Critics Corner

Theatre-CriticsI’ve restructured the website to focus on the core mission of helping Christians advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ and apply the Bible to their daily lives.  Still, I think people critical of God, the Bible and Christianity should have a forum and be heard.  Critics Corner is your space if you’re inclined to offer criticism.

Starting 9-19-2015, I’ll be encouraging regular critics to move their criticism to this page so those who are interested in the subject matter of articles can have deserved attention in the article comments.  I expect that I will have to moderate a few folks as we adjust to voicing our comments in the appropriate space.

I’ll try to offer much less scrutiny on this page so critics can have a lot more freedom to express themselves.  I will moderate foul language, but I’ll to keep it as relaxed as possible for everyone to have as much freedom as possible.

Invite fellow critics.  Propose topics I haven’t thought to write about.  I may pick from your suggestions to write future blogs.  I will try to answer as time allows – I am in the US Eastern time zone, and I usually keep a full ministry calendar, so I ask for your patience if I’m delayed in responding.

Feel free to comment, and be as critical as you see is necessary.  Thanks for sharing.

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43 comments

  1. David, this is soulstudy over from youtube (you invited yesterday I think). I’m not sure which question you thought I was asking, but I can’t find the place to start a thread on your website.

      • ooook, i think I have the hang of it now. Do you think denominational faith is ok? Or rather, what do you think Jesus thinks of all the disunity in the ‘so called’ body of Christ. How could protestants possibly the ‘body of Christ’ if Jesus said, “a house that is divided cannot stand”?

      • Seems like you do have the hang of it, David. Let’s take this piece by piece:
        1) Denominations were created by man, not God. His people have banded together around different doctrinal principles since before there was a Romanist church (325 AD) There are even denominational splits in the Bible (RE: Acts 15 Jerusalem Council – Jews v Gentiles). My opinion on denominationalism is moot, as they exist and there is nothing I could or would do to change it. That said, it sure seems to be a lot of wasted time.

        2) The Godhead knows how broken, sinful, prideful and self-centered we are. Disunity in the Body of Christ is to be expected. For there to not be disunity, you would have to remove the humans from the equation.

        3) The Matthew 12 passage you are referring to is out of context. Let’s look at that passage:
        Matthew 12:22-28 (NLT)
        22 Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see.
        23 The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?”
        24 But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”
        25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.
        26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive.
        27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said.
        28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. Jesus had just cast out a demon, and the Jewish authorities present challenged His power stating Christ’s power is from Satan. He is demonstrating that Satan would not be casting aside his own help, and the fact that Jesus had cast out a demon actually proved he was of God. Christ’s was a demonstration that the Kingdom of God had arrived on earth in Him.
        (see also Mark 3:25, Luke 11:17)
        As you can tell, your application has nothing to do with this passage. Thanks for the question!

      • Thank you for your thoughtful response. But I think you dismissed my accusation because you think it was out of context. Any house/kingdom/group that are supposedly in agreement about their general mission, should be able to agree on a host of other things. I see all those who call themselves “christians” not being able to agree on important matters besides Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. Things like the doctrine of hell, or OSAS, or the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        I don’t think christian churches agree on those things at all. Thus, they are fighting with one another. A house that is fighting with one another cannot and will not stand (verse 26). If you think everything is fine and there is no way anything is going to change then I seriously think you doubt the power of God, and the prayer of Jesus in John 17. All protestants are merely offspring from the roman whore, mother of harlots. We are called to be separate. “Come out of her,” God says. Get away from the trinity heresy, eternal conscious punishment, and a gospel about a magical paradise up in the clouds where we go when we “accept jesus into our hearts.”

      • David, you actually got me to check myself. Warren Wiersbe is not only published in print, his commentary is packaged in reference bundles specifically marketed to academics. Here is what this world-renown theologian and commentator says about the passage:

        “The answer (vv. 25-30). Jesus pointed out that their statement was illogical and impractical. Why would Satan fight against himself? Jesus affirmed that Satan had a kingdom, for he is the god of this age (Matt. 4:8-9; John 12:31). He also stated that Satan had a “house,” which seems to refer to the body of the man who was possessed (Matt. 12:43-44). If Satan casts out his own demonic helpers, then he is opposing himself, dividing his kingdom, and destroying his house.
        Their accusation was also illogical from their own point of view, though they did not see it. There were Jewish exorcists (see Acts 19:13-16) who apparently were successful. By whose power did they cast out demons? If it was by Satan’s power, they were in league with the devil! Of course, no Pharisee was about to draw that conclusion.”
        Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – New Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1.

        As for agreement and disagreement between denominations, learned pastors usually offer great latitude toward pastors of other denominations. I was licensed by a Southern Baptist church, but I have ministered in Presyterian, Methodist, Southern Methodist and non-denominational churches and been warmly received.

        I cannot figure out where you are coming from. Sorry, but I’ve never seen what you’re preaching. Take care!

      • You all get along because you all became “professional pastors” from an educational system run by Jesuits. But, you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about anyway.

      • I group with all true believers in Jesus Christ who follow the teachings of Christ and God. This would by nature exclude JW’s.

      • David, there is no name or designation that followers of Jesus should subscribe to. I don’t understand why people call themselves protestants. Are they still protesting against the catholic church? I don’t understand why people are called baptists and lutherans and presbyterians and methodists? Why not just call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ? Why the labels? Are the labels biblical? Do lutherans follow Luther instead of following Jesus? I guess they would have to assume that Luther followed Jesus, but did he? I realize this is rapid fire, but I am honestly confused.

        I grew up in a “non-denominational christian church”. Then I began to study my Bible after highschool and see how the people around me were not christians at all. They were all protesting the roman church and all of their strict sacraments. They wanted to worship God in their own way, a loose way, but they went from one dead religion to another dead religion. Why is divorce the same in and out of the church? Because those “in the church” are not christians. Why is pornography so popular among “church-goers”? Because they aren’t christian either. We are seriously confused as to what a christian actually is. Pastors (in general) are not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. they are soft, reserved, holding back part of the true Gospel. We have christian pastors who will teach that in Romans 7 Paul is admitting that he struggles with sin everyday! Then “christians” think they have the excuse to sin everyday. Read the whole book of Romans straight through and you will see how ridiculous this idea is.

        This is not the Gospel.

        But the church has a real problem on their hands. If they preach like Jesus did without caring how many people followed him, many of them would most likely cut their congregation in half! Many churches have such a high overhead that they have to preach milk and keep as many people coming back so they can pay the mortgage and provide (quite well) for themselves. Thousands of people followed Jesus. How many were there at the end? A couple hundred right? Something has got to change. We have churches that are taking the blueprints of other churches of today and putting together church functions that are “working” to be “seeker-friendly”. Why aren’t all of our churches modeled after Acts 2? Is it because we don’t have faith in God that church planting like that will work?

        Christians today are seriously lacking in their ability to know the Bible, memorize Scripture, and do what it says. A majority has fallen into the catholic lie of the dark ages. They want the pastors ans church leaders to tell them what the Bible says instead of reading it for themselves. But nominal christianity seems to be okay with all of this. This leads me to believe that a very small percentage, maybe 2% are actually true christians.

        There is no name for the group I belong to. But what I do know is that our Shepherd is The Good Shepherd. We read the Bible and do what is says. We don’t resort to catholic doctrines like the deceptive trinity doctrine. What a disgrace for pastors to say they know the Bible and are still in bondage to not even knowing the God they say they serve. Satan has done well.

        I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. We truly are a rare breed.

      • Respectfully, you throw out a lot of judgments and criticism to many people you don’t know. The blanket accusations are not right, and it’s not your place, as a Christian, to go about judging Christians or anyone else. You said I was trained by Jesuits, and I think Jerry Falwell Jr will find it quite a surprise he’s suddenly the president of a Jesuit school, as will all of the students and alumni of Liberty University.

        Suggestion: Start looking inside your own self when you read the Bible.

      • You didn’t address anything I wrote last besides saying a can’t judge. That’s the problem. Everyone is afraid to judge. If the plank is out of my eye, you bet I can judge. “Judge righteous judgement.” John 7:24

  2. “There are 353 frequently referred-to prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament. The mathematical odds that Jesus would come and fulfill each and every one of them are hard to quantify.”

    Did Jesus fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah 14?

    “Certainly critics have attacked them, but it is usually weak criticism misplacing history or taking words out of context/improper translation.”

    Problem is, the same can be said for those who claim that the prophecies were fulfilled. That is, supporting the claim that the prophecies were fulfilled seems to take a certain amount of “misplacing history or taking words out of context/improper translation.”

    • Hello again, David…
      Welcome to Critics Corner. You picked an interesting inaugural topic. Zechariah is one of the most challenging exegetical opportunities in the Minor Prophets. It actually splits into references of 2 time-periods. 1-8 is directed at the returning of diaspora Jews, rebuilding the temple, etc. The section 9-14 is largely directed toward the Second Advent, particularly the 14th chapter which is where your question lies.

