NT Scholar Raymond Brown: Why is Jesus Sorrowful Unto Death Regarding his Impending Death in Mark but Not in Luke?

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This is an ongoing review of New Testament scholar Raymond Brown’s book, in two volumes, The Death of the Messiah (copyright, 1994).   In the introduction, Brown states that the primary aim of the book is:  to explain in detail what the evangelists intended and conveyed to their audiences by their narratives of the passion and death of Jesus.  Brown states he intends to do this by examining the four gospels in parallel rather than vertically, the historically preferred pattern of study.

Most scholars (liberal and conservative) consider Brown a moderate.  He was a Roman Catholic.  His views were considered compatible with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, an institution not known for a liberal bias under Pope John Paul II, the time period in which this book was written.  I find Raymond Brown’s work to be refreshingly honest.  Devoid of bias.  In my view, Brown has only one agenda:  the truth.  He does not attempt to proselytize the reader to his point of view.  If the evidence supports the traditional Christian position, fine.  If the evidence does not support the traditional Christian position, that is fine too.  As a devout Catholic, Brown most definitely believed in the supernatural.  Therefore, the popular apologist charge that the majority of NT scholars are biased against the supernatural cannot be made against the work of Raymond Brown.

Review continues:

Most major episodes of the Lucan passion narrative have a parallel in Mark with the notable exceptions of Jesus before Herod, the women on the way to the place of crucifixion, and the “penitent thief”. Nevertheless, both in structure and tone Luke diverges far more from Mark than does Matthew.  I mentioned above that Mark/Matthew are characterized (in varying degrees) by the isolation of Jesus and the failure of the disciples.  Not so Luke.  Absent from the episode on the Mount of Olives are the Marcan references to Jesus’ being troubled and sorrowful unto death; indeed his prayer to his Father receives a strengthening angelic response.  Readers are given the sense that Jesus is in communion with the Father throughout, so that appropriately the last words of the crucified are not an anguished cry to his God by one who feels forsaken, but a tranquil “Father, into your hands I place my Spirit”.

p. 30

(emphasis:  Gary’s)

 

Gary:  Good grief!

Jesus is sorrowful unto death in one gospel, throwing himself on the ground, but he is just anxious while kneeling in prayer in another.  An angel, an ANGEL, comforts Jesus in one gospel, but no mention of this heavenly being in the other gospel.  One gospel has Jesus crying out in despair asking God why he has forsaken him, as his last words on the cross, but in the other gospel, Jesus serenely commends his soul into the hands of the Father.

Give me a break!

If this isn’t the most blatant evidence that the authors of the Gospels were inventing stories right and left, I don’t know what is!  Look, folks.  According to the Gospels, there was no one else present with Jesus when he prayed to his Father on the Mount of Olives, having removed himself some distance from the sleeping disciples.  So how do we know the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ prayer to the Father?  Answer:  There are only two possibilities:  Either Jesus (God) told someone in the forty day period after his resurrection, or, we have an omniscient narrator (God) dictating what happened in this scene directly to the gospel authors.

Problem is:  The stories in Mark and Luke are irreconcilable!  Jesus was either very agitated and sorrowful unto death about his impending crucifixion or he was just anxious.  In one version there is an angel in the other the angel is absent.  Someone got this scene wrong!!!  And it was either…Jesus (God) or the omniscient narrator (God)!  So God made a mistake in one of these stories!

But how about another explanation:  At least one author, and maybe both, completely fabricated this scene/story in the Passion Narrative!  So how much more of the four Gospel narratives are complete fabrication???

Jesus prayer on the Mount of Olives in Mark:

“They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba,[h] Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[i] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Jesus prayer on the Mount of Olives in Luke:

 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40 When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”[a] 41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” [[43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44 In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]]b

bOther ancient authorities lack verses 43 and 44

Gary:  Are verses 43 and 44 scribal additions?  Maybe the original author of Luke didn’t have Jesus “anxious” at all!

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65 thoughts on “NT Scholar Raymond Brown: Why is Jesus Sorrowful Unto Death Regarding his Impending Death in Mark but Not in Luke?

