Friday, October 11, 2019

Identifying the Resurrected Jesus


After Luke related the experience of Cleopas and his companion on the Road to Emmaus and how they did not at first recognize the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:13-35), he then related the event where he appeared suddenly in a room full of his disciples, which John identified as being locked when describing the same event.

In these famous accounts in Luke and John, it is noteworthy that there is no indication that they immediately recognized the instantaneously appearing figure as being the resurrected Jesus.
Read them here from Bible Gateway in the NIV and NET Bible translations:

NIV
NET Bible
Luke 24:36-41
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”

John 20:19-27
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Luke 24:36-41
36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”

John 20:19-27
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”

26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.”

Bible Gateway reference link

The NET Bible translation in its footnote for “ghost” informs us that this is not “a phantom” but that πνεῦμα (pneuma) here may be rendered as a “ghost,” or “an independent noncorporeal being, in contrast to a being that can be perceived by the physical senses” as the BDAG defines. So, the disciples did not immediately think it was Jesus but something else, and were thus understandably frightened. Yet, it was only after Jesus spoke to them in his familiar way and showed them his stigmata (specifically in his hands, feet and side only) that they began to see this was a materialization of the risen Lord Jesus—obviously not in his sacrificed form, but in a form representing it with select stigmata on display (the thorn wounds and scourging marks were not spoken for, as they certainly would have been if it was his actual sacrificed form on display).

In another instance, the resurrected Jesus later appeared to his disciples when they were engaged in fishing on a boat, and he was only recognized when he performed an unmistakable miracle of fishes—not before, not with his voice or form, silhouette or not, but only by the effects of his unmistakable identifying miracle.—John 21:1-8; Luke 5:3-6.

This confusion over who was appearing to them is resolved by the conclusion that Jesus’ sacrificed body was forever gone, and thus he was appearing in a different human body, different enough to prevent immediate identification, but similar enough to prevent continued doubt.

Hungry Jesus?
When the resurrected Jesus appeared to Cleopas and his companion, he agreed to dine with them. At this point their eyes were still “kept from recognizing him,” which was understood to be due to Jesus appearing “in another form” by the author of Mark 16:12. (Luke 24:16) The account relates that Jesus took a loaf of bread, and in his characteristic manner prayed over it, then distributed it to them. (Luke 24:29-31, 35) Then after he was recognized by his idiosyncrasies, he suddenly disappeared just like the “angel of Jehovah” did previously in Judges 6:21. So he vanished before eating any bread. Then following that and after appearing in the locked room, he apparently is still hungry, for he asks: “Do you have anything here to eat?” They then gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:41-43) So why would he materialize with a hungry body? “He asked for something to eat, not because he was hungry, but merely to help impress upon them that he was a real person, not imaginary.”[1] This request then is a logical follow-up from his invitation for them to touch and see that he was a physical person. Him eating is also a reminder of how Abraham’s three materialized angels also ate a meal.—Genesis 18:1-8.

Footnotes:
[1] w60 9/15 p. 576 Questions From Readers

Credits:
Picture from: After Jesus’ Resurrection, Was His Body Flesh or Spirit? www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/jesus-body/

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Riches in Fishes?

Mammon in salmon? In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus tells Peter to go “cast a fishhook” on a boat and that in the first fish’s mouth there will be a tetradrachma (4-drachma or stater) coin, the equivalent of about four days’ wages, for them both to pay the temple tax.

In Luke 5:1-10, Jesus tells Peter and the other fishermen to move the boat to another location and cast the net one more time even though it had been previously fruitless. They do it, and are blessed with more fish than they can handle, ripping their net.

Similarly, in John 21:4-11, Jesus tells the fishermen and Peter to cast the net on the other side of the boat. When they do, they are blessed with more fish than they can handle, but without the net ripping this time.

Lessons on Matthew 17:24-27:
  • Instructions to do a task Peter was already thoroughly, routinely familiar with.
  • It was the first fish caught, not particularly hard work.
  • The coin paid for not just Jesus but for Peter as well. Thus, Peter financially benefited from just one fish.
Lessons from the Luke and John narratives:
  • Instructions to do a task they were already thoroughly, routinely familiar with, but to do it again per his instructions.
  • They were financially blessed with more than they could handle, but not enough to make them rich.
So, in all cases, instructions were given that were not hard and did not require any training, they just required humility. Financial blessings followed, but not enough to make them rich.

This then adds context to John’s assurance that “for this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3; see also Deuteronomy 30:11.

Fishy Miracle in Matthew?
Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament alerts us to the fact that
Some try to get rid of the miracle by calling it a proverb or by saying that Jesus only meant for Peter to sell the fish and thus get the money, a species of nervous anxiety to relieve Christ and the Gospel of Matthew from the miraculous. “All the attempts have been in vain which were made by the older Rationalism to put a non-miraculous meaning into these words” (B. Weiss). It is not stated that Peter actually caught such a fish though that is the natural implication.
The last statement is humorous, for the absence in the narrative of Peter following Jesus’ instructions to retrieve a valuable tetradrachma to pay the temple tax is most conspicuous!

What may be used as a basis for questioning its historicity is this note from The Jewish Annotated New Testament regarding “fish”: “Rabbinic literature speaks of fish containing riches (b. Shabb. 15a).” (Shabb. is the Talmudic tractate Shabbat, and b. abbreviates Babylonian, as in the Babylonian Talmud.) However, the citation to 15a seems to be a mistake for 119a:5. 15a does not mention fish, but 119a:5 relates this parable:
The gentile went and sold all of his property, and with the money he received he bought a pearl, and he placed it in his hat. When he was crossing a river in a ferry, the wind blew his hat and cast it into the water, and a fish swallowed it. The fish was caught and removed from the water and it was brought to shore adjacent to nightfall on Shabbat eve. [The fisherman then ignorantly sells the fish to a Jew named Yosef.] He ripped the fish open and found a pearl inside it. He sold it for thirteen vessels filled with golden dinars.
Then this verse appears to give the moral of the story by saying: “One who lends to Shabbat, Shabbat repays him.”[1]

With this background in mind, an example of trying to remove the miraculous from Matthew 17:27 is this next more-recent quote, which employs the above tractate Shabbat to support its skepticism (note though it uses the same erroneous reference to 15a from the earlier Jewish Annotated NT):
Jesus’s instruction for Peter to go fishing is a delicious snippet of ancient Hebrew lore that doesn’t translate well into modern English. It is one part hyperbole, one part Jewish wisdom saying, and several parts Jesus of Nazareth. Logic, both modern and ancient, tells us that the fish wouldn’t have a coin in its mouth; nor would the market value of one fish be enough to pay the Temple tax for two men. Rabbinic literature (b. Shabb. 15a) pairs fish with riches. So, Jesus’s point was probably a simple observation that an afternoon of fishing was more valuable than an afternoon of arguing with tax collectors.[2]
First, there is an apparent failure to fact-check the Jewish Annotated NT reference to 15a when 119a:5 was evidently meant. Secondly, the statement that “logic, both modern and ancient, tells us that the fish wouldn’t have a coin in its mouth” is incorrect based on the following notes from the following study Bibles:

The ESV Archeology Study Bible states:
The only types of fish native to the Sea of Galilee that can be caught by a baited hook are the barbel (a kind of carp) and the hafafi, both of which feed on mollusks, snails, and sardines at the bottom of the lake. It is likely that either one of these picked up the shekel coin at the bottom of the sea that Peter presumably harvested for his and Jesus’ temple tax. Fishing hooks dating back to the first century AD have been found at Bethsaida.
And the HCSB Study Bible pointedly adds: “Several ancient texts refer to fishermen discovering valuable items inside fish.” So the discovery of a valuable coin in a fish is not a “fish story.” Thus, it may not have had to be a counterfeit either, just a stater coin that someone had previously lost to the unforgiving waves—but even if it was divinely counterfeited, it would hardly disrupt the local economy that was doomed for destruction in 70 CE anyway. (By way of comparison, Elijah was miraculously provided with meat, bread, and even a jug of water at one point.—1 Kings 17:2-7, 19:5, 6)

Thus, we have both the means for a fish to be able to have a coin in its mouth, and the historical backing for fish swallowing precious items. We also have the physical artifacts of first-century Palestinian fishhooks—removing any potential of doubt for an anachronism on Jesus’ lips.

