VIDEO: Was Jesus an Advocate of Blind Faith?

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8 thoughts on “VIDEO: Was Jesus an Advocate of Blind Faith?

  1. We can know Romney won the 2012 presidential election because Karl Rove told us he did. And he was in a position to know, because he was right at the center of the highly technological information gathering ‘war room’ at Fox News. So we know (if we follow the historical bread crumbs) he was in a position to know and we compelling objective evidence that he was there, so we require no faith to place Rove in a position of trust to report accurately. And we can know his statements about Romney winning are true because people heard Rove tell us so. You see, political predictions by those at Fox News is a knowledge-based, objective source of reliable information because Karl Rove has shown us it is, and those who believe Karl Rove do so not because they want to believe he speaks truthfully but because we know about all of this based on one of the strongest historical events ever recorded.

    I cannot imagine how anyone can still doubt the historical event of Romney winning the election when we have so much knowledge revealed to us by Karl Rove. Imagine, people still try to argue that holding fast to this knowledge of this historical event makes them advocates of blind faith if they think Romney won the election. How ridiculous!

    Well, accept that it’s not true, but we don’t have to be concerned with those false charges now, do we? Because we know otherwise!

    And this where Hazen’s argument that stories about Jesus reveals knowledge about his faith-based beliefs collapses.

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    • Response #1:

      Well, tildeb, this is a very informal speech from Craig Hazen, not an exhaustive overview of the evidences of claims of and about Jesus. (I can post one, but then it would work against the purpose of this blog.) It was brief and informal, which is why I posted it. He is a comparative religion professor, so maybe you might not so quickly reduce his presentation. After all, you don’t care if the claims of Christianity are true or not. If you disagree, then answer this: If Christianity were true, would you be a Christian?

      Besides, your comparison falls flat on no few fronts, one being that your evidence originates from one source (“We can know Romney won the 2012 presidential election because Karl Rove told us he did.”) and another in that it relies on ignoring alternative theories and evidences (“…we don’t have to be concerned with those false charges now, do we?”). The claims about Jesus are a collective case with evidence from many disciplines (history, archaeology, etc.) and sources (written records, artifacts, etc.). To reduce the claims of Christianity to such a disingenuous and dumb level is symptomatic of a person who cares neither about details and differences nor how to accurately represent them. Nearly 2,000 years of scholarship have, collectively, looked every alternative theory in the face and none makes more sense of the evidence that exists than that Jesus is Who He claimed to be and what happened is what happened: He is the Son of God and He was resurrected from the dead.

      I’m not sure where you’re headed with your comments on this video. We both have access through the Internet to a vast amount of scholarship online. You can go elsewhere if for no other reason than to challenge your misinformed notions of Jesus and those of us who take His claims and claims about Him seriously.

      Joshua

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  2. Hazen misrepresents what we mean by ‘knowledge’. A clear example is about the historicity of Jesus, which he portrays as (I’m paraphrasing) as solid a fact as anything in history. This is simply not true if we take biblical scholarship alone… there are at least six different kinds of Jesus’ for which there is historical evidence (meaning that ‘knowledge’ about any one of them being the historical figure is quite rightly open to historical debate). No such equivalent historical discrepancies exists around, let’s say, Julius Caesar.

    So his statement about ‘knowledge’ is obviously aimed not at establishing what’s comparatively true but to flatter the beliefs of his supportive audience. The point here is that the evangelical Jesus believed in by a great many people is not one of the best established historical facts we have, and presenting this belief as ‘knowledge’ does a disservice to the hard work of these biblical scholars by misrepresenting what is true: the evangelical Jesus is not an historical fact but one of several competing historical possibilities.

    And I say this not to discredit your faith-based beliefs but to put them into their proper perspective, namely, that your preference is based on your faith that it is so. And that’s okay, but your – and Hazen’s – faith in the evangelical Jesus is not based on accumulated historical knowledge alone as Hazen would mislead us into thinking. It is based on a preferred perspective.

