07 April 2009

"Jesus was a Good Teacher" dodge (NEXT! #9)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: I believe Jesus was a moral example and a great sage and teacher.

Response: ...who sagaciously taught that He was God incarnate, the only sufficient sacrifice for man's sins, and the only mediator between God and man; who made worship of Him as God a moral imperative; and taught that anyone who doesn't believe in Him, and believe all those things about Him, is going to Hell? Hey, yeah! Me too!

(Proverbs 21:22)

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49 comments:

eastendjim said...

Good one.

Matt said...

Nice. A little longer than some of the other responses, but good nonetheless!

DJP said...

Sorry; did I lose you attention?

(c;

Citizen Grim said...

This is a classic, but you only hear the "Jesus was a good teacher" nonsense from people who are uncritically (a-critically?) repeating something they heard once upon a time.

I think the more deft have learned to avoid saying such silly things about Jesus.

Barbara said...

CS Lewis:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

DJP said...

That exact passage whacked me in the head as I was on the way to Christ. I read it with a sinking heart. I knew he was right.

donsands said...

sagaciously?

I had to look that one up.

I heard Bill O'Reilly say that's how he believed in Christ, and as a Catholic.

I just don't get that one. I suppose these types don't really believe Jesus rose from the dead.

Love the CS Lewis quote. We need some more CS Lewis'.

jigawatt said...

Of course the usual come-back is "But those are parts of the Bible that were made up."

I think what they really mean is "I believe Jesus was a moral example and a great sage and teacher, so long as I get to cherry pick the parts of the gospels I like, and I get to interpret said passages however I like."

DJP said...

There y'go. And this could expose that.

chrish said...

One of the things I've always loved about a good Lewis quote was how "uncharitable" he was with people who had silly ideas....

...which makes the Emerg* acceptance of him such a contradiction. Of course, a contradiction in emerg* circles shouldn't surprise anyone.

Michelle said...

Like Barbara, my mind immediately went to the Lunatic, Liar or Lord trilemma. Any man claiming to be God incarnate today would be classified as a nutcase, not a good teacher. I like this approach too - logically, His being a good teacher cannot be separated from His good teachings. All of them.

They could reply that it is possible to admire His ability to inspire and the impact He has had over the centuries, ie. acknowledge His obvious giftedness as a teacher, without agreeing with the substance of what He taught.

DJP said...

It's a way to shut Him up politely. It's a bluff that has to be called.

My cult said Jesus was the greatest mystic and teacher, ever. As the Holy Spirit closed in on me, it struck me that the greatest teacher and mystic, ever, didn't teach what we taught. Which bothered me.

Michelle said...

Brilliant! Thank you for that insight.

The Squirrel said...

It's funny how people don't spend any time or energy coming up with reasons to reject other religions with which they disagree. They just dismiss them out of hand.

But Jesus? Oh, Him they cannot just ignore. They need an excuse to dismiss Him, and this is probably the most common one (at least in my experience.)

My cult said Jesus was the greatest mystic and teacher, ever. As the Holy Spirit closed in on me, it struck me that the greatest teacher and mystic, ever, didn't teach what we taught. Which bothered me.

Wow, there's a lot of depth to that statement. I'll be mulling that over all day

~Squirrel

Respectabiggle said...

The shorter version of that wonderful C.S. Lewis quote:

Liar, lunatic, or Lord. No other options.

Rachael Starke said...

This is my favorite because I've actually used it to "good" success. I took my neighbor out to dinner because she had just joined the local Lutheran church bell choir (just not the actual church). She dove right in to this argument and how much she was learning, but as the evening progressed, she gave me the "well, we can talk about whatever you want, but just don't talk about hell. I just can't abide that concept."

"But Jesus talked about Hell a lot!" I replied.

She changed the subject.

And now her kids have told our kids they can't hear anymore about Jesus.

At least she's intellectually honest.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I was thinking like Barbara... but not up as early :0)

I see this way of thinking (Jesus was a great moral teacher...) quite a bit. As if you could just "add Jesus" - or the parts of him you like - to your collection of assorted beliefs.

