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Teleological Argument Made Simple

What do you think? Are we like orphans or are we citizens of our universe? Are we just an accident, a fluke, a product of mere chance?

If we have to belief the secular world we are just a result of time, space, matter, chance and impersonal laws. No, the universe is just what it is, and it is certainly not designed with us in mind! Physicist Steven Weinberg stated:i

the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.

Oh bother!

Feeling depressed

Feeling depressed after this quick introduction? You don’t have to be. The Christian world-view confirms that the universe is specially crafted by a designing agent. The Creator spoke all things into existence ex nihilo (out of nothing), and directed the system and function of our universe.

The Bible teaches us that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation as we are created in God’s image and likeness. God saw what He had created and said that it was ver good. We are symbols of the divine and God placed us in a specially created world (Genesis 1-2).

But, we should remember that He did not create it for us only. Even before day six, God already looked at His work and labelled it as ‘good’. Psalm 148 says that all of creation was made for God’s glory, the whole of creation praises it’s Creator! Good, keep that in mind while we move on.

Re-cap

As a Christian you find yourself in good company. Some of the smartest philosophers were theists, that is, they believed in a higher being and to demonstrate that, they came up with some brilliant arguments. Let’s refresh our memory shall we? The ontological argument argued that,

From the video about the Ontological Argument

[…]

“It is not just possible that God exists, but it is logically necessary. And so we can say that God exists! How About That? Now think of the possibilities! When someone accepts that it is possible that God exists, he or she just entered an inescapable deductive reasoning, a foolproof logical case that inevitably leads to the fact that God does exist.”

[…]

And the Kalam Cosmological Argument,

From the video about the Ontological Argument

[…]

“gives us a timeless, space-less, immaterial, all powerful, and willingly being. Is there a trait missing? Yes. Because, we as Christians belief that, to create something as miraculous and complex as the universe, the cause needs to be maximally intelligent.”

[…]

And there we have arrived at our third argument, namely the Teleological Argument. Teleology comes from the Greek words telos, ‘end,’ and logos, ‘reason’, explanation by reference to some purpose, end, goal, or function.

Maximally Intelligent

How do we end up with the Teleological Argument while talking about a maximally intelligent being? The last few decennia, scientists have found that the existence of a universe that allows life is extremely uncommon. So uncommon that when mathematicians started to calculate the mathematical chances, they came up with immeasurably small probabilities. As a matter of fact, the probabilities are so small that they consider them as mathematically absurd.

Let me give you an example of gravitational forces. If the constant value for gravity were modified by any more in 1 part in 1060, that’s a 1 with 60 zeroes behind it, then life of any kind could not exist. This number is huge! Let’s assume that mainstream science is right and the universe is in fact about 13,8 billion years old, than the universe is only 4017 seconds old, give or take a few seconds (that is a 4 with 17 zeros).

Now, the gravitational forces are by no means the only forces that are so extremely precise. No, there are more than 100 of these constants that do not permit any variety in their precision. If they changed, just slightly, we wouldn’t be sitting here. Life, in all its diversity would not be possible. In many cases, the existence of the universe wouldn’t even be possible. And you know what? Having the constants exactly right isn’t even enough. We need to have the ratios between these constants exactly right as well. What is the chance of this happening without a maximally intelligent being you think? Right, it is infinitesimal. It is ludicrous to think this would happen by chance.

Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning

But this brings us to a nice argument which is based on our knowledge of the so-called fine-tuning of the universe.

Here goes:

Premise 1: The fine-tuning of the universe is ascribable to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

Premise 2: It cannot be subscribed to physical necessity or chance.

Premise 3: Therefore, it is due to design.

And all of a sudden you see the appearance of the word ‘design’. I’ll get back to that later, but for now it is enough to know that scientists do not state that the universe is designed. No, many just say that little differences in the constants would make a devastating difference for the universe and life therein, and so, they argue, the universe seems to be finely tuned.

Let’s see what this argument does.

Premise 1 gives three options: Physical Necessity, chance and design.

Physical necessity basically means that the universe has no choice but needs to have these existing values for the constants. It is almost like there is a universal law that forbids any other possibility.

Well, chance doesn’t need much explanation right? It was just a winning lot out of the lottery.

And then the last one, design. This is the willing mind we have discussed in the other videos. It proposes creation.

Premise 2 says that physical necessity cannot be the cause. Why not? There is no law that dictates the constants. A law is a force like gravity, and a constant would be the strength of these force. The strength can deviate without the law telling it not too.

Chance isn’t going to help either. As far as we know there is only one universe. Very sorry for those smart people out there who are proposing that there might be a multiverse. This one universe, the one of which you know it functions pretty well, makes the chance that it is just right for life at the minimum 1 in 10500. That is one possibility out of 1 with 500 zeros!!

To help you understand this a little better, imagine having a huge room with balls. These balls represent the atoms of our universe. The estimation is that our universe has about 1080 atoms. So this room has quit a lot of balls. Okay, now I paint one ball in any colour you like and put it back into the room. The game can begin! You need to select that one painted ball out of all the others, blindfolded and after we’ve shuffled all the balls. You’ve won the game if you succeed… No, not just one time, but you need to do this six times in a row. This is how small the chances are to have all the right parameters for our universe.

Premise 3: Gives us the most reasonable explanations. It must be designed!

Back to the Designer

As we have seen in the other arguments. This designing power needs to be:

  • Timeless;
  • Space-less;
  • Immaterial;
  • All Powerful;
  • Willing;
  • Maximally Intelligent

You might have guessed that the Teleological Argument is not just one argument. Like the Ontological and the Cosmological arguments, this argument also knows many variants. I used the one that is based on the fine-tuning of the universe. I think that if you use the teleological argument in this way, the outcome is pretty sure.

However, for some it doesn’t feel right to use the word ‘design’. Let’s see what happens when we use it with a car.

  1. The fine-tuning of a car is either designed, or the result of chance, or the result of natural law (often called necessity), or the combination of chance and natural law.
  2. The fine-tuning of a car is not the result of chance or natural law or the combination of both.
  3. Therefore: A car is the result of design.

That’s no comparison some will say. The car is known to have a designer, and we know, out of experience that cars just don’t pop into existence. And this would definitely prove our point! Even though cars are very complex (except my old stinking, not friendly for the environment, Nissan Patrol from 1999) their technology fades into nothingness compared to the fine-tuning of the universe. To state that this could have happened by chance or that it just popped into existence is an enormous leap of faith. Actually, I don’t buy it when people say they honestly believe that.

