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Why Did James Acknowledge the Divinity of his Brother, Jesus?

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Dr. Michael Strauss, university professor, scientist, and Christian apologist:

If true that James was a follower of Jesus, then Jesus’ own brother acknowledged he was divine. On what basis would he do that?

Gary:

“Divine” in what sense, is the question.

I think that most scholars would agree that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was divine, in the sense that he was the “anointed one”, the messiah, the son of God. But did James (or any of the other early disciples) believe that Jesus was Yahweh incarnate, the Creator of the universe?? Other than fundamentalist Protestants and evangelicals, most scholars would be hesitant to give a yes or no answer on that question. The Christology of the disciples immediately after Jesus’ death and even for several years thereafter is disputed.

So in human history have the family members of someone who believes that he is a prophet, a messenger of God, and some sense, divine, believed him? Yes. Just ask the brother of David Koresh who was a member of his cult. And if we do a little digging, I will bet that we can find brothers and sisters among the followers of other cult leaders.

So I am not surprised that some of the members of Jesus’ family believed him to be a prophet, the messiah, and in some sense, divine. Remember, in the Old Testament, the anointed kings of Israel were referred to as “the son of God”. So if the family of Jesus came to believe that Jesus was the messiah, they would then accept that he was “the son of God”, a divine being. And if the author of John is correct, that thousands of devout Jews in Jerusalem turned out to greet Jesus as the new king of Israel, why wouldn’t the family of Jesus also believe?

Again, in Acts chapter one, the author states that “the brothers of the Lord”, which sounds to me like “all the brothers”, were praying with the Church. Do you claim that all the brothers of Jesus received an appearance of Jesus?? I doubt it. So, this is evidence (if this account is historically accurate) that numerous members of Jesus’ family converted to Christianity WITHOUT first receiving an appearance of Jesus. Therefore, this is evidence that it is certainly possible and plausible that James converted PRIOR to his alleged appearance experience mentioned in the Early Creed.

Again, tens of thousands of people have “seen” dead people appear to them over the course of human history. And we have evidence that some brothers and sisters of men claiming to be prophets and messengers of God have believed them. The Resurrection of Jesus Story is just not believable. Just because a few members of a first century cult came to sincerely believe that their dead leader had appeared to them is not sufficient evidence for modern, educated people to believe this tale. It is a typical case of religious hysteria, no different than Virgin Mary sightings today.

Dr. Strauss:

Would any of your close relatives ever claim that you were divine based on their interactions with you?

Gary:

It is irrelevant what my relatives or anyone else’s relatives living TODAY would claim. What is relevant is what the family of Jesus, living in first century Palestine, would claim. And according to the author of Acts, chapter one, all the brothers of Jesus were already believers within weeks of Jesus’ death. Why? Why were they all believers? Answer: We don’t know. But what is odd is that if all their conversions were due to a recent appearance of Jesus, there is no mention of this fact anywhere in the Book of Acts. Even if one of the brother’s, James, claimed to have received an appearance of Jesus, we have no evidence that any of the other brother’s claimed to have received an appearance. This strongly suggests that the majority of Jesus’ brothers converted to Christianity for reasons other than an appearance experience. If most of Jesus’ brothers converted for other reasons, then it is possible and plausible that James converted for other reasons. Therefore, this is evidence that it is possible that James was already a believer prior to his alleged appearance experience. The claim that the conversion of James is an example of a skeptic conversion is unfounded and based on conjecture. We have no evidence why or when James converted.

 

 

 

End of post.

Evidence that James, the Brother of Jesus, Was Already A Believer Prior to Jesus’ Death

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Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and his brothers and sisters

The Ascension of Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of[c] James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

 

Gary:  His brothers??  Immediately after the alleged Ascension, [all?] the brothers of Jesus were praying with the early Church??

Think about it:  If James the brother of Jesus had just recently converted to Christianity due to an appearance of the resurrected Jesus, wouldn’t you expect this fact to get a little more attention by the author of the Book of Acts?  But no.  No mention of a recent appearance to a brother of Jesus nor any mention that the future bishop of Jerusalem had just converted due to this appearance.  What better proof to convince dubious Jews of the bodily resurrection of Jesus than to proclaim from the roof tops that a skeptic brother of Jesus, a brother who had previously considered Jesus to be a nut case, had recently received an appearance of the bodily resurrected Jesus and had converted to “the Way”?  But nope.  No mention of these events.

The fact that the “brothers” of Jesus (sounds to me like “all” of Jesus’ brothers) are mentioned almost like an after-thought in this passage, devoting themselves to prayer with the leading men of the early Church, suggests to me that the brothers of Jesus had been believers in the messianic teachings of Jesus for quite some time.  Why else would their participation in such a significant event in the history of the Christian Church be mentioned so casually?

This is evidence that if James, the brother of Jesus, did claim to have received an appearance of the resurrected Jesus as Paul in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 claims, he was already a believer!

 

Update 02/18/2020:  I believe that the last sentence of the post above would be better worded to say:

This is evidence that if James, the brother of Jesus, did claim to have received an appearance of the resurrected Jesus as Paul in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 claims, he may have already been a believer!