  1. As I’ve said on this blog before, irreconcilable differences between sources doesn’t make the events they describe fiction – we have irreconcilable discrepancies in the records of Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Hannibal of Carthage – and NO ONE would say that the authors simply invented the events in the lives of these figures.

    Why so with Jesus and his accounts? Why does anyone simply stop doing history when looking at the historical accounts of Jesus?

    And then to call the Gospel difficulties “irreconcilable” is gross over-statement, if not simply false. Volumes and volumes of plausible harmonizing theories have been made over the centuries. Also a slightly-more-than-cursory reading of the accounts usually shows that there is no real problem.

    Why the false dichotomy? Why the dishonest accusation of fabrication when those accusations aren’t leveled against other ancient texts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Notice that I never said that Jesus did not pray in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. I have no idea if this event occurred. What I said is that the two descriptions of this alleged event are not reconcilable. Jesus was either agitated and throwing himself on the ground or he was calm and kneeling. It can’t be both.

      How do you explain the two very different descriptions of this alleged event? Who were the sources for these two stories?

      This is a very different situation than the other alleged historical events you mention. None of these other events are told by an omniscient narrator as they are in these two books. The stories about Caesar, Attila, and Hannibal are allegedly about events involving these men which other people either witnessed or events that these men described to others. Who witnessed Jesus praying in the Garden and heard what he said? Allegedly he was alone. So who is the source of these stories?

      In addition, we do not allege that the stories told about Hannibal, Caesar, and Attila were inspired by a God.

      You are attempting to compare apples to oranges.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I notice that, when non-believers discuss how dubious the evidence is for a historical Jesus, the preachers online almost always jump to talking about Julius Caesar and other well-documented historical figures. I wonder if there’s a particular apologist teacher who recommends this approach, because I have seen it more than once.

        And they will go on and on about Caesar, even though none of the sources that we rely on for his history make extraordinary claims about him being a god-man, or his doing miracles, or are trying to persuade us to join a religious sect. I think a better comparison would be Heracles. He was claimed to have had a miraculous birth, was the son of a god, did many amazing things, and ascended to Olympus when he died to be with his father, Zeus. Do we think that Heracles was an actual person? If we were going to evaluate an anonymous ancient text about Heracles for clues about the life of an underlying historical person, an ancient text that was specifically trying to convert the reader to Heracles-worship, I would approach it in a similar way to the books of early christian mythology that our preachers are so attached to.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Well said, UD! Well said.

          If the accounts of Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon claimed that Caesar actually walked on top of the Rubicon, we skeptics would hold these accounts with the same level of suspicion that we do the claim that Jesus walked on top of a lake in first century Palestine. Why can’t theists see the distinction?

          Liked by 3 people

  2. “The stories in Mark and Luke are irreconcilable! Jesus was either very agitated and sorrowful unto death about his impending crucifixion or he was just anxious.”

    You didn’t draw that conclusion from Brown’s book. You’re not actually reviewing a book. You’re restating your biases. That’s too bad. I was genuinely hoping for some dialogue.

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    1. Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

      In each post in this book review I provide a quote directly from Brown and then I comment on it. If you understand Brown’s statement differently than I do, please share.

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  3. I see it. You see it. Most likely many others see it. BUT … believers don’t. For any number of reasons the discrepancies are invisible.The most likely reason is they don’t read their bible with any kind of discernment (if they read it at all). But if they do see it, they have a multitude of “reasons” for the differences.

    Further, as I addressed in a blog post quite some time back — the bible is clear that Jesus was alone during his prayers in the garden … and the disciples were sleeping. Yet miraculously we know what Jesus said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, Nan. Either Jesus told the disciples about this event after his resurrection or God dictated these events to the authors of the Gospels. So why the discrepancy??? Why is Jesus agitated, throwing himself on the ground in one gospel but calm and serene in another gospel? One (or both) of these accounts cannot be true. Why is that?

