"The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy" refuted

This is one of the most expensive Skeptical books on the market (60 dollars) aside from a related volume by McKinsey (that sells for 146 dollars!) and it is hard to justify the price. McKinsey has no qualifications whatsoever in any Biblical field (in issue #4 of his newsletter he says that he has "a bachelor's' degree in philosophy and a master's in the social sciences"), knows no Biblical languages, and has no relevant training; he works only with his "plain reading" of the texts to offer his critiques.

In a few places McKinsey disdains the use of extra-biblical sources to aid in understanding the Biblical text, and often quotes more than one English version to prove his point, without any concern for what might be reflected in Greek or Hebrew. McKinsey is also skilled at debate tactics, which he uses to obscure his errors and lack of cogent argumentation.

For this review, we will provide some general comments to start, followed by a chapter-by-chapter "answer key." We will not cover chapters beyond our concern (such as claims of contradiction in Mormon and Muslim scriptures).

General Observations

On Jesus' Existence

Some additional notes from Tekton Research Assistant "Punkish" --


On Josephus in the Biblical Errancy newsletter:

McKinsey: "This passage is so obviously spurious that it is astonishing to find a single theologian left in our time who accepts it." Interestingly, McCabe goes on to talk about his idea that the passage originally contained a reference to Jesus that was cut out by the interpolator and replaced by what we have today. This cuts straight against McKinsey's intent. (McCabe cites no scholarship in the Josephus section whatsoever, not even those he finds astonishing in its support. In the Introduction by E. Halderman-Julius, an atheist, we read "THE scholarship, immense and convincing, of the present volume will enlighten any reader" - how's that for false advertising!) Thus McKinsey is using deceptive sources, which furthers the deception.

Several of McKinsey's points on Josephus are simply copied from Remsburg, and several from the Tacitus section are from the Diegesis without citation.

Tacitus #15 BE newsletter -- Tacitus is also made to say that the Christians took their denomination from Christ which could apply to any of the so-called Christs who were put to death in Judea, including Christ Jesus.

This comes from Thomas William Doane, Bible Myths And Their Parallels in Other Religions, Appendix A [imagine putting arguments about whether Christ exists in an Appendix! Most of it is culled from the Diegesis, it is rather obvious since no one but Taylor would translate "nominis" as "denomination". (Ann.XV.44)]

Item 7, about the victims being given to flames in Nero's gardens, is straight from Hochart's thesis extending the work of JW Ross which Fabia called "ingenious guesses".

McKinsey makes several points in his newsletter from the Diegesis regarding Johannes de Spire and how the fidelity of the passage rests on him, etc, (item #24) - he says the passage was "first published in the annals of Tacitus in the year 1468" - well he's wrong, it wasn't called "the Annals" then, it was called "the Cornelius Tacitus" and comprised both Annals and Histories, and the two works were split in the following century - only when they were recognised as separate works was the text where our passage is found termed the Annals.

Now about manuscript origins: Taylor in the Diegesis says that the manuscript de Spire worked on was eighth century (p393, although Taylor cites no source for the date and appears slightly doubtful about its age) - JW Ross' argument was that Poggio Bracciolini forged the entire thing in the 1420s, so to use both Hochart (relying on Ross) AND Taylor, despite the latter's doubts, shows McKinsey contradicts himself.

The fact that he uses brief statements without arguments (4(c) on Justus is word for word from Remsburg) and arguments by authority (e.g. citing Renan on Jesus' bio when Renan almost fully approved of the Testimonium!) in his *conclusion* makes me wonder, what was he doing in this compilation?


Miscellaneous Summary

Indeed, McKinsey's disdain for scholarship is poignantly exemplified in the following exchange from the 102nd BE newsletter, beginning with this note from that same CRI rep referred to earlier:

In issue #56, your reply to my points about the authorship of the NT writings was condescending and largely irrelevant. I asked you for a list of "authorities" who question the Pauline authorship of the seven undisputed Pauline letters (Rom., 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Gal., Phil., 1 Thess., Philem.). You gave me one scholar who questioned "the full authenticity" of four of these--Alfred Loisy. It should be noted that Loisy (who died in 1940) was writing mostly in the 1910's and 1920's, and that most of his extreme views (e.g., that Acts was written in the second century) have been completely abandoned by even the most liberal scholarship. (The scholar you quoted as endorsing Loisy, F.C. Conybeare, died in 1924!). In the postwar scholarship it is widely regarded as certain that these seven letters were written by Paul, and their authorship is not even debated. I can supply you with a list of scholarly references several pages long if necessary; but if it is necessary, then, frankly, you don't know anything about contemporary Pauline studies.

Note carefully the direction of McKinsey's reply:

To begin with Robert, my answers were neither irrelevant nor condescending. Yours, however, are quite irrelevant. The fact that you don't like the sources I cited and don't consider them reliable is as irrelevant as your recitation of the dates upon which they died. I have no doubt they consider most of your scholars to be of questionable integrity. As I have said before, when it comes to arguments over history, every man picks the sources he prefers. You asked for some scholars and I quoted two well-known men who are scholars whether you like them or not. For you to say that "these seven letters were written by Paul, and their authorship is not even debated" is absurd. I don't know of any book in the Bible whose authorship is not debated by knowledgeable scholars. You really should stop talking as if biblical conclusions were air-tight and fixed in granite.

Sandwiched between two polemical points are a host of irrelevancies and obfuscations: The citing of the dates of death is a minor illustration point which shows how more research has been done since the time that these men lived, and points up the extent to which McKinsey is neglectiing further scholarship. McKinsey makes the death-dates a major point and dismisses all else as picking sources that one "likes" -- as though all sources are in fact equally (in?)valid and therefore it is pointless to engage in critical analysis, since there is no really knowing who is right.

The CRI rep went on:

I also stated that Donald Guthrie's book New Testament Introduction thoroughly answers the arguments of liberal scholars (such as Loisy) whereas they continue to ignore most of Guthrie's arguments. In response you told me that I should devote more study to various scholars that you named. This is no answer. I am familiar with many of those scholars (especially Loisy, Renan, Briggs, Wellhausen, and Conybeare), and my point is that their arguments are answered by Guthrie (and others), but not the other way around. I am not interested in authorities as such but in the reasons they give for their views.

The CRI rep has rightly tagged McKinsey for disdaining critical evaluation. The reply, again, is telling:

You quote Guthrie as if he were the fountain of all truth, my friend. Just because you are enrapped with him, carries no weight with others, including myself. I have scholars who say something quite different. And I happen to feel that mine know more about the issue than yours. Even more importantly, you shifted your strategy. Earlier you said I could produce no authorities in support of my position. Now you are admitting there are such beings but contend they are wrong. "I am not interested in authorities as such but in the reasons they give for their views." That's a different issue entirely and a virtual concession that my original contention is valid.

The source-cite is simply dismissed again as a matter of preference, with no critical evaluation; and McKinsey then uses the demand for critical evaluation to blacken the rep's reply -- indeed, sees it as some sort of victory, never mind that it thoroughly exposes his unwillingness to dig too deep. In all of this, the very thing needed, critical evaluation and comparison of the arguments, is simply bypassed.

In another place, McKinsey offers advice for tools of the trade, saying that a Layman's Parallel Bible is a good purchase. Good advice -- however, he then advises: "Avoid Christian commentaries. Don't be swayed as to what is being said or what commentaries allege is intended. Just read it cold." In the 34th issue of the newsletter he adds:

Read (the Bible) yourself and don't consult commentaries and other works which tell you how to view the narrative. Approaching the Bible with an uncluttered, unindoctrinated outlook devoid of pre-conceptions and expectations is of first magnitude in importance. Indeed, it's the key to effective critical analysys. Once the Book has been sufficiently mastered, commentaries and other apologistic works, which are nearly always nothing more than rationalizations, justifications, and obfuscations, can be viewed in proper perspective and effectively dealt with. It's important to observe the Bible through your own eyes, not those of others.

And consider this advice also from the 187th newsletter, concerning the variations in the wording on the cross -- which professional commentators view either as point-of-view reportage or else as redactional:

Who cares how many speakers, audiences and interests are involved! They are all immaterial, if not irrelevant. The fact is that there can only be one wording on the cross and there can be only one correct duplication of that wording. I don't care how you are tailoring it to the interests or idiosyncrasies of anyone or any group; if you change the wording from what actually existed, then it becomes erroneous, period.

Just read it cold? In other words, ignore social, historical, literary and cultural context; set aside all who have studied the texts, the languages, and the cultures for years on end, simply dismissing them as unable to agree on anything or as mere "rationalizations" designed to solve the alleged problems and contradictions you, reading with your own untrained perceptions, have found (also, without "doing the homework" of critical evaluation of their arguments yourself)? That speaks for itself in terms of McKinsey's academic credibility.

In closing for this summary, a note on a personal correspondence I had with McKinsey a while back that is especially revealing of his character. We had some fun trading barbs (at least I did), and in the midst, McKinsey made a statement to me about listening to my "conscience". I replied with a joke about "Jiminy Cricket". McKinsey responded in part by claiming that I had spelled the name wrong -- it was JIMMY Cricket, he said, not Jiminy.

As anyone who grew up watching Disney on Sunday night knows (and especially, if you live in Central Florida as I do, and see these characters every day), my spelling of the name was indeed correct -- and when I pointed out this fact, McKinsey didn't admit error, he merely changed the subject.

And I say further: Check the places in the BE newsletter where someone writes in to point out a typo. McKinsey in reply will almost always make some extended explanation about lacking time, not being surprised with all the work he has to do, etc. Such behavior should be a signal to us that there is no way whereby any other person can prove McKinsey wrong, in his own mind.

EBE Answer Key: Chapter by Chapter

The remainder of this page shall be a by-chapter response to EBE, as applicable to our purposes. For this it is assumed that the reader has a copy of EBE and needs a specific answer for a certain point therein.

This project was originally composed by myself and several contributors. Where a chapter was not answered by me, the author's name shall appear after the chapter heading. In very many cases our answers will be found in links, as McKinsey is often not the only one making the objection.

Chapter 1 is covered by above material.

Chapter 2: "Jesus is the Answer?"

Description: 22 general objections with Jesus as the subject. This chapter is composed of "questions about Jesus" put together in a pamphlet distributed by BE.

I think it is fair to surmise that this means that these are 22 of the best or hardest-hitting "questions" that BE could come up with on this subject. Indeed we need not even make any surmises: McKinsey calls these "some of the best questions one could ever employ while confronting Christianity in general and the Bible in particular" [35], and "twenty-two of the best questions one could ever employ in the struggle against Christianity in general and Jesus in particular. Every rational person should find them to be a welcome addition to his or her antisuperstition portfolio." [52]

McKinsey clearly believes these to be among the best questions in his own portfolio. Their use in a pamphlet; their special allotment in a chapter of EBE; these very direct statements, all mean that if these questions are easily dealt with, a serious wound is dealt to the competency of McKinsey and the credibility of his mission. These 22 questions are McKinsey's elite troops (along with 24 others in the chapter following). All others are mere foot soldiers.

Meeting the Opposition: McKinsey offers in addition to his own comments "some of the responses that apologists often use in opposition to the questions that are posed," adding that "Armed with information of this kind, analysts of the Bible will be far better prepared to confront Christians on their own turf. One should always know what lies in the other side's arsenal before engaging in ideological combat." [35]

In fact, the "responses" used are from the lowest-level apologetics resources available: General-interest books for the lay reader. One will not find here responses from professional journals of study or from high-ranking scholars.

Darkness Reigns: Also as a primer, McKinsey observes that "many people do not even realize that problems exist within the Bible." [35]

Fair enough. It is also fair to say that many people do not realize that these "problems" are overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, due to our own lack of knowledge or comprehension.

Of course McKinsey will have none of this: His only response is to label any attempts at solution as a case of conspiracy. He quotes Bucaille as referring to "subtle explanations calculated to reassure (the Christian reader) and orchestrated by an apologetic lyricism." [36] McKinsey himself refers to "obfuscations" and "smokescreens."

So might we expect from those who will not read an ancient text in any terms but those of their own modern mind. To those thusly convinced by their own cleverness, any explanation is merely an irrational and desperate attempt to cover up the obvious. Trying to show otherwise makes you party to the illusion. Whether the data supports the polemic, however, remains to be seen.

1. Now answered here.


2. Now answered here.


3. Reference to the idea that Jesus never existed; see above. There is no reason to resort to the theory that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, a theory which McKinsey devotes a great deal of space to discussing.


4. Matt. 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


The "Jesus was not in the tomb 72 hours" objection; see the relevant item as one of the replies in this longer essay here. essay on this subject.


5. John 13:38


vs.


Mark 14:66-8


Now answered here .


6. Multi-part objection.


Mark 10:18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."



John 7:8-10 "You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.


Answered here and here.


Matt. 26:18 He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'"


Answered here.


Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."


I'll keep this answer here, because I don't see how McKinsey supposes this to constitute a lie by Jesus. What's the explanation? It is asked, "How could they have entered paradise that day when Jesus lay in the tomb for three days?" Paradise, of course, was the Jewish abode of spirits (not the bodies) of the righteous dead. (cf. 2 Cor. 12:4) This is the same as someone saying today, "I'll see you in heaven" with a time prior to the resurrection of all men in mind.

Of course, McKinsey does not believe in heaven or Paradise, but that is not the point of the objection.


7. Matt. 28:19 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,


vs.


1 Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.


McKinsey says: "In effect, Paul is saying that Jesus lied. Either that or Paul is rewriting the script and has usurped the leadership of Jesus in Christianity." Now answered here.

As a side note, it is worthwhile to note that McKinsey endorses by quotation (but never "flatly states" support for) the idea that Paul was the true founder of Christianity who distorted the teachings of Jesus. In this regard he quotes two highly irrelevant authorities: the playwright George Bernard Shaw, and Thomas Jefferson, neither of whom were better informed than Pauline scholars like E. P. Sanders, W. D. Davies, and David Wenham, who show that Paul presents nothing that is not in continuity with both mainstream Judaism and with the teachings of Jesus.


8. Psalm 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

Job 25:6 "...how much less man, who is but a maggot-- a son of man, who is only a worm!"

Now answered here. I would also like to know how McKinsey knows that this is "one of those problems that is systematically ignored and evaded by nearly all apologists." [41] Is this McKinsey's way of saying that no one he has read has ever addressed it? If so, does it perhaps occur to him that it has not been addressed because it is not actually a problem?



9, 10. A series of objections to the Trinity, which is termed "one of the most ludicrous religious ideas ever proposed." It is clear that McKinsey's grasp upon Trinitarian theology is rather tenuous. He states in the ninth objection, "According to Christian theology, Jesus is God." He then hauls up verses like John 14:28 and cites them as Jesus "denying that he is God's equal." This is followed upon by selected quotes from "apologists" who, he says, "admit that the Trinity is incomprehensible."

Incomprehensible to them, perhaps, and also incomprehensible to McKinsey and his sources like Ingersoll, but not to me, nor to anyone who has bothered to investigate the relevant background material. I will point the reader first to my material on the divine claims of Jesus (here), especially my material on Jesus' claim to be divine Wisdom. With this foundation, we may provide the following observations and general responses to McKinsey's rather inane inquiries.

His errors begin with the statement, "According to Christian theology, Jesus is God." This is not specific enough. According to Christian theology, Jesus is not "God" but "God the Son", the Word/Wisdom of God. Recognizing this basic distinction defuses all of McKinsey's sub-objections in objections 9 and 10: The "denials" of equality with God above; who Jesus was talking to on the cross when addressing the Father; the allegation of tritheism; the supposed problem of the relation of Jesus to Mary (which makes no distinction between the physical and legal derivation of the incarnate Jesus and the non-corporeal spiritual derivation of Jesus).

At best McKinsey shows the inadequacies of certain analogies used to explain the Trinity, but until he confronts the Wisdom concept, he is addressing nothing but inadequate modern conceptions and problems with modern terminology.


11. Matt. 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'


vs.


John 2:4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."

Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

Now answered here and here. McKinsey here uses the same arguments used by a Skeptic that we have addressed elsewhere. His further comments are also telling [44]:

I have often told apologists who constantly use this tactic that they should set aside the King James, the New American Standard, the Revised Standard, and every other well known version of the Bible on the market, and instead write their own version of the Bible, and send me a copy, which I would be glad to critique. Frankly, I'm becoming rather tired of people telling me that they have a more accurate version of what a particular verse should say...This kind of defense has to be squashed immediately; otherwise, apologists will be able to run from version to version as expediency dictates and choose the wording they prefer...

A few observations are in order.

First, this is not simply a matter of translations, but also a matter of meanings in context. The interpretations we have offered of John 2:4 and Luke 14:26 both rely upon parallel phrases found in other ancient literature (Greek and rabbinic) and literary design for the period. One may not arbitrarily assume in the context of ancient literature (derived as it is from a primarily oral period) that words carry the same degree and shades of meaning that they do in our own day, especially since ancient languages had a much lesser number of words compared to modern English (mere thousands versus over a million and a half).

Second, note how McKinsey has automatically dismissed out of hand as "expediency" the act of going from one version to another, when the issue is not versions, but meanings in context as we have delineated above. He has jumped from "write your own version" to "don't jump from one version to another" and classed these together as "expediency".


12. Now answered here.


13. Matt. 16:28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

Luke 21:32//Mark 13:30 "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."


It is our view that these verses were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. If McKinsey is able to address and refute the arguments here, then we will take the matter further. We therefore see no need to address his own remarks which interpret "generation" as race, etc.


14. Now answered here.


15. Now answered here.


16. This is a series about the Matthean and Lukan genealogies. See Glenn Miller's work on this subject and here.


17. Mark 8:34. See here.


18. Mark 10:19 "You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"


vs.


Lev. 19:13 "'Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. "'Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight."


Now answered here.


19. Luke 12:4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more."


vs.


John 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. (etc.)


Now answered here. A brief note is also in order on McKinsey's dismissal of Christian martyrdoms. He claims that the history of martyrdoms is "based far more on Christian mythology than sound history."

In this he does not interact at all with any of the works of secular historians and relevant authorities (i.e., Michael Grant, Robert Wilken, Rodney Stark) who, while noting that many late accounts of martyrdom have the taste of myth, nevertheless affirm that such martyrdoms (along with less "permanent" types of persecution) did indeed take place.

McKinsey also confounds the issue by demanding "biblical confirmation" of such sacrifices; it is hardly necessary that such evidence MUST be found in the Bible to be true, and until McKinsey deals with the evidence outside the Bible critically, rather than simply ignoring it, his arguments are of no merit.

But then again, if he wants biblical confirmation, he might try reading Paul's own admission (Gal. 1) that he persecuted the church with "zeal" -- a word that recalls the responses of Phineas in the OT and the Maccabees in the intertestamental period who killed their opponents.


20. This is a repeat and composite of previous objections.


21. This is a set of points about the atonement and original sin. For the former, see our material here. For the latter, see here.


22. Matt. 15:24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."


vs.


Matt 28:19 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...


Jesus is accused of "indecisiveness" in terms of whom Christians are to have missions to. Context means all here: Jesus is the first instance refers to his own, personal ministry on earth; the latter verse refers to a time after the resurrection.

At the same time, it is obvious since Jesus did go on to heal the woman's daughter, and the fact that he was already in Gentile territory, that this was far from being an established and absolute prohibition, but was rather some sort of test of response for faith.

In issue #46 of the EBE newsletter, James White made a similar point, noting that there is no indication that Matt. 15:24 was intended as referring to a mission for all time. McKinsey replied by suggesting that this means that one could say the same of the Ten Commandments. But a comment by Jesus in response to a specific situation and a covenant law spoken from Mount Sinai cannot be treated on exactly equal terms.

Other cited verses:

Matt. 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel." This has no applicability outside of this specific mission episode; it is hardly expressed as a general principle.

John 4:22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. - This also has no applicability to the subject at hand.


Ch. 2 Sources

  1. Alb.Mt -- Albright, W. F. and C. S. Mann. Matthew. Doubleday: 1971.
  2. Beas.J -- Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Word: 1987.
  3. Brow.DMh -- Brown, Raymond. The Death of the Messiah. Doubleday.
  4. Brow.GJ -- Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John. Doubleday: 1966.
  5. Harr.Mt -- Harrington, Daniel. The Gospel of Matthew. Liturgical Press, 1991.
  6. Hill.GM -- Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Marshall and Scott, 1972.
  7. With.JW -- Witherington, Ben. John's Wisdom.

Chapter 3: "The Bible is God's Word?"

Description: 24 general objections with the Bible as the subject. This chapter is derived from a BE pamphlet. They are introduced with much the same words of endorsement as "best questions" that Chapter 2 is.

1, 2, 3.

We may now proceed with some comments upon the first three objections of this chapter. The first objection concerns John 14:6.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

McKinsey recommends that the "dilemma" this verse causes be "brought into the fray as soon as possible" in all debates, and claims that he has "never encountered a biblicist with a good explanation" because "there is none." [53] The problem, as he sees it [53-4]:

If you must accept Jesus as your savior in order to be saved...(W)hat do you do about the billions of beings who died as fetuses and infants, mental deficients, and people who lived in the New World before missionaries arrived? One should not lost sight of the fact that it says "no man." It doesn't say "some men," "most men" or "a few men."...There are no exceptions and that includes infants and fetuses.

McKinsey then proceeds over several pages to critique arguments from various basic apologetics sources in which the same litany is repeated that "the verse allows no exceptions," "no alternative was allowed," [54], "nothing in the Bible allows for an exception," [57] etc.

I passed up comment here earlier because the matter of the fate of those who have not heard the gospel is a complex topic deserving far more attention than this context allows; and my answer is found here. However, I can actually resolve the issue fairly quickly without recourse to detailed analysis of the issue...merely by considering the genre context of John 14:6.

The Gospel of John portrays Jesus as God's divine Wisdom. (For more on this, see this article.) Jesus speaks as Wisdom speaks in the Jewish intertestamental literature and in Proverbs, in long discourses...such as the one in John 14.

This being the case, our admonitions re Proverbial Literature directly apply. Simply because the statement of 14:6 (likewise John 3:18, 3:36, and 1 John 5:12, which is didactic in nature, and therefore also not absolute) is stated in absolute terms does not mean that there are no exceptions. It is simply that, in the genre of wisdom literature, exceptions are not stated. They are intended to be deduced through applied thought.

Beyond that, the phrasing "no one comes to the Father except by me" includes the notion that Jesus determines himself who comes to the Father, and that he may decide to allow someone to come to the Father for other reasons.

So what "exceptions" might there be to John 14:6? That's what has to be decided, and that's where all of these arguments that McKinsey simply dismisses (and others not considered by him) come into play.

To simply retort that "all means all" is not only made without respect to the genre of the wisdom discourse; it is also a too-simple answer that allows McKinsey to respond with less than critical care and analysis.

He does attempt to analyze the standard presentation from Sproul about Romans 1, which is classically read to indicate that "general revelation" might lead to saving knowledge (though whether anyone has come to salvation thusly is another issue). McKinsey decries this as an "apologetic maneuver" [58] and argues that this would allow Jews, Muslims, and other theists to be saved. "If all you have to do is believe in God," he writes, then millions of non-Christians will go to heaven.

But this is an extremely simplified distortion of what Sproul is talking about. McKinsey has ignored the fact that Paul stresses that general revelation reveals not just the existence of God, but reveals things about God as well. God's character is revealed in creation, and a person who has only general revelation must therefore recognize not only the existence of God, but must also accept the truth about what God is like.

Therefore, a mystic, for example, who holds that God is an unconscious force and has never heard the Gospel, is out of luck; for Paul's argument implies that general revelation would teach him otherwise.

On the other hand, the animist who is dissatisfied with his beliefs about God, and senses that there is something else that is the truth, is on the way to salvation, and may even possess it. But that's what debates in this arena are all about.

Concerning the second objection: McKinsey here misapplies Deut. 24:16 (as well as Exod. 20:5 and Ezekiel 18:19-20) to the question of how we can be punished for the sin of Adam. As we have shown elsewhere, Deut. 24:16 has no application to the issue.

However, Deut. 24:16 is just a small part of a larger argument arguing against the unfairness of "being punished for Adam's sin." Quite frankly, my simple response to this argument is that if there is anyone who has no sins of their own, then they can object to being "blamed" for those of Adam to their heart's content. McKinsey, who dismisses this as a "subtle alteration in blame" [61], doesn't make any claims to qualify on these grounds.

Passing by arguments about Adam as federal head of humanity, a true point which McKinsey quotes, but does not respond to, a position that understands that Adam's actual role is that of one who passed on a propensity to sin. This view understands not that it is the act of Adam's sin that we pay for, but that all have sinned in Adam in the typological sense that Adam set the pattern (see Rom. 5:12). Both views can be found in first-century Judaism, and Paul does not specify which one he holds.

Other than offering a typical misapplication of Ps. 51:5 and 58:3, however, McKinsey has absolutely no response to this. The former states (and the latter is more or less the same, mentioning the wicked), "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." This is standard Ancient Near Eastern exaggeration for the purpose of expressing a point: That we're sinners and we express it from even the youngest age; in this case, David expressing the utter depth of his own sin, in light of events with Bathsheba. Relatedly, anyone who has a baby knows that their impulses have to be modified and directed lest they become vices in adulthood.

Concerning the third objection [61]:

...God created Adam, so Adam must have been perfect. How then could Adam have sinned? Regardless of how much free will he had, if he chose to sin he was not perfect.

This involves a confusion of categories. Furthermore, if this is how "perfection" is to be defined, then no, Adam was not created perfect -- God created Adam "imperfect". Consider this: God is perfect. Yet does God have free will? No, for God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), for example. He is not free to lie because His nature forbids it. So if this is how "perfection" is to be defined, then Adam wasn't created "perfect."

Freedom implies, indeed, a lack of "perfection" if that is how we define the word. But that is an arbitrary way to define "perfection." It is doubtful that anyone would regard America's Revolution as an exercise in the pursuit of "imperfection."

In between objections 3 and 4 comes a comment worthy of note, in which McKinsey presents his version of the "all means all" argument. He advises:

Try to stay with absolutes as much as possible. The Bible digs itself into a hole when it makes statements dealing with "all," "each," "never," "every," "none," and other statements that allow no exceptions. We have all taken exams and been confronted with true or false answers. Experienced test takers will tell you that statements containing absolute terms are nearly always false.

This is much equal to McKinsey's advice to read the Bible "like a newspaper", only here it is implied that we should read it like a true-false test. If the Bible digs this sort of hole for itself, then so likewise has every piece of proverbial or didactic literature from around the globe throughout history.

The Bible is neither a newspaper nor a pop quiz, but a complex document with a rich history, derived from a specific literary genre. Once again McKinsey must impose his anachronistic views upon the text in order to find error where it does not exist.


4. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?


vs.


Ex. 32:14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.


Now answered here.


5. Now answered here. McKinsey offers with this cite -- which involves a copyist error -- a story of how he confounded a Church of Christ minister on a radio show with this question. I doubt if a textual critic like Bruce Metzger or Emmanuel Tov would have been similarly confounded.


6. Now answered here.


7. Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...


vs.


Gen. 6:9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.


Now answered here.


8. Deut. 34:5-6 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

Used to ask how Moses could have written the Pentateuch. See Glenn Miller's work on the authorship of the Pentateuech.


9. Now answered here and here.


10. Objection that Jesus' resurrection was not unique. See above in general response.


11. Now answered here, here, and here.


12. Now answered here.


13. Now answered here.


14. Matt. 27:9-10. See response here and also, we offer this:

As Brown rightly stressed, "given the care with which Matt reflects on the citation in 27:9-10, only by last resort should we consider the attribution to Jeremiah simply an error." Dismissing Matthew as "confused" -- even "honestly" so -- does no justice to the rich and intricate complexities of his work. We are better off seeking another solution. We can begin by offering a two simple options of our own before bringing out the one that gives Matthew the most respect as a writer:

  1. Copyist error. This is a weak one in terms of textual evidence, but it has some minor corroborating literary support. Zech is named nowhere else by Matthew, and the only other place he quotes Zechariah, he is not named. So perhaps a later scribe was confused rather than Matthew. But this, again, is an entirely speculative solution.
  2. Theme fulfillment. Our problem may be that we are concentrating only on verses 9-10, when we should be looking at the passage beginning with verse 3. Menken [Menk.RJ, 10-11] offers this analysis:
    A partial answer lies in the fact that in narrative (27, 2-8) and quotation (27,9-10) passages from Jer exercise their influence as well. Jer 18,2-3, where a potter is mentioned but no purchase of a field, is often adduced, as well as Jer 32,6-9, where the purchase of a field is dealt with but no potter occurs. A reference to Jer 19 may be more to the point: in front of the elders and priests, Jeremiah has to shatter an earthen potter's vessel, as a symbol of the disasters which will strike Judah and Jerusalem because of their idolatry, and because "they filled this place with blood of innocents" (Jer 19,4). The prophet has to do this on the place that is called Tophet but will be called "Valley of Slaughter", and will be one large burial-place. The points of contact between this passage and Matt 27,3-10 are obvious.

    Menken thereby asserts that it is an atmosphere, rather than a quotation, that is being evoked: That of Jeremiah as being in Matthew "pre-eminently the prophet of rejection of the Messiah". This, along with Matt's theme of Jesus as a Jeremiac figure (Mt. 16:14), explains the "wrong" attribution of the Zech passage to Jerry. Zech may have been the writer, but the whole theme that Matthew is invoking is derived from Jeremiah.