In summary:  According to the author of Acts (chapter one) all the brothers of Jesus were already believers within weeks of Jesus’ death. Why? Why were they all believers? Answer: We don’t know. But what is odd is that if all their conversions were due to a recent appearance of Jesus, there is no mention of this fact anywhere in the Book of Acts. Even if one of the brother’s, James, claimed to have received an appearance of Jesus, we have no evidence that any of the other brother’s claimed to have received an appearance. This strongly suggests that the majority of Jesus’ brothers converted to Christianity for reasons other than an appearance experience. If most of Jesus’ brothers converted for other reasons, then it is possible and plausible that James converted for other reasons. Therefore, this is evidence that it is possible that James was already a believer prior to his alleged appearance experience. The claim that the conversion of James is an example of a skeptic conversion is unfounded and based on conjecture. We have no evidence why or when James converted.

 

 

 

End of post.

Jesus and Harvey the Invisible Rabbit

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Christian:  I can share with you that I have a relationship/connection with Jesus, as do many Christians. You cannot prove that I do not. The evidence is all around you but instead you want to go down a philosophical rabbit hole.

Ubi Dubium:  Rabbit hole? Perfect! I have a connection with my close friend, a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. You cannot prove that I do not. And Harvey wants a connection with you, which will make your life better in every way. All you have to do is tell him telepathically that you want to be his friend. (And go to weekly meetings of the Harvey Fan Club.) (And give me 10% of your money.)

Convinced?

 

 

 

 

End of post:

Dear Christian: What Evidence Do You Have of Your Personal Relationship with Jesus?

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Gary:  What evidence do you have that Jesus is alive today and that you have a personal relationship with him, other than your feelings and perceptions, Kevin?

You say that you have a personal relationship with an invisible, mute, all-powerful being. When asked how you know that this being is real (alive and well), you respond that you know he is alive and well based on your feelings and perceptions. Yet, you have agreed that many people of many different religions have strong feelings and perceptions about their faith and, therefore, feelings and perceptions are not reliable sources for determining which religion is true.

I’m not asking you for evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed. I am not a mythicist. I am asking you: what other evidence do you have for your belief that you are in a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth?

Kevin, Christian:   I can share with you that I have connection as do many. You also cannot prove that I do not. The evidence is all around you but instead you want to go down a philosophical rabbit hole.

 

Image result for image i have a personal relationship with jesus

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Your Conversion Made You a Better Person? That Does Not Prove Your Faith is True.

How many times have you heard a Christian say the following:

I know that Jesus is real and that Christianity is true because of the miraculous changes he has made in my heart and in my life.  I never could have accomplished these incredible changes on my own. 

The problem is, Mormons and Muslims (and others) say the exact same thing about their conversions:

 

Both the young man above who is so excited about his new life as a Mormon and the young woman below who has found incredible meaning to her life through Islam are obviously very sincere, genuine people.  So why are they wrong, dear Christian, and you right?  Isn’t it obvious:  Just because your conversion has given meaning to your life, has made you a better person, and has given you peace and contentment, that does not mean that your beliefs are true.  Traditional Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam cannot all be true.  Only one of them can be true…or maybe none of them are true.

Your feelings, perceptions, and personal experiences are not reliable indicators of universal truths.  Demand a higher standard of evidence, my Christian friend.  You demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims in all other areas of your life, so why make an exception for your religious beliefs?  Feelings, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences just do not cut it.

 

 

End of post.

Dear Christians: Can You Prove that Jesus is Still Alive?

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If Jesus is still alive, after two thousand years, what does he look like today?

Maybe the supernatural does exist.  We can’t prove it does not.  Maybe miracles do happen. A lot of people over thousands of years have claimed to have experienced a miracle, so maybe every once in a while, a real miracle does occur!

Maybe a miracle did happen one Sunday morning,  2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.  Maybe the lifeless, brain-dead body of Jesus of Nazareth did back to life and did appear to several individuals and groups over a period of days.

A miracle did happen!

But how does any of that prove that Jesus of Nazareth is alive today and that I and every other human being on the planet should worship him as our Creator?

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Why Arguing with Christians and Republicans Doesn’t Work

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How did 52 highly educated, intelligent Republican senators sit through hours of skillfully presented arguments by the House managers which produced massive evidence of the abuse of power by President Donald Trump and not have their minds changed?

Answer:  They already had their minds made up before the trial even started!

Remaining loyal to “the tribe” or group is often more important for many people than acknowledging evidence proving the position of the group wrong, in particular when the group is under attack by a perceived enemy.

I believe that the same is true with many conservative Christians.  Conservative Christians believe that they are under attack.  “Evil liberals and atheists” are out to destroy their cherished way of life.  Christians believe that they are involved in a war for the heart and soul of America.  In a war, one should never retreat.  Never give one inch.  Never admit your side is wrong.

That is why arguing, debating conservative Christians rarely achieves anything positive.  Just like the 52 Republican senators, their minds are already made up, regardless of the evidence you present to them.

So what is left?

I believe all that is left is 1)  to ridicule their supernatural beliefs, depriving them of their social acceptability, or 2) to use the Socratic Method with them.

Ridiculing conservative Christians is easy.  It takes no effort.  Engaging conservative Christians with the Socratic Method takes a lot of patience and time…but it may be the best method to debunk their ancient, superstitious belief system.

 

What do you think, reader?

 

 

 

End of post.