Why does God require faith?

The Bible often speaks of the importance of faith in knowing God. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches,
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 adds, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.But why does God require faith?

One way to answer why God requires faith is because He is our Heavenly Father. Our relationship to Him is similar to other relationships in the sense that it includes trust in the other person, time together, love, and respect. Because we cannot fully know another person, let alone an infinite God, all relationships require some degree of faith (trust). God is our Father and it takes faith to believe that He loves us and that He provides for our needs.

Faith is also important because God is not visible to humanity. Hebrews 11:1 teaches, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We cannot see God (John 1:18). However, we have faith in Him that provides assurance.

Faith is necessary to please God. Hebrews 11:6 notes,
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Not only does faith please God, it leads to reward—eternal life, heavenly rewards, and experience of fullness of life on earth (John 10:10).

Faith is important in order for believers to obey the Lord. For example, Adam and Eve had been given a command—to not eat from a particular fruit (Genesis 2:15-17). Because their faith wavered regarding this command, they ate the forbidden fruit and sinned. Contrastingly, James 2:23 shares, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it (his faith) was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

God requires faith because it allows humans the ability to choose or reject Him. Without the ability to make choices, humanity would cease to be human as we know it. Because people can choose to have faith or not to have faith, there is a way for God to know those who have believed in Him and those who have not.

Faith in God is not Blind Faith as some argue. Instead, it is a choice based on the available information. The Word of God, the created world, the changed lives of believers, Jesus Christ, and other ways God operates in our world provide sufficient evidence for people to choose faith in God. As Jesus taught in Luke 16:31, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
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Jehovah’s witnesses and the worship of Jesus Part 3

Conclusion
Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “that all men should honour the Son, EVEN AS they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” (John 5:23). Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to honor Jesus in the same way they honor God the Father. While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followers WORSHIPED Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven (Luke 24:52). Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of the deity of Christ.

References
Allen, L.A. (1880), “A Living Christ,” Zion’s Watch Tower, March,.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
“Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Jesus?” (2015),.
Mounce, William D. (1993),Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Paton, J.H. (1879), “The Name of Jesus,” Zion’s Watch Tower, November,.
Rhodes, Ron (2001), The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers).
Thayer, Joseph (1962 reprint), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
“The Truth About Angels” (1995), The Watchtower, November 1.
The Watchtower, 1945, October 15.
The Watchtower, 2004, October 15.
The Watchtower, 2005, September 15.
“What Does God Require of Us?” (1996), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York.
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (2000), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
Who Is Michael the Archangel?” (2015),.
Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898, May 15.
Zion’s Watch Tower, 1892, July 15

A quickie blog

Which God?

When I was told by people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, “Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”

Kudos to my friend and brother in Christ here on WordPress moraldiplomat

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Worship of Jesus Part 2

Waffling on the Worship of Jesus
To the church at Philippi the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every
name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
(Philippians 2:9-11, emp. added). The reference to the bowing of the knee
is an obvious allusion to worship (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Romans 1:4). Such
worship, Paul wrote, would not only come from those on Earth, but also from “those in heaven” (Philippians 2:10).
This statement harmonizes well with Hebrews 1:6. In a section in which the writer of Hebrews exalted Jesus above the heavenly hosts, he affirmed that even the angels worship Christ. He wrote: “And let all the angels of God worship (proskuneo) him.” The KJV, ASV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, RSV (even though they’re corrupt in other ways) and a host of other translations render proskuneo in this verse as “worship.” How does the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation render this passage? Unfortunately, as with all other times in the NWT when Jesus is mentioned as being the object of proskuneo, the word is translated “do% obeisance,” not “worship.” Hebrews 1:6 reads: “Let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.”
Interestingly, however, the NWT has not always rendered proskuneo in Hebrews 1:6 as “do obeisance.” When Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society first printed the NWT in 1950, the verse actually rendered proskuneo as “worship” instead of “do obeisance.” Even the revised 1961 edition of the NWT translated proskuneo as “worship.” By 1971, Jehovah’s Witnesses had changed Hebrews 1:6 to read: “Let all God’s angels DO OBEISANCE to him.”
The fact is, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has been very inconsistent in their teachings on whether or not Jesus should be worshiped. In the past few decades Jehovah’s Witnesses’ flagship magazine (November 1964, p. 671) has claimed that “it is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ” (as quoted in Rhodes, 2001, p. 26; see also The Watchtower 2004, pp. 30-31). But, “from the beginning it was not so.” Notice what Jehovah’s Witnesses used to teach in The Watchtower (called Zion’s Watch Tower in the early days) regarding whether or not Jesus should be worshiped:
.“The wise men came at His birth to worship Him. (Matt. 2) The leper worshiped Him. They in the ship worshiped Him, as did also the ruler and woman of Canaan. Yet none were ever rebuked for it….[T]O WORSHIP CHRIST IN ANY FORM CANNOT BE WRONG” (Allen, 1880, emp. added).
NEXT…
…added).
*.“[A]lthough we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper to do so; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, AND THE DISCIPLES WORSHIPPED HIM” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1892, emp. added).
Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898) …“[W]hosoever should worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus…” (The Watchtower, 1945, p. 313).
For more than half a century, Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that it was acceptable to worship Jesus. Now, however, they claim it is unscriptural. Such inconsistency regarding the nature of Christ, which is no small matter, reveals to the honest truth seeker that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an advocate of serious biblical error.
Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses not only reject the worship of Jesus because of their belief that He is not deity, they also must deny Him such religious devotion because they teach He actually is an angel. The Watchtower has taught such a notion for several years. The November 1, 1995 issue indicated, “The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (“The Truth About Angels”). More recently, an article appeared on the Jehovah’s Witnesses official Web site affirming “the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth…. [I]t is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role” (“Who Is Michael…?,” 2015). Since, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, good angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other, Jehovah’s Witnesses must reject paying religious praise and devotion to Jesus. But, notice (again) how inconsistent Jehovah’s Witnesses have been.
In only the fifth issue of Zion’s Watch Tower magazine (originally edited by Charles Taze Russell, the founder of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), regular contributing writer J.H. Paton stated about Jesus: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence MICHAEL IS NOT THE SON OF GOD)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Thus, at one time Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official publication taught that Jesus is NOT Michael the archangel, and that He SHOULD be worshiped.
In the 21st century, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus IS Michael the archangel, and that He should NOT be worshiped. Clear contradictory statements like these found throughout the years in The Watchtower should compel current and potential members of this religious group to question their teachings in light of THE Truth found in God’s Word.

