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Only Jesus (great song by Big Daddy)

What Did Jesus Say? (2012) - 7 topics 

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Partial Critic: S.E. Moore

S.E. Moore, wrote “PAUL - Faith without works? Hardly!!!” in a review posted at Amazon dated February 19, 2007. For the most part he agreed with Jesus' Words Only. His points of criticism were snipes at the edges, but they merited a reply.

Here is the reply I posted (which can be read at Amazon at this link):

Christian Greetings to S.E. Moore:

Well, I appreciate that your comment agrees wholeheartedly with my conclusions. Your main point is you do not like citation to Eisenman, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Ebionites or Pseudoclementine writings. You also misconstrue a couple of points I made about fornication, Paul's conditions on gifts to the poor, etc. Please let me respond.

Your comment first says I should not cite Eisenman because AFTER I wrote this book, Eisenman wrote a book supposedly trashing the gospels. Of this you do not cite nor prove. Eisenman is a foremost expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He makes an argument, and I say it is HIS argument, about the figures in the Damascus Document found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). (However, it was also found outside the DSS and in the 1890s traced by scholars to Christians -JWO at 302). Eisenman claims [a] the Spouter of Lies character is Paul and [b] that the Just One (Zaddik) who battles the spouter is a reference to James. I say Eisenman's case appears strong, but I do not know enough about the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Damascus Document to refute it. (JWO at 298- 300.) Unfortunately, you simply do not address what is supposedly wrong in the argument of Eisenman, if anything. Instead, you prefer to attack Eisenman for other more recent supposedly weak and perhaps sacrilegious attacks on the fundamental parts of our faith such as the Gospels (which I would likewise abhor him doing). Christians must learn to focus, however, on facts and not on ad hominens. It really does not prove anything if Eisenman has other claims in other areas with which we disagree.

You also try an indirect attack on Eisenman's point. You raise the issue of what the DSS community taught but as I point out the idea of a single DSS community has now been exploded by critics. They have proven the Scrolls do not belong to a single community. Instead, they were likely the Temple archives from Jerusalem transported to Qumram when the Romans came to siege and burn Jerusalem. This is what explains why there are contradictions in all these DSS writings. (JWO at 299,302 n.) Thus, your premise is incorrect that the beliefs of the community, if they mismatch Christianity, means there is no Christian element possible in the Dead Sea Scroll writings. Thus, your argument fails that we are able to disregard paying attention to Eisenman's arguments.

Furthermore, the writing at issue -- the Damascus Document -- was originally found outside the DSS, and thus has an origin not necessarily limited to Qumram. (JWO at 302.) Experts in 1909 proved in scholarly papers the Damascus Document was a Christian writing. (Id.) The fact it reappears at Qumram does not strip away that conclusion. It could still be a Christian writing even if purely DSS writings generally are not viewed that way.

Also, I am not pitting the Gospels against the DSS so one is true and the other is false, as you suggest. That is a false dichotomy nowhere present in my book. Rather, what I say is Paul and James did not see eye to eye. That is probably evident from James' Epistle alone anyway. I also point out that scholars believe now that James' Epistle was written as a guideline for an upcoming trial. (JWO at 240-42.) My argument later is that this trial is evidenced in the Damascus Document, as Eisenman observes a major confrontation in a trial-like setting between the Spouter of Lies and the Zaddik, which he argues persuasively is Paul and James. (JWO at 301-05.) Then my argument is this trial is referenced in two places in Scripture: [1] in Acts 19 where Paul is expelled from the budding Christian synagogue at Ephesus and [2] in Rev. 2:2 where Jesus speaks of one put on trial at Ephesus for saying he was an apostle but was proven not to be one. All the evidence cumulatively supports finding Jesus meant Paul in Revelation 2:2 especially in light of Revelation 2:14 (Balaam and idol meats which I will discuss a few paragraphs below).