While I love the CS Lewis argument, logic sadly doesn't always 'compute' with people who are determined to go on believing whatever they want to believe.

Doesn't mean we quit speaking truth, though.

Julie

Stefan said...

I was going to offer the most archetypal rejoinder, but Jigawatt already gave it:

"Of course the usual come-back is 'But those are parts of the Bible that were made up.'"

I'd also agree with his assessment of what that means.

***

The first time I read the Gospels, I read them with an open mind, and came away the better for it (though not yet saved).

Then, misguided by the writings of the Jesus Seminar and John Shelby Spong (with "help" from Joseph Campbell, Stephen Mitchell, and other "enlightened" fellows), I spent over a decade trying to tear apart and put back together the Synoptic Gospels (and forget about John!), trying to find the "true Jesus" behind all those supposed layers of ahistorical accretions: "pious fictions."

The end result was deep skepticism, and a shipwreck of whatever I'd had before. It took nearly another decade to unlearn every noxious idea I'd imbibed from those false teachers, and come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

stratagem said...

The likely comeback to today's article is, "...but the Jesus Project proved that Jesus didn't really say those nasty things. and they're experts, you know."

~Mark said...

Post hits home!

archshrk said...

Jigawatt said: Of course the usual come-back is "But those are parts of the Bible that were made up."


to which I would respond "no, those other parts about him being a teacher were made up" - Not true but I'd love to see their response to that.

DJP said...

LOL; I like that!

richardabanes said...

FRANK: "One of the highlights of the blog year is when someone engages Abanes and he calls his lawyer to prosecute their ISP because he’s so concerned with Biblical truth" (posted at Challies.com).

RAbanes: Hey Frank, do you care AT ALL about truth? My guess is, no. The FACTS are as follows:

1. I never called a single lawyer last year about anything, let alone a lawsuit.
Apology accepted.

2. I never threatened to prosecute anyone. My boilerplate form letter sent to Ken Silva's ISP included legal-speak that came pre-written. It was downloaded years ago from the Internet with the basic instructions to use "as is" if seeking to make a complaint to any ISP.
Apology accepted

3. Even if I HAD launched a lawsuit against a SECULAR Internet Service Provider, then that is something not forbidden by scripture.
Apology accepted.

Oh, and BTW, out of curiosity, have you no condemnation for Chris Rosebrough who DIRECTLY and PUBLICLY with blatant disregard for scripture did indeed threaten me personally with a lawsuit for all the world to see?

Hint: Try telling the truth once in a while. It feels really good. :-)

Richard Abanes

jigawatt said...

-1: Off Topic, richardabanes

Jugulum said...

-1: Slashdot reference, jigawatt

jigawatt said...

Pretty good, archshrk. It all comes down, of course, to a lack of submission to the Scripture on their part.

Maybe they should publish a "Burger King" version of the Bible. Have It Your Way.

richardabanes said...

-1: Off Topic, richardabanes

Oh, darn, you're right. My bad. :-(

RA

Live As If said...

heh.

I never have known quite what to say to that one - and I've heard it so many times. Thanks for the wisdom to refute such an "objection."

SolaMommy said...

Well Dan, I liked your post even if your meta got "franked" by Richard Abanes.

;-)

Aaron said...

I'm so looking forward to a DJP edit a la this.

richardabanes said...

Aaron: m so looking forward to a DJP edit a la this.

RA: Oh, I'm sorry was I banned from this site? I don't recall being told I was banned from this blog?

"We have had an unhappy soul or two gleefully get themselves banned... and then persist in coming back."

If I am, or have been banned, for some reason, please do tell me. And I shall not sully your hallowed halls.

RA

Frank Turk said...

Richard Abanes was, at one time, an incredibly-thorough researcher and apologist. His book on Mormonism is, frankly, mandatory reading if you want to research the history of that cult.

