The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.

This is the second in a series of posts that proposes to answer the following question.

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

We had The Presentation Of The Question in part 1. If you wish to understand why we are considering this question and how we intend to answer it, please visit part 1.

With respect to the question above, here we will examine the following.

What Did Jesus Do?

Why That Question?

Again, let’s consider the question.

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

Supposedly, those who ask this question want proof that Jesus was of prime importance in the history of man.  What is actually the primary issue, however, is whether Jesus is God. If Jesus is not God, then as C. S. Lewis pointed out the man Jesus was either a lunatic or a demonic liar (see here). If the man Jesus was merely a lunatic or a liar, why would we bother worrying about this question?

What matters then is whether Jesus is God. When Jesus walked among us as a man, what would His disciples have seen and heard that led them to believe He is God? What did Jesus do to show them and us that He is God?

What did Jesus do? That question presents us with two concerns.

  • The answer to the question itself.
  • Proof that Jesus did what the Bible says He did.

What Did Jesus Do?

It is not uncommon for men to try summarize the Bible into a fundamental statement of faith.  Official creeds and confessions of faith go back at least to the Nicene Creed (also here) and the Apostle’s Creed (also here). This web site, Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms, provides a long list of Christian statements of faith.

When providing a statement of faith, some churches prefer, however, just to cite passages from the Bible. My favorite, perhaps, is Philippians 2:6-11, but this one seems more relevant to the question we are considering.

1 Corinthians 15:3-7 Good News Translation (GNT)

I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterward to all the apostles.

There is nothing in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 about the newness or originally of an idea. To prove he is God, Jesus just exercised the power of God. He rose from the dead.

In The Book of Fools, Dr. Joe Temple gives this example of how Jesus answered fools asking for miracles and signs. Here is the passage he uses.

Matthew 16:1-4 Good News Translation (GNT)

16 Some Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Jesus wanted to trap him, so they asked him to perform a miracle for them, to show that God approved of him. But Jesus answered, “When the sun is setting, you say, ‘We are going to have fine weather, because the sky is red.’ And early in the morning you say, ‘It is going to rain, because the sky is red and dark.’ You can predict the weather by looking at the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs concerning these times! How evil and godless are the people of this day! You ask me for a miracle? No! The only miracle you will be given is the miracle of Jonah.” 

So he left them and went away.

What was the miracle of Jonah? Jonah 1-2 records how God had Jonah swallowed by a large fish. Jonah spent three days and three nights entombed in that fish, probably dead. Then our Lord had the fish spit Jonah up on the beach, and Jonah finally went to Nineveh as God had commanded him.

Temple observes.

The only sign that God ever gave that His Son was real was when He raised Him from the dead, and you don’t need to give any other sign to anybody other than that. You don’t need to go around speaking their language and you don’t need to go around singing their songs and you don’t need to go around dressing their way. You dress the way you want to. I dress the way I want to. Dress the way you want to, but don’t be deluded into answering a fool according to his folly and think that the only way that you can get the Word of God out to somebody is to dress like they dress. You are answering a fool according to his folly when you do. (from here)

Proof That Jesus Did What The Bible Says He Did

Better scholars than I have tackled the issue of proving Jesus is God. Therefore, I will just reference them.

Here are the three I most recommend reading.

  • Historical Evidence for the Resurrection @ – Here we have a discussion of the empty tomb, what Jesus’ followers saw, and the remarkable growth of the early Christian church.
  • Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ @ – Here with respect to the resurrection of Jesus we consider the five logical possibilities: Christianity is true, Jesus disciples hallucinated, it’s a myth, its a conspiracy, and Jesus only swooned.
  • Why should I believe in Christ’s resurrection? @ – This article focuses on the witnesses, both Jesus’ disciples and opponents who converted after His death. In addition, this article focuses the implications of the Christian faith starting in Jerusalem, where Jesus died.

Other references.


  1. I’ve been looking forward to the continuation of this series Tom, glad to see it! I recall from the last big discussion many of the commenters go really hung up on the whole thing about something new, original or useful. To be honest, I didn’t really understand the relevance of the questions to what Jesus came to our world to do.

    One in particular seemed quite upset that Jesus didn’t enlighten the world on the cause of epilepsy. Well…gee…He cured something substantially more deadly and potentially troublesome(understatement LOL) than epilepsy. He came to cure sin.

    All of those arguments are just more proof that we want God to fit our mold, and fulfill our expectations. Last time I checked, He is the potter and WE are the clay. He molds us, we don’t mold Him. It’s also rather presumptuous for us to lay out our expectations to the Creator of the universe.

    Seems fairly simple to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment.

      When we read the Bible we tend to point to the Pharisees and say how we would not have behaved like that. Well, I have been like one of those Pharisees. If there was a God, I expected that God to do what I would do if I were God. So I now have to cringe and laugh at my own foolishness too.

      Some of the Jews believed Jesus, and some of them went looking for legalistic excuses so that they could feel justified in their disbelief. Jesus refused to take their legalisms seriously, and some eventually began to understand why.