Worthy is the Lamb
One additional passage to consider regarding the worship of Jesus is Revelation chapters four and five. In chapter four, the scene in this book of signs (cf. 1:1) is the throne room of God. The “Lord God Almighty” is described as sitting on His throne while “…those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him” (4:9). Also, “the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (4:10-11). In chapter five, the Lamb that was slain is introduced as standing “in the midst of the throne” (5:6). No one argues the fact that this Lamb is Jesus—the One Whom John the Baptizer twice called “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36), and Whom Peter called the “lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:19).
Regarding this Lamb, the apostle John recorded the following in Revelation 5:11-14: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, WORTHY IS THE LAMB that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” (emp. added).
In this chapter, John revealed that BOTH God the Father and Jesus are worthy to receive worship from all of creation. In fact, Jesus is given the SAME praise and adoration that the Father is given. Just as God the Father is “worthy…to receive glory and honour and power” (4:11), so Jesus is “worthy…to receive power…and honour and glory…” (5:12). Indeed, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever.” (5:13, emp. added). Although Jehovah’s Witnesses use Revelation 4:11 as a “proof” text for worshiping God the Father they reject and call unscriptural the worship that Jesus rightly deserves.
To be continued.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Worship of Jesus

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus is not God,” and thus should not be worshiped by Christians. The Watchtower, a magazine published twice a month by Jehovah’s Witnesses, has repeatedly made such claims through the years. In their September 15, 2005 issue, for example, they stated quite simply that the Scriptures “show that Jesus is not God Almighty.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official Web site (jw.org), which republishes many items from The Watchtower, briefly answers the question “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Jesus?,” concluding, “we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God” (2015). After all, allegedly “in his prehuman existence, Jesus was a CREATED spirit being…. Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity” (“What Does the Bible…?,” 2000, emp. added).
The October 15, 2004 issue of The Watchtower concluded a section about Jesus NOT being the true God with these words: “Jehovah, and no one else, is ‘the true God and life everlasting.’ He alone is worthy to receive exclusive worship from those whom he created.—Revelation 4:11” (p. 31). Since God alone is worthy of worship, and since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is only an angel and not God (see “The Truth About Angels,” 1995), He allegedly should not be worshiped.

God Alone is Worthy of Worship
There is no argument over the fact that God alone is worthy of worship. Jehovah revealed His will to Moses on Mt. Sinai, saying, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,..” (Exodus 20:3-5).
Regarding the Gentiles who were sent to live in Samaria after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Bible says: “Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; with whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: but the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, HIM SHALL YE FEAR, and HIM SHALL YE WORSHIP, and to HIM SHALL YE DO SACRIFICE.” (2 Kings 17:34-36, emp. added).
The Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped. Luke recorded that King Herod was eaten with worms because, instead of glorifying God Almighty, he allowed the people to glorify him as a god (Acts 12:21-23). Herod’s arrogant spirit stands in direct contrast to the reaction that Paul and Barnabas had when the citizens of Lystra attempted to worship them (Acts 14:8-18). After Paul healed a man who had been crippled from his birth, the people of Lystra shouted: “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” They even called Paul and Barnabas by the names of their gods (Hermes and Zeus), and sought to worship them with sacrifice.
Had these two preachers had the same arrogant spirit as Herod, they would have accepted worship, and felt as if they deserved such honor. Instead, these Christian men said, “Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you…” (Acts 14:15). Paul recognized that it is unlawful for humans to worship other humans, and thus sought to turn the people’s attention toward God, and away from himself.

Jesus Accepted Worship
The dilemma in which Jehovah’s Witnesses find themselves is that they believe Jesus was a good man and prophet (as do Muslims, emp. added), yet unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22), accepted worship, then the logical conclusion is that Jesus is God. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind.
Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.” (Matthew 28:9). When Thomas first witnessed the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Later, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in Galilee, “they worshiped Him” on a mountain (Matthew 28:17).