Here's the summary version from Abanes' own web site regarding the content of the letter he sent Ken Silva's ISP back in the day:

I asked them to please have Mr. Silva remove the article before I contacted my attorneys. I did not, in that email, in any way express to the ISP what my reason for contacting the attorneys would be.

Now, let me ask you, the reader: does anyone really think that making the accusation that Ken Silva "libeled" Abanes, and then intimating that the next step for Abanes was to "contact my attorneys", means anything other than "to take appropriate legal action [apparently against libel]"? Can Abanes have meant here "in order to play golf with them"? Could he have meant "because I missed his daughter's bat mizvah"?

As they say in AA, you don't go to the barber unless you intend to get your hair cut.

You decide. Abanes will demand you believe he meant anything but take legal action, but you decide what is more credible: e-mailing an ISP to inform them that he is contacting his attorneys for the church pot luck, or e-mailing an ISP to inform them that he is contacting his attorneys because he needs them to do what attorneys do.

Libbie said...

*wonders if the meta will get back on track at all*

*thinks*

But I am a poached egg!

Mark B. Hanson said...

It is pretty clear in the modern religious world that virtually every other religion wants to claim Jesus somehow, but in their embrace, they always betray him with a kiss.

"We want Jesus, just not that one."

Joshua Cookingham said...

The one that REALLY bugs me, is anti-trinitarianism.

I recently debated an Anglican who stated that Jesus was God's son, but not God.

She pointed to a lot of verses where Christ did say He was God's son, but ignored verses such as "...The Word was with God and the Word WAS God," And "Before Abraham I AM."

Still, it was a little frustrating, I think I need to do a LOT more Bible study to be better prepared. I never realized that the Trinity was a tripping point for people.

Stefan said...

Oh, sweet providence!

Someone asked a question in Bible School last night, very much along the lines of what Joshua just wrote one hour ago.

Is John the only one of the four Gospels where the identification Christ = God is explicitly stated?

As Joshua hinted, "Son of God" is expressed fairly often in the Synoptics, but is there a clear statement by Matthew, Mark, or Luke as well, that Jesus Christ is both Son of God and God?

Not that it ultimately matters, since all Scripture coheres together and does not contradict itself, and John just makes explicit what is clearly implied or assumed in many other books in the Bible, often in very subtle ways (Deuteronomy 6:5 [in Hebrew]; Isaiah 9:6).

richardabanes said...

Frank: I asked them to please have Mr. Silva remove the article before I contacted my attorneys. I did not, in that email, in any way express to the ISP what my reason for contacting the attorneys would be. Now, let me ask you, the reader: does anyone really think that making the accusation that Ken Silva "libeled" Abanes, and then intimating that the next step for Abanes was to "contact my attorneys", means anything other than "to take appropriate legal action [apparently against libel]"?

RA: A summary is right, and tbh, not a very accurate/compete one.

Frank, I must say that it is odd to me how so many people are willing to throw me under the bus after years of faithful service in apologetics/discenment (as you noted yourself) essentially because of my stand on two issues:

1. Rick Warren;

2. Those who have unfairly accosted him (and others, tbh) on the Internet.

That's really what everything boils down to. The sides have been drawn, even in this absurd (I'll say it again, ABSURD) Ken Silva circus that he orchestrated.

All the gnashing of teeth is less about Silva and his ISP than it is about my unwillingness to decry as heretics/apostates various believers in the Body of Christ.

The rending of clothes over my actions are also tied to my attempts to hold various individuals accountable for their ridiculous and irresponsible behavior throughout cyberspace.

Basically, what I have done is simply try to show where there is unnecessary division going on as a result of poor apologetics and discernment. And for that, a good number of people have forgotten that I am indeed the same person who wrote that material on Mormonism about which you speak (oh, in case you haven't heard, one of the premiere ODMs now is declaring that I've gone soft on Mormonism and I am seeking a synthesis between Mormonism & Christianity -- you see what I am talking about?).

Now, what your "summary" leaves out are the answers I've already given with regard to this matter. I'll state them again.

