The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

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apollos0fAlexandria
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The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#1 Post by apollos0fAlexandria » 7 years ago

This topic is to continue the question I raised and the response by Nightingale here:

The first bullet point that Nightingale raised was
"how can Jesus and Adam be comparable (often there is a picture of a scale in our publications where Adam and Jesus are standing) if the other one has millions of years of life experience and divine wisdom and the other one had just been here on Earth for a few years; how was Jesus like a man "in every respect""
I agree that this model does not work. But is it the pre-human existence that is wrong, or is it rather the JW illustration of the scales.

If we had to choose I presume we would all agree that we would go with God's Word rather than the artist's interpretation of a particular theology. In other words, rather than trying to make the scriptures fit the illustration of the scales, some time ago I came to appreciate that the illustration of the scales did not fit with scripture.
But God's free gift is not like Adam's offense. For if many people died as the result of one man's offense, how much more have God's grace and the free gift given through the kindness of one man, Jesus the Messiah, been showered on many people! (Rom 5:15, ISV)
The scales illustration is based on the idea that the free gift CORRESPONDS to Adam's offense, based on what I believe is an incorrect understanding of 1 Tim 2:6. That scripture speaks nothing of corresponding to Adam's sin. This is one example of many patchwork doctrines that we have stitched together, in this case by pairing Rom 5 with 1 Tim 2.

Rom 5:15 clearly states that these two things do NOT correspond.

I could go through the rest of the bullet points raised by Nightingale (and perhaps we could address those as we go), but for now I'd like to raise a question of my own.

How could the death of a sinless human who had no prior relationship with God be the greatest sacrifice that was possible? Or was it not necessary for the sacrifice to be that great?

I already balk at the JW idea that Jesus was just the first of a multitude of created angels. If he is relegated to just being a human born in the 1st century, and God allowed him to die, I don't comprehend how the sacrifice was supposedly so great.

Open for discussion ...

Apollos

imjustasking
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#2 Post by imjustasking » 7 years ago

Hi Apollos,

What a can of 'worms' you have opened - but I'm glad you have done so :)

I used to be convinced that the scriptures proved that Jesus lived before but I'm not so sure.

For the last few months I've been slowly working through a book called One God & One Lord:Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith by Mark H.Graeser, John Lynn and John W Schcenheit. It is a fascinating read and all the proof texts for a pre-existing Jesus are not as water tight as they might first appear.

I'm sorry my answer dosen't specifically address your question, but this topic has been on my mind for a long time.

Just to add one further thought, I was listening to a radio programme that took the view that Jesus had to be God to atone for all the sins of men thoughout history and this was presented as an argument for the Trinity. The argument was along the lines that in order to address all the evil in the world, something MORE than a man was needed to make atonement. That something MORE was God himself and hence why he offered Himself up on the stake.

So on the one hand we have you asking could a life of a man, albeit a perfect one, satisfy justice and then we have some Trinitarians saying more than just a human life was needed, that it took God.

How the pendulum of human thought swings!! ;)

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Nightingale
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#3 Post by Nightingale » 7 years ago

apollos0fAlexandria wrote:
52 years ago
How could the death of a sinless human who had no prior relationship with God be the greatest sacrifice that was possible? Or was it not necessary for the sacrifice to be that great?

I already balk at the JW idea that Jesus was just the first of a multitude of created angels. If he is relegated to just being a human born in the 1st century, and God allowed him to die, I don't comprehend how the sacrifice was supposedly so great.

Open for discussion ...

Apollos
Good questions! I have also pondered those and don't have much answers. On the other hand, we are so used to and also emotionally attached to the beautiful idea that of God's Son who had been with his Father for millions of years and who then God allowed to be killed, that it is suddenly difficult to think differently, i.e. that the Son had only been in God's mind for about 4000 years (after Adam's sin) but really became into existence in 2 BC. Anyway, have to keep on digging for answers...

Meanwhile, because you mentioned you are a big fan of Anthony Buzzard ;) here is another short video by him on this subject.

"Shortly, within our twentieth century, the "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom."

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Nightingale
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#4 Post by Nightingale » 7 years ago

imjustasking wrote:
52 years ago
It is a fascinating read and all the proof texts for a pre-existing Jesus are not as water tight as they might first appear.
Exactly. Just some months ago this whole idea (that Jesus possibly didn't exist at all before 2 BC) was totally strange to me. I had doubts about the Michael -thing, but that was it really (now I don't believe in that at all, all you need to read is Hebrews 1 to see how it is) Then I carefully read the synoptic gospels and noticed there wasn't a single verse that hinted any pre-existence. All the proof (?) seem to be from John - which uses a lot of figurative and kind of enigmatic language and there are also clear translation errors like the NWT's "before Abraham was, I have been" - though it should read "before Abraham was, I am." And then I found out that "I am" in Greek basically mean "I am he (the Messiah)".

