Blasphemy

Blasphemy

Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works.
For which one are you going to stone me?”
They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy!
You, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:31-33)

Read: 2 Kings 20:20-21, 2 Chronicles 32:32-33, Isaiah 63:15 – 66:24

Relate: One of the big arguments atheists sometimes use and Muslims frequently use to deny the divinity of Jesus is to say that Jesus never claimed to be God. The argument, which is even found in the Quran, states that Jesus never came right out, point blank, and said, “I am God” therefore He must not be God.

This argument is ridiculous on two grounds. First, it is simply not true. We see very clearly Jesus saying in John 8:58, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM.” When Moses was sent by God to go rescue the people of Israel, he asked God, “What is your name that I might tell them who sent me?” God responded, “I AM. Say this to the people, I AM has sent me to you.” This is the very name of God and Jesus point blank uses it as His own. It is found all over the Old Testament but except for in Exodus 3:14, when it is used, we have instead the word Lord all in caps. (see Genesis 2:4, Exodus 3:2, Leviticus 1:1 and about 6,500 other times)

Not only does Jesus use the very name of God as His own, there are also many other times where either another calls him God and he does not correct them or Jesus is speaking of Himself and the people listening understand clearly that He just referred to Himself as God. An example of the former is when Thomas says, “My Lord and my God” and Jesus responds, “You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen yet still believe.” An example of the latter is found right here in John 10. Jesus had just said, “I and my Father are one” and now the crowd is picking up stones because, “You, a mere man, claim to be God.”

The common Muslim or skeptic response to this is that when Jesus says, “I and my Father are one”, He is talking about purpose or intent. He is saying He is one the same mission as the Father, not that He and the Father are one and the same. Really? If that were the case, these listeners were downright evil. If Jesus were merely saying, “I am on a mission from God. We’re on the same team. We are one in purpose and intent” then why on earth would the people want to stone Him? Why would they be stoning someone who was claiming to obedient to God? Either the person using this argument is being intellectually dishonest or they are just plain ignorant. The fact is, Jesus claimed to be God. This isn’t the first or the last time in scriptures. It has happened before and, as we are working our way through John, we will see it again.

React: The question is not if Jesus claimed to be God in the gospels. The question very clearly is what we will do with those claims. We cannot simply call Jesus a good man. We cannot truly label Him a prophet and nothing more. If He was merely a good man, He would not have made those claims. If He was a prophet and nothing more, than He was a false prophet and should not be venerated as such. We have three choices. The first is that Jesus was misguided. He believed He was God but clearly He was mistaken. The second choice is that Jesus was a liar. He made claims to be God which He knew were false. If we are to come to either of these conclusions then Jesus was a blasphemer. He should not be respected or honored, He should be condemned. The judgment of God is on him. The only other option is to accept His claim at face value. We can either worship Jesus as God or with that crowd we must pick up the stones. There is no other choice. Which do you believe? Is Jesus God or is He a blasphemer?

Respond: 

Jesus, I worship You as God. You are my Lord, and I surrender my life to You. You are my Savior and I place my life in Your hands. Forgive me for the sins I have committed. I don’t deserve Your grace but I ask that You would give it anyways. Help me now to follow You. Help me to live in obedience to Your commands. Give me to courage to do so even to the point of death. You are God and I will not, I cannot deny this truth. 

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61 thoughts on “Blasphemy

    • I often think that the reason Christians don’t get through to non-believers is an attitude of paternalistic “well, let me clear that up for you, you misguided creature.”

      I’m not saying that this was the intent of the post, rather that it feels like it is the intent of your comment.

      • Religion gives people confidence to speak about the unspeakable. Theology is the game of knowing about the unknowable better than everyone else. It’s rhetoric, and it’s easy to have strong opinions about ones own opinion.
        It’s no different than a fan saying their team is the best.