    This type of attribution, of course, seems very odd to our Western mind that demands documentary exactitude in all things. But we should recall again that the ancients did not think as we did, and it is chauvinistic to regard such thinking as theirs as erroneous. Matthew is not stupid, but he is subtle. He wrote as an educated Jew and as a craftsman with a point to prove to his readers, and it is our own fault that it has taken us so long to "get the point" ourselves.


15. Rev. 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

Now answered here.


16. Mark 16:17-18 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

A criticism of these verses. In response to the answer that these verses were not in the original manuscripts, McKinsey offers the same counters of text-critical principles that we have recounted in our Foundation piece on Copyist Errors. (I.e., he says, in response to the point that the passages are not in two early key manuscripts: "Why this would jeopardize their validity one can only speculate, since much of the Bible is absent from one or another key manuscript." [67]

Indeed: One who is out of touch concerning the principles of textual criticism can only speculate, because they are satisfied with broad, generalized, and non-specific arguments like, "much of the Bible is absent from one or another key manuscript."

How does McKinsey define much and key? For the actual matter of evidence on these verses, look here.


17. A criticism of the supposed conflict between Jesus and Paul regarding the criteria for salvation, with Matt. 19:16-18 (the rich young ruler story) as a focus point versus Paul's salvation by faith. For further details on this issue, and a point on how OT saints and others living before Jesus were saved, see our responses to this issue.


18. Now answered here.


19. Now answered here.


20. 2 Kings 18:27 But the commander replied, "Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall--who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?"

Deemed "offensive." Is it? Life in a besieged city was harsh in ancient times; this is no more offensive than pictures of starving Third World children. This is the first of many places where McKinsey imposes post-Victorian values on ANE culture. See our essay on this topic.


21. Is. 45:7 and Lam. 3:38. See our reply here.


22. Ps. 139:7-11 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me...


vs.


Gen. 11:5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.

Gen. 18:21 ...I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.

1 Kings 19:11-2 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.


Now answered here.


23. Asks how a finite number of sins results in infinite condemnation. We do not agree with this paradigm; see here.


24. Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Now answered here.


Chapter 4: "Contradictions: Numerous, Theological, Chronological, Factual, Philosophical, Ethical" (Eric Vestrup)

Description: In this chapter, McKinsey offers the following polemics to open up the chapter, found on page 71:

Every analyst of the Bible should realize that the Book [the Bible] is a veritable miasma of contradictions, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, poor science, bad math, inaccurate geography, immoralities, degenerate heroes, false prophecies, boring repetitions, childish superstitions, silly miracles, and dry-as-dust discourse.
If there is any aspect in which the Bible is unique among pieces of literature it lies in the number of contradictions it contains. For one to list all of the Bible's inconsistencies would require score of chapters if not several books.

This is very strong wording indeed that is likely to provoke an emotional reaction of either strong agreement with McKinsey's words or strong disagreement. But, the honest thing to do is to investigate the evidence that McKinsey brings forth. Certainly, if even a fraction of his polemics above are true, then we believers have at best a shaky historical foundation for our faith, and at worst our faith is a delusion. W

e must always keep in mind that our faith is a historically based faith whose foundations rest on the alleged occurrence of certain phenomena in human history. If the Bible is as McKinsey claims, then our faith is reduced to a fideistic position or an existential one. Both positions are not satisfying for myself.

So, in this essay, McKinsey's claims are taken and analyzed in the light of the research of a student of Bible issues possessing a genuine interest into whether certain Scripture-related claims are true and is willing to consider the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.


To begin, let me state who the intended audience is for this essay. I am writing this essay for the Tekton site to Christians with the attitude of genuine inquiry. I do not want to be a Christian if the Bible is as McKinsey claims, for I will have nothing on which to base my faith. I do not know how skeptics, freethinkers, and thinkers holding opposite persuasions will react. Regardless, I would hope both sides would at least acknowledge that facts and issues have been presented fairly and honestly here. I shall endeavor to avoid hostile and ad hominem rhetoric that distracts from the issues. Also to be avoided are statements concerning people's character. However, this must not be taken to mean that when I see what is to me a spade I will not call it as such. It is the evidence for and against McKinsey's claims that we must examine. Psychologizing an opponent's position does not address the issues raised, nor do inflammatory words.

Something now should be added concerning the a priori views that I bring to this essay. This must be done so that deductions and contentions concerning the evidence can be separated from my assumptions. I am a Christian and a communicant in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). I approach the Scriptures from the view that the Biblical texts in question are innocent of error until proven guilty.

For those who approach the Biblical texts in question with the opposite framework, it must be said that their approach does evangelical scholarship a favor by keeping it on its toes. It would be best to be able to cheerfully state something like "We will approach the points raised by McKinsey in a completely unbiased way", but it seems that ultimately a person will in practice follow a guilty-until-innocent approach or the opposite one.

Why do I take the innocent-until-guilty approach instead of the guilty-until-innocent approach of the Bible's attackers? It is not an arbitrary decision on my part to take this approach. I consider it the most natural and reasonable of the two starting points because human language and communication break down with the guilty-until-innocent approach. Secular historians give documents from ancient times the benefit of the doubt. When we hear something, we at least for an instant seem to naturally operate under the assumption of the truth of the that something we have heard. It is only when that something overwhelmingly conflicts with our sense of reason that we begin to doubt the truth of that something. Imagine yourself having to verify beyond a shadow of a doubt everything that you say -- imagine yourself being assumed wrong for everything until you could exhibit evidence for it. I personally would not appreciate that approach (and fortunately humans don't operate under that approach) and thus I find no good reason to abandon this approach for the study of Scripture, which, after all was written by human beings (and we believers would also say under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit). The starting point for any study of an allegedly historical document or an alleged ancient account of something is to allow the possibility that what the document says is true in [at the very least] part of what it says. It is strange how people can forget this general (and common-sensical) principle as soon as the Biblical texts are mentioned.

And now, if the reader can permit me a few personal statements which are offered to further understand my background and approach, let me state that I am a new academician by profession, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. I have developed an interest in Christianity-related questions, both positive and negative, through the development of critical thinking skills that mathematics and philosophy have developed in my mind. I am also a former hardened skeptic and thus can lay claim to the right to assert that I have been on both sides and have at times in my life made arguments from both sides. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your persuasion!) I was won over to Christianity by my studies. As of the present I think that I am right with my worldview. Others might say that I just was not a very good skeptic.

And finally, as if this introduction was not long enough, let me state some points that might be painfully obvious to the reader, but should be mentioned just so no misunderstandings arise. In discussing various problems that arise in the Biblical texts, there are two rocky pillars that must one must navigate his mental ship through: the first is to be satisfied with an answer because it alleviates the problem and not on its merits, reasonability, precedent, etc. The second extreme is to fail to recognize that a proposed solution is in fact a reasonable parry to the charge of error and contradiction. There are certain places in this chapter of McKinsey's books where I feel that I would be committing an error of the second kind if I acquiesced to McKinsey's contentions. In other places, I would be committing an error of the first kind (in my opinion) if I disagreed with his negative criticism of previously-offered solutions. These will be mentioned as they arise, and it is left up to the reader to determine for himself or herself whether I am being reasonable or am committing one (or both!) of the errors given above.

Let me state the goal of this essay. I am not here to prove Christianity, nor am I attempting to prove that certain miracles happened at certain times in human history. I am not attempting to prove the veracity of every sentence of Scripture. What I am attempting to do is to show that the allegations of error and contradiction advanced by McKinsey are either fallaciously based or are so inconclusive that any dogmatism for skeptics is unjustified. The reader must decide for himself or herself if my attempt is successful.

2. The Nature of Contradictions.

Here let us briefly consider what a contradiction is. There is a narrow and strict sense in which the word "contradiction" is used, and there is a wider sense in which the word is used. The narrow usage of the word is defined as an objective propositional statement (ops) (that is, a group of words that express a meaningful concept that has an intrinsic truth or falsity to it) that itself contains an ops conjoined to its negation. Some examples of this narrow usage of the word "contradiction" can be given:

Now let us discuss the broad usage of the word contradiction. Often two statements that are hard tor reconcile are called contradictory. For example, the statement "Steve was born in Cook County" is hard to reconcile with the statement "Steve was born in Smith County". These two statements may be called contradictory in the very broad sense. I personally find this usage of the word "contradiction" and its variants to be rather misleading, but the usage of the word "contradiction" in this broad sense is out there and must be dealt with. For the two ops's above, and, in general, for any two statements that are not immediately reconcilable, there are the following options:

The trailing qualifier "when all information is known" keeps us humble when it comes to being overly dogmatic about which of the three positions to take. If Steve was in fact born in Cook County, but then, say, Smith County absorbed Cook County after Steve was born, then this critical piece of information allows us to claim that both statements are true. Without this piece of information, though, our natural instincts would point to the first two possibilities.

It should also be mentioned that when human language, cognition, and idioms of speech are involved, two statements might look contradictory in the strict sense upon first glance, but in fact be reasonably harmonizable. For example, consider the statement that I made to a friend once in a conversation: "faith saves". Not much later in the same conversation I stated that "faith does not save us". Both of these statements at first glance seem quite contradictory, for on the surface it seems that the truth of one of these ops's necessarily implies the falsity of the other. But the nature of human discourse, of human writing, and of human language is much more vibrant and three dimensional than we often give it credit for. The reader should now be made aware of the fact that in the former statement I was using the word "faith" in the Pauline sense: a gift given to us by the Holy Spirit that produces the fruits of repentance and works pleasing to God. In the latter statement I was using "faith" in the sense of mere religious sincerity. It is now seen that there is no logical contradiction between the two statements once this information is made known. Certainly both statements could be false, or one could be true while the other is false, or both could be true, but it is not valid to state that it is necessarily the case that the truth of one excludes the truth of the other.

Another example will perhaps help. Consider the following famous argument:

This syllogism is valid if "men" and "man" in major and minor premises have the exact same meaning. But context indicates that they do not. "Man" is used in the homo sapiens versus non-human life in the first premise, whereas the second premise is using the word in the male human versus female human context. Speaking in the strictest and most formal logical sense, the syllogism may still be true, but in that case it will not be because of the logical structure of the syllogism. (To bail myself of any vats of boiling oil that await me, let me add that the conclusion is NOT true.) I would hope that readers would not find it reasonable to press the fact that the same word "man" is being used in both premises -- it must be taken into account that different shadings are used to the word. Many alleged contradictions in Scripture arise because the basic fact of literary flexibility and multiple shadings of words seem to be lost on skeptics and those who vociferously attack Scripture's trustworthiness.

The above demonstrates the flexibility of human discourse and speech. One might raise the objection that words should not be used in more than one sense, but that objection -- which sounds reasonable in principle -- is vitiated by the plain fact that we humans often (but not always) use words which can have a plethora of shadings and different meanings, with the context hopefully determining the correct shading. In the course of the aforementioned conversation with my friend, the context of our conversation made it clear which shading of "faith" was being used and no confusion arose. For the eavesdropper who could only hear selected tidbits, then confusion would more likely arise than not. Unfortunately, given the flexible nature of human discourse, whether written or spoken, it is actually much more work to reasonably assert a discrepancy in Scripture than skeptics seem to appreciate.

And so it is with the many allegedly contradictory passages that honest students of Scripture come across. Usually, but not always, the problem can be quickly resolved, harmonized, or even solved beyond reasonable doubt if extra information, possibly even non-Biblical information is made available. Sometimes, the available information may make things harder for the defender of the passage in question. And, in some cases, there may just not be any information to evaluate conflicting passages. In this latter case, the a priori of the student manifests itself, for in the darkness of apparently conflicting texts with no illuminating information, the hardened skeptic will have (in his mind) a contradiction or a new tool to question the Bible's truthfulness, and the believer will assert that the discrepancy is but apparent, with future information one day resolving the issue.

In evaluating McKinsey's many claims, we must thus ask the question of whether a reasonable amount of clarifying information has been presented along with the conflicting texts. If extra information presents a reasonable and possible solution to the discrepancy, then we can perhaps still agree with the skeptic that the reasonable and possible solution is after all just only possible and not necessarily the solution, but we cannot agree with those who refuse to consider evidence against their case and maintain that there is a necessary contradiction here. Thus, my approach will be to show that in many alleged discrepancies that McKinsey brings up there is in fact a reasonable solution that may very well be correct, though this possible solution may or may not in fact be the correct solution. Of course, people will have their own definition of what constitutes "reasonableness". The reader might have an intrinsic definition of "reasonable" that agrees with McKinsey's. Or the reader might have one that agrees with me. Or, the reader might have his or her own that is not comparable to either McKinsey's or mine. Ultimately, the reader must decide for himself or herself if my deductions and statements concerning McKinsey's claims are reasonable or are not. And now let us consider some of the points that McKinsey brings up, one by one.

3. On the Number of People who Went to Egypt. Answered here.

4. A Problem With Military Numbers Between 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. Now answered here.

5. A Problem With the Number of Michal's Sons.

Now answered here.

6. Where Did Cain Find His Wife? Answered here.

7. In the Day Thou Eatest Thereof Thou Shalt Surely Die.

Now answered here.

8. Does Wisdom Bring Happiness of Grief?

Now answered here.

9. A Review So Far. It is always good to review one's standpoint so that one might continue to strive for clarity of presentation. So to restate: I am endeavoring in this essay to show that for those who take the innocent-until-guilty approach to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek autographa of Scripture and are willing to let possible evidence convince them that there is a reasonable case against inerrancy, the items addressed in this essay (brought forth as evidence by McKinsey) fall substantially short of convincing proof.

On the other hand, it should be stated again that McKinsey and those who vociferously attack inerrancy approach the Scriptures from the standpoint that any divergence is an error which requires convincing proof to the contrary. If one adopts this tack, then the claim of inerrancy is indeed hard to swallow intellectually. McKinsey's fourth chapter and the copious list of alleged contradictions presented is testimony to this a priori .

For the reader's sake, let me get somewhat personal here. In the copious list of allegations in McKinsey's fourth chapter, one might be inclined to think that with the numerous points raised McKinsey would have a convincing argument for those who hold to an a priori fidelity of Scripture but are willing for reasons of integrity to test that a priori against any charges of error. This is a temptation that I must avoid -- for it is not reasonable to assume that (say) 50 points brought up by somebody yield no convincing arguments. And, indeed it is most unreasonable, given that both parties in the discussion have the same assumptions and evidential framework . Had I the same bag of assumptions as McKinsey, I would have agreed with him after the first or second example. But our assumptions are not the same as his. It has been my observation that both believers and their more militant opponents fail to keep the fact of different starting points in a clear perspective. It is unrealistic to expect to convince someone who approaches the text with different assumptions that certain facts are present and that certain deductions and hypotheses are reasonable. The discussion must be waged over philosophical presuppositions. Skeptics will see contradictions where it pleases them, because they do not consider it reasonable to take context, idiom, genre, linguistics, etc., into consideration. One who approaches the text with a 20th century Western mind and expects a 20th century Western historical account will run into so many contradictions in Scripture that he will not have time to write them all down. One who believes in approaching the text in as Semitic or Greek a fashion as possible, letting idiom and internal factors help clarify shadings, and nuances, and the main points of the text, can parry off many of the errantist's thrusts. Thus, this is why McKinsey and I have the same text before us, yet come to radically different conclusions.

With these points stated, let us return to some selections from McKinsey's list.

10. An Alleged Multi-Discrepancy Between 2 Sam 10:18 and 1 Chr 19:18. Now answered here.

11. The Divergences Between Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. Now answered here. Excursus. The reader who knows Greek and/or Hebrew and takes the time to study Scripture in its original languages probably has one of the critical edition testaments. Most likely, the reader has a UBS Greek New Testament (3rd or 4th edition) and/or a Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece by UBS as well (26th or 27th edition); for the OT the reader probably has the UBS version of Biblia Hebraica . The discussion of the possibility of copyist errors for some of the divergent figures in this section is given by McKinsey:

As you have probably realized by now, the most common excuse [value-laden term ?!] one will hear for the kinds of errors we have noted so far is that a copyist made a mistake...The Book's defenders love this approach because there is no way it can be definitely checked. The situation mimics the story of the man who says that he literally talked to Jesus this morning in his bedroom, Jesus in the flesh. When asked to provide proof he replies that he has none and you'll have to take his word for it. When asked to repeat the event with others present, he will say that the event was unique and can't be repeated. When asked to provide some tangible evidence, such as a piece of Jesus' garment, he will reply that Jesus took everything with him. When asked to provide some pictures, drawings, or other visual aids, he will say that easels and other equipment were not available. In other words, an alibi will be readily provided for any and every question. The `somebody copied something wrong' explanation falls into the same classification and is nothing more than sophisticated intellectual evasion with a liberal overlay of deception. The contradiction remains until apologists can provide evidence to the contrary.
The question in square brackets is my own question, not McKinsey's.

I suppose that the critical apparatus in my Hebrew Bible, the product of thousands of man-hours of tedious scholarship, as well as books such as Aland and Aland's The Text of the New Testament and Wurthwein's The Text of the Old Testament are studies in a field which allows "sophisticated intellectual evasions". I personally would like to hear McKinsey give this speech at a seminar for textual criticism and have him defend his words reasonably. As far as his remark that apologists love the copying error excuse because there is no way that it can definitely be checked, I find myself in the bizarre situation of being psychoanalyzed by a man who has never met me. I would personally love to see what the originals said. The we could have definitive answers as to whether there are errors or not. If there are errors then as an inerrantist I am wrong. If the originals don't have errors then McKinsey is wrong. I would rather be able to have access to the conclusive truth by possessing the autographs. But we don't have the originals. So textual matters are important, even when words by McKinsey argue to the contrary. I would be interested in hearing a rational presentation for his opinions without all of the hostile snarling that pervades his work.

12. Temptations. Now answered here.

13. Midianites or Ishmaelites? Now answered here.

14. Fish or Whale? (It Can't Be Both!) Now answered here.

15. Was Lot Abram's Nephew or Brother? (He Can't Be Both!) Now answered here.

A general note should be made about scholarship here. It is very easy in general to raise questions, and it is often very difficult to answer them. In two minutes, I could ask more questions that are philosophically challenging to classical theism than I could probably answer in a millennium of research. And the same goes for Biblical questions. Certainly one can read the text superficially, not taking into account idiom, context, genre, word-studies, history, archaeology, a working knowledge of the original languages, and so on, and find alleged discrepancies. But when one charges a document with errors, one should be honest and investigate whether such a charge is merited based on the evidence. McKinsey fails, as do the some of the others who feel called to attack the trustworthiness of Scripture, to begin a fair examination of the evidence for and against a position. If McKinsey knows anything about the original languages, his work certainly does not show or exhibit such knowledge. If McKinsey appreciates context, genre, and idiom, as any thoughtful study of literature both secular and sacred should entail, he does not exhibit such appreciation. If he values honesty and fairness in discussions, he does not exhibit it with his cavalier dismissals of other apologists' writings and with the temper tantrums that mar his writings in many places. If he has a basic core of civility and gentlemanship, he fails to exhibit it. In short, McKinsey fails to prove to me that he deserves to be taken seriously in good discussions of problems and facets related to Scripture.

16. On the Satan/Yahweh Census Incitation of David. The reader is encouraged to see the most excellent article by Glenn Miller on this issue in his Christian Thinktank here

17. The Witness of Jesus: True or Not True? Now answered here.

18. Who was Joseph's Father? I am personally amazed at the fact that this allegation is trumpeted so often. McKinsey states "Matt 1:16 states that Joseph's father is `Jacob', while Luke 3:23 says it's `Heli'. The reader who wants a fine discussion and probable resolution of the differences of names in the Matthean and Lukan genealogies is referred to the commentaries of William Hendriksen on Matthew (pp. 105-130) and pages 220-7 of Luke (volumes in his New Testament Commentary series, and to a most excellent discussion by Norval Geldenhuys in his New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) volume on Luke, pages 150-155. (These page numbers correspond to the latest printing of Geldenhuy's classic commentary by Eerdman's Publishing. I do not know how the page numbers line up with the earlier printings.) After studying these clerics' solutions and hypotheses, I find nothing about them that is unreasonable. I would be interested to hear from any skeptics or serious students of the Bible who could make the case that the hypothesized solutions of either Hendriksen or Geldenhuys are not feasible. And the serious student should study these solutions for profit. Until skepticism can bring up some honest and reasonable objections to the hypothesized solutions of Geldenhuys and Hendriksen (which solutions themselves are the "classical" solutions), students of the Bible who are inerrantists have very reasonable reconciliations for the differences among the names in the Matthean and Lukan genealogies. I personally wished that McKinsey would have explored the options and presented his findings to the readers so that his argument's strength could be fairly evaluated.

19. For Your Perusal Speaking on apologetics, McKinsey states:

One can't help but become very weary with the enormous amount of intellectual dishonesty that is so clearly evident in most apologetic literature. Defenders of the Bible are far more closely allied to the Book and Jesus than they will ever be to truth and objectivity. Defending Jesus and the Bible at all costs are paramount in their thought processes. Their war cry is: damn the facts, man the barricades.
It is a strange feeling to find myself suddenly associated with people devoid of truth and objectivity when I have always been associated with those people who do have truth and objectivity. I have spent not a few dollars and hours studying books and arguments pertaining to Biblical issues. I have taught myself the languages and seek to learn more languages so as to help me understand the text so that I could approach the texts with honesty and objectivity. It is also strange how McKinsey can proclaim with complete assurance that my thought processes make defending Jesus and the Bible the priority of priorities. My thought processes were dedicated to writing my doctoral dissertation in mathematical statistics and submitting the thesis chapters to various professional journals so as to help my tenure prospects. Apparently, he knows the state of my mind and my life events better than I do. And, somehow, my entire essay would appear to fall under the war cry of "Damn the facts!" Am I really that deluded or do I ignore facts to protect a dogma that no rational man can hold? Apparently McKinsey thinks so. Considering that McKinsey has never met me in person (and he is invited to), he might want to learn restraint in making hasty ad hominem generalizations about those people who fail to see eye-to-eye with him on certain issues. Why is this difference of opinion so enraging to him? Why the intense personal affronts and continual baiting of those who disagree with him? I cannot answer these questions, but I am curious. Perhaps he can inform me at some later time in a civil tone of voice that befits a mature adult. It is one thing to discuss somebody's research, theses, and views -- it is quite another thing to speak in hateful and provocative language about the somebody. Skeptics have every right to disagree, and some very good skeptics have very good arguments that cause one to think and spur one on to further personal investigation. For that I am grateful. Yet, why the hate on McKinsey's part? I do not know.

20. Is John the Baptist the "Second Elijah" or Not? Now answered here.

21. How did Judas Die? Now answered here.

22. Who Bought the Field: Judas or The Priests of the Temple? Now answered here.

23. Who Killed Saul? (Or How Did Saul Die?) Answered here.

24. How Old was Jehoiachin When He Became Monarch? 25. How Long did Jehoiachin Reign? Now answered here. The reader is encouraged to examine McKinsey's fourth chapter carefully, and to see the highly cavalier fashion with which text-critical questions are shrugged off or pushed aside. If McKinsey knows anything about the guiding principles of sound textual criticism, he does not begin to exhibit such knowledge. As a result, readers of his book are robbed of a chance to see both sides in order that they can have a good survey of the situation.

26. Seventh Day or Tenth Day? Now answered here.

27. How Many Chief Officers: 250 or 550? Now answered here.

28. Alleged Discrepancies in the Gospels (pp. 82-3).* Here McKinsey has compiled a list of alleged discrepancies between parallel accounts in the four gospels. The synoptic gospels have long been a supposed feeding ground for skeptics and those who question the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. And, when imposing lists such as McKinsey's are presented to a believer for the first time, such lists can be quite rattling.

A personal note is presented for people's edification. I was very rattled the very first time I ran into my first list of gospel contradictions. There were so many on the list -- how could all of the alleged contradictions be wrong? I believe that we must follow the facts where they lead. And let us not be deluded as to the importance of the trustworthiness of the gospels. If skeptics can indeed demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the gospels, read in the original language with a sensitivity to idiom, internal literary styles, word-usages, and the like, have errors, then we are placed in an epistemological darkroom with regards to the historicity and the words of Christ. For if there are errors in the Greek autographa of the gospels, then those of us two millenia removed from the alleged historical events that give the Christian faith its non-existential character have to be infallible in separating truth from error. I can vouch for my fallibility, and it is a safe bet that most people will vouch for their own as well.

The key to studying the differences and divergences in the gospels is to always remember that style, structure, idiom, and syntax are flexible creatures. Sometimes it is clear that a particular gospel writer is grouping things together in a topical order and not a linear chronological order that we 20th century Westerners assume and often take for granted. If this fact is lost sight of, then one will find an abundance of contradictions in the gospels.

More exhortations from somebody who has fought in the trenches: sometimes one gospel writer gives a more complete account than the other. Sometimes in similar accounts different perspectives will be emphasized. Sometimes it is lost sight of that as an itinerant preacher Jesus said the same thing more than once. Other times it is lost sight of that certain accounts are only superficially parallel. There are other factors to consider as well. The important thing in approaching the gospels honestly and faithfully (according to literary standards) is to conscientiously try to remember that the 20th century idioms of speech and conventions cannot be forced on the text.

Even if one is careful as the above paragraphs warn, there are still going to be a few places where research does not allow one to be conclusive either way. For me, how John reckons the hours in various accounts is still a bit mysterious -- perhaps I am too fussy with the current solutions offered, (see Morris' revised The Gospel of John , pp. 684-95 for a most excellent and sober presentation of the problem), or perhaps my guardedness is proper.

So when a person runs into problems in the gospels, and it is certain that a person will, does this prove the skeptical claims that there are errors in the originals? I would suppose that the answer depends on your presuppositions. For myself, it is to be expected with certainty that even if four people faithfully describe a person and selected events in that person's life, there will be items that appear to be hard (or even next to impossible!) to reconcile. If we were there and knew all of the facts, we would be in a position to more authoritatively evaluate matters. But we weren't there in Palestine 2000 years ago, and the gospels present only a few selected pictures of Jesus' and the disciples' lives. We have no right to be dogmatic either way about errors here and errors there. Believers in many instances should not propound a solution as being necessarily correct, but should be content with asserting and reasoning that a solution has reasonable probability. Likewise, skeptics must exercise discipline before jumping to dogmatic conclusions of the opposite nature. We are all, believer and skeptic alike, in the same boat as not having much information. Let us stay humble and acknowledge the particular strengths of good arguments for or against errors in the originals.

My friend and colleague JP Holding informs me that the list of alleged gospel contradictions put forth by McKinsey have been addressed in the series of essays (which I find most excellent and solid) here. If competent skeptics have any factual or logical rebuttals to these essays on harmonization in the gospels, I would appreciate being informed of them via correspondence.

Another collection of heavyweight essays is written by apologist extraordinaire Glenn Miller in his most excellent "Unravelling Wittgenstein's Net: A Christian Thinktank" website. Selected essays for the reader's benefit are found on the following URL's:

29. Does Jesus Judge or Not? John 5:22 versus John 8:15 and 12:47. Now answered here.

30. Matt 26:52 versus Luke 22:36. Now answered here.

31. If the Father Has Given All Things into Jesus' Hand, Then How Can Jesus Tell James and John That Sitting At His Right Or Left Hand Is Not His To Give? Now answered here.

32. A Most Important Question: Does Faith Alone (Sola Fida) Save or Not? Paul vs. James. Now answered here.

33. Are Children To Be Punished or Not To Be Punished For Their Parents' Deeds? Now answered here.

34. Is God the Author of Evil or Not? Now answered here.

35. The Quest for a Righteous Man. Now answered here.

36. John 10:30 versus Matt 27:46. Now answered here.

37. Unclean Spirits from God? Now answered here.

38. On Swearing. Now answered here.

39. To Kill or Not? Now answered here.

40. General Comments The remark that it takes time and effort to study the Bible is usually greeted with surprise even in the Church. Yet I have found that time and effort are necessary staples of patient study. We are dealing with documents millenia old, translated from other languages, written for people in different cultures and who had far different customs than we Occidentals have. As such, we must continually realize that Scripture is not a 20th century "how-to" manual that tells us everything we want to know or explains everything to our satisfaction. Skeptics often fall prey to the idea that Scripture must be as we would think it to be in the 20th century. And when this 20th century ideal is violated, the litany against Scripture begins. And yet, such a litany is fallacious, for where is it necessarily the case that Scripture must fit out 20th century ideals? One can emote all one wants [as McKinsey does] about this and that, but where does this excuse one from patient study of the texts and a continual consideration of idiom, context, genre, etc? Emotion is not logical argument. Emotion, while used quite liberally as a substitute for reason in our postmodern culture, still does not make the text errant or inerrant. My emoting will not change whether Scripture is true or not. Nor will any skeptic's emoting.

I hope that long ago the reader has realized that most of the allegations of contradiction which were brazenly trumpeted by McKinsey [and others throughout history] really have no foundation in logic or critical thinking. The reader might have been overwhelmed with the sheer number of allegations, and one could not be blamed for thinking that there had to be some undeniable allegation in the whole lot. Yet, I believe with all intellectual honesty that in all of what has been presented so far, there is not one compelling case for contradiction. There are a few interesting problems indeed in places where harmonization is not obvious. Yet, it is the height of intellectual arrogance to pronounce the case as settled, for we don't know all of the facts.