Groothuis puts it like this:ii

The fact that the preferred nontheistic explanation for fine-tuning is the highly speculative multiverse theory [as he explains later in his book] gives credence to the claim that physicists are in general agreement that the universe is carefully finetuned. Otherwise, they would not need to have recourse to such grandiose theorizing in hopes of explaining the universe without a Designer.

Teleological Argument from design

I’ve got some time left so let’s talk a little about a different variant of this argument. The Teleological Argument from Design is a slight different approach. I think it was William Paley (1743-1805) who came with WhatchMaker argument. If you find a watch on the beach, you would logically conclude that it was designed and not the product of random formation. Just the same, when you take a look at the universe or life in general, it is natural to conclude there is a designer because you see how brilliant the universe and life forms function.

So, what would these argument then look like:

Premise 1: Human artefacts are products of intelligent design.

Premise 2: The universe resembles human artefacts.

Premise 3: Therefore the universe is a product of intelligent design.

Premise 4: But the universe is complex and gigantic in comparison to human artefacts.

Premise 5: Therefore, there probably is a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe.

This is a simple-to-understand line of arguing. It deserves to be used, because we, as humans, are designers by nature. Being designers ourselves makes it easy to think in terms of things having a purpose. At the same time it is completely in line with the Bible:

Romans 1:20

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse […]”

Weakness

However, someone who doesn’t consider the Bible as authoritative could say that it is subjective to argue that the universe is designed. They might even say that you’re using the ‘God of the gaps’ argument: We don’t have the answer, so let’s bring God into the equation. Also, they say, if we find things in the universe that are chaotic, then, by following the same line of our analogy, that would imply there is no designer.

Be that as it may, the God of the gaps idea is by no means a satisfying counter-argument. Behe said:iii

We are not inferring design from what we do not know but from what we do know. We are not inferring design to account for some black box but to account for an open box.

The second counter-argument is not a problem for a Christian at all. In our Christian world-view we actually do expect to find chaos. The Teleological Argument is not stating that there is none. It is only arguing that we find very complex items that cannot come about out of pure chance. As a matter of fact, the reason we still find so much order in the universe and in living things speaks of a tremendously complex first creation. Considering that everything is running down since the fall of Adam and Eve, we may be grateful that is was perfect to begin with! Else, things would have run down much faster.

Last thoughts

Many atheists ridicule this argument because, so they say, it is arrogant to state that everything evolves around us, humans. And—if it does evolve around us and God really created everything to sustain us—they argue that the vast amount of uninhabited space is a waste of resources. Some, would even go as far as to say that if God existed, He doesn’t care about us. He would have been way too busy with things somewhere in the universe. Maybe playing billiards with some distant planets.

However, as Christians we know better! The immensity of the cosmos is totally compatible with both God’s care for us and his glory manifested in the rest of the universe.

Psalm 148:1-6

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: Praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: Praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: Praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, And ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: For he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass.”

Finally

There is so much more to say about this argument. I do, however, want to emphasise that these arguments cannot 100% prove the existence of God. All it does is making the existence of God highly probable. As one of you pointed out. In the end, believing that God is real and that He send His son Jesus Christ to save us, is mostly a matter of faith! And faith is given through the work of the Holy Spirit, who will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement (John 16:8).

Also, all the theistic arguments work together and should be assessed as such. The design argument alone, might not be strong enough to build a good rational case for God, but together with the other arguments it is a lethal weapon for the apologist.

Please look at the description of this video! Whenever I find or use some interesting things, I’ll link it there. You can also find ways to support me. And honestly, it is very encouraging to receive gifts, no matter how small. For me that’s a sign that you actually enjoy my videos. Well, one sign… the other indication is the interaction in the comment section.

Talking about commenting, you may comment on my videos on BitChute or YouTube, but you most likely won’t receive a reply I am mostly active on Odysee. I would like to invite you to my Odysee channel. Odysee is a platform which based on a new protocol called LBRY. It is censorship free, unlike YouTube or others. It would be great if you start following me there. You can also start your own channel on Odysee. If you use my invitation in the description we will both receive some free LBC!

As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!


Footnotes:

i Weinberg, S, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe, Basic Books, 1993.

ii Groothuis, D., Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois, 2011, p.243.

iii Behe, M, J, (24-09-1996) Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference [Internet] http://arn.org/docs/behe/mb_mm92496.htm [accessed 24-10-2021].

Other Sources:

Waner, C., (25-01-2019) The Cosmological Argument, [Internet] Theology Think Tank, https://theologythinktank.com/the-cosmological-argument/ [accessed 18-10- 2021].

Cosmological Argument Made Simple

Do you know mister William Lane Craig? This is a hugely smart man, and listening to him sounds like you’re reading an official academic essay. I’ve written a lot of essays and I wish I could write them as fast as he formulates his sentences. Mister Craig is well known for his philosophical way of debating. He, among others, made the cosmological argument popular again. I don’t know of any atheist who has won a debate against him. But what is this argument? How does it work? And his variant, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the only one?

Cosmological Arguments

No, there are several variants of the cosmological argument. As a matter of fact, I would like to start with an argument which is called the Cosmological Argument From Contingency. Before I continue, I need to confess that much of the information come from an article I found on the web, written by Chris Waner. In turn, he used a lot of information as written by William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga. I will place a link to that article in the description of this video.

Before we dive into the argument, we will have to do a re-cap on the video on the ontological argument. In that video we’ve discussed the principles of Modal Logic. Don’t worry, I’ll talk you through…. Oh wait! I already did! Let’s look at it together, shall we?

So, Modal Logic,

FROM THE LAST VIDEO:

[…] is a method of forming arguments based on three types of objects.

  1. Impossible Objects: Impossible objects are objects that cannot exist rationally, like a square circle or a married bachelor.
  2. Contingent Objects: Contingent objects are objects that depend on something else for their existence, like apples depend on apple trees or eggs depend on chickens. In reality all space-time objects are contingent, they depend on physics to exist if nothing else.
  3. Necessary Objects: Necessary objects are objects that depend on nothing for their existence. The number 3 might be a necessary object, for example.

[…]

Necessity of God

In the that video we also concluded that God is necessary. We have seen that

FROM THE LAST VIDEO:

[…] God would have only properties that would make Him great. There are no properties in Him that make Him less. Let me give you a few examples:

Maximally Great

Less great

Timeless

Limited by time

Space-less

Limited by space

Immaterial

Limited by matter

All powerful

Lacking some power

All knowing

Not knowing some things

Eternally living

Mortal

All good

Sometimes good

[…]

So, in modal logic, God has to be a necessary object. And logically seen, being necessary is a great-making property as well, because being necessary is certainly better than being unnecessary.

