peacecrossThe Presentation Of The Question


Want to stir up some controversy? Bring up the subject of fools. Nobody wants to be judged. According to our own criteria, we want the right to judge others, and we do not want to be reminded that God will judge us. So it is that this post, WHY WOULD A MAN HANG HIMSELF? — PART 3C, stirred up some controversy.

john zande disagreed with the way I spotlighted one of his post in my blog. Therefore, he kept repeating a question.

john zande
February 18, 2015 at 5:00 am

Hi Tom, hope you’re well

I was deadly serious.

Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

I look forward to hearing your answer.

Zande stated his conclusion as a question. Unless the answer was the one he wanted, he would not accept it. That’s why I replied with sarcasm of my own.

Citizen Tom
February 18, 2015 at 7:36 am

What a curious thing to say about the most influential man in history! Why do you think Jesus had so much effect on Western Civilization?

Was my answer correct? Well, my sarcasm did go over some people’s heads, but the same people also did not recognize Zande’s sarcasm.

Effectively, Zande had asked a loaded question, and I replied with what Zande no doubt considered a loaded question.

What made Zande’s question a loaded question? In his blog post (here), Zande provided his criteria for what he thinks would be genuinely new, original, or useful. Given his criteria — and his insistence that he would accept no other answer — the only answer that would have satisfied Zande was “NO.”

Since I refused to answer Zande question as he wished, he commenced to spam my blog with nonsense comments. So I kicked him off my blog (WHY I BANNED TWO TROLLS FROM CITIZEN TOM).

The Question Itself

There are two ways to consider Zande’s question.

  • The first way to look at Zande’s question is in the context he provided for it.
  • The second way to consider Zande’s question is consider the question apart from him.

When I first saw Zande’s post, I considered the question both ways.  The question itself is interesting. It is what Zande did to it that is an abomination. So let’s set Zande handiwork aside and look at the question itself.

Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

This question actually deserves some thought. We have to consider.

  1. What did Jesus do?  (Answer posted March 3, 2015)
  2. Why did He do it? (Answer posted March 8, 2015)
  3. What was the result? (Answer posted March 22, 2015)
  4. Why is that result important?
    1. Of Death And A Second Chance (Answer posted March 29,2015)
    2. Of Sinners Made To Do Good Works (Answer posted April 4,2015)

Other Views

  • New, Original or Useful ( – In addition to taking issue with Zande’s intransigence,  Keith DeHavelle provides his own answer to the subject question of this post. Even though Keith is a non-Theist, his analysis is relatively sympathetic towards Christianity.
  • A Fair Question ( –  siriusbizinus, on the other hand, calls himself an Atheist. Yet unlike Zande, he conceded that Jesus accomplished something useful. In fact, I suspect he is the one who convinced Zande that he made a mistake. That is, Zande now thinks it a mistake that he included the word “useful” in his question (see Keith’s post).


  1. It’s definitely a fine line, I understand considering banning someone based on “spamming” but at the same time quoting them without allowing them to defend their assertions. In the end I suppose it’s your blog and your world, you make the rules.

    I suppose people are different but Tom and I have disagreed on subjects, we respectfully allow the other to voice the difference of opinion and leave it at that. I think it shows a good character trait when one can conduct civil disagreement and feel confident enough in their own convictions that they don’t have to exhaust themselves trying to prove they’re right.

    But that’s just me.

    1. Since I have not actually banned anyone from my blog before, I have not had to give the matter much thought. I suspect that is true of most people who don’t screen comments. So I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

      Anyway, here are some observations.
      1. When I first quoted what Zande had written on his blog, he was allowed to comment on this blog. Since then, the primary reason I have quoted Zande is to explain why I banned him from this blog.
      2. Since banning Zande, I have quoted only the comments he made on this blog.
      3. Zande engineered this state of affairs. I merely reacted to his behavior.
      4. I have no further interest in Zande’s blog, but I am certain he is “defending himself” there.

      Here is the way I see the problem. How would we define hospitality? If we allow someone into our house so he can participate in a party, what if he decides to stay and sleep in our bed? To prove just how hospitable we are, do we sleep on the floor and allow him to sleep in our bed, or do we kick him out of our house?

      It is not as if Zande cannot sleep (or blog) in a bed of his own making. I just don’t want him defecating in my bed.