A few days after that, his disciples “worshiped Him” in Bethany (Luke 24:52). Time and time again Jesus accepted the kind of praise from men that is due only to God. He never sought to correct His followers and redirect the worship away from Himself as did the angel in Revelation or the apostle Paul in Acts 14. Nor did God strike Jesus with deadly worms for not redirecting the praise He received from men as He did Herod, who, when being hailed as a god, “because he gave not God the glory:” (Acts 12:23).
Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have attempted to circumvent the obvious references to Jesus accepting worship by changing the word “worship” in their New World Translation to “obeisance” every time the Greek word proskuneo (the most prominent word for worship in the New Testament) is used in reference to Jesus. Over 30 times in the New World Translation (first published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1950) proskuneo is correctly translated “worship” when God the Father is the recipient of glory and praise.
This Greek word occurs 14 times in the New Testament in reference to Jesus, yet not once do more recent editions of the New World Translation render it “worship;” instead, every time it is translated “obeisance.” Allegedly, Mary Magdalene, the apostles, the blind man whom Jesus healed, etc., never worshiped Jesus; rather, they only paid “obeisance” to Him.
In 21st-century English, people generally make a distinction between the verbs “worship” and “do obeisance.” Most individuals, especially monotheists, use the word worship in a positive sense when talking about GOD, whereas “obeisance” is used more often in reference to the general respect given to people held in high regard. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “obeisance” as “1. A gesture or movement of the body, such as a curtsy, that expresses deference or homage. 2. An attitude of deference or homage,” whereas the verb “worship” is defined as “1. To honor and love AS A DEITY. 2. To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion” (2000, emp. added). The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society agrees with the distinction often made between these words in modern English: God should be “worshiped,” while Jesus (we are told) should only receive “obeisance” (i.e., the respect and submission one pays to important dignitaries and superiors).
The Greek word proskuneo, which appears in the New Testament 60 times, literally means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence” (Thayer, 1962, p. 548; see also Mounce, 1993, p. 398). According to Greek scholars Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, this word was used in ancient times “to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or something holy” (1979, p. 723). Admittedly, the word “obeisance” could be used on occasions to translate proskuneo. The problem is that Jehovah’s Witnesses make an arbitrary distinction between obeisance and worship when it comes to the token of reverence that Jesus in particular was given. They translate proskuneo as “obeisanceEVERY TIME Jesus is the object, yet NEVER when God the Father is the recipient of honor and praise.

As with other words in the Bible that have multiple meanings, the context can help determine the writer’s intended meaning. Consider the circumstances surrounding some of the occasions when Jesus is mentioned as the object of man’s devotion.
In John chapter nine, Jesus miraculously healed a man who was “blind from his birth” (vs. 1). When the man upon whom this miracle was performed appeared before various Jews in the synagogue and called Jesus a prophet (vs. 17), he was instructed to “Give God the praise:” not Jesus, because allegedly Jesusis a sinner” (vs. 24). Later, after the man born blind was cast out of the synagogue, Jesus informed him of His TRUE IDENTITY—that He was NOT just a prophet, but also “the Son of God.” At that moment, the man “…said, Lord, I believe. And he WORSHIPPED him.” (vs. 38).
NEXT…
…38.). Although the Greek word proskuneo was used in ancient times of paying respect or doing obeisance to people, no such translation is warranted in this passage. In the Gospel of John, this word is found 11 times. IN EVERY INSTANCE, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation renders it “worship”, EXCEPT HERE in John 9:38 where it is arbitrarily translated “obeisance.”

Following a day in which Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men (not including women and children) with only five loaves of bread and two fish, Matthew recorded how Jesus literally walked on the water in the midst of the Sea of Galilee during a violent storm, saved Peter from drowning, and then walked onto a boat where He was met with those who worshiped him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). Jesus’ worshipers did not merely pay Him the same respect (or “obeisance”) that one pays a respected ruler, teacher, or master—people incapable of such feats. On the contrary, they recognized that Jesus had overcome the laws of nature, and that His actions warranted praise and adoration—not as a man, but as the “Son of God.” If Jesus was not worthy of such praise, why did He accept it? If Jesus was not to be adored, why did the angel of the Lord not strike Him with the same deadly worms with which he struck Herod (Acts 12:23)?

After defeating death and rising from the grave, a sign where Jesus is “declared to be the Son of God with power,…” (Romans 1:4), Jesus accepted worship (proskuneo) from Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to visit the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:8-9), as well as all of the apostles (Matthew 28:17). Jesus was not the only one ever to be resurrected from the dead, but He was the only resurrected individual the Bible mentions as afterwards receiving praise and adoration (i.e., worship) from man. The widow’s son of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:22), the son of a Shunammite (2 Kings 4:32-35), the daughter of Jairus (Mark 8:21-24,35-43), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-16), Lazarus (John 11:1-45), Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43), and Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12) all were raised from the dead, but none received PROSKUNEO. The Bible never reveals any resurrected person other than Jesus who ever received and accepted worship.
Jesus’ followers recognized that His resurrection was different. It verified His claims of divinity.
The disciples worshiped Jesus again at His ascension. After recording that Jesus was “carried up into heaven,” Luke wrote: “And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:52-53).
Notice that the word “worshiped” (proskuneo) is used in this passage along with such words as “praising” and “blessing”— words that carry a religious connotation in connection with God. This fact highlights that the use of proskuneo in this context is not merely obeisance. Also, notice that the disciples offered worship to an “absent” Savior. It would make no sense to pay obeisance to a respected individual that has departed, but makes perfect sense if, rather, the individual is God and worthy of worship. The disciples did not just bow before some earthly ruler; they WORSHIPED their Lord Who had defeated death 40 days earlier, and had just ascended up into heaven before their eyes.
Jesus did not receive proskuneo on these occasions because He was a great teacher, or because He was viewed at these moments simply as an earthly king. Rather, all of these instances of worship were surrounded by miraculous events that were done to prove He was Heaven sent, and that “…in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).
There is every reason to believe that on such occasions as these, Jesus’ disciples meant to pay divine, religious honor to Him, not mere civil respect or regard that earthly rulers often receive.
To be continued.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

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Dr. Craig,
Thank you for your diligent work for the kingdom of God. I hope you understand and appreciate how your work has impacted the faith of countless people across the world.
My question has to do with the concept of God in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. I am sure that you are aware of the current controversy over the “same God” comments of the professor at Wheaton College. As you can imagine this has caused a firestorm of debate between theologians, pastors and preachers. I understand from your work that you would say that while Muslims and Christians might worship the same God historically (the God of Abraham and Moses), their concept of God is fundamentally different (please correct me if I misunderstood your view). This refutes the “same God” idea because at the very core we worship a very different God even if the religions share a common background.
Several of the people who have defended the “same God” concept, however, have brought up the fact that Jews deny the concept of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus, and yet most Christians would say that Jews and Christians worship the same God. I agree that this seems hypocritical. Would you say that Jews and Christians worship the same God even if their idea of God (ex. the Trinity) is fundamentally different? If they deny the Trinity this would seem to be enough of a fundamental difference to say that we in fact do not worship the same God. This seems to me the only sound argument for defending the “same God” idea between Islam and Christianity. If we accept this then we either have to say that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God or that all worship a different God entirely, regardless of historical background.
Sincerely,
Nathan