    The rest of the presentation is about stories from the NT. Again, he misrepresents knowledge about the stories to be evidence for the truth value of their contents. This is why I talked about Rove’s story, to show that the truth value of its content is not supported by the historicity of its author or its telling. To present these biblical stories as part of what supports the ‘knowledge’ of what the evangelical Jesus represents to believers is, to put it bluntly, a con job. That’s not a way show ‘knowledge’ but a way to get around its heavy obligation… by appealing to the beliefs of the audience and misrepresenting it (a faith-based belief) for something it is not (knowledge).

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    • tildeb, is your portrayal of the New Testament and a genuine Christian’s perspective on it accurate?

      Speaking as a Christian who takes the New Testament seriously, I think your presentation isn’t accurate. For one, not all information about Jesus is accurate. The orthodox Christian perspective is that He is the Son of God Who was raised from the dead. I’d like to hear a piece of the evidence for any competing theory on who Jesus was.

      Can you share 1 piece of evidence from an alternative take on Jesus with us for the sake of discussion?

      Some people assume that the New Testament was produced in a vacuum. But there are criteria that historians use for establishing the reliability of ancient historical documents, i.e. sources of information about a person or event. And the New Testament is far superior to all ancient historical documents for many reasons. It passes the four most crucial points of establishing the reliability of a text from that part of the world at that time: 1) multiple attestation; 2) Palestinian environment / Semitic language (which shows accurate, detailed knowledge of even the most trivial of things, like commons names in Palestine in the first century); 3) disimilarity; 4) coherence; 5) etc.

      Of course, you can say a Christian reading the New Testament may be biased. True. Yet the same is true of the non-Christian reading the New Testament. To pretend to be reading it in an entirely unbiased way would be lying. For example, someone like you, an antisupernatualism pervades your reading, so any mention of God, or God’s interactions in actual history (which is the basis of Christian claims about Jesus) would be thrown out, regardless of evidence. However, it’s not as if we Christians say, “Well, the New Testament says it, that’s good enough for me.” It’s proven reliability and historicity make it a trustworthy document for information about Jesus. I’ll wait to check out the piece of evidence you provide for alternative takes on Jesus before commenting on how it compares to the New Testament, but I can say that a lot of information about Jesus can be discounted because it can’t pass the criteria of authentication briefly detailed above.

      As for your criticisms about Hazen’s presentation in the video are well taken. I see what you mean. However, you might want to consider that the tone and content is probably for 2 reasons: 1) It’s an informal, short speech. 2) He’s talking at Biola University, a Christian university. So, should that fact that he’s going to appeal to the audience be a surprise? I don’t think so.

      Joshua

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      • Josh, you say “not all information is accurate” about Jesus. Obviously, because there are significant discrepancies about Jesus found in the Gospels alone! This is why biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan explains why such biblical discrepancies matter in trying to come up with an historical account from it (what I call Hazen’s argument that would have us incorrectly believe that the subject of a story is historically true because the story itself has historical links). These discrepancies lead biblical scholars in different directions, but raise the danger level of doing theology in its name. This is what I think Hazen has done. Crossan makes his case about this danger in biblical scholarship:

        “There is a Jesus as a political revolutionary by S.G.F. Brandon (1967), as a magician by Morton Smith (1978), as a Galilean charismatic by Geza Vermes (1981. 1984), and a Galilean Rabbi by Bruce Chilton (1984), as Hillelite or proto-Pharisee by Harvey Falk (1985), as an Essene by Harvey Falk (1985), and as an eschatological prophet by E.P. Sanders (1985) … But that stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment. It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that historical Jesus research is a very safe place to do theology and call it history, to do autobiography and call it biography. [quote from John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant, xxviii, in Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, 198]”

        So this raise the right question: how can we know (referring to Hazen’s argument) which information about Jesus is accurate and which is not? The honest answer is, we can’t. We can’t with any knowledge as Hazen would have us believe, but we can with faith. And that’s really what he is presenting: a faith-based belief for what he thinks are good reasons. And that’s fine. But it’s the stepping over this faith line that bothers me, trying to present a faith-based belief as if it were strictly based on knowledge. This is simply not true and any real biblical scholar would justifiably disagree with his position.