      Whenever we call God our God, we must remember that is just a figure of speech. Because we belong to Him, we must accept the fact He makes the rules, and we don’t even have the intellect to understand those rules. Even though some of us may wish otherwise, it is all about Him, not us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bingo! Yes…He makes the rules and we don’t. He is God; we are not. It’s such a simply equation, really. And I hesitate to point fingers honestly. I came to faith pretty late in life(45), so I fully understand not being willing to submit. I spent far more years demanding a God who fit MY bill than I will likely get to serve the God who actually exists.

        But instead of being a burden, total submission is actually the most peaceful thing I have ever done. What a cool thing to know that, if I just do it His way, He will take care of me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Personality cults are one of the saddest things I know of. People want a king to rule them. So they follow some arrogant fool who thinks he was made for the job. As 1 Samuel 8 says, that’s a bad idea, but the Hebrews did it, and we have done it too.

          When we could ask God to lead us and follow His guidance, we demand a king, and that man almost always becomes a tyrant.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Tom, you still haven’t answered the question… and it should be an easy answer for a believer to make. After all, something must have convinced you that Jesus – by something he reportedly said that was new, original, or useful – was a god. It should be a remarkable thing or a tremendous revelatory event where he says something that just blows your mind and makes you want to grant to him your belief about him personifying a living god.

    Gotta be honest: I’m not seeing it by anything you have presented so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Be patient. There are three more posts in this series. I won’t answer the question the way you want it answered, but I will explain why I desire to put my faith in God. And yes, there was a point when I finally gave my life to God, but it was a moment of peace, not some great revelation.

      Psalm 46:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

      Be still, and know that I am God;
      I will be exalted among the nations,
      I will be exalted in the earth!


  3. I’ve been enjoying these post you do. The fulfillment of prophecies in scripture, the miracles, Christ’s resurrection, all show us that Christ is God. We have the word of good men too, the testimony of some 500 people who saw Him after the resurrection. In modern times we’re so distrustful of people, but people’s word really does matter. We also have Christ’s word that He is who He says He is.

    There are other things too, Christ was the most influential and powerful man to walk the planet and some 2000 years later He is still changing lives and directing the course of civilization. It’s an imperfect civilization with many people still trying to go their own way, but the impact of Christ on the world has completely altered the course of mankind right here on Earth.

    Also, the fact that Christianity has managed to survive and thrive in spite of our totally flawed and human failings as Christ’s representatives, leads me to conclude that Divine intervention is at work here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it makes much more sense to trust Jesus and the Bible. Nevertheless, a great many of our people do not. Instead, such distrustful people elected Barack Obama and insist upon entrusting much of the wealth of our nation to politicians nobody trusts. Try to figure that one out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tom – this quicksilver tendency of yours to slide from religious to partisan political themes baffles me. I’ve asked you about this previously and have never gotten a clear answer, but your 2305 comment raises the issue again: are you of the view that people who “trust Jesus and the Bible” are not people who chose Barak Obama at the polls? Is it possible, in your view of things, to be a devout Christian and a liberal Democrat simultaneously? In the space of two sentences you slide from stating your preference for a particular position in a religious/theological discussion to equating people who take a different view of that issue with “distrustful people [who] elected Barak Obama. How does that work?


        1. @scout

          What we believe makes a difference. Are you trying to tell me it does not?

          Because what we believe affects how we behave, our political beliefs are inextricably linked with our religious beliefs. That is also true for Christians. I suggest you read 1 Samuel 8. Then please explain why we should not regard that as a political statement. Consider also the Mosaic Code. The Hebrews call that their Law.

          What is the problem with the modern Liberal Democrat? The modern Liberal Democrat supports the welfare state and Socialism. Taking property from one person just to give it to another is stealing. That’s why Democrats don’t want to mix politics and religion. That’s why they want religion to be a “private matter.”

          Look up the definition of tax. Then look up the definition of steal. Other than the fact it is the government who collects taxes, taxation doesn’t much differ much from stealing. When we use taxes to protect each others rights, we can morally justify taxation. Without a system to administer justice, we all risk losing our property rights. Nevertheless, because we leave our neighbors no choice in the matter, the fact we use government to demand money from our neighbors should make us quite uncomfortable. Because taxation is inherently abusive, taxation is something we must only do as a last resort.

          Because taxation is so abusive, we cannot easily justify any government system that exists to redistribute the wealth. Such programs all too easily become mere devices for one group of people to vote themselves what belongs to another group of people. Consider the reason why we call Social Security the third rail of politics. What the program involves is older people voting themselves monies collected from younger people. There is nothing in that so-called Socially Security Trust Fund. Because politicians immediately spend the money we put into Social Security, the only way we can collect “our Social Security” is by robbing our own children. That’s sick.


  4. It appears to me that it is a trick question after all. I think that everyone is trying desperately to dissect the question into separate and equal parts. Those parts being “genuinely new”, “original”, or “useful”; as though they were acts or events of which Jesus had performed….

    But the question dos not, in and of itself, ask any of us to point to “acts or events” of which Jesus performed which may have been construed as genuinely new, original, or useful?

