Thursday, May 24, 2012

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Why John 3:16 is a Lie in Its Biblical Context

I have noticed several people who constantly comment on Debunking Christianity. Since John Loftus has decided to....uh...step back...a few of them have contributed some articles. This one by Harry McCall is quite bad. I think it's one of the worst articles I've ever seen on that site. I think the first four comments made on the article is very important to look at because it shows the mentality of people who have bought into such truly illogical thinking.

Lets compare this famous evangelical Gospel tract verse cited in the late Gospel of John with both the older Bible traditions themselves as well as the New Testament itself.

First the verse from John 3: 16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Lofty goal. Let's see if McCall can make this  charge stick. Huge hint: he doesn't.

Deception 1:For God so loved the world,…” but 1 John 2:15 believers are told that God wants them NOT to love the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Thus, on the one hand we are told God loves the world in John’s Gospel only to be again told in John’s Epistle for Christians NOT to love the world. Since - in both cases the Greek for word here is κόσμον, one is totally fed a flat out contradiction in these two New Testament books.

Secondly, if God really loves the world, he would not have destroyed it in the Flood of Noah. (Love and destruction are totally antonyms!)

Let us look at the first comment from Harold815.

This is some really bad exegesis.  I think that your problem here is that your bias towards Christianity is getting in the way of an accurate analysis of this text.  John you’re the biblical scholar your can explain to him what is wrong with his exegesis.  I mean this is really bad.  A hint, you have to allow your context to explain the passage.  This is the flaw in your first “deception”. The context shows that there is no deception here at all.  You seem to be taking everything literally in the Bible.  This is a bad thing to do and will not help you understand or get to the deeper parts of a Biblical passage.  You need to do some studying of hermeneutics.

I think Harold815 is exactly right except that I doubt that John Loftus' exegesis would be any better than McCalls' exegesis. One of the first rules of good hermeneutics is to look at the context. It should be obvious that in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15, "Kosmos" or "world" are not referring to the same things. John 3:16 is referring to humanity  (or believers if you are a Calvinist) and in 1 John 2:15 "world" is referring to the sin of the world and the evil that people do. Also "love" and "destruction" are not antonyms. You can't have love without justice. And don't forget that it took Noah 120 years to build the Ark and during the time Noah tried to get the other people to repent and they wouldn't.

Deception 2: “…that He gave His only begotten Son,…” Yet in Genesis 6:2 we are clearly told: “that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.” Just as the Hebrew plainly states: בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים וַיִּרְאוּ God already had “sons” plural! So one must wondered: Even if the Hellenistic Greek writer of the Gospel of John did not understand the Hebrew text, he surely had the LXX which clearly again states “οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ”.

This same Hebrew syntax is also found again in Job 1:6 האלהים בני which also supports Genesis 6:2 in that God already had male children. However, in the LXX this verse is changed to: …“ἰδοὺ ἦλθον οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆναι ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου καὶ διάβολος ἦλθεν μετ' αὐτῶν”. Thus, by the mid-third century BCE, בני (sons) has become οἱ ἄγγελοι (angles) and השטן (the accuser) has become διάβολος (the devil).

While Christians get all choked up about God giving his only son, Jesus; they need to read and believe their Bibles more! With all the effort by Christian apologists to make Jesus’ birth special and totally different from God’s other sons found in Genesis 6:2 and Job 1:6 by pointing out that Jesus was God’s “only begotten son” (μονογενῆ / monogenē), this “mono” (one / only) + “gene” (generation) is also used as the suffix that gives the book of Gene-sis it name. But this enforces the lie by not taking the fact that God already had fathered sons much earlier making them just as divine / semi-divine as Jesus was himself. While Greek authors love New Testament to quote the LXX for proof texts to prove Jesus was divine, sometimes the Old Testament can be a source of embarrassment as in the case of God’s own sexual philandering!

One must remember that Jesus' position as "Son" is not a sexual one! The same is true as in Genesis 6:2 and Job 1:6. This particular argument is heard most often from Muslim Apologist. It doesn't help them either. Newer translations are more clearer rendering μονογενῆ in English as "one and only". The Bible very clearly explains why Jesus is higher than Angels in Hebrews. Strike two.