United States
The question whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God raises a nest of perhaps unexpected philosophical difficulties, such that at the end of the day I think that this is not really the right question to ask.
Consider, for example, my friend and colleague Frank Beckwith’s attempt to answer this question (http://www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/12/17/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god/). Beckwith tries to answer the question by appeal to the notion of reference. He wants to provide conditions under which different singular terms (like proper names) are co-referring (refer to the same thing). So, he asks, “what does it mean for two terms to refer to the same thing? Take, for example, the names ‘Muhammed Ali’ and ‘Cassius Clay.’ Although they are different terms, they refer to the same thing, for each has identical properties.”
Beckwith here lays out a sufficient condition for two terms to be co-referring:
1. If the referents of two terms have identical properties, then the terms refer to the same thing.
Beckwith then applies that condition to terms for God: “So the fact that Christians may call God ‘Yahweh’ and Muslims call God ‘Allah’ makes no difference if both ‘Gods’ have identical properties.” Thus,
1*. If the referents of “Yahweh” and “Allah” have identical properties, then the terms refer to the same thing.
Since Muslims, like Christians and Jews, are classical theists, Beckwith claims that the sufficient condition for co-reference is fulfilled.
But this is far too quick. For the obvious problem is that Yahweh and Allah do not have the same properties. Yes, Muslims and Christians embrace classical theism, a sort of generic monotheism. But the Muslim concept of God and the Christian concept of God are very different. It is not just that Christianity embraces Trinitarianism with respect to God and Islam Unitarianism, but the Muslim concept of God is in itself morally defective, as I have argued in my debates with Muslim theologians and apologists. The God of the Bible is an all-loving God, whose love is universal, impartial, and unconditional, while the God of Islam is not all-loving, but loves only Muslims and whose love is therefore selective, partial, and conditional. Therefore the sufficient condition stated in (1*) is not fulfilled.
So Beckwith appeals to a phenomenon much discussed by philosophers of language, namely, successfully referring to something by means of a false description. For example, suppose we observe a couple walking in the park and, noticing their behavior, I say to you, “Her husband is kind to her.” We both understand whom I’m talking about. Suppose, however, that you know that the man she is walking with is not, in fact, her husband and, moreover, that her husband is nasty and mean to her. In that case I have said something true of the man I intended to refer to even though my statement is literally false. So, Beckwith says, “The fact that one may have incomplete knowledge or hold a false belief about another person – whether human or divine – does not mean that someone who has better or truer knowledge about that person is not thinking about the same person.”
Granted; but that doesn’t imply that in every case involving false description they are thinking about the same person! In some cases, their conceptions may be so fundamentally different that their terms are not co-referring. Take Beckwith’s own example of the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception. Imagine an ignorant Protestant who thinks that these terms refer to the same thing, namely, Jesus’ being born of a virgin. He might say that he and the Catholic believe the same thing, except that the Catholic just uses a different term for Jesus’ being born of a virgin.
Suppose he then finds out that when Catholics use the term “Immaculate Conception,” they are referring to Mary’s being born without original sin. Would the Protestant now continue to say that he and the Catholic are referring to the same thing by their respective terms? No, he would now say that the Catholic was referring to something else, since they have different conceptions of what these terms refer to.
So what about the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur’an? Is this just a case of referring to the same God under a false description or of referring to two different deities?
The problem is that
Beckwith hasn’t given us the necessary as well as the sufficient conditions for terms to be co-referring. He hasn’t told us what conditions must be met for two terms to be co-referring. So his argument that “Yahweh” and “Allah” are co-referring, despite the different conceptions of God involved, doesn’t go through, and his article ends too abruptly.
This is just the beginning of difficulties. A further wrinkle is that “worships x” is what philosophers call an intensional (as opposed to extensional) context, where the term “x” need not refer to anything at all (as in, e.g., “Jason worships Zeus”). [1] In an intensional context co-referring terms cannot be substituted without impacting the truth value of the sentence. For example, even though “Jupiter” may refer to the same god as “Zeus,” still Jason, a Greek, does not worship Jupiter and may have never even heard of the Roman god. So one cannot say that Abdul, a Muslim, worships Yahweh, even if “Yahweh” and “Allah” are co-referring terms.
In view of these difficulties, I prefer to avoid problems of reference altogether by asking instead about the Muslim and Christian concepts of God. The conceptions of God in Christianity and Islam are so fundamentally different that they are not the same God. Miroslav Volf, an evangelical theologian who, like Beckwith, defends the claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, acknowledges,
In addition to contesting the Trinity and the incarnation, Muslims also contest the Christian claim that God is love — unconditional and indiscriminate love. There is no claim in Islam that God ‘justifies the ungodly’ and no command to love one’s enemies. But these are the signature claims of the Christian faith. Take the redemption of the ungodly and the love of enemy out of the Christian faith, and you un-Christian it.
I wish that those who insist that Christians worship an altogether different God than Muslims latched on to this difference — that instead of wanting to ‘end’ Muslims they deem to be their enemies in the name of God, they would seek to embrace them in the name of Christ. If they did so, they would need to show how struggle against enemies is a way of loving them — an argument that many great theologians in the past were willing to make (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/16/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god-college-suspends-professor-who-said-yes/).
Volf rightly discerns how morally defective the Islamic conception of God is. I, for one, have emphasized this point, as he recommends, in my debates with Muslim thinkers. But I do not regard them, as Volf uncharitably suggests, as enemies. They have been deceived by Satan, who is the real enemy here. One way of loving Muslims is to explain honestly our differences, rather than to conceal them in shmoozey interfaith dialogue, and to argue for our point of view, just as the great theologians in the past did. I have found that such an approach wins the respect and even admiration of Muslims.
One final point: What about the Jewish and Christian concepts of God? Are they so different that they are not the same God? That depends on your perspective. The Christian does not reject the Jewish concept of God as the Muslim rejects the Christian concept of God. The Christian finds the same God of the Old Testament more fully revealed in the New Testament and looks for anticipations of the Son and Spirit in the Old Testament. By contrast the Muslim explicitly repudiates the concept of God found in the New Testament.
But if I were an Orthodox Jew, then I would say that Christians have a different concept of God and are worshiping a different God.
Look how certain Jews treated the apostle Paul. They regarded him as a heretic and pursued him from city to city across the Mediterranean in an attempt to kill him. Eventually, Christians were expelled from the synagogue. Once the doctrine of the Trinity emerged among the early church fathers, the break with Judaism became, from a Jewish perspective, unbridgeable.
So whether Muslims and Christians can be said to worship the same God is not the truly germane question. The question is which conception of God is true.
Notes
[1] For that reason, we should not say that Muslims are idolaters because they do not worship the true God, but that “Allah” has no referent in the real world; what they worship simply does not exist, anymore than Zeus exists.