      1. The problem is that Zande did not misbehave. He engaged with us and expressed his point of view. He provided reasons for why he thinks the way he does. I take it that his point of view is not one of which you approve. But his conduct wasn’t the problem. It was the content of his ideas.

  2. Great post. Ahh, all the never ending rabbit holes of non belief. I’ve received this same declaration, demand-question, in multiple forms over the years, “Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?”

    Yes! He saved a wretch like me. Selfish of me I know, but I find that to be genuinely new, original, and useful.

      1. Very fair reply, but this doesn’t answer John’s question unfortunately.

        Once again, a straight answer would have suffice but you seem bent to avoid the question.

        I have said this before, it’s ok to say Jesus didn’t do anything original. Why get so defensive over it? Like you said, the more important fact is that God saved you 2. John can disagree, but at the very least you have answered his question directly.

        1. Have you considered the possibility that the reply is fair because it doesn’t answer John’s question? What has John’s question got to do with Jesus wanted to accomplish? It is about as silly as getting mad your doctor after he cures your cancer because he did not take our your garbage too.

        2. Agree.

          It may be silly. But at least it is indeed factual – Did the doctor take out your garbage or not?

          It’s Yes or No.

          Instead of answering, you go into a long tirade about why it is not right to be angry at the doc for not taking out the garbage. Isn’t this an implicit acknowledgement that the doctor didn’t take out the garbage?

          Why would it be hard for us to say “No, the doctor didn’t take out the garbage”. After that then you start to argue that it is stupid to expect the doctor to take out trash anyway. Not really hard anyway.

          The more important question is, why are you avoiding answering straight? It’s honestly not a trap. The way you are answering make it looks like a trap when it could have been hand waved away just like how we could have hand waved the doc/garbage malarkey.

        3. Tirade? Do I sound angry? I hope not.

          I will, however, make the following observation. The odds are about 1 in 4 that you will come down with cancer. Should you get cancer, will you be asking your doctor whether he can cure your illness, or whether he will take our your garbage? Unless you equate your cancer with garbage…

          Is the question a trap? To take it seriously in the way Zande intended trivializes what Jesus Christ did. Think about Proverbs 26:4. I believe Jesus Christ died on a cross for my sins. Why would I trivialize such a sacrifice?

          When a question is sufficiently messed up and misdirected, there is no point in answering it with a simple answer. Here is an example. Are you still beating your wife? If you are not married or if you have never beaten your wife, either yes or no is the wrong answer. Your answer must attack the accuracy of the question.

          Therefore, I am answering the question, but Jesus did not come to do something new, original or useful as Zande defines those things. So I am answering the question as it should have been asked.

          What did Jesus do, why did he do it, how well did He do it, and why was it important?

          If that annoys some people, so be it.

          If you want to read an angry tirade against stubborn foolishness, read Matthew 23. I could not match that if my life depended on it.

        4. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal preference, but if someone keep bothering me with the same question “do you still keep hitting your wife”, I may just end up saying “no I have never hit my wife ever, and just to satisfy you, yes you are technically right that I am no longer hitting my wife”

          From answering this I have satisfied him and at the same time other people who read what I said can see who is the reasonable one.

          That being said, you are definitely entitled to how you wanna approach this, and certainly what you are doing is not wrong but you can’t deny the fact that the way you have approached this did in fact put you in a less than generous light from passive readers (or at least that is how i gathered from some of the replies to your blog). You may think that avoidance is the best answer e.g. not gonna dignify that with a response – but that may just make you sound disingenuous especially since there are those that do think this answer deserve a response. Do remember even Obama responded to “birthers” conspiracist. It all boils down to this – you think you are above this flawed question, but your opponents don’t. Certainly you may say you don’t care about what other people think, and that’s fine as well, but perhaps weren’t you trying to convince the other camp about your point of view since you penned the first respond post regarding this? Or perhaps you were simply looking to preach to the choir? Again, not saying anything is wrong with that or the other road is the high road, but simply showing why there are people not entirely pleased with your responses so far.

          In any case, I think you have been more than hospitable in entertaining my replies. Shall bid my farewell.


          1. I am suppose to imitate Obama? Have you noticed that the man has not kept his oath of office? He has deliberately and repeatedly broken it. I cannot respect that man’s behavior — his office I respect — but not what he has done.