Universe

But as you may have guessed. In the cosmological argument we have to address the universe as well. We define the universe as an all space-time reality.

Cosmological Argument From Contingency

In other words: this argument depends on the idea that our cosmos, our universe is contingent thus depending on something else for its existence.

The Contingency argument, goes like this:

Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
Premise 2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
Premise 3: The universe exists.
Conclusion: Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.

Critique number 1

Hold on a minute! This can’t be right, can it? Premise 2 is way too fast… But let me explain it a bit more. Professional philosophers have mostly no problem with this second premise because if they would have, they would have to argue one of the following points:

  1. The universe does not exist.
  2. The universe has no explanation for its existence.

But number one is nonsense because we can be pretty sure that the universe does exist. And number two is just as nonsensical because we know that everything needs to have an explanation, even if that explanation is its own necessity.

Now, someone could say of course, that the universe doesn’t have an explanation. Many atheists say this while they pat themselves on the back and say that they are intellectual honest, in contrast to the theist of course! Then they go on and say that because God doesn’t exist, the universe has no explanation.

But hold your horses! Do you see what is happening here? Saying this, would mean that if God would exist, He would be the explanation of the universe. And so, this is the typical case of digging a pit for someone else and ending up at the bottom yourself (Proverbs 26:27).

Critique number 2

But, the atheist will not give up that easily. They sometimes argue that the universe itself exists necessarily. In other words: The cosmos depend on nothing for its existence. But, if they come up with this rebuttal the need to show that the universe has certain properties which makes it not depending on other causes. For example: The universe should be eternal or timeless. It cannot have a beginning or end. But by saying this, the critic basically ignores scientific data out there which seems to point to a finite universe. The data strongly leans towards a universe which had an absolute beginning somewhere in the past. This has caused some to speculate about other models for the existence of the universe.

Kalam Cosmological Argument

There is another way to counter the idea of a universe that exists necessarily, namely with a slightly different approach on the cosmological argument. The second argument I want to tackle is called the ‘Kalam Cosmological Argument’. This argument became very popular because of men like William Lane Craig. But don’t think he invented the argument! Nope, this argument has been around since 1200 years… give or take a few years.

The term kalam is Arabic and means ‘eternal.’ The earliest form of this particular argument was formulated by Islamic thinkers. The kalam says that each effect needs a preceding cause and when that cause is itself an effect, then that too has its own preceding cause. Obviously this could imply a backwards-facing chain of causality. If you think about it you might see the problem: If everything is caused, this backward chain will never end. In that case there would never be anything to begin the chain in the first place. It’s like watching toppling domino tiles that never had a moment when they started to fall, but they fall nevertheless. A literally infinite series of past events is senseless; it means a literally infinite time between two moments. So, there must be some point at which the chain of causality started.

The argument goes like this:

Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

That’s nice and short, isn’t it?

Some Explaining

Premise 1 is very smart. Its is simple and clearly says that only things that start to exist has a cause. This disqualifies God because He is considered to be a necessary object. This little sentence also makes it obvious that nothing can come into existence out of nothing without a cause. And finally, its is science proof. Everything we experience and observe tells us that this statements is true.

Premise 2 just says that the universe began to exist. This is where the battle starts. We as Christians belief that the universe had a beginning… At least I hope you do. But the scientific community has fought against this idea. Why? Well, to admit the universe has a beginning is akin towards admitting that the Christian world view is true. An absolute beginning of the universe is what the Bible teaches. But, be that as it may, the prevailing view on cosmology is the big bang cosmology. I will not go into that discussion, but it is among the most accepted models of the universe. So, cosmologists can come up with all kinds of fancy ideas to demonstrate that the universe is eternal but none of these ideas are truly satisfactory.

The atheist is stuck with the idea that the universe began to exist, it cannot be eternal and because of that it cannot be necessary. He or she needs to deal with a universe in which matter doesn’t pop into existence; a universe in which both time and space had a beginning. That must be a bother for them!

Theological Implications

Think of it! The universe started to exist and this starting point was also the beginning of time, space and matter. What does this say about that what caused it all? Well, first of all the cause cannot be time, space or matter because those three things were not there yet. In other words: The cause must be timeless, space-less, and immaterial.

Now, philosophers came up with two possible objects that caused the universe. The first one would be something abstract like numbers, or descriptions of shapes. The second one would be a mind.

I can hear you thinking: “But circles and numbers don’t cause anything by themselves” (except a headache when you use them in mathematical calculations). And you are right in thinking this!

But why should it be a mind? Okay, what do we know? The cause is:

  • Timeless;
  • Space-less;
  • And immaterial

But the cause most also be extremely powerful and willing. There we go again! Powerful is understandable right? But why willing? As we have already discussed, before the universe began there was no space, no time, no matter, and no known chain of reactions which could cause anything to happen.

For anything, to come about in this situation (a situation in which there is literally nothing to respond or react with anything), it must come about by the will of a mind, commanding or forcing into existence something which would not otherwise have any means of existing. There was just no other mechanism by which something could come into existence other than a willing mind.

The Wilful Mind

This is such a bother for atheists! They find themselves in a pickle because now they have to explain how the universe actually started out of nothing. No, they cannot invoke something else than the natural world. Their world-view is bound to the natural material world only.

But for the Christian this is not a problem at all! Unlike timelessness, space-lessness, immateriality, and being extremely powerful, willingness is a uniquely personal trait. Philosophers might call this agent causation. But the Christian might recall the first chapter of the Bible which says:

Genesis 1:1-5

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 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. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Do I say that the cosmological argument gives us prove for the existence of God? No! It is the same as with the other theistic arguments. These arguments will never 100% prove that God exists. It cannot prove that the first cause is the God of the Bible. To show that the God of the Bible is the most plausible God that exists you’ll need to use different arguments. Many Atheist will simple say that you’ve only showed that there is a first cause, and rightly so. But the thing these arguments do, is making the existence of a God very likely and logically sound.

Anyway, this argument gives us a timeless, space-less, immaterial, all powerful, and willingly being. Is there a trait missing? Yes. Because, we as Christians belief that, to create something as miraculous and complex as the universe, the cause needs to be maximally intelligent. No worries! We’ll come to that in the next video!