by William Lane Craig | Submit your question to Dr. Craig

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1903) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) Part 2

Chronology of the Revision
1825 Jan. 12th – Brooke Foss Westcott born at Birmingham.
1828 Apr. 23rd – Fenton John Anthony Hort born at Dublin.
1851 Dec. 21st – Westcott ordained “priest” in Church of England.
1853 Jan.-Mar. – Westcott and Hort agree upon plan of a joint revision of the text of the Greek Testament.
Apr. 19th – Hort: “He (Westcott) and I are going to edit a Greek text of the New Testament some two or three years hence, if possible.” (Life, Vol.I, p.250).
June – Mr. Daniel Macmillan suggests to Hort that he should take part in an interesting and comprehensive ‘New Testament Scheme.’ Hort was to edit the text in conjunction with Mr. Westcott; the latter was to be responsible for a commentary, and Lightfoot was to contribute a N.T. Grammar and Lexicon. (Life, Vol.I, pp.240,241).
Sept. 29th – Westcott to Hort: “As to our proposed recension of the New Testament text, our object would be, I suppose, to prepare a text for common and general use…With such an end in view, would it not be best to introduce only certain emendations into the received text, and to note in the margin such as seem likely or noticeable – after Griesbach’s manner?…I feel most keenly the disgrace of circulating what I feel to be falsified copies of Holy Scripture (a reference to the A.V.?), and am most anxious to provide something to replace them. This cannot be any text resting solely on our own judgment, even if we were not too inexperienced to make one; but it must be supported by a clear and obvious preponderance of evidence. The margin wiil give ample scope for our own ingenuity or principles…my wish would be to leave the popular received text except where it is clearly wrong.” (Life, Vol.I, pp.228,229).
Nov. 4th – Hort: “I went down and spent a Sunday with Westcott…We came to a distinct and positive understanding about our Gk. Test. and the details thereof. We still do not wish it to be talked about, but are going to work at once, and hope we may perhaps have it out in little more than a year.” (Life, Vol.I, p.264).
Westcott and Hort start work on their Greek text.
1856 Feb. ? – Hort ordained “priest” in Church of England.
Mar. 20th – Hort: “I think I mentioned to you before Campbell’s book on the Atonement, which is invaluable as far as it goes; but unluckily he knows nothing except Protestant theology” (Life, Vol.I, p.322).
1857 Feb. 23rd – Hort to Westcott: “I hope to go on with the New Testament text more unremittingly” (Life, Vol.I, p.355).
First efforts to secure revision of the Authorised Version by five Church of England clergymen.
1858 Oct. 21st – Hort: “The principle literary work of these years was the revision of the Greek Text of the New Testament. All spare hours were devoted to it.” (Life, Vol.I, p.399).
1860 May 1st – Hort to Lightfoot: “If you make a decided conviction of the absolute infallibility of the N.T. practically a sine qua non for co-operation, I fear I could not join you, even if you were willing to forget your fears about the origin of the Gospels.” (Life, Vol. I, p.420).
May 4th – Hort to Lightfoot: “I am also glad that you take the same provisional ground as to infallibility that I do.” (Life, Vol.I, p.424).
May 5th – Westcott to Hort: “at present I find the presumption in favour of the absolute truth – I reject the word infallibility – of Holy Scripture overwhelming.” (Life, Vol.I, p.207).
May 18th – Hort to Lightfoot: “It sounds an arrogant thing to say, but there are very many cases in which I would not admit the competence of any one to judge a decision of mine on a textual matter, who was only an amateur, and had not some considerable experience in forming a text.” (Life, Vol.I, p.425).
1861 Apr. 12th – Hort to Westcott: “Also – but this may be cowardice – I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms.” (Life, Vol.I, p.445).
1862 Apr. 30th, May 1st – Hort: “It seems to be clearly and broadly directed to maintaining that the English clergy are not compelled to maintain the absolute infallibility of the Bible. And, whatever the truth may be, this seems just the liberty required at the present moment, if any living belief is to survive in the land.” (Life, Vol.I, p.454).
1870 Westcott and Hort print tentative edition of their Greek N.T. for private distribution only. (This they later circulated under pledge of secrecy within the company of N.T. revisers, of which they were members).
Feb. 10th – Southern Convocation of Church of England resolve on desirability of revision of A.V. Northern Convocation declines to cooperate.
May – Committee of 18 elected to produce a Revised Version.
The 7 members of the N.T. Committee invite 18 others, making 25.
May 29th – Westcott to Hort: “though I think that Convocation is not competent to initiate such a measure, yet I feel that as ‘we three’ are together it would be wrong not to ‘make the best of it’ as Lightfoot says. Indeed, there is a very fair prospect of good work, though neither with this body nor with any body likely to be formed now could a complete textual revision be possible. There is some hope that alternative readings might find a place in the margin.” (Life, Vol.I, p.390).
June 4th – Westcott to Lightfoot: “Ought we not to have a conference before the first meeting for Revision? There are many points on which it is important that we should agreed. The rules though liberal are vague, and the interpretation of them will depend upon decided action at first.” (Life, Vol.I, p.391).
July 1st – Westcott to Hort: “The Revision on the whole surprised me by prospects of hope. I suggested to Ellicott a plan of tabulating and circulating emendations before our meeting, which may prove valuable.” (Life, Vol.I, pp.392,393).
July 7th – Hort: “Dr. Westcott and myself have for above seventeen years been preparing a Greek text of the New Testament. It has been in the press for some years, and we hope to have it out early next year.” (Life, Vol.II, p.137).
Aug. ? – Hort to Lightfoot: “It is, I think, difficult to measure the weight of acceptance won beforehand for the Revision by the single fact of our welcoming an Unitarian, if only the Company perseveres in its present serious and faithful spirit.” (Life, Vol.II, p.140). (Dr. G. Vance Smith, a Unitarian scholar, was a member of the Revision Committee. At Westcott’s suggestion, a celebration of Holy Communion was held on June 22nd before the first meeting of the N.T. Revision Company. Dr. Smith communicated but said afterwards that he did not join in reciting the Nicene Creed and did not compromise his principles as a Unitarian. The storm of public indignation which followed almost wrecked the Revision at the outset. At length however Dr. Smith remained on the Committee).
1881 Bishop Ellicott submits the Revised Version to the Southern Convocation.
May 12th – Westcott and Hort’s “The New Testament in the Original Greek” Vol. I published (Text and short Introduction).
May 17th – the Revised Version is published in England, selling two million copies within four days. It fails however to gain lasting popular appeal.
Sept. 4th – Westcott and Hort’s “The New Testament in the Original Greek” Vol.II published (Introduction and Appendix).
Oct. – first of Dean Burgon’s three articles in the Quarterly Review against the Revised Version appears.
1882 May – Ellicott publishes pamphlet in reply to Burgon, defending the Westcott and Hort Greek text.
1883 Burgon publishes The Revision Revised, including a reply to Ellicott.
1890 May 1st – Westcott consecrated Bishop of Durham.
1892 Nov. 30th – death of Hort.
1901 July 27th – death of Westcott.
1908 The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia discusses the Westcott-Hort theory: “Conscious agreement with it or conscious disagreement and qualification mark all work in this field since 1881.”
This is still almost literally true. ______________________________
References:
Hort, A.F., Life and Letters of Fenton J.A. Hort, MacMillan and Co., London, 1896, vols. I,II.
Westcott, A., Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, MacMillan and Co., London, 1903, vols. I,II.
The unmitigating emergence of unauthorized Bible versions is risen up to challenge and remove the Authorized Version of the Bible (which thing cannot be done for the Lord said that his words shall not pass away. There will be a true church awaiting his return. The Authorized Version of the Bible is the precepts of a mighty nation whose king is the LORD. This proliferating emergence of unauthorized versions is a full frontal attack launched (and sustained) against the word of God to remove it and replace it with something else. Satan knoweth that he hath but a short time. As for the saints, we are exhorted to
Jude 1:3 “…earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.✞✞✞✞