    Instead, what the question asks is “Can you name a single thing Jesus “said” ………………. which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

    Throughout your article, Tom, your usage of phrases as “What did Jesus “do” ……….. to show them and us that He is God? And, “What did Jesus “do”? That question presents us with two concerns.
    •The answer to the question itself.
    •Proof that Jesus “did” what the Bible says He “did”.

    All of these imply “action(s)” of which elude to “acts or events”.

    Two thing Jesus “said”, which was genuinely new, original and useful, were “I and the Father are one” and; “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

    No other god, mythological or otherwise, has made such a bold, enlightening and relevant statement. Never before has such a revelation been brought to man. Enjoining these two statements is, of course, the most useful saying by Jesus of all: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That, then, meets all of the requirements of “genuinely new, original, or useful?”

    May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I and the Father are one” and; “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

      But… this is contrary to what others reported him to have said… that he was sent… (from John’s blog)

      John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me

      So, if Jesus is Yhwh, who’s this entity that “sent him”?

      And here’s a few more, just to hit the point home:

      John 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak,

      John 8:26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him

      John 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

      John 14:31 the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

      John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.”

      John 17:3-12 [3] Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. [4] I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. [5] And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. [6] I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. [7] Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. [8] For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. [9] I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. [10] All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. [11] I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. [12] While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

      You see the problem…


    2. I think the idea of the Trinity confuses tildeb. Nevertheless, he is over complicating this matter. Because Jesus is God, even as a man he could perfectly represent the will of the Father. So as a man, His doctrine was the Father’s.

      As a man, Jesus also set an example for us. We too must try to live our lives as God would have us live our lives and for the same reason Jesus did it. We love God.


      1. No, I have no problem with the idea of a trinity… other than it’s mostly incoherent when one considers just how often Jesus reportedly states that he is not god. I do have a problem, however, with the implication that this is is any way unique. The idea of a trinity is not new, not original, not useful.

        From John’s site:

        To make the claim that you’re actually god is not at all original. Naram-Sin (2255 – 2119 BCE) was one of the first (recorded) examples of someone diving down this path. Horus was the Son of God. Heracles was the Son of God. Dionysus was the Son of God. Mithra was the Son of God and the Light of the Way. In Hinduism, though, you have Krishna (the human expression of Vishnu) who is part of the “Great Trinity.”


        1. tildeb – I banned John Zande from this web site for two reasons.
          1. He promised to spam my web site until I gave him the answer he wanted to his ill-considered question. That is, he would not accept any other answer than the one he wanted.
          2. He posts as facts facts that cannot withstand any serious scrutiny. If you are going to copy and paste stuff from Zande’s web site to mine, I expect references. In other words, do you your own homework, and stop copying someone else’s. When cheaters copy cheaters, don’t expect good results.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. And yet you continue to reference his question. Isn’t that reposting spam according to your own definition?

          As Scout adroitly points out, John’s behaviour hardly warrants banning (compared to the bile regularly spewed by people like SoM and IB22 and CS and inferences made by Wally); you just don’t like his criticisms because unlike your apologetics they really are pointed and on target and are backed by good research and evidence. How dare he actually take your posts seriously and respond to them seriously!

          That you can’t answer his question easily and with evidence that withstands scrutiny is a weakness revealed in your beliefs and not an indictment against his character or the quality of his references or his motivations; respecting what’s true should be a uniting factor and not cause for banning.


        3. tildeb

          That question is plastered all over my blog and so are links to Zande’s blog.

          Because I think it worth the trouble, I am going to answer it the way I think appropriate. What I am not going to do is discuss Zande, and last I checked, he did not have a copyright on that question.


      2. The idea of the Trinity confuses a great many people, Tom. It is an inherently complex and difficult concept, particularly when one tries to apply it back (by “back”, in this context, I mean back in time from the formulation of the Trinity doctrine several centuries after Jesus’s time on earth) toward scriptural references to Jesus’s life and reported sayings. I wouldn’t be too sure that any of us fully understand the doctrine.


  5. Allow me to edit that last line, Tom. “That then meets all of the requirements of “Can you name a single thing Jesus “said” which was genuinely new, original, or useful?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The question is actually, ” Can you name a single genuinely new or original (or even marginally useful*) thing Jesus said or did?”


  6. Re your 0936 comment (I think your clock is off – perhaps it’s a Daylight Savings Time issue – if so, just wait a few days and it will be right again), I’ve never heard Atheists claim to understand the Trinity. I think the Trinity is pretty tough going from either inside or outside a religious perspective. As far as your insight about Atheists not believing that God exists – I don’t think you’re breaking any new ground with that observation.


  7. Zande’s “facts” tended to be references to archaeological findings, a subject in which he appears to have a great interest. I didn’t see anything that reached out and grabbed me as items “that cannot withstand any serious scrutiny”. Certainly no one, including you, refuted his references to this kind of research at the time with counter-information debunking the research he cited. What did you have in mind re his use of the facts that he found interesting and useful in the context of earlier discussions?

