Was Jesus Always Perfect?

November 24, 2010

There are plenty of verses in the Bible that we can take to mean that Jesus was perfect (“a lamb without blemish”, etc), but the Bible doesn’t say outright that Jesus was always perfect. On the contrary, Hebrews implies that Jesus was not always perfect, but rather became perfect at some point. Hebrews 5:7-9 (NIV) says:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

According to this passage, Jesus was not the source of salvation until after he was made perfect. This has important ramifications. It means that people who lived before Jesus was made perfect, did not have a source of salvation. Without a source of salvation during their lifetime, God’s most faithful servants, like Moses, King David, King Solomon, and the prophets, went to hell when they died. It also means that if Jesus was always God then God isn’t necessarily perfect. Alternatively, it means that Jesus wasn’t always God (because God is always perfect).

There is good evidence that the author of Hebrews didn’t believe that Jesus was God, at least not in a way that makes the Father and Jesus one and the same. Here is a good presentation of the evidence: www.prudentialpublishing.info/hebrews_view_of_Jesus.htm

Which do you think is true…

1) Jesus was always God but God can be imperfect
2) Jesus became God after he became perfect
3) Hebrews is not the Inerrant Word of God

…and why?


Atheism by Faith?

May 27, 2008

Part 1: Spot the Equivocation

Fundamentalist Christians often charge that atheists can’t know that God does not exist (after all, we can’t prove the negative) so atheists have to take it on faith that there is no God, just as fundamentalists take it on faith that God exists. To an extent, fundamentalists use logic and evidence to support their religious claims, but if you look beneath the surface, if you ask “how do you know” often enough (but how do you know that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God?), you finally arrive at the answer: “you just have to have faith,” or other creative variants like “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” The idea is to put atheism on equal footing with Christian fundamentalism; to show that atheism is no more evidence based than Christianity.

Have you spotted the fatal flaw yet? The flaw is that the fundamentalists equivocate the meaning of the word, “faith.” When applied to religion, fundamentalists mean blind faith – the willingness to accept and believe without evidence (and even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary). On the other hand, when they apply the word, “faith,” to conclusions based on evidence, they mean that if we don’t know for sure (i.e., if we don’t have proof), then we have to believe that our conclusions are true. However, considering the available evidence, and then accepting the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence is far from blind faith – it is “reasoned belief.” When referring to the “blind faith” of Christianity, and the “reasoned belief” of skepticism, fundamentalists use the same term, “faith,” for both, even though the meaning of each is quite different. Once you make the distinction, the charge that atheism is no more evidence-based than Christianity, crumbles.

Part 2: The “Faith Game”

Just for fun, consider an aspect of faith from the fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. The author of Hebrews (let’s just call him “Paul” for now) says in Heb 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

According to Paul, faith is the evidence. Fundamentalists who accept Intelligent Design claim that we have to take evolution on faith since we have never seen animals evolve (never mind that we actually have seen animals and plants speciate, and we have ample evidence to consider evolution a fact). Therefore, they claim that evolution is “not seen” but that proponents of evolution (biologists) simply take it on faith. Then according to Paul (and fundamentalists by definition, take Paul’s words as absolutely true), the “faith” of the biologists is itself the evidence of evolution; the biologists’ faith is “the evidence of things not seen”. By their own reasoning, fundamentalists must admit that there is evidence for evolution.


%d bloggers like this: