It looks more like a biblical proclamation. Kind of like Peter in Acts. He tells a beautiful story, full of claims that will appeal to his listeners desires and thousands convert on the spot without ever checking the claims. It's not logical, but it works....
Even a person that doesn’t have a “problem” with miracles should still be hesitant to just accept any miraculous claim hook, line, and sinker. Even if God does act in miraculous ways this doesn’t mean that he does it on a regular basis. Jews of the first century should be hesitant to accept such a claim, just as you should be skeptical of Benny Hinn’s supposed resurrection performances as well....
Whatever it was that persuaded them [the Jews who heard Peter speak in Acts] it was true, it wasn’t a checking of the facts, which is exactly what it should have been. I’m sure there were other factors beyond just the fact that the message was appealing to them. The persuasiveness and sincerity of the speaker was probably also a factor. You perhaps can think of other things that influenced the decision. My point is simply that what ought to have influenced there decision (fact checking) doesn’t appear to have played a major role, or a role at all for that matter.
I doubt that getting crucified like Jesus, or being treated as Jesus and His followers were treated by their surrounding society in other contexts, would "appeal to the desires" of Peter's listeners. Some of what Christianity offered them would be appealing, but much of it wouldn't be. Judaism was already providing them with a purpose in life, the hope of an afterlife, and other benefits.
Jon tells us that the people who heard Peter speak should have been "hesitant". He tells us that they should have sought evidence.
They were hesitant. And they had evidence.
Before Peter began speaking, they witnessed some of the miraculous results of the coming of the Spirit (Acts 2:5-7). Rather than accepting what they heard from these Christians who were speaking to them in tongues, the people who heard these Christians asked questions, and some opposed them (Acts 2:12-13). As we see repeatedly in the gospels, some people offered a naturalistic explanation in an attempt to dismiss a miracle claim (Acts 2:13). Peter then reasons with these people on the basis of common standards (Acts 2:15) and the similarity between Old Testament prophecy and what had just been witnessed (Acts 2:16-21). Peter then goes on to remind his listeners that Jesus had already been attested in their midst by miracles (Acts 2:22). He appeals to the common theme of a Davidic Messiah and how that theme is applicable to a resurrection (Acts 2:24-35). Peter's listeners were in the region where Jesus' execution took place and would have had weeks to hear reports of a resurrection and discussion of what had happened with Jesus' tomb, for example. They would have known that men like Peter were risking the same sort of treatment Jesus received from the governing authorities by making the claims they were making. Thus, the testimony Peter was offering, corroborated by the testimony of other witnesses (Acts 2:32), including people who had formerly opposed Jesus (Acts 1:14), carried much more evidential weight than Jon Curry suggests. Peter wasn't addressing people who had never heard of Jesus before. Rather, he was reminding them of, and expanding upon, something they had been suppressing (Acts 2:23). The blade was already in their chest, so to speak. Peter just pressed it further (Acts 2:37). Even after all of these things occurred, there are indications that the people still hesitated. Some rejected what Peter said. Those who were more receptive asked what they should do (Acts 2:37), but Peter spoke to them further before they did what he suggested (Acts 2:40). These people seem to have been hesitant both before and after Peter spoke.
Notice, also, that confirming signs continued afterward (Acts 2:43). Nobody honestly and thoughtfully reading the book of Acts should miss the fact that evidential concepts such as eyewitness testimony, fulfilled prophecy, and other confirming miracles are prominent. Much of what I've said about Acts 2 above is present in Acts 3 and beyond as well.
But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that these people had never heard of Jesus before, hadn't witnessed the miraculous speaking in tongues, etc. Since Christianity believes in the supernatural convicting and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, it isn't required, within a Christian worldview, that every person have evidence such as what I've described above. Such evidence is useful for making an objective case for a belief system in a public forum like this one, but such an objective case isn't needed to justify personal conversion.
Since Jon mentions Benny Hinn again, readers may be interested in an article I wrote last year regarding the differences between the alleged miracles of Benny Hinn and those of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"Attested To You By God" (Acts 2:22)
Jon Curry often makes false and misleading claims about Christianity. (See, for example, here, here, and here.) In a recent thread, he repeated a bad argument he's used before: