Thursday, January 2, 2014

Paul Williams and "the Big Seven" - Part One

Perhaps recognizing just how weak his argument against Mark 6:50 really was – indeed, in one follow up comment PW finally admitted at least that “It is possible that Mark [6:50] contains a subtle reference to Yahweh in the Jewish Scriptures” – PW saw the need to bring out his “Big Seven” reasons why Jesus can’t be God according to Mark’s Gospel. Here is his introduction with the first of his seven reasons.

Likewise it is clear that there has been a development in the way Jesus is presented in the pages of the New Testament. Let’s look again at the earliest gospel to be written, that of Mark.

This shows us a very human figure:

1)   Jesus is a man who prays to God (1:35)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Before I respond to this, note once more how the unproven assumption of MP/2D is necessary to Paul’s case. As well, note that I can assume the truth of PW’s assumption for arguments sake (as I do in what follows) without it creating any problem for the orthodox Christian view.

So PW’s first argument aims to demonstrate that Mark “shows us a very human figure.”

But does PW really think Christians do not believe Jesus was/is a human being? If so, then he really needs to be more upfront with people when he says he left Christianity knowing full well what Christianity teaches. The position of historic, orthodox Christianity is precisely that Jesus was (and is) a man. If PW wants the bragging rights that all self-respecting apostates feel entitled to, then he really needs to do a better job demonstrating that he knows what Christianity has and continues to teach. It makes little sense to parade around saying “I know where the bodies are buried” if you keep tripping over grave markers in your own backyard.

If PW is aware of the fact that Christians believe that Jesus was “a very human figure,” then what exactly is his argument here? It can only be that he thinks that if Jesus for Mark was/is a man, then he cannot also be God according to Mark. But Jesus for John was/is also “a very human figure” (q.v. John 1:14), and yet PW admits that Jesus for John is also God (John 1:1, 1:18, 5:17-18, 10:30, 20:28). So it is difficult to believe that an argument PW doesn’t take seriously when it comes to John’s account is taken seriously when it comes to Mark’s account. And even if PW really is this arbitrary, should any Christian feel obliged to follow him in his hopeless gyrations? This kind of instability of mind is just the kind of thing that God gives apostates over to (Romans 1:18ff.)

The supporting reason that Paul gave above in order to prove that Jesus in Mark is a very human figure is that he prayed to God (Mk. 1:35). But don’t Matthew, Luke, and even John also teach that Jesus was/is a man who prayed to God? Surely they do.

Since the above is such an obvious problem for PW's argument, several people raised the issue in the comment thread to PW’s post. The following two replies were the best PW could come up with:

First, he said: “Johns [sic] Jesus is quite unlike Mark’s Jesus when he prays. In Mark he is more of a needy human who makes mistakes, doesn’t know things, has to beg to God to save him etc [sic] (see references above). In John he is quite different: his prayer [sic] often just a performance for others [sic] benefit – not because he really has to pray.”

While I of course reject the claim that Jesus in Mark “makes mistakes,” isn’t it the case that Jesus in John is portrayed as a “needy human” just like in Mark? And just how can PW claim that Jesus’ worship and prayers to the Father in John’s Gospel are “just a performance,” i.e. an empty ritual for Jesus that is only of benefit to others, when Jesus said the following according to John:

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; WE worship what WE know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when THE TRUE WORSHIPPERS WILL WORSHIP THE FATHER IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and THOSE WHO WORSHIP HIM MUST WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.” (John 4)

There is no question that Jesus said things according to John that were for the benefit of others, but what He said for their benefit flowed out of confidence that His heartfelt prayers to God were answered (John 11:38-44).

Second, PW said: “Jesus prayed. You believe Jesus was Yahweh. Ergo Jesus was praying to himself. What a bizarre religion!”

Here PW is not giving a textually based argument but a theological/philosophical one. Jesus prayed in Mark and in John. Paul thinks this is bizarre, but so what? How is this an argument that Jesus isn’t God according to the text of Mark’s Gospel when the very thing occurs in John, particularly since PW admits that John taught the deity of Christ?

The fact that PW had to fall back on a philosophical argument shows that he perceived himself to be at the end of his tether as far as the textual argument goes.

As for PW’s theological/philosophical argument, the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father would only be bizarre if PW begs the question in favor of unitarianism. While John’s Gospel certainly teaches monotheism (5:44, 17:3), and the deity of Jesus (1:1, 1:18, 20:28), it does not teach that Jesus is the Father. Ditto for Mark. In other words, neither John’s nor Mark’s Gospel teaches unitarianism, so the critical assumption needed to infer that Jesus’ prayers are “bizarre” is without any foundation.