I wonder if John's gospel had never been written, if the whole pre-existence teaching would even exist. I wish we could go back to the year 100 or so before there was any possible influences from Greek philosophy and ask the early Christians how they really believed!
"Shortly, within our twentieth century, the "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom."

imjustasking
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#5 Post by imjustasking » 7 years ago

This is an interesting video on the most famous of proof texts regarding Jesus pre-existence
Joh 8:58 Jesus said to them: "Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbvLgTldsi8 (part 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37N6-DPduZY (part 2)


I found his arguments compelling - I would be grateful if somebody could scrutinise his exegesis (Bobcat I think this one may be for you - ;) )

Daytona
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#6 Post by Daytona » 7 years ago

Well, everyone is free to search the Bible and take from it what appears to them as good.

Why were most of us misled in the Watchtower? Wasn't it because we believed them when they used a few scriptures here and there to prove their point? Wasn't it because they encouraged us to read the Bible but through their filters? If we came in as spiritual children perhaps we wanted/needed fathers, we wanted someone to help us understand and to be a father figure, nothing wrong with that. Father and mother figures can be good role models, if they are carefully chosen!

Yes, there are things in the Bible hard to understand and some things which will not be understood until we are close to the end of this age. But most of the Bible is written in plain and simple language and if taken as written is not at all hard to understand. Yes, we may not be given all knowledge of everything but then who are we to expect God to answer all questions and provide all knowledge? If we allow the written word to speak for itself and not color it, or allow someone else to color it for us, we can be at peace. If we are not understanding an important teaching but are striving to imitate Christ in our love for God and our neighbor then what worries do we have? None.

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 6:38)

To me the plain language of that scripture is easy to understand. If I tell my children, "I came down from the roof to pick up the hammer I dropped," they would understand exactly what I meant. But if a neighbor should say, "No, Daytona was not on the roof, his wife only dreamed he was on the roof, that's what he really meant". Then my children would have to make a choice; either their father is a delusional liar or the neighbor is greatly mistaken!

But whichever they decide, in the end they will know, that I did come down off the roof and I did pick up my hammer and I did get back up to finish the job I started...what my kids at the moment believe or do not believe matters less than the work to fix our house and keep them safe within it.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

imjustasking
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#7 Post by imjustasking » 7 years ago

Hi Daytona,

I get what you are saying, but even Peter said some of the things Paul said are difficult to understand
2Pe 3:16 speaking about these things as he does also in all [his] letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Now don't get me wrong, I do not use such a scripture as an excuse to make a convoluted defence of a human teaching like 1914 or the Trinity.

There are many things if taken just taken at face value would make no sense and MUST be understood metaphorically
Joh 6:54 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day;
Joh 6:55 for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Joh 6:56 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.
..........................................
Joh 6:60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said: "This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?"
So if we simply take a reductionist view of the scriptures and say 'understand it as it is read' then we will come across some real stumbling blocks.

I'll give you a real life example of that. In my family study this week I chose the topic of the 'Water Canopy'.

Long story short; from a 'simple' reading of Genesis (Genesis 1:6 & Genesis 7:11) a mistaken view of the primordial earth is being taught that the earth was enveloped in a water bubble; a view that has no Biblical or scientific basis, whatsoever. But taking the reading of the scriptures at face value one could arrive at such a mistaken conclusion

I am reminded of Jesus words, which illustrates that scriptures are not necessarily 'easy' to comprehend.
Mat_11:25 At that time Jesus said in response: "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes.
Mat_13:35 that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet who said: "I will open my mouth with illustrations, I will publish things hidden since the founding."
With regard to Anthony Buzzard in his video - I think he has a point. Bread did not literally 'come down from heaven', so we can't say just understand at it as it reads.

However, I do agree that in certain passages we can take your approach and not read into the passages what is not there

Daytona
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#8 Post by Daytona » 7 years ago

imjustasking wrote:
52 years ago
Hi Daytona,

I get what you are saying, but even Peter said some of the things Paul said are difficult to understand
2Pe 3:16 speaking about these things as he does also in all [his] letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Now don't get me wrong, I do not use such a scripture as an excuse to make a convoluted defence of a human teaching like 1914 or the Trinity.

There are many things if taken just taken at face value would make no sense and MUST be understood metaphorically
Joh 6:54 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day;
Joh 6:55 for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Joh 6:56 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.
..........................................
Joh 6:60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said: "This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?"
So if we simply take a reductionist view of the scriptures and say 'understand it as it is read' then we will come across some real stumbling blocks.