        • My criticism is not what the Bible might say about the matter, but why it matters at all. Who cares if Jesus was God or not? Only those who think it’s tied to their eternal salvation. If salvation is their only concern, aren’t they missing an important point? Or is that really all Christianity is – a “Get Out of Death Free” Card?

        • Well, I think Jesus’ nature defines the nature of reality. If he is God, then everything needs to be interpreted differently than if he isn’t.

          I tend to believe there’s much more than simple salvation at stake on the cross, since I lean towards evangelical universalism (Everyone may actually end up in heaven).

          And that’s the point. If Jesus is God, then we’ve been given a part in this grand overarching story that God is telling. We’ve got an almost unbearable responsibility of making the world a tangibly better place, of being true peacemakers. As scary as that is.

        • But why? Why must you be a peacemaker? What happens if you aren’t? I submit you want to be a peacemaker and so you have found a religion that allows you to express that impulse.
          Peacemaking is a Good in it’s own right – if it’s good… This is obviously a tautology, but for a reason. Sometimes sowing discord is good – for example, speaking up to abuse rather than peacefully letting it happen. (For example, Rosa Parks wasn’t a peacemaker, nor were most important figures in our history who bettered our world).
          In fact, was Jesus a peacemaker? He said “blessed are the peacemakers”, but is that your goal in life – to be blessed, or to bless others? Or something else?
          Again, it’s not important if Jesus was God or not for YOU to decide to be a peacemaker. You can take up any cause you feel is your personal calling.
          It doesn’t make peacemaking any more important if Jesus was God or not.

        • I think you make a point that many believers could learn from. Christianity is an invitation to participate in the healing of the world. It starts with seeking healing for yourself and then with seeking healing where it is needed. It is not something you do because you have to. It is something you do because you truly believe in it, because you are following a man who claimed to be God and who did the same.

          The Jewish idea of peace, of shalom, that Jesus references is more than simply not fighting. It is a state of goodness where all is as it should be. So yes, sometimes things and people need to be shaken up to create more shalom on Earth and Jesus acknowledged this readily and often.

          It is always up to you to decide to be a peacemaker. Jesus doesn’t have to be God for you to do this. My best friend is an atheist and is one of the most moral people I have ever met. Jesus being God doesn’t enable you to do different things- the choices available to you are the same as they would be if he wasn’t.

          I think the deity of Christ offers us a framework within which we can base our actions. A story of gradual improvement of humanity. If he is God, then you are taking part in more than peacemaking, you are actively participating in the nature of God.

          It also lends some gravity to the idea that that is what we should be doing with our time. It is a challenge and an invitation from the Creator himself.

          Christianity posits that it shows us the best way to be human. The legitimacy of this claim rests on Christ’s divinity.

        • I completely agree, but if I’m honest, as long as we both agree that “God” is the personification of a rational and ‘transcendental’ Good. That is, Goodness itself, and only if I agree with what is truly good.
          If “God” is defined in a way that includes a Being that independently exists and makes commands, then we don’t agree.
          Or rather, we agree on some things, not others.

        • It would seem that we do, since I define God as both those things. And that’s cool. I’m really into challenging my ideas and such anyway. We tend to become so inbred if we only have contact with those who believe as we do.

          Was grand talking to you without it devolving into the standard theist/atheist conversation. 🙂

          Peace.

        • pgdejonge, yes, ideologies tend to warp our ability to understand reality, regardless of whether they are atheist or theist. However, I think religion has elevated the use of ideology to an art form. They claim to have a final solution, or total answer, for all problems – a closed loop system of thought.
          This problem is exacerbated by the fact that religions incorporate supernatural elements which are, by definition, undefinable and untestable.
          It’s a dangerous mix that begs for abuse by those who want an easy path to power and control over others.

        • Ideologies don’t necessarily warp our ability to understand reality. If the ideology conforms to reality (is true), it could actually assist us.

          If the claims of religions are true (as I believe Christianity’s are. I am doing a series of posts on my blog about why I am specifically a Christian), then isn’t it justified to claim an answer?

          If Jesus truly is God, then wouldn’t he have the authority to propose a final solution? And the actual solution is much more complex than anything that can be summed up in a sentence.

          And yes, religion is probably the easiest way to manipulate large masses of people. It is unfortunate, because that is where many people are at their most open and vulnerable. But if you remove the supernatural, it ceases to be religion. Which is why I think so many discussions about religion revert back to debates on the existence of God.

  1. I have an innocent question: what should one do if one met someone who was more versed in the scriptures than oneself, but that individual did not believe in the divinity of the Bible? Like say a theology professor. I’m not saying that I am being discouraged or attacked by a learned person, but I am interested to know what someone might do in that kind of situation. For instance, someone might argue that the Christian faith is a derivative of the Zoroastrian religion, which is an ancient Persian tradition which has a number of parallels between itself and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. What does one do when faced with logical, secular, scripture-based arguments?

    • That might be true if His existence began at birth. Since He was before the creation of the world (in fact, He was the creator) then that Greek nonsense doesn’t even begin to apply.

        • Well, if you can ever figure out the incarnation, you’re a step ahead of some of the greatest minds of human history. The Eastern Orthodox church, for one, has produced some of history’s most brilliant philosophers who dedicated their lives to studying the mystery of the Trinity and the incarnation. Their thoughts I can follow but not truly grasp. Jesus was fully God, fully man. How? The language used to try and explain it or understand it might change person to person but the reality of it is unchanging.

        • If I’m totally honest, I wish those great minds spent time trying to cure sickness and/or hunger instead of trying to figure out some quirk in religious dogma. If a god exists, is that really what it would hope for us? To spend our lives poring over an unanswerable question? And if the answer is discovered – so what? If the answer was important, then wouldn’t Yahweh have made it apparent?

        • If the effort was exclusively for themselves I think I might agree. There is no greater pursuit for any of us than to chase after God and these are men who were placed, by life circumstances and by disposition, in a position to lead the way for others. There are other great men and thinkers of other times who have used their gift in other ways. It is for each of us to do the best with what we have been given as we know how.

      • I refuse to believe that. I don’t think a god would be so vain or insecure to think people should put aside teh well-being of their brothers and sisters just to get a place in Heaven. It seems horribly selfish. If the Bible is the ultimate pursuit, what about the people from 50 CE and before? What about the people who never happened upon the name “Jesus”? All damned? Didn’t religion create a problem that didn’t exist before?

        • I did not say the Bible was the ultimate pursuit. God is. Following after Jesus doesn’t lead us directly into heaven. After all, He Himself left heaven to come to us. His purpose in doing so was reconciliation but also to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, and liberty to the oppressed. The pursuit of God will lead us to the poor, the marginalized, the sick, the hurting and the helpless. That is where He is found and that, if we are truly following after Him, is where we will be.

        • But that’s just it, Aquinas, for example, one of the great minds of his generation did what? Provided a few quotes for apologetics? What value – real value – did he bring to humanity? Was the Bible so unclear that Aquinas needed to defend it and reinterpret it? Calvin? Luther? Why was there such a mystery in the first place?
          God could have saved us all (and instead of saving us from his wrath, why didn’t he soften his own heart…), and not introduced Jesus to the world.
          It seems he created Jesus just so he could create damned people – he could have saved all the people he wanted with or without Jesus.

        • Aquinas in many ways was a hinge on which the Enlightenment turned. His pursuit of God also led him in writing about philosophy, law, politics, and the basis of knowledge. Pretty much every great mind for the next few hundred years was either trying to expound on or refute something he said or wrote.
          Luther made his fame by pounding the 95 thesis on a church door. Have you ever read through them? Most are motivated in opposition to the injustices he saw from corrupt men on church periphery who were cheating the poor, common man. Beyond that I wouldn’t go very far in calling Luther or Calvin great or godly men. Intelligent yes. Influential yes. But not really all that good.