      Just to be clear for Christians such as Liam and John: I am not attempting to prove that the entire Jesus Story is fiction. What I believe Raymond Brown’s research indicates it that not every detail, nor even every story, in the Gospels should be accepted as historical fact. There is just too much evidence that the authors most likely fabricated details and stories in their gospels. Creating fictional details and even stories was perfectly acceptable in the genre of literature in which the gospel authors were writing—Greco-Roman religious biography—so I am not accusing them of lying or being deceitful. They were writing works of evangelization, not history texts. What mattered to them was strengthening the faith of the young Christian community. Allegories and parables (fake stories) were even used by Jesus to produce faith! So what was wrong with the evangelists doing the same thing???

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You know, whenever two people relay the same story, there will be “discrepancies”.
      So what do I do?
      Well, it depends.
      If I’m a dogmatic anti-thiest and…
      If the story comes from any source other than scripture, I’ll chalk up the “discrepancies” as normal occurrences.
      But if the story comes from scripture, I will conclude BOTH versions are bogus.
      Then, I might write a book exposing the bogus stories but refuse to affirm my book is true.
      Because the truth is relative to each of us so any criticism I have for Christianity collapses.
      Then, I’ll continue to spew my enlightened opinions with the vain hope that my readers will overlook my incoherence.

      There are no discrepancies between the gospel accounts.
      I see it. Believers see it. But…you die-hard, rational heathen don’t.

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  4. “There is just too much evidence that the authors most likely fabricated details and stories in their gospels.”

    Again.
    The details of the stories are not important.
    You need to provide evidence that the resurrection was a hoax.
    So far, all you’ve demonstrated is that biblical authors use different literary styles.

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    1. Wrong.

      I am not attempting to prove that the resurrection was a hoax. I don’t believe that anyone involved was playing a trick (hoax). I believe that the earliest Christians genuinely believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. The question is, why did they believe this?

      I’m sure that you will agree that just because someone earnestly/genuinely believes something happened doesn’t mean it did. People can be mistaken. I believe that the resurrection belief was not based on a hoax (a deliberate attempt to deceive) but was most probably based on misperceptions of reality.

      Many conservative Christians assume that we can trust the stories in the Gospel accounts as historical facts and therefore as evidence for the Resurrection. I doubt that assumption based on my previous study of New Testament scholarship, but I continue to investigate the accuracy of this assumption. I am currently investigating this issue by reading Brown’s book. Brown’s scholarship so far demonstrates to me that we cannot assume that every story in the Gospels is historical fact. They may be, but they also may not be. If we cannot be certain of the historicity of Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives, or Matthew’s story of guards at the tomb, etc., how can we be certain of the historicity of the Joseph of Arimathea story and the diverse stories of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples? Based on the fact that the evidence demonstrates it is quite possible that other stories in the Gospel are literary fiction, it is possible that the Empty Rock Tomb Story and the detailed Appearance Stories are literary fiction. That does not prove that the Resurrection did not happen, but it would indicate that the evidence used to support the historicity of this alleged event is much weaker than many conservative Christians assume.

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      1. “… it is possible that the Empty Rock Tomb Story and the detailed Appearance Stories are literary fiction. ”

        Yes. You are correct. I understand what you’re saying.
        It is also possible that the moon landing is fiction. It is possible that JFK’s assassination is fiction too.
        They may be or they may not be. I”m not suggesting that ALL historical events are fiction, just some of them. And if we can’t be certain about the moon landing or JFK, then we can’t be certain about Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark or Jesus Christ.
        Have I got it right?

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        1. So what you are saying is that all claims of historicity for events alleged to have occurred in the past are equally probable. So the historicity of JFK’s assassination and the historicity of a first century rock tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea—donated for Jesus’ burial—are equally probable to be real historical facts? Is that what your are claiming, John?

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            1. I’m not asking you what you think I am claiming. I am asking you what YOU believe. Do you believe that our certainty about all historical claims is the same or can we be more certain about some claims and less certain about others?

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                1. Ok, good. So we agree that some claims of historicity are more probable, and therefore more believable, than others. That doesn’t mean that the less probable event did not happen, it just means that it is more reasonable for one to doubt that claim’s historicity than to doubt the more probable claim. For instance, would you agree that the claim that Hitler ordered German forces to invade Poland in 1939 is much more probable to be an historical fact than the claim that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Can we cut to the chase and say that we all believe whatever we want to believe? If we want to believe Caesar crossed the Rubicon, we’ll find reasons to believe it.