Deception 3: “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,…” The problem posed here is the fact that orthodox Christian dogma states, as based on both Jesus and the New Testament, that the soul of the non-believer will suffer for eternity in the fires of torment (see: Mark 9: 44 - 48). However, the Greek word used here is “ἀπόληται” which clearly means “to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively -- destroy, die, lose, perish”. So just which part of the New Testament contains the lie? According to atheists and John 3: 16, all the non-believing humans who die are simply destroyed; meaning they have at death no eternal soul (Also the Belief of Jehovah Witnesses). Fact is, we could say that John 3:16 supports the atheist view of life! way. The Bible does not use  ἀπόληται to equate to annihilation. No where does the Bible lead us to think that anyone ceases to exist once God brings us into existence. Strike 3

Deception 4: “…but have eternal life…” The propaganda sold in this verse is to an ancient world which has its Sitz im Leben (Life Situation) in an ancient society where the average person making it to the age of 30 was considered old and a time when a simple abscessed tooth could mean certain death! The promise sold in John 3: 16 is that the average person to be just like the Egyptian Pharaohs or a Roman Caesars (working miracles and never dying spiritually or having an eternal after life). Thus, Christianity now offered the poor masses that they to though belief in Jesus could achieve godhood themselves! To argue that “ζωὴν αἰώνιον” (life eternal) simply means that the dead believer lives forever with a theos / god in some heaven is reading much later Christian dogma into verse.

Now Mormon theology creeps in to McCall's eisogesis. No where does the Bible promise anyone godhood. In Christian theology no one is promised to a god in the slightest. There is a lot more to being God than just eternal life and there can only be one God.  Strike 4

Secondly, when one considers the older Hebrew eternal life in the stories of Enoch, Moses and Elijah (along with the Greek story of the miracle worker Apollinus of Tyana who also is claimed also to have worked miracles and to have never died); the claim of eternal life in John 3:16 was given even far more credence than it was accorded as it was preached to the superstitious and mostly literate masses of the Greco-Roman empire in order to gain fast converts in a ancient world that swam in a sea of competing religions which also offered promises of hope. In the end, it was Christianity which out sold its fellow rival religions with a godhood / miracles and eternal life for all who believed.

No where does the Bible tell us Moses had eternal life on Earth. He died. As for Enoch and Elijah they didn't die but none of them were ever a god. Enoch and Elijah simply experienced the same kind of rapture described in the New Testament when Jesus returns.  Apollinus of Tyana is a real bad example. Read this post - - to being to understand why. Here the whole argument continues to dissolve.

With verses like John 3:16, which promised one could live eternally like any god, coupled with wonders ) working miracles (τέρατα Acts 2:19), signs (σημεῖον Matt. 12:38), and mighty works (δυνάμεσιν Acts 2:22), the Christian sale pitch was on for converts. After all, this god status of working miracles was even promised to fateful believers by Jesus himself in the same Gospel: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14: 12.

Jesus never taught that we can be like god. All He promised was eternal life with Him not that we can gods. The job is taken. The works we do is not on our own volition but according to obeying Him. Again context, context, and again context.

Conclusion: With regards to John 3:16, we must understand that hope need not be true (as this verse certainly is not when place in both its Biblical and historical doctrinal context). It only needs to be a sales pitch of hope! Thus, as with the old circus con-game: Everybody who plays (Who believes); is Everybody is a winner! (Has Eternal life (meaning godhood itself)).

 It's more than just hope. We can expect Jesus' words to be true because he authenticated it with his own Resurrection.

2nd revision by Harry McCall

I can only hope for a third revision correcting the exegetical mistakes everywhere in this piece. If you are going to criticize the Bible, then at least have the decency to correctly state what it actually says. Now turning attention to the rest of the comments which just add fail on top of more fail.
  • GearHedEd
    Q: What would the Bible be without contradictions?
    A: A more consistent fairy tale.

    First you have to show that there are contradictions which McCall failed to do. 

  • articulett
    Why does there need to be exegesis at all-- this is supposedly inspired by the creator of the universe, right? Why would the creator of the universe need humans to tell other humans what he was really trying to communicate?
    You'd think an omnipotent being could communicate clearly and would take care to mitigate against differing interpretations, no?

Debunking Christianity: Why John 3:16 is a Lie in Its Biblical Context

1 comment:

  1. You just might want to check out my last two posts at DC:

    A. From a God in a Box to the Universal Sky God: Eternal Blessings and Suffering for All

    B. Jesus as a Jewish Religious Bigot