Answering Skeptics

There are two verses in the Bible that skeptics and non – Christians consistently use to deny the divinity of Christ:
The first on is Luke 18:19:
“Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. “
Which they say implies that Christ was denying his divinity.
The second is Matthew 24:36
“The Necessity for Watchfulness
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. “
The son does not know the hour of the second coming then he is not omniscient, and hence is not God.
What are the best ways to reply to these statements?

Was Jesus denying here that He is good? If Jesus is denying being good, then perhaps we have an issue but obviously Jesus was not denying being good. Rather Jesus was affirming that He is good but He wants others to see it, Jesus didn’t boast how great He was.

So He asks a legitimate question, “Why do you call me good?” Something for the man to contemplate. If not one person on all of the Earth is, “good” but God and yet Jesus was, “good” then who is Jesus?

Jesus wanted others to believe who He was, God come to Earth. Something impossible for anyone to comprehend. (Especially with dying on a cross!) Even Jesus was disappointed (or something of that sort) when He had to prove, certainly, without a doubt, that He was God instead of Thomas being able to see it without so much evidence:

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus while on Earth had to live a perfect human life and in order to do this He must be completely Human. Paul explains:

Philippines 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Also, if you read Matthew 24, it seems as if Jesus in His divinity knew everything about the end times yet in His humanity was not permitted to know.

*14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’**
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.**

It’s hard to understand how Christ could have two natures, but if we’re to accept all Scripture it must be certain.*

It’s kinda silly for a non-Christian to use the Bible to try to discredit Christianity. That would be like me trying to use the Koran to discredit Islam. If I wanted to discredit Islam, the Koran would be the LAST resource that I would turn to. It’s THEIR book. Who am I to say that THEIR book discredits their own faith? To a Muslim, I’m an infidel. What do I know about the Koran? How can I lecture a Muslim about what the Koran “really” teaches? The arrogance of such an idea is appalling.

If somebody does not believe that Christianity is true, then they cannot be expected to believe that Christian documents are true (and, in fact, they can be expected to believe them false). Therefore, they cannot logically cite them as a source to try to discredit Christianity. If they believe their source document is false, and they try to use it to disprove Christianity, they kinda prove Christianity (false documents contradict Christianity - FALSE documents contradict Christianity).

Or, wait - they want to cherry-pick one or two verses that SEEM to contradict Christianity. The rest of the Bible is absolute bunk, but THOSE particular verses are TRUE (and can only be properly interpreted by them). They reject the entire Bible EXCEPT those verses which superficially appear to support their position. 99.99% of the Bible is fantasy, but those one or two verses are TRUTH (according to their own infallible interpretation).

“It’s kinda silly for a non-Christian to use the Bible to try to discredit Christianity”

I would have to agree with you, but if you watch a debate between a Muslim and a christain it’s bound to come up. There are plenty of them on you tube.

Indeed. But then one must be quick to point to other passages written by the same author that contradict Islam to which a Muslim will reply, “well that’s corrupt.” Muslims can’t use the Bible against Christians because they don’t even believe what it says. (Even though the Qur’an commands them to read it.)

For example; all four Gospels have Jesus’s death and resurrection and yet neither of those things happened in Islam. It’s a silly argument for Muslims to use, but yes it’s a popular one.

Jehovah Witnesses are a little different though.

As a now pending Christian (waiting for more evidence) I only brought up passages to show the believer why I can’t get myself to believe. I was more convinced scripture and teaching were man made because of history. Early Christianity consisted of several groups with diverse beliefs. I always thought once Christ came, firm and uniform beliefs were born relatively quickly, however evidence shows Christianity took centuries of dogma debate to develop into current orthodoxy. The Ebionites were Jews who followed the law and believed Jesus to be only human and was God’s chosen to do a task due to his righteousness. The Marcionites believed Jesus to be only divine and followed more of Luke and Paul’s teaching in salvation through grace and believed the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New Testament. The Gnostics believed this world is some sort of cosmic disaster and the spirits are held hostage in our bodies to be let free with knowledge gained from Jesus’ teachings. They also believed Jesus to be both man and divine. Jesus “the man” had the divine “Christ” enter him at his baptism and then began performing miracles. This would explain why Jesus “the man” lamented the Psalm 22 verse in Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” as his last words because “the Christ” had left his body. The last group is the proto-orthodox group who obviously trumped the other groups with the popular belief in the trinity, the nature of Christ’s divinity, formation of clergy rankings (i.e. bishops, pope) and monotheism. I find it hard to believe if the orthodox group gained the most followers after centuries of man-made debate that this is how God planned it all along because it’s similar to how I would have perceived it if there was no divine guidance.

Doesn’t the need for Ecumenical Councils, like the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to debate the Trinity and the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) to determine the nature of Christ’s divinity indicate the confusion of God’s word and lead to man-made conclusions? Does it not appear man-made and scientifically incorrect when St. Irenaeus asserted the four-gospel canon as being no more or less in number since there are 4 quarters (or corners) to the earth in that they serve as “the ‘pillar and ground’ of the church and spirit of life”. Are we to believe God meant the 27 book New Testament to be debated and agreed by religious authorities for centuries before Bishop Athanasius came up with the 27 book list in 367 AD? Why would an all-perfect and powerful divine being go through the trouble inspiring Biblical authors for hundreds of years only to have originals lost both physically and in translation and then depend on this unreliable book to be preached by fallible men with different interpretations leading to the majority of his creation to damnation? This is not the best or most responsible way of sending the most important message if you truly want to “save” the world.

Perhaps the real issue has to do with why the NT was written in the first place.

Today, it is not uncommon for someone to be sitting alone in a hotel room or an airport and find a Bible left behind by the Gideons or some other group. Picking up and reading the Bible in isolation like that can lead to all sorts of interpretations and misunderstandings.

However, the New Testament was not written as a comprehensive theology textbook; rather, the gospels provide basic history of Jesus’ life and mininistry, the book of Acts gives a bit of early Church history (though terribly incomplete), and the rest of the books are really letters sent to individuals and congregations addressing specific problems and questions. But none of this was intended to be read apart from the lived experience of the community of believers. And it is only in that context that the NT can be properly understood.

Catholics speak of the “material sufficiency” of scripture which means that everything we need to know is in there, but we still have to interpret the text properly. This is in contrast to “formal sufficiency” which holds that not only is all of the “stuff” necessary for salvation contained in scripture but also that scripture is sufficiently perspicuous or clear that we can know what it means.

So, the correct understanding is that the Bible is an inerrant book written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of a Church which is protected from error by the guidance of that same Spirit through the charism of infallibility. God built the Church first and added the New Testament once it was up and running.

Stay close to the Church’s understanding of Scripture, and you will not go wrong. :thumbsup:

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