Lastly, it seems for this reference to the Babylonian Talmud to have any weight, one would have to prove its popularity in first-century Palestine. Barring that, this claim of removing the miraculous should not be swallowed hook, line and sinker.[3]

Footnotes:
[1] Sefaria: https://www.sefaria.org/Shabbat.119a?ven=William_Davidson_Edition_-_English&lang=bi
[2] Jack W. Page Jr. Y’All Come: An Invitation to G-D’S Neighborhood Issued by a Jew from Nazareth (under The Temple, Taxes, and Caesar) (WestBow Press, Dec 19, 2016).
[3] As one scholar stated: “The appearance of a tradition even in an authoritative work, such as the Babylonian Talmud, does not guarantee that it was universally excepted among the Sages, much less among contemporary Jews in general.”—Darrell D. Hannah, Michael and Christ: Michael Tradition and Angel Christology in Early Christianity, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, Dec 31, 1999), 94.

Credits:
See also:

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

What you missed in the Josiah drama


The theatrical drama The Story of Josiah: Love Jehovah; Hate What Is Bad is currently playing at the 2019 Regional Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you have not yet seen it, then you are safe to continue reading, as this is not a spoiler.

Ones who have seen it will find this crystalizes one scene for them, and ones who have not seen it yet will be better prepared to understand the significance of this one scene: a reenactment of events described in 2 Kings 23:14.

When attacking a temple of Baal, what appears to be nondescript monoliths are demolished. These were tall and thick, and appear roughly like this:


I think these are supposed to be depicting Baal stelae, like this one called Baal with Thunderbolt, which is 142 centimetres (56 in/over 4 and-a-half feet) high, 50 centimetres (20 in/over a foot and-a-half) wide, and a whopping 28 centimetres (11 in) thick. It is a slab of white limestone and was found in 1932 near a temple of Baal. If so, then the producers of this film spared the audience of all the Baalic details (sacred poles also appear rather nondescript).

This film will deepen your appreciation of what King Josiah set out to accomplish!

Watch the trailer.
Read more about the Baal with Thunderbolt stele: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baal_with_Thunderbolt

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Trinitarian Hammer

For illustration sake, say you were putting a desk together by reading the instructions that came with the parts. However, you quickly notice some quirks in the instructions. For instance, you notice after scanning though it that it relies heavily on the hammer tool, even for screws, for it directs you to use its claw to turn the screws. Your eyes then look back to the introduction, and you see that all it shows is the hammer for suggested tools, even going so far as to say that “a hammer is the only tool you will need to build this desk.” Looking at the parts to assemble the desk, you see not only screws, but also cams, nuts and hex bolts. Clearly, the author of the instructions is lying by saying that ‘all you’ll need is a hammer,’ and may also be ignorant of the range of tools available and how the parts function together. He is therefore an amateur and his instructions are unprofessional and near useless. In utter disgust, you may even wonder if he ever graduated from high school and seriously doubt that he ever stepped into a technical institute to receive the proper education needed to write these instructions. Clearly, you are on your own for building the desk, relying on your own God-given common sense.

I find that the same situation exists when reading an anonymous pamphlet, The Trinity.[1] The Trinity presents the bread and butter of Evangelical Trinitarian theology and reasoning, and it would be fair to assume then that its author received the highest education Trinitarian scholarship has to offer, and also that it would be honest, and certainly never present a single lie. Indeed, presenting just one single lie in defending your theology is unthinkable for any Christian!—Matthew 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Reading this pamphlet, on page 1 it displays a classic Scutum Fidei (“shield of the faith”), commonly celebrated as the “Shield of the Trinity” diagram, and then declares: “Early Christians used this diagram to explain the Trinity.” (See Figure 1 below.)

Figure 1
~click to enlarge~


“Early Christians” is meant to convey the idea of first Christians. This is made clear when Irenaeus is called an “early church leader (A.D. 177)” and when “early” is defined as being before 300 CE: “early church leaders and/or writings all defended the doctrine of the Trinity long before A.D. 300.”[2] It then gives a list reaching back to 90 CE, with the claim that the Didache document teaches Trinitarianism. However, this claim about the Didache is so laughably wrong as to be a blatant lie.[3] The author of this pamphlet is not aware of the range of reading-comprehension tools at his disposal, for he is only familiar with his Trinitarian hammer. This right here destroys the credibility of The Trinity, just as the hypothetical author of those instructions has destroyed his credibility with his “hammer.”

Another Trintarian teacher even declared that the Scutum Fidei is “an ancient symbol.”[4] Is this claim of it being “early” and “ancient” also a blatant lie? The excellent scholar of Christian art, Robin M. Jensen, knows nothing about the Scutum Fidei in early Christianity, even up to the fourth century. There is no mention of it in her books Understanding Early Christian Art (2000) and Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity (2005). Alarming us further is another source stating that it derived from the Medieval Tetragrammaton-Trinity diagram of three circles and the Triquetra of three interlocking circles, thus:
The Shield of the Trinity diagram is attested from as early as a c. 1208–1216 manuscript of Peter of Poitiers’ Compendium Historiae in Genealogia Christi, but the period of its most widespread use was during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it is in found in a number of English and French manuscripts and books … The diagram was used heraldically from the mid-13th century, when a shield-shaped version of the diagram (not actually placed on a shield) was included among the c. 1250 heraldic shields.[5]
This is entirely in the domain of Medieval Christians, which are nowhere near the same chronological zip code as “early” (not to mention “ancient”).

Is this pamphlet right on page 1 then stating an outright lie to be sensational? Placing something Christian in the “early” category naturally conjures up the domain of the first few centuries, as the pamphlet defines “early.” Likewise, calling something Christian “ancient” is obviously meant to identify it as originating with the first Christians—even Jesus himself. A professional and honest historian however would never describe something Medieval in this way, as “early” or “ancient.” That would be entirely misleading. I just don’t see any wiggle room here for these Trinitarian teachers. I find it hard to believe that the actual Medieval origin was unknown by them. Even though I am inclined towards being charitable, I sadly am left with little choice but to see deliberate lying here with the motivation to be sensational. This is no small matter. Lying about your theology with the aim of substantiating it would place them in the category described in Revelation 21:8, of being “cowards and those without faith,” “and those practicing spiritism (or “those who practice magic arts” NIV) and idolaters and all the liars.”

This would naturally extend to anyone using the Scutum Fidei “Shield of the Trinity” as ones practicing deception—for Jesus never instructed us to make such a diagram! It is a lie and akin to casting a magic spell of deception.