                    If we don’t want to believe Christianity is true, we’ll say things like, “It’s possible the resurrection didn’t happen.” We’ll read Raymond Brown’s book and use it to support our beliefs that the New Testament is full of contradictions.

                    Right?

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                    1. No. That is not how the overwhelming majority of educated people in the world make the decision to believe or disbelieve an historical claim. I, for instance, make the decision to believe the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person based on evidence and expert opinion, NOT because I want to believe it. Likewise, if evidence can be presented that makes it more probable than not that the Resurrection was a real historical event, I am willing to accept the evidence.

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                    2. “Likewise, if evidence can be presented that makes it more probable than not that the Resurrection was a real historical event, I am willing to accept the evidence.”

                      Exactly.
                      You choose to start with the assumption that the resurrection didn’t happen. You choose to dismiss evidence that supports the resurrection. You choose to formulate alternative explanations for the claims of the New Testament authors. You choose to believe Jesus was historical and choose not to believe he was God.

                      We choose what we believe.

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                    3. And if someone presented the claim that their “prophet” rode on a winged horse to heaven in the eighth century, I would refuse to accept this claim as historical fact either until sufficient good evidence is presented to change my mind! And I would do the same with claims of alien abductions, sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, etc, etc.!

                      That is what educated people in western societies do. Educated people in western cultures do not accept every supernatural tale presented to them as even a possible historical fact until sufficient good evidence is presented to seriously consider the historicity of the claim. In the real world, people who are truly brain dead do not come back to life. You are asking us to believe that one brain dead body did come back to life…two thousand years ago!

                      And telling us that a group of first century peasants and fishermen were willing to swear on a stack of Bibles—and even willing to be tortured to death—for their belief that they really did see this back-from-the dead guy is NOT sufficient evidence! You would not accept similar evidence to believe the “flying prophet” story and I doubt you would believe a “Big Foot” claim based on sincere eyewitness testimony. Alleged eyewitness testimony is sufficient for car accident investigations and murder trials. It is not sufficient evidence, regardless of the sincerity and honesty of the alleged eyewitness, for alien abductions, flying prophets, and resurrected dead bodies.

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                    4. “And telling us that a group of first century peasants and fishermen were willing to swear on a stack of Bibles and be tortured to death for their belief that they really did see this back-from-the dead guy is NOT sufficient evidence! ”

                      …right. You choose not to believe.
                      That’s what I said.

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                    5. If documents are discovered which claim that 500 people watched as the prophet Mohammad rode a winged horse into the clouds on his way to heaven, would you believe this claim? Please explain why or why not.

                      I get the impression that you believe that people should believe all truth claims, regardless of how extra-ordinary the claim may be, until that claim is proven false. This is ridiculous. Educated people don’t do that. Educated people suspect all very extra-ordinary claims (such as claims involving the supernatural) as false, or at least improbable, until sufficient evidence is presented to convince them otherwise.*

                      *Except for claims involving their own religion.

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                    6. So your belief in the historicity of the supernatural claims of the Bible is based on choice and not on an objective standard of evaluating all truth claims?

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                    7. LOL!
                      You asked about a theoretical “document” about winged horses and then went directly to the Bible?

                      Objective standard of evaluating truth claims are factors in my choice to believe the Bible.

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                    8. How do you define “expert”?

                      I personally define “expert” as someone who has attained the top level of training and certification by an accredited university or other nationally recognized professional organization in a particular field of study. I emphasize “particular” to emphasize that just because someone is an expert in one field doesn’t make him (or her) an expert in every other field.

                      I recognize anyone who has a PhD from an accredited university in New Testament Studies to be an expert of the New Testament. That same person cannot claim to be an expert of ancient North American Indian tribes unless he or she has a second PhD in that additional field. Likewise, I if I wanted to know the intricacies of Reformed theology, I would consult a renowned Reformed theologian. However, if this same theologian claims to be an expert of New Testament studies without a PhD in New Testament studies I would not consider his opinion regarding textual analysis of the Gospels as authoritative.

                      With all that said, what documentation do you believe that the majority of “experts” will give as evidence for the Resurrection?