We Christian students should never be afraid of acknowledging that there are places in Scripture where the ultimate solution escapes us. McKinsey has listed a few places. And yet, the case is not convincing. If there are/were errors in the aforementioned texts of Scripture, we don't have enough evidence as of yet to make a dogmatic pronouncement. There simply are too many unknowns in these places to be dogmatic either way. We cannot prove that the texts are true with respect to idiom, language, genre, etc, and skeptics really cannot prove the reverse. All both sides can do is study the issue and remain humble in light of the dearth of facts.

So why do I call myself an inerrantist in the light of what I have said above? The answer is that enough of Scripture which I can verify has checked out to be true so that I can reasonably have confidence that the areas where all or most of the facts are unknown would indeed check out were I to come into greater knowledge of the facts. In other words, the track record of those verifiable parts of Scripture allows me to have confidence in the as-of-the-present unverifiable parts of Scripture. This principle is not one that I apply to Scripture in contradistinction to all other things. It is a principle that I apply to everything. If I can trust something for most of what it says, then it is reasonable to have confidence that the unverifiable statements are true. This confidence does not excuse the student of studying the problem areas, but it gives him a reasonable justification for being humble when there are surface discrepancies that are not immediately resolvable.

Therefore, when skeptics make claims that our case is not proven until all of the Bible is proven true, they are correct in the strict logical sense. My position of inerrancy is not rigorously proven until all of Scripture is shown to be true. And we must realize that there will never be a day when this will happen, for there are some questions about the past that will apparently never be answered definitively. But skepticism of McKinsey's stripe really doesn't accomplish much by beating on the areas where facts are not known, for these question areas are historical mysteries to both sides equally. Merely raising the possibility that something cannot be true does not do anything for demonstrating that a statement [or set of statements] is necessarily false and/or contradictory.

41. On Blasphemy . Now answered here.

Excursus to 41 -- Ignorance on Display. In the discussion of blasphemy, McKinsey later makes the rhetorical question "Does that make sense considering the fact that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are equal? How can you believe in Jesus and not the Holy Spirit and vice-versa?" The Nicene and Athanasian creeds of the Church completely deny that the Jesus and the Holy Spirit are equal in the universal sense that McKinsey poses. The creeds assert that the Christ is true God and true man, whereas the Spirit is "Lord and giver of life", that the Person of Christ is not to be confused with the Person of the Holy Spirit, etc. Here, the person rattled by McKinsey's claims or one who is giving them credence should be made aware that McKinsey is unaware of the most basic teachings of Christianity concerning the nature of God. Again, McKinsey deserves a 10 for emotion, and a 0 for actual knowledge in this defining doctrine of the Church.

42. Lying Spirits. Now answered here.

43. Inspiration and the Lord's Words. See here and here for relevant discussion. <.

44. Rest, Discipline and Tribulation. Now answered here.

45. Resurrection or Not? Now answered here.

46. Who Rose from the Dead First? Now answered here.

47. Ascent to Heaven. Now answered here.

48. Flesh and Blood and Heaven Too. McKinsey charges thus:

The text of 1 Cor 15:50 declares that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, while Heb 11:5 says that Enoch went to heaven without dying. So flesh and blood did enter heaven as did Elijah in the chariot.
Answered between this and the link in entry 47 above.

49. Anger. Now answered here.

50. To Covet or Not. Now answered here.

51. Running. Now answered here.

52. What About the Great Commission? Now answered here.

53. Bearing Burdens. Now answered here.

54. Contention and Striving. Now answered here.

55. Sinning and Abiding in God. Answered here.

56. Some More Claims of Error. Answered here.

57. How Many Baths? Now answered here.

58. How many horsemen? Now answered here.

59. How Old Was Ahaziah at Inauguration? Answered here.

Conclusions on McKinsey's Allegations. McKinsey wraps things up with

Beyond any doubt the number of biblical contradictions available for analysis borders on the incredible. Additional bombs would only make the rubble bounce. More than enough examples have been provided to convince any reasonably open-minded person that the Bible is a fraud.
I hope to have shown in this essay that despite all of the bluster and despite the many allegations of error and contradiction, there is not one convincing case for an error in the autographa. A large majority of the allegations were readily dealt with on the basis of McKinsey's failing to note the context. Some allegations were handled because McKinsey did not bother to read the Greek or Hebrew text. Some allegations were handled by noting that McKinsey read a contradiction into passages that dealt with different topics. Some allegations were handled by noting that McKinsey did not take textual criticism into account.

What we have seen is that, apart from a very small minority of charges, the allegations are groundless when examined carefully. The small minority that can present problems seem beyond any dogmatic claims by either the apologist or the skeptic. Perhaps these are genuine errors and contradictions. Perhaps they are not. We just don't have any information to make an informed judgement either way. So the case is inconclusive for those charging error and contradiction to these passages. Perhaps new information will come to light which helps one to make a more informed judgement. Until then, it is wise to refrain from making strong assertions either way. Those of us in the inerrancy position will maintain that it is reasonable to give the text the benefit of the doubt in areas where we lack information.

I write this paragraph for the student of Scripture who is rattled by skeptical claims. First, the student should not be overwhelmed or intimidated by the bravado of many skeptics. Second, the student should always realize that it is quite easy to sound and look informed and educated when attacking Scripture. McKinsey's list of contradictions took about 17 pages in his book. This essay, when printed, takes 50+ pages, and many of the allegations were handily disposed. It is quite easy to attack Scripture and to look correct without further investigation; it is quite dull and unexciting [and not too glorious] to actually research the claims themselves. Third, the student should have access to the original languages or at least be willing to look that way. Fourth, the student should realize that there will invariably be some places that make one pause and scratch his head. In a book as large as the Bible, with so many different authors writing at different times, such places are really inevitable. Yet, one must always approach the unknown from the known and not the other way around. So we don't have a necessarily correct solution to some problems; that does not affect the fact that we do have clear solutions to alleged problems in many other places. Expect problems here and there, and don't be surprised if these problems are not solved easily. Nothing in Scripture promises that reading Scripture is easy and effort-less. It is a red herring fallacy when skeptics make the claim that the difficulty in reading Scripture somehow implies its invalidity. Remember that they have to prove [not just assert!] that passages are necessarily contradictory. I hope I am not sounding too pedantic here. I just write this as one who has had to learn these things on his own.

I write this paragraph for skeptics: I believe that what I have written is fair and faithful to the ideal of sound inquiry. Any factual errors or well-argued rebuttals to my arguments are welcomed by myself. Much of what I have learned in the defense of Scripture has come from healthy dialectics with skeptics. I have been corrected at times and I have done my share of correcting. If those of you who call themselves skeptics want to be taken seriously, then you will have to present far better and more detailed allegations than has McKinsey in his fourth chapter. Maybe some of you will end up convincing me that I am in the wrong position. Maybe not. But if you consider McKinsey's and Farrell Till's work to be rigorous and logical, you will not convince me, nor will you educate me. If you aspire to be more logical than these two representatives, you shall always have my attention and friendly curiosity as to your opinions and reasoning.

I offer the following conclusions in a matter-of-fact sense, and not as an ad hominem type of argument. I conclude that (1) McKinsey has shown himself to be completely unqualified to speak on Biblical issues; (2) McKinsey has shown himself illiterate when it comes to context, genre, idiom, etc; (3) McKinsey has shown himself ignorant of textual criticism; (4) McKinsey has shown himself ignorant of the languages; (5) McKinsey, if debated on these issues, would lose to somebody who did know context, genre, idiom, the languages, etc; and (6) McKinsey is incapable in this area of presenting sustained logical argumentation.

This essay is already much longer than I expected it to be. I hope that it has done some service to honest students of Scripture. What started out as a little essay by a well-read layman turned into something much larger. If any of the research in this essay helps anybody to understand the Scriptures better and to study them any more systematically, I shall be content.


Chapter 5: "Jesus I"

Description: First of four chapters with Jesus as focus. Seven sections: Resurrection, Crucifixion, Ascension, Genealogy, Ancestry, Historicity and Extrabiblical Sources, and Pagan Figures.



Resurrection - 4 items.


1. Repeat of previous objection.


2. A series of objections about differences between the Gospels. Rather than answer these individually, we refer the reader to our essay on Harmonization and Glenn Miller's essay on that topic and Wenham's Easter Enigma.


3.Eccl. 3:19-21 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?

Eccl. 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.

Job 7:9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he who goes down to the grave does not return.

Is. 26:14 They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.

1 Tim. 6:15-16 which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Now answered here.


4. Repeat of previous objection, in slightly different format.



Crucifixion - 12 items.


The majority of the objections here are "harmonization" issues. We have covered some of these in detail elsewhere or else they are extremely simple: Matt. 27:28 vs. Mark 15:17//John 19:2 (the color of Jesus' robe - I challenge anyone to discern a difference between those colors), for example.

Matt. 27:33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).


vs.


Luke 23:33 (KJV) And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.


It is said that these provide contradictory locations for the Crucifixion - though it is added that "Some apologists disputably allege Golgotha is the Hebrew rendering while Calvary is Latin."

But there is no "disputably" about it. Both words mean the same thing ("skull").

As added notes on this subject:


Ascension - 1 item. See here.




Genealogy - 7 objections.

See Glenn Miller's work on this subject.



Ancestry

A general objection: "Christians should be glad people aren't judged by their ancestry" in light of Jesus' ancestors including bad folks like Rahab.

No has asserted otherwise. This is merely well-poisoning.



Historicity and Extrabiblical Sources

See here.


Pagan Figures

Two paragraphs endorsing the "pagan borrowing" notion. See Glenn Miller's work on this subject and ours.


Chapter 6: "Jesus II"

Description: Second chapter with Jesus as focus. Sections: Non-Messiah, Debunked, Incarnation, False Prophet, Virgin Birth, Trinity. This chapter purports to examine Jesus' credentials and determine whether Jesus "meets the requirements laid down throughout the Bible as the one who is to be recognized as the messiah, the savior of humanity." [109] ...A number of these objections are either repeated elsewhere or are answered by material outside of this page.

Non-Messiah

1. Repeat of previous objection.


2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Objections about genealogy of Jesus; see Glenn Miller's work on this subject.


7, 8. Misunderstanding of typology. See here.


Debunked

1. Repeat of previous objection.


2. Misapprehension of typology. See above. We'll offer one example. In one case Nahum 1:11 ("There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.") is pitted against Is. 9:6 ("For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."), and it is asked why the verse in Nahum is not applied to Jesus while the one is Isaiah is.

Considering that Nahum's book is a message to Nineveh (1:1), it is quite unlikely that one could make even a typological application here, unless one can show that Jesus somehow "came out of" Nineveh; moreover, the appellation in Nahum is to a wicked counselor, which one must show Jesus was.


3. Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. (Also Job 25:4, 15:14)

Said to operate against the possibility of Jesus being born sinless; ignores the proverbial and therefore non-absolute nature of the passages in question, as well as that they are merely records of what was said and therefore not, of necessity, true teachings.


4. Similar misuse of Ps. 8:4 and Ps. 37:25.


5. Misapprehension of typology; see link above.


Incarnation

See entries in Encyclopedia for Dan. 2:11 and Gen. 6:3.


False Prophet

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Repeats of previous objections.


7. John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.


vs.

Matt. 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Now answered here.


8. Mark 10:29-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Now answered here.


9. Matt. 26:64-5 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Said to be unfulfilled since the high priest never saw any such thing in his lifetime. McKinsey fails to understand the eschatological context of the statements. No Jew would have interpreted this to mean that he would one day look out the window and see Jesus riding by on a cloud. The language expresses symbolically the exaltation of the Son of Man, which the high priest did indeed live to "see" in the Resurrection and in the foundation of the new community of believers. (See N. T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God.) See more here.


10. Matt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


vs.


Matt. 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

and

John 7:34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

Now answered here.


11. Matt. 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Parallel Mark 10:33-4, Luke 18:32-3)


vs.


John 19:14-18, 23

The former said to contradict the latter which indicate that Jews were involved in the killing of Jesus. McKinsey omits the verses previous which indicate the Jewish role of delivering him unto the Gentiles.


12. Matt. 17:12-13 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

Said to be in error since Jesus was not beheaded as John the Baptist was. The "likewise" does not refer to method of execution but to the "have done unto him" whatever they wanted. "Likewise" does not have to mean "in exactly the same manner with absolutely no variations." If it did, McKinsey could object that e.g., even if both were beheaded, one was beheaded with a sharp axe and the other with a dull one.


13. Matt. 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

Said to be in error since John the Baptist didn't restore anything. The Greek word here has the connotation of reconstitution; in that sense, John did indeed "restore" something, inasmuch as he paved the way for the new covenant offered by Jesus.


14. Repeat of previous objection.


15. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.


vs.

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (Also John 13:21, 25-27)

Matt. 26:56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

The alleged problem: Jesus supposedly "lost" some sheep in the second set of verses. The first two verses do not contradict the third, for Judas was not one of the sheep. John 18:9 and 17:12 complement each other and the former is informed by the latter since it precedes it. The last has no application for the point of the second and third is loss by death.


16. Matt. 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Now answered here.


17. Now answered here.


18. John 14:13-4 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Said to be easily shown false, and indeed it can be if read outside the social context. God's will in the matter is presumed to be a pre-condition for any prayer or petition in Judaism; to ask for something in someone's name presumes, under the Hebrew rubric that name = authority, that you have permission and clearance to use the authority given and would not abuse it.


19. Rev. 3:11 Behold, I come quickly:

2,000 years is said to disprove this verse, but it was fulfilled in 70 AD (see here).


20. John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Said to be disproven by the Dark Ages. McKinsey has apparently not been aware that historians no longer use this prejudicial term, preferring to call it the "Early Middle Ages," and hardly agree that Christianity caused it to any serious extent (it was the Black Plague that was the most critical factor).


21. Repeat of previous objection.


Virgin Birth

1. Cites verses where Joseph is called the "father" of Jesus. (John 6:42, Matt. 13:55, Luke 2:48, etc.) Some of these are recorded perceptions of people who obviously would not know of the virginal conception (like the townspeople of Nazareth). Others are a case of Mary speaking publicly, where we would hardly expect her to say, "I and this man who is not really your father..."


2. Repeats of objections re the genealogy of Jesus.


3. Repeat of previous objection on Job 14:4, with the added note of purification of Mary indicated in Luke 2:22-4, which has nothing to do with Jesus needing purification.


4. The old saw about Is. 7:14; see Glenn Miller's item on that verse.


5. A critique of the Catholic doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, which we will not defend.


6. An observation that several OT figures had births that McKinsey thinks were more spectacular or miraculous, which reflects his own opinion well, and really doesn't make a lot of difference.

As a side note, McKinsey downplays the miraculous nature of the virgin birth by suggesting that such a birth is not miraculous, since artificial insemination can produce a virgin birth. This does well to remind us that it is the conception that was miraculous, not the birth per se, but one wants to ask how McKinsey thinks artificial insemination was done in the first century.


Trinity

Various issues about the Trinity. The major issue is that the Trinity is contradictory. Contradiction comes about when one says that "A" is also "non-A", but that is not what the Trinity states. The Trinity doctrine states that God is "A" and "3B" - one essence, but three persons. This is not in violation of the law of non-contradiction at all.

On this subject, we refer the reader to Glenn Miller's trinity series and several works on this page, notably the claims of Jesus (here) and especially our analysis of Wisdom theology.

We consider that between these items every one of McKinsey's objections are answered and every concern he presents is alleviated. Neither het nor his sources Gerald Sigal, Shmuel Golding, or John Biddle have any concepption of how the Trinity works or of the Jewish background of the concept.

Unlike many of the apologists McKinsey quotes, I see no reason to resort to describing the Trinity as a "mystery" or as somehow incomprehensible.

Here is one miscellaneous note: 2 Cor. 4:4 ("In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.") is cited as a problem of some sort, inasmuch as the devil is called a "god" just as Jesus is. This verse identifies the Devil as the "god of this world," however -- not as the Wisdom or Word of God. The "god" belongs (within the obvious context of Jewish thought) in sarcastic quote marks; it reflects the position given the devil by the world.

Sources for Chapter 6

  1. Brow.GJ -- Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John I-XII. Doubleday, 1966.
  2. Gue.Mk -- Guelich, Robert A. Mark 1-8:26. Waco: Word.

Chapter 7: "Jesus III"

Description: A third chapter on Jesus in two sections on "Character" and "Deceptiveness", comprising 59 objections. At this point, we have covered so much of EBE that quite half of the objections in this chapter are repeated in whole or in part elsewhere. The chapter introduction includes an allusion to Mark 10:18.



1. John 7:8-10

2. Matthew 5:22, 23:19; Luke 11:40

3. Matthew 5:44 vs various cites

4. Mark 10:19, John 13:34


5. Matt. 15:1-3

6. Luke 6:1-4

7. Luke 12:4 vs. various cites

8. Luke 8:43-5

41. Mark 13:32

See commentary.


9.Matthew 5:22

10. Mark 2:15.


11. Matthew 27:46


12. John 18:37


13. Luke 22:31-3


14. John 20:17

15. John 2:4


16. Luke 14:26


17. Matt. 5:39

18. Matthew 15:28

19. Repeat of prior objection.

20. John 3:13


21. Matthew 26:18


22. Mark 9:25-6


23. Mark 8:35

24. Revelation 22:16


25. John 7:38 -- despite McKinsey, this qualifies as an allusion, although it does beg the question (as does the doubting side) of Jesus' ability to claim the allusion.

26. Repeat of prior objection.

27. Matthew 10:34, etc.


28. Matthew 11:29-30


29. Mark 7:27

30. Matt. 9:13//Mark 10:18

31. Mark 6:10


32. John 5:31, 8:14


33. Matthew 5:16, etc


34. Luke 16:9, 13

35. Matthew 19:26//Mark 9:29

36. Matthew 12:12

37. Matthew 27:11, etc.

38. Matthew 28:18, 20:23

39. Mark 10:11

40. Matthew 28:20


41. See above.


42. Luke 6:37, John 7:24


43. John 8:15, etc


44. John 9:5

45. Matt. 12:40, John 12:24

46. Mark 9:50; Matt. 13:12; John 3:13

47. John 8:50, etc.

48. Matthew 7:7-8


49. Mark 10:29-30

50. Luke 15:7

51. Mark 8:11-12, etc.

52. Matthew 27:46//John 12:27


53.Matt. 9:18, 24-5

54. Mark 10:18


55. Matthew 24:35//Ecclesiastes 1:4

56. John 20:9

57. Matt. 4:10

58. John 5:37

59. Mark 16:17-18


Chapter 8 is outside our subject interest.


Chapter 9: "The Character of Biblical Figures"

Description: Accusations against the character of God, the patriarchs, the matriarchs, the prophets, and Peter. We will address only those objections regarding God, which encompass 33 items.

While not necessarily endorsing any of the remaining material, we would point out that no one doubts that many humans of the Bible did immoral things. No one suggests that we ought to read aloud in Sunday School to children the story of Lot and his daughters; no more so would we expose a child of suggested age to the evening news.

Likewise, obviously, such instances of human imperfection are described in the Bible not for emulation, but for education, just as is the case for similar descriptions in secular history books. I daresay McKinsey would accuse the OT and NT writers of whitewashing had every person in the Bible emerged as an angel.


1. Is. 45:7, Lam. 3:38

2. 2 Chron. 18:22

3. 1 Sam. 16:1-2

4. Gen. 2:17


5. Jer. 25:27

6. Prov. 26:10


7. Judg. 1:19


8. Malachi 2:3

9. Jonah 3:4, 10; Gen. 15:13//Exod. 12:40; Gen. 35:10, 46:2

10. 2 Sam. 12:11-12

11. Hosea 1:2

12. Num. 16:35 -- simply "argument by outrage" with the presumption that God has no right to deliver a just judgment.


13. Gen. 7:21 -- ditto.

14. Job 5:2

15. Jer. 23:24, etc.


16. Gen. 3:9, etc.

17. Ex. 32:14, etc.


18. Ex. 4:22-3


19. Deut. 10:17, etc.

20. Slavery and the Bible

21. Deut. 23:2

22. Ezek. 20:26, etc.

23. Jer. 19:9, etc.

24. Josh. 14:2, etc.

25. Josh. 11:6

26. Deut. 22:28-9

27. Ezek. 4:12

28. Gen. 4:8-15

29. Gen. 38:9-10

30. Is. 3:17

31. Ezek. 9:6 -- mere argument by outrage. 1 Sam. 15:3 --- used to charge brutality; see here as applicable Glenn Miller's essay on the destruction of the Canaanites.


32. Answered here.

33. Multi-part charges of hypocrisy against God, summarized by this statement: "If it's wrong for us, then it should be wrong for God."

Let it be said bluntly: God owns us and has every right to do as He pleases, and He does it justly, even if we think otherwise.

More specifics include charging the Holy Ghost with adultery with Mary (the sin of adultery involves sexual contact - not miraculous overshadowing); finding of contradiction between ENGLISH verses of the OT and NT based on the same or similar English words, with no concern for the nuances of the original Hebrew or Greek; misreadings of proverbial literature, and repeats of many objections found elsewhere.



Chapter 10: "Injustice"

Description: This chapter addresses some philosophical objections to Christianity. All of these issues have been addressed elsewhere, so all we have are links in reply:

The subjects of Evil, Innocents, Suffering, and Hell are addressed by Glenn Miller here.

The subject of sexism is addressed by Miller here, and slavery here.

Atonement is addressed, based on the objections, here. Heaven issue is addressed within this item. Original Sin is addressed here.


Chapter 11: "Science"

Description: Six objection sets titled Mathematics, False Science, Geography, Flood, Creationism, Biblical Day. The latter three topics are outside of our purview and will not be addressed. The tone is set by our subject in describing the Bible as "a veritable miasma of poor science, bad math, and inaccurate geography, all with a heavy overlay of mythology and folklore." [209] The introduction also repeats some previous arguments about the use of imprecise numbers.


Mathematics

1. 1 Chron. 3:22

2. 1 Chron. 25:3

3. Josh. 15:33ff

4. 1 Kings 7:23

5. 1 Chron. 13:19-20

6. Josh. 15:21ff.

7. 2 Chron. 21:20, 22:1-2

8. Repeat of prior objection.

9. Josh. 19:2ff.

10. Ez. 2:3-64


11. Num. 3:17-39.


False Science


1. Lev. 11:19


2. Lev. 11:20-1


3. Lev. 11:23


4. Lev. 11:6


5. Deut. 14:7

6. Gen. 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Dismissed, like all miracles, as unscientific and therefore impossible. Let it only be noted that the topic of the miraculoush has been discussed by intelligent philosphers over thousands of years, and cannot be dealt with so cavilierly.


7. Gen. 30:37-9

8. 2 Pet. 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Simple denigration of the miraculous; answer same as #6 above.


9. 1 Sam. 2:8, etc.

10. Josh. 10:13//Hab. 3:11

11. Gen. 11:6-9. The Tower of Babel incident; again mere denigration of the miraculous.


12. John 12:24


13. Is. 11:12, etc

14. Mark 16:18

15. Matt. 13:31-2

16. Deut. 32:11

17. Lev. 13:9-13

18. Luke 1:44

19. 2 Kings 5:27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

The usual litany against miracles is offered; the answer is the same as above.


20. Lev. 11:21


21. Gen. 3:16. Usual litany against miracles, and original sin, which we refer to in another chapter.


Geography


1. Matt. 2:1-2

2. Matthew 4:8

3. Matt. 19:1

4. Repeat of prior objection.

5. Mark 5:1


6. Matt. 4:12-13

7. Matt. 4:13-15

8. Gen. 2:10-14. An objection to the accuracy of pre-Flood geography, which is rather odd, since if the Flood is true, obviously geography would have been markedly different prior to it.


9. Repeat.

10. Acts 22:8

11. Mark 7:31

12. Ex. 14:9

13. 1 Kings 17:3

14. 1 Kings 9:26

15. Josh. 1:3-4

#16-19.


Sources for Chapter 11


Chapter 12 (Mike Shelton)

Most of McKinsey's arguments in this chapter involve taking proverbial literature literally.



This Chapter of EBE perhaps goes to the heart of the Christian Faith. Although Belief is an extremely important tenet of Christianity (we walk by faith, not by sight), one thing is very true about Christianity – it is historical in nature. It’s a believable Faith, a rational Faith, with solid touchy-feely connectors. Using common rules of evidence that any competent historian and lawyer would utilize, one could come to a reasonable conclusion that Ronald Reagan was one of the past Presidents of the United States; that Winston Churchill was once the Prime Minister of England; that John Paul Jones is entombed below the main chapel of the United States Naval Academy; that Vikings used to conduct regular raids against Ireland. The recent historical items are easy, because they are still relatively fresh in historical parlance. However, as one goes further back in time, one sees apathy and skepticism increase toward things historical, even though the same rules of evidence are applied. Additionally, one encounters embellished accounts of historical figures that are the stuff of legend. We must acknowledge that, truly indeed, the serious historian must work harder to sift through the wheat and chaff to arrive at the more or less correct conclusion.

However, with all that aside, some very able historians have been able to assemble credible accounts of the Vikings, the rich Irish history of early Christianity, travels of Martin Luther, the unfortunate slave trade of black Africans, and so forth. Finally, we arrive about 2000 years ago – indeed, was this man called Jesus a real historical person in time and space? With the application of the writings of Josephus and the immensely accurate archaeological work of Sir William Ramsay, one can establish physical evidence congruently with the Biblical writings of men who continually describe the works of a Spirit Being – a Being Who claims to work outside of time and space, Who has always been, a transcendent Being Who has revealed Himself as the Creator God – present as One God manifested in Three Persons. If one can believe that water can co-exist in three physical states at once, then one gets the idea of the Triune God. It still requires Faith, of which God is the Author, but this Faith is verifiable, which I can fully attest to by miracles, a subject covered in this review.

Background

I have had the distinct pleasure to know JP Holding for about 18 months or so, first meeting online, then later with the incredible fortune of timing to meet him personally in January 1998, while we were both in the same area at the same time. My forte is not journalism, and I am extremely, extremely late with this response for a variety of reasons (read: excuses), few of them worth anything. My primary apologetics Bible study interests are in Genesis, Creationism / Creation Science, refuting evolutionism / Darwinism, and simply defending the Faith (Jude 3). It boils down to knowing the Essentials for Believers, the Fundamentals. As any football or soccer or baseball coach or automobile or motorcycle race team manager will tell you, it’s the "fundamentals" that ultimately produce victory in the long run. It allows one to quickly (if not instantly) recognize a counterfeit when one sees it. Secret Service agents and other Treasury Department specialists are not taught the countless versions of counterfeit dollar-bills. Instead, they study the Real Thing so well that they can spot a phony right away…….

The Issues:

Which leads us to the review of this ignominious chapter. As a complete work, EBE can be best described as a sustained imbroglio of ideas and world views, jumbled together in non-congruent "answers" to Biblical "problems," as I will illustrate shortly. You can get an idea of how ludicrous McKinsey’s work is by reviewing the light-hearted work by JP Holding located under the Rogue’s Gallery.

Some issues here include, but are not limited to:

  1. Must one read the Bible literally at all times? If so, how does one interpret "Let the dead bury the dead?" [Matthew 8:22; Luke 9:60]. Or, how about the snail that "melts away" [Psalm 58:8], a favorite example for one ViperPiper (a.k.a. SnakePiper, an old pal of mine and JP's, and whom some of you may have unfortunately encountered in the forums of AOL).
  2. The teachings that apparently conflict with today’s "values," such as beating the child with "the rod," which McKinsey describes as child abuse.

When one takes Scripture woodenly, it is easy to misunderstand. Unfortunately, the unbeliever / God-hater does not possess the correct tool(s) to understand God’s Word. Just as one who abhors airplanes does not understand how they fly or why anyone would wish to ride in one, so does the person who rejects God not understand His revelation to us. Christians must understand that our ability to understand the Bible comes not from ourselves, but as we are led by the Holy Spirit [I Corinthians 2:14; I John 5:7; I John 4:13; II Peter 1:21; Hebrews 4:12].

Allow me to use an illustration using the airplane example: I am a retired Naval Aviator. At an airshow in Idaho Falls in 1981, I had the interesting and futile experience of explaining to a little old lady why the F-14 Tomcat that I was displaying could land aboard an aircraft carrier. First, she refused to believe that I was in the Navy. She insisted that I was an Air Force pilot flying a Navy airplane. Second, she insisted that I was trying to mislead an "old lady" (her very words) by lying to her. In 1981, this lady was about 70 years old, spry, witty and very talkative. She was not feeble at all. If she were indeed about 70, that would have put her in her thirties during WWII. One wonders where she was when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor using aircraft carrier-based aircraft. One wonders why she was not paying attention to the tremendous battles of Midway and the famous Marianas Turkey Shoot, all involving carrier aircraft.

Again, one returns to the reality of historicity, the ability to use very common tools to check things out. Such is the credibility of aircraft carriers and the historical Jesus Christ.

