Tuesday, August 06, 2013

On the Road Again

Salem Methodist, St. Louis

Bonhomme Pres, St. Louis
Well, it doesn't look like I'll have time to finish deconstructing Reza Aslan's new best-seller, Zealot.  You get the picture, anyway.  The house of cards was collapsing by the moment.  Even if you lay the most solid granite on top, the structure will collapse from the weakness below.  And the book does not improve in the final chapters . . . Aslan attacks Paul fervently, he creates a Manichean dichotomy between this pernicious thing called Christianity that Paul founded, and the likeable fanaticism of Jesus . . . Maybe he is recreating Jesus in his own image of Mohammed.  I didn't feel the faintest tingle of a twitch of belief. 

Early tomorrow morning, though, I'm hitting the road.  Here's the schedule.   Come if you can.  I also welcome invitations -- for conversation, for talk, debate, lunch, dinner, a hike.  This is going to be a long, long trip.  Go, Big Oil!  Bring me that sweet, cheap gasoline. 

August 11 St Louis: Salem United Methodist, 9:30 AM, "Christianity and World Religions"

August 11 Chesterfield, MO: Bonhomme Presbyterian, 7 PM, "Jesus for Skeptics"

August 14 Marshall, MI: Marshall UMC, 7 PM (?), topic yet to be announced

August 18, Garfield Memorial UMC, Pepper Pike (Cleveland), Ohio: 9:30 AM sermon, plus Q and A afterwards

August 20, Kirk of the Hills Pres, Bloomfield Hills: 7 PM

August 28 (?) First Pres, Jackson, Wyoming (evening)


Marc said...

Hi David,

your criticism of Aslan's book was quite interesting, but it does shows you've also a conservative bias.

How do you know, for example, that the sayings "no one has ever done that" were not added by the Gospel writers or an editor?

There are many not-implausible, contradictory theories about Jesus of Nazareth which are difficult if not impossible to evaluate due to the lack of hard data.

But I believe this kind of scenarios (Aslan) can be ruled out as being unlikely.

If Jesus was only one apocalyptic prophet among many others, then why don’t we find texts from their followers who claim they rose from the dead?

We know this was the case of Jesus former disciples one or two decades after his death.

To my mind, the best naturalist hypothesis is that:

1) the body disappeared from his grave in one way or the other, it was maybe stolen by robbers (or mischievous space aliens for that matter)
2) the disciples were puzzled by an empty tomb
3) afterwards, they experienced powerful hallucinations

This would be one good (or at least not too bad) explanation how Christianity could have started.

Aslan seems to be a liberal Muslim, conservative ones would always insist that Jesus was someone very special.
A friend of mine is also a liberal Muslim from Palestine, I’m going to ask him what his take on this is.

I'm looking forward to reading your answer!

Kind regards from Germany.

Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

David B Marshall said...

Lothar: Why not post this in one of the Aslan threads, so other people who have posted there can interact as well?

But the short answer is, I "know" very little. And I would call that a strong "conservative" bias, indeed.

I actually think Aslan's argument should be very welcome to smart Muslims. In effect, he seems to be arguing that Jesus was a prophet a lot like Mohammed, in effect justifying the violence of the latter by the purported violent intents of the former. In that sense, maybe Aslan is being too clever for a lot of "inside the box" type Muslims -- or maybe they will get what he's doing.

Marc said...

Excuse me David, I thought this was one of those threads.
I'll post it somewhere else.

Lovely greetings from Germany.
Liebe Grüsse aus Deutschland.

Lothars Sohn - Lothar's son