            How I answer a question has nothing to do with whether I think myself above or below it. It is just a question. We all answer questions as we think appropriate.

            No one can please everyone, and I don’t expect to please everyone. However, if I please my Maker, I have please the One I should be trying to please.

            Thank you for your visit. You are welcome any time.

  3. John Zande is one of the clearest, most articulate, detailed atheist hallucinators in the business.

    Now you see it. Ooops! Now you don’t!

    His hallucinogenic slight of hand during a conversation is second to none.

    And I think that is the best way to understand good John Zande.

    1. As silenceofmind says below, you don’t know anything about the man whose question you asked me to answer. As I noted in other posts, I had already dialogued with that fellow.

      What you are do is setting an impossible bar for me to leap and one so low for Zande that he could have crawled across it as a baby. Why?

      1. How is asking you to either answer simply, or politely and honestly decline to answer rather than defensively turn it around as a question (as you just did with me… a brother in Christ) constitute me somehow “setting a bar” for either of you? Not understanding this comment.

        1. mike, before we judge the actions of another, we have the responsibility to give the matter some thought. You didn’t.

          You did not call me a fool, but you made a point of telling me you were thinking about it. You explicitly said: “I think you made Christians look foolish.” Yet all your explanation shows is that you were too lazy to do any research. So I asked you this question.

          What you are do is setting an impossible bar for me to leap and one so low for Zande that he could have crawled across it as a baby. Why?

          And how did you answer? With a question. So I think I can rightly use a paraphrasing of your own words in response.

          I don’t think you gave me an honest answer. You knew what I was asking and could tell why I was asking it. But instead of just honestly and respectfully trying to answer simply or just declining to answer.. you spun it into a defensive question of your own.

          As a matter of fact, I gave Zande an honest answer, and I gave his question the appropriate respect it deserves. Please review 1 John 2:15-24, 4:1-6, 2 John 1:7-11, and 3 John 1. Then consider Matthew 23.

          I don’t know whether Zande is an anti-Christ, but he is most certainly against Christianity. He ridicules Christians and rails deceitfully against Christians. Because of his continuing deceits, if I showed what he says any respect, I would be responsible for misleading others into thinking what Zande says deserves serious consideration.

          1. My guess then by your answers and mine is that even Christians can “double down” and hang themselves when faced with the simple problem of admitting when it’s time not to answer any more.
            I concede to the greater. Have a great weekend

  4. Sorry tom
    I don’t think you gave him an honest answer. You knew what he was asking and could possibly tell why he was asking it. But instead of just honestly and respectfully trying to answer simply or just declining to answer.. you spun it into a defensive question of you own.

    Would have been better to say “sorry to decline to answer”

        1. I expect you are reading to much into my answer. I don’t agree with Mike.

          He asked this question.

          Would have been better to say “sorry to decline to answer.”

          And I said “no.”

        2. Nah,

          Not reading too much into your answer. Just thought your reply was perfect and succinct and fully in spirit with the title of this blogpost: Jesus never gave them what they wanted.

          1. 😀
            Well, Jesus never gave “them” what “they” wanted because we are God’s children, and like our own children, we don’t always want what is best for us.

            Since I am not Jesus and Mike is not one of my children, it is not quite the same thing.

  5. I completely agree with you that the religions developed from the story of the character Jesus have been extremely influential on how our societies in most of the western world have developed. But it’s not quite the same as Jesus being the most influential figure in history, and certainly doesn’t address the question about whether he did anything original or useful.

    Perhaps you didn’t completely understand John’s question. I assume he’s trying to point out that all of the reported actions and words of the character Jesus can be found in other traditions and cultures; indeed, if I understand him correctly, predating the existence of Jesus. Personally, I do find it rather curious that someone who reportedly claimed to be the at one with a creator deity wouldn’t have brought something original to Earth with him.

    But from the Christian perspective, I would suggest that it’s easier to argue that the god God has been transmitting his will to human societies throughout history, and therefore you wouldn’t expect the character Jesus to present anything new. Unless you can think of anything useful or original that Jesus is reported to have said or done. Cursing a fig tree to wither and die because it doesn’t have any fruit for him, for example, I believe is not found in any other man-god traditions predating Jesus. But I could be wrong.

    1. Hey Violet-

      How the heck are ya?

