101 Questions About Christianity

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The Review of Religions, April 1993

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    101 Questions about Christianity

    Saleem AhmadThe Review of Religions, April 1993

    1. If Jesus's mission was to the lost sheep of Israel, why was it confined to Palestine whereonly two of the original tribes had settled? Did that mean that Jesus had failed in hismission?

    2. Why should Jesus specifically forbid, on the one hand, preaching the Gospel to theGentiles (Matthew 7:6, 15:24, 26) and yet on the other, tell the disciples to teach all thenations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? (Matthew28:19)

    3. Why did Jesus prohibit the Gospel from being preached to the Gentiles during hisministry (Matthew 10:5, 7:6, 15:2426) but after his 'resurrection' tell them to preach theGospel to the whole world? (Mark 16:15)

    If Jesus really had made the latter statement, why was there such a fierce debate withinthe early Church (and particularly between Peter and Paul) as to whether the Gospelshould be preached to the Gentiles? (Acts 15:630)

    4. Out of all the signs that Jesus could have given about himself, he chose to give the signof Jonah: This generation is an evil generation it seeks a sign but no sign shall be givento it except the sign of Jonah. (Luke 11:29, Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16) Jonah wasswallowed alive by a whale and remained in its belly alive for three days. For Jesus tohave properly fulfilled the prophecy, he would need to enter the tomb alive and come outalive. Why should Jesus give this, of all signs, if he was to die and be resurrected?

    5. If Jesus's message was for the whole of mankind, why did he forbid his disciples topreach to the Gentiles? (Matthew 10:56)

    6. When Jesus was asked what the only way was to true salvation, he replied: keep theCommandments (Matthew 19:17). The first of the Commandments was to believe in theOneness of God (Exodus 20:3). Why did Jesus answer so if he believed in and was partof the Trinity? Why did he not refer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost?

    7. Jesus said that he had not come to change the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17). The Law ofMoses teaches that there is one God (Exodus 20:3). If Jesus was introducing the conceptof Trinity, why did he not say that he was changing the Law of Moses or introducing adifferent understanding of it?

    8. Jesus prophesied that men of his generation would not pass away without witnessing his

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    secondcomingandthefallingofstars(Mark9:1,13:30).Whywasthisprophecyunfulfilled?WhywasitthatJesusdidnotreturnwithinthelifetimeofhisgeneration?

    9. WhydidJesusforbidthedisciplesfromcallingpeoplefoolsyetcalledtheJewishleaderswithnameslikevipersandchildrenofadultery?IsitconceivablethataDivineBeingwouldbehaveinthisway?

    10. AccordingtoLuke,whentheJewstriedJesustheyaskedhimAreyouthesonofGod?JesusrepliedyousaythatIam(Luke22:70)whichcouldmean:yousaythatIambutIdonot.Ifhisdivinitywassomethinghecametotelltheworld,whydidhenotplainlysayyesinsteadofcouchinghisanswerinambiguousterms?

    11. IntheOldTestament,thetermSonofGodwasappliedtoDavid(Psalms89:27),thenationofIsrael(Exodus4:22),thechildrenofIsrael(Psalms82:6),andSolomon(1Chronicles22:10).Jesusalsouseditforthepeacemakers(Matthew5:9).IfJesuswasreferringtohimselfastheSonofGodintheliteralsense,whydidhenotmakeitclearthathewasdifferentiatingbetweenasymbolicreferenceandaliteralmeaningoftheterm?

    12. JesuswastheMessiah,thefulfillmentofOldTestamentprophecies.HefrequentlymadereferencetohimselfasthesufferingservantforetoldintheBookofIsaiah(Matthew8:17&Isaiah53:4Luke2:30&Isaiah52:10Luke22:37&Isaiah53:12).TheMessiahoftheOldTestamentwas,however,promisedbyGodthathewouldnotbekilled(Psalms34:19,Isaiah53:10).Howwasit,therefore,thattheJewshadsucceededinkillingtheMessiahifJesusdiedonthecross?