Response:

  1. False Teachings
  2. In the preamble of this Chapter, McKinsey states, "…the Bible makes statements that are either so patently false and misleading as to be reprehensible or …" One would have to search very, very deeply into the philosophy of materialism to ascertain exactly how one who leaves God out of the affairs of men could make the judgment that the Bible teachings are "reprehensible." If we, as materialists insist, are the mere product of chance, then Bible teachings of "ethics" are no different than, say, competitive water skiing, or deer killed by Komodo Dragons, or any speech by the late Isaac Asimov (former atheist, but one would now surmise a deeply convinced Creationist). But I digress – this is a matter for another area of Christian apologetics. I will leave it to the reader to guess the tenor of the rest of McKinsey’s preamble. In this section, McKinsey addresses about 40 or so specific scripture passages, primarily the proverbial teachings and sayings of the Old Testament (all but save one, from I Timothy), mostly from the books of Psalms and Proverbs.

    We will address just a few of them – all Scripture passages are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted (McKinsey seems to favor the RSV and KJV):

    1. Ecclesiastes 1:9 "That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun." and 3:15 "That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by." McKinsey comments, "So we are told there’s nothing new under the sun. Yet how many cities had an atomic bomb dropped on them prior to 1945 and how many people walked on the moon before 1969?"
      1. A repetitive theme used by McKinsey is his painfully obvious lack of context. The "Preacher," as King Solomon refers to himself seven times in this book (the term Teacher is used in the same manner in other translations), is describing the cycles of nature that reveal nothing new. Clearly, when these two passages are read with attention to the Hebrew, Solomon is summarizing a long life (he’s been king of Israel about 30-40 years at this point) of observations about the Creation. He’s commenting that the same seasons, the same storms, the same snows, the same budding of the trees at springtime, the same seasons of newborn-animals, continue to repeat themselves. He is specifically talking about the nature of the Universe and the nature of man.
      2. Although progress in technology certainly reveals new things, progress itself is nothing new. Man continues to be innovative and inventive, but his selfish and sinful nature also remain unchanged. This is what Solomon means here.
    2. Job 31:3 "Is it not calamity to the unjust, And disaster to those who work iniquity?" McKinsey comments, "As a matter of fact, in far too many cases they are plagued by the least amount of adversity. Many experience little or no calamity throughout their lives."
      1. It’s assumed that McKinsey arrived at his conclusions through rigorous scientific polling. Absurdities aside, it is true that Asaph remarked in Psalm 73: "3 For I was envious of the arrogant, As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat." and "9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. 11 And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?" 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning."
      2. However, if one were to look at all the references to the word "wicked" in Psalms, one consistently notices that they have an extremely unpleasant final ending in store for them. Referring to Job again, let’s look at a truly prophetic verse in Chapter 19 of Job, verses 25-27, "And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me." Job recorded / penned these words probably only a few decades or a couple of centuries after the Flood, and long before Abraham came along to be given the Promise. I believe that the proper interpretation of Job 31:3 is the final fate of the unbeliever, the one who dies and goes into eternity without salvation and who will experience eternal separation from God.
      3. One notices throughout the OT that when God’s people are in obedience to His commands, when they follow his instruction and walk in His ways, then His children are untouchable. He protects mightily against their foes. But when the people slipped into idolatry and immorality, God allowed their ways to progress to the inevitable consequences. Even the righteous suffer alongside the wicked when God is pushed onto the back burner of our priorities.
    3. Proverbs 10:27, "The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened." McKinsey comments, "In reality, the years of the wicked often go on interminably and the lives of Lord-fearing people end abruptly."
      1. Quick, someone diagram this sentence before it goes away! One notices right away that McKinsey acknowledges that there are wicked people. He even appears to acknowledge the SAME wicked people that King Solomon is discussing here. How does one know there are wicked people unless there is an objective standard to measure them? But then McKinsey makes a blanket generalization that simply has little or no basis. He claims that "Lord-fearing people" die suddenly. I believe I follow his mad method, but the fact is both wicked and righteous people die all varieties of death – from slow, agonizing cancer to the quick death of a pulverizing plane crash.
      2. If one were to wade into a very economically depressed area (say, some of the hollers of east Tennessee or eastern Kentucky, or the boroughs of east LA), and take an honest poll of who is a Christian (with honest answers), one would likely find that roughly 25-35 percent of those polled would describe a genuine relationship with Christ as savior. The rest of the respondents would, of course, be unsaved. Depending on the area, some percentage of those unbelievers would be truly wicked, involved from everything to prostitution to car theft rings to drug trafficking. We see in the news everyday the high frequency of violent deaths of gang members and others involved in crime.
      3. Yes, innocent bystanders do die violent deaths. True Christians experience heart attacks and plane crashes at early ages. But when all things are weighed, one would see that people who live a righteous life in the fear and admonition of God are predominant in the long-lived category as opposed to the wicked. Besides all this, all people will die anyway because of the Curse. Hebrews 9:27 (NIV), "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,"
    4. Next, McKinsey partially quotes from the KJV, I Timothy 4:8, "…bodily exercise profiteth little…" and comments, "Of course, this flies in the face of just about every physical conditioning program in the world and every medical opinion bearing on physical fitness."
      1. Here’s the entire KJV passage: "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Let’s look at it from two other translations:
        1. (NRSV) "for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
        2. (NIV) "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
      2. Mike Shelton would say this, "Eat well, train well, have a good running program, go to the gym, pump up, run the Boston Marathon, watch your cholesterol – and die anyway. It is clear that Paul is saying that this life will one day come to an end, regardless of how one treats one’s body. Live for 123 years or just 23 months, we all will die a physical death. Paul is stressing to Timothy that eternal life with the Lord Jesus is the end game.
      3. Our context-challenged subject is either very unintelligent in his assessment of this verse, or he is deliberately misleading. Although his book is hardly worthy of the gas to drive to a public library to even browse it in one of the reading rooms, it at least shows the work of a fairly bright person. Thus, it is unlikely he’s simply a dimwit, but in reality is railing against God here in complete blind hatred of His Word [II Peter 3:5 "But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water."] In other words, McKinsey is being "willfully ignorant" (KJV) of God’s special revelation.
    5. OK, one more from this section – McKinsey quotes from the NIV here, and so will I – Jeremiah 13:23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." McKinsey comments, "There goes any need for rehabilitation programs. If this verse were true, and facts clearly show the opposite, the government would have wasted millions of dollars in programs to turn people around. Although high, the recidivism rate has never attained 100 percent. Although admittedly far less in number that than one would like, there are many successes, which this verse chooses to ignore."
      1. The weeping prophet Jeremiah, incredibly, had Bill Clinton in mind here.
      2. Again – context, context, context. (a) Jeremiah is using hyperbole to express the utter descent in moral behavior the nation of Israel has sank to. (b) If McKinsey had actually read the book of Jeremiah, he would have noticed the intense passages prior to verse 23, following verse 23, yea, the entire theme of the book, showing the immense sinfulness of the corporate body of the people of Israel. God was proclaiming through the weeping prophet that nothing short of exile and total conquest by a foreign nation was going to get the people’s attention. They were set in their ways.
      3. As for McKinsey’s unpaid political announcement about the U.S. contemporary use of programs to rehab recalcitrant people, one must look at what he says against the above passage from Jeremiah. The weeping prophet mentions that the people are "accustomed to doing evil." Thus, using McKinsey’s verbiage, he must be addressing convicts and the U.S penal system. It is difficult to follow his logic here, claiming that "although high, the recidivism rate has never attained 100 percent." He’s saying that the fallback, the "backsliding" rate for criminals, remains high, but there are "many successes," for which he produces not one iota of data.
      4. The fact of the matter is, the U.S. Government has indeed wasted untold gazillions of taxpayer funds on rehabilitation programs that are purely secular in nature (remember, the official Government policy on religion is complete separation – the Feds cannot administer religion-based programs – prayer and the 10 Suggestions were banned long ago. Funny, shortly thereafter, the prison population began to swell, hmmmm). Self-esteem programs and I’m OK-You’re OK seminars don’t get to the root of the problem – Sin.
      5. On the other hand, there is overwhelmingly abundant evidence of real success when Christian-based prison ministries are allowed to interact with the incarcerated to help them see the error of their ways. One of the biggest advantages of being locked up is to get the person’s attention – often only when one reaches rock bottom will a person be forced (by God) to take a new look at his life. But if no one is there to show him that Jesus Christ loves them and has a wonderful plan for his life, then the chances of true rehab are very slim. The most prominent leader in this field is Prison Fellowship led by Chuck Colson. He should know as one of the Watergate-related convictions from the Nixon White House. Other notable prison ministries include the Philadelphians, New Life Prison Ministry, Brother’s Keeper Ministries, Bill Glass Ministries, and Kairos Prison Ministry, not to mention the numerous local prison ministries conducted by local church congregations and other committed Christians. The Christian Motorcyclists Association also has a significant contingent of workers who can identify with the biker population behind bars.
      6. Now, contrast all this with some excerpts from The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,
        1. "We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems."
        2. "We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
        3. I just love this one…… "We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity."
        4. Another winner…… "We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence…."
        5. "We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings."
      7. Here’s a real tasty sound bite treat from the American Humanist Association (AHA) web site home page (www.humanist.net):
        1. "Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality. -- The International Humanist and Ethical Union
      8. Based on the above statements and excerpts from standing and well-known secular humanist sources, one wonders why they have not fixed the world? After all, they’ve had millions of years to get it right, no? The AHA has been around since 1941 - Isaac Isamov is a past president - the Association also has tax-exempt status from the IRS under 503 (c) of the Tax Code. If the Humanists are so concerned about their fellow humans and actually "transcend…religion," then they should be working with Christians in the relief of crowded prisons and the unsearchable suffering of the poor Christian women and children in Chad and Sudan who are being attacked, raped and sold into slavery this very day. (As a brief aside, the reader should remember, the Red Cross, Alcoholics Anonymous and others like them are Christian-based programs – how many Humanist / Atheist-based organizations rushed in to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Hugo, the last big LA earthquake, huh?)
  3. Perfection

This section of McKinsey’s Chapter 12 has six paragraphs – the first paragraph is merely an opening statement, with such terms as "duplicitous teachings" and "some of the most incredible biblical statements" setting the tone.

Again, McKinsey appears to make extensive use of the RSV (or the KJV) translations, which is OK – they are good translations and we shall use them when needed. I will still use the NASB as my primary translation, with cross references to others. As the reader will soon see, close attention to the Greek is critical here to properly understand the meanings in these passages, and to cut through the abundant misinformation that McKinsey spews in this section:

    1. McKinsey selects I John 3:6 (KJV) here for his sharp pen, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hast (sic) not seen him, neither known him." The KJV actually uses "hath" rather than the word "hast" that McKinsey uses. The NASB says, "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him." McKinsey’s comments in part, "If whoever abides in him does not sin, then nobody abides in him, because all continue to sin."
      1. At face value, McKinsey has a very good point. But I’m not ready to concede. Key terms here are "abides" (Greek: me,nw"meno" {men’-o}, which can mean abide, dwell, tarry, or most importantly, endure), and "sins" (Greek: a`marta,nw"hamartano" {ham-ar-tan’-o} , which can mean sin, trespass, offend, for your faults, to be without a share in, to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken , to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin). John was speaking to a Jewish audience, so they were quite aware of what it meant to break or keep the Law. John here is describing, quite literally, the legal position of the Believer, a positional relationship with Jesus the Christ.
        1. John could probably remember the words of Christ, which he also wrote in the Gospel of John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" and John 6:40, 47, ""For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day ….. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." Notice that Jesus was speaking in present tense – in the vernacular of "you believe in Me, you trust in Me? It’s a done deal! You have (not will have) eternal life."
        2. John was not the only one who faithfully recorded the innumerable teachings of Jesus. Peter backs him up with II Peter 1:16, "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
      2. McKinsey continues, "If whoever sins has not seen or known him, then no one has seen or know him, because, most assuredly, all Christians continue to sin." McKinsey goes on to conclude that apologists must "…admit that no Christians abide in Christ."
        1. Christ goes through a serious dissertation in John 15 – "abide in Me and I will abide in you." Here, Jesus describes the working / living relationship that will be naturally associated with trust in Him as Savior.
        2. This fits nicely with James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." Also let’s look at Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
        3. Thus, we see that a genuine Christian will act like a Christian, although not without mistakes (refer to Romans 7:7-25). In the true, forensic sense of the word, sin means simply "missing the mark, to fall short" of God’s standard. Since our own works are not going to get us to God anyway, Jesus has taken the only step sufficient to make us right with Him. Jesus never preached a funeral – He raised the dead, and He has never and will never lose a court case. Positionally, He has defeated the Adversary the Devil by choosing those men to be His (John 15:16,19). The "sinless" state is one of positional relationship established by Christ Himself, "not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2:9)
    2. Addressing paragraphs three and four will also address the rest of this section, for McKinsey simply continues his skepticism in paragraphs five and six. Here I will quote most of paragraph three so the reader will get the full context of McKinsey’s protest, then I’ll provide my answer. He sloppily quotes Scripture from the KJV, mixing verses and omitting a word ("for," a minor point): "The same problem [that no Christians abide in Christ – MSS] accompanies I John 5:18 and I John 3:9, which say, ‘Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; (for) his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.’ If this statement is true, then no one is born of God, because all continue to sin. Several years ago I was told by a fundamentalist preacher, who was fully cognizant of this verse, that he abides in God because he no longer sinned after accepting Christ. That is almost too ridiculous to discuss because, in effect, he is claiming perfection, which the Bible clearly precludes by such verses as Romans 3:10 ("There is none righteous, no, not one"), Rom.3:12 ("There is none that doeth good, no, not one"), Eccles. 7:20 ("There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not")." McKinsey later continues, "On page 158 in The Bible Has the Answer Morris and Clark seek to address the problem presented by I John 3:8-9 by saying, ‘At first glance, this seems to teach sinless perfection for all true believers. Strict attention to the Greek text, however, reveals that John is speaking of repeated or habitual sin. Consequently, this passage could be rendered, ‘No one who is born of sin practices sin.’’" (See here for further confirmation.) McKinsey continues further into paragraph four, "Two fatal flaws accompany this rationalization. First, nothing is said in the verse about habitual anything. It does not say, he cannot habitually sin. It says, ‘he cannot sin,’ period. Second, even if the test referred to habitual sinning, Morris and Clark’s defense would be useless because all Christians continue to sin after accepting Jesus and they do so continually." McKinsey seeks to reinforce his hypothesis / premise on a page from John Rice’s book, Dr. Rice, Here is My Question, ‘Too many people who believe in eternal security put all their confidence in the fact that a born-again Christian [redundant - there’s only one kind of Christian, be that as it may - MSS] will hold out to do right. Actually (sic) born again Christians often fall into very serious sins and continue in many sins.’"
      1. Broad generalities and broad paintbrushing aside concerning the "often fall into very serious sins" (McKinsey cites no statistics on the huge numbers of Believers who are so allegedly messed up), admtittedly, this is a very tough area for laymen (including, formerly, this writer), and even some seminary-trained ministers to grasp. McKinsey cites a "fundamentalist preacher" who apparently was unable to effectively communicate this passage to McKinsey. Yes, this is a difficult doctrine / truth to grasp. Before I attempt to explain, allow me to quote some excerpts from the fine book Hard Sayings of Paul by Manfred T. Brauch. Some of the Apostle Paul’s works are renown for being hard to interpret and understand at times. In his introduction, Mr. Brauch says:
      2. "...from the very early years of Christians’ use of Paul’s letters, the possibility of either understanding or misunderstanding, of either proper or improper use, have been ever-present realities. For us twentieth-century Christians, this fact ought to give both humility and hope. There may be times when, after careful and thorough study of a text, we should in all humility acknowledge that we simply cannot grasp the meaning or know definitely what the writer intends the reader to grasp. But there is always the hope that careful study-always under the guidance of the Spirit-will lead us to a hearing of the "hard sayings" in such a way that God’s Word can do its work in our lives."

        He further states,

        "The reading and study of any writing, if it is to be faithful to the author’s purpose, must take seriously at least three things: (1) the nature of the writing itself, (2) the purpose for which it was written and (3) the situation or context out of which it was written. Failure to observe these matters is more likely than not to lead to misunderstanding or misinterpretation."

      3. Perhaps McKinsey was hopscotching through various apologetic resources, performing scholarship by shotgun. If he had seriously read the entire section (Chapter 11 - "Controversial Doctrines") of The Bible Has the Answer by Morris and Clark, he would have seen copious examples of cross-referencing and examples of Godly men who had dismal failures in their personal and spiritual lives. One of the fundamental rules in Biblical interpretation is that no one verse or singular passage can anchor a doctrine. Scripture interprets Scripture. There is ample amplification in the Bible to show that in I John 3:8-9 John was speaking of a habitual character in a person who "sins" repeatedly. Morris and Clark are correct. Doctors "practice," they "commit" medicine - they habitually and continually execute the actions of their profession. Truck drivers and airline pilots continually "practice" the work of their trades. The root Greek word here is poie,w "poieo" {poy-eh’-o}, which can mean to do, to execute, or to continue. The KJV renders this word as "committeth," whereas the NASB says "practices," the NIV says "does what is," and Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) says "who is doing." The NASB and the NIV, using the context of the full Greek, lean on a primitive Greek root word pra,ssw "prasso" {pras’-so}, which connotes to continue, practice or repeatedly do. In other words, the subject of the Greek here is a person who is in an ongoing, continual status of "missing the mark - falling short" of God’s standard. This person may have made a peripheral or superficial "acceptance" of Christ (through head knowledge or with an attitude of a works gospel) and thus will never attain the positional perfection that only Christ can ordain. In fact, this is likely the very kind of person identified by the writer of Hebrews Chapter 6, "4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned." Conversely, the true Christian, the one whom Christ has accepted, has chosen, is the one that Jesus continually intercedes for that the Bible speaks of when we read that "He is on / at the right hand of God" on our behalf:
      4. Acts 5:31, "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." and,

        Romans 8:34b, "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us."

      5. Thus, we have a more clear picture of a Savior Who had to come down to rescue us "for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the us" (Romans 5:8) and referring back to one of the passages in this very discussion, "…The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8b). Jesus long ago agreed to one day enter into our space-time continuum to pay the price for our sins. He took the initiative, not us. Furthermore, He continues to keep Christians saved through His own intentional work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and prepare us for eternity with Him (glorification of the redeemed). The "perfection" that the Bible speaks of is really one of spiritual maturity, not one of perfectly sinless behavior.
      6. One final thought on McKinsey’s lack of rigorous scholarship here. He claims in his rebuttal that "…nothing is said in the verse about habitual anything. It does not say, he cannot habitually sin." He does not supply the slightest piece of evidence that refutes Morris and Clark’s reference to the original Greek and the proper context the passage is written in. Although it is true that very few Christians ever receive ancient language training for Bible study, there are nevertheless numerous resources on the market that will assist the layman in looking at the true exposition of the original languages (examples: "Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary," "Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon," various parallel Greek-English New Testaments, and the plethora of quality Bible software). And, let us remember the many institutions like Princeton, Yale, Harvard, etc. that were originally established to rigorously train future pastors in the original languages. Thus, the new preacher would arrive at his new church with the ability to reach into the Greek or Hebrew to further study the difficult passages, those "hard sayings" of the Bible writers.

 

 

  1. Prayer

This significant section of McKinsey’s Chapter 12 covers almost five pages. He sets the tone (and it goes downhill from there) with this opening line, "Another stupefying aspect of biblical teaching circulates around the whole area of prayer and the efficacy of supplications to a higher being." McKinsey really gets spun up in this section – in fact, this section is hard to distinguish from the next two ("Testing The Bible" and "Miracles") in his application of vitriol and running illogic. After reading these three sequential sections thoroughly, one can only conclude that McKinsey hangs around a bunch of losers and has interviewed a bunch of losers. It is like a Russian immigrant who comes to America, walks around the gutters of New York City or Washington, DC, interviews a bunch of homeless and winos, and concludes that there is no hope in the New World. Furthermore, he makes numerous broad, sweeping statements that could only be validated, if true (and they’re not), through a scientifically rigorous, third-party survey of Christians concerning their prayer life and the answers to their prayers. Don’t hold your breath – not only is such a survey unlikely forthcoming, but my own experience and the experience of many Christians who take the time to read this would be able to testify to the power of prayer and the extremely absurd positions taken by McKinsey.

McKinsey has three main themes in this section: (1) People are absurdly promised anything in prayer with few if any strings attached, (2) Prayers don’t work anyway because those ridiculously empty promises won’t be kept, and (3) Even if they do work, one has to pray too hard, and they work for only a select few.

    1. I will not address the themes one by one, but will cover the entire section as one commentary. McKinsey remarks, "One should carefully note that no strings are attached; accordingly this statement has little relevance to reality."
      1. McKinsey here is quoting from the KJV Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Other translations render the same thing with just different English. McKinsey goes on to cite five other passages about Christ’s prayer promises (Matthew 21:21-22; Mark 11:23-24; John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24; and I John 3:22). McKinsey then sums it up with "Time after time Christians are told that the world is their oyster as long as they pray, ask with faith, request in Jesus’ name, or keep the commanMcKinseyents. Although obligations are attached to most promises, that is by no means true of all."
      2. McKinsey goes on to make the capacious statement that "In virtually every instance prayers go unanswered." In other words, he is stating a negative. In the "Miracles" section, McKinsey states, "…the burden of proof lies on him who alleges." So, McKinsey makes an allegation here that he cannot prove, nor does he, although he references two reasons in a small section of the book "Hard Questions" by "apologist" Frank Colquhoun (page 112): "…First, because we really don’t ask in faith…Secondly, all too often, as we’ve already seen, we only ask for things to please ourselves…."
    2. Next, McKinsey again quotes a section from The Bible Has The Answer by Morris and Clark about unfulfilled prayer, "There are, however, certain conditions to be met before we can rightly expect God to answer our prayers. The first is that there be no unconfessed sin in our lives. If we are deliberately living in disobedience to God’s Word, then obviously we cannot expect Him to grant our requests." (response in Chapter 14, Question 5) Immediately, McKinsey asks the baldface question, "Where on earth are they getting this nonsense? What conditions?…Nothing is said about ‘unconfessed sin,’ although it would no doubt be desirable from an apologetic perspective…"
      1. Obviously, McKinsey is guilty of selective blindness. The very next words of Morris and Clark following the above quote are citations from Psalm 66:18 ("If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;" (NIV)) and I Peter 3:12 ("…his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (NIV)) which clearly indicate that unconfessed sin is a barrier to dialogue with God. I may also add I John 3:20-21 and James 4:3 ("When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (NIV)) In fact, this entire section and other parts of Morris and Clark’s book are thoroughly replete with cross-referenced explanations of their opinions and conclusions. McKinsey simply disagrees, with little explanation other than scholarship via random neuron firings and rage. His illogic is incredible.
      2. It is true that Jesus and others made the statements about prayer. But one must keep in mind that God does not exist to hand Believers all they want on a platter. It has been said that prayer does not work because we use God like an ATM machine – attempting to make a withdrawal at our convenience. Or, we pray to God like he’s the 911 Operator – calling upon Him only when we have an emergency. Or, we think God’s Kingdom is like a salad bar – we pick and choose what we want, rather than allowing him to serve our plate with the spiritual nutrients He knows is best for us. The Bible is replete with answered prayer – Hannah’s prayer for a child (I Samuel 1:13,15,19,20), Solomon’s prayer for wisdom to lead his nation (I Kings 3:5-15) and (II Chronicles 6:14 – 7:2), Elijah calling down fire from heaven (the contest with the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah, I Kings 18). We also know that God refused to answer prayer in the affirmative – David praying for his sick son born from an illegal and lustful relationship to Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:27; II Samuel 12:13-23), Paul’s requesting that the thorn from his side be removed (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
    3. Before I conclude my final wrap up on "Prayer" in paragraph D. below, I beg the reader to allow me to revisit McKinsey’s problem with the passage from Matthew 7:7-8 (from the NASB), "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened." This passage of Jesus is part of the long dissertation known as the Sermon on the Mount, which begins in Chapter 5 and runs through Chapter 7. The same or a very similar Sermon is found in a condensed manner in Luke 6:20-49. By some traditional accounts, the Sermon on the Mount was held on the wide rising hillside above the town of Tiberias on the west coast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had attracted a large crowd "He saw the multitudes…" In verses 5:1-2, we read these words, "And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,"
      1. So, who is Jesus talking to? His Disciples, whose number at this time may have been around 50+. This dissertation was specifically directed at His disciples; however, the people pressed around and listened also, similar to reporters crowding around a sideline huddle. Thus, Jesus was specifically focusing His remarks to His followers in an intensive teaching manner. He was not addressing the crowd in general, although it appears they were free to listen and ponder in their own hearts what Christ said. I can just imagine the rumblings and general hum of the crowd as those closest to Jesus passed His words back into the throng. Now, let’s see some key passages that Jesus spoke prior to McKinsey’s problem passage of 7:7-8 (all passages from NASB):
        1. Verse 5:4 – "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." This clearly connotes that there are and will be sad people. Thus, Jesus recognizes this as a part of human existence.
        2. Verse 5:10 – "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus seems to insinuate that people who do the right thing, who stand for right principle, who dare to state objective right-and-wrong principles, will be persecuted, and are to be blessed because of the same. So, we can thank people like McKinsey for helping God to bless apologists who refute him.
        3. Verses 5:11-12 – "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Ditto from the above, with emphasis on the evil with which McKinsey speaks. Thus, Jesus is clearly inferring that He will not necessarily provide special protection of His followers from those who would attack them (verbally and physically). Let us not forget that later the Jewish religious leaders will clamor to the Romans to kill Jesus.
        4. Verses 6:19,21,25,30 – 19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." 21 "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" and, 30 "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?" OK, so what is being said here? Jesus is laying the foundation of requirements to trust Him and to receive His blessings as He sees fit, not us.
        5. Verse 6:33 – "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." This is the clincher – we are to first and foremost seek His way, His righteousness, His kingdom. Then, and only then, will Christ bless us with an enriched and fulfilling life. (I Timothy 4:8, "for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." and Philippians 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,") He does not promise worldly riches or fame, because one day we will die anyway. Our home as His Believers is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21, "20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.").
        6. Thus, it should be abundantly clear from a plain reading of the text that Jesus has made it known that before the promises of Matthew 7:7-8 can be trusted, they must be taken in the light of the verses prior to that. McKinsey is so far out in left field that the lights have been turned out, the locker room is closed, the fans have left and the parking lot empty, and McKinsey is still in the top of the 3rd inning.
    4. About 10 years ago, my church was already at full capacity and going to two Sunday morning services to accommodate its members. The congregation, located away from the center of town out in the country, owned only the few acres that the physical plant and the parsonage across the street occupied. There was no land around the church available (the people who owned the various surrounding properties had no interest in selling). So, our church entered a long period of prayer to ask that God make property anywhere available so that the congregation could expand. Not long thereafter, some of the adjacent residents decided to sell their properties. Long story short – my church stepped out in Faith, prayed, God answered with willing property owners, and then providentially made the finances available to purchase 25 additional acres of land. Our church is now about to embark on another huge expansion which will require Faith and Prayer. Our desire is that it will be in God’s will.

When Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and came up against the Red Sea, he had to step out in Faith into an impossibility. God was not interested in Moses’ ability, He was looking for Moses’ availability and willingness and trust. The only alternative to the very certain recapture, slaughter and re-enslavement by the Pharaoh was to go forward into the Red Sea (covered later in the section on "Miracles"). God provided the escape with the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land and the destruction of the Egyptian pursuers. I will close this section on "Prayer" with a direct quote from the final section on prayer in the Holman Bible Dictionary: "Answered Prayers--Unanswered Petitions: Not every petition is granted. Job's demand for answers from God was eclipsed by the awesome privilege of encountering Him (Job 38-41). Modern believers must also cherish communion with the Father more than their petitions. Jesus, with His soul sorrowful to the point of death, prayed three times that His cup of suffering might pass, but He was nevertheless submissive to God's will (Matt. 26:38-39,42,45). Both the boldness of the petition to alter God's will and the submission to this "hard" path of suffering are significant. Paul asked three times for deliverance from his "thorn in the flesh." God's answer to Paul directed him to find comfort in God's sufficient grace. Also God declared that His power is best seen in Paul's weakness (2 Cor. 12:8-9). God gave him the problem to hinder his pride. Ironically, Paul claimed that God gave the problem, and yet he called it a messenger of Satan. Paul learned that petitions are sometimes denied in light of an eventual greater good: God's power displayed in Paul's humility. Faith is a condition for answered petitions (Mark 11:24). Two extremes must be avoided concerning faith. (1) With Jesus' example in mind we must not think that faith will always cause our wishes to be granted. (2) Also we must not go through the motions of prayer without faith. Believers do not receive what they pray for because they pray from selfish motives (Jas. 4:2-3). Prayers are also hindered by corrupted character (Jas. 4:7) or injured relationships (Matt. 5:23-24). Theological Insights: Dialogue is what is essential to prayer. Prayer makes a difference in what happens (Jas. 4:2). Our understanding of prayer will correspond to our understanding of God. When God is seen as desiring to bless (Jas. 1:5) and sovereignly free to respond to persons (Jonah 3:9), then prayer will be seen as dialogue with God. God will respond when we faithfully pursue this dialogue. Prayer will lead to a greater communion with God and a greater understanding of His will." Commentary by Randy Hatchett

 

 

  1. Testing the Bible
  2. Under construction………

     

     

  3. Miracles
  4. This last section may be the easiest for me to comment on because of the personal miracles I have experienced. Some of these miracles in my life can be attested to by others, using ordinary rules of evidence in eyewitness account manner.