      Was that really the best you can bring, the cursing of the fig tree? What OTHER man rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as King, fulfilling the prophecy of Israel’s Messiah….? If you believed the scriptures, you could think of a thousand other reasons why your friend failed miserably.

      You also cited: ‘I assume he’s trying to POINT OUT out that all of the reported actions and words of the character Jesus can be found in other traditions and cultures.’ Ah, beg to differ.

      What is ‘being pointed out,’ is the ATTEMPT to prove the scriptures as myth; ie, (and you know this) that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were, ahem, fictitious, and by association, no Moses, no Exodus, which kinda makes the Lord a……………..(fill in the blanks)

      So yes, at the end of the day, God’s word stands above all, and needs not any defense. It is man Violet who is on trial, not God.

      1. CS, how nice to see you.

        “What OTHER man rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as King, fulfilling the prophecy of Israel’s Messiah….?”
        Are you serious? John already pointed out that Jesus did that in order to make it look like he was fulfilling a prophecy. What’s original about that? Where is one of the thousand other examples you claim exist?

        “You also cited: ‘I assume he’s trying to POINT OUT out that all of the reported actions and words of the character Jesus can be found in other traditions and cultures.’ Ah, beg to differ.”
        Okay, tell me one.

        I hope the blog host can address address the question a bit more coherently, with specific examples.

        1. Violet:

          You are proving the points made by CT, that NO answer is acceptable. Let’s look closer at what you just said: (emphasis mine)

          ‘Are you serious? John already pointed out that Jesus did that in order to MAKE IT LOOK LIKE he was fulfilling a prophecy. What’s original about that?’

          Ah Violet, what is original? How about the FACT that it was ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES?

          Your friend’s opinion on this trumps scripture? Please. You are not embarrassed to agree with this?

          You are happy to believe the gospel according to your friends, but you reject the gospel ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. Not too smart Violet.

          May I suggest you learn the ramification of this lowly animal, and the One who sat atop it. Unless you agree that He was the only One qualified for that prophecy, nothing else is needed..

          (Is there any reason for people to be skeptical why you are addressing this?)

    2. I concur with ColorStorms remarks, and I will just add a little. As you note in your last paragraph, God has a will of His own. We exist to serve His purposes. That’s makes questions like John questionable. Is it the right question?

      When we ask and then try to answer a question about God’s purposes, we have to concede that God has a will of His own and that we have trouble understanding Him. In comparison to God, what are we?

      Consider what facts can be assumed. What do we know about God? Was Jesus God, for example? If we are determined to believe Jesus was not God.
      1. We must assume the evidence of His divinity is not truthful.
      2. We almost have to assume the actions and words of the character Jesus can be found in other traditions and cultures. He was we assume, after all, only human.
      3. We must consider the problem of what Jesus did only from our own limited point of view. Without God, isn’t that all we really have?

      Yet as you indicate, that perspective is not the Christian perspective. We believe in divine revelation. How can I get you to accept the truth of the Bible?

      When I consider my own journey from Agnostic to Christian, I must admit I don’t have the solution.

      Nevertheless, I am willing to explain why I believe.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I’m afraid I don’t really understand either your or Colorstorm’s comments in light of the questions asked. I guess it must just be a disconnect between the mind of someone who believes in the Christian god, and those who don’t. I can understand that it’s not comfortable for a Christian to question the actions of Jesus, as you have to assume or believe they are perfect.

        But the fact remains that there is nothing recorded that indicates he isn’t a man-god in the shape of other man-god mythical figures (walking on water, born of a virgin etc). That in itself doesn’t disprove anything, it just looks fishy. It would be nice to see something original in the story though, like instead of curing a blind man for show like other mythical figures, imparting details of a cure for blindness that could improve conditions for a greater proportion of mankind. But like you say, in terms of Christianity, that’s not for believers to question.

        1. Actually, the Bible does provide a record that shows Jesus is God and that for our sake He took the form of a man.

          I was in my 50’s before I actually started studying the Bible, and the Bible convinced me, at least the Bible sealed my belief. There is no way a man or men could have written that book without the inspiration of God, and there is no way the Bible would have survived all these years without His protection.

          But I will get into that in the next post.

          Thank you for your comments and for considering my thoughts about this matter.

Comments are closed.

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