    Of course, the larger question was whether historical “facts” of the sort Mr. Zande was relying on might be somewhat beside the point as they relate to issues of faith based on non-terrestial concepts. Nonetheless, Zande’s behavior was completely above-board, as far as one can tell from anything posted here. I think you just didn’t like what he was saying.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, no interest in the man but interest in his question you wish to post your commentary on while banning him from responding. What kind of person will only answer another person’s question only on the condition that the answer be exempt from his cross-examination?


      2. For someone who doesn’t interest you (i.e., John Zande), you have been talking a great deal about him recently, either directly or by implication. And most of your verbiage has been let loose after you banned him, so he can’t really engage with you as you and some other commenters imply that he is a “fool”. I didn’t bring him up in this thread. I was responding to your comment. You’re missing the opportunity to have a lively discussion.

        Going back to our conversation and your 1016 comment of yesterday: You either missed or are evading my point. My question was whether, in your world view, a liberal Democrat can be a Christian or vice-versa. Your answer was pretty much a ramble. I would find a direct response interesting, I think. I Samuel 8 doesn’t help me with this. I assume that your suggestion that it might is based on either a typo or a lack of familiarity with the passage, despite the frequency with which you quote it.


        1. Answered your question already.

          There is a sales technique that involves repeating the pitch over and over again, and there is nothing logical about it, but I suppose this is rambling too.


  8. I refuted a lot of what Zande said, I implied that his archaeological evidence were suppositions and not facts. I also gave him references within the bible why the Trinity was a new concept, he provided evidence of religions that predated with 3 god entities. I explained to him through referenced material on his site that his was committing false equivalence. His examples were not the same as the trinity concept, Jesus references the trinity in Matthew.

    I also got Zande to consider that the within Catholicism the idea of Transubstantiation is the only thing at this time he would consider as original to Jesus. This of course is reference by John 6:55 “”For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.”

    However, we disagreed mainly over his method, as I described that his question couldn’t possibly be answered from those who attempted to do it from a postmodern school. He would also quantify his question, and ask for ‘details’ for his simple question. I would say this lacks integrity when asking a question, but nonetheless I felt I provided evidence enough to answer his question.


    1. Sounds you may have had an interesting discussion, but when someone starts claiming suppositions are indisputable facts I lose my patience. Debating Zande is like chasing a rabbit running down one rabbit hole after another. That is too much Alice in Wonderland for me.

      Keith apparently wanted to debate Zande too => However, I don’t know if Keith ever visited Zande’s website. I guess you did.

      Anyway, I hope I am being too cynical, but I expect if you check on Zande in a couple of weeks you will just find he has just added to his arsenal of suppositions. I seriously doubt anyone’s refutation of his arguments will alone be sufficient to stop him from gulling the gullible.


      1. Even I tired of the debate after awhile, I ended up trying to say a great many times, “I suppose from your ’empirical’ school of thought and questioning method the answer is “no”; however, my criteria answers your questions sufficiently. So far as I know you have no monopoly on schools of thought.”

        This of course didn’t ever suffice for Zande, and he couldn’t concede that it was possible to tackle the subject from a different point of view. Strange, since I wasn’t arguing the truth of Christ actually being a God, merely whether he said something original. I asked him also his point, as even if he said no original things does that disqualify him for being the messiah? No, it doesn’t, but I suppose it gives non believers a warm and fuzzy feeling?


        1. When someone is debating the way Zande debates, they are not debating in a rational sense. He has to know that, but what is going on in his head? I sure don’t know.


        2. Honestly, I don’t understand it either, I don’t understand the drive. He just messaged me about writing about him on your blog, I didn’t bother to read the rest of the message knowing it would just be circular exchange. He has far more stamina for this sort of thing than I do.


        3. He think he can demand me to action…look at this and my response:

          John: “What you tried to do was say this “trinity is different because the trireme is dressed this way, and not that way.” I’m afraid, that is not establishing any originality… and it is also absurd,”

          “And Phadde, I would appreciate it if you now clarified/amended your comments to Tom so as to better reflect reality, and the truth.”

          Who do you think you are?

          I’m not entirely certain that you understand that I do not and would not ever think you’re any sort of an authority on logic to be able to use circular logic claim my assertion of your use of false equivalence to persuade me. It’s called Postmodernism for the 10th million time, again, study all of the schools of historiography, and then understand why have arrived at this assertion, then you can attack it from there.

          John: ” You’re having a conversation with yourself.”

          It’s simple you can’t acknowledge the concept of “historiography” because it flips your entire world view to the ground. Human beings can arrive at ‘truth’ and discover ‘truths’ you’re unable to because they follow a different method. Again, like I said, assert why schools of thought are wrong, and we can discuss a linear debate rather than circular.

          It’s absurd that you believe you have a monopoly on ‘truth’. I’ve answered your question, regardless if you believe that “I have not even begun to answer” it. I Did. It’s the answer to your question. Period. You failed at your game. I bet you couldn’t have imagined going on Tom’s blog to have someone from Academia step on your parade. It happened, so stop with the circular logic, regroup and conduct linear thought.