Finally, you say I am wrong that Paul teaches sometimes faith without works. You make it appear I dispute Romans 8 supports your view that Paul teaches faith and works. I do not disagree in how you read Romans 8. But first, let's point out that I never discuss Romans 8 in JWO. When I do discuss Romans 8 in my new book, I am in total agreement with you that it teaches faith and works, as John Locke and William Paley proved. (See Jesus Words on Salvation (JWOS) at 142, 526,528-29). Rather, what I point out in JWO is that Paul argues it both ways. (JWO at 288.) Paul sometimes teaches faith-alone and sometimes he teaches the opposite, as even you seem to admit ("Paul contradicts himself"). But it would be clearly wrong to say Paul never teaches faith alone. As the majority of Christians, especially Luther, Calvin etc. have recognized, Paul certainly sometimes does teach faith alone. In my new book, Jesus' Words on Salvation (JWOS) I review all of Paul's faith alone verses side-by-side with his pro works verses. I then distill down to two which cannot be reconciled to Jesus who does require repentance, works and obedience (viz., Matt. 7:19; Mark 9:42-47). Paul clearly teaches faith alone in these two passages: Eph 2:8-9 and Romans 4:3-5. Thus, it is a fact Paul does sometimes teach faith alone. To pretend otherwise is incorrect. To overcome this, you point to Paul's works and sufferings for Christ. But that is not a Biblical reason to regard Paul any differently about what he taught on faith and works.

As to the Ebionites and Pseudoclementines, you claim they are anti-semitic, which my studies prove is a preposterous slander. All scholars concur these were pro-Jewish elements who were Christians upset with Paul for attacking the fundamentals of Judaism. Here is where a reference by you might provoke some dialogue if there is contrary evidence to scholarly opinion. I welcome any citation to rebuttal authority. As to your point that the Pseudoclementines are from the 2d century, I mention that at page 314 [of Jesus' Words Only] but point out scholars concur it includes Ebionite writings that are far older. You do not address that issue.

As to the fornication discussion, I point out that Paul permits a wife to leave a husband without proof he or she was guilty of adultery (1 Cor. 7:15), and this violates Jesus' teaching in Matt. 5:31. [JWO at 139- 140.] You mention I cite 1 Cor. 7:15 in your comment, but you do not explain why you believe I am reading it incorrectly.

I also pointed out in JWO (without agreeing) that eternal security advocates take the position that Paul's saying those who "practice" fornication (Gal 5) shall not inherit the earth does not mean those who 'once in a while' commit fornication lose salvation. (John MacArthur.) (JWO at 143- 44.) Thus, MacArthur argues that Paul permits occasional fornication without repercussion on salvation. I then say if MacArthur is right, then Paul permits fornication. (JWO at 145 - "If this is how Paulinists construe Paul ... then I can rely upon.....") You however fault me for a reading I do not necessarily countenance, but which is very popular today (demonstrating Paul's vagueness often is used to license immorality). I wish more would see it your way. But do no fault me please for arguments that Paulinists make on a loophole implied in the word "practice" in Paul's warning about fornication.

As to Paul's helping the poor, you cite the verse upon which I rely -- 2 Thess: 3:10 -- "he who does not work shall not eat" but you do not properly refute my reading. I point out this statement is clearly a condition on the poor nowhere countenanced in Scripture, and may tend to deny the poor help that the Bible commands otherwise to be open handed and unconditional. You cite in reply that Paul collects money for the poor. But this does not disprove my argument. Paul may still have conditioned those gifts to the poor on their working for it. You also ignore the context of my point. The issue is whether this unbiblical condition makes Paul satisfy the prophesied Benjamite Wolf who vexes the poor in Ezekiel 22:29 when read with Genesis 49:27. (See JWO at 351, 356, 358).

The weakest point of your letter is you say Rev. 2:14 is about the original Balaam, not Paul. What about the fact that Jesus says in 2:14 someone is teaching the doctrine of Balaam in THAT ERA that it is lawful to eat idol meat and that Paul taught the very same thing as Balaam? (See JWO at 117 et seq.) We need to discuss even the facts that contradict our beliefs so we know we are relying upon truth. So what about Paul's teaching being identical to Balaam's on idol meat? How do you answer? And why is Jesus' condemning such a teaching in the NT church after Paul is dead?

All in all, I appreciate very much that you like my book and endorse its main conclusions. I hope you would re-think the points of criticism which would be more helpful to me. I welcome critiques. I am hoping that if there is any need for correction or editing in a future edition, friendly critics will provide insights that are constructive. Blessings in Christ, D.D