This type of “Trinitarian hammer” reasoning sadly reared its ugly head when an otherwise credible and well-respected astronomer, Hugh Ross, in a Facebook post presented a Scutum Fidei with the standard Trinitarian misreading of Genesis 1:26, 27 and Elohim.[6] These are misreadings due to failing to consider other tools of reading comprehension, and using the hammer of Trinitarian interpretation to the exclusion of other tools. I explained this in “Skeptical About Trinitarianism.”[7] Trinitarianism then makes its adherents into simpletons who fail at basic reading comprehension of their own scriptures, as well as liars. This level of ineptitude is sustained by the logical fallacy of the Lonely Fact followed by the fallacy of Hasty Generalization—that is, isolating one fact to the exclusion of others and then forming a conclusion based on that artificial restriction on the available facts. It’s a bad and abusive theology, with the remainder of The Trinity reading like a comic book of Mad Magazine proportions. It’s intellectually and spiritually disgusting.

Footnotes:
[1] Rose Publishing (1999)
[2] Pages 9 and 4.
[3] Didache 7:1, 3 provides directions for baptism including the Matthean formula “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Exposing the claim that this teaches Trinitarianism as a blatant lie is the obvious fact that it is not stating that these three are persons of one God. The Didache ironically condemns the author of The Trinity by saying “you shall not bear false witness.”—2:3.
[4] Michael Patton and Tim Kimberley. Credo House, Apologetics Boot Camp, Part 4: The Deity of Christ. 32:55, in a video presentation when displaying the Scutum Fidei. Tim Kimberley specifically made that claim with Patton’s support.
[5] Wikipedia, “Shield of the Trinity.”
[6] July 31, 2019. www.facebook.com/RTBHughRoss/photos/a.313268935417884/2356536847757739/?type=3&__tn__=-R. This Scutum Fidei was presented with the outer three circles blank, as if intended for teaching children to fill them in.
[7] jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2016/08/skeptical-about-trinitarianism.html

Further reading:
Recommended videos:

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Friday, July 19, 2019

The Apollo Moon Landings


Did you know that some of the people responsible for successfully landing men on the moon in the Apollo Program later became Jehovah’s Witnesses? Two cases are published on this, Isidoros Ismailidis and Wendell Marley. The relevant parts are presented below:
The Watchtower, 2000 8/1 p. 25 From Building Weapons to Saving Lives
AS TOLD BY ISIDOROS ISMAILIDIS ... I was working for the U.S. Air Force at a missile and space company in Sunnyvale, California. I was involved with a variety of air and space projects, including the Agena and Apollo programs. I even received medals for my contribution to the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions. After that, I continued my education and became heavily involved in various military space projects.
He also mentioned a certain coworker:
In early 1967, at work, I met Jim, a very humble and kind man. Jim always seemed to have a smile on his face, and he never turned down an invitation to take a coffee break with me. He used these opportunities to share information from the Bible with me. Jim told me that he had been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The outcome of Jim’s studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses is not stated, but he apparently also worked for the success of the space program.
The Watchtower, 1982 5/1 pp. 3-4 In Search of Success
IT WAS July 20, 1969. The Apollo 11 spacecraft and the lunar landing module named Eagle circled the moon making last-minute preparations for the first historic landing of man on the moon. I sat in the mission support room at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, with dozens of thoughts rebounding in my mind: Will the landing be a safe one? Will the system for which I was responsible operate properly and carry out its necessary functions?

I, as well as many others who had worked diligently many years for this moment, waited and listened intently. Suddenly, a voice from 240,000 miles in space said: “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” How excited and thrilled I was at hearing those words! ...

At the conclusion of the Gemini Program (two-man spacecraft), I was offered an opportunity to move from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, to work on the three-man Apollo Lunar Landing Program. Since this looked like a good means to make further advancement, I wasted no time in accepting the offer.

The next few years were spent working hard on the first moon landing flight, developing computer software for the guidance and navigation systems, planning mission techniques and simulating the flight on a ground computer. I remember being told by one of my superiors: “Nothing is more important than making a success of this flight.” (p. 4)
... Contributed by Wendell Marley. (p. 6)

[Blurb on page 4]
‘“The Eagle has landed!” I had helped to design the guidance system that placed the first man on the moon’
Incidentally, I knew another man from social media, who went by the moniker PeterJ and who sadly passed away years ago, who is another example.

By the way, denying that this space program was real, accusing the space agencies and their employees of hoaxing, has become a modern-day psychosis displaying the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a very libelous and sinister accusation fulfilling 2 Timothy 3:3, and is also only a step away from falling for the demonized propaganda of the flat earth folly.

I hope you have benefited from knowing that some responsible for the success of the Apollo moon landings became Jehovah’s Witnesses.


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Monday, June 17, 2019

“The New Humanity” by The Bible Project

The Bible Project is a Trinitarian workshop that creates educational videos about the Bible and how to read it. Some videos it produces are great, and others, well, not so much. Its video, “The New Humanity,”[1] while looking like it could be informative, comes across as presumptuous in the nature of the “Dunning-Kruger effect,” “a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.” (Hereafter abbreviated as DKE.) This was seen in how it explained how Adam and Eve were supposed to live forever, and in Jesus’ resurrection body. As explained below, this is DKE upon DKE![2]

Regarding Adam and Eve and their goal of eating from the Tree of Life, it explained:
What does that mean to eat of the Tree of Life?
Well it’s an image of receiving God’s own eternal life into yourself. It’s about a whole new kind of existence.
So, wait, physical beings living forever? How could that even work?
Well, somehow sharing in God’s life transforms our bodies so that we can inhabit heaven and earth at the same time.
Or, was it a human that was healthy enough to live indefinitely on earth, with telomeres maintaining their length? With this in mind, The Bible Project gurus would do well to read and reflect on Psalm 115:15-16,
May you be blessed by Jehovah, The Maker of heaven and earth. As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, But the earth he has given to the sons of men.
From this scripture that The Bible Project failed to take into account, there is no cross-over body. Humans remain physical people on the earth, and the Divine Council dwells in heaven, the spirit realm that Jesus said was τῶν ἄνω (“the above,” or “realms above”) in contrast with the physical universe he said was τῶν κάτω (“the below,” or “realms below”). (John 8:23) To say that a human “can inhabit heaven and earth at the same time” is to say that a cube can exist in a two-dimensional plane. It is a contradiction like square circles and freezing infernos. Frankly, as it cannot exist, they are unwittingly calling God’s promise fictional. It is presumptuous and DKE.

Also, introducing that wild claim of being in two radically different locations simultaneously with “somehow” does not induce confidence in their claim. Outlandish claims need more support than “somehow.”

There is also no scriptural citations to support the claim that eternal life is “God’s own eternal life” one is imbued with.

They then later apply their DKE to Jesus:
The Risen Jesus is human, but a new kind of human.
Yeah, when Jesus’ followers met him alive from the dead, he had a transformed body that could live in heaven and earth at the same time. He’s like a new category of human, one that can live and rule with God forever.
This is more of the contradiction fallacy used above. A body cannot inhabit two realms simultaneously, one transcending the other, just like a cube cannot exist in a two-dimensional plane. A transcendent body cannot exist in a realm it is transcending. It can intersect it, but it cannot be simultaneously two- and three-dimensional. It can only be one or the other, just like a shape cannot be simultaneously a circle and a square, or like how a temperature cannot be simultaneously freezing and infernal.