                      -that the Gospels are eyewitnesses sources? No.
                      -that the Gospels contain eyewitness material? Maybe, no one can say for sure.
                      -that the earliest Christians claimed to have witnessed the detailed appearances stories found in the Gospels? No.

                      So we have four books, two of which heavily borrowed from the first, and the fourth very possibly written by an author familiar with the basic plot of the first author’s gospel, which no one can say for sure contains eyewitness content, written decades after the alleged event, in far away lands, by non-eyewitnesses, in a language most probably not spoken by Jesus or his disciples.

                      That is not good evidence, in my opinion. Please explain to me why you believe it is good evidence.

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                    9. The reason I believe it to be good evidence is I am more open-minded than you do. You are a hardcore skeptic. You mistake doubt for reason. You fold your arms and shake your head instead of doing the hard work of critical thinking.

                      And we’re back at choice. You’ve already heard the evidences. You are choosing to reject them. You’re pretending your issue is intellectual. It isn’t.

                      Do you think I don’t know the resurrection is an unbelievable story? Do you think I’m not aware that Jesus claiming to be God is outrageous? Do you think I haven’t worked through my own doubts?

                      I didn’t become a Christian because I woke up one day and said, “I’m gonna start believing mythology.” And I will absolutely throw this religion in the trash as soon as a better one comes along.

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                    10. Reason and logic sound good.

                      Yes, we depend on our five senses a lot in make our daily decisions but basing a universal truth on individual, personal experiences seems pretty unreliable. Intuition? Society would be absolute chaos if truth were determined by each person’s feelings (intuition).

                      I suggest another objective standard for evaluating all truth claims: Accept majority expert opinion regarding all truth claims about which you yourself are not an expert. Trust experts who use the scientific method, reason, and logic to evaluate truth claims. Trust and use the scientific method yourself as the gold standard for evaluating truth claims in your life for the simple reason that it has proven, so far, to be the most reliable method of determining truth.

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                    11. Accepting expert opinion requires use of the five senses, reason and logic.

                      The scientific method also requires using the five senses.

                      The scientific method cannot be used on historical events.

                      You’re still going to end up choosing to believe or disbelieve.

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                    12. The scientific method can be used to evaluate historical claims, such as the claim that a prophet once rode on a winged horse. Since zero skeletons of winged horses have ever been found, the probability that such an animal has ever existed is very low. And the same can be said for claims of brain dead bodies coming back to life. The scientific method can show us that the probability of this event ever happening is very, very low.

                      But in general you are correct, when it comes to alleged historical events, historians use agreed upon historical methods to determine the probable historicity of an event.

                      How about this: Can we agree to only accept as historical facts those events which the majority of historians, using standardized historical methods, believe have most probably occurred?

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                    13. Exactly. I am hoping that you and I can reach agreement on an objective standard for evaluating historical truth claims.

                      Can we agree to both use this objective standard: We will accept as historical fact all alleged events in the past for which the majority of historians believe there is sufficient evidence to say that they most probably did occur. We will suspend judgement (neither accept or reject) on the historicity of any alleged historical event for which the majority of historians do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to say that the event most probably did occur.

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                    14. Sure.
                      It’s what we do already.
                      What happens when “the majority of historians” haven’t rendered a proclamation?
                      And how do we determine a historian’s credibility?
                      And what about historical events that aren’t mentioned by historians, like my grandfather’s memoirs?

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                    15. If the majority of experts have not rendered a proclamation on the probability of an alleged historical event…we wait. We don’t list it in our history books as an historical fact. We list it in our history books as a disputed fact. If the majority of experts one day change their position, then we should accept their new position.

                      I believe that we should accept an expert’s credibility by his or her reputation among his or her peers for their knowledge of the field, honesty, hard work, and integrity, regardless of his or her “conservativeness” or “progressiveness”. In particular, if both conservatives and progressives in a particular field agree that the majority of the experts in that field hold a particular position on an issue, we should accept it.

                      If your grandfather claims he is an eyewitness to an event then his memories are good evidence—depending on the ordinariness or extra-ordinariness of his claim. If he claims he was present in Normandy on D Day, there are ways to corroborate his memory of that event. If he claims he was abducted as a seven year old by green little creatures with atennaes on their heads and then flown to Mars for three hours of mind probing, his memories of this alleged event should be considered highly suspect.