          Again, since we disagree, What I said as the truth, so there’s nothing to amend based on the comments that I made on Citizen’s Tom blog.

          We disagree, you can’t fathom any other form of historiography, so we simply will never agree. You attempt to use false equivalence and circular logic until you’re blue in the face but I would suggest Just letting it go.

          If you want details on how you’re doing this, I can copy and paste your entire post prior to this one, but let’s save the hassle, and just let it go.

          Address this in your life and consider that I and a great many can never concede to any of your material, until you can concede that other schools of human thought processes can produce a truth that you’re not equipped to discover.

          Understand this concept as a way for common understanding within Academia, and I’ll begin to amend or clarify my comments, as we would be to establish an understanding.

          If you cannot; let it go.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Ah yes, this ‘other’ kind of truth gambit using this ‘other’ kind of method.


          What is this ‘other’ kind and method? It’s the kind that doesn’t allow reality to arbitrate claims made about it. The same kind that doesn’t produce knowledge independent of belief. The same kind that fails to produce anything that works. The kind that has no transferable insight into reality it purportedly describes but to which you magically have insight, including supernatural causal agencies and natural effects not in any way linked… except by belief contrary to and in conflict with the reality we share and upon which we have built a knowledge library that informs stuff you use everyday that works consistently and reliably well. But we must put all that aside to make room for (and tolerate with deep respect) the kind of truth that does not now, has never, and probably will never produce on jot or tittle of knowledge to empower any application, therapy, or technology that works, the kind of truth that is as nebulous and it is hidden but oh-so revelatory to your privileged few who just so happen to believe the right set of beliefs using a special method that makes equivalent any and all beliefs and bestows you select few with divine piousness and righteousness.

          This is the same method used by those suffering from the medical condition known as delusion: an inability to link beliefs about reality with evidence from reality itself. This is what you’ve demonstrated on John’s blog: an inability to answer the simple question. That’s why you have to insert all manner of metaphysical diversions and impose rationalized thinking errors on others. It couldn’t possibly be your failure or the failure of your beliefs.

          This is your ‘other’ kind of truth and this is the ‘other’ method you use to justify your particular incompatible beliefs about reality.

          Yeah, that’s a keeper.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Someone who reads your commentaries (and John’s repeated attempts to get you back on track) and finds them lacking academic rigor and critical thinking, along with a propensity to try to blame others for the shortcomings of your religious beliefs to answer what should be a simple question that John had the temerity to ask.


        6. Thank me only if it brings about some meaningful and positive alignment between your beliefs and the reality we share. That would payment beneficial to all.


        7. I suppose you mean my beliefs and your beliefs, well I guess we’ll just have to forgoe that possibility. Anyway have a good day.

          Liked by 1 person

        8. I don’t think Tildeb was necessarily rude to me, straight to the point, but that’s alright. He thinks I lack academic rigor and critical thinking, its his opinion. I disagree with it. I’m expressing discipline of historiography within the context of my answer, he feels that isn’t quality, fair enough. I could explain it further; however, I am almost entirely certain that Tildeb has already made up their mind, so it would be futile to do so. Tildeb doesn’t even explain in great detail because its understood, I believe, that my mind is made up. So there’s no point in proceeding. Overall a lack of sugar coating doesn’t mean it was overall rude. I can respect their opinions as much as the next person, what becomes an integrity issue for myself is when others do not respect my beliefs enough to say in John’s case you answered my question, but I think it’s wrong.

          At least Tildeb did that, so Kudos to him.

          Liked by 1 person

        9. The question was simple and should be answerable with evidence strong enough to stand on its own merit convincing to any reasonable person. This is what is clearly lacking. This ‘god’ offers nothing in this regard. People believe for reasons other than convincing evidence, and that’s John’s point.

          The switch to trying to make the question answerable through historiography from sources several times removed from the originals as if primary is nothing but a distraction and diversion and doesn’t do the job to answer the simple question. Academic rigor should be focused on biblical scholarship – one of John’s strengths – and presenting historiography as if it weakens John’s case is apologetics and not scholarship. The switch by you mislabeling what your approach is not an exercise of critical thinking but an intentional tactic to avoid it. An essential ingredient of critical thinking is the ability to compare and contrast. You avoid doing this all together and stick to the apologetic script not to find out what’s reasonable and reasonably justified but to support a narrow viewpoint only by picking whatever seems to support your beliefs while discarding the entire swath of evidence contrary to them. Again, this is apologetics in action and it is not scholarly and it is not critical and it’s aim is not to find out what’s true but to support only what is held to be true a priori regardless of what reality has to say in the matter.


        10. Biblical scholarship a strength of the atheist? Please.

          These men of ‘learning’ are deemed scholars while at the same time they will tell you the Genesis account is fiction or poetry, Cain did not murder his brother, Sarah did not give birth at an old age, they will tell you Moses never lived, no law was given at Sinai, they will whisper to you that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were myths, they will tell you homosexuality is the new word for tolerance, they will tell you Nazareth did not exist, they will tell you the furnace of Daniel’s three friends was merely a ‘pressure situation’ where the writer used great liberty and expected no person of sane mind to believe it, they will tell you Christ was no body ‘special,’ and they will tell you Paul the apostle was delusional. Yea ok.

