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CARM III - Answering The Critics

20 February 2015 - 01:10 AM

Answers to Matthew Slick's "Questions for Christadelphians"

1. According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature.
A. Deut. 17:1 says, "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God," (NASB, See alsoEzekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23). Of course, Jesus is not an animal. The point is that the sacrifice to a holy God must have no blemish or defect.
i. "defect" in Hebrew is ra. In this verse, it is translated as "evilfavourdness" in the KJV, as "defect" in the RSV and NKJV, and as "flaw" in the NIV.
B. Question: If Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature, then isn't that a defect?
C. Question: If Jesus' sinful nature is not a defect, then what would you call it?
D. Question: If Jesus sinful nature is a defect, then doesn't that mean His sacrifice is insufficient?
E. Question: If you state that being obedient is what makes a person "unblemished," then why are we damned by nature (Eph. 2:3) if it is only our sinful deeds that condemn us?

Answer: The sacrifice Jesus offered was not a physical body in the form of a blood sacrifice, but a perfect life of willing and sinless obedience; he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on the cross, and for this reason God exalted him and gave him a name above every name (Philippians 2:8-9). this is why we are told we are saved by his life (Romans 5:10), not saved by his death. Consequently there was no blemish in what he offered, and his nature is irrelevant to his sacrifice. Paul does not say we are 'damned by nature' in Ephesians 2:3; on the contrary, he says 'all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were [past tense] by nature children of wrath'. The repeated use of past tense shows he is speaking of a state which no longer exists, so this has nothing to do with our nature (which obviously has not yet changed). The Greek word translated 'nature' here is the word phusis, which in this context means 'way of life'. This is in fact saying explicitly that we are condemned by our sinful deeds. We are able to be saved once we repent and change our way of life.

2. According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had to die in order to save himself. Yet the Christadelphians also maintain that Jesus was without blemish or defect.
A. Question: If this is so, why would Jesus need to save Himself if He had no sin?
B. Question: If Jesus needed to save Himself, then that means He was not without defect. If that is the case, then how can he be a pure and unblemished sacrifice?

Answer: It was not that Jesus needed to die in order to save himself. It was that he was asked to die in order to save others(Romans 5:6), and by being obedient to that request he saved himself. Since he was mortal, he needed to be saved from mortality and death just like we are, and was saved. As described previously, his offering was his life of perfect obedience (see previous question), so question B here is irrelevant. This question makes nonsense Paul's commandment to 'present your bodies as a sacrifice - alive, holy, and pleasing to God - which is your reasonable service' (Romans 12:1); how are our bodies holy and pleasing to God? We are to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5).

3. Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God," (John 20:28). He was not sinning by using God's name in vain.
A. Question: Can you, like Thomas, say to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."?
B. Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, since you believe Jesus is a creation, isn't that idolatry?
C. Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, is Jesus the true God or not?
D. Question: If you do not call Jesus you Lord and your God, why not? It is biblical.

Answer: Thomas spoke Aramaic, and said to Jesus 'My mare and my elah', which John renders in Greek 'My kurios and my theos'. Neither the Aramaic words nor the Greek words used to translate them, are used exclusively of God. The Aramaic words come from Hebrew words used in the Old Testament of God's human and angelic representatives, and the Greek words are used in the Septuagint (the Jewish Greek translation of the Old Testament), of God's human and angelic representatives. Jesus is himself described as God's human representative and agent. He is described as 'a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him' (Acts 2:22), 'the one appointed by God' (Acts 10:42), 'a man whom he [God] appointed' (Acts 17:32), the servant of God ('his servant', Acts 3:13, 'his servant', Acts 3:26, 'your [God's] holy servant Jesus', Acts 4:27, 30). We are told 'the son can do nothing from himself' (John 5:19), 'God has assigned all judgment to the son' (John 5:22), 'he [God] has granted the son to have life in himself' (John 5:26), 'I can do nothing of myself' (John 5:30), 'you [God] have given him authority' (John 17:2). It was Jesus himself who told us that the Father is the only true God (John 17:3); this means the son is clearly not God. Likewise we are told there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ' (1 Timothy 2:5).

4. Jude 4 says, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
A. Question: Can you call Jesus your only Master and Lord?
B. Question: If you do call Jesus your only Master and Lord, then what about God the Father? Is He not also your Lord and Master?
C. Question: If you call Jesus your "only" Lord and Master, aren't you committing idolatry?
D. Question: If you do not call Jesus your only Lord and Master, then aren't you disobeying the truth of God's word?

Answer: The logic involved here is very confused. This is like saying that since we are told Jesus is the one and only son of God (John 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9), then Adam could not be called the son of God (which he is in Luke 3:38), and nor could we be called the sons of God (which we are in Luke 20:36, Romans 8:14, 19, Galatians 3:26). We are told that believing servants have masters (1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18), using exactly the same Greek word for 'master' as is used in Jude 4, but this does not contradict Jude's statement that Jesus is our only master. What we are told in Jude 4 is that Jesus is our only master in the sense that he is he (rather than men), is the one to whom we pledge our allegiance.

5. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,"
A. Question: Have you received Jesus?

Answer: Yes.

6. In Matt.11:28 Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." The rest He is referring to is rest from the law, from trying to please God by your deeds.
A. Question: Have you gone to Jesus and rested are or you still trying to please God enough to be saved?
B. Question: If you have gone to Jesus, how did you do this? In prayer to Jesus?

Answer: Yes we have gone to Jesus. Consequently, we follow his instruction to keep his commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10). This has nothing to do with trying to please God enough to be saved (which is completely unnecessary and impossible in any case). He did not ask us to do this by coming to him in prayer, but by committing our lives to him, taking up the cross and following his example, without which we cannot be worthy of him (1 Peter 2:21, Matthew 10:38; 16:24, Luke 9:32; 14:27).

7. When we sin, we sin against God because it is His law we are breaking. He is the one who must forgive us because we have offended Him. The one offended is the one who forgives. Someone or something else doesn't forgive us for our sins against God, only God can do that.
A. Question: How is it that Jesus is the one who forgives sins (Luke 5:20) if Jesus is not God, the one who is offended?
B. Question: If you state that it is because Jesus was given authority by God to forgive sins (Matt. 28:19), then have you gone to Jesus and asked Him to forgive you of your sins? Remember, to do that, you must pray to Jesus. Is it right to pray to a creature?

Answer: Jesus himself said that he had authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:5, Luke 5:24), not that he was forgiving sins committed against himself as God. In the very case when Jesus said he had authority on earth to forgive sins, the crowd understood that God had given him that authority; we are told explicitly 'When the crowd saw this, they were afraid and honored God who had given such authority to men' Matthew 9:8). Note that here God is described as giving authority to Jesus, who is identified as a man (not as God). Jesus never said we need to go to him in order to have our sins forgiven, nor did he ever ask or tell anyone to come to him to have their sins forgiven, nor did Jesus ever tell anyone to pray to him (most unusual, if he is God and we are to pray to him for the forgiveness of our sins). On the contrary, we pray directly to God, just as Jesus himself instructed (Matthew 6:12). Note that Jesus tells us explicitly it is God who is forgiving us (Matthew 6:14-15), not Jesus.