        • But you are saying “this theologian should be praised because he corrected the sins of those other theologians”. I suggest we throw out theology altogether.
          Do we really need theology to know ISIS is wrong, or pedophiles are wrong? Maybe it had it’s place at one time, but what possible value could it be now?
          Why can’t the Bible stand on it’s own? We aren’t expecting any revisions, are we?

        • Theology as a discipline I might agree, theology as a passion certainly not. Is it a discipline for a husband to seek to know and understand and cherish all he can of his wife? All theology truly is, is the study of God. For different people this happens different ways but for those of an intellectual, analytical bent this happens through what we would call theology proper. It is not a dogmatism or a discipline but an expression of their love for God and in its way a very beautiful thing.

        • When I hear “Theology is the study of God” I think of this quote:

          “What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it.
          —St. Augustine”

          So if this great mind claimed you can’t study God, then why do people continue? Personally, it seems like laziness – as a reason to do something other than help your neighbor, or do something useful while pretending you are doing something important (to you – surely God can’t think it’s important for you to study an infinite, ineffable Being!)

        • I see it as God gave his son to absolve the sin that all men inherited. I see it as there will be a restitution and most who died will have a chance to learn the truth if they did not know it already. Thus Jesus’ death affects all those who lived before and after him.

      • Well, we’ll never know one way or another. Or if Thor was a demi-god too.
        Jesus never actually wrote anything in his own words, so we don’t know if he claimed anything of the kind.
        However, if we consider it a myth, most scholars agree that Jesus was claiming to have the authority of God – that he, like an adopted son in those times, would take on all the authority and power of the father.

  2. I guess I think of it this way. If you were on a desert island with 4 people, would you tell the smartest of them “Joe, read this book and find out the truth of it. The rest of us will search for food and shelter and try to figure out how to survive…” It seems a horrible waste of resources.

  3. In an article entitled ‘Grammatical error in ‘Jesus is God’ doctrine” at http;//www.wordatthenet.com, John 1:1, which states that: “In the beginning The Word already existed: The Word was with God, and the Word was God’.and John 1:14, stating that: “The Word became a human being xxx ” were used to clarify the nature of Jesus Christ by putting emphasis on the use of past tense indicative mood of be, which is “was’ in John 1:!, which simply means that when the Word became human being, he was no longer God. Therefore, all the “I AM” verses of Jesus Christ are truthful and not blasphemous.

    • The beginning if a finite period of time. It is past. Therefore past indicative is necessary to remain grammatically correct. John 1:14 moves the narrative from the past up to the near present.
      For example. “In the beginning there was this guy named BJ. He was 5’10” and balder than an eagle… In the fall of 2012 he started The River Walk and became a blogger…”
      My becoming a blogger made me no less 5’10” and bald. I simply became both.
      Jesus was always God. He still is. His becoming human did not negate His divinity. The two, in Him, are not mutually exclusive.

      • John 1:1 also mentioned that ‘The Word was with God”. This statement simply emphasizes that the Word is a separate entity from God.Thus, the danger is that if the Word who became human being would still be believed as God despite the use of was by John to emphasize the transformation of the Word as God to Jesus as human being, without explicitly stating that he continued to be God when he (the Word:) became human, then God would be left behind in the believer’s belief.

  4. It doesn’t matter if he’s God or not- everyone is a spark of God. Arguing about a dead guy accomplishes nothing. Be a good, virtuous person who seeks the divinity in everything, and quit harping on all the religious crap. There’s so many better things to do, so many real world causes that need your time and energy. You can argue about the book, but the humans that God created are starving and dying while religious groups are arguing and killing each other over an issue that no one can definitively claim to know everything about.

    • “Arguing about a dead guy accomplishes nothing.”
      You’re right. But acknowledging Jesus as the living Savior is everything.

      “Quit harping on all the religious crap. There’s so many better things to do, so many real world causes that need your time and energy.”
      Religion *is* to look after the needy in their distress. That and to keep oneself from being stained by evil. The very thing you call us to do is that which you call crap.

