Monday 7 July 2014

Rabbinic Objections Galore: Supposed Contradictions in the New Testament

Here are more objections to address that I have come across.


The first supposed contradiction is backsliders are condemned in 2 Peter 2:20 whereas in John 10:27-29 backsliders are saved regardless. Backsliders are only condemned if they fall away and do not repent. Peter is specifically speaking of false teachers, both those are false to begin with, or those who started right but finished badly.

"2 Peter 2:17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[g] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”"

I John 10:27-29, Jesus is speaking about him preserving his true church and they will not be plucked from his hand by anyone. The only exception to this rule is the one who willingly decides to walk out on Jesus. Those who remain in the Father's hand (not by works) will be preserved and will be saved.

"John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”"

Forgive seventy times seven in Mt.18:22....But we read Forgiveness is not possible for renewed sin in Heb.6:4-6.

Different contexts. Jesus in Matthew 18:22 is talking about forgiving your neighbour abundantly when he repents whereas Hebrews 6:4-6 is talking about the atonement and how those who have fallen away cannot receive the atonement and it's benefits again. It is one thing to backslide and then repent, but it's another thing when someone outright turns away from the Lord and goes into apostasy. No contradiction is found, just a failure to actually carefully read the contexts.

Divorce, except for unfaithfulness, is wrong Matthew 5:32 and then we read Divorce for any reason is wrong. Mk.10:11,12.

One view that can be offered is this answer by Waterrock on the Skeptic's Annotated Bible Discussion Board:

"Matthew makes explicit what the audiences of Mark and Luke would consider implicit. Under the Law of Moses, a wife found guilty of adultery would be executed; this law was apparently adapted, after the Roman colonization of the Hasmonean kingdom (by Pompey in 63 B.C.) and Roman laws became the law of the land. The Romans denied the local authorities the right to enforce the death penalty in such cases (though theoretically an adulterous wife could be lynched) so instead of actually executing the guilty wife, she was declared legally dead in the eyes of her family. The husband was then free to remarry as if his wife had died. 

Thats the scenario that I think is lurking in the background here. Unfortunately theres not much extra-Biblical evidence for this; its a guess at what the rabbis of that era did when they regarded a woman to be guilty of adultery but their governing elders were, under Rome, prohibited from executing her. But such an adaptation is not unlike other adaptations that were made when law-enforcement had to be adapted in light of extenuating circumstances. Also, this has the advantage of interlocking well with what Paul says in First Cor. 7:10-17.

The meaning of Matthew 19:9 would thus be that (a) a man is forbidden to divorce his wife unless she has been sexally unfaithful to him, (b) if he divorces her for some other reason, and remarries, when he consummates the union with the second woman he marries, he will be committing adultery, and (c) if a man divorces his wife with just cause -- i.e., because she committed adultery -- then if another man marries the divorced woman, he is committing adultery.

Another solution -- though to me its severity raises a fresh problem -- is pointed out in an essay provided earlier by OriginalMissJesus (see the responses at Matthew 5:31): the term rendered sexual immorality or fornication in Matthew 19:9 is understood to mean not fornication but incest, meaning that the man and woman are found to be too closely related and their marriage may lawfully be annulled on the grounds that it was never legal to begin with. On this premise, one would harmonize Jesus statements with Pauls statements either by approaching Jesus statements as something that was literally applicable only during the covenant of the Law, or by approaching some of Pauls statements as non-authorative but exemplary self-quotes. 

This, btw, is part of a larger issue -- divorce and remarriage in the covenant of grace -- which Dr. Craig Keehner of Duke University has explored in detail in the book And Marries Another. Even if one does not agree with all of his conclusions, his copiously footnoted book on this subject is well worth digesting.

Let's carry on.

God resides in heaven. Mt.5:45; Mt.6:9; Mt.7:21.
Angels reside in heaven. Mk.13:32.
Jesus is with God in heaven. Acts 7:55,56
Believers go to heaven. 1 Pet.1:3,4.
Heaven will pass away. Mt.24:35; Mk.13:31; Lk.21:33

What this objection fails to take into consideration is that the contexts refer to being in the OLD heaven, NOT in the New one. God will reside in the new heaven along with the angels and us but the heaven that passes away and perishes is the OLD heaven. All the individuals mentioned in the context will go to the New Heaven and the Old 

Pray that you don't enter temptation. Mt.26:41.
Temptation is a joy. Jms.1:2.

Different contexts again. Jesus is telling the disciples to be on their guard and NOT to fall into temptation whereas in James 1, James is telling the Christians that when you are under trials and persecutions that you are blessed and consider it a joy. Is not saying temptation itself is a joy at all. Quite to the contrary, James warns his congregation of the destruction that dwelling on the temptation that can be brought to them.

God leads you into temptation. Mt.6:13.
God tempts no one. Jms.1:13. 

God can deliver a person to evil as well as from evil, that is why you pray lead me not into temptation. It's a valid prayer for a man to do both deliver from and lead into temptation. He doesn't tempt a man but allows temptation to happen to a man.

Hope I have answered these objections.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum: For the other side on divorce and remarriage, see this video by David Pawson:

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