          What then is the value of the scholarship which does not trust scripture, yea rather that mocks it? A hundred years from today, the attacks will continue, God will still be God, and His word just as sure.

          One of the greatest facts of the veracity of scripture is the lengths people travel to deny it; you just can’t sweep pride under the rug.

          Liked by 1 person

        11. When someone says the Bible says things it does not or asserts supposition as fact, even if they are knowledgeable, something critical is missing. However, what really cracks me up is when an Atheist or an Agnostic tells people whose religion they deny how to practice it. And our Atheist “friend” has done that too.

          Liked by 1 person

        12. There does seem to be a disconnect. It’s like the youngster who goes to go to school to become a draftsman, but who has trouble with simple addition, then in his arrogance lectures the journeymen on how they can’t understand trig.

          This may be a stretch, but it makes the point in a polite way.

          Liked by 1 person

        13. You confuse religious belief with scriptural scholarship. The two are not synonyms (as you and others like CS often assume is the case). And the state of one’s religious beliefs should not affect the historical scholarship needed of that scripture. It’s a well defined and well known conflict of interest to do so (again, as so many religious people demonstrate in their approach to undertaking scriptural scholarship with a religious rather than scholarly agenda). That’s why there are many highly respected biblical scholars who are admittedly non believers and yet offer tremendous scholarly expertise to the historiography of the bible. Right phaddes2? Hello?

          Suggesting that one must be a believer first in order to pursue scholarship of the bible is actually and incredibly anti-scholastic. It leads one into making very stupid comments about the value of scholarship… dependent (as you and others piously presume) on religious belief rather than scholarship. It’s like suggesting medical scholarship is only properly done on the condition that one must first be diseased. I’m sure you see the problem of suggesting this precondition and now recognize why it’s accurately assessed as stupid.

          So where is phaddes2’s cry for you guys to start using historiography here?

          He apparently has received graduate level instruction on the importance of primary sources for scholarship of ancient writings yet remains dead silent when fellow believers ignore this aspect altogether and substitute a scholastic knowledge-based approach with a faith-based approach that is demonstrably ignorant of what constitutes biblical scholarship! (As long as it’s pious then it’s fine, right phaddes2?)


        14. Tildeb, you seem a bit self absorbed in your beliefs. I am almost certain that Tom, Color Storm, and other folks reject certain schools within historiography, why would I need to state the obvious? However, they’ve never personally attacked my answer, or my explanation of why I answer in a certain manner using historiography. However, it appears because I’ve refuted your assertion that my ideas lack academic rigor with the fact that my ideas were manifested within the walls of secular academia, you’re attempting to throw out a red herring, and it stinks. Technically, They are using Historiography, just a different school, whether your or I agree is irrelevant. It’s still a school of thought within historiography. Man, this discipline is really hard for you, isn’t it?

          Furthermore, it shows you do have a lack of understanding of historiography because there is specific school for believers, it called the Providential school. HERE’S MY CRY HELLO! You may have heard of Bede? Sometimes Vico falls under the category as the originators of the school.

          Here the definition from the encyclopedia:

          Providential history: this is a theological or religious approach to history that sees God’s activity behind historical events. In this understanding, God’s plan for the salvation of the world unfolds through human history. History is not to be seen as random, although human rebellion against God means that human history is a struggle between good and evil.

          I don’t agree with the providential school but It’s not that I’m giving anyone a ‘pass’ as you claim. However, that has nothing to do with explaining historiography, which there in lies that stinky fish.

          Liked by 1 person

        15. Switching the topic from answering what should be a simple question with a simple answer available to anyone the least bit concerned with primary source materials to a study of ‘schools of historiography’ is a tactic to avoid answering the question. You haven’t answered the question with evidence from reality… evidence that should be quite convincing that Jesus was remarkable enough to convince any reasonable person that he was, in fact, a god. Lacking that – and that evidence is lacking – John’s question is even more mundane and temporal: how about something new and original? Again, nada.

          By all means use biblical scholarship to help you find a better answer but when this scholarship is refused (because it too fails to produce an answer different than ‘nada’) on the basis of pretending there is a religious mandate to interpret it correctly first (under this lovely phrase of providential history that is nothing more and nothing less than apologetics granted the absurd status as equivalent scholarship) then you’ve confused the scholastic order that links epistemology with ontology and allowed a religious ontology to then determine and excuse the facsimile of an epistemology.

          If you approached this topic unbiased, you’d see this clearly. But you’re so busy trying to support your religious beliefs, you reject out of hand the kind of critical thinking that reveals what you don’t want to hear and substitute typical non-scholarly apologetics.

          That substitution is guaranteed way to fool yourself and make your religiously inspired credulity and gullibility scholarly goals. This is exactly what has happened here, where your insistence on first accepting a ‘school’ of historiography introduces a methodology that elevates religious belief about a historical subject to be the determining factor in interpreting the history ‘just so’ (of course it’s going to agree with whatever religious interpretation it is used to support. Duh.) than compelling evidence from reality.