      “Did Jesus fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah 14?”

      This passage depicts the Second Advent; the return of Christ. This hasn’t taken place yet, so the answer is no. There is a fairly significant volume of prophecy dedicated to the End Times, which we are not yet in.

      The second part of your response post seems to be less of a question and more of a statement. Your accusation seems to be responding to my accusation about “misplacing history or taking words out of context/improper translation.” I had just used the example of the Hebrew “almah” and “betulah” to demonstrate that critics tried to remove the contextual implication of “virgin” from “young woman” by formulating that the correct word would have been an older, unmarried “spinster”. In context, “young woman” overwhelmingly implies “virgin” in this culture. We’re talking about a word that means 12-13 year old girl.

      You weren’t specific about misplacing history, but Isaiah was the topic at hand. There is a mixture of historical events around the early 8th Century BC, as well as messianic prophecy. Prophets spoke as they were given the Word from God “So Sayeth the Lord”

      I would also like to point out that prophecy is forth-telling, as well as fortelling. One has to keep tabs on which one is occurring when reading the prophets. Fortelling is a much smaller percentage than forth-telling.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • “There is a fairly significant volume of prophecy dedicated to the End Times, which we are not yet in.”

        Ah, so when you say that “Bible prophecy has a 100% accuracy rate,” that doesn’t count all of the predictions about events that haven’t happened yet.

        Given that, I’m not sure that one can conclude that the prophecies are 100% accurate. After all, it’s easy to have a “100% accuracy rate” if one can say of the unfulfilled prophecies, “they just haven’t happened yet.”

        “You weren’t specific about misplacing history, but Isaiah was the topic at hand.”

        Sorry, I should have been clearer. I was not referring to a specific verse in Isaiah. I was responding a paragraph that referred to “353 frequently referred-to prophecies of Jesus,” so I assumed that you were not just talking about Isaiah here. But speaking of the “353 frequently referred-to prophecies of Jesus,” I wonder why the vast majority of the Jews living in Palestine at the time didn’t see Jesus as fulfilling all of these prophecies. Maybe he didn’t really do this.

      • In an academic sense, you appear to be ignorant of common interpretive norms. Let me help you.
        The 353 prophecies all occurred at the First Advent. You can Google that and get plenty of pro & con articles. As for the 100% accuracy rate, prophecy that has occurred has been 100% accurate. Prophecies still off into the future have not yet been fulfilled. The end of the world will be required for many of them, and we’re still here… that just takes basic logic to figure out. As for the Jews in Israel (Palestine is a much later term), you are correct that many didn’t see the fullfillment. Still, many did. They were the followers of Jesus. One of the amazing things about the First Advent was that the majority of Jewish leaders were so invested in their religiosity and power-structure that they were blind to their own Messiah coming.

        I’m sharing a belief with 2.1-Billion people. It’s not like I’m all alone, out on a limb with my statements.
        Thanks!

      • “The 353 prophecies all occurred at the First Advent.”

        Yes, I get that. But your statement that “Bible prophecy has a 100% accuracy rate” doesn’t say that. You can’t conclude that the prophecies have a 100 % accuracy rate until all the data are in. You can say that a bunch of things are going to happen in the future, but no one knows if they will or not. At best, we have to give biblical prophecy a grade of “incomplete,” not “100%”.

        “As for the 100% accuracy rate, prophecy that has occurred has been 100% accurate.

        Hmm, I’m not so sure about this. Take Isaiah 53. I assume that this is supposed to be taking about Jesus? If so, why does Jesus only get “a portion among the great,” and why does he “divide the spoils with the strong?” Jesus is God, but God doesn’t divide anything with anyone.

        “One of the amazing things about the First Advent was that the majority of Jewish leaders were so invested in their religiosity and power-structure that they were blind to their own Messiah coming.”

        Were the Jewish leaders blind? Maybe. But if I was a Jewish leader, and a man executed by the Romans came back to life and strolled the streets of Jerusalem, then I’m on my knees begging for forgiveness. Then I’d be jumping for joy! This is what I’ve been waiting for! A man that the Romans can’t kill! But this isn’t how the Jewish leaders reacted.

