For this series of posts, I want to respond to a comment made on my post on Tolerating the Intolerable:
But how can you be sure that your way is right? What actual, physical proof do you have that says that Christianity is right and Islam (or Judaism, Hinduism, etc.) is wrong? All you have to go on is your faith and your particular holy book. What makes the Bible any more or less true than the Torah or Koran? Why is Jesus any holier than YHWH or Allah? There is no real way to know who is right in religion. Maybe none of the modern religions are right. Maybe Zeus et al. are sitting up on Mount Olympus right now shaking their heads at us. Until we stop declaring that we are right and nobody else is, the world will constantly be in a state of turmoil. (Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, I’m an secular humanistic Jew.)
I think I’m going to go at it backwards and answer the last question first:
Why is Jesus any holier than YHWH or Allah?
Since this person is Jewish, I will respect that and leave out all vowels in YHWH. First of all, in the New Testament, Christ refers to himself as God, YHWH:
“I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58)
So what makes that claim true? How can I say that Jesus really is God?
Well, as Lee Strobel puts it, “Anyone can believe that he or she is God. [But] Jesus didn’t just consider himself God’s Son, but he also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God.”
He was omnicient, omnipotent , and omnipresent. During His time on earth, as recorded in Phillipians 2, he emptied himself of his attributes when he was incarnated.
“He made Himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phillipians 2:7)
Collosians 2:9 states, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
And John 8:29 tells of his eternality, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Jesus was God and he did claim to be God.
How can we believe that Jesus was and is God? I’d like to take a look at the prophecies of the Old Testament.
You will have to admit that all prophecies of the coming Messiah were written some 400 years before Christ was born.
Many Christians will first point to what looks to be a fortelling of the Messiah in Isaiah 53, which points out 12 aspects of Christ’s Passion:
He would be rejected, a man of sorrow, live a life of suffering, be despised by others, carry our sorrows, be smitten and afflicted by God, be peirced for our transgressions, be wounded for our sins, would suffer like a lamb, would die for the wicked, would be sinless, and would pray for others.
All of these things were fulfilled in the life of Christ, but many modern Rabbis reject that Isaiah was talking of a coming messiah, and insist that he referred to the Jewish Nation. Norman Geisler says, “It was common for Jewish interpreters before the time of Christ to teach that Isaiah here spoke of the Jewish Messiah. Only after early Christians began using the text apologetically with great force did it become in rabbinical teaching an expression of the suffering Jewish nation. The view is implausible in the context.”
Lee Strobel lists some of the other major predictions about the Messiah (all fulfilled by Jesus):
Lee Strobel then goes on to say that the “exact fulfillment of so many specific predictions is such a persuasive apologetic that critics have reapeatedly raised objections to try and negate them.”
And I’m going to attempt to address some of those in my next post.
Part Two: Objections Addressed