    In this last section of the Chapter on "Belief," McKinsey really gets wound up. He writes with a passion, excitement and fervor that borders on, shall I dare mention the "f" word, that of a fanatic, a label that is often pasted on us Christian "fundamentalists." "Fundamentalist" is an extremely overused and quite erroneous term by the passionate infidel to describe any and all Christians (I am not one - I prefer the "Evangelical" moniker) who do not subscribe to the humanistic material view of the universe, evolution and the "proper" role of humans in society. I used to work for one of these types of atheist in the Navy, and he cared not one whit who came in the way of his anti-Christian blasts. Since secular humanism is officially on record as a religion, it boggles the mind why these poor fellows can pontificate as they do. Yet they call believers of Christ religious fanatics and fundamentalists if we wish to tell people that there is a God, that He created the Universe, and that He loved us so much after we fell into Sin that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us.

    But I digress. Again, the tenor of McKinsey’s commentary is sappy and condescending to the reader, regardless of his background, unless the reader is a staunch infidel, then surely he is cheering McKinsey onward.

    Before we go on, let’s define the word "miracle." The New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language (Lexicon Publications, Danbury, CT, revised 1992, page 637) says this,

    "A supernatural event regarded as due to divine action, e.g., one of the acts worked by Christ which revealed his divinity; an extremely remarkable achievement or event, e.g., an unexpected piece of luck, it was a miracle he wasn’t hurt." (emphasis in the original)

    Let’s look in the same dictionary to see how it defines "divine" and "divinity:"

    Divine - "Of God, or a god; addressed to God; having the nature of a god……."

    Divinity: "The quality of being divine; a god; the study…of the Bible and Church doctrine

    Thus, it clearly is apparent that the ordinary, everyday inference of anything miraculous and divine appeal to the nature of a God / god that can and does work from outside our four dimensions of space and time. These are areas that the Bible routinely addresses.

    What does the Bible say about miracles? The Old Testament and the New Testament use words that commonly are translated "signs" or "wonders" or "marks" and understood to be miracles in the ordinary sense of the word. Translations often use the same Hebrew and Greek words to say "miracle" according to context. In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word used for miracle is tp,Am "mowpheth" {mo-faith'} tpeAm "mopheth," which denoted something of great and awesome wonder, often a real supernatural event. The same word also meant wonder with similar connotation. There are primarily two words in the NT that indicate a sign / wonder or miracle, depending on the level of the awe invoked. The word most often used for the "lower" level of wonders was the Greek "semeion" {say-mi'-on}, which could mean a sign, token, wonder, an unusual occurrence, a remarkable event. It could indicate signs portending remarkable events soon to happen or of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by Him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God's. The higher "level" of wonder was the Greek "dunamis" {doo'-nam-is}, which had the connotation of power, mighty work, strength, miracle, virtue, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or power for performing miracles.

    In the NT, the word for wonder is the Greek qa,mboj "thambos" {tham'-bos}, meaning to dumbfound or be amazed, to be astonished or to render immovable. Finally, the Hebrew and the Greek words commonly translated into the word "sign" also commonly meant something out of the ordinary, an astonishing event or even a miracle. It is clear from even a moderate study of the ancient languages, using ordinary lexicon and expositional tools available to a layman like me, that the words miracle, sign, mark, and wonder routinely expressed the idea of things that did not commonly happen in nature, that were sheer coincidence in character, or were done because of God’s mighty power and ability to work within or from outside the realm of nature / the universe. From the nature of McKinsey’s work here, it seems doubtful that he has paid any significant attention to the Hebrew or Greek.

    This section on "Miracles" covers six pages – my response will specifically address a few paragraphs on pages 244, 245, and 246. This will suffice to address the entire section, for McKinsey is repetitive in most of it in theme and vitriol in his continued imbroglio of thought. For the reader who has not seen this book (don’t bother buying it – it is not worth the price, even if one found it at a yard sale for 50 cents), first, I will quote the first two entire paragraphs of this section so the reader can get the correct flavor that I will respond to.

     

    1. Page 244, McKinsey states, "The most preposterous biblical statements for those unacquainted with the intricacies of textual analysis lie in the category of miracles or supernatural events. For millions of people the whole idea of sticks turning into serpents (Exod. 7:10), a serpent and a donkey talking (Gen. 3:4-5 and Num. 22:28-30, respectively), iron floating (2 Kings 6:5-6), a women (sic) turning into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26), the sun standing still (Josh. 10:13), and people rising from the dead (Matt. 27:52), for example, are as far from the realm of possibility as black is from white. Little do these people realize that their rejection of miracles and the supernatural in general is simultaneously a rejection of the validity of the Bible itself. If all miracles were excluded from the Bible, the book would be dealt a crushing blow, from which recovery would be impossible. As apologist William Arndt says on page 26 in Bible Difficulties, ‘If we take everything miraculous out of the Bible, how little will there be left.’"
    2. "Without the miracle of the Resurrection, for example, Christianity would collapse. As Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:14 and 15:17 (RSV), ‘If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.’ Apologist Harold Lindsell was quite correct when he said on page 204 of The Battle for the Bible, ‘Once we discard miracles, we automatically open the door that leads a the denial of the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ Apologist Robert Mounce is equally on target when he says on page 15 of Answers to Questions About the Bible, ‘The Christian faith is openly supernaturalistic.’"

      1. I must thank McKinsey here, for he comes to the very heart of miracles in the Bible, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (I’m impressed that he referred to the Resurrection in upper case). However, here and throughout the rest of this section, he conveniently fails to mention the more than 500 eyewitnesses to the Resurrected Christ that Paul mentions earlier in verses 5-8 of I Corinthians 15. Additionally, we have the personal witness of Peter in II Peter 1:16, "14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me (emphasis mine - MSS). [Note: Peter here refers to Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s death in John 21:18 – MSS] 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses (emphasis mine - MSS) of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-- 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance (emphasis mine – MSS) made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." McKinsey continues the haranguing that clearly indicates he believes nothing in the Bible, regardless of eyewitness accounts, which he seems to deliberately ignore. But he is correct - without the Resurrection, Christians are members of nothing but a religious club, similar to the Mormons, Hindus, Free Masons, and the like. As Paul says in verse 32 of chapter 15 of I Corinthians, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Which leads us to consider that if there is no God, no deity in Jesus, then where is the infinite reference point of morals? Not only eat and drink, but hey, let’s party hearty and grab all the gusto we can, including good times with McKinsey’s wife, his daughters, and stealing our neighbor’s goods.
    3. Page 245, McKinsey states, "Although some of the most incredible biblical statements lie within the category of the miraculous, apologists vigorously contend that scriptural accounts of supernatural events are unlike those that one can expect to encounter elsewhere….[quoting Paul Little from Know Why You Believe], ‘Biblical miracles, in contrast to miracle stories in pagan literature and those in other religions, were not capricious or fantastic.’"
    4. "Biblical miracles were not fantastic? Is Little serious? Sticks turning into snakes and people rising from the dead are not fantastic? If a woman turning into a pillar of salt is not fantastic, what is? If the sun standing still is not incredible, what is"

      1. I did not notice Paul Little "vigorously" contending anything. He made a straightforward statement, whether one agrees with him or not. I happen to agree, because what Paul Little is surely inferring to here is that the times that God invoked Himself into man’s affairs was often witnessed by outsiders to the party. The plagues of the Egyptians were made on Israel’s behalf, but certainly witnessed and felt by those in the country who were not directly involved in the negotiations for the release of the Hebrew slaves. It all fits.
      2. Furthermore, I see no language surrounding the account of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt describing it as a miracle or fantastic. Keep in mind that Lot and his family were pretty late getting out of town. In fact, the angels that God sent to warn Lot had to physically grab him and his family and yank them out of there (Genesis 19:16-17). They were instructed to not look back, possibly to prevent them from pausing to gaze at their loss, or to keep them going to escape the frag zone of incoming flaming sulfur and other hot items. Perhaps she became mesmerized by the firestorm, perhaps even reversed course, and got enveloped in blowing dust and / or salt from the firestorm. She may also have taken a direct or almost direct hit and became a screaming Class Alpha Fire, quickly consumed, and pulverized into dust / ash. The Hebrew word here for pillar is "n@tsiyb" {nets-eeb'}, which means something like a garrison or post. Thus, she became a marker, something like a gate back to the past of the town in which they had just escaped, except for her. No miracle is invoked here, and completely naturalistic means can used here for explanation.
    5. Page 246, McKinsey states, "The most common defense of biblical miracles, or miracles in general, is well stated on page 27 of A Defense of Biblical Infallibility by Clark Pinnock, who states, ‘Empirical science cannot contest the validity of a miracle for the simple reason the event cannot be repeated for experiment today. The evidence for a miracle, as for any historical event, is the testimony of those who witnessed it…Science which denies the possibility of miracles is both unbiblical and unhistorical.’"
    6. McKinsey continues, "Pinnock fails to realize that the burden of proof lies on him who alleges. Those who deny the existence of miracles are under no obligation to prove anything, while those who affirm their existence must prove everything. That the burden of proof lies on him who alleges is axiomatic to all rational thought. But proof is something believers in miracles just can’t provide."

      McKinsey continues by attempting to insinuate that any crackpot could prove an event simply because he says so, clearly inferring that Bible Believers are probably crackpots for believing in miracles, something that I take personal exception to. He continues, "Those who say Jesus rose from the grave must substantiate their belief,…"

      1. Well folks, it’s show time. Let’s take a few of his arrogant statements one at a time: "…the burden of proof lies on him who alleges. Those who deny the existence of miracles are under no obligation to prove anything,…" This is one of the best tactics today’s infidel takes when debating Christians - they define the terms of the argument. One wonders why the Redeemed allow atheists / God-haters to define the terms and set the rules for most or all theological debates. Certainly, I don’t cede that notion. For someone who claims that he doesn’t have to prove a thing, he has gone to a tremendous amount of trouble to do just that! Additionally, those of us who don’t believe in evolution simply have to say, "Naw, didn’t happen it - prove it, and then sit back and watch "rational thought," or complete lack thereof, in action. The Darwinism and neo-Darwinism of modern-day secular humanists is about to collapse. The long-period gradualists have hit snag after snag in attempting to explain evolution over billions of years, and the punctuated equilibrium crowd are also panicking. They know they can’t prove evolution and life from granddaddy hydrogen atom. But they have been immensely successful in keeping Creationism out of public schools because it’s "religion" and metaphysics and therefore outside of science. It’s time for the Redeemed to call a spade a shovel and go on the attack. Remember, the Redeemed were given a wonderful promise in Matthew 16:18, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [Hell] will not overcome it." Ultimately, Hell will not be able to withstand the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and will one day be broken inward to reveal the Lamb of God who has now become the residents of Hell’s judge.
      2. Let me tell you about my miracles:
        1. My Dad became a Christian in the fall of 1967. He was saved at a revival, and had been the object of prayer for years. My Dad was not a very nice man - he was quite vile and used profanity prodigiously. He changed immediately! He was like a new person the next hour, the next day. Since my Dad’s conversion, I have yet to hear him say one curse word, and he’s one of the sweetest men one could ever hope to have the pleasure of knowing. That does not happen because of positive thinking or better self-esteem.
        2. About 1972, while in the Navy, I was having car trouble. I needed new spark plug wires, distributor cap, and plugs, but as an enlisted man, I made very little money. I needed about $18 to effect the repairs, which I could do myself. After paying the bills, I was broke. One Wednesday night at church, one of the sweet ladies I knew walked up to me, handed me a 20 dollar bill, and said, "Someone told me you needed this." I had not spoken to a soul, except God. The amount and the timing were wondrous, absolutely amazing.
        3. In early September 1996, while my son was driving our 1988 Pathfinder home from his job at Pizza Hut, he was involved in a horrendous crash with a tractor-trailer. Our vehicle had run up under the trailer, which pushed the left A-pillar of the forward door / windshield area in upon him. The Pathfinder was pulverized, and the driver’s cockpit area was badly crushed and mangled around him. The floor area was crushed around his feet, and he came to a stop pinned by the steering column and transmission hump. All the glass except the rear window was shattered. It occurred at night on the freeway, and he came to a stop facing oncoming traffic with no lights because one of the battery cables was knocked off. The state trooper who arrived at the scene immediately thought he had a fatal accident on his hands. The EMT personnel were already there with the jaws of life. They had to cut the entire top off the Pathfinder to get my son out. What they found was my 16-year old son in a conscious state, talking to everyone and in a lucid manner. His only injuries were some mild lacerations to his left forearm and hands, a very small, insignificant cut to his left upper eyelid, and a bruised right thigh. There were no broken bones and no stitches were required. We had him home that night in his own bed by 1:00 AM! Yes, God could have taken him, but when I looked at the amount of jagged steel that had penetrated the driver’s compartment and all that glass, all I could say is that God’s hand was in the dynamics.
        4. Finally, my son is now at the US Naval Academy. His roommate is also a Christian. And, his roommate is the son of a former Marine C-130 pilot who was a close friend and squadron mate of…..the guy (and his wife) who first introduced me to my wife. Funny how those signs and wonders work out.
    7. I will wrap up this section on "Miracles" and the Chapter by stating that McKinsey has not the slightest chance to combat the two most damning pieces of evidence against his case that the Bible is not true - and that is, The First Law of Thermodynamics and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The First Law simply states that energy / matter cannot be created from nothing nor destroyed. One can convert one to another, but the total energy of a closed system remains the same. The Second Law states that everything is running down and tending toward more disorder. Clocks wind down, cars need to refuel, watch batteries go dead. Mr. McKinsey can bring on his mathematicians, his chaos theory, his fractals, and any other scientific discipline he wants. But the Second Law of Thermo is the silver bullet, the final stake in the infidel’s vampire heart. It’s his metaphysics and religion against mine - and mine is more logical and rational.

Chapters 13-14, 16 -- please use our Subject Index.

Chapter 15 -- the file I created for this was corrupted. Please write me with specific questions.


Chapter 16: "Biblical History 1"

Description: Old and New Testament Fallacies, Jesus' Trial and Execution, Population, Liberalism, Forty.

The first of two chapters on general Bible history. Most of the items brought up re Trial/Execution have already been addressed in our piece on that subject; we will not rehash objections, but will point to a couple of "new" ones.

We will not defend part 4, a critique of liberal Christianity, nor address part 5, which is simply a paragraph on how often the number 40 appears in the Bible - which says not a thing re the history of the events concerned, and in some cases ignores the matter of typological use of numbers (as in, Jesus stayed forty days in the wilderness on purpose to mirror the Exodus).

Moreover, here is how often certain numbers are used in the Bible, without concern for multiple references to the same event or with exclusion of phrases like "forty and two": Forty, 157 times; fifty, 157 times (yes, the same); thirty, 174 times; twenty, 293 times. Clearly there is no special or statistical significance to the use of "forty" in the Bible.

We shall leave part 3 on population figures in the Bible for Glenn Miller's response to the 5-fold challenge regarding certain aspects of the Exodus, and our own here.


OT Fallacies

1. Gen. 5:32

2. Gen. 10:5

3. Gen. 11:26

4. Exodus 1:15-6

5. Ex. 12:40, etc.

6. Num. 14:33

7. Objections about the miracles of the sun standing still in Joshua and going backwards in 2 Kings; see here.

8. 1 Sam. 15:7-8

9. 1 Sam. 17:54

P>10. 1 Kings 5:15-16

11. 1 Kings 6:1, etc.

12. 1 KIngs 10:14

13. 1 Kings 16:23, 28-9

14. 2 Kings 15:19

15. 2 Kings 18:1 -- McKinsey's assumption here is based on the idea that Hoshea's reign is dated to 731-728 BC, but since he does not prove this or cite a source, no answer can be properly made.


16. 2 Kings 19:35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning--there were all the dead bodies!

It is claimed "incredible" that the army was killed, and that "its members arise the next morning to find that each of them is dead."

McKinsey is misusing with vague KJV syntax - as the NIV makes clear, it is the "people" (of Jerusalem) who got up and did this.


17. 1 Chron. 22:14 - More about excessive amounts of gold; see linked essay.


18. 2 Chron. 2:12

19. 2 Chron. 7:5

20. 2 Chron. 21:20

21. Ezra 1:2

22. Is. 44:14

23. Is. 44:28. Simple dismissal of predictive prophecy.


24. Dan. 5:30-1

25. Dan. 5:2. Ditto.


26. Exodus 12:40

NT Fallacies

1. Matthew 2:1

2. Standard objections to the Slaughter of the Innocents

3. Matt. 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee...

It is asked why Galilee would be more secure since a son of Herod reined there also. Does McKinsey think that these two Herodians were exactly alike? No, Archaelus was as cruel as his father and had to be deposed fairly quickly, whereas Antipas was more able and ruled for a considerable period.


4. Matt. 8:32 He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

It is asked what swine were doing in Judea or Galilee where they were prohibited. McKinsey here is as misinformed as Voltaire, whom he refers to in the matter: Verse 28 previous clearly indicates that this event was in the region of the Gadarenes - Gentile territory.


5. Standard objection re the identity of Zacharias in Matt. 23:35; see rebuttal

6. Matt. 27:38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Using the KJV, which refers to "thieves," McKinsey objects that thievery was not a capital offense in Rome or punished by crucifixion. He is confusing modern categories with the Greek word used here, leistes, which refers to a much more serious and complex crime that includes brigandage - which was indeed a "crucifiable" offense.


7. Simple denigration of the raising of dead saints in Matt. 27:51-53 (on this, Glenn Miller's page), with additional objection to the KJV language, noting that there were no "saints" in Judaism. There were, however, what this verse says in the Greek - hagios, which modern versions render "holy people".


8. Doubts the historicity of John the Baptist and even suggests that the passage in Josephus about him is an interpolation. Not even many Christ-mythers will go this far, but McKinsey needs arguments for this, not mere assertion.


9. Mark 7:31


10. Mark 14:3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper...

Regarded as "highly improbable, since lepers could not legally live in the cities." No source is cited for this claim (it may be one of those later Mishnah rules), but even if it is true, Bethany was a village - not a city (and McKinsey does not even define "city" in ancient terms).


11. Doubts the historicity of the darkness at the Crucifixion, saying it is not mentioned by any secular historian of the period, with no reference made to Thallus. (See here.)


12. Mark 15:46

13. Luke 2:46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Objected to on the grounds that. "Not until the time of Gamaliel in the middle of the first century A.D. was a child allowed to sit in the presence of rabbis." Once again, no source is offered for the information, which MAY be from the Mishnah, but in any event: 1) These are only "teachers," not rabbis; 2) Jesus was twelve at the time (2:42) and would not have been considered a "child" according to the Jewish custom of the day.


14. Luke23:12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends--before this they had been enemies.

Regarded as untrue because Herod and Pilate were still enemies as shown by the fact that "Herod was continually plotting to unite his Galilee with Pilate's Judea" - a statement (again) given without any source, but even if true, irrelevant to the matter of personal relations between the two men, as opposed to political.


15. Citing Luke 23:33, an objection that Jesus would have been stoned, not crucified, if he had been executed by Jews. Neither this verse nor the Gospels say that he was tried, convicted or executed by Jews at all.


16. John 2:20

17. John 11:49

18. John 11:51-2 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

Objected - again with no source cite - that "Jews knew that prophesying was not a privilege or part of the high priest's office...It would have been foreign to the Jewish mind and for even one person to have been put to death to save all of Israel would have been murder."

We may reply: 1) The above did not serve to prevent the high priest from issuing a prophecy at all; 2) the latter part fails to consider the political issue at stake. What Caiaphas said would have been said of any perceived rebel that would have endangered Jewish freedom; however, John viewed this statement ironically and in hindsight.


19. John 13:38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!"

It is written: "Scholar English says cocks were not allowed in Jerusalem at that time."

Who this "English" is, and what his source for this data is, is unknown: He is not listed in the bibliography. However, even if true - and I know of no evidence that it is - this would not stop someone OUTSIDE the walls of Jerusalem from owning such a bird - where it could have been clearly heard on a still night INSIDE. (For more, see Glenn Miller's item here.)

Update 3/20/07: Tekton Research Assistant Punkish has found this one; here's his report:

This is one George Bethune English, 1787-1828. He was qualified in theology, was a critic of Christianity and was also a poet and an adventurer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_bethune_english

In 1813 he wrote a book called The Ground of Christianity Examined, and it is in this (chapter 16) I find the cock-crowing argument as follows:

That the author of that Gospel was ignorant of Jewish customs will be evident from the following circumstances. He says Jesus told Peter, that before the cock crew he would deny him thrice; and that afterwards, when Peter was cursing and swearing, saying "I know not the man! immediately the cock crew." Now it is unfortunate for the credit of this story, that it is well known, that in conformity with Jewish customs, at that time subsisting, no cocks were allowed to be in Jerusalem, where Jesus was apprehended. This is known, and acknowledged by learned Christians, who have extricated themselves from this difficulty, by proving that the crowing of the cock, here mentioned, does not mean, as it appears to mean, absolutely the crowing of a cock, but that it means--what dost thou think reader? why it means---the sound of a trumpet!!

I kid you not. The text of this book is online, part of Project Gutenberg: http://ftp.it.net.au/gutenberg/1/5/9/6/15968/15968-8.txt

Minor point: English is talking about the gospel of Matthew, not John. (which makes it all the more hilarious, of course and we still don't know the Jewish customs asserted.)

20. Covered in trial piece.


21. Repeat of previous objection about thieves being crucified plus an assertion that the breaking of the legs was "a distinct mode of execution and was never combined with crucifixion."

Tell that to the poor fellow named Yohanan, whose bones we have and which indicate that the two were indeed combined. See further Martin Hengel's monograph on crucifixion. McKinsey gets this sort of thing from outdated sources like Remsburg without checking to see if they are valid.


22. John 20:9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

It is asked "what Scripture" this refers to, for the NT had not been written. It refers to the OT, not the NT, and while McKinsey would indeed argue with the interpretations, that is what John is referring to.

Another objection to this verse made in the newsletter protests from the KJV and other versions, which say that Jesus must "rise again", that this implies that Jesus was raised twice. In the 163rd newsletter, a letter-writer noted:

I've consulted other translations, and a Greek interlinear, and the word "again" is not present. If it's only an error in the translation within the KJV, then there's not really an error in the Bible, is there? If this is the case, why didn't you mention this in your book?

McKinsey replied:

One of the most common errors made by apologetic critics of the King James is their failure to compare it with other versions of Scripture. Rarely is this version out on a limb all by its lonesome as is so commonly alledged by many biblicists. You say you consulted a Greek interlinear and other translations, but did you read the American Standard Version of 1901 or the Bible in Basic English or the Living Bible of 1971 or the New American Standard Version of 1977. As the teen-agers of today would say, I think not. All have the word "again." The ASV and the NASB are especially powerful support for the King James. So now it becomes a question of whose source is more authoritative. Remember what I said long ago? You could be the world's greatest Greek/Hebrew scholar and still find experts disagreeing with your interpretation.

Further commentary follows warning of impending chaos is such explanations are allowed, but such chaos only emerges from McKinsey's level, and it seems that he is unaware that a Greek interlinear Bible is the authority that slams the door.

The "again" here is not in the text, period.

Another writer added this in the 166th issue:

The Greek prefix an is similar to the Latin prefix re, which Jerome uses in his Vulgate: a mortuis resurgere. We have many English words derived from Latin which begin with the prefix re, like resurgent, resurrect, replace, restore, etc. The prefix re doesn't necessarily mean that the action had taken place before, any more than the word again. For example we can say, "The Book fell off the shelf, but I put it back again" or "Jesus died, but he rose again...."

McKinsey responded:

You began by saying "The argument over the word again in John 20:9 in some translations seems to me to be a matter of usage rather than literal meaning." Apparently you are saying the word "again" does not mean the event is being repeated. But then you say, "The Greek prefix an is similar to the Latin prefix re, which Jerome uses in his Vulgate: a mortuis resurgere." The prefix "re" means again and all you are doing is providing evidence that those who used the English word "again" when they translated from the Greek were correct. You further verify the accuracy of their translation by saying, "We have many English words derived from Latin which begin with the prefix re, like resurgent, resurrect, replace, restore, etc." All of these words mean the event is happening more than once which provides additional support for use of the word "again" in the original translation. But then you say, "The prefix re doesn't necessarily mean that the action had taken place before, any more than the word again." It doesn't? I think it does. Your own examples which you subsequently submitted prove it does. You say, "For example we can say, 'The Book fell off the shelf, but I put it back again' or 'Jesus died, but he rose again'." These examples are clearly saying the act is being repeated. If no repetition were involved, then the word "again" could be omitted in each.

Aside from mixing a Latin prefix with an English one without being sure of their precisely correlating meaning, note McKinsey's shuffle in that last sentence: "could be omitted." He has as much admitted that there may be no error; in such cases context determines the issue, and it is clear here that the context demands an understanding of "again" in the sense the letter-writer has noted.


23. Acts 3:21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Misusing the KJV again, which renders the above "since the world began," McKinsey asks what prophet was living when the world began. The above from the NIV captures the literal sense more precisely.


24. Reference to the Theudas problem

25. Reference to the problems of Stephen's speech compared to the OT; see here

26. Luke 3:1-2 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--

Other than alluding to the Annas/Caiaphas co-priesthood issue (see trial piece), McKinsey objects that 1) Lysanias had been dead for 34 years at this time, having been executed at the behest of Cleopatra; 2) Abilene was not a tetrarchy at this time. McKinsey has apparently used some badly outdated information on this subject: Inscriptional evidence has since confirmed that a "Lysanias the tetrarch" did rule in Abilene in the period c. 15-30 AD.


27. Reference to the census issue; see Glenn Miller's article


Jesus' Trial and Execution

There are 3 minor objections that can be considered that are not in our trial piece:

Item 2 doubts that "Son of the Blessed" was not a title used of the Christ, who was not seen as divine or blessed above others. This is simply unsubstantiated. McKinsey needs to prove and document, not merely assert.

Item 8 says that "The Jewish scholar Maimonides" indicates that it would have been against Jewish law for Jesus to not have been given a lawyer. Maimonides may be basing this on late Mishnah rules (once again, documentation is needed for this, but McKinsey offers none), but as we have observed, a) this was probably not an official trial; b) even if it was, that would not prevent rule-breaking.

Item 9 notes the mockery of the Roman soldiers and objects that "every lawyer knows Roman courts were models of decorum for a thousand years" and that scourging was done before execution, but never before conviction and sentencing.

"Every lawyer" is not exactly a source for Roman history, which indicates that scourging was quite regularly done prior to conviction as either a means of eliciting a confession or as a means of discouragement - see the example of Jesus ben Ananias recorded in Josephus, for one.

Source for Chapter 17

  1. Hob.2K -- Hobbs, T. R. 2 Kings. Waco: Word.

Chapter 18: "Biblical History II"

Description: Creation Accounts Self-Conflict, Self-Contradiction of Accounts, Genesis Problems, Moses and the Pentateuch.

Our reply here will not be in the same format as most of our chapters, for there is much here that can be subsumed under broad categories to be answered.

Creation Accounts Conflict - McKinsey of course argues for two "creation accounts" - Gen. 1:1-2:3 and Gen. 2:4 - being the work of two separate authors who ended up contradicting each other. He lists twelve items in support of this view. On this issue, and six of McKinsey's cites, now see our essay in here.


Internal Account Issues - Twelve objections are tendered regarding alleged internal inconsistencies within the two accounts. Two of these are "science" issues beyond our purview. Three others involve in-depth theological issues which should not be treated in single paragraphs as McKinsey has done, and will be bypassed. Three are repeats of objections found elsewhere. Here are the remaining 4 objections:


Gen. 1:4-5 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night...

vs.


Gen. 1:14-16 Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:

McKinsey asks who God would need to divide the day from the night on the fourth day if it had already been done the first day. But he omits the words which indicate that the division was for the purpose of timekeeping on the earth - which is not what was at issue in the first instance.


Gen. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:

Making much of the KJV's use of "replenish," McKinsey asks about humans before Adam and Eve, but he would have served himself better by looking at a Hebrew concordance. See the same Hebrew word [male'] in Gen. 6:11 to say the word was "filled" with violence.


Gen. 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

McKinsey says, "If God ended his work on the seventh day," then He was still working on that day, and thus violated his own sabbath.

Again, let's stop using with the KJV and note the modern translation, which renders the pluperfect: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." Contextually, this is what is justified.


Gen. 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:

vs.

Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

McKinsey says, "If man has been made in God's image, it is safe to say he has been likened to God." Not exactly; McKinsey here is misunderstanding what it means to be God's "image"...and for that subject, we refer the reader to The Mormon Defenders.


Genesis Problems - Nine objections are tendered. Seven are either repeats of objections found elsewhere, or else attempts to cover significant and complex topics like original sin in a single paragraph. One attempts to cite a verse in the Bible against alleged Christian perceptions, for which no authority is cited. Here is the one that remains:


Gen. 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void...

It is asked: "How can something material exist without some kind of form?"

The Hebrew does not have quite that connotation: It refers to something being desolate or in confusion, as in Deut. 32:10 - "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye."


