Tag Archives: Dialogue

Richard Bauckham defends the divinity of Jesus against James Crossley

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!

Richard is very thorough and works only with minimal facts that skeptical scholars will agree with. James Crossley is an excellent atheist, knowledgeable and respectful.

The debate goes for 80 minutes. I wrote a summary so you can follow along as you listen. This summary is rated “N” for Not Snarky.

Summary

Main topic:
– was belief in Jesus’ divinity develop late, or was it there from the beginning?
– how did the early Jewish community reconcile the idea of Jesus’ divinity with monotheism?

Moderator:
– was the the worship of Jesus as God a late development in history
– was it accepted by converts from the Jewish community

Bauckham:
– high Christology was not a result of pagan influences
– Jews reconciled Jesus’ divinity with their Jewish monotheism

Moderator:
– is the degree of Christology a historian is willing to accept just the result of bias?

Crossley:
– bias is always a factor in what individual people think
– but in a public discussion, what matters is the evidence

Moderator:
– High-Christology is used by Christians as an argument for the resurrection
– Christians ask: what cause could account for the effect of early high Christology?

Crossley:
– we agree that the first Christians witnessed something after Jesus’ death
– what they witnessed had a role in their forming their high opinion of Jesus
– the high opinion was because they believed he had been resurrected (1 Cor 15)
– whether he was or not is a separate question

Moderator:
– is a high Christology a good argument for inferring the resurrection?

Bauckham:
– the resurrection makes people think Jesus is unique, but not necessarily divine
– it was really the belief in the exaltation of Jesus to God’s right hand that did it
– what God does in Judaism is to create the universe and rule over the universe
– if Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, then is participating in ruling creation
– so Jesus is being identified with God very early
– the exaltation might have been caused by post-mortem visions of Jesus, e.g. – Stephen

Moderator:
– how were early monotheistic Jews able to reconcile the divinity of Jesus with monotheism?

Crossley:
– the high Christology may not be early because disputes about it are going on in John
– there were other figures in Judaism like the Word of God and Wisdom that were very high
– maybe Paul’s Christology is not as high and he is thinking something high but not deity
– and in John the Christology is being pushed higher to deity, and then there are disputes

Moderator:
– Phillipians and 1 Corinthians are the first evidences of what people thought about Jesus
– John is actually much later

Crossley:
– it may be that Paul’s Christology is high and that he just never got into any disputes

Bauckham:
– in Phillipians, Paul incorporates Jesus into the shema, the core of Jewish monotheism
– in 1 Corinthians, he does the same thing

Moderator:
– is this evidence consistent with the idea that Jesus is more like Wisdom or the Word of God

Crossley:
– in Paul’s letters, there are no conflicts about Jesus’ divinity, they appear later in John
– if Paul’s letters taught a divine Jesus, there would be conflicts in the letters
– so there is possibly an evolving Christology from very high to divine

Bauckham:
– the Word and Wisdom of God are different from exalted figures – they are separate
– the Word and Wisdom of God are intrinsic to God’s own identity
– and so Word and Wisdom are divine in the sense that they below to God’s identity

Moderator:
– is Jesus an exalted human figure or someone identified with God?
– is the identification of Jesus with divinity compatible with Jewish monotheism?
– or was this concept developed later in a pagan context where one more God would not matter?

Bauckham:
– NT scholars typically separate functional Christology and ontic Christology
– but I say that there is no such disctinction
– if Jesus does the functions of God (like ruling), then it means he is identified with God
– there is a distinction between who God is (identity) and what God is (nature)
– Jews were not as concerned with the identification of a man with the God
– Jews were disturbed by the idea that THIS shamed and crucified man would be identified with God

Moderator:
– is this high Christology too much of a sharp break with Jewish monotheism to have been early?

Crossley:
– the Phillipians passage is a strong early passage for Richard’s view
– definitely the crucifixion is a major problem for the early Jewish monotheists
– but the deification of a human being is also a strong problem in spite of what Richard says
– both Jews and Muslims will have objections to identifying Jesus with the divine

Moderator:
– How can Paul write something like this when he was such a high-ranking Jew?

Bauckham:
– Jewish monotheism could accomodate something surprising like this without surrendering anything
– John starts his gospel at the creation of the universe to say Jesus was there as “the Word”

Moderator:
– was the early church thinking of Jesus the same way that the church today does?

Crossley:
– it’s hard to say because the language today reflects a lot of development
– in the early church people were still thinking about what to make of Jesus

Moderator:
– what about in the other gospels, do they indicate a strong notion of Jesus as divine?