        And in addition to the leaders, there were lots and lots of “non-leader” Jews. And the vast majority didn’t buy the fulfilled prophecy thing either. Why not? Maybe it’s because the OT predicts that the “messiah” would be a political and military leader, too, a leader who would put the Jews and the nation of Israel on top of the world. And that didn’t happen. I admit that I haven’t read every single prophecy, but many that I have read seem very, well, Jewish, in their orientation, including Z 14 which says that everyone will bow down to Jerusalem and a Jewish king. They seem to be motivated more by wishful thinking on the part of Jewish writers as much as anything else.

        I think the basic problem with prophecies is that many can be read in many different ways (see Nostradamus, for example). Looking back, it’s not that hard to find an event that fits a particular prophecy. It’s also not that hard to maybe alter history just a tad to make it fit a particular prophecy. I understand that you have concluded that “critics” are wrong, but I’m not so sure.

      • Jesus actually spoke to your two primary interrogatory themes:

        John 12:
        37 But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. 38 This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:

        “Lord, who has believed our message?
        To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?”
        39 But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,

        40 “The Lord has blinded their eyes
        and hardened their hearts—
        so that their eyes cannot see,
        and their hearts cannot understand,
        and they cannot turn to me
        and have me heal them.”[o]
        41 Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. 42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

        As for yet fulfilled prophesy, it is so for a reason, and Jesus spells that in fairly easy-to-read parables. There are 3 in Matthew 25 that will give you a clear understanding of the purpose of yet-fulfilled prophesy.

        Finally, I wanted to share that I see many critics struggle with understanding the Bible because, as much as believers are tying together the pieces, critics are trying to tear down the connection. Prophecy very often dove-tails one into the other, from different prophets. so finding grounds to declare a “disconnect” is pretty easy. You have to do some studying to understand how to read Isaiah, because it is not concieved to be 2015 English. Here is what Bible.org says about Isaiah and Genre:

        IV. GENRE

        A. Isaiah’s literary skills surpass all OT prophets. His word plays and poetry are majestic and intriguing. The book is mostly Hebrew poetry (see Appendix One).

        B. It is difficult to sit down and read all of Isaiah at one time. It is difficult to outline the book. This is because Isaiah was a preacher, not just an author or editor. His book records his spoken messages over a long period of time. These are linked together, sometimes

        1. by theme

        2. by chronology

        3. by events which affect Israel

        4. by the cultural norms of the Ancient Near East, which are so different from our own

        5. by key words and word plays (mostly)

      • “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts—”

        And there goes the omnibenevolent God.

        “Critics are trying to tear down the connection.”

        Or maybe they are just trying to objectively test the claim of 100% accuracy.

        “You have to do some studying to understand how to read Isaiah, because it is not concieved to be 2015 English.”

        So, just keep trying, and you can spin this to make that “100% accuracy rate” claim work.

        “Prophecy very often dove-tails one into the other, from different prophets.”

        Ok, but this doesn’t really address the specific question that I raised.

      • “I did expect I would give you answers.”

        Problem is, when I asked about a specific prophecy (I 53) to test the “100 % accuracy rate” hypothesis, there really wasn’t an answer. I guess one just has to take this on faith.

  3. Yes, I thought you might use this angle , or something similar.

    I wasn’t really concerned with the almah/bethulah angle as this is tripe, ask any Jewish scholar. And why on earth would anyone truly seeking historical veracity refer to a Christian for an explanation of Judaism, for the gods’ sake?

    CARM? Are you serious? I would sooner believe that Harry Potter was based on a genuine historical character than believe anything those dingbats write.

    I wonder why Paul never believed in the virgin birth? Or even the writer of Mark?
    Or even Joseph, for that matter?
    You would think as Yeshua’s dad, if he was aware of the prophecy he would recognise the signs – being Jewish and all.

    Ray Brown the catholic Theologian recognises it was not to be taken literally, and he said so in writing.

    For a few fleeting moments I thought you might be becoming just a little bit more reasonable.

    That must be my ”Give-the-bloke-the-benefit of-the-doubt” mindset I have that always tries to see the good side of people.

    Sigh ….Oh, well.

      • So much for an intellectual, well- thought out reply, David.
        Don’t you even wonder why Joseph( Yeshua’s dad ) wasn’t fully aware of the ”signs”?
        Or why Paul rejects the virgin birth?
        Is this what indoctrination does to seemingly normal level-headed people?
        Do you wonder why many people object to this being forced onto children, when even its supporters are unable to offer a reasonable answer?

      • O, dear, you get upset because of the word dingbat?
        And so this is your cue to opt out?
        Why would you expect me to play nice when instead of a reasoned reply you attempt to slam me with apologetics and CARM for the gods sake?