The End

For now, I’ll like to point at the description of this video! You’ll find a lot of information there. Whenever I find or use some interesting things, I’ll link it there. But you can also find ways to support me. Some of you already did and do and I would like to thank you for that. It is very encouraging to see and read that you actually enjoy my videos.

If you are watching this video on Bitchute or YouTube I would also like to invite you to my Odysee channel. Odysee is a platform which based on a new protocol called LBRY. It is censorship free, unlike YouTube or others. It would be great if you start following me there. I am mostly active on that channel. You may comment on my videos on BitChute or YouTube, but you most likely won’t receive a reply simply because my internet connection has issues with speed… Like many other things here in the countryside of Madagascar. You can also start your own channel on Odysee. If you use my invitation in the description we will both receive some free LBC!

As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!



Sources:

Groothuis, D., Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois, 2011, pp.203-234.

Waner, C., (25-01-2019) The Cosmological Argument, [Internet] Theology Think Tank, https://theologythinktank.com/the-cosmological-argument/ [accessed 18-10-2021].


All videos in this series

Ontological Argument Made Simple

Introduction

In his 1078 work Proslogion, Anselm of Canterbury came with the idea which is known as ‘the ontological argument’. In this argument God’s existence is not just possible or probable or very likely, but is logically ensured. Anselm defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”. Anselm said that this being must exist in the mind, even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God, aka an atheist. He proposed that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. Why? Because if it only exists in the mind, then an even greater being must be possible—one which exists both in the mind and in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality.

Ontology

‘Ontological’ comes from ‘ontology.’ I know, ‘ontology’ sounds very smart, but its meaning is actually pretty simple: Ontology is the study of the nature of being or existing. So the Ontological Argument simply means a logical argument that, if true, argues in favour of the existence of God. It relies on nothing else than good old logic to show that, if the premises are true, God must exist.

Actually, Anselm formulated two versions of the ontological arguments. This was only just discovered in the 1960s by Malcolm and Hartshornei. Groothuis says that Anselm was puzzled over the unbelief of ‘the fool’ and labours to construct an argument to defeat this fool and, thereby, atheism.ii His first argument goes as follows:

  1. God is understood or defined as a being “than which nothing greater can be conceived.” Even the fool possesses this concept of God.
  2. A thing exists either in (a) the understanding only (such as the idea of a painting before it is painted) or (b) in both the understanding and reality, such as existing in the mind of the painter and then existing on the canvas.
  3. It is “greater” to exist in reality than to exist merely in the understanding.
  4. If God exists merely in the understanding (existing only in the mind of the fool), then God is not the greatest possible being, since a being that existed in reality would be greater than a being that existed only in the understanding.
  5. But God is by definition the greatest possible being (from 1).
  6. Therefore, God exists not merely in the understanding (as the fool claims) but in reality as well. By reductio ad absurdum (which means that this conclusion is the only right one because all other conclusion are reduced to absurdity, other conclusion contradict the first premise).

Critics

One of the arguments given by critics comes from Kant. Kant basically said that this argument leans on the term ‘existence’. He said that Anselm made ‘existence’ into an attribute or quality of God. Just like we say that God is love. Love is the attribute. But ‘existence’, so the critics say, cannot be an attribute. However, imagine reading a fairytale to a child. The child might ask whether the animals in the story exist or not. You would say that horses exist in reality, but the flying elephant doesn’t. In this case the child asked a legitimate question right? The child makes ‘existence’ into an attribute of the animals.

Others would say that an imaginary God would do just fine. But, when they say this, they totally missed the point of that what is great. Ones my wife and I had four children. We really wanted a fifth one. What a great thought! We had to wait five years before God gave us our fifth child. Having the boy in reality is even greater than just in my understanding or in my thoughts. A god that only exists in people’s mind isn’t the greatest thing that one can imagine. The greatest possible God we can think of has to exist. If He only exists in our minds, a simple tool like a hammer is greater because it actually exists in reality. This is what we call reductio ad absurdum, reduction of absurdity.

Modal Ontological Argument

As I said, the original argument is a bit daunting. At least it is for me and many philosophers who are way better trained in this field than I am. I think that Alvin Plantinga’s variant on the argument is a bit easier to understand. His argument is what we call the ‘Modal Ontological Argument’.

Plantinga uses modal logic, which is a method of forming arguments based on three types of objects.

  1. Impossible Objects: Impossible objects are objects that cannot exist rationally, like a square circle or a married bachelor.
  2. Contingent Objects: Contingent objects are objects that depend on something else for their existence, like apples depend on apple trees or eggs depend on chickens. In reality all space-time objects are contingent, they depend on physics to exist if nothing else.
  3. Necessary Objects: Necessary objects are objects that depend on nothing for their existence. The number 3 might be a necessary object, for example.

In addition to these three types of objects we also need to add another modal logic concept to our repertoire, the idea of possible worlds. A possible world is not another planet or a parallel dimension. In logical arguments, possible worlds are simply descriptions of the way reality could be. You could imagine for example, a world in which the great war was lost by the allies and the Nazis would rule the world. Or imagine a world in which no poverty existed. These are possible worlds. But! A possible world cannot be an impossible world. There cannot be a universe in which there are 4 sided triangles. These things are logically absurd and cannot exist in any possible world.

Are you still with we me? Else try to read it again on my website. I’ll put a link to this transcript in the description of the video below.

Definition of God

And finally, before we look at Plantinga’s argument we also need to define what we mean by ‘God’. Anselm saw God as, what he called a Maximally Great Being. He said that God would always be the greatest being that anyone could imagine. In other words, if someone could imagine a greater being, then that being would be God. Anselm also said that God would have only properties that would make Him great. There are no properties in Him that make Him less. Let me give you a few examples:

Maximally Great

Less great

Timeless

Limited by time

Space-less

Limited by space

Immaterial

Limited by matter

All powerful

Lacking some power

All knowing

Not knowing some things

Eternally living

Mortal

All good

Sometimes good

Planinga’s Modal Ontological Argument

  1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
  2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
  3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then a maximally great being exists in every possible world.
  4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
  5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
  6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

The fun thing about this argument is the fact that, among most philosophers, premises 2, 3, 4 and 5 are impossible to deny or disprove; they recognise that they just simply follow from premise 1. In fact, most professional philosophers only debate the first premise.

So How Does This Work?

For many the conclusion might be a bit abrupt. When I heard this argument the first time, I right away started to look for the catch. It can’t be right! So, how exactly does this work?