                      So can we agree that when both conservatives and progressives within a particular group of experts agree that there exists a majority expert opinion on a particular issue within that field, we non-experts should accept that majority opinion as correct?

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                    16. No matter how you slice it, you don’t believe the resurrection happened. That will not because it’s not based on the opinion of experts. It’s based on your personal rebellion against God.

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                    17. I am trying to have a reasonable conversation with you. Why can’t you answer the question?

                      I could turn your accusation back on you: “No matter how you slice it, you don’t believe that fairies exist. That is not because your position is based on expert opinion. It is based on your personal rebellion against the fairy god.”

                      Silly.

                      Engage in conversation or go somewhere else and troll.

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        2. Is there any non-biblical, non-christian independent evidence to support the biblical claims?
          That is always the first port of call.Or at least it should be.

          Then, if we take into account the amount of interpolation, and the number of blatant errors in geography, biology, archaeology and history we can see just how unreliable the bible is.
          So, John, on what grounds ( other than faith) do you assert that there is veracity in the gospel tales?

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    2. Hi, Mr. Branyan!

      You claim that Jesus is resurected, so all you have to do is show us this resurrected messiah.

      Given he’s an all-mighty being, this should be easy peasy lemon squeezy.

      “Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.…” ~Jesus

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Ron!

        Jesus resurrected body was on full display for weeks after the event. Hundreds of people saw him. That’s the reason Christianity didn’t disappear after it’s leader died.

        You have a couple of problems:
        1) Even if Jesus appeared at your front door with fresh baked bread and a bottle of wine, you wouldn’t believe he was who he claimed to be. You would then demand more proof in the form of supernatural displays.

        2) Demanding that God perform tricks at your whim is a dangerous gambit. The scripture is clear that you have plenty of evidence to believe. Persistent doubt is a matter of will.

        ““Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” ~Jesus

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        1. Mr. Branyan:

          Acts 1:3 informs us that “during the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive.”

          Further down we read that only the apostles (Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.) actually witnessed the ascension.

          And according to Acts 10:41, Peter claimed, “He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

          So it’s not true that hundreds of people saw a physically resurrected Jesus. In fact, Acts 1:15 outright states that “in those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)” — which is a far cry from the 500 witnesses claimed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6.

          As to your problems:

          Why is God’s inability to convince skeptics of his existence my problem? Jesus claimed that with God all things are possible — remember? So if he can’t do it, why call him God?

          “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” ~ Paul

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          1. “Why is God’s inability to convince skeptics of his existence my problem? Jesus claimed that with God all things are possible — remember? So if he can’t do it, why call him God?”

            Your suggesting that God should rewire your mind and MAKE you believe? Program your brain so that atheism impossible? Am I understanding correctly?

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            1. No. I’m suggesting that an all-powerful, all-knowing being desirous of having a personal relationship with mankind should be capable of convincing us to adopt belief in its existence by making an occasional physical appearance in real life — just as was recorded to have happened in the Old and New Testaments.

              Your unwillingness to demonstrate the power of Jesus’ promise to fulfill whatever you ask for in prayer betrays your own lack of faith.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. “Your unwillingness to demonstrate the power of Jesus’ promise to fulfill whatever you ask for in prayer betrays your own lack of faith.”
                LOL!
                My faith says Jesus accomplished everything the first time He was here. My faith doesn’t require a repeat performance.

                “…an all-powerful, all-knowing being desirous of having a personal relationship with mankind should be capable of convincing us to adopt belief in its existence…”

                You’re hilarious!
                God isn’t all-powerful until He’s able to convince you that He exists! Your personal skepticism is evidence of God’s impotence! I guess that makes YOU omnipotent, doesn’t it?

                God won’t change your mind because doing so would make him a liar. You are free to maintain your dogma but that’s not God’s fault. It’s yours.

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                1. Who are we kidding, Mr. Branyan? Christians betray their lack of faith in the efficacy of prayer and God’s healing capabilities every time they set foot inside a hospital.