In fact, while it isn’t strange that one divine person (the Son) prayed to another divine person (the Father) on a Trinitarian conception of God, it certainly is strange that PW’s own mono-personal deity engages in prayer. If PW’s God is a solitary person rather than a tri-personal being, then who is PW’s deity praying to?

Here is a concluding comment from Sam Shamoun on this matter that he tried to leave on PW’s blog. PW of course would not clear the comment.

You know full well what the actual position is but still, like your prophet did before you, you can’t help but deliberately misrepresent it. The position which you once claimed to have believed is that Jesus is God in essence and distinct from God the Father. Therefore, Jesus is praying to God the FATHER, not himself.

However, speaking of a bizarre religion, you don’t get anymore bizarre than your sterile impotent monad praying to himself!

They are those on whom are the prayers (salawatun) from their Lord and mercy (rahmatun), and it is they who are the guided-ones. S. 2:157

He it is who prays (yusallee) for you and His angels too, to bring you forth out of the darkness into the light, for He is merciful to the believers. S. 33:43 Palmer

Verily, God and His angels pray (yusalloona) for the prophet. O ye who believe! pray for him (salloo) and salute him with a salutation! S. 33:56 Palmer

The hadith reports also mention Allah praying for people:

1387. Abu Umama reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah AND His angels AND the people of the heavens AND the earth, EVEN the ants in their rocks AND the fish, PRAY for blessings on those who teach people good.” [at-Tirmidhi] (Aisha Bewley, Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous), Book of Knowledge, 241. Chapter: the excellence of knowledge; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

And here is an article where I discuss this issue more in-depth and refute the lame attempt by your fellow Muhammadan-turned apostate-turned Muhammadan-turned apostate again-turned Muhammadan one more time Ibn Unaware:

So perhaps you can be so kind and answer my questions. To whom does your deity pray when he joins the angels in praying for Muhammad and so-called believers? Since the angels are obviously praying to Allah does this mean that Allah is also praying to himself?

Bizarre indeed!


Tom said...

The Four Gospels corresponds to the Four Faces of God as depicted in Ezekiel:
1)Matthew carries the theme of the face of the Lion. The Lion stands for kingship.
2)The Gospel of Mark has the theme of a servant. This would be the Ox.
3)The Gospel of Luke has the theme of the face of a man.
4)The Gospel of John carries the theme of the Eagle, which stands for "divinity." Most of the book of John centers on showing the divinity of Jesus.

muslims just are unable to grasp The very basics of Christian Theology & How God introduces His Plan, because the koran is so devoid of Theology & is "perfectly" incoherent, that you actually feel sorry for them as they are truely wandering & grasping for air in the wilderness, that they swipe at anything, even help!!

Tom said...

All scripture is inspired by God. For this reason, we know the Bible is true. As we read the Gospels, we must consider the version of the four faces we are reading. The story we are trying to understand can easily be understood if we know which aspect of Jesus God is portraying, the divinity of Jesus or the Servanthood of Jesus or the Man part of Jesus or Jesus as the King or returning King.

This muslims are unable to grasp because there is no structure in their theology!

sla said...

Allah "praying" , is a bogus and ignorant claim put forward by polemist Sam Shamoun. It shows how much unaware he is of Arabic . No scholarly translation of the Quran translate it the way it is done by him ,i challenge him or anybody else to quote me just 1 serious scholar who says Allah prays .

Anonymous said...

Paul Williams always tries to blend the meaning of ‘prayer’ and ‘worship’ into the single meaning of ‘worship’. But ‘prayer’ and ‘worship’ are two distinct things, since prayer actually means to ‘petition for’ or to ask God for certain things.

When Jesus prayed, He was, in His temporary earthly servitude (Luke 22:27) in the service of the Father (John 3:16) and mankind, simply petitioning the Father (who was in charge of proceedings during this time) for certain things.

‘Worship’ is basically the CREATED acknowledging their CREATOR as their Lord. Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-14), not the created.

In John 4:22, when Jesus says “...we know what we worship...” He was speaking on behalf of, and in respect to the Jews as a group (“...for salvation is from the Jews...”), for the benefit of the woman’s own perspective and limited understanding, not Himself specifically.

Anonymous said...


John 4:22

Jesus, being God the Saviour in the flesh, from the tribe of Judah (...salvation is from the Jews...), is hardly going to worship Himself.