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1903) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) Part 1

Their Heresies and Blasphemies

PLEASE READ THIS.
The New Testament was written in Greek.
The originals are all gone, no one has them. But there are over 5,300 extant (existing) Greek manuscripts of the New Testament available. About 95-97% of them agree together. They are called the Majority Text.
The remaining 3-5% disagree with the majority of manuscripts.
A man named Erasmus, a brilliant scholar and reformer in his own right, examined a collection of Majority Text Greek manuscripts. He compiled them into a Greek New Testament based on the readings that the true church has accepted throughout the centuries. His compilation came to be known as the Textus Receptus. The King James Bible translation is based on the Greek text found in the Textus Receptus.
The new Bible versions are not based on Erasmus’ Textus Receptus. They are based on the Greek New Testament compiled by a couple of heretick infidel blasphemers named Westcott and Hort (you will see this when you read their own words below).
Ignorant people are now saying that the Authorized King James Bible is wrong because they have believed the scholarship of these two blaspheming infidels. You will read their words for yourself in this article.
Westcott and Hort’s Greek New Testament is the “source text” for many of today’s modern Bible translations. These men were hereticks. [The personal letters of Hort and Westcott sound like the letters of men of the Jesuit order (that is, if you know the Roman Catholic Jesuits. If you are a Christian, I highly suggest that you read the The Deception Series. Not only will you know more about the Jesuits and their activities, you will become more acquainted with yourself, the problems with the visible church, Revelation 17, and these end times.)
Again, Westcott and Hort’s Greek New Testament is the “source text” for today’s modern Bible versions. Let us examine what Westcott and Hort actually believed.