1. My boilerplate form letter sent to Ken Silva's ISP included legal-speak that came pre-written. It was downloaded years ago from the Internet with the basic instructions to use "as is" if seeking to make a complaint to any ISP. I have no idea who wrote it (probably some cyberspace lawyer). Must I explain this to you? Over the years that form letter had been sent out to ISPs for a variety of reasons: a complaint about porn being put up at unregulated websites, a blog where copyrighted material from one of my books was being used without the publisher's permission (they were not happy); a website illegally using a copyrighted picture owned by another, etc., etc., etc. No big deal. It's a form letter.

2. For the sake of discussion, let us say I was indeed threatening that ISP and notifying them of my intentions to initiate a lawsuit unless they took action. Can you please point me to a scripture that tells Christians to not bring secular companies and unbelievers to court? That letter was addressed to IPOWER -- NOT Ken Silva. So, any legal threats that might have been contained therein were to IPOWER (a secular organization -- NOT Ken Silva. Get it?

Frank: "Can Abanes have meant here "in order to play golf with them"? Could he have meant "because I missed his daughter's bat mizvah"?"

RA: Well, if you were not working so hard at being cute & clever, perhaps you would have thought of me calling my attorneys and seeking advise on the next step -- i.e., how one deals with libel material in a way that is both legal, timely, and non-destructive. More letters? A personal phone call? Some kind of Internet regulation about which I am ignorant? Attorneys do more than launch lawsuits last I heard -- e.g., the give advise. Ever think of those things? Even then, I suggest you re-read my points #1 and #2 above.

Mr. Silva created a circus by taking a situation that was relatively simple and benign -- i.e., he wrote what I believed was an irresponsible article that diverged from his TOS agreement. I contacted his ISP. They investigated my complaint. They agreed. NOTHING IN THE BIBLE remotely suggests that this actionw as in any way unbiblical. Goodness gracious. Silva, instead of simply altering the article, or capitulating to his ISPs request, played the role of a martyr. Sad. And you fall for it. Why so quick to fall for it? I think that goes back to the whole Warren-based prejudice you have against me (anyone really) who doesn't hate Warren the way you guys over here seem to hate him. So, there it is.

Frank: .... or e-mailing an ISP to inform them that he is contacting his attorneys because he needs them to do what attorneys do.

RA: See above. Decide, indeed....

RAbanes

P.S. You have nothing to say about Chris Rosebrough? No condemnations for him. He blatantly threatened me publicly with a a bold assertion that a lawsuit was coming my way. As he put it:

"Let this comment serve as a legal notice to you. . . . I will seek the fullest legal recourse allowed under U.S. Law. You have until 12 PM Pacific time on Monday July 28th to comply. . . . This is no joke. You and your ISP will be hearing from my attorney if you do not comply."

And he had the audacity to publish that in the comments section of my blog. Any comments? And that was against me personally, not some secular ISP. Where is 1 Cor. 6 now?

Tax Collector said...

Frank/Abanes, no offense but somewhere hidden between the marital spats a great post got lost.

As for Rick Warren, he wouldn't know the true Gospel (let alone preach it) if it came up and bit him on the backside. And really, isn't that the heart of the issue here? He could do amazing things for the poor, hungry, AIDS-infected people of the world but get the Gospel wrong and what good have you done?

..back to the post at hand..
The classic C.S. Lewis response is right on the money.

The Jesus Seminar would be a joke if it not for multitudes of people being deceived by it and headed for Hell.

Any honest reading of Scripture will give the reader the fact that Jesus did, in fact, claim to be:

God
The Messiah
The only way to Heaven
Creator of the universe
etc..

People simply choose not to believe it because of the ramifications.
Bill

richardabanes said...

TAX: Frank/Abanes, no offense but somewhere hidden between the marital spats a great post got lost.

RA: I agree. Another thread can be started if necessary. I'll not keep this thread pulled off-topic.

RAbanes

donsands said...

"I think that goes back to the whole Warren-based prejudice you have against me (anyone really) who doesn't hate Warren the way you guys over here seem to hate him."