I'll give you a real life example of that. In my family study this week I chose the topic of the 'Water Canopy'.

Long story short; from a 'simple' reading of Genesis (Genesis 1:6 & Genesis 7:11) a mistaken view of the primordial earth is being taught that the earth was enveloped in a water bubble; a view that has no Biblical or scientific basis, whatsoever. But taking the reading of the scriptures at face value one could arrive at such a mistaken conclusion

I am reminded of Jesus words, which illustrates that scriptures are not necessarily 'easy' to comprehend.
Mat_11:25 At that time Jesus said in response: "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes.
Mat_13:35 that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet who said: "I will open my mouth with illustrations, I will publish things hidden since the founding."
With regard to Anthony Buzzard in his video - I think he has a point. Bread did not literally 'come down from heaven', so we can't say just understand at it as it reads.

However, I do agree that in certain passages we can take your approach and not read into the passages what is not there
I completely agree, there are many scriptures that cannot be taken literally. Drinking Christ's blood being one of them, of course Jesus himself explained that later. But still, yes, there are scriptures which cannot in all seriousness be taken literal. My point was, though, that the vast majority of the Bible is plainly written and we can plainly understand it. As for those parts that cannot be taken literally it is usually obvious that that is the case.

Genesis is its own master, by that I mean that with the exception of Abraham's journey out of Ur and what came afterward, what is recorded in Genesis prior to Abraham is so deep into man's primordial past that it must be understood from the primordial man's view. Just so you know, I myself am not a believer in the Watchtower's claim that man has existed on earth for only about 6000 years. What I do believe is that the Bible's chronology, thus it's timetable, is a religious timetable not a historical one. Getting back to Genesis, it represents the very ancient past and seeks to supply the basis for what comes afterward: the creation of the nation of Israel. Many take the details in Genesis and attempt to apply an allegorical meaning to them; an interesting avocation, one which I have engaged in as well. But the truth is for every allegory there are a hundred others, for every application another can also be made and in the end we can find ourselves not seeing the forest for the trees. Genesis apparently is meant to be read, put down, and left as a reference for a later time, the first century. It is neither a scientific text nor a history book, it is a religious book which supplies the basis for what comes afterwards, not the answers.

To me, of primary importance is what did Christ teach with relation to Genesis. How does Genesis add to our understanding of the Greek Scriptures and Christ's place in God's arrangement or plan for salvation. Other than that I myself have little to no interest in how the languages were confused at Babel, or how exactly did Noah get all those animals on the ark, etc. Those can be very interesting discussions and I have enjoyed participating in them but the bottom line is that the minute details of those events are not important to my salvation nor the salvation of everyone on earth.

Also, perhaps I'm getting old, but when reams and reams of paper/pages are necessary to explain a doctrine then that in this old man's mind raises a flag...it says "watch out confusion may reign here". I like simple, direct, short and sweet, just as Jesus taught.

I do recognize, though, that that may be a sign of old age! ;)
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

apollos0fAlexandria
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#9 Post by apollos0fAlexandria » 7 years ago

I'm very much with Daytona on this so far.

@Nightingale - thanks for the Anthony Buzzard needle :)

It does seem to me though (and this has occurred to me before in JW context) that some people seem to treat the writings of the Apostle John as a bit of an inconvenience. In other words there would be no challenge their preferred theology if John had never been included in the canon. But as I think most of us agree, this is a slippery slope if we start sidelining parts of God's Word just because they don't seem to sit well with some other parts, and things would be easier without them.

We can consider the danger of this as Christians by understanding the perspective of the modern religious Jew. The entire NT is an inconvenience to be rejected, because it doesn't seem to fit with the Hebrew writings - at least in the way that s/he would prefer to interpret them.

This is why I feel that it is important to grasp the purpose of John's writings. If the Christian's who were eyewitnesses of Jesus simply "got it", especially by virtue of having the Holy Spirit poured out on them at Pentecost, then the later writings of John may quite conceivably have been to correct a growing deviation by those who did not have this first hand experience. He is filling in the blanks for us, but not blanks that were unknown to Jesus' early followers. Rather they were blanks that might otherwise be departed from if they were not confirmed in the written record.

I still feel quite strongly that this is what was going on.

Apollos

MeletiVivlon
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Re: The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus

#10 Post by MeletiVivlon » 7 years ago

Daytona wrote:
52 years ago
Just so you know, I myself am not a believer in the Watchtower's claim that man has existed on earth for only about 6000 years. What I do believe is that the Bible's chronology, thus it's timetable, is a religious timetable not a historical one.


On what basis do you base this belief?

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