The first premise:
The first premise makes a truth statement. This statement can be accepted or rejected. It says that it is possible that a maximally great being exists. Most atheists readily accept that it is possible that God exists. The thing is that they just don’t believe that God does exist.

Premise 2 just repeats the first premise by using ‘possible worlds’ which is an easier way of looking at the argument because anything that is possible is possible in some possible world by definition.

Premise 3 puts forward that if a maximally great being exists in some possible world, he exists in every possible world. Why? Because he is maximally great. And if he only exists in one possible world, he is just a little great. But when he exists in two possible worlds he is better than the one in only one possible world. But now we are talking about a maximally great being and as such he must exist in ALL possible worlds.

Premise 4 begins to wrap thing up. Because if a maximally great being exists in all possible worlds, then a maximally great being exists in the actual world we live in. Our world is not only a possible world, but it is the actual world.

Premise 5 simply follows the logic that if a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

Return to the first premise: It is not just possible that God exists, but it is logically necessary. And so we can say that God exists!

How About That?

Now think of the possibilities! When someone accepts that it is possible that God exists, he or she just entered an inescapable deductive reasoning, a foolproof logical case that inevitably leads to the fact that God does exist.

Because of the Ontological Argument, atheistic and other unbelieving philosophers find themselves in a pickle. If they want to hold on to their world-view, they have to insist that it is impossible that God exists. But be that as it may, if they want to keep there position and being intellectual honest at the same time, they must demonstrate in what way the very concept of God is illogical or in other words, how can God be impossible. So, the atheist must debate, in modal logical terms, that God is not only not necessary but is also an impossible object. The fun thing is, that when they cannot prove that God is impossible, we can pick were we have left and show through the Ontological Argument that failing to prove God as impossible is the same as logical evidence that God exists.

Dragon

Okay, throughout the almost 1000 years many attempts have been made to debunk the Ontological Argument. Many atheists on the internet try it as well, and some believe they actually did. You see, that’s because many of them are way smarter than all the philosophers combined throughout the ages.

Anyway, there are some sophisticated rebuttals out there, but I am not going to tackle them. Except one! The one with the unicorn. But because I am not so fond of them I use a dragon instead.iii

  1. It is possible that a maximally great dragon exists.
  2. If it is possible that a maximally great dragon exists, then a maximally great dragon exists in some possible world.
  3. If a maximally great dragon exists in some possible world, then a maximally great dragon exists in every possible world.
  4. If a maximally great dragon exists in every possible world, then a maximally great dragon exists in the actual world.
  5. If a maximally great dragon exists in the actual world, then a maximally great dragon exists.
  6. Therefore, a maximally great dragon exists.

And there you go!! Debunked… Or not?

Nope can’t do. Why not you ask? Well the dragon is a physical object and as such a contingent and not necessary object. This is a problem because there might be a possible world in which space and time never started to exist or quickly collapsed into a singularity. A dragon, because it is physical, simply cannot live or exist in such a possible world.

Also, being a maximally great physical being, the dragon, is not logical because to be maximally great means that it should be able to live without the limitation of physical existence.

Now the critic starts to get a bit cynical and says “that these objections might be valid for dogs and cats, but their dragon is mythical, just like God. They claim to have a maximally great mythical being.”

However, the mythology of a dragon says that it is a huge physical fire breathing lizard with wings. When the critic says that he believes this mythology to be true would be the same as confirming that these dragons really exist. Enormous fire breathing, flying dragons are physical objects that exist in time and space. Therefore, a dragon can never be seen as a necessary object.

But the critic, who, by now starts to look like a dragon himself, says “This is a very special dragon, my dragon is timeless, space-less, immaterial, etc.”

Too bad! Now the critic has just cut his own fingers. By stripping the dragon from his own unique properties, and then giving it the properties of God, shows that the critic just admitted that God exists. The biggest difference now is that you call God your Father in heaven, and the critic has given Him the name ‘dragon’.

End

There is much more to say about this argument and all the objections. But this will have to do for now. I hope I’ve made this argument a little more clear. Agreed, it is not the first argument I would use when I encounter an unbeliever at my mother’s tea party—especially because the depth of the ontological argument may make it hard to access for many—but still, it is a nice arrow to have in your apologetic quiver. Of course, there are those who may think that they can ridicule this argument but by doing so they only demonstrate a poor philosophical inside. Which is actually pity full because mostly these people think very highly of themselves. You know, the sort of thinking like everybody in the whole world is wrong accept he or she.

Another thing about this argument is the fact that is a so-called ‘a priori argument’, which means that it isn’t depending on any other experiments or arguments, and as such it does not directly clarify how this maximally great being revealed himself in history.

But, if God is perfect, then we know for sure that He cares about His creation, and will reach out to his creation in one way or another. Also, the idea of the Trinity is supported by the ontological argument, because a perfect and all-loving being needs to have something to love outside His creation. And the Trinity is also guaranteed to us in the Bible. So, we have a very strong rational indication to believe the stories in the Bible about God who came to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ because He wanted to save us.

And so the circle is complete! You start with a daunting philosophical argument, and you end up with a bullet-proof rational reasoning that the Bible actually tells you the truth. Don’t you just love it!

Also take a look in the description of this video! You’ll find a lot of information there. Whenever I find or use some interesting things, I’ll link it there. But you can also find ways to support me. Some of you already did and some are doing it regularly! Thank you very much for that. I would also like to invite you to my Odysee channel. Odysee is a platform which based on a new protocol called LBRY. It is censorship free, unlike YouTube or others. It would be great if you start following me there. I am mostly active on that channel. You may comment on my videos on BitChute or YouTube, but you most likely won’t receive a reply. You can also start your own channel on Odysee. If you use my invitation in the description we will both receive some free LBC!

As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!


i Norman Malcolm, Knowledge and Certainty: Essays and Lectures, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963), pp. 149-50; and Charles Hartshorne, Anselm’s Discovery: A Re-examination ofthe OntologicalArgument for God’s Existence, (Chicago: Open Court, 1965).

ii Groothuis, D., Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois, 2011, pp. 184-185.

iii Waner, C., (06-06-2019) The Ontological Argument, [Internet] Theology Think Tank <https://theologythinktank.com/the-ontological-argument/> [accesed 11-10-2021].


All videos in this series

Apologetic Arguments Made Simple

What’s Next?