Claiming otherwise is presumptuous and stubborn, and is maintaining DKE.

Thankfully, Jesus was resurrected as a spirit creature,[3] and no longer bears his crucifixion stigmata as depicted in this video (see opening screen capture). Indeed, if Jesus’ heel bones were nailed as indicated by the archeological record, then him taking his sacrificed body back would prevent him from walking, as his feet would be broken, as a person cannot walk with broken heel bones. Thus when he showed his foot wounds to his disciples as recorded in Luke 24:39-40, they must have been mostly healed, along with his side spear wound. However, his thorn wounds were evidently not on display, not marking his forehead. These two points demonstrate that the body he materialized in was not the same body he died in, meaning he was a spirit-being manipulating a materialization like a hand in a puppet. This should be excruciatingly obvious and logical to all careful readers.

This subject should have been taken more seriously and scripturally by The Bible Project.

See also:

Footnotes:
[1] Seen here: youtu.be/takEeHtRrMw
[2] This cognitive failure was introduced in this entry: Christological Physicalism Reveals Dunning-Kruger Effect jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/06/christological-physicalism-reveals.html
[3] This is explicitly stated not only scripturally but also in the themes of Jesus’ appearances in a locked room and most notably in the Atonement Day drama. Refer to the entries in the label of Jesus’ resurrection linked to below:
jimspace3000.blogspot.com/search/label/Jesus%27%20resurrection
jimspace3000-index.blogspot.com/#Jesus%27%20resurrection

Appendix
What Does It Mean for God to Be “Spirit”?
By Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser
When Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman, he tells her that “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24; πνεῦμα ὁ θεός; pneuma ho theós). For some, this phrase denotes that God is an ethereal being who is not spatially delimited; in other words, that God has no bodily form. However, the Bible often describes spirits as embodied, and John’s own Gospel presents God as both “spirit” (πνεῦμα; pneuma) and as having some kind of body. When Yeshua says that “God is spirit,” he does not argue against divine embodiment. Instead, for God to be “spirit” means that the Lord is not made of flesh and blood like human beings, nor is God bound by our physical world.

For help in understanding what Jesus means by “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24), the best place to go is back to the beginning of John’s Gospel. In the Johannine prologue (1:1-18), the evangelist asserts that God (1) has some sort of “body,” and (2) that body is not physical in an earthly sense—that is, God’s bodily form is not that of flesh and blood. On this second assertion, the Gospel clarifies that God is not made of human materials. John says that everyone who receives the Word of God becomes “children of God, who were born, not of blood (αἱμάτων; haimáton) nor of the will of the flesh (σαρκὸς; sarkòs) nor of the human (ἀνδρὸς; andròs) will, but of God” (1:12-13). These verses highlight the fact that God is not made up of “blood” or “flesh,” nor is God “human”; according to John, the Father exists and operates beyond the earthly realm.

At the same time, John also notes that God exists in a bodily form that is not like our own. The very end of the prologue states that “no one has ever seen God,” but that the one-of-a-kind Word, “who is in the Father’s bosom (κόλπος; kólpos), has made him known” (1:18). The Greek word translated “bosom” (sometimes translated “side” [e.g., ESV, CEB,]) literally describes God’s chest or the part of the body between the arms. [This article then makes the point that a person resurrected into heaven] is no longer made of flesh and blood—his physical body remains in the grave. Nevertheless, [a person resurrected into heaven] is still very much embodied in the afterlife—in what we might call a “spiritual body” (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44). In a similar way, God has a bodily form, but the divine body is made of “spirit” rather than “flesh.” The Fourth Gospel shows that God can be both “spirit” (πνεῦμα; pneuma) and embodied in heaven. (Emphasis original.)
weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/mean-god-spirit/

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Christological Physicalism Reveals Dunning-Kruger Effect


In the field of psychology, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

This cognitive deficiency was demonstrated quite profoundly in an attempted rebuttal of my blog entries on Jesus’ resurrection as a spirit person. One responder in a series of eight or so tiresome pseudo-rebuttals on his blog argued for Christological Physicalism, that Jesus was resurrected in his sacrificed body and took it to heaven in an undefined “glorified” state. (“Undefined” in that no one ever, my responder included, offers a scientific explanation on how flesh can be conditioned to exist outside of earth’s atmosphere without any physical protection.) To illustrate how Christological Physicalism reveals the Dunning-Kruger effect, it will be compared to the contemporary craze of flat earth belief, which also commits the Dunning–Kruger effect (herein abbreviated as DKE).

I will not dignify this responder by identifying him or by linking to his blog.

These responses were written in 2017-18, and while aware of his activity, I am only now able to stomach this type of reasoning in response to my presentations.

He littered his response with the insult that I am unimaginative. Considering that I actually have a problem with being over-imaginative and continually struggle against day-dreaming and controlling my overactive imagination, his insult becomes as detached from reality as the flat earth is. (DKE alert.) Indeed, any casual reader of JimSpace should immediately recognize this indisputable fact. I think the reason for his baseless insult is that I tend to be down-to-earth. Being down-to-earth or realistic is not to be confused with being unimaginative. His failure at discerning this distinction is due to a basic cognitive failure of being unthoughtful and intolerant. I also note though that he unintentionally contradicted himself over this insult when he mentioned that I explored the cross topic differently than other Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is due to me ironically being able use my imagination to think outside the box and objectively consider other viewpoints. It also demonstrates that I am objective and down-to-earth.

Leaving that uninsightful ad hominem attack behind, I will now show instances of cognitive failure and DKE.

At one point he introduced a pseudo-rebuttal this way: “Jim recently published another post on this topic, this time responding to me, though, not by name.” Don’t flatter yourself. What I posted was what was developed in stimulation of talking to you on a discussion board. It was what was on my mind, and thus I posted it in a more developed and collected format. Another case of DKE (as in an assumption he had all the insight).

At another point he asked: “Now, why does Jim think that I should have to give a description of how Jesus' human body was glorified…?” Because if you don’t, then you don’t have a Christological model. All you have are empty words and DKE. Your words have to be meaningful. Failure to use meaningful words is to use counterfeit words, the very verbiage of apostates per 2 Peter 2:3.

He then continued that Jesus “was raised up a human being, (2) that the resurrection body is glorious, incorruptible, immortal and so so…” No scripture is provided here for the contention that he was resurrected as a human being, when the Bible does explicitly declare in the clearest words imaginable that he was by necessity resurrected as a spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45, 50) He thus epically failed to define “glorified,” and thus admitted defeat in the nature of DKE. Now he would tell me to “calm down, Jim.” Well, there can be no calming down in the face of this outrageous indignity to the Biblical Jesus. To “calm down” would be to acquiesce to Paul’s opponents who complained that “his letters are weighty and forceful.” (2 Corinthians 10:10) I call it like it is, and he should be humble enough to repent.

The closest he came to a definition is that Jesus’ body is “glorified in that it is supernaturally endowed to be incorruptible.” But that just repeats the same ludicrous and unscriptural claim of DKE proportions. He continued: “Is it really so strange to think that God could raise up a human being incorruptible?” Yes, for he cannot create square circles or freezing infernos as I explained in “The Laws of Physics, Scripture, and Things that are Impossible for God.” http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2010/10/the-laws-of-physics-scripture-and.html

It gets rather frustrating having to explain the obvious to Christological Physicalists, just like it gets frustrating having to explain that the earth is a globe to flat earth believers. It’s the equivalent level of frustration and it’s DKE galore.

