Hi guys, it's been a while, but I have been wanting to come back to this place and I finally found a reason. Last night, I came across a message called "Is God A Christian". I took the time to respond. Here you go.
An interesting watch, and I'm sympathetic to what he wants to do. However, there are a few things I think he's very misguided on. I'll give some approximate quotes and times so people can follow along.
16:43 Fundamentalism is a corruption of faith...driven by fear and anger.
17:50No difference between fundametalism. Born from the same instincts, with evil results. A religion of fear leads us to a religion of violence... Fear is the root of terrorism...it acts with arrogance and bitterness. 18:34 Fear, not faith declares doctrinal absolutes and moral certainties.
I'll start with this. He's under the impression that people who believe in doctrinal and moral absolutes are fearful fundamentalists. He obviously holds Christ in high esteem. That's great. But I think it's only fair to see of Jesus himself passes his test here. He says in Matthew 7:21-23:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
That sounds pretty dogmatic and absolute to me. Apparently, just because someone says they know Jesus isn't enough. Heck, anyone who doesn't know him will get kicked out of his presence. Let's keep going.
20:05 it is ignorance, not faith that wants to teach creationism, ignorance, not faith that wants us to believe the bible is inerrant or infallible.
So. Dr. Godsey believes that anyone who teaches creationism is fear driven, afraid of reason/science. More so, anyone who teaches the Bible is inerrant or infallible is a fear driven fundamentalist. Again, let's see if Jesus passes his test. Let's start with Mark 10:5-7 (though he basically says the same thing in Matthew 19:3-5). He says:
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
Seems like Jesus takes the teachings of the OT on creation and marriage pretty seriously. Now to be fair, Dr. Godsey may not be aware that Christians take creation differently. But according to Jesus, the Adam and Eve story was important enough for him to quote it authoritatively to settle a theological dispute. Again, seems like Jesus fails Dr. Godsey's test. What about the Bible being inerrant or infallible? Again, Jesus states in Luke 4:17-21
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So according to Jesus, the passage from Isaiah was a prophecy that was fulfilled in him. It seems he takes scriptures very seriously. I might add, Dr. Godsey talks a lot about people being in God's image and such. I hope he knows that that phrase originates in the Adam and Eve story in Genesis.
20:20 It is ignorance not faith that claims God is the exclusive possession of Christians etc....
Jesus mention something interesting in John 4. He's at the well talking to a Samaritan woman when he says:
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Sounds like Jesus was making the claim that the Jews had a better grasp on God that the Samaritans did. Which would make sense, since they only held to the Torah, but not the rest of the OT (as is my understanding). Still that sounds pretty exclusivist.
23:58 Jesus came to enable to see the light of God that had been eclipsed by doctrine and systems. 24:55 Jesus message was to forgive and be makers of peace, to live a new way, and get along with those of different religious traditions. 26:10 Jesus brings a new way, that says love with prevail 26: 54 We are all seeking to prevail the light of God's presence in the world
Sounds pretty nice, but Jesus's words in Matthew 28:18-20 say other wise. He states:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Not the teachings of someone else, his own. Again, that sounds pretty snobbish if you think God's light can be found elsewhere. But Jesus addresses that when he says in John 12
46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Again, he says he is the light, and that anyone who doesn't believe him stands condemned. He even says his words are God's words. Pretty exclusive, and really, it just goes against whatever it is Dr. Godsey thinks Jesus' message is.
27:15 We have no basis for concluding that any of the worlds religions didn't have it's roots in authentic revelation. 27:46 Who are we to limit God's speaking?
I think the previous passages by Christ should be enough to show that he claimed his message was God's message and that it was limited to that. Again, Dr. Godsey's own standards have labeled Jesus a fundamentalist exclusivist.
27:49 What unholy arrogance promps us to say that the way the truth and the life has been communicated only to us?
What's interesting is that Jesus himself said it in John 14:6
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
By Dr. Godsey's own standards, Jesus is an unholy arrogant man.
28:54 The claim to posses absolute truth says far more than we know.
I'm glad that as a Christian, I don't have to make such claims based on my own ideas or experience. Christ is the one I look to and he seemed to have a very good grasp about what he should or shouldn't claim. I may not know everything, but he certainly does. Is Mr. Godsey ready to say Jesus stated more than he knew?
29:16 Commited believing does not require hateful and mean spirited exclusivist rhetoric.
Here we have an either/or fallacy. It seems to Dr. Godsey that if you speak in exclusive terms, it makes you mean and hateful. And yet, we have seen, this is how Jesus spoke in his ministry while being loved and hated. And he WAS hated for it. He was killed for it to be honest. Can believers today act or come off arrogant and mean? Sure. It is inexcusable. The bible itself tells us to "speak the truth in love" for a reason. But attacking the exclusive claims of Christ is not the answer.
29:40 It is misguided, wrong headed, treacherous, to think that respecting another's faith confession is disloyal to our own. It is religious narcicism at its worst. We are not wise enough or good enough to judge the faith of others.
In one sense, he's right. I can't judge another man's heart. Good thing the Bible doesn't tell me to do that. I am told :to judge their fruit and confession. Again Jesus's own words in John 10 state
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 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; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
It seemed Jesus was able to judge people's confession quite easily: if they don't believe in him they aren't his sheep. I can't judge a man's heart, but I can tell you they aren't Christ's if they don't believe in him. Does this mean Jesus is, in Dr. Godsey's words, "misguided, rong headed, treacherous"? How about narcissistic?
30:00 most people are in their tradition because of where they are. We are children of our religious traditions.
An oft stated critique of religion in general is that you're born into it. However, it's a problem for him too. He's born at a time and place where religion developed a more pluralistic outlook. Does that mean I should say that because he was born under those circumstances I shouldn't listen to him? I should add, would he be saying this had be been born a hundred years ago? Had he been born in China? These things have no bearing on the truth or validity of the claims of Christ. And it would seem that he's decided to create a Christ he's comfortable with, but not the one who said "I am the way, the truth and the life".
I empathize with his aims of having religious dialogue. But attacking the exclusive claims of Christ is not the answer.