See all videos below

In previous videos, I have been talking that I wanted to do some videos on apologetic arguments. Until now, I have chosen different topics each time. Topics that some of you suggested and also topics suggested by my own family. The latest suggestion was that of the impact of one’s world-view on his or her behaviour and personality. Actually, it was my wife who came with that idea. I love it! But, it will have to wait because I need to read into that topic a little more before I dare to say something about it.

So, what am I going to do now you ask? As you might have discovered by now, one of my favourite subjects in theology is that of apologetics. The name of my channel is ‘Apologeet’, which is Dutch for apologist and originated from the Greek word ‘apologia’ (απολογία) , which means: ‘speaking in defence’. And yes, making an apology comes from this word as well. But in theology, an apologist is a person who offers a defence by argument. When you speak about apologetics you talk about the branch of theology concerned with the defence and rational justification of Christianity.

I would like to try to explain some of the best apologetic arguments around. Most of these arguments are around a long time already, but many Christians avoid them because they might be a bit intimidating. One such argument is the so-called ontological argument. This is considered to be a philosophical jewel. It was Anselm who formulated this argument somewhere between 1033 and 1109 AD. Ever since, the argument has been challenged by some of the brightest philosophers we know. None of them could actually counter this argument in a way that it would render the argument invalid.

This kind of apologetics comes forth out of what is called ‘natural theology’. Within natural theology you can study the theistic arguments, which are rational arguments for the existence of a monotheistic God. The most known theistic arguments are the ontological, cosmological, design, moral and religious-experience arguments for God. These arguments do not rely on the Bible but are based on objective reasons outside God’s word. An apologist, who uses this kind of arguments, believes that the existence of God is logical without having to point at the Bible. In other words, the idea of God is logically coherent, and because of that, it is possible to make these arguments or combinations of arguments to establish the existence of such a being.

What kind of being? A personal and Perfect Being of unlimited power, knowledge and goodness who created the universe out of nothing. A being that is worthy of adoration and worship, and is distinct from the world but continuously involved in it, and this Being is capable of generating miracles. In other words: The God of the Bible, YHWH.

I am fully aware of the objections towards this approach. Approach? Yes, this is just one kind of approach. Other apologetical approaches are fideism, presuppositionalism, Reformed epistemology and evidentialism. However, I’ll save them for another time, and I’ll zoom in on the aforementioned theistic arguments.

Some would say that these arguments never fully grasp God’s true being, while others say we should never go outside the Bible. True enough it does look like the Bible itself isn’t using this kind of arguments. Actually, this was Blaise Pascal’s biggest objection. The Bible doesn’t use it, so we shouldn’t use it. However, we cannot forget that in Biblical times, and probably even in Pascal’s time, most just assumed that there is a God. No need to explain the existence, let’s move on. But, we live in weird times in which we need to start explaining about the existence first. Honestly, I do not have to do that here on Madagascar because most just know God is real. But in Europe it might prove to be a good tactic.

Another objection might be that the Bible is our ultimate authority, and as such we should never try to explain God’s existence by means of external support. Let me quote Douglas Groothuis who countered this objection as follows:

“[…] whatever speaks with authority must be viewed by others as having authority if it is to be recognised as authoritative. For example, a text on physics may be the definitive statement on the subject and thus have the highest scientific authority. This authority would not be damaged by those who refuse to view it as authoritative out of ignorance, perversity or disagreement. Neither would its authority be diminished if someone were to defend its credentials. Even if its authority needed to be corroborated, it would still have the highest authority as a physics text. Certifying its credentials as an authority does not undermine its authority but rather establishes it. Similarly, although the intrinsic authority of Scripture is not dependent on the arguments of natural theology, God’s existence may be demonstrated or rendered more rational through such arguments. If so, the Bible would gain authority in the eyes of those who had previously dismissed as irrational the existence of God and any God-inspired book.”i

So again, I do understand these objections, but I still believe that these arguments can greatly help Christians to gain more trust in, and knowledge of their faith. I do not make these videos to pursue non-believers to become Christian anyway. It would be nice to see it happen though, but it is not my main goal. For that, I would rather go to the non-believer in person, and talk to him or her personally.

I already quoted from Groothuis, and I think I am going use his book, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, for many of the following videos on this topic. I’ll put the credentials in the description of the video when I do.

Talking about description! You’ll find a lot of information there. Whenever I find or use some interesting things, I’ll link it there. But you can also find ways to support me. Some of you already did and some are doing it regularly! Thank you very much for that. I would also like to invite you to my Odysee channel. Odysee is a platform which based on a new protocol called LBRY. It is censorship free, unlike YouTube or others. It would be great if you start following me there. I am mostly active on that channel. You may comment on my videos on BitChute or YouTube, but you most likely won’t receive a reply. You can also start your own channel on Odysee. If you use my invitation in the description we will both receive some free LBC!

As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!


Footnotes

i Groothuis, D., Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois, 2011, pp. 173-174.


All videos in this series

Significance of Jesus’ Healings and Exorcisms

Essay

“What was Jesus’ Understanding of the Significance of the Healings and Exorcisms he Performed?”

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 2500

Introduction

Reading the Bible, one can hardly ignore the presence of remarkable miracles. In the New Testament we find Jesus proclaiming the kingdom of God and at the same time performing many healings and exorcisms. The understanding on this topic has been discussed from one end of the spectrum to the other. From the understanding that these phenomenons were merely used by Jesus because he felt compassion with the afflicted, to the understanding that Jesus had a deep theological agenda which he demonstrated through these signs.

While examining Jesus’ understanding of the healings and exorcisms he performed, the emphasis will be on Luke’s Gospel. Luke carefully arranges his writings in order to explain Jesus’ mission. This, together with the actual miracles of Jesus, will show that Jesus’ actions were not only brought to pass out of compassion, but also as an eschatological reinterpretation of Israel.