Hate Rick Warren? Or seem to hate?

If words could kill? Or seem to kill?

richardabanes said...

off-topic. sorry. no comment. :-)

RA

donsands said...

"off-topic. sorry. no comment." :-)

:>(, um, you're right. Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter. All for the Cross. Gal. 6:14

Aaron said...

I can't speak for others, Frank, but honestly I had already come to conclusion before your explanation.

It is not difficult to judge the credibility of a man who comes this blog to intentionally and persistantly hijack a thread for his own design. Secondarily, I'm not even sure why he felt the need to come here, since I (and I suspect others) were unaware of the current dispute with RA. If the dispute was with you Frank, why did he not go to your blog to discuss this?

But now that I've been dragged into this mess by Mr. RA himself, I suddenly recalled that I've had my own encounters with him at Biblicalthought.com. Those interactions didn't exactly endear him either.

richardabanes said...

aaron: persistantly hijack a thread for his own design

RA: persistently? really? which other multiple threads might you be referring to? And did you see my last post: ""off-topic. sorry. no comment."
________
aaron: If the dispute was with you Frank, why did he not go to your blog to discuss this?

RA: I am unaware of a dedicated Frank Blog. I thought this was his place since he posts here. Ever think of that?

And now, I would ask that the regular posters here leave me out of the remaining thread, since it's all off-topic now. My bad, sorry, feel free to delete all posts from both Me & frank.

RA

Aaron said...

RA:

Your first response to being told you were off-topic was a sarcastic Oh, darn, you're right. My bad. :-(. Thereafter, you continued to discuss your point. So, yes, you persistently hijacked this thread. No other examples are necessary.

I am unaware of a dedicated Frank Blog. Frank's blog is accessed by clicking on his name on this very blog. That was sooo hard to figure out.

richardabanes said...

Aaron: Your first response to being told you were off-topic was a sarcastic Oh, darn, you're right. My bad.

RA:. Who's hijacking the thread now? Do you want me to reply or not? I am assuming you WANT me to answer and do not consider it hijacking anymore. Which is it?

Truth be told, you seem to have a hard time with the thread's flow.

1. I posted to Frank.
2. I got a wrist-slap for being off-topic.
3. COOL! So, I lightheartedly capitulated, "Oh, darn, you're right. My bad."

NOW............

4. You, then, implied I had been banned (see 5:18 PM, April 07, 2009). So, I responded with a question about whether this were true. That is a different issue. It has nothing to do with my initial post here.
So, no, that is not me re-hi-jacking the thread.

5. Frank came and posted a lengthy response. Interesting that you'd fail to mention this reply by him. Didn't he hi-jack the thread? Was his post on-topic?

He CERTAINLY could have said: "Richard, thanks for coming by, but let's take this to my blog and not clutter up this thread with an off-topic conversation."

Did he say that? No. So I interpreted his post as saying I was permitted to continue in the thread with our interchange.

6. I replied to Frank, thinking he had given me a nod of appropriateness to hash it out in this thread. I thought was saying it was okay to go forward.
So, this, too, was not me hi-jacking anything.

7. Tax Collector then asked BOTH Frank and I to desist.

I stated: "I agree. Another thread can be started if necessary. I'll not keep this thread pulled off-topic."

Followed by another post: "off-topic. sorry. no comment."

So, let's keep our facts right, shall we?

RA

Michelle said...

DJP, HEEEELLLLPPPP!!!!!!!! (pulling at hair with both hands, desperate for an intervention here)

Tell us how you do that thing you do (the restraint). In another post, at your blog :).

richardabanes said...

LoL. Sorry, Michelle. I'll tell you what. No need for intervention. I hereby officially stop..... :-)

peace in him,
RA

DJP said...

That's good, Richard. Nine comments, not one of them actually about the post. Rule 4 isn't that hard to see, and Frank isn't that hard to find.

It's also actually the third time (at least) you've acknowledged being off-topic. Please do as you say, this time.