                  And yes, a god that can’t or won’t reveal itself is indistinguishable from a god that doesn’t exist — and unworthy of further consideration.

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                  1. LOL!

                    Modern medicine is directly connected to the Christian faith. Suggesting that hospitals demonstrate a lack of faith is ignorant.

                    Suggesting that God can’t or has not revealed Himself is merely asserting your well established bias. You seem to think your skepticism is an argument. Forgive me, but, “Ron doesn’t believe it” doesn’t do much damage to Biblical authenticity.

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                    1. Modern medicine is directly connected to the Christian faith?

                      I don’t see “go seek modern medical care” mentioned anywhere in the NT — do you? But I do see Jesus boldly procaim, “These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will . . . place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”(Mark 16:17-18)

                      Stating the biblical god can’t or has not revealed itself is merely asserting the facts. If you could prove your close, personal relationship with Jesus was anything more substantial than a silent monologue within your head, you’d have already done so.

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                    2. “I don’t see “go seek modern medical care” mentioned anywhere in the NT…”
                      You got me there, Ron.
                      Brilliant!

                      “If you could prove your close, personal relationship with Jesus was anything more substantial than a silent monologue within your head, you’d have already done so.”

                      LOLOLOLOL!
                      I’ll get right to work figuring out how to prove the veracity of my personal relationships to you! I’ll make it a top priority!

                      Still not catching on about how irrelevant your incredulity is to the discussion? I’ll spell it out.

                      Skepticism is not evidence.
                      Skepticism is EASY.
                      Anybody can be skeptical.
                      Thoughtfulness is much more difficult.

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                    3. Care to address the part where Jesus proclaimed that one of the signs accompanying those who believe is that they would be able to place their hands on sick people and they will get well? Can you do that, Mr Branyan?

                      Proving the veracity of your relationship should be easy. Someone who claims to have a relationship with my mother would be able to verify that by giving me the exacting details of her wedding, simply by picking up the phone and dialing her number. So Christians should have no problem asking Jesus for the names of the bride, groom and guests at the wedding in Cana.

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                    4. Sure, Ron!
                      Jesus was saying that those who believe can heal people by placing their hands on them.

                      “So Christians should have no problem asking Jesus for the names of the bride, groom and guests at the wedding in Cana.”

                      Jesus told me their names were “Heath” and “Margaret”. Now you have proof!

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                    5. BTW, I never said skepticism was evidence; that’s your strawman.

                      Skeptism is merely a rejection of your unfounded beliefs — beliefs I once shared until they became untenable to defend.

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                    6. “Skeptism is merely a rejection of your unfounded beliefs — beliefs I once shared until they became untenable to defend.”

                      Really? To which of my unfounded beliefs are you referring?

                      You are correct about skepticism being a rejection of beliefs. Skepticism asserts nothing. It just sneers at everyone else. That’s why it’s easy. Anyone can be a skeptic. It doesn’t require any thought.

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  5. Your suggesting that God should rewire your mind and MAKE you believe? Program your brain so that atheism impossible? Am I understanding correctly?

    As an omniscient entity your god should know exactly what to provide by way of evidence to convince all skeptics.
    Once he has done this there is still choice as to whether we accept the terms and conditions.

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  6. @ John Branyan

    Skepticism is EASY.
    Anybody can be skeptical.
    Thoughtfulness is much more difficult.

    Your problem, Branyan … well, one of your problems, is that you are not skeptical. You were promised forgiveness for your sins, basically a self-imposed guilt trip brought on by some sort of abuse of drugs, booze and or porn/sex – you’ll recall you claimed you dabbled in all of them, yes?
    This metaphorical/metaphysical Get out of Jail Free card which you gleefully snatched with both hands like a spoiled spiteful child also promises Eternal Life and all you have to do is confess to being worthless and a sinner and suspend all critical thought.
    Your complete lack of sincerity is on display for all to see in the way in which you engage non-believers, and especially those who have deconverted.
    You are commanded to spread The Word,(of your god) but such a command does not include ego-inflated ridicule and character denigration of those who, according to your religion , have merely stumbled and / or fallen by the wayside.
    I have never read a thoughtful comment in anything you have written, and you, Branyan, are nothing but a pathetic hypocrite.

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