He also expresses a failure at comprehending the obvious fact that physical objects occupy physical space. He asks, referring to me: “Does he think that to say that Christ is in heaven is to say that he's floating in in the space around the earth, waving at the astronauts in the ISS? Who has ever suggested such a notion?” Well, if he’s human as you say, then, yes, you’re the one who teaches that nonsense. That you are unable to think long enough to take your belief to its logical conclusion is not my problem. But it is good to see that he finds the immediate logical conclusion of that belief to be nonsense. Physical objects occupy physical space, and that would obviously include the “glorified” physical Jesus. That he and his Trinitarian comrades cannot think long enough to reach that logical conclusion is not my problem. But it does demonstrate why I cannot believe in it. If they cannot believe in the logical conclusions of their own nonsense, then neither can I, nor anyone else who values rational thought, for that matter.

Adding to DKE and failure to comprehend the blindingly obvious, he then expresses uncharitable reading or lack of reading comprehension. Case in point where he quoted me:
Lastly, one scripture that must be showcased is John 6:63, where Jesus answers his question in verse 62: “Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?” The “before” is defined for us previously in John 6:38 as being heaven. He then answered that the spirit is life-giving but that “human nature is of no help!” (NET Bible) If that’s Jesus’ view of human nature in heaven, then why would he have one?
The fundamental problem is that Jim misunderstands what Jesus is saying here. Jim takes him to be describing the kind of body that he will have in his resurrection.
That is exactly what I am not describing. I am quite clearly constructing a principle.

Another case in point where he quoted me:
It appears to me that ones insisting otherwise, that Jesus retained his sacrificed Nazarene body are clinging to Jesus’ body when he said “Stop clinging to me,”[1] and are contradicting Jesus when he said that “the flesh is of no use at all” (NWT) “the flesh doesn’t help at all” (HCSB) “the flesh counts for nothing” (NIV) in heaven (per John 6:38). (John 20:17; 6:38, 62-63) He sacrificed his flesh (blood and the rest of his body) during the crucifixion, and by his own admission it is not currently needed in heaven. Thus, in order to obey Jesus’ direct command, we should not cling to it.
He danced around after this quote as he wasn’t able to comprehend its point, and then said regarding what Jesus said to Mary: “If so, whatever. If not, he's obviously misapplied the verse.” Again, I was obviously constructing a principle. This is also quite ironic in the face of his accusation that I am unimaginative. Here I am using my creativity, which he says I lack, at constructing a scriptural principle, which he then fails to understand!

There is much more that my responder fails to understand, and exhibits a tiresome bigoted arrogant complaining mentality, which is unspiritual. (James 3:15; Jude 1:19) He must want to side with this most inane doctrine of Christendom and defend it, turning himself into a closed-minded simpleton, for he has also accepted the refuted and unscriptural Trinitarian ideology.

Let me summarize a resounding response simultaneously covering multiple points: Jesus is currently a Jew EXPERIENTIALLY. Not ontologically. If the latter is true (that Jesus exists as a human however “glorified”), then Jesus has glorified human body parts that he no longer needs (that are only needed on earth): feet, buttocks, sexual organs, eyelashes, corneas, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Why Christological Physicalists cannot grasp this searingly obvious logical conclusion is incredible. It is akin to flat earth belief. It is a doctrine of demons of the most perverse sort, and is a laughingstock in the secular world—bringing unnecessary disrepute to Christianity. What a wicked sin!—1 Timothy 4:1, 2.

(To his credit, I noted a time when Trinitarian Dr. William Lane Craig appeared to see that logical problem, and sought to avoid it saying that human nature only manifests itself as physical in our universe. [See Defending Trinitarianism http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2012/01/defending-trinitarianism.html] But by saying that, he unwittingly removed human nature from Jesus since human nature by its very definition is physical! For in Trinitarianism, Jesus is ontologically physical albeit mysteriously “glorified” of DKE proportions, not human experientially—by way of past experience.)

But fortunately, my responder also provided a scriptural argument that deserves to be analyzed.

In an entry entitled His Flesh Saw Not Corruption, he quoted Acts 2:24-31 and 13:35-37 that applies King David’s words in Psalm 16:8-10 to Jesus.

With the words of verses 9 and 10 in mind, which say “I reside [Or “my flesh resides.”] in security. 10 For you will not leave me in the Grave. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit,” he explained:
This plainly shows that the resurrection body of Christ is human and is the self-same physical body that he died in. For only if he rose up in it could it not see corruption.
If he took to heart the description of Jesus’ sufferings before and during the crucifixion, then he would not be able to say that it “is the self-same physical body that he died in.” This is exactly why I say that Christological Physicalists betray ingratitude for the ransom sacrifice. They clearly could care less what the Lord Jesus experienced; all they want is his flesh to relish in. What an incredibly self-serving and shallow mentality! It is revolting.

(The Jewish Study Bible has for verse 9: “So my heart rejoices, my whole being exults, and my body rests secure.” This is not about keeping the corpse! It is rather about the being itself, not molecules of a corpse.)

Additionally, he fails to understand the very simple concept that avoiding corruption is met by simply NOT DECAYING. His sacrificed, crucified body was removed by God as Moses’ body similarly was. Christological Physicalists have therefore turned Jesus’ earthly sojourn body into an idol, exposing themselves as idolaters.

Another point Christological Physicalists fail to understand is sacrifice. What you willfully sacrifice you cannot take back, or it is clearly not a sacrifice. Why they cannot grasp that very simple concept is beyond all rational minds.

He also ignored my presentation on Ignatius, on how this disciple of the Apostle John manifestly denied Christological Physicalism. (This is seen in Appendix D of With what sort of body?)

I will conclude with noting that omission, and noting that Christological Physicalists apply DKE, betray a simpleton mindset akin to flat earth believers, and are idolaters turning Jesus’ sacrificed body into an idol.

For all Christological Physicalists: it is time to repent. Reject your idolatry without delay. Be enlightened! And find the true, Biblical Jesus Christ.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Flat earth folly refutes itself

Flat earth goes down the drain

An irrefutable axiom is that “absurdity refutes itself.” If you wait long enough, in a relatively short time an absurd position will eventually refute itself. The flat earth explanation is no exception. This craze propagated on YouTube has refuted itself by unintentionally slipping into explaining geology using globe earth mechanics, as seen right on The Flat Earth Society website. This happened when it tried to explain how volcanoes can work on a flat earth:
Volatile Mountains are formed when molten rock, or magma deep within the earth, erupts, and piles upon the surface. Examples of Volatile Mountains include Mount St. Helens in North America and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
So what it calls “volatile mountains” includes volcanoes. How deep within the earth does the magma come from? It answers:
Volcanoes can be caused by "mantle plumes". These so-called "hotspots" , for example at Hawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries.
There can be no mantle in a flat earth, only in a globe earth. A mantle also means there is a core. Therefore, The Flat Earth Society has unwittingly shot itself in the foot with a bazooka.

See screenshot:
Click to enlarge

It also has an article on “Antipodal volcanism” that is as comprehensive as it will ever be:
Click to enlarge

Flat earth fails to explain the very thing it claims to: the earth.

The end.
(This will be the last blog entry on this peculiar topic.)


See also:

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

William Lane Craig on The Ben Shapiro Show

On May 12, 2019 William Lane Craig was interviewed by Ben Shapiro.