Moses and the Pentateuch - On this general subject we refer the reader to Miller's excellent essay defending the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. McKinsey denies this, first by producing 27 verses in the Pentateuch which allegedly disprove Mosaic authorship. These may be broken down into three categories:
  1. Items incorporated after Moses' death. There is no doubt that as the Pentateuch's text was transmitted, various notations were made to update or clarify for later readers things that had become anachronisms. Falling into this category are the following verses, comprising 10 of the objections: Gen. 12:6, 13:7, 14:14, 23:2, 36:31, 40:15; Exodus 16:35, 30:13, 30:24; Deut. 2:12, 33:1, 34:5-6, 10. For related issues, see here.
  2. Prophecy. This is covered by Gen. 49:10 and Lev. 18:28, two objections.
  3. Miscellaneous. We'll look at these one at a time below.

Exodus 11:3 ...Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt...

McKinsey objects that "People are usually spoken of as great only after their death, and Moses would hardly have made a comment of this nature about himself." Both aspects of this objection involve modern notions of humility that do not apply to the ANE. In the literature of that time rulers and significant people are regularly referred to in like manner during their lifetimes, even according to their own writings. Frankness and honesty about one's own abilities and power were not out of order.

The Jewish historian Josephus, indeed, notes that Moses held a high position in Egypt prior to his departure to the wilderness. Ex. 11:3 is in line with this and stresses Moses' prominence in the land -- and that is something that even today people refer to when they are Senators or high-ranking military persons.


Exodus 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God.

McKinsey objects that there was no "house of the Lord" until Solomon built the Temple. The Hebrew here is bayith, which is inclusive of any dwelling place, including a tent like the Tent of Meeting.

As a counter, McKinsey cites 2 Samuel 7:6 - "Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle." Here, however, bayith is indeed meant in its physical sense, as shown by the counter to a tent.


Numbers 15:32-4 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

This verse is the source of two objections:

  1. It is objected that the use of "were" indicates a past tense time, proving that this was written after Israel left the wilderness. The word "wilderness" here, however, is midbar, meaning "desert" or "pasture". This could therefore have been written on the verge of Canaan, outside that geographical area.
  2. It is objected that Exodus 31:15 already indicated that anyone working on the sabbath should be put to death, so that there was no reason to wonder about what ought to be done with the man.

    On the contrary, Moses had to be called to determine a) whether what the man did constituted "work", and b) how he was to be killed, neither of which was specified in Exodus. McKinsey is confusing law with administration of the law.

    Moreover, even when a law is clear, and an offense is obvious, we still bring people to trial before a judge. The ancients were no different than we are in this regard.


A number of objections are tendered that certain verses referring to Moses in the third person indicate that he could not have written the Pentateuch (Ex. 24:13; Num. 1:1, 2:1; Deut. 33:1). This is simply without concern for ancient literary practice; authors in this time (and even today) refer to themselves thusly even outside of biographical literature. Josephus is a well-known example.


Deut. 4:38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.

It is objected that the reference to "today" indicates a time after the Conquest, for the Israelites did not have the land as an inheritance until after that - which is incorrect: The Israelites had the land as their inheritance from the promise made to Abraham. (See more here.)


Deut. 15:22 Thou shalt eat it within thy gates...

It is objected that the "gates" refers to Palestinian cities the Israelites did not have at the time, so that this must have been written later. One wonders why this cannot be conceived as looking forward to the time when the cities would be possessed (as in Gen. 22:17, "thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies"), but even so, the Hebrew here in this sense can be used to refer to any entrance (as in Gen. 28:17). (Also objected regarding Exodus 20:10.)


Deut. 28:68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

vs.


Deut. 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

It is asked how Moses could have written the former in light of the latter. McKinsey fails to report the context of each verse: The latter is in reference to any king that the Israelites should happen to set over themselves (the "he" is the king), and is a command; the former is a punishment that will be given if the Israelites persist in sin.


Joshua 8:31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses...

This verse, along with Neh. 8:1, is cited to prove that only one book, not five, is attributed to Moses. Obviously this does not disprove that four others cannot be attributed to Moses as well.


Gen. 10:5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

Using the KJV again, McKinsey objects that there were no "Gentiles" at this time - ignoring the fact that modern translations more properly render this word "peoples" (it carries both meanings).


Deut. 34:9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Against the idea that Joshua wrote Moses' epitaph, McKinsey quotes this verse and claims that Joshua would not have written such a thing. There are two problems with this assertion: 1) He stops the quote at the word "wisdom"; 2) in the ANE, leaders were always considered to be the repository of Wisdom, so that there is no reason at all that Joshua, the leader of the people, could not have said this about himself - no less than Pharaohs could have said similar things about themselves.

In closing, McKinsey offers some vague objections about the lack of ability to establish certainty of Mosaic authorship (versus probability), which places demands upon the Pentateuch that are never placed on other ancient documents, and repeats earlier errors re literary style of the time and the use of updated language. In short, he provides no counter to Mosaic authorship, and we challenge him to refute Glenn Miller's essay on the topic, referenced above.

To close, here is one point McKinsey brings up in the 20th issue of his newsletter in reply to proofs for Mosaic authorship. In response to Archer's observation that "a far greater number of Egyptian names and loan words are found in the Pentateuch than any other section of Scripture. This is just what we would expect from an author who was brought up in Egypt, writing for a people who were reared in the same setting," McKinsey counters that "After being in Egypt for hundreds of years, the Hebrew language would undoubtedly have incorporated many Egyptian terms, and any subsequent Hebrew writer, Moses or otherwise, would have reflected that influence."

This is offered with absolutely no proof of Egyptian influence on ancient Hebrew. The presence of loanwords is a standard, objective criteria for determining an ancient document's point of origin.


Chaper 19 will remain a separate file as it has been expanded to address other objections to the Sabbath issue.


Chapter 20: "Paul"

Description: Six objection sets with Paul as the focus: Contradictions, Misquotations, Nonquotes, Ill-Conceived Comments, Misinterpretations, and False Prophecies. Side note: McKinsey seems to regard Paul to be the author of Hebrews, but it makes no material difference for our purposes, except in one place.


Contradictions

1. Deut. 24:16 vs. 1 Cor. 15:3, etc.

2. Heb. 12:23 vs. 1 Cor. 6:2

3. Ecc. 7:9, etc.

4. Gen. 32:30, etc


5. Rom. 2:11, etc


6. Heb. 9:27

7. Gen. 2:18 etc.

8. 1 Cor. 9:24, etc.

9. Objection concerning original sin; see here -- it does not apply to our view.


10. Rom. 13:9, etc

11. 1 Cor. 7:23, etc.

12. Gal. 6:2 vs. Gal. 6:5.

13. Eccles 1:4, etc.

14. Heb. 11:27, Ex. 2:14-15

15. 1 Cor. 15:50, etc.

16. 2 Cor. 10:18, etc.

17. 1 Tim. 6:16, etc.

18. Rom. 12:14

19. Repeat usage of Paul's sarcasm (as in #16 above).


20. Repeat usage of Paul's sarcasm (as in #16 above).


21. 1 Tim. 5:23, etc.

22. Rom. 7:18, etc.

23. Gal. 3:16-17

24. Acts 13:20

25. Num. 23:21

26. Acts 24:15

27. Ps. 145:15-16

28. Rom. 2:13

29. For conceptual answers, see here, here, and here.

30. Heb. 6:18, etc

31. 1 Cor. 10:1-2

32. Rom. 2:6, Josh. 24:13 (shows that the land did indeed belong to the Israelites)

33. Acts 20:26>

34. Acts 20:22, etc.

35. 1 Cor. 11:14

36. 1 Cor. 14:33, etc. see also here.

37. 1 Cor. 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

It is asked if God should destroy Himself, since He killed people, and it is further wondered if God is beyond morality. Aside from the fact that Paul is referring here to self-destructive habits (the Greek word here has the connotation of destruction by moral, not physical influences), we may add that God does indeed transcend the supposed "moral" here, since He is our Creator and has a right of life and death over us.


38. Ex. 1:22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Ex. 2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.


vs.


Heb. 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

The latter is said to be false because, "If Moses' mother was not afraid, then why did she hide Moses?"

Why? Because she did not want her baby killed, of course. Fear is not the same thing as common sense.


39. The standard argument about faith vs. works. For more on this complex topic, see our response here and Thielman's "Paul and the Law: A Contextual Approach" and essays here and here.

40. Further comments, on following the Law; see references in #39 above.


41. Two-part objection. The first is the old saw about conflicts between Paul's conversion narratives; see our response. The second:

1 Cor. 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

It is noted that Paul was struck blind, and asked how he could have seen the Lord. Well, what does McKinsey think it was that Paul saw that CAUSED him to go blind?


42.2 Cor. 3:17


43. Eccl. 3:19, etc

44. Heb. 11:17

45. Rom. 2:11, etc

46. Acts 15:28-9, re the purpose of the decree


Misquotations, Nonquotes

These two sections may be dealt with together, for they both rest upon misconceptions held by McKinsey concerning the rabbinic and general use and method of quotations in the ancient world. Precision quotation was unknown, except for in grammar texts. There was great flexibility is use of quotations. Thus, when McKinsey says, for example, that Paul misquotes Ps. 68:18 in Eph. 4:8, when he says "received gifts" rather than "gave gifts," he is missing the social-literary context of what Paul is doing and is able to do.

For more on this, see Glenn Miller's article on Christian use of the OT.

Ill-Conceived Comments

1. 2 Cor. 12, etc.

2. Rom. 12:14

3. Col. 1:23


4. 1 Cor. 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Objected that there were no "princes" that crucified Jesus, only a mob and some soldiers. The "princes" (archons) of the priesthood and Pilate were the ones that caused the sentence to be enacted. A ruler who makes a decision is responsible for the results of the decision, and this is more specifically so in ANE terminology, where representation is the same as performing an action yourself. (The closest equivalent today would be saying, "The President sent troops to Kosovo" or "Hitler invaded Europe".)

In his 11th newsletter, McKinsey attempts to answer this situation by claming that Pilate merely assented to the whole affair, pronounced Jesus innocent, and washed his hands of the affair. A Roman procurator would hardly act as he supposes. McKinsey fails to appreciate the political forces that were at work in this situation; for more on this, see our trial piece.

He would dismiss our reports there as mere speculation; we ask in reply how else he expects us to reconstruct history critically. Examining accounts critically and in social context in order to make judgments is a keystone of critical historical study; yet McKinsey would have us read everything with wooden literalism based upon our own suppositions.

McKinsey also says in response to the idea that the "rulers" of the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin, had a role in Jesus death, that "The word 'Sanhedrin' never appears in the Bible."

Would McKinsey identify the people described as some other unknown party of Jewish rulers? Elsewhere he asks of a writer: "...could you cite chapter and verse for the following. What verses say: (a) the Sanhedrin killed Jesus, (b) the Sanhedrin ruled the Jews, (c) and Pilate recognized its authority? The Sanhedrin receives a lot of attention in literature. But why? The word 'Sanhedrin' never appears once in the KJ Bible...Perhaps the Sanhedrin was responsible, but the Bible is silent."

I think this makes it quite clear that McKinsey does not deserve serious consideration as a critic.


5. Gal. 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

It is asked, "Where does any gospel say Jesus had an apostolic brother named James?"

Why does any Gospel have to say this for it to be true? Unless a Gospel says, "Jesus had no brothers, especially not one named James," there is simply no issue to discuss.


6. 1 Cor. 10:8

7. Heb. 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

McKinsey says that this must be wrong because the gospel was never preached to Paul ("unto us"). Aside from the possibility that this is a collective "us", we may add that Paul was probably not the author of Hebrews. I think it was Luke, perhaps with help from Apollos and Barnabas, and that makes an "us" likely here.


8. 1 Cor. 15:4-5

9. 1 Cor. 15:36

10. Heb. 11:26

11. See Ch. 21 reply.

12. Gal. 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Written: "According to Paul's reasoning, it would appear anyone who was ever crucified or hung on a tree could be a savior." I'd like to see that line of reasoning played out. No such thing "appears" to my sight.


13. Heb. 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God...

McKinsey quotes only what is before the italic letters, which puts a dent in his idea that this verse means that the doctrines of Christ are not perfection. The word is better rendered finishing or consummation and refers to that of the hearers, not of the doctrine, as the full context of the verse makes clear.


14. More about Paul's view of the law, failing to grasp the progression of Paul's arguments in Romans; same reference as above.


15. Objections about divisions within Christianity, outside our scope.


16. See here; plus no one argues that miraculous signs are God's exclusive province and can't be done by evil forces.

17. Col. 1:15

18. Heb 1:2)


19. Heb. 7:11

20. Gal. 4:22-4 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

McKinsey calls this "erroneous history" but conveniently leaves out the places in italics which indicate that it is an allegory.


21. Heb. 7:2-3 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Observes that the person referred to here, Melchisadec, must have been considered "little short of divine too" - which is indeed a possible interpretation of this verse, suggesting that Melchizedek was a pre-existent Christ. More likely, however, is that the author is using typical rabbinic exegetical practices and using Melchizedek as an allegorical example. .


22. Heb. 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Says here that Paul is "accusing God of lying" because God broke his promise to Abraham. McKinsey fails to mention that the previous verse refers to the promise, which concerns Abraham's descendants - where is the broken promise, exactly? It is simply one they could never live to see fulfilled.


23. 1 Cor. 10:24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.

It is said that this verse speaks for itself. The word "wealth" is a KJV supposition; note that it is in italics in the KJV. The verse is translated in more modern terms thusly:

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

24. 1 Cor. 9:20-23 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law...(etc.)

Accuses Paul of being a "religious chameleon" and of "opportunism." Well, considering that Paul was trying to offer people eternal life, and not getting any rewards for it himself, what's the problem here? Is it being a "chameleon" and being "opportunistic" to absorb local customs and behaviors for the sake of viable communication?

Indeed, by the standards of the ancient worls, this was honorable behavior -- see Malina and Neyrey's book Portraits of Paul.

25. 1 Cor. 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Says that Paul here is seeing himself as a law unto himself; McKinsey fails to recognize the rhetorical argument pattern here: "All things are lawful for me" is a Corinthian claim that Paul is repeating back and then responding to.


26. Gal. 2:11-12 - The reprimand of Peter, cited against 1 Cor. 9:20-3 above. McKinsey fails to separate the contexts: Paul is speaking in a missionary context of himself; against Peter he is referring to a gathering of the brethren. There was no need for Peter to "become as a Jew" here because he was not acting as a missionary and changing his behavior for the sake of clear communication and understanding, but acting as one who was trying to ingratiate himself with others to avoid consequences. See here.


27. Acts 26:23, etc

28, 29. Multiple re-uses of Paul's sarcasm in 2 Cor. 11-12.

30. Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Touted as incorrect, since the "act of accepting by faith is a work itself." Acts of the will and mind were NOT considered "works" in this time. The Greek word indicates physical labor or toil.


31. Acts 9:5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.

Asks why Paul would ask to whom he is speaking, since he identified the speaker as "Lord." Paul knew it was the Lord, but he did not know that the Lord was Jesus. "Lord" was a title given to God by the Jews of the first century; it was also a way of saying "Sir" to everyday people.


32. Gal. 5:3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

Cited against the circumcision of Jesus (Luke 2:21), Paul himself (Phil. 3:5) and Timothy (Acts 16:3). McKinsey fails to account for the context of the statement in Galatians, where Paul is addressing those who "go backwards" and thinks that Jewish ceremonial law has some role in salvation.

As for the three counters, the first two were prior to the new covenant and are irrelevant; the latter was a peace-making gesture out of the context of the Galatian church. (See here for more details.)


33. Allegation of misquote of the OT; see above.


34. Acts 23:6-8 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

Accuses Paul of "cunning" and "deception." Cunning, perhaps, but deception? Paul told no lie here. He was on trial precisely because he believed in a specific resurrection from the dead - that of Jesus.


35. Gal. 1:18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.


vs.


Acts 9, 22, 26

Contradiction is alleged in that the latter supposedly say that Paul went to Jerusalem shortly after he left Damascus, not three years later. Interesting how there are no quotes here - in not one case do we find ANYTHING saying that Paul went to Jerusalem "shortly" after this (9:26, 22:17, 26:20). The time period is unspecified.


Misinterpretations

In five entries Paul is accused of misinterpreting the OT to his own ends. We need not look at this section in detail; Paul's exegetical practices are little different, indeed rather tamer, than those of others in that day in Judaism. See Glenn Miller's article on Christian use of the OT.


False Prophecies

Paul is accused of false prophecies that predict a soon end to the world and a quick return of Jesus. On this topic, see here.


Chapter 21: "Ignored Teachings"

Conceptually, this chapter can be covered with much the same ground as offered in other chapters, and we do not need to go greatly into detail.

The section on "misquotations" alleges that NT authors misquoted or altered quotes from the OT. Among the charges made are those of changes in tense (past/present/future), changes in punctuation, and complete changes in wording, misapplication (this has to do with typology), as well as "nonquotation" (a non-existent quote).

The reasons for these variations are many, and as McKinsey is merely applying modern rules of citation to ancient writers, it will suffice here to offer these general replies. Unless he shows that one or more of these do not apply, and also explains why, if they do apply, the application is unsatisfactory. To refer to these textual changes with terms like "perversion", "incorrect representation", "major distortion", "erroneous reproduction", is anachronistic:

  1. Differences in Jewish exegetical methods. (For more on this, see Glenn Miller's relevant article. McKinsey is beholden to modern, literalistic notions of interpretation which have no bearing upon accepted exegetical practices in Judaism. If the NT writers are doing it wrong, then so were the Alexandrians, the Qumranites, and the rabbis.
  2. NT writer often used the LXX or another Hebrew/Aramaic version of the text. As today, one might say that there were different "versions" of the OT available. The LXX, or Greek translation of the OT, was one of these. At least 16 of Paul's cites of the OT come from the LXX, and many more are influenced by the LXX. McKinsey neither shows awareness nor makes any distinctions in this regard.
  3. These are allusions rather than quotations. This was of course the era prior to quotation marks. McKinsey can hardly insist on a "misquote" or a "perversion" when he makes no attempt to ascertain whether a literal quote is what is intended.
  4. Exact quotation was not the rule in antiquity. Minor variations in word order, or in word usage, were entirely the norm for writers of the period. For more on this, see our response to Earl Doherty.

While McKinsey may insist, in spite of the above, on finding "error" in these practices, he does so by using an anachronistic concept of what an "error" actually is in these contexts. The writers of this period did not consider these methods and techniques to be erroneous. A non-Christian Jew might disagree with Paul's conclusion on a given verse, but he would not fault Paul's technique, and would use practically the same process to derive his own interpretation.

Neither would this person have condemned Paul for using a different word than was found in the OT text. McKinsey's objections here are nothing but anachronistic presumption.

We would like to note two interesting cites from the "nonquotes" section:

Matthew 12:5 Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?

McKinsey says, "Nowhere does the Old Testament state that priests in the temple profaned the sabbath and were considered blameless."

McKinsey needs to consult Numbers 28:9-10, where priests were instructed to offer sacrifices on the sabbath. Though this technically violated the sabbath no-work rule, the priests were held blameless.

Then McKinsey notes Hebrews 11:35 --

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.

He tells us that the OT does not say that anyone suffered torture because they expected a better resurrection. But the OT is not the entirety of Jewish history: The situation in this verse fits well descriptions of events that happened in the Maccabean period.

For example, a man named Eleazer who refused to eat pork was offered release by Antiochus, but refused it. In another case, a young man who was to be martyred urged his brothers to follow in his footsteps for the sake of obtaining resurrection. [Att.Hb, 349-50] That McKinsey does not consider Jewish intertestamental history to this degree indicates how little research goes into his efforts.

A few words in order about "ignored teachings": There is a certain double-edged sword in what remarks I make here, since many within the church are just as confused about the applicability and usage of the Bible's moral laws as McKinsey is. When McKinsey speaks of "the selectivity of apologetic compliance" and of "selective adherence" he is now and then right, but now and again guilty of the same sorts of errors many in the church are. As A. J. Mattill did, and as many do, there are many instances where one honors their own "canon" within canonized Scriptures. The results of such disobedience need not be delineated here.

Each reader must deal with their own conscience in this regard. For now, it is sufficient to offer several examples of citations which demonstrate McKinsey's errors in regards to interpretation and application of Biblical law.

  1. Ancient Near Eastern law codes served a didactic purpose and were not designed for direct application, which was handled on a "courtroom" level. In this context, it is enough to point out that it is rather an oversimplification for McKinsey to refer to "equally valid maxims" to items found in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, or Paul's preaching. Once again McKinsey is not considering necessary genre distinctions, and treats an ANE law code as though it served the same purpose and had the same requirements as an ethical discourse and as an occasional letter.
  2. Laws within codes served different purposes. We discussed this in our article here. McKinsey, after offering a critique of several OT laws, writes: "...All of these maxims are part of the Old Covenant and of equal import." [426]

    Hardly: To grant all laws in the Bible equal strength and consider them all universal is as errant as doing the same for a modern set of state statutes. The law against murder is hardly on the same order as the law requiring sneeze guards on salad bars or the one outlawing velocipedes on state highways; yet by McKinsey's reasoning, their very presence in the same set of statute books would have to make them equally universal and equally powerful.

    Finally:

  3. The church is NOT the "new Chosen People". Although many think so, there is no reason to think that the church has automatically assumed the covenant obligations of Israel. It is a new covenant. McKinsey apparently thinks that this view is itself the standard view, but it is far from that, and the actual relationship between the OT covenant and the NT church is far more complex...leading to:
  4. McKinsey fails to understand the context of several teachings, in particular the relevance and application of the OT law for today. He also fails to notice that some instructions are given only to individuals, such as the indication to the rich young ruler to give away his wealth.

Here are a few other cites:

  • Quoted is Luke 14:33 --
    In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

    McKinsey believes that this indicates that one should be poor and give away all of their possessions. But the context indicates no such thing; this verse is the close of a parable with a point:

    "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

    Clearly, this parable demands not the giving up of wealth or possessions, but submission to the authority of God. That MAY require giving up possessions (as with the rich young ruler) but it does not in and of itself require it. The actual meaning of this command is revealed also in that:

    1. The phrase "gives up" is the same as in Luke 9:61, where a man says he will "say goodbye" to his family. Obviously, the man's family would not cease to be his family when he left them.
    2. Schmidt [Schm.BBB, 181ff] calls attention to the total context of the parable:
      It is possible to understand the parables in a new way by stressing their linguistic connection to the conclusion rather than the phrase "count the cost". The key is the idea of ability. In vv 26, 27, and 33, one is or is not able to be a disciple. In v 31, the king must be able to meet the opposing army. The implication in both parables is that the subjects do not have sufficient resources and that they will be mocked if they begin the task. In v 8, the one who acts on the assumption of the adequacy of his resources (takes the place of honor) will be mocked (told to sit in a lower place). If, however, he begins by renouncing his resources (taking the lower place), he will be a disciple (moved to a place of honor).

      The theme is thus not absolute renunciation of wealth, but reliance on one's resources and to giving them up -- and the added concept that by giving up what you call your own, you will be given much more that comes from God: "Humble yourself and you will be exalted: renounce tower and war making and you will escape ridicule; renounce family and possessions and you will be rewarded."

      Of course this is a concept that has been abused by the modern televangelist who says that the Cadillac he drives has been given to him by God; but that extreme is no reason to posit another extreme as McKinsey does. Neither Jesus nor his disciples (not even Paul, Phil. 3:8, which McKinsey also quotes) because of this command threw away all of their clothes and ran around naked; and Paul said he gave up "all things" in spite of the fact that he still was gainfully employed as a tentmaker.

      The essence of the teaching is no that you have no "possessions" as such, but that what you do "have" is not your own. You have what you have by the grace of God. This is the interpretation which honors the full context of the command where McKinsey's supposition of total poverty is a misapprehension.

  • Matt. 7:1 is noted as though it prohibits "judges, juries, voters, employers, teachers, and many other professionals" from doing their jobs, because they are "constantly making judgments of others". This is a wayward interpretation of Matt. 7:1, which we have shown has nothing to do with making judgments as such.
  • McKinsey also cites several laws from the OT and wonders why they are no longer kept. This question can only be answered here on a general basis; see link above for more. Certain moral laws with strict penalties are not enforced by Christians today because of the difference in covenant terms: The previous covenant was one of God over community as a whole; the new covenant revolves around the individual's relationship with God.

    Hence Paul's instructions to submit to governmental authority, for now, theocracy is replaced with individual conscience, and human government takes the place of rule.

    McKinsey has little grasp of laws in context. We see no reason to correct each of his many misapprehensions, but may offer two examples to prove his lack of grasp. First, his words on Deut. 22:8 --

    When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.

    Of this he says, "One would be hard-pressed to find home builders" who follow this rule. But actually they do follow the modern equivalent. As Craigie [Crai.BD. 289; Tig.Dt, 201] points out, the flat roof of a house "would be used for many purposes, such as sleeping (in the summertime), a number of household chores, and entertaining." These chores included drying and storage of produce; even today the roof is used for such things in modern Arab nations.

    We don't use our roof the same way -- the modern equivalent is a balcony. Our builders certainly do make sure that they follow the point of this rule to the letter.

    Second, here are his words on Exodus 22:2-3, which tells readers:

    If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

    Of this, McKinsey says, "One can readily understand why this rule is not quoted, since the time of day would have little relevance to whether or not a killing was manslaughter. Justice and Old Testament teachings are often at odds." [424]

    So says McKinsey, a man in the age of flashlights, personal handguns, 911 service, and home security systems: But let him imagine now an age in which none of these things existed, and he will read a different story. If the OT is at odds with justice, then so likewise were other ancient law codes that distinguished between crimes committed in the daylight and at night, including the Code of Hammurabi and the Roman law of Twelve Tables.

    So let us now put ourselves in the shoes of the ancient property owner. Hyatt [Hy.Ex, 237] explains:

    At night, when the intruder's intentions could not be judged (he might be intending to murder someone) and the property-owner could not clearly identify the intruder and take care only to restrain him, there was no bloodguilt.

    And Sarna [Sar.Ex, 130] adds:

    Because the burglar is likely to encounter the occupants and must anticipate that they will use force, his nocturnal timing causes a presumption of homicidal intent.

    We speak of people today who "take the law into their own hands" when they shoot intruders; but there was no "law" to call upon in these perilous times. Add this to the lack of modern lighting implements, and therefore the extra vulnerability of the property-owner at night, and we now see why these laws were perfectly in tune with justice.

Sources for Chapter 21

  1. Att.Hb -- Attridge, Harold W. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Fortress Press: 1989.
  2. Crai.BD -- Craigie, Peter C. The Book of Deuteronomy. Hodder and Stoughton, 1976.
  3. Hy.Ex -- Hyatt, J. P. Exodus. Eerdmans: 1971.
  4. Sarn.Ex -- Sarna, Nahum. Exodus. Jewish Publication Society, 1991.
  5. Schm.BBB -- Schmidt, Thomas. "Burden, Barrier, Blasphemy: Wealth in Matt. 6:33, Luke 14:33, and Luke 16:15." Trinity Journal 9, 171-189.
  6. Tig.Dt -- Tigay, Jeffery. Deuteronomy. Jewish Publication Society, 1996.

Chapter 22: "Conflicts"

Description: Six objection sets alleging contradiction between: Jesus and Paul, Peter and the OT, Peter and the NT, Peter and Paul, Peter and Jesus, and Peter and Peter.

Jesus vs. Paul

1, 2)Matt. 10:5, etc.

3) Matt. 15:17-19, etc

4) Matt. 28:19, etc.

5) 1 Cor. 15:36

6) Matt. 27:46, etc

7) Luke 14:26, etc

8) Matt. 6:5-6

9)Matt. 28:18

10)Col. 2:3, etc.

11) Mark 3:29, etc


12)2 Cor. 11:5, etc


13) Trinity issues.


14) Heb. 6:18, etc

15) Matt. 19:21, etc


16-17) Here and here.

18) 1 Tim. 6:16, etc

In issue #44 of the EBE newsletter, James White pointed out to McKinsey that "immortality" and "eternal life" is not the same thing -- which McKinsey dismissed as "a distinction only theologians can visualize." How so? Immortality refers to the concrete condition of the body; "eternal life" includes immortality as one aspect, but also indicates quality of life as well.

McKinsey quoted verses which he says prove that "eternal life" can apply to Jesus, but that is not the issue at all, and even so, the verses he cites show Jesus to be the source of eternal life and have nothing to do with the nature of Christ or the derivation of immortality; he has merely picked any verse he has found with "Jesus Christ" and "eternal life" in them, and refer to believers and "immortality" in them, regardless of context or point.

Another point raised by White concerns the participle echon ("has" -- in the above verse, rendered "is") in 1 Tim. 6:16. White began by stating:

The continuous action, without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of this passage.

In response McKinsey simply said that "one can only surmise" what the above has to do with resolving the perceived discrepancy -- which, although rightly indicating that White's explanation was not complete for those less trained in the Greek language, also exemplifies further McKinsey's approach to responses. White pointed out further in issue #46 that "Anyone familiar with the language would be able to follow what I said and would see that you are arguing from ignorance." In response McKinsey wrote this even paragraph which speaks for itself:

Although you are yet to make your point very clear, I assume you menat then, and are repeating now, that echon means Jesus had immortality throughout eternity while others merely obtained it at a point in time. Following your logic, echon in Mark 9:17 ("my son, which hath a dumb spirit") means his son had a dumb spirit throughout eternity and echon in John 10:20 ("He hath a devil, and is mad") means he has been mad throughout eternity.