          John’s question cuts to the heart of the matter and exposes the scholarly paucity of these kinds of apologetic tactics used in the service of protecting religious beliefs from reality’s arbitration of them. That’s why you have to turn to such broken methods and pseudo-intellectual disguises to try to obfuscate the fact – the brute fact – that you’ve got nothing from reality to support the historical claims your religious beliefs present. You’ve got belief alone… no matter how much you try to gussy up how you present it.


        16. I understand your position, I just think my approach is a great representation of critical thinking applying the methods found within historiography. You of course disagree; however, you’re far better at being clear about your dissent than John was on the matter. I could easily lump what John is doing, with his ‘easy’ question as rhetoric which I could then assert it’s not academic. However, applying a more comprehensive scope to his the facile answer his method requires I understand he’s abiding by a specific school of thought. This is academic, not ‘apologetics’. Most of answers are phrased in the manner that because of particular school, it could be argued to be this way, not necessarily that my assertion is fact. This is because within the rules of logic and ‘datur tertium’ you have a fact that can be proven vs. an assertion that cannot. Which of course is the excluded third. This is academic.

          It’s a matter of your opinion because all of these methods, where did I come across them? Master level courses within a secular university… one could claim it’s not academic, even though the origin of the ideas are found within those walls, but atlas it’s still merely an opinion.

          Liked by 1 person

        17. The idea of applying a more comprehensive scope to his question and the facile answer his method requires is a comparing and contrasting. I understand he’s abiding by a specific school of thought, empiricism. Appy different methods is absolutely academic, not ‘apologetics’, not admitting this is simply denial. Most of my answers are phrased in the manner of possibilities not irrefutable truths that’s because of the application of a particular school, and not the denying of another school. Denying there are other schools and methods within secular academia to me, my opinion, is simply anti-intellectual.

          Liked by 1 person

        18. Just believe it and it shall be so!

          But seriously, in what way am I rude… other than writing honestly? Observing a lack of academic rigor is not a rude thing to say. Observing that there is a lack of critical thinking throughout an apologetic exercise utilizing metaphysics and a hasty retreat to philosophy is not rude. Observing that the tactic used to explain the lack of a compelling answer by blaming the person for asking the question is not rude. These are honest observations backed by compelling evidence for their accuracy of assessment. That you don’t like them doesn’t mean they are rude.

          If by dogmatic means that you think I’m inclined to lay down certain principles as undeniably true a priori and without compelling evidence from reality to back them up, then you’re quite mistaken.


      2. Again, you would think a god living among us would have said and done stuff that demonstrated irrefutable evidence of astounding feats, fantastic knowledge, and incredible wisdom that could stand irrefutable rather than rely on future scribes using second hand accounts based on testimonials. I mean, really. the examples should be plentiful. They aren’t… if the best one can do is come up with a metaphorical reference to the mysteries of transubstantiation!

        Good grief.


        1. Luke 16:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

          31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.


  9. Hi Tom-

    Yep, the resurrection of the Lord and the affair of Jonah is kinda sorta a big deal.

    Isn’t it something no matter what questions arise, or when faith is tested, God’s furnace removes all the weak arguments, burns up the petty inferences, and refines truth to such brightness.

    God bless your work, as you fill a void in a way that so few can. If you get a chance, take a peek at a recent post that I think you will appreciate. (‘Many voices in the air.’)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. CT,

    This: “Supposedly, those who ask this question want proof that Jesus was of prime importance in the history of man. What is actually the primary issue, however, is whether Jesus is God.”

    Does not come from this: “Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?” (emphasis omitted)

    Mr. Zande was not asking you to prove Jesus has any divine qualities. All you did was change the issue from talking about something Jesus said to whether or not Jesus is a deity. Wally has given a response to Mr. Zande’s question. It’s at the top of this post. It talks about how Jesus came to cure sin. Unless I’m mistaken and somehow Christianity has changed within the last couple of years, I think that salvation is a pretty big deal to those who believe in Christ.


    1. 1. What is the point of the question?
      2. Why should I have any interest in answering it?

      Wally is a grown man. He answered the question his way. So have some others. I am free to answer the question my way, just as you did.


      1. 1. The point of the question, as I have taken it, is to talk about profound, original things that Jesus is alleged to have said. Regardless of what one’s ultimate views are, it’s an invitation by an atheist to talk about Jesus.

        2. The interest, at least on my end, is to actually talk about what people feel are the important things that can be learned from Jesus’ ministry. I’m not getting at the divine aspects of it; rather, I’m focusing on the other parts of it, like communication and grassroots movements.

        These two things are very important in other articles that you write, especially on politics.


        1. 1. Jesus is God, and I believe that. With respect to other men, even a man can say something that sounds new, original, or useful. So if I answer the question as it was presented, other than trivializing what Jesus did, what is the point?
          2. I find the notion that a carpenter banded together with an odd assortment of other ordinary men to spread a message of brotherly love (with a story they just fabricated) via a propaganda campaign based up martyrdom exceedingly unlikely. I think it more likely the apostles really did think Jesus is God. So that is the view I espouse.

