So here’s the article: 8 Things…
Point by point I will rebut, accept with qualifiers, or shrug off as inconsequential.
1. The fact that the apostles don’t discuss the virgin birth doesn’t mean they didn’t know about it. Or maybe they didn’t. That also doesn’t mean a hill of beans as to whether it occurred or not. If they were good Jewish boys who knew the Scriptures, then they knew of the prophecies surrounding the Messiah, and when they decided to follow Jesus, maybe they just assumed His mother had been a virgin when He was conceived. Or maybe they were simpler guys who didn’t know all the Scriptures, like the Pharisees, who seemed to know it all and yet somehow missed their own Messiah. Maybe it didn’t occur to them that this man should have been born of a virgin. I don’t know anyone who walks around sharing the story of their own birth, even if it was somehow miraculous. Miraculous births (like, surviving against all odds kind of stuff) are usually talked about around the time of their occurrence. I don’t know any miraculous birth stories from 30 years ago that are being hailed today. And maybe the apostles didn’t use that in their message throughout Acts because that wasn’t what made Him a Savior. It was the resurrection, defeating death (literally and eternally) and sin. Not only that, but Paul spent most of his missionary career reaching the Gentiles, who didn’t care what Scriptures foretold about a Messiah, because they didn’t know any of those Scriptures, and they certainly weren’t looking for a Messiah. If you believe that the book of Matthew was actually written by the apostle Matthew, then at least ONE apostle knew about the virgin birth.
2. Jesus wanted to offer nothing to the Gentiles. Not true. Simply not true. Early on in His ministry He says things like that because He was “building His base”, so to speak, for His church. In the exchange with the Samaritan woman, in John 4, Jesus mentions that salvation is from the Jews (meaning Himself, since He’s Jewish). He doesn’t say it’s FOR the Jews. He also tells her she worships what she does not know (meaning, in my opinion, that since the Samaritans are half-breeds, they try to worship God, but they aren’t really His chosen people, so they don’t have any relationship with Him. They know OF God, but they don’t KNOW God). But then He says “a time is coming…”, which means things are about the change. The exclusive relationship of God with His people is shifting. Who can be identified as “His people” is changing.
3. The full message of Jesus, across all the Gospels seems to be that He is God. To me, at least. In the passage quoted in the article, I don’t read the same tone of voice in Jesus that the writer does. I think He’s saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” as a challenge to the people. Do they indeed believe Him to be God? In every situation where He downplays His deity, it seems to be so that people won’t tag along hoping to just get something from Him, like a genie, or a magician.
He also says a lot of things in the first 3 Gospels that only God would have the authority to say, in the eyes of the Jews. Like in Matthew 9 and other like passages where He performs a physical miracle followed by forgiveness of sins. It seems the author of the article is drawing a fine line between Jesus saying He was “sent by God” or “the son of God” or “the Messiah (Christ)” and whether He actually used the words “I am God.” In Matthew 25:17-46, He tells of a time when He will come in all His glory, and all the people of the earth will be gathered before Him and He will separate the sheep from the goats. As in, He has the power to determine people’s eternal destiny. Seems like some God-talk to me.
4. The differences in the resurrection stories don’t really matter to me. They all include Jesus coming back to life, revealing his resurrection to many. The author argues about what kind of impression that actually made on His followers. I would say Jesus’ resurrection is the only thing substantial enough to make those men go from fleeing and hiding (essentially the Jesus movement was over at His crucifixion), to becoming bold enough to preach His resurrection in the face of authorities who had the power to condemn them to torture and death. And who did in fact do that in almost all the apostles’ cases. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t risk a horrible end for the sake of perpetuating a hoax. I don’t know anyone whose pride is so great.
So when I read the varying accounts, I kind of try to make it all work. Or I take the parts that do line up and go with that.
5. Jesus was against public prayer. I’ll go with that. Except for this one spot in John 11 where Jesus publicly prayed that everyone would see the glory of God, then He raised Lazarus from the dead. But maybe at that point He was just with Mary and Martha and some close family friends and His disciples. At least earlier in the chapter as He enters the village, there are many Jews who see Him weep and question why He didn’t do anything to save Lazarus earlier. But maybe they didn’t follow Him to the tomb to hear His public prayer. I don’t know. But overall, I do get that Jesus wanted prayer to be personal, not for show. And I have no problem with not praying before football games. I don’t think Jesus cares about football.
6. Some of the books of the Bible are forgeries. First of all, no one KNOWS this for sure. Just like there is no actual proof that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address. There is a really old address written on some really old paper. There are people who wrote about the fact that he gave that address. But there are no pictures, no audio recordings, no one living now who was there and can attest. There’s also no proof of evolution. There’s a lot of scientific research and stuff we know about carbon dating now, that can be applied to make plausible theories about the age of the earth and how life possibly became what it is now. But, we take a lot on faith. I’ll take the Bible on faith. Some parts I do place “in context” if I don’t feel they apply to all people at all times. EVERYONE DOES THAT. I also don’t place the validity of 1 Timothy in the core beliefs of my faith. So if it turns out to be false, my faith doesn’t erode.
7. Some parts are written to intentionally disagree with other parts. See above.
8. Jesus’ apostles disagreed with Paul about the Gospel. I don’t read that passage in 1 Corinthians to be referring to the original apostles. I guess it could be. Some translations call them “super apostles”, some call them ” most eminent apostles”. But he talks about a false Jesus or a false gospel. I think he and the 12 were in agreement on those things. He had words with them at one point, but they hashed out their differences and went separate ways, Paul with the blessing of the 12 to continue missionary work around the world. I think they just parted ways due to personality conflicts. Later, there definitely were some “words” between Paul and Peter. The Incident at Antioch. It may be in reference to this kind of nonsense that Paul said folks should listen to him and not anyone who opposed him, even Peter. He staked his claim on the gospel of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice alone, not accompanied by any adherence to Jewish law.
So them’s my thoughts. Took me a really long time to write. Hopefully won’t take you too long to read.