This is followed upon by the usual objection that the translations in English do not make the distinction clear, which is of course beside the point.


19) Matt. 11:30, etc


20) Titus 3:2, etc.

21)1 Cor. 6:9-10, etc


22) Matt. 15:11, etc

23) See here.


24) See here re the rich young ruler.

25, 26) See here.

27) Matt. 23:10, etc


28) Acts 20:35


29) See here.

30) Matt. 7:1, etc.


31, 32, 33) 2 Cor. 5:10, etc

34)Matt. 24:24 "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."


vs.


Heb. 2:4 "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles."

2 Cor. 12:12 "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."

McKinsey writes, "Jesus clearly states that the ability to do signs and miracles was not to be used to prove someone represented God, but Paul preaches the opposite." (p. 433)

Where does Paul preach the opposite (it is interesting to note the author mentions passages where Paul does mention Satan is allowed to do miracles)? It would be one thing for someone to say, "How do you tell a true apostle from a false christ through a sign or wonder?", but its another thing to say Paul says that signs and wonders conclusively prove that something comes from an apostle; which is not said.


35)Matt. 16:27 "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels and reward every man according to his works."


vs.


Rom. 3:20 "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight."

This essence of this objection was already handled in the chapter dealing with salvation and requires understaning of the Semitic Totality Concept. The Matt. 16:27 has nothing to do with salvation, but the rewards a Christian gets from the works done in the name of Christ. The Rom. 3:20 passage is talking about humans trying to obey the law which can't be done.


36) The "three days" in the tomb" objection, answered by this:

This is actually an instance in which we need to understand Jewish idiom, which understood "a day and a night" to include even the smallest part of a day and night. A Jewish source from after the time of the New Testament puts it this way: "A day and a night are an Onah ['a portion of time'] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it" [J.Talmud, Shabbath 9.3 and b.Talmud, Pesahim 4a] Other examples of this kind of usage can be found throughout the Bible (Gen. 42:16, 1Kings 20:29, Esth. 4:16, Matt. 27:63). Jesus was in the tomb for only a small part of Friday and Sunday, but that counts according to Jewish idiom for the entire "day and night" for each of those days.

37) Heb. 13:14, etc

38) Matt. 6:25-28, etc

39) Matt. 5:34-35, etc

40) Repeat of objection-type elsewhere regarding alleged misquotes/nonquotes; see here.


Peter vs. The Old Testament

1) See here.


2) Eccl. 1:4, etc


3) Deut. 24;16, etc

4) See here .


5)Jer. 51:26 "Thou (Babylon) shalt be desolate for ever; saith the Lord" (Other passages from Jer. are used to say the same thing)


vs.


1 Peter 5:13 "The church that is at Babylon."

Many commentators think Peter is really referring to Rome here as being symbolic of the Babylon of the Old Testament. I think it may be Jerusalem.

Let's assume, though, that there is a church at Babylon. All it means is that there is a church in the geographical area that today is in Iraq, but known then as Babylon. This does not mean that the Babylonian empire has come back from the Old Testament which is what the Old Testament verses are talking about.


6) Addressed in a variety of cites on this page.


7) See #34 on Paul above.


8) See Chapter 5 of my book, The Mormon Defenders.

McKinsey, here and in issue #47 of the newsletter, somehow manages to read "the angels who sinned" as referring to all angels, his rationalization being that since Satan sinned at one time, Peter must here be including Satan in the reference. The fact that Peter goes on to list three further incidents, in chronological order, from the OT, should indicate to any sensible reader that Peter is here referring to a recorded event that is chronologically prior to those he goes on to list.


9) See essay here for a more nuanced and scholarly understanding of typology.

10) Acts 3:21

11) See here for misuse of a cite from Proverbs.


Misquotations, Misinterpretations - same sort of material as this subject in Ch. 20 on Paul.


Peter vs. the New Testament

1) Objection regarding trial of Jesus; covered here.


2)Acts 5:30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."


vs.


Matt. 27:40 "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Claimed to be contradictory as to what Jesus was hung on. Tree and cross are synonymous here. The Greek word, xylon was used for tree, wood, pole, and cross during antiquity; this is also found in rabbinic and other Jewish literature of the time.


3)Acts 2:4 "They were all (including the Apostles) filled with the Holy Ghost."


vs.


John 20:22 "had said this, he breathed on them (including the Apostles), and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

The Apostles, and believers, could and can be filled with Holy Spirit again and again. One never loses the Holy Spirit, but the intensity varies. The Greek word here, pletho, carries the implication of a fulness in the sense of accomplishment of completion: Hence

in Luke 4:28 -- "And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath". It does not imply that before there was necessarily none of what one was filled with before.

However, some scholars believe that Jesus merely breathed physically on the disciples to foreshadow the Pentecost events. I opt for this view.


4, 5) See essay here for a more nuanced and scholarly understanding of typology.


Peter's Statements in Acts

1) This objection alleges adoptionism in the NT.


2)Acts 2:31 "He (David) seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption."

"How could the soul of a perfect being ever have been in hell?" (p. 441) Actually, the word translated "hell" here from the Greek should be translated "hades" or "netherworld". At the time of Christ both Old Testament Saints and unbelievers went to hades to await judgement. It is not the "hell" or gehenna of Revelation that unbelievers will eventually go to. Beyond this the verse only says that Jesus was not LEFT in hell, not that he went there. Contrary to the Apostles' Creed, I find no evidence that Christ descended into hell.


Peter vs. Paul

1) See here.


2) See #34 above on Paul alone.

3) See here

4)Acts 15:7 "Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe,"


vs.


Gal. 2:7-8 "They saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised."

Galatians was written before the statement in Acts, so that this would be before Peter's "conversion" in his position. Thus, no problem. Otherwise, Paul is just giving us a general statement. Paul also went to the Jewish Synagogues when he entered the towns, so Jews were not neglected. Peter had been going just to the Jews, but he too started going to the Gentiles after his dealings with Cornelius.

Notice that Paul is talking about the "past" by using the word "had" which seems to imply he is recalling the way it was, not necessarily the way it was by the time he was writing.


Peter vs. Jesus

1) See here.

2) See here.


3) See here.


4) Acts 2:38, etc

5) See here.


6) See #34 on Paul above.


7) See item on Trinity.


8)John 10:27-29, etc


9) See here.

10) See this essay.


Peter vs. Peter

1) 1 Peter 1:17, etc

2) See Chapter 5 of The Mormon Defenders.


Chapter 23: "Acceptance, Submission, Rejection of Wealth, Expectation of Reward, Closed-Mindedness, Human Nature, Fostering Slavery" (Kerry Gilliard)

McKinsey approaches scripture with a readily visible bias, seemingly looking to interpret even the most lofty and noble of teachings into something alledgedly underhanded, subversive and inherently suspect. Of course, he makes the three 'classic' misinterpretation mistakes in most of his scripture references. For the purpose of the reader being aware, I'll classify them breifly before getting into the analysis of McKinsey:

1. Selective Citations. Cults do it, other religions do it and everyone who wants to twist the Bible to teach something they want it to does it. They approach scripture with their beliefs and then select which scriptures they want to use to support their point and cite only those, conspicuously ignoring those that contradict what they believe. A perfect example is found at the Christadelphians' 'Wrested Scriptures' website. In preparing so-called answers to those who believe in the Deity of Christ, they have a list of scriptures commonly cited in support of the Deity of Christ with replies, while quietly passing over others which blatantly teach the opposite of what they believe. One that caught my eye in particular was John 5:19-24, which they do have listed (with a convoluted counter argument), but they conspicously ignore John 5:18 which flatly teaches that Jesus, by calling Himself the Son of God was 'calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:18).

2. Inadequate translation citation. Throughout, McKinsey constantly quotes from the Today's English Version (TEV). Of course, from using one particular English translation (which McKinsey does) and basing his assumptions and interpretations on what that ONE particular ENGLISH translation ALONE says, he can come up with any number of whacked out interpretations, since the TEV isn't one of the grade A translations out on the market today. If McKinsey were serious about Biblical Interpretation, even in his absence of knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek text, he'd use a variety of translations before coming to whatever conclusion he does.

3. Not reading the text in it's literary context and it's social/cultural context. I've been told that McKinsey simply blows off anyone who makes this argument toward him whenever he cites a passage of scripture and wrenches it out of it's historic and cultural perspective. I've also viewed e-mail correspondence between him and other believers in which he does the same. Does it matter how the culture was in relation to certain verses of scripture? Of COURSE!!! We must NOT read the Bible with a 20th century eye and impose our culture on the reading of the text (an error of many sincere believers in Christ as well as many unbelievers)- we must instead, using available evidence for the time period, read the Bible within it's context- cultural, literary and social. When discussing, for example, the practice of marriage in the NT, we need to have knowledge of the Jewish marriage customs so that we understand why the groom and not the bride, is the center of attention.

Another aspect of 'context' reading the verses surrounding a particular verse- for example, the Jehovah's Witnesses in their book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, quote Romans 6:7 and state that a person who has died no longer has any sin and is free to be resurrected. Far from teaching this, in context, the verse refers to those who have been baptized into the name of Lord Jesus and that baptism is a representation of our idenfication with Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Believers were literally baptized into his life, death and resurrection (vv. 1- 5, 8-11). Rather than teaching a particular doctrine on the fate of the deceased, the verse is a passing statement in a paragraph. That's almost as bad as folks taking the second half of Ps. 14:1 and saying that the Bible teaches atheism!!

A third aspect of context involves the overall teaching of scripture on a particular issue. For example, the conditions for salvation in the New Testament are belief (trust, faith in) Christ based upon His sacrifice of Himself for sin (John 3:16). This is presented repeatedly as the only condition for salvation- nothing else need be added. So for many groups to include baptism as a necessary means of salvation (usually based off of Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38) is fallacious. Furthermore, from the textual data, the authenticity of Mark 16:16 is questionable[1]. A particular doctrine should never be based upon one passage, especially one whose authenticity is questionable.

I discuss these issues early because they are necessary in any discussion of the Inerrancy of Scripture and any critique of such. They also show where the author's pressupositions lie in regard to the issue (that would be me). Because I have pressupostions, that does not necessarily make my argument invalid- indeed,there is no way to completely approach any given issue concerning the Bible 'objectively'- the question is whether or not the pressupositions we all hold toward scripture taint the evidence or cause us to minimalize or treat unfairly, the evidence which opposes our position. Once these things are brought into the light, our discussion can begin honestly.

Prologemena out of the way, let's move to the text.

Chapter 23 of the Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (EBE) is quite amusing- "Acceptance, Submission, Rejection of Wealth, Expectation of Reward, Closed-Mindedness, Human Nature, Fostering Slavery" - since it betrays the preconcieved biases against the NT & the Christian Faith. In fact, a major problem with some members of the so-called "Errancy Movement" is that they are not searching for truth, but merly for an excuse to reject the Christian faith. This is aptly demonstrated in the often virulent invective spewed forth against Christians, Christianity, Jesus and anything related to the historic Judeo-Christian faith in general. They are not objective nor honest in their evaluation or research of NT evidence, nor the majority of their critiques.

This refutation is not intended to try and win any 'errantists' who continue to force their misconceptions upon scripture in search of a contradiction. Rather, this is written toward the honest seeker of truth who hasn't heard the answers to the objections to the Bible so that he/she can judge for themselves. With that, we begin.

 

The Main Thesis

"Criticism of the press, radio, television and other media is considered acceptable, while criticism directed toward Christianity in general and the Bible in particular has been considered anathema. For too long, the grevious effect of biblical teachings upon millions of people has been either ignored or treated lightly. But Scripture should be no more immune from exposure than any other instrument of the power elite. "

 

"The negative and regressive essense of the New Tesament in particular has often been looked upon as a temporary deviation from an otherwise correct path and not indicative of Christianity and the Bible as a whole. Few beliefs are more in conflict with reality. Statements, teachings and concepts within the New Testament, combined with two thousand years of Christian history, prove beyond any doubt that the Bible has been effectively employed to the advantage of dominant groups with tragic effects upon the history of humanity." [2]

 

With this, McKinsey's pressupositions, misconceptions and transfer of blame are laid bare at the onset of the chapter. A lot of what he has said here sets the tone for what he devotes an entire chapter to. McKinsey builds up a very subtle 'strawman' (which we all know is fallacious form of argumentation). His beginning statements are to establish that any criticism of the Bible, Christianity, or anything related are 'anathema' (that is, accursed and the person making the claims needs to be burned at the stake). Truth be told, no one likes to be criticized. The humanism movement doesn't appreciate criticism anymore than some of those calling themselves 'Christian' do, especially when their particular approach to a subject matter is seemingly biased or with malicious intent.

The question is not whether such criticism is welcomed or not, but whether or not it is legitimate. The question is not whether criticism and claims against Christianity make a believer uncomfortable, but whether or not such criticisms have any merit to them. For example, earlier in this century, many who named the name of Christ with their lips actively supported segregation, racism and discrimination with their actions (or lack thereof). This served as a severe source of criticism for Christianity as a whole and still has left a wound upon this country which has not healed. By the same token, many true believers in Christ actively opposed racism and segregation (some paid with their lives). We must never forget that in all cases, it is necessary to compare the person professing Christianity with what the belief system actually says and teaches. In many cases, you will find inconsistencies in the lives of those claiming the name of Christ- the fault lies with the person, not the system.

Now there are those who would say this is a 'cop-out'. Not so. Christianity teaches that the true mark of a believer is love for his/her fellow human being- if a person claiming to be Christian supports segregation and racism, I personally would call that person's faith into question, since they profess Christ with their lips, but do not follow His teachings. This is common sense which anyone can simply make a comparison.

McKinsey continues:

 

Statements, teachings and concepts within the New Testament, combined with two thousand years of Christian history, prove beyond any doubt that the Bible has been effectively employed to the advantage of dominant groups with tragic effects upon the history of humanity.

Many individuals will doubtless view such a contention as sacrilegious, irresponsible, and erroneous, while others will see it as oversimplified, distorted or deceptive. A few will probably contend that the New Testament is being misinterpreted and phrases are being taken out of context. The latter response would have some validity if most of the New Testament were as mystical and esoteric as the Book of Revelation. It would be difficult to know what was intended, since one interpretation would be as plausible as another. But much of the New Testament, on the contrary, is quite vivid. Clarity is provided through simplicity of speech and repetition in slightly altered form.[3]

 

Bringing the slavery thing up again, I can perfectly agree with the second half of McKinsey's first sentence. I can even agree with the first portion to a minor extent. But his attempt to blame the NT and not the people misusing the NT is utterly futile. His claim is partially true, but the fault lies not in the text, but those who misused it! I know I'm being repetetive (in slightly altered form...ha ha ha), but it's a point that needs to be stressed. Partial citations, ignoring context, imprecise translations and malicious intent of its abusers who hypocritically claim the name of Christ have left many with a wrong impression of Christianity.[4]

It must equally be stated that even in the face of wrongdoing by professed believers, many true believers still chose to stand for truth, despite whatever else was going on around them. It was British Christian abolitionists who helped overthrow slavery in England and convinced the government to put up a blockade of ships to stop the Atlantic slave trade. Observations like these are conspicuously absent from most of the writings of so-called 'truth seekers' and 'honest, non-biased' critics of the Bible.

Killing the Argument in the Cradle

McKinsey has had his errors called out before from his obvious attempt to circumvent any responsibility for his accusations against the NT. Of course, anyone looking beyond this thinly veiled attempt to blow off his critics, will see that he purposely ignores basic rules of literary interpretation in order to 'find' a contradiction. Primary among these, when studying ancient material, or material from ANY time period prior to the one we live in is that we not impose our culture and intepretations upon it. Instead, even in those instances when we believe we understand the meaning of the documents, we need to check them against the cultural and literary writings, culture and customs of the time period in question.

To get long winded like Carsten Theide, let me give you an example. Date: early 1980's, place the Hollander Ridge area of Baltimore City in Maryland in the USA. My friends and I are hanging out, and he plays a tape of a new rap artist. I reply to him (after listening) 'Yo, dat was fresh!! Those lyrics were DOPE!!! I wonder where they thought them up?' In context and cultural setting (I'm African-American, if you haven't figured by now), 'fresh' was street vernacular for 'superlatively excellent' as was 'dope' although something 'dope' was one level above something 'fresh'. The culture- specifically the language of the hip hop culture back in the 1980's- helps to determine the definition of the word, in its cultural setting. Whether images of fresh fish, or unopened packages of food came to mind when you read the phrase, illustrates my point perfectly.

Imperfect translations will almost ALWAYS occur with translations to another language. For example, the above phrase in french would be, word for word ""Yo, celui était frais!! Ces lyrique était DOPANT!!!Je me demande où ils l'ont imaginé?" which re-translated to english would turn out as 'Yo, that was fresh!! These lyric was DOPING!!! I wonder where they imagined it?'[5] For this reason, the culture, social context and setting are ESSENTIAL in one's understanding of the text. Every literature class in high school always gives a little exposition about Elizabethan culture, for example, before reading works by Shakespeare. Likewise, I recall expositional data on Hellenistic culture being given before my high school class studied Sophocles so many years ago.

These things provide a proper framework for interpretation of the data. McKinsey's refusal to do so is scholastically dishonest and dileberately taints his interpretation of the data. Please keep his second statements in mind- "much of the New Testament, on the contrary, is quite vivid. " We will see him contradict himself in the next paragraph.

Superficially, the Bible propogates humility, peace, love, and brotherhood.. These are repeated themes as subsequent quotes will show. In reality, however, these themes are a blueprint for bondage. Appearances would lead most individuals to believe that any work teaching the importance of love, peace and humility is contributing to the creation of a better world. But exteriors are often decieving. Deception lies in the fact that a society of peace, love, and brotherhood will never emerge until people obtain greater control of their lives, which can never occur as long as they direct peace, love, brotherhood and humility towards their leaders. In other words, peace, love, and brotherhood can sometimes only be established by practicing the exact opposite for a period of time.[6]

 

Okay, which is it? Are the readings of much of the NT quite vivid or are those superficial exterior teachings often deceiving? Isn't that tacitly agreeing that in some cases, we need to dig below the surface of a given teaching to understand it in context? Or is the NT clear when McKinsey wants it to be clear and only superficial when he wants it to be?

Furthermore, McKinsey is left with another problem of sorts- anticipating the answer of the above query to be "this is from a general, direct 'cold' reading of the NT' - such statements as those presented in Matthew 22:34-40 seem to teach exactly the opposite of what McKinsey is suggesting it teaches. A simple answer to his entire argument can be found thus- if the NT teaches humility toward leaders and the remainder of humanity in general and putting others ahead of yourself, what if, instead of adopting a hypocritical 'you do it, and I won't' attitude, all of the leaders of nations adopted the same philosophy?

On the flip side, if McKinsey said we must dig deeper (beyond the 'superficial exterior reading') to find the 'real meaning' (since exteriors are often deceiving), then he is forced to concede that in some cases, more than just a surface reading is required to understand the text. This , of course, opens up the door for the argument that the social and cultural context of the passage (which he alludes to in a negative fashion) DOES play a role in determining the proper understanding of an NT passage.

Much more could be pointed out about the flawed logic behind the second portion of this statement: Peace need not necessarily practice the opposite of peace, love, humility and brotherhood toward their leaders for a period of time in order to establish the same. In fact, in many cases, the practices of peace, love, brotherhood and humility toward leadership have influenced leadership and toward the remainder of humanity has changed the hearts of others to follow the same pattern- non-violently. Martin Luther King, for example, resisted segregation passively and his actions, combined with those of his supporters influenced others to begin to practice equality, peace, love and brotherhood.

But this is neither here nor there.

The Golden Key

Sounds like an extra item you collect on Super Mario Brothers, but no, it's the final portion of the basis of McKinsey's argument that will aid us in reviewing and refuting Chapter 23 of the EBE. It's directly related to the last portion of text, and of course, it's one more piece to seeing and understanding HOW he views the NT. Reminiscent of Jack T. Chick, Gail Ripplinger, Bob Larson, Steve Cokely and other great semi-conspiratorial thinkers of the 20th century, McKinsey says:

Most people look upon creating peace and brotherhood by initiating dissension as self-defeating and contradictory. They erroneously believe that society is composed of one big amorphous mass of people who are failing to exercise sufficent self-control, brotherly love, and peaceful intent toward their neighbors. They fail to see that society is in fact often composed of basically two groups, the stronger of which, a minority, manages society and foments disunity among the other group, the majority, as one means by which to dominate it. The mateiral aspects of society exercise the greatest influence upon people and are directed by the minority in such a manner as to keep them divided. Since the minority's interests are served by dividing and factionalizing, there will be no peace, love brotherhood, and humility throughout the land (depsite the most extensive teachng and preaching to the contrary) as long as such a minority excercises disproportionate control. Preaching love twoard all only serves to maintain the existing- often exploitive- state of affairs. Christians are taught that love and mercy should guide their relationships with others; yet, without distinction as to rulers and ruled, this can only lead to entrapment. In effect, preaching brotherly love perpetuates its opposite. [7]

I'm taking taking my boots off now, we're thru the thick of it. Again, the only way that McKinsey's scenario works out so that the 'ruling elite' are taking advantage of the regular folks is if the ruling class themselves do not follow the same principles they attempt to impose upon their subjects. If the ruling class practices peace and brotherly love toward their subjects and the subjects practice the same back to their rulers, McKinsey is left in his never-never land twiddling his thumbs through his TEV looking for a new way to find a contradiction.

McKinsey's worldview, as warped as it is, dictates his interpretation of the text. Even the most noble Matthew 22:37-39, when run through the conspiracy filter, becomes a tool for those in power to take advantage of the 'weak' and 'powerless'. There's one major problem- the base of McKinsey's argument is built upon a misuse (and a rather OBVIOUS ONE at that.....), not what the canon of scripture actually teaches. Once this is pointed out, his entire argument falls apart like a house of cards.

ENDNOTES

 

[1]. Mark 16:9-20 is present in almost every manuscript of Mark, but is marked with obeli (an asterisk) by many scribes with footnotes in the margin of the manuscripts, indicating the questionable nature of the passage. Furthermore, there are several other 'endings' (some shorter, some longer) of Mark which appear in some ancient manuscripts as well- the multiplicity of readings combined with the vocabulary of the passage (which is, in some cases, very non-Marcan) are the primary reasons why many Bible translators reduce to passage to footnotes in some translations, or mark it with textal notes to inform the reader. For a more detailed study of the issues involved in selecting textual readings and Bible translations, consult Bruce Metzger's The Text of the New Testament: It's Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (3rd edition) pages 226-229, 296-97 and Norman Geisler and William Nix's A General Introduction to the Bible.

 

[2].Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy. p. 447, emphasis mine.

 

[3].EBE p. 447-448, emphasis mine.

 

[4].Ironically, some of the same things McKinsey himself is guilty of. Read on- you're about to see him contradict himself one paragraph later.

 

[5]. Courtesy of Digital's universal translator located at http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com .

 

[6].EBE ,448

 

[7].Ibid.


Addendum: Extras from the BE Newsletter

In order to complete our survey of EBE it will be necessary to take one extended journey through yet another morass -- that of back issues of the newsletter Biblical Errancy, from which McKinsey apparently derived most of the material in EBE.

There were 192 issues of BE. We will be looking specifically at "answers" to answers we have provided to original objections, as well as for anything new (in terms of anything not already covered by answers to similar objections -- for example, even if there is a "new" cite from Proverbs, there is no need to address it directly, since our general answers about proverbial literature cover that type of objection).

Again, we will simply refrain from comment where there is either an objection we have already encountered, and there is no new argument, or where subjects are covered that are beyond our purview, for example creationism and the Flood. However, where some new dimension is added to a previously-covered objection, we will make a notation or addition in the response essay where the original objection was covered.

We get all the way to the middle of issue number 4 before we find anything new:

Josiah died at Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29-30), at Jerusalem (2 Chron. 35:24). 2 Kings says: "While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo. Josiah's servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father." 2 Chron says: "So they took him out of his chariot, put him in the other chariot he had and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him."

A common solution to this one -- which we do not support, as some readers of this article apparently missed -- is that the Kings passage can be read to say that Josiah was merely dying, not dead. A letter-writer suggested this in issue #40 of the newsletter, and it was noted that several Hebrew scholars (including Gesenius of the Hebrew grammar fame) support this interpretation.

In response McKinsey merely compared the English translations uncritically, and dismissed the answer as a "rationalization".

Naturally this accusation is groundless, for it makes no effort to addres why translators chose the word they did, and whether indeed they would know of and agree with what is offered by Gesenius, etc.; but for those interested, I have discovered another interesting solution that takes into accounts the genre of Chronicles -- and recognizes the contradiction as quite intentional. Anyone who wishes to dispute this will need to do a serious study of Greek historiographical practice, not merely call these things "naked assertions" or the like.

At the time Chronicles was written, Greek historiography (exemplified by Herodotus) was not always strictly concerned with reportage, but was also didactic in nature. As such, reports were often purposely given with alterations to actual history -- in order to make a point. Josiah's death here bears a haunting resemblance to the death of another king of the Bible -- Ahab (1 Kings 22).

By the conventions of Greek historiography of the period, then, the writer of Chronicles is purposely contradicting the already-known, earlier account for the purpose of making a polemical and didactic point against Jehu. And if that is the case, the contradiction is intentional -- and therefore poses no problem for inerrancy, because it is like saying that a van Gogh painting "contradicts" a Picasso -- what is being done is a form of narrative art. (See more on this sort of issue here.)

Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain after six (Matt. 17:1, Mark 9:2), eight (Luke 9:28) days.

McKinsey does not quote verses here -- Luke clearly says that it was about eight days -- he is estimating. We may speculate that he is including parts of days whereas Matthew and Mark are only counting whole days.

...Luke 4:5-9 says the devil took Jesus up to an (sic) high mountain and then to the pinnacle of the temple, while Matt. 4:5-8 says he took him to the pinnacle first and then to the mountain.

McKinsey notes Gleason's Archer's classical solution to the problem, that "Matthew uses 'then' (Matt. 4:5), which shows a logical sequence of events, while Luke uses 'and' (Luke 4:9) between the two events, which obscures the sequence of events".

There is actually more to it than that: Matthew also uses, in addition to "then" (tote), the word "again" (palin), indicating a repetition. Luke does indeed use only "and" (kai).

In response, McKinsey does the following:

  1. Quotes English versions to prove his points, arguing that "several versions of the Bible (NIV, Modern Language, the Living Bible) say that the Greek word which has been translated as 'and' in the KJV (Luke 4:9) should be translated as 'then'.

    My own NIV does no such thing, but even so, regardless of what modern paraphrases like the LIV do to make reading easier, the Greek is far more explicit.

  2. Says also: "Moreover, there are 44 verses in Luke's fourth chapter, and 34 of them begin with 'and'. If Archer's logic is adhered to, 34 of the verses could be rearranged in any manner a translator desired, and no one could possibly know the sequence of events."

    This may be true, but even so is beside the point. What all of these "ands" indicate is that Luke is using an original Semitic source, probably oral in origin itself. (The use of "and" this way is recognized as reflecting a Semitic source as this was how Semitic stories were often told.)

McKinsey also objects that there is chronological contradiction between recountings of "whether Jesus overthrew the tables of the money-changers (Matt. 21:12) and subsequently cursed the fig tree (Matt. 21:19), or cursed the fig tree (Mark 11:14) and then threw out the money-changers (Mark 11:15)."

The solution offered by Archer, which recognizes the ancient historiographical practice of arranging material topically for didactic purposes, rather than following a strict chronology, is dismissed as a resolution that "borders on the pathetic." I submit that what is truly "pathetic" here is McKinsey's comprehension of ancient literary practices. He does not answer Archer by this description.

Hereafter we must move to issue #10 to find anything new:

"In John 14:13-14 Jesus stated: 'And whatsoever ye ask in my name I do, that the Father may be glorified in the son. If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it.' In reality, millions of people have made millions of requests in Jesus' name and failed to receive satisfaction. This promise or prophecy has failed completely."

This is like many similar objections, for example, against the verse about faith that moves mountains. Aside from being typical rabbinic hyperbole emphasizing Jesus' commitment to his followers, one must view such promises in the light of the Jewish background view of God's full sovereignty. It would be assumed by any Jew hearing this that only that which God permitted would take place. See here.

Now, on to issue #17, which includes a comment on Matthew 23:9, "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." McKinsey writes that he sees no reason to not apply this to calling our biological fathers "father". A letter writer in the 20th issue pointed out:

In reading the Bible we have to understand what is behind the words, otherwise what we read is subject to misinterpretation. The verse you cite is part of a passage in which Jesus is rebuking the Jewish religious establishment,.... He condemns their use of three titles: rabbi (master), abba (father) and morah (teacher), implying that they are not worthy of these titles. He also doesn't mean that you shouldn't call your dad your father, or refer to a teacher in school as teacher.

McKinsey correctly points out that pater, not abba, is the word at issue. But other than that, the explanation is correct. What does McKinsey say in reply?

He says that the explanation relies on "unwarranted assumptions" and that the writer "inserted something that isn't there." In other words, the writer's knowledge and experience with Jewish custom and tradition means nothing, and we are warranted in rejecting it because McKinsey says we should: "...I will have to assume the Book says what it means and means what it says."