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      • Well, tildeb, try as I might, I didn’t see what I asked for. I asked that you give us just 1 piece of evidence for the alternative takes on Jesus (His identity). Try again. I think if you do try again, you’ll understand my point about how scholars and students of the Bible use the criteria of authenticity to establish the reliability of the New Testament. And to say there are “significant discrepancies” in the Gospels shouldn’t be news to anyone who reads them. But discrepancies aren’t necessarily contradictions. To be fair, there are many historical facts in the New Testament that check out, too, by the way. Readers can simple open the book of Acts and find tons. And I even recommend Ben Witherington’s tome “The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary”. It’s 900+ pages on the historicity of Acts alone. (I read it last year.)

        Of course, quoting Crossan isn’t really a strong argument. He’s obviously a bright person, but his scholarly conclusions aren’t really taken seriously (even though he does often make it on to television shows). Besides, making a claim isn’t the same as proving / providing evidence that it is true. And let’s not overlooked that 6 types of “Jesus” in the lengthy quote presuppose at least one fact: Jesus actually existed.

        [H]ow can we know (referring to Hazen’s argument) which information about Jesus is accurate and which is not? The honest answer is, we can’t.

        Well, we call that hyperskepticism, which is sad in light of the information we do have about Jesus being the Son of God and resurrected from the dead. If you doubt the historicity of Jesus as found in the New Testament and other ancient sources (texts and artifacts), then, to be consistent, you might as well doubt all of history and not talk of any historical event as a “fact”.

        If you get a chance, you can watch a more thorough presentation on the central, historical claim about Jesus, that He rose from the dead, by Craig Hazen here:

        Joshua

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      • Josh, I didn’t answer your question directly because I’m not qualified. I’m not a biblical scholar. But I have read enough biblical scholarship to be aware that there are very intricate arguments about different interpretations of who this historical Jesus might have been.

        My point was to remind us that these interpretations – backed up by much scholarly work – exist and that they vary from Jesus as a compilation of figures into a myth to Jesus as the messiah. I have no intention of selecting any one interpretation and trying to present it to you with my insufficient arguments and opinions. For that we have a range of biblical scholars. How much or how little you want to judge the work of one over another is up to you. Suffice to say, this body of competing historical work exists, and it lays bare the claim that the evangelical Jesus Hazen wants to present to us as knowledge is not so (not according to me but according to the academic body of work known as biblical scholarship); it is a faith position that any one interpretation is factually true… which means it is held to be a better account versus another competing one whose contrary facts must not be as true! We can now see that the problem becomes an historical argument over which one carries more academic weight strictly in terms of meeting an historical criteria, and for that there are many arguments of merit.

        It simply doesn’t matter to the point I am raising which one may best fit the criteria of historical veracity (you obviously wish to argue for your own prefernce); that this body of competing historical work exists is my point of criticism to Hazen’s claim that it does not, which is what he is in fact presenting by claiming the historical Jesus he favours is equivalent to knowledge because it has historical merit. It’s not that simple and it misrepresents competing historical claims about Jesus.

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      • Well, I appreciate the honesty of your post, tildeb. The point I was trying to get at is not every take on Jesus is based on the same evidence, nor the same quality of evidence, nor, sometimes, like in the case of Jesus as a traveler to India, no evidence. Though scholarly interpretations may vary, that doesn’t discount specific facts established as well (even moreso) as any other facts of history. As WLC mentions often in his presentations, there are 3 basic facts that every scholar acknowledges:

        1) The empty tomb.
        2) The postmortem appearances.
        3) The origin of Christianity.

        One last thing I’d like to leave you and readers is this great, concise blog post by Ichthus77 on these very things just a couple minutes ago:

        WLC’s case for the resurrection

        The only explanation that best accounts for the evidence we do have is that Jesus was who He claimed to be (the Son of God) and that He was raised in a physical body from the dead (resurrection). (Readers can see the post above for details regarding other explanations or theories.)

        For printed references, I highly recommend Douglas Groothuis’s “Jesus In an Age of Controversy”. It’s a fantastic, concise book that compares and contrasts different takes on who Jesus was and is. It reviews the evidence and claims of people like Crossan and others.

        You’ve left some great responses here, tildeb. I appreciate them. I’ll leave this thread as it is because I’ve got to get on to the other cartoons.

        Thanks, man!

        Joshua

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