image

FROM THEIR
OWN MOUTHS

A selection of
statements revealing the
attitudes of these two
most noted textual critics.
Westcott and Hort
_____________________________Reprinted with kind permission
from the Traditional Text Pamphlets Homepage
and compiled by David Blunt of the James Begg Society
WE should always be reluctant to engage in ad hominem arguments, i.e. those that concentrate on personalities rather than issues, but the character and professed beliefs of those involved in such vital matters as the text and translation of the Bible cannot be overlooked. It is necessary that those handling the inspired word of God themselves be spiritual men. This is the teaching of Scripture itself (1 Cor. 2:11-16).
Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) was born at Birmingham and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) at Dublin. In 1851 Westcott was ordained an Anglican “priest” and Hort in 1856: their careers were spent mostly in academic positions rather than pastorates. As early as 1853 they began work on their Greek text of the New Testament: this project was to occupy most of their remaining lives. In 1870 the idea of a modest revision of the A.V. was sanctioned by the Southern Convocation of the Church of England, and this provided the opportunity for Westcott and Hort to introduce their radical changes. They defended the inclusion of a Unitarian scholar on the Revision Committee. “The New Testament in the Original Greek” was published in 1881, as was the Revised Version based upon it: this latter failed to gain lasting popularity, but the Westcott-Hort text and theory has dominated the scene since.
Textual criticism cannot be divorced entirely from theology. No matter how great a Greek scholar a man may be, or no matter how great an authority on the textual evidence, his conclusions must always be open to suspicion if he does not accept the Bible as the very Word of God (in FULLER, p.157). ______________________________
Beliefs
The following quotes from the diaries and letters of Westcott and Hort demonstrate their serious departures from orthodoxy, revealing their opposition to evangelical Protestantism and sympathies with Rome and ritualism. Many more could be given. Their views on Scripture and the Text are highlighted.
1846 Oct. 25th – Westcott: “Is there not that in the principles of the “Evangelical” school which must lead to the exaltation of the individual minister, and does not that help to prove their unsoundness? If preaching is the chief means of grace, it must emanate not from the church, but from the preacher, and besides placing him in a false position, it places him in a fearfully dangerous one.” (Life, Vol.I, pp.44,45).
Oct., 22nd after Trinity Sunday – Westcott: “Do you not understand the meaning of Theological ‘Development’? It is briefly this, that in an early time some doctrine is proposed in a simple or obscure form, or even but darkly hinted at, which in succeeding ages,as the wants of men’s minds grow, grows with them – in fact, that Christianity is always progressive in its principles and doctrines” (Life, Vol.I, p.78).
Dec. 23rd – Westcott: “My faith is still wavering. I cannot determine how much we must believe; how much, in fact, is necessarily required of a member of the Church.” (Life, Vol.I, p.46).
1847 Jan., 2nd Sunday after Epiphany – Westcott: “After leaving the monastery we shaped our course to a little oratory…It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a ‘Pieta’ the size of life (i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ)…I could not help thinking on the grandeur of the Romish Church, on her zeal even in error, on her earnestness and self-devotion, which we might, with nobler views and a purer end, strive to imitate. Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.” (Life, Vol.I, p.81).
1848 July 6th – Hort: “One of the things, I think, which shows the falsity of the Evangelical notion of this subject (baptism), is that it is so trim and precise…no deep spiritual truths of the Reason are thus logically harmonious and systematic…the pure Romish view seems to me nearer, and more likely to lead to, the truth than the Evangelical…the fanaticism of the bibliolaters, among whom reading so many ‘chapters’ seems exactly to correspond to the Romish superstition of telling so many dozen beads on a rosary…still we dare not forsake the Sacraments, or God will forsake us…I am inclined to think that no such state as ‘Eden’ (I mean the popular notion) ever existed, and that Adam’s fall in no degree differed from the fall of each of his descendants” (Life, Vol.I, pp.76-78).
Aug. 11th – Westcott: “I never read an account of a miracle (in Scripture?) but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and discover some want of evidence in the account of it.” (Life, Vol.I, p.52).
Nov., Advent Sunday – Westcott: “All stigmatise him (a Dr. Hampden) as a ‘heretic,’…I thought myself that he was grievously in error, but yesterday I read over the selections from his writings which his adversaries make, and in them I found systematically expressed the very strains of thought which I have been endeavouring to trace out for the last two or three years. If he be condemned, what will become of me?” (Life, Vol.I, p.94).
1850 May 12th – Hort: “You ask me about the liberty to be allowed to clergymen in their views of Baptism. For my own part, I would gladly admit to the ministry such as hold Gorham’s view, much more such as hold the ordinary confused Evangelical notions”
(Life, Vol.I, p.148).
July 31st – Hort: “I spoke of the gloomy prospect, should the Evangelicals carry on their present victory so as to alter the Services.” (Life, Vol.I, p.160).
1851 Feb. 7th – Hort: “Westcott is just coming out with his Norrisian on ‘The Elements of the Gospel Harmony.’ I have seen the first sheet on Inspiration, which is a wonderful step in advance of common orthodox heresy.” (Life, Vol.I, p.181).
1851 Dec. 29,30th – Hort: “I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus. Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning entirely on late MSS.; it is a blessing there are such early ones” (Life, Vol.I, p.211).
1858 Oct. 21st – Further I agree with them in condemning many leading specific doctrines of the popular theology as, to say the least, containing much superstition and immorality of a very pernmicious kind…The positive doctrines even of the Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue…There are, I fear, still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority, and especially the authority of the Bible” (Life, Vol.I, p.400).
1860 Apr. 3rd – Hort: “But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with. I must work out and examine the argument in more detail, but at present my feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable.” (Life, Vol.I, p.416).
Oct. 15th – Hort: “I entirely agree – correcting one word – with what you there say on the Atonement, having for many years believed that “the absolute union of the Christian (or rather, of man) with Christ Himself” is the spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of substitution is an immoral and material counterfeit…Certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christ’s bearing our sins and sufferings to His death; but indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy.” (Life, Vol.I, p.430).
1864 Sept. 23rd – Hort: “I believe Coleridge was quite right in saying that Christianity without a substantial Church is vanity and dissolution; and I remember shocking you and Lightfoot not so very long ago by expressing a belief that ‘Protestantism’ is only parenthetical and temporary. In short, the Irvingite creed (minus the belief in the superior claims of the Irvingite communion) seems to me unassailable in things ecclesiastical.” (Life, Vol.II, p.30,31).
1865 Sept. 27th – Westcott: “I have been trying to recall my impressions of La Salette (a marian shrine). I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry bears witness; and how we can practically set forth the teaching of the miracles”.
Nov. 17th – Westcott: “As far as I could judge, the ‘idea’ of La Salette was that of God revealing Himself now, and not in one form but in many.” (Life, Vol.I. pp.251,252).
Oct. 17th – Hort: “I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and ‘Jesus’-worship have very much in common in their causes and their results.” (Life, Vol.II, p.50).
1867 Oct. 17th – Hort: “I wish we were more agreed on the doctrinal part; but you know I am a staunch sacerdotalist, and there is not much profit in arguing about first principles.” (Life, Vol.II, p.86).
1890 Mar. 4th – Westcott: “No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a_literal history – I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did – yet they disclose to us a Gospel. So it is probably elsewhere.”
To Be Continued.

