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Confusing Messages about Jesus and the Father: John 14

The Gospel of John is extremely important for understanding where the doctrine of the Trinity came from.   I should stress: the Trinity does not appear in the Gospel – nowhere does the Gospel say that there are three persons, all distinct from one another, all of them equally God, and yet there is only one God.  That, in a nutshell is the doctrine of the Trinity.  But even though the Gospel does not express the doctrine (either does any other book of the NT), the book could later be mined by those who wanted to find support for it.  To that end, no passage could be more important than John 14. In my previous post I explained a bit about the “Farewell Discourse,” the long five-chapter speech and then prayer of Jesus on his last evening, before his arrest.  In chapter 14 Jesus hits on many of the key themes of the entire address (chs. 13-17; the longest speech of Jesus in the Gospels).  He prepares his disciples by telling them that he will now [...]

2021-05-30T16:05:20-04:00June 8th, 2021|Canonical Gospels, Early Christian Doctrine|

Jesus’ Final Speech in John: A Lead-up to the Coming of the Spirit

I have very much enjoyed doing this mini-thread on the Holy Spirit in the biblical tradition as part of the larger thread on the question of where the Trinity came from.  I’ve never written on this before (the biblical views of the Spirit) or even thought about it systematically, though I have, of course, thought about the individual pieces of the puzzle for many years.  But putting it all together has been instructive and interesting. I have been talking about the role of the Spirit in Paul, Acts, and the Synoptics (esp. Luke), but all along I’ve thought that a passage in the Gospel of John is in many ways the most significant for understanding how the Spirit became part of the Trinity in later years.  The passage occurs in the longest speech of Jesus in the New Testament, the “Farewell Discourse” of John 13-17. This is a flat-out amazing speech that most people do not realize is so remarkable, simply as a speech.  As you may know, in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, [...]

2021-05-30T16:05:11-04:00June 6th, 2021|Canonical Gospels|

My Response To Conservative Critics. An Interview on the MythVision Podcast

Derek Mythvision Podcast Last month I did a long and detailed interview with Derek Lambert, the person who started and runs an interesting podcast called MythVision Podcast.  Derek is unusually well informed about the New Testament and he has deep and penetrating questions about my positions/views in some of my popular books, especially in light of what a very conservative evangelical apologist John McLatchie has been saying about my, well, sloppy ignorance.  I had never heard of McLatchie before, but that's not unusual.  There are over two billion Christians in the world and I've never heard of most of them.  Still, not that many of them assault my intelligence without telling me directly (e.g. in an email) that I'm an idiot. Still, maybe he's right about everything.  That's the nice thing about human intelligence.  You yourself have it, and you can make up your own mind.   In any event, here's the interview.  The bit with McLatchie kicks in part way through, but the whole thing is about important topics that I've dealt with in my [...]

2022-06-07T13:55:06-04:00June 5th, 2021|Public Forum|

You Don’t Want To Blaspheme the Spirit! But What’s It Mean?

Since I've been posting now on the role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, I've been getting a number of questions about what it means to "blaspheme the Holy Spirit."  In some cases the question is urgent, from someone who fears she or he has committed the sin.  That would be a problem.  Jesus says that THAT sin is the only one that is unforgivable.  Forever.  Serious stuff. My view is that anyone who is concerned they've committed it almost by definition has not committed it.  But that will take a bit of explaining.   I looked it up and I have posted on this a couple of times over the years, including just a year ago -- but since it keeps reappearing as a question, I thought I should go over the topic again. So here's the deal.  The earliest reference to the idea of the “unforgiveable sin” comes to us in the Gospel of Matthew (it is taken from the so-called Q source):  “Therefore I tell you every sin and blasphemy will [...]

2021-06-07T17:51:08-04:00June 3rd, 2021|Early Christian Doctrine, Reader’s Questions|

Blog Zoom Lecture This Saturday: Jesus as a Young Boy!

This Saturday at 3:00 I will be giving a fund-raising lecture for the blog on Gospel stories about Jesus as a boy, both as found in the New Testament (there's not much said about it there) and from outside in the terrifically interesting "Infancy Gospels."  Now here are accounts you didn't hear in Sunday School. This is the second in a three-part series on Jesus according to the Christians.  You do not have to have been at the first one either to come or to understand this one -- it is a stand alone lecture, with a good ole Aristotelian beginning, middle, and end. All the funds we bring in will go to help pay for blog expenses, so we can continue to give every dime of membership fees and regular donations to the charities we support.  The fee for the lecture, if you have not already paid for it, is $10; or if you are paying for both this one and the one the following week,  the fee is $19 total.  We accept more [...]

The Spirit in the Life of Jesus

I have pointed out that the earliest Christians believed they were living at the end of time and that in fulfillment of the promises of Scripture, especially in the Old Testament prophet Joel, they (or at least many of them) believed God had sent his Spirit to guide and direct them in these final days before the Kingdom of God arrived.  We find this idea in the letters of Paul (our first Christian author), in the book of Acts (e.g., on the Day of Pentecost in ch. 2), and elsewhere in the New Testament. In this post I want to point out that when later Christians told their stories about Jesus they took this belief that the Spirit had come upon them and applied it to the (earlier) life of Jesus, saying that the Spirit was particularly manifest in his life, since he was the one who inaugurated the end of time. You get some a whiff of that view already in the Gospel of Mark.  When Jesus is baptized in the opening chapter, the [...]

The Holy Spirit in Charge of the Church (?)

In my earlier posts I started to show the early Christians believed that because they were living at the very end of time.  This was an interim period between the time when the resurrection of the dead began with Jesus being raised and was soon to culminate with the general resurrection, in which all who had ever died would be brought back to life  to face judgment.  Most important for our purposes here, these Christians thought God had sent the Spirit upon them in fulfillment of the prophecies of Scripture, especially Joel 2. The Spirit was both the sign of the end of time and a helper for those living in it.  Since now God was closer to his people than ever, arguably since the Garden of Eden (as the End was beginning to be more like the Beginning), he communicated with them directly, as he had once upon a time.  Now was the time that he gave dreams, visions, and prophesies directly to people, not just isolated prophets, in order to convey to them [...]

2021-05-06T10:57:50-04:00June 1st, 2021|Early Christian Doctrine, Paul and His Letters|
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