I really enjoyed this and now have rejuvenated respect for WLC. I like how he never affirmed Trinitarianism even though Ben seemed to have been baiting him to affirm it. Instead, he stressed that God sent Jesus and that Jesus was the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13-14.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Socrates Scholasticus on the Council of Nicaea

Socrates Scholasticus (c. 380 – after 439), a 5th-century Christian Church Historian, wrote concerning the events preceding the Council:

“Now a short time previous to the general assembling of the bishops, the disputants engaged in preparatory logical contests before the multitudes;”

This was not a closed-doors private affair, it was presented to the general populace beforehand!

He continued:

“and when many were attracted by the interest of their discourse,” [this was no boring affair!] “one of the laity, a confessor, who was a man of unsophisticated understanding, reproved these reasoners, telling them that
Christ and his apostles did not teach us dialectics,[1] art, nor vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.
As he said this, all present admired the speaker and assented to the justice of his remarks; and the disputants themselves, after hearing his plain statement of the truth, exercised a greater degree of moderation: thus then was the disturbance caused by these logical debates suppressed at this time.”
www.newadvent.org/fathers/26011.htm (Church History, Book 1 chapter 8.)
(End quote)

This anonymous layman spoke the brutal truth, and provides us with a window into the popular mindset and the volatile climate of this theological crisis.[2]

In other words, beliefs about God and Jesus should be rooted first in the Bible and not in philosophy. That layman detected that some theologians were rooting their beliefs in philosophy and admonished them that their beliefs should be rooted in the Bible. Thus, he saw a real danger in their approach and courageously voiced his concern. My heart goes out to that anonymous commoner.


Footnotes:
[1] Defined as the “inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions.”
[2] The September 1, 1984 Watchtower pp. 25-30 “We Worship What We Know” article referred to this incident apparently through the book A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 by Kenneth S. Latourette (1953), which says on page 154 without any citation to Socrates Scholasticus:
We read that one of these who had suffered for his faith in the persecutions which were of recent memory and who, hearing the pre-council disputes before the gathering at Nicaea, bluntly told the debaters that Christ did not “teach us dialectics, art, or vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.” (https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.502917/2015.502917.A-History_djvu.txt)
Compare this with the above Watchtower article, which said Jehovah’s Witnesses
share the view of the Christian layman who is recorded as having bluntly told the wrangling theologians assembled in Nicaea in 325 C.E.: ‘Christ did not teach us dialectics, art, or vain subtleties, but simple-mindedness, which is preserved by faith and good works.’ Apparently this man had suffered for his faith in Christ, even as many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have. Like him, they have no faith in theological philosophy. They accept with simplicity what the Bible states about God, Christ and the holy spirit, and they are willing to suffer for their simple faith and prove it by good works. (wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1984647#h=15)
(Underscoring added.)


Additional reading:

Credits:
  • Cover from Wipf and Stock: https://wipfandstock.com/socrates-ecclesiastical-history.html

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Splitting the Adam


In Genesis 2:21, 15:12 both Adam and Abram are described as falling into “a deep sleep.” The Hebrew word here is תרדמה, tardema. In Adam’s case, when he awoke, he found a female human, which he praised as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) In Abram’s case however, “Jehovah then apparently spoke to him in a dream,” as seen in Genesis 15:12-16.[1] Also, in both cases, the Greek word used in the LXX is ἔκστασις (ekstasis)—literally “outside oneself” (producing the English word “ecstatic”). While tardema is used elsewhere in 1 Samuel 26:12, Job 4:13, 33:15, Proverbs 19:15 and Isaiah 29:10, it literally means just “deep sleep,” and it was not translated in the LXX as ἔκστασις.

Now if Abram’s tardema lead to a vision, did Adam’s as well? There is no evidence for this, as Genesis 2:21 even clarifies that “he was sleeping” during the famous rib extraction process, reminiscent of a medical operation. That the LXX translator(s) used ἔκστασις here may indicate that they thought it was like Abram’s, which is fascinating on a historical level, but it cannot be counted as evidence, as the LXX is not divinely inspired and that Genesis 2:21 was not quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures and applied as a visionary event.

Indeed, a notable difference between Adam and Abram here is that Adam expressed surprise when he awoke, declaring “This is at last…!” Whereas with Abram, the account merely continues from verse 11 with Jehovah accepting his sacrifice.

So while “splitting the Adam” (in obvious wordplay on “splitting the atom”) the text does not lend itself to him experiencing a vision like Abram did. Instead, it most likely lends itself to Adam being “out like a light.”

Footnotes:
[1] “Dream.” Insight on the Scriptures. wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001222#h=4

This is in response to Splitting the Adam https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/splitting-the-adam/ By Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser, June 7, 2018.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

All about Plate Tectonics


Plate tectonics or paleogeography has always fascinated me for as far back as I can remember.

Here is a video from PBS Eons explaining this science, its origins, mechanism, and history: Here is another presentation on the importance of plate tectonics, from What If: Here are two online plate tectonics simulators:
Notice how Pangaea was not the first supercontinent.

Of particular interest are projections into future continental configurations together with the concern of human habitability. Regarding that, Amos 4:13 reminds us that the Creator is the “Former of the mountains,” so He is in control of future continental geography and our habitation.

Recommended reading:

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Satanic Scheming - Part 2

The end of diabolical scheming

Portrayed on the floor of a Catholic cathedral in Siena, Italy is a fifteenth-century portrait of Hermes Trismegistus, a mythical pre-Christian pagan Hellenic-Egyptian philosopher. (See Figure 1.) How this was included in church artwork has a long history that will now be explored.

Figure 1

Scheming after Christ
This period of time in early post-Biblical Christian history is murky with only sporadic information on councils and unifying decrees. As one scholar observed: “No absolute certainty can be reached in this field, given the extreme scantiness of the available sources.”[1] Another scholar corroborated: “It is important to recognize how little is actually known about the progress of Nicene orthodoxy along the Danube during the two generations after 381.”[2] “Nicene orthodoxy” was established at the Council of Nicaea convened by Emperor Constantine in 325, which produced the Nicene Creed, which affirmed that the son of God was coeternal and consubstantial [homoousios] with the Father. Secondly, the significance of 381 lies in two events: first, in 380 Roman Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree enforcing Nicene theology at the point of a sword, and banned the competing Arianism, the theology that “the son of God was created by the Father and was therefore neither coeternal nor consubstantial with the Father.”[3] Then in 381 he convened the Council of Constantinople to clarify the Nicene theology, bringing Trinitarianism into sharper focus.

But what occurred at the Council of Nicaea and how exactly was the resulting Nicene Creed agreed upon? First, this council presented itself as a welcome relief from the persecution and intolerance inflicted beforehand. However, we must ask if this “olive branch” of peace from the Emperor was another form of persecution to divide and conquer. This question must be objectively considered, for dismissing it would ignore Satan’s previous machinations and thus would be naïve. Illustrating the relevance and importance of this inquiry is what happened to Jesus when he arrived at Golgotha. As recorded at Mark 15:23, “they tried to give him wine drugged with myrrh, but he would not take it.” Thus, “Christ refused to partake of any such means of alleviation; He would retain all His mental power for the complete fulfillment of the Father’s will.”[4] Indeed, if Jesus had accepted this drugged elixir, he would have been contaminated and unable “retain all His mental power for the complete fulfillment of the Father’s will.” Thus, he would have compromised the sacrificial value of his imminent death. This custom then of offering drugged wine to the condemned harmonized with Satan’s scheming, and it too failed. Based on this observation, would Satan mimic this event and offer Christianity, already made vulnerable from previous doctrinal wrangling with heresies and from persecution, a similar elixir meant to alleviate suffering that was really a trap leading to compromise and failure? That is, an elixir in the form of a council in the fourth century to make peace and unity that was actually compromise and heresy?