Prophet

Israel had prophets throughout her history to guide and speak God’s words to her. A prophet, who was an instrument of revelation of God, was able to do miracles and signs (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). God used prophets to look after his people and to show his mercy through the miracles they performed. There are remarkable similarities between Jesus and the Old Testament (OT) prophets. For example, in Luke 7:11-15 the parallel is quickly drawn with Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24). There are, however, some crucial differences, such as Elijah praying for the life of the son whereas Jesus spoke with an authoritative voice: ‘Young man, I say unto thee, Arise’.1 Witnessing this great healing, it is not surprising that the people regarded Jesus as a prophet and said ‘God hath visited his people’ (Luke 7:16). Undoubtedly, Jesus was aware of the fact that he himself had the power to perform miracles. Furthermore, being brought up in the Jewish tradition he knew that the works of miracles were fundamentally linked with prophets of God and with God stretching out to his people. It was through this understanding that he saw himself as more than a prophet (Luke 11:31-32). In that respect it is safe to say that the miracles at least gave him the awareness of being a key-person or Messiah in God’s end-time reign—a reign which took place through his works.2

Exorcism

Luke 8:26-39
An important part of Jesus’ proclamation was exorcism. One of the exorcisms can be found in Luke 8:26-39. Here Jesus finds a man who was occupied by demons, just like Israel was occupied by gentiles. The demons begged him to be sent into a herd of pigs. Jesus allowed them, and the whole herd rushed down into the lake and drowned. When Jesus asked for the name of this demon the answer was ‘Legion’ because they were with many. This name directly draws attention to Israel’s political state—that of being occupied by the Legions of Rome. Most likely many Jews wanted to see the Romans be treated the same as these demons—drive them out of the country and destroy all their idols. Early writings demonstrate that this longing was going hand in hand with the eschatological understanding of Israel.3 Instead of answering this longing, Jesus reveals the real enemy (and battle), which are Satan and his minions.2

Finger of God
Another hint to Jesus’ understanding of the exorcisms can be found in Luke 11:17-23, were Jesus’ exorcisms are connected with the coming of the kingdom of God: ‘But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you’. The emphasis is on the ‘finger of God’. This in contrast with exorcists who used magical objects or cited the name of a holy person.5 Effectively Jesus claims that the kingdom of God has its existence in him. Lee annotates that the kingdom of God is not just a system but rather God himself.6 In this light, Craig correctly states that ‘in claiming that in himself the kingdom of God had already arrived, as visibly demonstrated by his exorcisms, Jesus was, in effect, saying that in himself God had drawn near, thus putting himself in God’s place’.7

Again one can detect the understanding that God manifests his mercy through miracles (exorcism in this case). This fundamental meaning of the exorcisms is used by Jesus to expound on a much bigger yearning—the inauguration of the kingdom of God.

Davidic Kin
The effect on the bystanders was, that they saw Jesus defeating an enemy and wondered if he could be the son of David. In effect they compared him with the one who fought the enemy on Israel’s behalf (Matthew 12:23). The early eschatological understanding was mainly about a Davidic king who would reign over Israel and the nations—the submission of evil spirits and demolishing Satan’s kingdom is absent in this early expectation. Early writings, however, show that it is in the time of Jesus that this extra dimension emerged.8 Consequently it is not uncommon for at least some of Jesus’ contemporaries to see Satan as an enemy who needs to be defeated before Gods kingdom can be established.

The aforementioned examples show that Jesus believed that the exorcisms were integral with the commencement of the kingdom of God. In addition, it seems apparent that he, because he casts out demons with such ease, is the Stronger One, and thus worthy to rule over the ‘spoils’ (Luke 11:21-22). In other words, the exorcisms are a deliberate demonstration of Jesus’ messiahship. However, the Messiah did not come with an army to annihilate Israel’s physical enemies, but rather to destroy Satan’s rule and freeing its captives (thus in fact plunder Satan’s kingdom).

House of Israel
In Luke 11:23-26 Jesus warns about returning demons. Wright states that Jesus seems to reflect on the earlier attempts of Israel to inaugurate Gods kingdom. These attempts, e.g. the Maccabaean revolt, ‘could clean up the house for a while, but they could not prevent the demons [foreign armies] returning in force.’9 Wright has a good point when he notes that Jesus actually meant Israel when he talked about the ‘house’, because in verse 29 he refers to the nation as ‘an evil generation’. Nonetheless, Knoch notes that Jesus likely referred to Israel who, since the Babylonian captivity, did not break the first commandment any more. He further states that this absence of idolatry did not result in the true worship of God but in a legalistic religion (hence Jesus’ remark in verse 29), thus leaves the house (cleansed of idols) empty.10

People were discussing if Jesus could be the Davidic king (Matthew 12:23). Jesus did not repudiate this, but instead confirmed their thoughts by stating that God’s kingdom came. At the same time he explains the exorcisms in symbolic terms to give an even deeper insight. Jesus fought Israel’s battle, whereas Satan was Israel’s biggest enemy. Israel would only be able to fill the house properly if they would recognise him (Matthew 12:30). Knoch notes that at the end of the time the ‘unbelieving nation [empty house] will be forced to worship the image of the wild beast [Matthew 24:15].’ Armies will once again surround Jerusalem and an ‘abomination’ will be done in the city. This will make their state far worse than their previous plight.11

To conclude Knoch’s and Wright’s interpretations, the explanation given by Knoch is more thoroughgoing. On the surface the two look identical but Wright’s idea seems to focus on a physical explanation alone. Knoch takes both physical and spiritual aspects of the eschatological context into account and thus gives more credit to the overall teaching of Jesus.

Healings

Cosmic Battle
Just as with the exorcisms we see that Luke delineates Jesus’ approach towards the healings as liberation from evil and by doing so Luke seems to make little difference in source between the two. The sickness of the woman in Luke 13:10-17 is explained to be caused by a spirit of infirmity. Jesus states that this woman was bound by Satan and thus implies that the ultimate source of sickness can be traced back to a cosmic battle with evil. This understanding is not strange if one keeps in mind that God initially created a world which was good but became corrupted by the interference of Satan. Jesus healed this woman on the Sabbath-day. In Jewish tradition the creation-account became synonymous with victory and God intended to give rest after this victory. In other words, creation found his fulfilment at Sabbath and the Sabbath was depicted as a sign of resurrection.12 Jesus was victorious in this battle and the ‘people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.’

Daughter of Abraham
In the aforementioned passage Luke uses the phrase ‘daughter of Abraham’, which can only be found in Luke’s gospel. Ringe points out that Jesus brought the woman ‘from the margins to the heart of her people’, just like ‘Zachaeus […] receives the blessing of being restored to being “a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:1-11)’.13 This interesting note of Ringe points towards a deeper layer in Jesus’ understanding. One can see a parallel to Exodus, just like YHWH liberated Israel from Pharaoh (and thus restored them as Abraham’s descendants), Jesus liberated this daughter of Abraham from Satan.14 The healings are part of bringing the people out of captivity into the promised land, which is the kingdom of God.