Which is to say, it "means" whatever McKinsey "says", and informing contexts are irrelevant. And that is demonstrated even further by this note from the 24th issue:

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy" (Matt. 5:43). This statement does not exist in the OT either. In fact, Prov. 24:17 says, "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth..."

No, it doesn't exist in the OT. But those familiar with 1st century rabbinic Judaism know what this is: A reference to saying that was taught by certain rabbis.

McKinsey also has no concern for Jewish teaching techniques, such as the exaggeration in Luke 16:16 -- "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." He says: "Certainly every man is not pressing to enter the kingdom of God." No, but the point is that a large number were trying to press in.

Here is one from issue #27. Commenting on Luke 11:47-8 --

"Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you built their tombs"

McKinsey says, "Logic and scientific precision were not among Jesus' strong points. Building a tomb for someone whom my ancestors killed certainly does not mean I approve of the killing."

"Logic" and "scientific precision" are not at issue; irony is. The charge made by Jesus in this pericope is that the Pharisees are self-righteous hypocrites. He was therefore using the building of monuments as an ironic sign of their true motives.

We now move to this comment from issue #35 --

"Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy graves in peace" (2 Kings 22:20). The prophetess, Huldah, predicted that Josiah would die in peace. Yet, 2 Kings 23:29-30 ("In his days Pharaoah-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him....And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's stead") shows this didn't occur.

What McKinsey fails to report is that 22:20 continues, "Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place." In other words, the "peace" Josiah was to have involved not being around when disaster struck his nation -- and his death took place just prior to events which set Judah into a tailspin that was never recovered from.

In issue #39, the KJV version of Is. 9:20 is quoted, "And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm".

McKinsey simply asks when men ever ate their arms -- apparently being unaware of the desperate lengths ancient people did indeed go to during times of war and famine. But then again, I have noted that this is described as a difficult verse to translate, so it may be that this one didn't make EBE for that reason.

In issue #40, John 14:26 is quoted ("But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.") and it is asked why, if this is true, there were conflicts in the early church. Needless to say, it is obvious that whatever the Holy Spirit might or might not have brought to remembrance, it was up to the people who heard the Spirit to listen to and obey what the Spirit said.

Issue #41 began a most interesting debate that emerged between McKinsey and one letter-writer named "JW" -- who is quite obviously James White, of Alpha and Omega Ministries. This debate reveals a great deal not only about McKinsey's scholarship, but his general tactics and unwillingness to do real research into the Biblical text.

To begin, McKinsey cited KJV versions of Matthew 19:18 and Rom. 13:9 --

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder...
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill...

McKinsey argued that Jesus and Paul did not agree on the wording of the sixth commandment -- one said "murder" and the other said "kill". A letter from White appeared in issue #44 concerning this and other citations (which we will look at in their appropriate places). Concerning this one, White pointed out that in both verses, the underlying Greek is the same -- ou phoneueseis.

In response McKinsey first presented the usual tactic of pointing to the English versions that disagree to prove his point; asking if White thought himself more qualified than the Greek scholars who translated the versions (and blaming the differences on "political expediency").

White wrote again in the 46th issue, noting that McKinsey did not answer the argument at all with his suggestion of conspiracy, and advised him to ask the translators why the differentiation was made if he is unable to understand the matter. McKinsey then went on with an irrelevant discussion on the subject of manuscript reliability, then wrote:

The translators with whom you disagree might have any one of several reasons for rejecting your interpretation and used "murder" in one instance and "kill" in another. The following are only a few available: (a) "You picked inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available. Some translators might have good reasons for using manuscripts with something other than "ou phoneueseis". For example, 100 manuscripts might have "ou phoneuesis" and 50 something else; yet the 50 are preferable because they are far older and closer to the source. (b) "You chose accurate manuscripts but don't realize that identical words can have different meanings...One "ou phoneuesis" might mean something quite different from another..." (c) ...the imprecision of the Greek language. If "ou phoneuesis" can mean both "kill" and "murder" as your Greek-English lexicon of the NT says, then the verse means nothing and might just as well be stricken from the Bible.

Note what has happened here. The original claim of contradiction was (based on English versions) that Jesus and Paul disagreed on the wording. McKinsey begins by implying (without a bit of proof) that there might be manuscripts that read differently, and that is the cause of the contradiction. He then switches to suggesting that there are differing meanings of the same word, which was not the issue at all -- much less is it proven in the contexts of the verses at issue.

White caught McKinsey trying this shell game, and called him down for it in a letter that appeared in issue #52. McKinsey replied by outrightly denying that he offered the first argument, and again making a switch: "...I (did not) say there was a textual variant between Matthew 19:18 KJ ("Thou shalt not murder") and Rom. 13:9 KJ ("Thou shalt not kill")."

KJ of course is not at issue, and even if it were not, that McKinsey presented this as a possible argument amounts to an endorsement of it. If he failed to back up the implication and offered it without supporting data he is no less culpable for the presentation. This is a double bait-and-switch intended to cover McKinsey's tracks over a very embarrassing mistake.

On the other two arguments, White asked for "lexicographical support" -- to which McKinsey only (once again) quoted English versions, and also tries to explain away his use of the argument by implying that he derived it from an apologist. I think more than anything else so far, the way McKinsey thinks is demonstrated by his response when White suggested that he consult the works of textual criticism specialists like the Alands, Metzger, and Bruce:

You mean I'm supposed to research their data? That's your responsibility, not mine. Since the burden of proof lies on he who alleges, you, not I, are obligated to provide the findings.

Of course, since it is McKinsey who made the first "allegation" (that of contradiction) it is actually, by this logic, up to him to prove that it exists -- and not just from his own surface reading, but taking into consideration every relevant factor -- linguistics, literary and social context, textual criticism, modern translation methods (and the fact that translating of different books is done by different people who do not collaborate -- the most likely reason for "contradiction" between these verses in the English versions), and so on. His response to White amounts to no more than a profession of unwillingness to dig too deeply into the subject matter. The bottom line is that this "burden of proof" claim is simply an attempt to get out of defending a bad argument.

A section in issue #42 tried to find disagreement between verses like this one, Matthew 18:3-6 (see also Mark 10:14-5, Matt. 19:14) --

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

...and verses like 1 Cor. 13:11 (see also 1 Cor. 14:20, Eph. 4:14) --

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

McKinsey fails to note that while the first set indicates that one must become as a child to come to salvation, the latter verses are addressed to those now saved, who are told not to remain as children. In other words, they need to grow up after being born again.

The same issue also tried to contrive contradiction between Matthew 21:38 and Acts 13:27/1 Cor. 2:8, in saying that the former indicated recognition of Jesus while the latter did not. McKinsey perhaps realized that it is not possible to press the analogy too far where parables are concerned, and so did not put this in EBE.

In issues 55 through 62, we find a few unique items related to the writings of Paul.

  • We have Heb. 13:4 ("Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.") placed against Hosea's marriage to a prostitute/adulteress. McKinsey's simply is unable to accept the latter instance as a case of prophetic demonstration -- akin, as Tim Callahan would rightly recognize, to our modern performance art. Here the imputed message and its result is considered of more importance than a given law.
  • 1 Thess. 4:6 ("The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.") is pitted against both Exod. 3:22 and Ezek. 39:10 ("And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD."). The latter is taken as a case of God ordering robbing, but it is rather a case of prediction, not ordering.
  • 1 Cor. 14:22-25 -- Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

    In a rather peculiar twist, the first verse is pitted against the last three: "Paul's logic leaves a lot to be desired. Speaking with tongues is for the unbeliever, but if you speak with tongues the believer is unconvinced. Prophesying is not for the unbeliever, but if you prophesy the unbeliever is convinced."

    But McKinsey leaves out a portion of verse 25 in the newsletter, in bold above. This addition makes a difference which allows us to follow Paul's argument. Prior to this passage, Paul had cited Is. 28:11-12 -- "Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, 'This is the resting place, let the weary rest'; and, 'This is the place of repose'-- but they would not listen."

    He sees this verse typologically fulfilled in tongues; but note that it continues by saying that those who hear will not listen. It is a sign from God, specifically for the doubter, but they will not give it regard. Likewise can Paul say that tongues are a sign for the doubting, but one they disregard.

    As for prophecy, it is for believers -- what is prophecy? It is the speaking of what God has to say. Unbelievers do not have this ability, nor is there any indication that it is intended as a sign. But this gift, among other things, enables the believer to translate what is said in tongues. Hence it causes the reaction that Paul describes.

  • Acts 16:6 ("Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.") is pitted against later verses where Paul is said to have worked in Asia (Acts 19:10, 22, 26). There is no indication that the injunction in 16:6 is anything more than intended for the specific moment.
  • The first set of verses is pitted against the second:
    1 Thes. 2:4 -- On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
    Eph. 6:6 -- Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. (KJV: Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart...)
    Gal. 1:10 -- Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    versus

    1 Cor. 10:33 -- ...even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
    Rom. 15:2 -- Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

    McKinsey sees the word "please" repeated in various forms and jumps on them at once, but consider the Greek variations behind Eph. 6:6 -- "manpleasers" = anthropareskos, man-courting, i.e., fawning:--men-pleaser. This is a pejorative term; it is also alluded to in the other two verses paired therewith, where pleasing of "men" (in the KJV, this word is inserted in the text; it is not in the Greek) is indicated, as well as indicated as pejorative by the parallel phrases (not speaking approved by God; trying to win their approval; with eyeservice). This makes the three above of a different category than the last two verses.

  • Gal. 3:21 ("Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.") is pitted against Rom. 10:5 (cf. Lev. 18:5) ("For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.") -- ignoring the use of "life" as being in an ethereal sense where the other quote refers to "living" in a practical sense.
  • Phil. 4:3 ("And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel...") and Rom. 16:3 ("Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus") are pitted against 1 Tim. 2:12-13 ("But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."), with the suggestion that Paul ignored his own admonition in the latter with the former two. Aside from the fact that 1 Tim. is written of events chronologically after the other two letters (thereby allowing that perhaps Paul's 1 Tim. admonition is based upon past experiences like the ones referred to in Phil. and Rom.), there is absolutely no indication that any of the women in question were teachers or in any position of authority over men. However, the verse in Timothy is not interpreted correctly anyway; see here.

In issue #76, a letter-writer delivered this:

Jonah 3:3 ("...Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three day's journey") asserts that the city of Nineveh {the old Assyrian capital} is a very great city which takes 3 days to cross!

The letter went on to point out that ancient Nineveh was only 2 miles in circumference, hardly 3 days' journey across. Now of course it is usual to point out that Jonah's journey was not simply straight across, but roundabout, with stops for preaching; to this the writer said that this would be " a very improbable (and unreliable) way to describe the size of a city, (and) the ruse is clearly shot down in many of the better translations." Well, since none of the translations are cited, we can't comment, but let's look at the Hebrew word for "journey" -- mahalak. It is used only four times in the OT, twice here in Jonah 3:3-4, and here:

Neh. 2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

The context of the inquiry indicates that the mahalak consisted of more than simply trekking directly to Jerusalem: It also involved all of the time away from the palace -- so that it also could refer to a three-day "inside" tour-around of Nineveh.

The only other use in the OT is Ezek. 42:4, where it refers to a mahalak of ten cubits -- referring thus to a specific distance, and therefore of no application here. The Jonah selections say nothing at all about distance; the writer merely assumes that the reference is for the sake of indicating distance to cross. (See more here.)

Issue #81 features an attempt to set 1 Peter 3:18 ("For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:") against Deut. 24:16; our answer linked here explains why this cite is not viable. Also in this issue, the KJV versions of Num. 22:5, which refer to Balaam as son of Beor, and 2 Peter 2:15, which says "son of Bosor". I have seen no explanation given for this one, other than a suggestion that it represents a spelling variation of Peter's native Aramaic. My own thought is that it may be a sort of insulting pun (like the variation on the name of Nebuchadnezzar actually being a play on words), using the word bosko which means to tend or feed -- is this perhaps a way of referring to Balaam as the son of the donkey he rode?

Issue #83 contains four items not seen previously. Luke 24:17 ("And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?") is indicated as "deceit" under the rubric of Jesus' supposed omiscience as God; this does involve a fundamental misunderstanding of Trinitarian roles, but more simply, it fails to recognize that in this societal context questions of this sort were often asked rhetorically and for the sake of eliciting answers.

Luke 5:22//Matt. 9:4 ("But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?") are criticized as false science because people don't think in their hearts: McKinsey adds, "Perhaps it's allegorical, but not necessarily." Actually, it isn't allegorical: According to the ancient methods of division, the "heart" (kardia) designated both the physical heart and the intangible will.

Luke 9:56 ("For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.") is pitted against Rev. 19:11-16 ("And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war...") without comment; presumably it is meant to express that the latter action contradicts the mission statement of the former. The former, however, refers in context to Jesus' earthly mission, unlike the latter.

Issue #84 also contains a few unique items not included in EBE proper. Luke 14:8-10 ("When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him...") is taken as Jesus "teaching classism more than humility." Obviously this passage recognizes that classism (of a sort) exists, but that hardly constitutes endorsement of it. Does McKinsey expect Jesus to teach that one should hijack the seat of the distinguished guest and tell them to buzz off when they arrive? If he goes to a dinner and is told he is sitting in the seat reserved for Bill Gates and needs to move, is he going to tell the waiter, "The heck with that, this is classism"? I rather doubt it.

John 4:24 ("God is a Spirit") is pitted against places in the OT where God appears in a physical form; McKinsey perhaps realized that God's inherent nature as spirit does not prevent a physical manifestation.

Matt. 11:27 ("All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.") is used to ask how OT prophets could have known about God if they lived before Jesus; this fails to account for the personal sense of "know" (epiginosko) which has nothing to do with revelation or communication alone.

John 8:7 ("He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.") is criticized on the grounds that it would bring justice to a halt and cause us to have to empty out prisons; but this is far from a general rule: It is rather a "counter-trap" designed to foil the trap laid for Jesus by his adversaries. (See here for details.)

Finally, Micah 7:18 ("Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.") is pitted against verses indicating eternal punishment, but none of the verses indicate that God's anger will last forever, just His judgment.

In issue #85, we have these unique cites:

An accusation that Jesus misused Daniel 7:13 (see here for more)

Matt. 6:5-6 ("But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...") is pitted against 1 Kings 8 and Solomon's public prayer (So how is Solomon going to know to obey Jesus' directive, even if it is applicable? As corporate leader of Israel, Solomon wasn't praying as a hypocrite, but as the representative of the people.)

Objections about verses like Matt. 24:27-34 which are easily solved within the preterist paradigm.

Issue #86 includes a condemnation of Jesus for fostering belief in the supernatural, including demons; an objection against Matt. 12:11 ("And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?") saying that "All people know that Jews are not permitted to raise any animals on the Sabbath, from a pit or otherwise" ("all people" presumably including the authors of the period, and scholars of Judaism today, that indicate that such emergency efforts were indeed permitted -- and let us keep in mind the didactic, rather than absolute, nature of ancient law codes).

A criticism of Jesus in Luke 9:59-62 for not allowing a decent burial or bidding parents farewell, and giving his work primacy (which begs the question of whether it deserves primacy as the saving gospel).

In issues #115-119 we have several items of accusation against God that didn't make the cut into EBE.

Ex. 3:18 ("And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.") is cited as an instance of God telling Moses to lie, since the intent was escape, but there is no indication at all of this intent in the verses following.

Josh. 7:1 ("But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing") is said to be a lie by God, since only Achan, not all of "Israel", sinned; this is actually no more than an expression of corporate responsibility.

2 Sam. 7:13, 16 ("He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever...") is said to be a lie/false prophecy, for David's kingdom did end; this fails to comprehend the nature of prophecy as more exhortational than absolute.

1 Sam. 23:12 ("Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.") is cited as a false prophecy, because Saul was delivered into David's hands twice later on, but this is not what was asked: David asked whether the men of the particular city would hand David over, which is why David left.

Num. 31:40 is cited with no implications other than that it is somehow wrong for God to set aside people for his own service.

Deut. 21:10-13 ("When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife...") is cited as degrading to women, when in fact in social context these were quite merciful actions, which the captured women would not object to at all.

God is blamed for aiding rather than punishing a swindler when He helps Jacob, which leads us to ask whether McKinsey thinks anyone is perfect enough for God to help out.

Finally, the rhetorical question of Gen. 17:18 is regarded as indecisiveness; as noted previously, such "questions" are equivalent to statements made to elicit response in this social context.

In issue #137, McKinsey addresses an alleged problem in verses like Ex. 31:17 ("It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.") and others that refer to God being at "rest" or "refreshed". (See also Gen. 2:2-3, Ex. 20:11, Heb. 4:4.) McKinsey notes Carl Johnson's reply that such verses are figurative in meaning, and should be taken to mean that God "ceased" His work and was "delighted" with it. McKinsey replies with quoting English versions and dismisses Johnson as asserting that he knows Hebrew better than "a whole battery of experts" on Hebrew -- as if McKinsey were not inclined to such presumption of himself in the first place.

That said, the Hebrew word for "rest" (shabath) is indeed used in the context of something ceasing or lacking, or in the sense of celebration (see Lev. 2:13; 23:32; the Greek in Heb. 4:4 has similar meaning); the word for "refreshed" (naphash) is only used three times in the OT and cannot support any conclusions either way.

In issue #139, contradiction is alleged in Mark 6:5 ("And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.") and Matt. 28:18 ("And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."). The latter is chronologically later than the former; but even so, the "could" here is clearly because the local folk refused to accept Jesus, not because of a lack of power. Also in this issue, Rom. 11:26 ("And so all Israel shall be saved") is set against Zech. 13:8-9 ("And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."). McKinsey quotes Johnson as noting that Zechariah's one-third is the "all Israel" that will be saved; McKinsey cuts Johnson off in mid-explanation to use an "all means all, not some" argument.

But it doesn't matter, because what Paul is describing here is a historical process to come. The previous verse say that the fulness of the Gentiles will come, and then as a result (the Greek here, houto, means "in this way") all Israel will be saved. The best that one can do to prove contradiction is show that the fullness of the Gentiles does not coordinate with the point where Zechariah's 2/3 are eliminated and the third are left.

In issue #140, an examination is made of Johnson's answer to contradiction alleged between Gal. 6:10 ("As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.") and 2 John 10-12 ("If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed..."). Johnson correctly notes that the latter is made in response to false teachers.

McKinsey once again uses over-literalistic the "all means all" litany, but then again, what he quotes from Johnson (nor from Arndt in the 188th issue) does not adequately resolve the issue anyway. It should be added that by welcoming false teachers, especially those who (as John indicates) have perverted the true message, one does more harm than good, so that it would be adequate to say that the only real "opportunity" to do good is to rebuff the false teachers, lest they harm others.

Note that Paul says, "As we have opportunity...", the word being kairos referring to an occasion, or a set and proper time. This situation would not offer an "opportunity" to do good unto all men precisely because it would do more harm than good.

Beyond that, within the social context of 2 John, the reference is not to giving someone who is homeless a place to stay, but to giving an itinerant teacher a central headquarters from which to distribute his teaching. It is not as though they need someplace to stay and that one can do "good" by being charitable to them.

In issue #144, answers given by Haley are taken into consideration; a new cite for us is the claim of clashing between Malachi 1:14 ("But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.") and 1 Sam. 16:2, as well as a verse in Jeremiah we have considered elsewhere, and Ezekiel 14:9. But McKinsey only quotes the first quarter of Mal. 1:14 and ignores the rest of it, which makes a big difference. Deception is not put off as an absolute sin, so that even if there is deception in any of these verses (and we do not necessarily agree that there is), if it served a greater good, there is no problem.

In the 162nd issue, we have this:

On page 293 Haley reads between the lines in order to blend Matt. 18:15 ("Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone....") with 1 Tim. 5:19-20 ( "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear"). In essence, are offenders to be reprimanded in public or in private? Haley says, "The first text refers to private, personal wrongs, the second, to open, public offenses against peace and good order."
Where he got this idea is anybody's guess, since there certainly isn't anything in the text that would substantiate a wholly arbitrary distinction of this nature. The second says nothing about "peace and good order." All it refers to is "Them that sin" which could refer to thousands of acts having nothing to do with "peace and good order." Haley continues by quoting the apologist Alford who says of the first text, "This direction is only in case of personal offence against ourselves, and then the injured person is to seek private explanation , and that by going to his injurer, not waiting till he comes to apologize." This doesn't resolve the problem because "Them that sin rebuke before all" in 1 Timothy would include those brothers who trespass against you personally and are to be rebuked privately. Moreover, there is nothing in the text that would substantiate Haley's assertion that the injured party is to seek out the injurer. Just more adding between the lines.

The word "accusation" in 1 Tim. is kategoria. Consider how the word is used elsewhere:

Luke 6:7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
John 18:29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

This is a serious criminal charge, as the solution notes.

In the 174th issue a letter-writer pointed to Heb. 4:15 ("but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin") and received a partial endorsement from McKinsey, who noted that "There is no way Jesus could have been tempted in all things. As you say, he couldn't very well have been tempted to beat his wife when he had none."

This presumes that "sin" is to be broken down into such narrow categories, as if "wife-beating" must be differentiated from beating some other person. Unless it can be proven that the writer of Hebrews, or other ancient writers, separated sins into such narrow categories, this is merely a strawman.

In the 182nd issue, McKinsey alleges the contradiction between Deut. 8:2 ("And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord, thy God, led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep His commandments or not") and Acts 1:24 ("And they prayed and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show which of these two Thou hast chosen").

In Deut. 8:2 the word "know" is the very broad word yada, which may means "know" not in the sense of lacking knowledge, but in the sense of perception and familiarity. The Acts 1:24 "knowest", however, involves a root word with a much narrower and different application of perception and understanding.

The 191st and 192nd issues (the last two) saw a spate of new items; we will examine those items which are not previously covered (specifically or topically) or do not come under the general rubric of proverbial literature and copyist errors.

It is noted: "Lot said to a crowd in 19:8, "Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes...," even though 2 Peter 2:8 says Lot was a righteous man." The word "righteous" (dikais) can be used in both an absolute and a relative sense; if it is the latter, then there is no argument.

Exodus 16:31 ("...and the taste of manna was like wafers made with honey") is held against Num. 11:8 ("...and the taste of it (manna) was as the taste of fresh oil"). Num. 11:8 first says that the people "ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it", which they did not do in Exodus. Cooking things often does tend to alter their flavor, as any chef knows.

Exodus 22:21 ("Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt") is set against places where the Israelites do war, when both the context and the word "stranger" (ger) indicate a guest in a foreign land.

Exodus 25:8 ("And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them") is set against Acts 7:48 ("Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands...."); the latter is a quote of Stephen who, in polemical and rhetorical context, is countering Jewish rejection of Christ by offering a midrashic statement in 7:49. Since it is a quote at any rate, there is no relevance for inerrancy.

Numbers 14:25 RSV ("Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys....") is pitted against 14:45 RSV ("Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came down..."), not being cognizant that these refer to two different places where these widespread tribes live -- it is not stating in either case that they live there exclusively.

Numbers 18:23-24 ("But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.... Levites...among the children of Israel shall have no inheritance") is pitted against Joshua 21:3 ("And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the Lord, these cities and their suburbs"), apparently thinking that the giving out of inheritance in Joshua equates with an "inheritance" of the sort referred to in Numbers, and naturally leaving out the part of verse 24 that describes the tithes that shall be given to the Levites.

Numbers 26:11 (" Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.") is pitted against earlier Numbers verses indicating that his kids did die; but "children" here has a wider sense of including all descendants, which would include grandchildren by marriage.

Numbers 26:38 ("The sons of Benjamin according to their respective clans were: Bela, Ashbek, Ahiram, Shephupham and Hupham") is pitted against Gen. 46:21 ("And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard"), ignoring the 400+-year gap between the two times noted.

Deut. 6:16 ("Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God") is pitted against Isa. 7:10-12 ("Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 'Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God'....But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.'), leading me only to ask: "Where is the problem?" The only problem is that Ahaz incorrectly perceived that accepting the offer of a sign was equal to tempting God; hence the rebuke he then received. There is no indication that it actually was so.

Deut. 10:19 ("Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt") is held against Deut. 14:21("Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger...that he may eat of it") and 23:20 ("Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury"), with the seeming assumption that the latter two show some lack of "love". However, since the eating of carrion was actually common practice, and "usury" here is not the modern crime of usury but merely interest, there is no disregard for the stranger or lack of love at all.

2 Kings 6:22 ("...wouldest thou smite those whom thou has taken captive with the sword...") is set against Judges 8:21 ("And Gideon arose and slew Zebah and Zalmunna" (who were two prisoners). What's the problem here? All that is being done is that two separate reports are given on how two different sets of prisoners were treated at two different times. This is like reporting a story of how a bank robber was shot and killed, and a story of how another was captured alive, and saying the two stories contradict one another.

1 Samuel 15:35 RSV ("And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul...") is argued as saying that "Samuel and Saul did not meet until the day the latter died" and then pitted against 1 Samuel 19:24 ("And Saul stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel...."), which is said to show that "they did meet prior to Saul's death." But the first verse indicates that Samuel did not go to Saul; in the context of the prior verse ("Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.") the meaning is clearly in terms of what we would call today a "state visit". The latter verse is a case of Saul seeking out Samuel, not vice versa.

2 Sam 18:18 ("Now Absalom said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance...") is put against 2 Sam. 14:27 ("And unto Absalom there were born three sons...")' it apparently does not occur to the writer that Absalom's sons predeceased him, as might be expected considering the events in between the verses in which Absalom revolted against David and his own sons would be prime targets. (There is also indication that 18:18 refers to a time before Absalom's sons were born: Though not reflected in the translation above, the building of the pillar is said to be "in his lifetime" -- the latter word , chay, having the connotation of youth.)

Further lack of cognizance of ancient storytelling procedure is promulgated as 1 Kings 14:30 ("And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days") and 15:16 ("And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days") are pitted against verses indicating intermittent times of peace between these kings; these verses are written to underscore the general enmity between the kings, not state that they were constantly at war with each other 100% of the time, even while asleep.

Is. 54:7 ("For a small moment have Ihave forsaken thee....") is put against Deut. 4:31 ("For the Lord thy God is a merciful God; he will not forsake thee....") and 1 Sam. 12:22 ("For the Lord will not forsake his people...."); our writer is unaware that "forsake" is an entirely different Hebrew word in each of the three verses.

Jeremiah 4:14 ("O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved") is placed against Jer. 2:22 ("Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me"); the context of each verse clearly indicates a vain attempt at external "washing" versus an internal "washing".

Jer. 32:4 ("And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes") is pitted against Jer. 52:11 ("Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon...."), noting that "Zedekiah's eyes were put out but he later saw the king of Babylon." The two verses previous to 52:11 ("Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.") allow us to "see" the answer to this.

Ezekiel 5:7 ("...Because ye...have not walked in my statutes...neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you") is set against Ezekiel 11:12 ("...for ye have not walked in my statutes...but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you") for reasons fathomable only to the writer. No explanation is offered.

Hosea 8:13 ("they [Ephraim] shall return to Egypt") is set against 11:5 ("He [Ephraim] shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king...."); apparently the writer is unaware that "Egypt" in the first verse is figuative for captivity.

Matthew 5:45 ("...your Father who is in heaven: for he...sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust") is set against 2 Chron. 6:26 ("When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee"); one is constrained to ask why a contradiction is seen between the first, a proverbial non-absolute, and the second, a conditional potentiality.

Matthew 7:21 ("Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven....") is pitted against Acts 2:21 ("And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved") and Rom 10:13 ("For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"); "name" (onoma) here, however, clearly means in the sense of authority -- not merely saying Jesus' name.

John 20:23 RSV ("If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained") is set against Mark 2:7 ("Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"), not considering the fact that the latter expresses the opinions of those present who would not recognize (much less know of -- since it was in the future) Jesus' later authority to delegate forgiveness.

Acts 1:1-2 ("In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up....") is set against John 21:25 ("And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written"), as if when Luke says "all" he is not using a standard storytelling device, but actually indicating that he told "all" that Jesus did, including going to the bathroom and eating every meal in his life.

Acts 27:10 RSV ("And Paul said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo...but also of our lives") is cited against the safe landing of all aboard Paul's ship, not considering that Paul merely was expressing his opinion as a seasoned traveler.

1 Corinthians 3:11 RSV ("For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ") is set against Eph. 2:20 ("And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone"), not considering that the latter is used as a figure for the body of Christ, while the former refers to missionary work.

Colossians 2:9 ("For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily") is set against 1 Kings 8:27 ("But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded"); the latter is only Solomon's statement, not an accepted fact.

Philemon 12 RSV ("I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart") is held against Deut. 23:15 ("Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee"); never mind that the context of the latter indicates a slave that has escaped from a foreign nation to Israel, and that the former takes place under an entirely different social-religious contract and covenant-condition.

Heb. 6:2 ("Of the doctrine of baptisms....") is set against Eph. 4:5 ("One Lord, one faith, one baptism..."), apparently in the belief that the former indicates several doctrines of baptism, as opposed to referring to the plurality of the event in the church (or perhaps, consideration of Christian baptism vs, the baptism of John).

James 1:2 ("My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations") is set against Matt. 6:13 ("And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"); what is contradictory about asking not to be tested, but nevertheless being glad when you are?

Finally, James 4:11 ("Speak not evil one of another....") is set against Phil. 3:2 ("Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers...."), leaving out the last word in James 4:11, "brethren", which indicates an internal church command.

-JPH