Legitimizing this inquiry is the contemporary popularity of a body of pagan Egyptian-Greek syncretic philosophy and writings identified as the Corpus Hermeticum. A dictionary explains: “The Egyptian Hermes, known under the name of Trismegistos, was the reputed author of the Corpus Hermeticum, which was widely read by Gnostics and Christians.”[5] Another source states: “some saw in the Hermetic texts an anticipation of Christianity.”[6] So the pagan (and likely demonic) Corpus Hermeticum was being read by Christians—being taught by Hermes Trismegistus—thinking that Hermes anticipated Christ and thus respected his corpus of literature enough to have it influence them. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: Hermes Trismegistus

It would be prudent then to objectively analyze the historical setting of the Nicene Council, for if it was like the drugged wine Jesus rejected to maintain his integrity before his Father and God, then Christians should reject it as well to maintain their integrity before Jesus and God. The stakes could not be any higher.

Precisely, the key word of contention in the Nicene debates was homoousios, introduced by Constantine in order to unify the discussions. However, as Professor Pier Franco Beatrice stated:
homoousios came straight from Constantine’s Hermetic background. As can be clearly seen in the [Greek Hermetic tractate] Poimandres, … in the theological language of Egyptian paganism the word homoousios meant that the Nous [Mind]-Father and the Logos [Word]-Son, who are two distinct beings, share the same perfection of the divine nature.
He added: “In fact, the only pagan text known so far in which homoousios is used in the context of a discussion specifically and exclusively concerned with the nature of God and his cosmogonic activity is the Poimandres, the first tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum.” And: “The Gnostics evidently drew this word from their Egyptian and Hermetic sources, introducing it for the first time into the Christian lexicon.”[7]

Figure 3: Lactantius

That Constantine had a “Hermetic background” is seen in that one of his favorite advisers, the Christian intellectual Lactantius,[8] “considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity.”[9] (See Figure 3 above.) Thus, Beatrice explains that “Everything becomes clear if we read the strikingly similar texts of Lactantius and Constantine against the background of the Hermetic tradition, rather than of the Christian controversies of their time.”[10] Hermes’ corpus then was esteemed for its wisdom and utilized for composing the Nicene Creed. This is seen in that the Nicene Creed says Jesus is “of one substance with the Father [ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, homoousion toh Patri],” and Poimandres says regarding “God-the-Mind” [Νοῦς ὁ θεός, Nous ho Theos] that “God’s Reason (Logos) [θεοῦ Λόγος, Theou Logos] … was at-oned with the Formative Mind [“God-the-Mind”]; for it was co-essential [ὁμοούσιος, homoousios] with it.”[11] So in Hermeticism, the Word is homoousios with God the Father, the same in the Nicene Creed coming after it. With Poimandres in mind, Beatrice summarized Hermetic teaching that “the Logos is also defined ‘Son of the Father,’ separate by name but really one with him. The word homoousios appears in the last oracle, designating the consubstantiality of the Logos-Son with the Nous-Father.”[12] Thus, another scholar wrote that “Beatrice’s persuasive evidence that the Nicene Creed’s use of the philosophical word homoousios was drawn from Hermeticism has yet to be appreciated on a wider scale.”[13]

This being the case, we should expect evidence of a strong reaction opposing the inclusion of a Hermetic, pagan and demonic word into a Christian creed. We find just that. Leading dissenting voices expressed the following. One fifth-century Arian document “laments how, in the previous generation, the Nicenes had ‘seized the Church’; they had established there the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ (the homoousion).”[14] (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) Another Arian document declared: “The odious and execrable, depraved and perverse profession of the homousians” should be “rejected and trampled underfoot as the invention of the Devil and the doctrine of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) It continued, grouping the “homousians” with other heretical movements and calling them “Antichrists” who are “not teachers but deceivers, not preachers but prevaricators” of “wicked doctrines,” being “evil workers.”[15] (1 John 2:18; Acts 20:29) That homoousios was called an “Abomination of Desolation” and “the invention of the Devil and the doctrine of demons” matches with it being understood as deriving from a pagan and demonic source. That modern scholarship has revealed this to be the Corpus Hermeticum is nothing short of astonishing.

Consequently, with the inclusion of a demonic concept from the pen of “Hermes Trismegistus” into a Christian credal formula—into the Nicene Creed—with the aim of it being a salve, it becomes apparent that the Church drunk from the cup of “wine drugged with myrrh.” Instead of fighting heresy on the Bible’s terms, it chose a compromise route with a pagan and Hermetic word leading to a Hermetic theology. The Church became drugged with apostasy. This spiritual drug persists to this day as seen in Trinitarian apologetics with its veneer of sophistication defending its Hermetic theology. In the face of a veneer of sophistication, Jesus himself responded with a very perceptive comment that equally applies today: “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.” (Mark 7:9, GNT) The inclusion of homoousios was indeed clever, but it resulted in rejecting Biblical theology—creating a theological disaster inflicting incalculable damage to hermeneutics.[16]

Thus, Beatrice concluded his landmark study with this insight: “Many centuries before being portrayed on the floor of the Siena cathedral (at the end of the fifteenth century), Hermes Trismegistus had already entered the body of Christian doctrine in the semblance of Constantine, setting his seal on the formulation of the Nicene Creed.”[17]

This was indeed Satan’s greatest victory. As he failed in getting Jesus to compromise, he instead was ultimately successful in getting his resulting congregation to compromise, leading not to peace, but to more dissent as sincere Christians strove to recover scriptural theology and restore true worship, much like the rebellion of the Maccabees.

In closing, only by being humble and objective can we break free from confirmation bias and sophisticated veneers. Biblical theology and Christology have been here the entire time, waiting to be seen and recovered, free of the shackles of theological apostasy. In this venture, the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has striven the hardest to sober up from the “wine drugged with myrrh” that our exemplar rejected.

Part 1: jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/01/satanic-scheming.html