Year of Jubilee
After the liberation from Pharaoh, Israel received their Sabbath-day (Exodus 16:23). Consequently, the salvation (loosening her from Satan) of this woman on a Sabbath was more appropriate than loosening cattle in order to drink. Kennard annotates that the Sabbath was more than the seventh day. For example, the Sabbath included a seventh year of release of debt (Deuteronomy 14:28-16:17) and after the last year of seven sabbatical cycles the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10). The Jewish Christians saw the kingdom of God as a future Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9). Kennard states that this Deuteronomic ideal urged Jesus to release and liberate the oppressed.15 Kennard’s explanation is a justified observation. That is to say, Jesus deliberately heals on the Sabbath-day because healing is what he ‘ought’ to do on the Sabbath-day (Luke 13:16). This, together with Luke 4:16-21, where Jesus read about the fulfilment of the year of Jubilee (cf. Isaiah 61:1-2, 35:5-6), seems to conclude that he believed that these healings demonstrated that the rest and feast of the Sabbath found its fulfilment in him. This interpretation of Jesus’ miracles was not straightforward—as mentioned before, the idea of a Messiah who would battle and subdue spiritual forces was recently new. One can see the doubt in John the Baptist’s question: ‘Art thou he that should come’ (Luke 7:19). Jesus’ answer in Luke 7:22 demonstrates that he understood these miracles as essential for his mission—in effect the miracles proclaim the good news (cf. Isaiah 61:1). Merz and Theissen think that Jesus rather referred to the miracles happening around him without saying that he was the author. The answer to John was more in the sense of that ‘he himself was perhaps the “coming one” announced by John.’16 Merz and Theissen seem to imply that the miracles are no more than a side effect of the kingdom of God. Jesus, however, explained the miracles as part of his identity and through which he liberated the people from sin, diseases and oppression (cf. Isaiah 35:5-6). These miracles were there to proclaim liberty and Jesus was the author.

Matter of Life or Death
That Jesus saw his healings as part of a battle becomes apparent if one takes Mark 3:4 in account. Jesus’ question, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?’, refers to a principle, which can be found in 1 Maccabees 2:29-48, that saving a life overrides the Sabbath. Jesus addresses this rule (halakhic argument) and thus implies (as with the exorcisms) that he was fighting Israel’s battle. According to Merz and Theissen the healings were not a direct ‘life-threathening emergency’ and thus a liberal interpretation of the law by Jesus.17 Although some of Jesus’ contemporaries undoubtedly argued down this line, it is not compelling since the Torah does not explicitly state what one can and cannot do on Sabbath-day. Merz and Theissen’s argument, demonstrate that they in fact separate the spiritual realms from the natural world. Jesus, however, lived in a society with an overarching holistic worldview.18 In such a worldview it is not strange to see a battle with evil as a matter of life or death. It is clear that Jesus did not break the law as he was fully aware of all the aforementioned implications and rules of the Sabbath.19 Through the healings Jesus reminded the people of the rest they received when YHWH liberated them. However, Jesus’ deeper understanding was, as demonstrated through the healings, that the future Sabbath-rest started with recognising him.

Conclusion

Through the exorcisms Jesus emphasised a new eschatological understanding which was already surfacing in his time. The exorcisms demonstrate the real battle which was not against Rome, but against Satan and his minions. By driving out demons, Jesus believed that he liberated people from their exilic state, and was thus fighting Israel’s fight. This clearly resonated with the exilic history of Israel. Although they lived in their own country again, they were in effect still ‘scattered’ (occupied by a foreign army and marginalised). Through these exorcisms he demonstrated that he was the one who could restore and fill the house of Israel with true worship. Moreover, by claiming and demonstrating that he had the authority to exorcise, he believed that the kingdom of God had its existence in him.

Jesus’ understanding of the healings he carried out, show more or less the same agenda as with the exorcisms. Again the resonance of Israel’s history is to be detected. With the healings, however, Jesus seems to focus more on Israel’s roots. By using the term ‘daughter of Abraham’ he illustrates the exodus from Egypt, where the descendants of Abraham were liberated and brought into the promised land. The fact that Jesus did these works on a Sabbath-day did not only reminded people of the covenant, which they received at mount Sinai, but also foreshadowed the promised rest which would come with the kingdom of God.

Footnotes

  1. Cf. Van der Loos, The miracle, 237-239; Perel, Die Wunder, 77.

  2. Twelftree, Jesus, 275.

  3. E.g. The assumption 10:8. Cf. Patzia & Petrotta, kingdom of God, 70.

  4. Twelftree, Jesus, 263.

  5. Josephus, Antiquities, 2:5.

  6. Lee, The Economy, 38-39.

  7. Craig, Reasonable, 322.

  8. E.g. The assumption 10:1; The Testament of Levi 18:12.

  9. Wright, Jesus, 456.

  10. Knoch, Concordant, 112.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Levenson, Creation, 101. Cf. The life, 51:2.

  13. Ringe, Luke, 187-188. Cf. Jeremiah 50:17; Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:4-7.

  14. Exodus 3:20; 7:4-5; 8:19; 15:6.

  15. Kennard, Messiah, 128-129.

  16. Merz & Theissen, Historical, 212 (italics mine).

  17. Merz & Theissen, Historical, 294.

  18. Twelftree, Jesus, 28.

  19. N.b. rather than breaking it, he intensified the law (Matthew 5:1-8:1).

Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

Craig, W.L., Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008.

Josephus, F., ‘Antiquities of the Jews – Book VIII,’ Early Jewish Writings website (26 April 2013, http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/ant8.html).

Kennard, D. W., Messiah Jesus: Christology in His Day and Ours, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2008.

Knoch, A. E., Concordant Commentary on the New Testament, Santa Clarita: Concordant Publishing Concern, 1968.

Lee, W., The Economy of God and the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity, Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 2001.

Levenson, J. D., Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence, Chichester: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Merz, A. & Theissen, G., Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide, trans. John Bowden , Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.

Patzia, A.G. and Petrotta, A.J., ‘Kingdom of God,’ Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Perel, O., Die Wunder Überlieferung der Synoptiker in Ihrem Verhältnis zur Wortüberlieferung, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1934.

Ringe, S.H., Luke, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995.

The assumption (Testament) of Moses, Wesley Center Online website (20 June 2013, http://wesley.nnu.edu/index.php?id=2124).

The life of Adam and Eve, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English Vol. 2, ed. Charles, R. H., Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1913, pp. 123-154.

The Testament of Levi, Christian Classics Ethereal library website, (21 June 2013, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.iii.v.html).

Twelftree, G.H., Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1999.

Van der Loos, H., The Miracles of Jesus, Leiden: Bill, 1965.

Wright, N.T., Jesus and the Victory of God, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.




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