The Doctoral Candidate – a parable by Jim

The Christian claim is that the resurrection is proof of Jesus’ messiahship. However, it cannot be a proof in any sense, because there is no proof of the resurrection itself, as an event

The Christian claim is that the resurrection is proof of Jesus’ messiahship. However, it cannot be a proof in any sense, because there is no proof of the resurrection itself, as an event. To help illustrate how hollow the claim that the resurrection proves that Jesus was the Messiah, whatever that means to the believer, please allow me to present the following analogy.

Let us imagine a man, a doctoral candidate, who must take an exam to earn his degree and title. He receives his exam, and he sits writing for some time. Once time is up, he confidently gives the exam to the qualifying board to review. But, they stare at the paper, mouths agape. They say to the candidate, “You have not answered even one question! You are clearly not qualifed to become a certified doctor.”

“No! No!” the man exclaims. “You have it all wrong! I wrote my answers in invisible ink. Rest assured, I do know everything there is to know about the field.”

Do you think that the certifying board will just take his word for it?

Yet this is what the Christian demands. He claims to have proof that Jesus is the Messiah, but his ‘proof’ is nothing of the kind. It is a mere assertion. It is an event to which virtually no one had any direct knowledge. It is like invisible ink. At first the Christian claims to have proof, but then he says that one must just take his word for it; he must just have faith. He holds simultaneously the contradictory views that Jesus proved that he was the Messiah and that no proof need be given. He claims that Jesus has passed the test of the prophet, while invalidating the test.

Now the missionary will bring other proofs for the messiahship of Jesus, as well. He will point to various prophecies within Tanach, prophecies of the Messiah, prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. Strangely, many of the fulfillments of these prophecies also were unverified. They also must be believed without any evidence. As such, they also cannot serve as proofs. The evidence meant to induce faith cannot itself rely upon faith.

One of these prophecies, the fulfillment of which was never verified, is the supposed virgin birth. One cannot know that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and bore Jesus; it has to be taken on faith. This means that, not only is it not a sign, it is not a proof. Similarly, Jesus’ birthplace and lineage was unknown to people, even in his lifetime (see John 7:40-42). Yet the missionary will proclaim that Jesus fulfilled prophecies relating to the Messiah and that this is proof that he is the Messiah. He claims that these prophecies were fulfilled in secret, where no one could see or investigate, and at the same time declares them to be irrefutable evidences of Jesus’ credentials as Messiah.

These are more answers written in invisible ink. Let us return to that exam. One of the certifying board says that, though this is highly inconvenient, he knows a way to read invisible ink. He has a special lamp that will warm the paper and will make the answers written thereon to present themselves. While he is gone to fetch the lamp, a fellow member of the board notices a further irregularity on the test. He does not remember all of these questions being part of the exam. Indeed, the questions betray a shocking lack of knowledge on the part of the one that wrote the question. He wonders aloud which of the board members might have added these questions, but they are all as puzzled as he is. Perhaps it was the fellow who went for the lamp.

After some time, their fellow returns with the lamp. He sets it up and begins waving the paper slowly back and forth under its specially calibrated heat. To the surprise of the entire certifying board, some of the questions begin to disappear. They notice that these are those with which they had no familiarity. They expected to see more, not less. The strange light of the lamp was erasing questions, while the answers remained invisible.
Shocked, they accused the doctoral candidate of fraud. It was obvious, they said, that he added questions to the test. He agreed that he did add the questions, but he denied any fraud. Instead, he claimed that the board did not know the proper questions to ask, and that he, in fact, knew better than they what the questions were.