    13. IfJesusknewthatJudaswasgoingtobetrayhim,whydidhecontinuetopermithimasadisciple?WhydidhenottelltheotherdisciplessothatJudascouldbeexcludedfromhisclosestcircleoffollowers?

    14. IfJesusknewthatoneofhisdiscipleswouldbetrayhim,whyshouldhesaythatalltwelvediscipleswouldsitupontwelvethrones?(Matthew19:28)

    15. IfJesusknewthathewastodieonthecross,whydidhespendallnightprayingintheGardenofGethsemaneseekingdeliverance:Fatherifitispossiblemaythiscupbetakenfromme?(Matthew26:39)

    16. Jesushadtaughtthatman'sprayersareanswered(Matthew21:22).WhywasnotJesus'sprayeransweredintheGardenofGethsemane?WhateffectwouldthisincidenthaveonthefaithofhisdisciplesandfollowerstoseethataprayerhadnotbeenansweredcontrarytowhatJesushadtaught?

    17. IfJesusbelievedthathisprayerintheGardenofGethsemanewouldnotbeheard,whydidhetellhisdisciplesearlierthatprayersareanswered?:Wouldanyofyouwhoarefathersgiveyoursonastonewhenheaskedforbread(Matthew7:910)whichmeansthatGodhearstheprayersofmanmorethanafatheranswersthewishesofhischildrenandAskanditwillbegiventoyouseekandyouwillfindknockanditwillbeopenedtoyou.Andwhateveryouaskinyourprayers,youwillreceive,ifyouhavefaith.(Matthew21:22John11:41,42)

    18. IfJesus'sprayerintheGardenofGethsemanewasnottobeheard,whywasitsomethingthathewantedthedisciplestowitness?Iftheprayerwasnottobeheard,whatuseful

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    purposedoesthisstoryserve?

    19. WhyshouldMatthew,MarkandLukeallreport(Matthew26:39,Mark14:36,Luke22:42)thatJesusaskedforthecupofsufferingtobepassedifpossibleyetJohn(John18:11)reportsthatJesushastenedforthecrucifixionsayingshallInotdrinkthecuptheFatherhathgivenme?

    20. WhydidPontiusPilatejustsimplyignorehiswife'spleatohavenothingtodowithJesusonaccountofherbaddream?(Matthew27:19)IftheverymissionofJesuswastosufferdeath,whyshouldGodAlmightyshowadreamtoPilate'swifewhichwouldcausehertotryandpersuadeherhusbandtoreleaseJesus?WouldnotthatappeartocounterGod'sownplan?

    21. IfPilatereallywantedJesustodieonthecross,whywouldhefixthecrucifixiononaFridayeveningknowingthattheJewswouldhavetotakehimdownbeforeSabbathandthatsuchalittletimeonthecrosswasinsufficientforhimtodie?

    22. IfJesusknewallalongthathewasdestinedtobecrucifiedtodeath(indeedifthatwashispurposeinlife),whydidheexclaimonthecrossEli,EliLamaSabachthanimeaningmyGodmyGodwhyhastthouforsakenme?(Matthew27:46)

    23. IfJesuswasabouttodie,howwasheabletosayinaclearloudandaudiblevoicethathewasthirsty?(John19:28)

    24. WhyareJesus'swordsonthecross:Eli,EliLamaSabachthani(Matthew27:46)reportedintheiroriginalAramaicform?CoulditbethatJesus'shelplesscryleftsuchavividimpressionofamanseeminglybereftofhopethatanyonewhoheardthemwouldremembertheexactwords?