Crossley:
– nothing as strong as Paul’s letters and John, especiall the disputes with the Jews

Moderator:
– so did the writers of the other gospels have different views of Jesus’ divinity than Paul and John?

Crossley:
– well the same claims are not there in the text, the claims are not as grand as in Paul and John

Bauckham:
– but in Mark, the earliest gospel, Jesus forgives sins and calms storm – acting as God acts
– Jesus also asks “why do call me good, only God is good”
– the “seated at the right hand of God” and “coming on the clouds” passages

Crossley:
– I don’t think those claims are as high as John, because Moses controls nature as well
– the other actions may be more that Jesus has authority to do these things

Moderator:
– but the author of Mark writes that the disciples are catching on that Jesus was more than a man

Bauckham:
– Jews were not as concerned with the unitary nature of God, but there is only one God (being)
– there can’t really be any evolution from Jesus as a created being to Jesus as divine
– in paganism, there are lower divinities, but that is not the case in Jewish monotheism

Moderator:
– the fact that Jesus was worshiped by Jews means he was already viewed as divine

Crossley:
– that point is debatable, but can be sustained with a careful exegesis like Richard does
– there is some room there for an evolving Christology – the gap may not be as big as Richard says

Moderator:
– do you think that the worship of Jesus was the result of increasing Christology over time?

Crossley:
– it may not have been conscious, but John is the clearest statement and it is the latest gospel
– it may be that a dispute with Jews was required to spell it out even if it was present before

Moderator:
– what about idea that the early church worshiped him because they just though it was a new revelation?

Bauckham:
– the early Christians worshiped as Jews and then met separately afterward to worship Jesus
– worship is about distinguishing God from the created world
– you wouldn’t worship Jesus without some idea of what you were doing

Crossley:
– other things that set Jesus apart were the exorcisms and the vision to Paul that converted him

Richard Bauckham and James Crossley debate the reliability of the gospels

A leading New Testament scholar from Cambridge, Dr. Richard Bauckham, was recently on the radio program ‘Unbelievable?’ which is on the Premier Christian Radio network.

Bauckham was arguing that the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts and therefore should be regarded as fundamentally trustworthy.

Joining him was New Testament historian Dr. James Crossley, discussing the implications of Bauckham’s work and whether the Gospel of John was written by the disciple John himself, as Bauckham claims. Dr. Crossley is one of my favorite atheist debaters. He is a professor at the University of Sheffield.

It is well worth the listen.

Part 1 – (1 hr 20 mins)
Part 2 – (1 hr 20 mins)

Crossley debated against William Lane Craig before here and he debated against Michael Bird as well (part 1, part 2).

Richard Bauckham and James Crossley debate the divinity of Christ

Richard is very thorough and works only with minimal facts that skeptical scholars will agree with. James Crossley is an excellent atheist. I used to think he was mean, but now he seems so reasonable. I hope someone can befriend him and introduce him to some of the evidence for theism from the progress of science, so that he can perhaps becomes a Christian.

Here is the MP3 file.

I wrote a summary so you can follow along as you listen.

More stuff

In another recent discussion, Richard Bauckham defends the reliability of the gospels against James Crossley. Crossley debated against William Lane Craig before on the resurrection and he debated against Michael Bird here, (part 1, part 2). The topic was “How did Christianity Begin?”.

Summary

Main topic:
– was belief in Jesus’ divinity develop late, or was it there from the beginning?
– how did the early Jewish community reconcile the idea of Jesus’ divinity with monotheism?

Moderator:
– was the the worship of Jesus as God a late development in history
– was it accepted by converts from the Jewish community

Bauckham:
– high Christology was not a result of pagan influences
– Jews reconciled Jesus’ divinity with their Jewish monotheism

Moderator:
– is the degree of Christology a historian is willing to accept just the result of bias?

Crossley:
– bias is always a factor in what individual people think
– but in a public discussion, what matters is the evidence

Moderator:
– High-Christology is used by Christians as an argument for the resurrection
– Christians ask: what cause could account for the effect of early high Christology?

Crossley:
– we agree that the first Christians witnessed something after Jesus’ death
– what they witnessed had a role in their forming their high opinion of Jesus
– the high opinion was because they believed he had been resurrected (1 Cor 15)
– whether he was or not is a separate question

Moderator:
– is a high Christology a good argument for inferring the resurrection?

Bauckham:
– the resurrection makes people think Jesus is unique, but not necessarily divine
– it was really the belief in the exaltation of Jesus to God’s right hand that did it
– what God does in Judaism is to create the universe and rule over the universe
– if Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, then is participating in ruling creation
– so Jesus is being identified with God very early
– the exaltation might have been caused by post-mortem visions of Jesus, e.g. – Stephen

Moderator:
– how were early monotheistic Jews able to reconcile the divinity of Jesus with monotheism?