Footnotes:
[1] Pier Franco Beatrice, “The Word ‘Homoousios’ From Hellenism to Christianity,” Church History, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 244.
[2] Neil McLynn, “From Palladius to Maximinus: Passing the Arian Torch,” Journal of Early Christian Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, Winter 1996 (Johns Hopkins University Press, Winter 1996), 481.
[3] “Arianism.” Oxford English Dictionary.
[4] “Myrrh.” Vine’s Dictionary.
[5] “Thoth.” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., 1999, 863. “Trismegistos,” the “thrice greatest,” is more commonly known by his Roman spelling Trismegistus.
[6] “Hermetic.” Oxford English Dictionary.
[7] Supra note 1, 243, 257, 263.
[8] Supra note 1, 268.
[9] “Hermeticism.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeticism
For instance, Lactantius wrote: “But that there is a Son of the Most High God, who is possessed of the greatest power, is shown not only by the unanimous utterances of the prophets, but also by the declaration of Trismegistus.” (The Divine Institutes; Book IV. Of True Wisdom and Religion, Chapter vi.-Almighty God Begat His Son; And the Testimonies of the Sibyls and of Trismegistus Concerning Him.) http://faculty.poly.edu/~jbain/mms/texts/mmslanctantius.htm
Additionally, one scholar reports that “Hermes [Trismegistus] was a favourite prophet of Christians associated with Constantine, notably of Lactantius.” (Caroline Nicholson and Oliver Nicholson. “Lactantius, Hermes Trismegistus and Constantinian Obelisks.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 109 (1989): 198.) (Refer to Appendix C.) He adds that “the Latin Christian apologist Lactantius, … has some claim to being the brains behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor.” (Oliver Nicholson, Faculty & Staff Directory. University of Minnesota. https://cla.umn.edu/about/directory/profile/opn)
[10] Supra note 1, 267.
[11] Verses 9 and 10, seen here in an English translation by G.R.S. Mead and in the Greek: http://www.ldysinger.com/@texts/0301_corp_herm/01_poimandres.htm
[12] Supra note 1, 262.
[13] Kegan Chandler, Hermes and Hermeticism: An Historical Introduction. 2017: 2 n. 2. See also his video presentation here: “Revisiting Homoousios: Origins, Intentions, and Aftermath.” burieddeepblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/19/presentation-revisiting-homoousios-origins-intentions-and-aftermath/
[14] Supra note 2, 484.
[15] Peter Heather and John Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991, 2004), 138-9.
[16] Hermeneutics is “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible,” deriving from the Greek hermēneutikos, from hermēneuein ‘interpret’.
[17] Supra note 1, 272.

Appendix
  1. Mark 7:9 in different Bibles
  2. Sibyls in Siena
  3. Constantine’s Context
Mark 7:9 in different Bibles
Good News Translation (GNT)
And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“Indeed,” he said to them, “you have made a fine art of departing from God’s command in order to keep your tradition!”

Amplified Bible (AMP)
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside and nullifying the commandment of God in order to keep your [man-made] tradition and regulations.”

The Voice (VOICE)
Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God’s commands for the sake of your tradition.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.”

Revised New World Translation (RNWT)
Further, he said to them: “You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

Sibyls in Siena
Among the portrayals in this cathedral are Isaiah, Moses, Paul, Mary and Jesus. Included in a floor panel is the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus in Roman mythology surrounded by “emblems of confederate cities.” Lastly, also included more in-line with its portrayal of Hermes Trismegistus are “ten panels of the Sibyls,” pagan Greek prophetesses. Some of these Sibyls are also depicted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (the Erythraean and Lybian Sibyls) and as statues in Scalzi, Venice (the Hellespontine and Samian Sibyls). So this cathedral is unique in Europe for also depicting Hermes Trismegistus.

The following are links to articles on the artwork in the Siena Cathedral, with the last one explaining the inclusion of Sibylline art, which aligns with the rationale for including Hermes Trismegistus.
Constantine’s Context
The paper “Lactantius, Hermes Trismegistus and Constantinian Obelisks” referenced in footnote 9 contains some fascinating insight into the context of Constantine’s and Lactantius’ reason for employing Hermes Trismegistus:

This paper reports regarding Constantine installing an Egyptian obelisk in Rome that “Constantine may have had more in mind when he decided to offer an obelisk than a desire to keep some of the Senate happy some of the time. Christian significance may be discerned in an oblique manner. Dr. Fowden points to a reminiscence in Ammianus’ account of Constantine’s act of a phrase from the Perfect Discourse attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and recalls that Hermes was a favourite prophet of Christians associated with Constantine, notably of Lactantius.” (page 198) According to Lactantius, “The original religion of mankind had been monotheism: ‘God made man to serve and worship him,’” “Ancient men were agreed that the Egyptians had the oldest Gods. To Lactantius this meant that they were the first to be duped into idolatry.” “Lactantius’ view of the history of the world enabled him to find in ancient authors memories, more or less distorted, of primitive monotheism.” “Among these witnesses to primitive monotheism, Hermes Trismegistus held a special place, on account of his considerable antiquity.” (page 199) “Hermes asserted unequivocally the unity of God.” “The words of Hermes were for Lactantius not isolated testimonia torn from their original context, they were fragments of evidence which guaranteed the validity of a larger pattern. Christianity was no novelty, it was the reassertion of the original religion of mankind, the worship of the Most High God.” “Christians in the city which had witnessed the church council convoked by Constantine [at Nicaea] would have no reason to be offended if they looked upon it [the Egyptian obelisk] in the spirit in which Lactantius regarded Hermes Trismegistus, as a monument of the primaeval monotheism which they were trying to revive.” (page 200)[C1] Dr. Fowden summarized: “Lactantius draws heavily [on a Hermetic tractate], a fitting culmination to his extended attempt to beat the swords of paganism into the ploughshares of the Christian revelation.”[C2] That is, using what he thought was supportive to Christianity.

Thus, Constantine’s context was employing pagan Hermeticism via Lactantius to restore what they thought was “the primaeval monotheism.” Regardless of their noble intentions though, employing Hermeticism resulted in creating a diabolical Chimera protected by the Imperial sword.[C3]

Appendix C footnotes:
[C1] This was not the first attempt at this. Earlier in the third century the Gnostic Mani, founder of Manicheism (from Syriac Mānī ḥayyā “Living Mani”), desired to syncretize world religions and philosophies into “a single gospel.” One historian informs us that
Mani accepted that the message of salvation had been proclaimed to humankind by a succession of prophets and teachers that included Plato, Hermes Trismegistus (in Poimandres), Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul, each for his own times and to different peoples. Now, it was time to bring these different proclamations together and proclaim a single gospel from one end of the earth to the other and in all the languages of the day. (W. H. C. Frend. The Rise of Christianity, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 316)
Additionally, a historian of Manicheism reported on the “Manichaean recognition of Hermes Trismegistus and Plato” as legitimate sources of inspiration. Moreover, it has been observed that Faustus the Manichean bishop of the fourth century “affirms the possibility of finding traces of truth in the Sibylline, Hermetic, and Orphic books.” (Jason BeDuhn. Augustine’s Manichaean Dilemma, Volume 1, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 89 and n. 76 on page 323) I note that this trend was continued with Lactantius.

So, this religious syncretism provides important historical precedence and context for Lactantius’ and Constantine’s desire to use Hermes Trismegistus for the same goal—exposing it as originally being Manichean and Gnostic.

Figure C1: Mani
[C2] Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 207. For reference, the complete quote is: “In his vision of the apocalypse Lactantius draws heavily, as we have already seen, on the prophecy in the Perfect discourse, a fitting culmination to his extended attempt to beat the swords of paganism into the ploughshares of the Christian revelation.”
[C3] The Chimera was a Greek mythological monster combining the elements of three different animals: a lion with the head of a goat on its back, with its tail being a viper. This three-in-one monstrosity was slain by Bellerophon/Bellerophontes. “The mythological etymology of Bellerophontes[’] name was ‘Slayer of Belleros’ from the Greek Belleros and phonos. However, it is likely that the name originally meant ‘Wielder of Missiles’ from the Greek words belos and phoreô.” (Theoi Greek Mythology: Bellerophon (Bellerophontes) https://www.theoi.com/Heros/Bellerophontes.html)

May the three-in-one Trinitarian theology find the same fate from the ‘Slayer of Belial’!—Genesis 3:15; 2 Corinthians 6:15; Revelation 20:10.

Additional reading: Credits:
  • The arch-villain in Star Wars coming to his end.

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