      “The humans that God created are starving and dying while religious groups are arguing and killing each other over an issue that no one can definitively claim to know everything about.”
      Wars are fought over power. Religiosity is simply the motivator by which to mobilize the masses. Wars have been fought long before we became a predominantly “religious” society and they continue to be fought even as society sheds that surface “religiousness”. On the flip side, religion has also been the greatest motivator for acts of good, creation of beauty, and elevation of culture. The best architecture, art, music, and literature have all been religiously motivated. People have always had a deep yearning for God and that has inspired many even as it has warped others. Although there has been harm done by religious groups I would argue far and away that there has been far more good. Just look at the list of the most influential charities around the world. Common denominator? The Red Cross, YMCA, World Vision, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, IJM, etc. They all are, or at least were founded as, means by which the church can be a blessing to the poorest and neediest of our world. It is the religious who are at the forefront of doing good in our world. That is because we are following Jesus. Who He is makes all the difference.

  5. I would further note that, even if one discards the miracles, Jesus’s behavior is not consistent with that of a prophet. See, for example in Mark, the earliest gospel, where Jesus notes that his disciples do not fast because “the bridegroom is with them.” I.e., himself. Why on earth would the presence of a mere prophet override their religious obligation to fast? Bit megalomaniacal for a human.

  6. well said! Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to say to a nonbeliever when they keep asking me question after question about Jesus and sometimes I find it hard to put to words I usually end up saying you just need to have faith and then they normally say why can’t I have faith in another religion? How do I know for a fact Jesus is Lord and Christianity is the way to go? I guess it’s time I start reading more blogs like this and studying the bible harder for myself so I can explain better to those who don’t believe. I loved this blog keep up the good work!

  7. Reblogged this on Win to Prepare & Prepare to Win… and commented:
    Jesus, I worship You as God. You are my Lord, and I surrender my life to You. You are my Savior and I place my life in Your hands. Forgive me for the sins I have committed. I don’t deserve Your grace but I ask that You would give it anyways. Help me now to follow You. Help me to live in obedience to Your commands. Give me to courage to do so even to the point of death. You are God and I will not, I cannot deny this truth.

  8. “If we are to come to either of these conclusions then Jesus was a blasphemer. He should not be respected or honored, He should be condemned. The judgment of God is on him. The only other option is to accept His claim at face value. We can either worship Jesus as God or with that crowd we must pick up the stones. There is no other choice.”

    There is another choice. Choose to live in a universe without judgement and labels.
    Forgiveness, compassion.
    Fitting for the author’s example:

    “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Seek peace,

    Paz

  9. Bart Ehrman’s well researched book follows the evolution of early Christian’s understanding of who Jesus was. He comes to the conclusion that Jesus himself did at least believe that he was the messiah. Without a time machine, I don’t think we can know whether Jesus himself believed that he was the son of God. We do know that less than 15 years after his crucifixion, Paul was quoting preexisting creeds that said Jesus was the son of God.
    The important thing is not what we know, but what we believe. The Gospel of Thomas puts it this way:
    Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to something and tell me what I am like.”
    Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a just messenger.”
    Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.”
    Thomas said to him, “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like.”
    Jesus said, “I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended.”
    And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?”
    Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks to stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you.”

  10. It’s very difficult to explain anything to Muslims, including religious truths. Quran acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. It states his creation of birds (he actually created everything working with his Father). Quran tells us he used to order the blind to see and they saw, the limp to walk and they walked, etc. He knew what people used to eat and what they had in store. Aren’t these enough proofs for one who’s seeking the truth? But are Muslims seeking and preaching the truth? Or are they fighting and terrorizing?

    • Well, I know many well and I have met thousands of them. I am absolutely positive a vast majority of those are not fighting and terrorizing. The Quran also quotes Jesus as rebuking his disciples for worshiping him as God. It is not a good book to use in defense of the divinity of our savior. In fact, it is not a good book… period.

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