Stump Your Sunday School Teacher

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Eight questions to stump your Sunday School teacher.

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<p>Questions to Stump Your Sunday School Teacher1. Given the supernatural circumstances of Jesuss birth, and all the announcements about who he was and what hed accomplish, including an appearance by Gabriel to tell Mary about Jesuss destiny, how could it be that his relatives later came to consider him out of his mind (Mark 3:21)? Wasnt he just performing the messianic role for which hed been born? Why didnt Mary recall what shed been told at the beginning about his special status? Doesnt the fact that his family thought he was crazy call into question the authenticity of the nativity stories? 2. If Jesus instructed the disciples in his Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) to go out and make followers of all the Gentiles, why did his brother James get into a disagreement with Paul about whether or not uncircumcised Gentiles are included? Didnt James understand what Jesus said? Further, how does the worldwide scope of the Great Commission square with Jesuss instruction in Matthew 10:5-6, where he said the disciples should not go among the Gentiles? Which of those contradictory instructions was most likely to have been uttered by the historical Jesus, and which was most likely added to the Jesus tradition by the early church? 3. Where was Jesuss hometown of Nazareth located? It cant be the same place as the current Nazareth in northern Israel. In Mark 4:29 were told an angry crowd took Jesus to the brow of the hill on which the city had been built with the intention of throwing him headlong over the cliff. The topography of Nazareth does not match this description. There is no brow of a hill nor are there any cliffs. So either the cliff story isnt true, or ancient Nazareth was at a different location than modern Nazareth. 4. What is the purpose of those genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Ostensibly they show the Davidic lineage of Jesus. But both genealogies trace the bloodline through Joseph, who (according to the virgin birth) was not Jesuss biological father. Thus, Josephs DNA never passed to Jesus. The author of Luke gives it away (3:23) when he says Joseph was supposedly the father of Jesus. One could hardly claim to be the Jewish messiah without being descended, by blood, from King David. (It cant be assumed that Davids bloodline was transmitted through Mary, since were given no indication David was her ancestor.) Doesnt this expose a fundamental contradiction between the doctrine of the virgin birth and the doctrine of Jesuss messiahship? 5. How can God be all-just if she is all-merciful (James 5:11)? Arent mercy and justice mutually exclusive? (No, theyre not two sides of the same coin, as the cliche goes.) Isnt the very definition of mercy that justice is set aside and put on the shelf to collect dust? Wouldnt a sentence of torment in hell be punishment that is out of all proportion to any crimes that could be committed in our wisp of time on earth? Does it make sense that mere lack of belief in church creeds, even if ones lifestyle is based on the Sermon on the Mount, should result in eternal condemnation? If God is truly merciful, then it seems there can be no final justice, no final judgment, no judgment of any kind, and, in the end, no one left behind. No one. And isnt that a really good thing? 6. Given that the Christian church did not come into existence until after Jesuss death, and that there was no word in first-century Aramaic/Hebrew for church, how could Jesus have said to Peter, Upon you I will build my church (Matthew 16:18)? Dont we have to consider this quote to be anachronistic (i.e., words put on Jesuss lips that couldnt have been uttered in the time of Jesus)? Making Jesus to speak of the church is like having JFK speak of the Kennedy Center. Not historically possible. 7. How can the doctrine of original sin be true if Adam and Eve were not historical persons? Original sin supposedly came about as a result of actions by two real people in a real-world setting. But thanks to modern knowledge about biological evolution, we understand now that there was never a first man or a first woman. Adam and Eve are characters in a myth of origins, not human beings in history. Doesnt this call into question the entire existence of original sin as well as the validity of all the creeds and theologies that stem from it? 8. How many animals did Jesus ride into Jerusalem? Matthew 21 says he rode two, simultaneously. The author of Matthew claims this fulfilled a prophecy in Zechariah (9:9), which Matthew rendered as follows: The king will come mounted on a donkey and on a colt. But the actual passage in Zechariah, which is in the form of a parallelism (a common literary technique in biblical Hebrew), refers to just one animal, not two. Doesnt this misquotation show that: (1) the author of Matthew didnt know how to properly read or interpret his bible; and (2) gospel authors didnt hesitate to embellish events in Jesuss life to make them fulfill prophecies, even if it meant creating absurd situations like Jesus riding astride two animals.A publication of the Marginal Mennonite Tract &amp; Propaganda Department. Written by Charlie Kraybill on behalf of the Marginal Mennonite Society. Visit the Marginal Mennonite Society Facebook page, and like us. Revised: November 23, 2012.</p>

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