          Anyway, I think I will continue to answer the question my way. Hopefully, you find what I write interesting. If so, I expect that will be because I present a perspective different from the one you have suggested that I present. If we all sounded like each other, wouldn’t this world be a much more boring place?


  11. RE answering questions, Tom: You indicate in your 1018 comment of yesterday that you have answered my question as to whether you believe a liberal Democrat could be a Christian (or a Christian could be a liberal Democrat). The answer is not in this thread. Perhaps you posted it somewhere else? I’m keen to have your views on this. Maybe a link to wherever you put your response? Thanks in advance.


    1. Scout, you are articulate, but struggle with communication despite this. Look at what you did in your original question:
      • You open with a complaint about the answer to a previous question
      • You ask more questions
      • You mix in some additional discussion
      • You end with a rather vague question: “How does that work?”

      To this last question, Citizen Tom wrote at some length, trying to address what he felt was involved in the collision between politics and Christianity.

      But now you pick one of your questions out of that morass and complain about the lack of answer. You now seem to think that the only question you asked was “whether you believe a liberal Democrat could be a Christian (or a Christian could be a liberal Democrat).” But even in re-asking, you confuse the issue as to whether you seek a better answer, or a link to any previous answer.

      Let’s say that Citizen Tom had answered the question you are focused on in the obvious way, with a simple “yes.” How satisfied would you really have been?

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t think Citizen Tom thinks of you as a socialist, Scout, just with tendencies in that direction.

      But it seems to me that if you replaced “cannot” with “should not” in your assumed interpretation of Citizen Tom’s response, you’d be pretty close. In other words, the issue of a Christian voting for Obama is not a logical impossibility, just the result of flawed thinking and insufficient information and wisdom.

      Others have used the phrase “low-information voter” to capture this phenomenon reasonably enough, though Citizen Tom’s ideological discussion covers more ground than this. And, to my mind, it’s not just “low” information, it’s bad and hidden information; the media and on-line distortions of events are often quite dramatic, as are the omission of newsworthy items to be replaced by the latest celebrity nonsense.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Answering straightforward questions with straightforward answers is not a strength on display here. What is on display are various tactics, excuses, blaming, and diversions to avoid giving answers and being accountable for them.

      Isn’t the ‘method’ of apologetcs on display here enlightening? Oh yes… but not in a flattering way!


  12. I saw that one. What I was looking for were your views on whether a liberal Democrat could be a Christian or vice-versa. I asked because in a previous comment you had flipped very abruptly from talking a trusting in Scripture to a negative comment about people who voted for Obama. It led me to wonder whether you thought that any Christians voted for Obama (I happen to know many who did, by the way, or at least said they voted for Obama, but I thought I might solicit your view, given the celerity with which you changed gears in the comment about Scripture.

    If you think that the comment you just linked is responsive, I continue my worries about both your reading comprehension abilities and your ability to formulate coherent responses. I suppose, if I really penetrated through the murk of that response and did some gratuitous extrapolation, I might attribute to you the view that Christians cannot be liberal Democrats because Christians cannot be socialists and, in your world view, liberal Democrats are Socialists. That would be rather unfair, I think, for me to lay that kind of irrational thinking on you from so turbid a comment, so please correct me if I have misstated whatever it is you are trying to say.


    1. @ scout

      Look up the phrase “smart aleck.” =>

      Somebody who has actually read the Bible, has a decent understanding of it, and believes it should not be a Socialist or a Democrat. Unfortunately, too many people either have not given the Bible much thought or they have not given what government is supposed to much thought.

      Instead of making foolish wisecracks, if you agree, why don’t you explain why? Put up or shut up. What we believe makes a difference. Are you trying to tell me it does not? If you believe being a Christian should not affect your politics, then what is wrong with a Christian being a Nazi or a Communist?


  13. Of course I’m not saying that personal beliefs do not “make a difference”, Tom. You’re just making that up. Personal beliefs are defining. They are much of what we talk about here. Obviously, my Christianity (or yours or anyone else’s, or their Judaism, Hinduism, or Muslim faith, etc. ) will influence judgements and decisions about secular issues. In your case, given the comment that sparked my inquiry, I was trying to figure out where you draw the line. I intuited from that comment (and many other things you have said) that you don’t believe Christians can be Democrats (or vice-versa) in modern American political parlance. You haven’t done much to disabuse me of that perception of you view, although, with Keith’s prompting, I think you may be sliding back to the idea that Christians (or Jews, given your Old Testament references), “should not” be Democrats. Thus, in this world-view, the religious edifice on which many in this country rest their faith becomes kind of an adjunct of the RNC, and politics is indelibly defining of religious authenticity, and vice-versa.

    Needless to say, I do not see religion as so defining, and I think it trivializes Christianity (and no doubt other religions) to think that there is so strong a marker in the relatively (compared to the deeper meanings of our Faith) petty disputes that mar our modern political discourse in America.


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