Crossley:
– the high Christology may not be early because disputes about it are going on in John
– there were other figures in Judaism like the Word of God and Wisdom that were very high
– maybe Paul’s Christology is not as high and he is thinking something high but not deity
– and in John the Christology is being pushed higher to deity, and then there are disputes

Moderator:
– Phillipians and 1 Corinthians are the first evidences of what people thought about Jesus
– John is actually much later

Crossley:
– it may be that Paul’s Christology is high and that he just never got into any disputes

Bauckham:
– in Phillipians, Paul incorporates Jesus into the shema, the core of Jewish monotheism
– in 1 Corinthians, he does the same thing

Moderator:
– is this evidence consistent with the idea that Jesus is more like Wisdom or the Word of God

Crossley:
– in Paul’s letters, there are no conflicts about Jesus’ divinity, they appear later in John
– if Paul’s letters taught a divine Jesus, there would be conflicts in the letters
– so there is possibly an evolving Christology from very high to divine

Bauckham:
– the Word and Wisdom of God are different from exalted figures – they are separate
– the Word and Wisdom of God are intrinsic to God’s own identity
– and so Word and Wisdom are divine in the sense that they below to God’s identity

Moderator:
– is Jesus an exalted human figure or someone identified with God?
– is the identification of Jesus with divinity compatible with Jewish monotheism?
– or was this concept developed later in a pagan context where one more God would not matter?

Bauckham:
– NT scholars typically separate functional Christology and ontic Christology
– but I say that there is no such disctinction
– if Jesus does the functions of God (like ruling), then it means he is identified with God
– there is a distinction between who God is (identity) and what God is (nature)
– Jews were not as concerned with the identification of a man with the God
– Jews were disturbed by the idea that THIS shamed and crucified man would be identified with God

Moderator:
– is this high Christology too much of a sharp break with Jewish monotheism to have been early?

Crossley:
– the Phillipians passage is a strong early passage for Richard’s view
– definitely the crucifixion is a major problem for the early Jewish monotheists
– but the deification of a human being is also a strong problem in spite of what Richard says
– both Jews and Muslims will have objections to identifying Jesus with the divine

Moderator:
– How can Paul write something like this when he was such a high-ranking Jew?

Bauckham:
– Jewish monotheism could accomodate something surprising like this without surrendering anything
– John starts his gospel at the creation of the universe to say Jesus was there as “the Word”

Moderator:
– was the early church thinking of Jesus the same way that the church today does?

Crossley:
– it’s hard to say because the language today reflects a lot of development
– in the early church people were still thinking about what to make of Jesus

Moderator:
– what about in the other gospels, do they indicate a strong notion of Jesus as divine?

Crossley:
– nothing as strong as Paul’s letters and John, especiall the disputes with the Jews

Moderator:
– so did the writers of the other gospels have different views of Jesus’ divinity than Paul and John?

Crossley:
– well the same claims are not there in the text, the claims are not as grand as in Paul and John

Bauckham:
– but in Mark, the earliest gospel, Jesus forgives sins and calms storm – acting as God acts
– Jesus also asks “why do call me good, only God is good”
– the “seated at the right hand of God” and “coming on the clouds” passages

Crossley:
– I don’t think those claims are as high as John, because Moses controls nature as well
– the other actions may be more that Jesus has authority to do these things

Moderator:
– but the author of Mark writes that the disciples are catching on that Jesus was more than a man

Bauckham:
– Jews were not as concerned with the unitary nature of God, but there is only one God (being)
– there can’t really be any evolution from Jesus as a created being to Jesus as divine
– in paganism, there are lower divinities, but that is not the case in Jewish monotheism

Moderator:
– the fact that Jesus was worshiped by Jews means he was already viewed as divine

Crossley:
– that point is debatable, but can be sustained with a careful exegesis like Richard does
– there is some room there for an evolving Christology – the gap may not be as big as Richard says

Moderator:
– do you think that the worship of Jesus was the result of increasing Christology over time?

Crossley:
– it may not have been conscious, but John is the clearest statement and it is the latest gospel
– it may be that a dispute with Jews was required to spell it out even if it was present before

Moderator:
– what about idea that the early church worshiped him because they just though it was a new revelation?

