Thursday, January 29, 2009

"How Did Christianity Begin" - Bird vs. Crossley, pt. 2

Just a remainder about the second part of the radio show Unbelievable broadcasted a few days ago on Premier Christian Radio featuring Michael F Bird And James G Crossley who debate on the topic "How Did Christianity begin? A believer and non-believer examine the evidence" (also the title of their co-written book published recently by SPCK).

In this second part of the show they debate whether Paul believed Jesus was God and whether we can trust the Gospel portrayals of him. Listen to the program here.


  1. Having listened to both Parts 1 & 2 of this debate between Michael Bird and James Crossley, I think its a worthwhile question to ask: "Is the Gospel according to Evangelicalism reliable to the letter?" Based upon this debate between these two scholars, its plain the answer is "No". In other words, we all hear the same "excuses" for contradiction: E.g., the four (4) gospels are not "history"; they are "creative" writing. That's why they contradict each other and we need scholars to unravel the mess. This is an excuse that only scholars could buy into; people with wisdom will reject such excuses and seek a better path.

    Furthermore, it was a *given* that it was Paul who was the "real" founder of Christianity the way we know it today. Then why talk about "gospels"? Moreover, when Bird tried to find a passage that "proved" Paul believed in the divinity of Jesus, Why choose a so-called "pre-Pauline" hymn embedded in an epistle that is just barely given the "authentic Paul" status (and then only by the most evangelical of evangelicals), as the most worthy evidence of such. Remember Crossley is a self-proclaimed non-Christian professor of New Testament? Isn't this just setting oneself up for failure.

    Finally, I hope Michael Bird learns a lesson about trying to reason with a "nay sayer," because James Cross-ley will always say "the Cross= Lie".

  2. I listened to both programs. There are a lot of problems with Crossley's argumentation.

    His conclusions are far too inconsistent with the extra-Biblical data. See, for example, here, here, and here.

    His objection that disputes about the deity of Jesus should be reflected in Paul's writings if Paul believed in the deity of Christ is dubious. Crossley acknowledges that Jesus probably was a healer and exorcist of some sort. The evidence suggests that the early Jewish opponents of Christianity dismissed such activity as Satanic in some manner (Jesus was a sorcerer, He was empowered by Satan, etc.). Do we find Paul interacting with Jewish objections to Jesus' miracles in his letters, in a way comparable to what Crossley demands with regard to Jesus' deity? No. Should we assume that there were no significant controversies between Jews and Christians on an issue if such a controversy isn't reflected in Paul's extant letters? Why should we expect Paul to address an issue like Jewish objections to Jesus' deity in letters to people who had been Christians for a long time (probably decades in some cases)? How does Crossley know that Paul didn't have Jewish opponents in mind (perhaps along with other opponents) in one or more of the passages in which he discusses Jesus' deity or a related issue? When Paul refers to Jesus' vindication (Romans 1:4) or places Jesus' identity within Jewish monotheism (1 Corinthians 8:4-6), for example, how does Crossley know that Paul doesn't have Jewish (or other) objections to a Christian view of Jesus' deity in mind?

    I've written an article addressing Crossley's argument about Matthew 27:52-53. It's a bad objection. Critics ought to abandon it.

    So many of Crossley's objections are similarly problematic.