we will spend eternity.
(29) Jesus -- “Thou shall do no murder (Matt. 19:18) versus Paul -- “Thou shalt not kill” (Rom. 13:9). Jesus and Paul can’t seem to agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment regarding killing. Every moral and legal system recognizes a difference between murder and killing. Paul outlaws killing while Jesus prefers a less comprehensive restriction. If Paul’s rule prevails, soldiers, police, and those killing in self-defense are in trouble.
(31) Paul -- “..for he -- one’s ruler -- beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God (Rom. 13:4) versus Jesus -- “Put up again thy sword into its place for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword’ (Matt. 26:52).
(33) Paul -- “...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35). Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus make such a statement. Matt. 10:8 (“...freely ye have received, freely give”) does not apply.
(34) Jesus -- “I and my Father are one (John 10:30) versus Paul -- “It is Christ...who is even at the right hand of God..." (Rom. 8:34) and “...the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3) and (Col. 3:1, Heb 9:24, 10:12, 1 Thess. 2:5). If Jesus is one with God as he claims, then how could he be sitting beside, or subservient to, God?
Letter #1, Section A:
May 29, 1986
Dear Mr. McKinsey:
I was recently sent a copy of your periodical entitled “Biblical Errancy.” (May 1986). I found it quite interesting, and representative of a view-point I have encountered on numerous occasions. Though a full refutation of the information in the newsletter would be impractical, a few points should be brought up.
First, your commentary entitled “Jesus vs. Paul" amazed me. Do you, sir, understand the implications of the word “context? Does background, chronology and language enter into this discussion? For example, your first mentioned ‘contradiction’ (number 18) completely ignores the chronological progression of events. It tears the texts from their context and creates nothing but confusion. Your final statement read, ‘Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews, while Paul said there was no difference between Jews and Greeks.’ This ignores the fact that Jesus’ statements were made before his death, burial, and resurrection. After that event Jesus himself said, ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations...’ (Matthew 28:19). To postulate a contradiction between Paul and Jesus on the basis of the passages you cited is simply illogical. Only preconceived prejudice against the Bible could allow such a contention. Is it possible, sir, that you are just as guilty of such a preconception as many Christians are in their remarks?
Section 21, contrasting 1 Timothy 6:16 with John 3:16 provides another example. Later in the periodical you mention people jumping from version to version in an attempt to defend the Bible. I am surprised that this would even be a problem. You, as the person initiating the discussion, should realize that you are attacking (if you don’t mind that term) the veracity of an ancient document that was written in two languages - Hebrew and Greek (with some Aramaic). Hence, I would assume that you would be fluent in both languages, or, at the very least, in Greek, as Hebrew is fairly basic, especially in comparison with koine Greek. At any rate, a basic knowledge of Greek would have cleared up your confusion concerning this example. The word found at 1 Timothy 6:16 is athanasian, whereas at John 3:16 it is a phrase that is translated “eternal life,” that phrase being zoen aionion. As you can see, you are comparing apples to oranges. Also, you mention that only Jesus “has" immortality, supposing this to be a contradiction of Christian teaching concerning immortality of all people. Again, a simple examination of the text is in order. The word translating “hath” in the KJV is a participle in the original, echon. The continuous action, without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage. I submit that it is your misunderstanding of the passage in its original tongue that causes your “contradiction." Your assault on the Bible without reference to its original tongue is comparable to my attacking Goethe’s Faust without a knowledge of German - few would seriously consider my remarks valid.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the comment found under number 29. You imagine a difference between Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:18 (Greek: on phoneuseis) and Paul’s in Romans 13:9 (Greek: on phoneuseis). As you can see, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever in the two occurrences - both are quoting directly from the Septuagint (LXX) version at Exodus 20:13 (20:15 in the LXX). Your comments demonstrate an extremely shallow depth of research on your part. I would hope that you could remove this example in a coming edition of “Biblical Errancy.”
The examples such as the above abound. Number 31 would be humorous if it were not found in context of your periodical, as is #33 (see John 21:25). Number 34 deals with in-depth theology, a subject that I really don’t believe you are prepared to handle, given the above examples of your work. What gender is the word “one” in, and what significance does that have?
At any rate, I do look forward to receiving your work. I do not believe that you demonstrated so much as one contradiction in your paper, and looking over the vain attempts of atheists and others to confound the Word of God only strengthens my faith in that book. I do not blindly accept anything. I have examined your “facts” and found them wanting. Please reply to the information I have provided you.