You Sure You Got The Right Jesus?

by Matt Moore
image

The epic question of the ages is Jesus asking, “Who do you say that I am?It’s the epic question that leads to the epic answer that creates the epic crisis when the answer comes up short. In this blog post, writer Matt Moore challenges us to make sure we’ve got the right Jesus. (Copied with permission from www.MooreMatt.org)

A few weeks back I was writing on the patio of my favorite coffee shop when one of the baristas popped out for a quick smoke break. He noticed a book lying by my computer with “GOD” written in huge letters on the cover and asked about it, which led to a short chitchat about religion and politics—the two things my dad taught me never to talk about with people I barely know (didn’t listen, as usual!). He told me he has studied a wide variety of religions and they all, more or less, teach the same thing.

“But yeah, dude,” he continued, “I’m a Christian, too. I ain’t gonna hate on anyone who chooses differently, but for me, Jesus is the ultimate role model—strong, resilient, and fearless—and I want to follow in his footsteps and make something of my life.”

As we talked a bit longer, I realized “make something of my life” meant fulfilling his vocational aspirations and making a chunk of change while he’s at it.

Say, what? All religions teach the same thing? Was your “research” limited to the top three hits of your Google search? And Christianity is your pick of the litter because Jesus is a good role model—really? All these things and more sat anxiously on the tip of my tongue, but I kept my mouth shut because: 1) I naturally tend toward combativeness, so if I feel that rising up in me at all I try to reign it in before I start saying things in a way I will regret, and 2) there is a time and place for gently confronting the false perspectives people hold about the Christian faith, but I don’t think it’s in the first conversation you have with a guy while he is on a ten-minute smoke break.

So in an attempt to not be a jerk and preserve the opportunity for future conversations, I sat and listened respectfully to his reasoning—even agreeing with him that Jesus is strong, resilient, and fearless. Because, I mean . . .
He is.

But what I will sooner rather than later share with my new barista friend is that he seems to be missing the point. He acknowledges Jesus is real and that He’s one heck of a role model—which is great. Gotta start somewhere. But his understanding of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, and what Jesus expects of the world is severely malnourished. He seems to think Jesus’ sole mission in his life, death, and resurrection was to set a good example and give us the tools we need to succeed in all our endeavors.

Yeah, sure—Christianity does involve imitating Jesus’ character and living by biblical principles that might enhance our quality of life. But these things are not the crux of the Christian faith. Jesus didn’t walk around like, “I’m here to make you the best you that you can be, so you can land that job or that wife or that six figure income that you want! ”

Jesus’ message was a God-centered gospel of redemption, submission, and relationship.

REDEMPTION

“…I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). The biggest dilemma you and I have isn’t our low self-esteem or inability to make all our dreams come true. Our biggest dilemma is that apart from Christ, we are rebels against an all-powerful God and utterly unable to escape the condemnation that rests over us. But Jesus came to turn the tables . . . at His own expense. Rather than letting all of humanity suffer for their refusal to love and obey God, Jesus loaded our sin upon Himself and let his Father crush him. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

SUBMISSION

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). The New Testament writers didn’t view Christians as “strong, resilient, and fearless” people whom Jesus helps succeed in all their self-centered endeavors—but rather as slaves of Christ. The word “slave” carries with it a negative connotation in our day but I think what the very capable (and inspired!) writers were trying to get at is this: Every fiber of the Christian’s being is indebted to Jesus. He gives his followers everything—existence, forgiveness, eternal life—and in return, they bow the knee. They lay down their selfish interests and gospel-less ambitions to live a life of joyful service to Him (Acts 20:24

RELATIONSHIP

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14). All throughout the gospels, we see Jesus demonstrating the relationship-dynamic He came to restore between God and man. Though He is perfect and holy, He didn’t distance Himself from people who fall infinitely short of His glory. He ate with them. He talked with them. He even told them they are His friends if they do what He commands them! Christ isn’t some standoffish entity who wants us to admire Him from afar; He is relational, accessible, and wants us to enjoy fellowship with Him.

If you’re like my new barista friend and view Jesus merely as a good role model who can give you some solid tips on how to live a successful life, please hear me out
—the Jesus of the Scriptures is not down with you imitating select parts of His character you find attractive, nor is He interested in you using Him to further your own agendas. He does not want to be your Gandhi or your genie in a bottle. Jesus is God—a good God who rescues sinners, rules over sinners, and loves sinners. He wants you to turn away from your self-worship and godless ambitions and embrace Him as your greatest passion and treasure. He wants you to experience the unmatchable joy of living the God-centered life He created you to live.

The only proper way to respond to Jesus Christ is in gratitude, submission, love, and worship. Nothing less.