    25. Vinegarisoftenconsideredtohaveastimulatingeffect,rathersimilartosmellingsalts.Why,inJesus'scase,diditsuddenlyleadtohisdeath?(John19:29,30)

    26. Howcouldanonlookertellthedifferencebetweenamanonthecrosswhohaddiedandamanwhohadfainted(Mark15:39)particularlywhenitisreportedthatitwasdarkatthattime?(Mark15:33,Matthew27:45,Luke23:44)

    27. IfJesuswasdeadwhenhewasremovedfromthecross,whydidhisbodyreleasebloodandwater,sinceblooddoesnotflowatallfromadeadbody?(John19:34)

    28. WhydidJesusdiebeforetheothertwowhowerecrucifiedwithhimeventhoughthelegsoftheothertwowerebrokentohastendeath?(John19:32)

    29. Itisreportedthatdeadsaintscameoutoftheirgravesandmadethemselvesknowntomany(Matthew27:52).WhentheJewssawthis,whydidtheynotimmediatelyprofessfaithinJesus?Wheredidthesesaintsgo?Whodidtheysee?WhyistherenoaccountofthisstoryelsewhereotherthaninMatthew'sGospel?

    30. Iftheabovestoryofsaintsrisingfromthedeadisnotbasedonanactualhistoricalevent,whatotherstatementsarethereintheGospelswhicharenotbasedonactualhistoricalfacts?

    31. JesussaidthatthekillingofprophetsendedwiththekillingofZacharias(Matthew

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    23:3536).Howwasit,therefore,thattheJewshadsucceededinkillinganotherprophet?

    32. Crucifixionwasmeanttobeanaccurseddeath(Deuteronomy21:23).IfJesuswascrucified,didthatmeanhealsosufferedanaccurseddeath?

    33. WhywasitthataRomansoldierwassoreadilypreparedtoallowJoseph(asubjectedcitizen)totakedownJesus'sbodyfromthecrosswithoutcheckingandwithoutJosephhavinganyapparentlawfulauthority?

    34. WhyisthereisnodirectaccountbyJosephofArimatheaorNicodemusthatJesuswasdeadwhenhewastakendownfromthecross?Surely,thiseyewitnessaccountwouldhavesettledthematterbeyonddispute?

    35. WhyshouldJosephofArimatheaandNicodemustakesomuchtroubletorecoverthebodyofJesuswhenthiswouldhavebeenthedutyofthenearestrelative?

    36. WhydidPilateagreetoreleasethe'body'toJosephofArimathea(aknownJewandfollowerofJesus)ifhewasnotsympathetictoJesus?

    37. Crucifixionwasaslowdeath.Itusuallylastedseveraldays.Deathfollowedfromexhaustion,inabilitytorespireproperlyasaresultofbeinginanuprightpositionorattacksbywildanimals.WhydidJesus,whowasafitandhealthymanusedtowalkingthecountrysideforlongdistances,diesoquicklyinonlyamatterofafewhours?

    38. IfJesusreallywasexpectedtodieinsuchashorttime,whydidPilateexpresssurpriseatJesus'sdeath?(Mark15:4244)

    39. WhywouldtheJewsbribethesoldierstosaythatJesus'sdiscipleshadstolenthecorpsewhilstthey(thesoldiers)wereasleep?Ifthesoldiershadtrulyrelatedthisstory,theymighthavebeenaskedhowtheyknewthatthediscipleshadstolenthecorpseiftheywereasleep?

    40. WhydidtheJewsnotgoandcheckthetombthemselves?TheyhadputmucheffortintogettingJesuscrucified.AfriendofJesushadbeenallowedtotakethebodyaway.WhydidtheynotvisitthetombbeforeMaryMagdaleneandMarythemotherofJesusdid?

    41. WhydidJosephofArimatheaandNicodemusnotstaywithJesusinthetombaftertakingdownhisbodyfromthecrosstowitnesstheresurrection?Jesushadapparentlytoldhisfollowersthathewoulddieandriseafterthreedays.(Matthew16:21,17:23,20:1719)ThisreporthadevenreachedtheJews(Matthew27:63).WhydidnotJosephandNicodemusremainwithJesustowitnesstheevent?

    42. DidtheJewsreallybelievethatJesushaddied?Ifso,whydidtheyasktheRomansforaguardtobeplacedoutsidethesepulcher?MatthewsaystheJewsexplainedthisbysayingthatJesus'sdisciplescouldspreadfalserumorsabouthimrisingfromthedead.However,iftheJewsreallybelievedthistobethereasonfortherequest,whycouldtheynothaveaskedthedisciplestoproducetherisenChristasproof?Ifthediscipleshadthendoneso,theJewscouldthenpresumablyrearrestJesus.