  4. Just read your Dirty Secrets post. Interesting. I ha already watched Shelldrake’s TED video. Fascinating stuff.

    As you seem to be alluding toward a much more open-minded approach to scientific inquiry ( Beware of the Dogma was your second header, I think? ) which, on the face of it seems very reasonable – are you then moving towards embracing a similar level of open-mindedness toward the bible for example?

    • I’d like to think I’ve always had an open mind toward the Bible. I can reject it and believe as I did when I was 25. I’m completely free to believe in all or just part of the Bible. However, I find that as I’ve learned more of and more about the Bible it has not only solidified my confidence in its truth, it has helped me see the world with much more clarity. Thanks for commenting, and welcome to CC!

      • I’ll be in and out of meetings today, so I won’t be able to get you a full response for a little while. I am glad that you brought this one up though, because of the very unique historical timeline. I also look forward to getting into Rupert Sheldrake.

      • Well, in light of the open mindedness you seem to allude regarding Sheldrake I am simply interested on whether you consider this ( supposed christian) prophecy to King Ahaz to be ”100% ” accurate.

      • I just got Sheldrake’s book “The Science Delusion”, and will begin reading it this week. What really caught my attention is that he really pins the ears back on hard-core science dogmatics. Groupthink can be so deadly and abusive in scientific applications. You read “I love-hate” the science debate off of my site, so I know you’ve seen the abuses like Sokal and Marshall, etc. Surprise, TEDx banned Sheldrake, so I knew it was worth buying his book and getting to know that thread.

        All the best!

      • Interesting. Why do you seem to reject the supposed dogmatism of the scientific community or are at at least quite critical of it yet embrace religious dogmatism which has way less evidence to support it than what Sheldrake is punting?

      • I’m not fully informed on Sheldrake. I was just impressed by things like his investigation into metrology’s inconsistencies, calling what is actually a formula for averaging a hard constant (Big G), etc.

        We’ve discussed evidentialism before, but I hadn’t added my conclusion on the semantics of evidence. Science is certainly guilty of changing terms when they find themselves in error. Perhaps neither side will ever come to agreement on terms so that an actual debate could occur. When scientists see through a lens that can get past materialism, maybe then.

      • This doesn’t actually address the question as to why you are critical of scientific dogma but accepting of religious dogma when the latter has no evidence to back it up at all.

      • Alright… now I have a few minutes before the evening meetings to answer your question. I’m afraid it won’t be as meaty as you normally like to see, but I really don’t get in the weeds in apologetics anymore. As you know, I’m a counselor and a minister… there are plenty of good folks doing apologetics if you’d really like to get into hair-splitting. I recommend CARM.com

        That said, Isaiah 7:14 has at least 3 or 4 angles that folks attack it. The two most popular are from the timeline of fulfillment, and from the translation of the word “virgin”. Let’s give you a thumbnail sketch of both.

        (1) 7:14 had to only refer to King Ahaz, and as such had to happen in his lifetime. It meets both, but for an Evangelical, the overriding principle is that it harmonizes with the other 352 prophecies of Jesus, which is that the House of David would see the fulfillment, which it did with the first advent of Jesus Christ. The folks at defendinginerrancy.com have a pretty tight explanation on both timeline criticism: “The first aspect of the sign was fulfilled in the birth of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz as recorded in Isaiah 8:3. The second aspect of the sign was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem as recorded in the Gospels.” (2) The use of the words that are translated “virgin” – some folks try to make a case that virgin actually just means young woman, which is incorrect. kjvtoday.com has a good package on this criticism “Some critics argue that the word translated as “virgin” at Isaiah 7:14 in the KJV ought to be translated as “young woman”. However, words are to be translated in its context. Here the context requires “עלמה (almah)” to mean “virgin.” The verse says the conception of the עלמה is “a sign” from the Lord. The word for “sign” (אות) is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to miracles or extraordinary displays.”

        There are 353 frequently referred-to prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament. The mathematical odds that Jesus would come and fulfill each and every one of them are hard to quantify. Certainly critics have attacked them, but it is usually weak criticism misplacing history or taking words out of context/improper translation.

        I seriously doubt any of it will matter to staunch critics, so I don’t spend a lot of time defending it. There are too many people who I can help, and defending the Bible against a staunch critic is better left to the apologetics people. I have believers and seekers to disciple.

        It was good to hear from you. Thanks, as well , for using the Critics Corner.

        Now, go play some guitar.

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