This is what has happened with many of the so-called prophecies that are meant to prove Jesus is the Messiah. Not only are the fulfillments unverified and unverifiable, the prophecies are not legitimately prophecies regarding the Messiah. For the sake of brevity, I will not rehash all of these; they have been discussed at length. But it is clear, for example, that Isaiah 7:14 is not a prophecy regarding the Messiah. Hosea 11:1, which Matthew makes out to be a prophecy about the Messiah being called out Egypt, is about Israel. Moreover, it is not predictive, but refers to the past. Likewise, John 13:18 makes the betrayal of Jesus out to be a fulfillment of Ps. 41:9, which is also not about the Messiah. Missionaries make long lists of prophecies of which Jesus is supposed to have fulfilled. However, the great majority of them are not Messianic prophecies.
And if a prophecy when read is not clearly referring to the Messiah, and if it was not verifiably fulfilled by Jesus, then it is not a proof of his Messiahship at all; nor can it be.
It is at this point that the missionary will be like our doctoral candidate. He will argue that he has a special insight into the material and is best suited to declare what is a Messianic prophecy and what is not. He will argue that those judging his claims just do not understand the prophecies the way that he does, but that they are indeed proofs of the highest magnitude. The missionary becomes the apologist, no longer trying to give evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus, but evidence that his reading of scripture is the superior one.

But wait! One of the certifying board notices that one of the questions has been scribbled out. This question is partially faded. It is one of those added to the exam by the candidate. The whole experience has been rather irregular, and this attempted erasure is only more bizarre. The member of the board inquires why this question was first added and then subtracted from the exam questions. In response, the candidate begins sweating and stammering. He says that they should not even review this question, because he had obviously not intended them to see it. It would not be fair for them to review the question.

This has been the response of some missionaries to the refutation of Zechariah 13:6. Missionaries, such as Sid Roth, once used this passage as proof that Zechariah prophecied about Jesus. The verse, quoted alone, sounded rather Christological to the missionary, particularly: “What are these wounds in your hands?” After it was pointed out to them that this was written about false prophets, they stopped employing the passage, of course. They tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug. They tried to erase that exam question.
But the question must be asked: On what principle did they at first accept and then reject this as a prophecy about Jesus? The answers are obvious and need little explanation. They thought it was about Jesus, because superficially it sounded like him. Wounds in hands? That sounds like the nails that pinned Jesus to the cross! Afterward, they changed their tune, because the context of the passage would make Jesus to be a false prophet. It is the context of the passage that told them that the verse they quoted was not about the Messiah and would make the missionary wish to no longer associate the passage with Jesus.

Yet the missionary ignores the context of the verse in question in those other questionable passages. Hosea 11:1 is about Israel, not the Messiah. He applies it to Jesus anyway. Psalm 41 is about a man that has sinned, but the missionary applies v. 9 to a Jesus he holds to be sinless. Isaiah 7:14 is about a child born hundreds of years before Jesus, but the missionary applies it to Jesus anyway. In these cases, and many others, the context of the ‘fulfilled prophecies’ shows them not to be Messianic altogether. Based on the same principle that turned the missionary away from Zechariah 13:6, these others cannot be proofs used to substantiate Jesus. It is apparent that the missionary is playing a game. He is perpetrating a fraud. He knows that context matters to understanding a verse, but he only applies this principle when it suits him.

The next question that one must ask is: If Jesus was the Messiah, why must a fraud be perpetrated to establish his credentials? This answer, too, is obvious. The missionary abuses scripture to establish Jesus credential because insufficient evidence exists. Invisible proofs are not proofs at all. A secondary method to establish Jesus’ credentials was desired. They would declare him to fulfill prophecy. However, Jesus did not fulfill any Messianic prophecies, things like building the third temple. New prophecies must therefore be manufactured. To do so, verses would need to be taken out of context. The Church would need to fake Jesus credentials.

The fact that the Church needed to perpetrate such a fraud tells one all he needs to know. He can rest assured that Jesus is not the Messiah. If he had been, no need to misrepresent Tanach would exist. A little scrutiny of the Christian case for Jesus shows the proofs to be all hollow, mere nothingness. Some of the supposed proofs must be accepted on faith, denying their ability to prove anything, like the resurrection. Other proofs were based on fraud, which are easily exposed with a little study. All those things meant to establish Jesus as the Messiah, when exposed to the bright light of truth, evaporate as the dew evaporates under the warm sun.

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The Doctoral Candidate – a parable by Jim

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