Bauckham:
– the early Christians worshiped as Jews and then met separately afterward to worship Jesus
– worship is about distinguishing God from the created world
– you wouldn’t worship Jesus without some idea of what you were doing

Crossley:
– other things that set Jesus apart were the exorcisms and the vision to Paul that converted him

Friday Night Funny: There’s probably no Dawkins showing up to debate Craig

There's Probably No Dawkins
There's Probably No Dawkins

Full story here. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Excerpt:

‘THERE’S PROBABLY NO DAWKINS’ SLOGAN FOR OXFORD BUSES
‘Reasonable Faith Tour’ with William Lane Craig Responds to Dawkins Boycott

A message with a familiar ring to it will be rolling out on the side of buses in Oxford from 10th of October. ‘There’s Probably No Dawkins. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre’

The advertising campaign follows Richard Dawkins’ refusal to publicly debate the existence of God with philosopher William Lane Craig when he visits the UK in October. He has an open invitation to debate Craig at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on 25th October.

The Oxford bus campaign echoes the 2009 London atheist bus advertisements: ‘There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life.’

The ‘Reasonable Faith Tour’ organisers, supported by Premier Christian Radio, commissioned the advert, which will roll out on 30 buses in Oxford from 10th October for two weeks. ‘There’s Probably No Dawkins. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre’ promotes this significant event.

BACKGROUND: William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California and is arguably the world’s foremost defender of historic Christianity. Widely respected among academic philosophers, he has debated with many leading atheists across the world, including Peter Atkins, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Flew, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and most recently, Sam Harris.

Harris has described him as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”

THE REFUSALS: Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig highlights the lack of leading British Humanists prepared to debate him.

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, and outspoken atheist and critic of religion, has refused four separate invitations to debate Craig, sent from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Christian Radio.

Dawkins’ refusal to debate led fellow Oxford academic Dr Daniel Came, who is an atheist himself, to write a letter to Dawkins stating that,“the absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.”

[…]The Sheldonian evening will be chaired by an Oxford Professor of Philosophy, who is himself an atheist. The stage will be set for a debate or a lecture should Dawkins not show up. Craig intends to tackle the central arguments in Dawkins book before a panel of academics who will respond to his lecture, before questions are invited from the audience.

[…]An open invitation has been sent to Richard Dawkins to change his mind and debate with Craig in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on October 25th. If he does not come, an empty chair will be placed on the stage, and will remain there.

How can you get tickets to the events? Look here:

I think this is a good reminder about why Christians should care about the economy. No government will ever fund ads like this, it’s up to us to do it. We should vote conservative so that we keep more of our own money for things like this that a secular left government will never fund. Always vote conservative, and save your money.

Just one more small thing for this Friday night’s fun.

Happy Friday!

UPDATE: If you would like to see Dawkins’ opponent in action, watch this debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens:

This is what Dawkins is afraid will happen to him.

Where’s Dawkins? Debating or promoting his books to his gullible followers?

Where's Dawkins?
BirdieUpon asks: Where's Dawkins?

So the top defender of Christianity operating today is going to be doing a speaking/debating tour of the UK. The organizers have asked Richard Dawkins to come out and defend atheism, but Dawkins is not willing to discuss atheism with anyone who isn’t… already an atheist.

What is Dawkins doing instead of debating?

From BirdieUpon’s blog. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Excerpt:

Craig has not sought to debate Dawkins. He’s responded to invitations from independent organisations who have tried to set this up – in fact he’s never set up a single debate, himself, in his life!

Best of all, Dawkins will actually be spending October… self-promoting! He’ll be charging around the country and in TV studios plugging his new book The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True! In fact, Dawkins will be promoting it in the Royal Albert Hall on October 19th, while Craig is in Cambridge delivering a lecture on Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design.

Dawkins’ calendar, on his website, indicates that October 25th (the night of Dawkins’ challenge to fill Oxford Sheldonian Theatre’s empty debating chair) is free for him. It also, however, mentions a movie-screening in New York, so one hopes Dawkins isn’t planning on fleeing the country!

William Lane Craig’s speaking and debating tour of the UK is almost upon us, and now might be a good time to review some of his debates.

Dr. Craig normally debates two topics: 1) Does God exist? and 2) Did Jesus rise from the dead?

Does God Exist?

For the question of God’s existence, he uses 5 arguments.

You can see them being used in this debate against Christopher Hitchens:

Did Jesus Rise from the dead?

For the question of Jesus’ resurrection, he uses 1 argument based on four “minimal facts”, which are all accepted by the majority of scholars.

You can see them being used in this debate against Bart Ehrman:

If you watch both of these, that should prepare you for the news of the UK debates when it comes out. The tour starts on October 17th and will go until October 26th. You can learn more about Dr. Craig from this radio interview that he just did on the Unbelievable radio show, with Justin Brierley.