    43. WhyweretheRomanauthoritiessodisinterestedabouttheapparentremovalofthebodyifthisiswhattheJewswereclaiming?

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    44. Whywasthestonemovedfromthetomb(Matthew28:2)ifitwasasupernaturalrising?

    45. WhenMaryMagdaleneandMarytheMotherofJesussawhim,hewaswearinggardener'sclothing(John20:15).WheredidJesusgettheseclothesfrom?Hisownclotheshadbeentakenbythesoldierswhohaddividedthemdrawinglots(John19:23).ItwasnotthroughJosephofArimatheaorNicodemusbecausetheyareonlyreportedofhavingtakeninherbs,aloesandalinenshroud(John19:39,40).WhatwasthesignificanceofJesuswearinggardener'sclothing(asopposedtonormalclothing)?Wasitmeanttobeadisguise?Ifso,forwhatpurpose?

    46. WhywerethewomenwhovisitedthetombterrifiedifJesuswasdead(Mark16:8)?WhatdidtheyhavetobeterrifiedofiftheJewshadsucceededinkillingJesus?

    47. IfJesuscouldconquerdeathandrisefromthedead,whydidhefearseeingtheJewsafterthecrucifixion?particularlyasdeathhadnomorepoweroverhim?(Romans6:9)

    48. WhydidJesusdisguisehimselfaftertheresurrectionandappearonlytothedisciples?Surely,thiswasthegreatmanifestationofhispowerandthefulfillmentofthepurposeofhiscreation.Whatwasthepurposeinkeepingitallasecretnow?

    49. IfJesuswastherisenChrist,whydidhemeethisdisciplesbehindcloseddoorsandnotintheopenasheusedto?(John20:19)

    50. HowmanytimesdidJesusascendtoHeaven?Luke(23:43)statesthatJesustoldoneofthosecrucifiedwithhimthathewouldbeinHeaventhatdaywithhim.DoesthatmeanthatJesuswentuptoHeavenafterhisdeath,camebacktoearthandthenascendedtoHeavenoncemore?AccordingtoJohnthereappearstobeyetanotherAscension.WhenMaryMagdaleneaskedtotouchhim,JesusforbadehersayingthathehadnotyetascendedtotheFather(John20:17).LaterJesusappearstothedisciplesandactuallyinvitesThomastotouchhim,(John20:27)whichmustmeanthatJesushadascendedandreturned.Thus,isitpossiblethattherewerethreeAscensions?

    51. IfJesuswasGodandJesuswasdeadforthreedays,doesthatmeanalsothatGod(heavenforbid)wasalsodeadforthreedays?

    52. WhyisitthatthereisnotasingledirectaccountofJesus'slifebyanyofthetwelvedisciplesoranyonewhoknewhimpersonally?Canthewordofthosewhodidnotknowhimorhavetheopportunitytohearhimpersonallyvouchfortheaccuracyofsomeofthereportedremarks?

    53. HowwasitthattheGospelwriterswereabletoreportaccuratelyJesus'swords,withoutcommittingthemtomemoryorputtingthemonpaper,somethirtytothirtyfiveyearsafterhisdeathbeforethefirstGospelwaswritten?Furthermore,giventhat:

    (a)ThosewritingtheGospelsdidnothearthewordsdirectlyfromJesusanditcannot,therefore,besaidthatthewordsleftalastingimpression.

    (b)Theywouldhavebeenpassedonbywordofmouthandthereforeriskedpersonalcommentbeingadded.

    (c)ThereisnowrittenrecordofJesus'swordsinAramaic(hisspokenlanguage)thusnecessitatingatranslationatsomestage.Inthelightofthis,whatweightcanbeplaced

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    onthereliabilityofsomeofthereportedspeeches?(Notethisquestiondoesnotrelatetostoriesorparablessincethesecanbemoreeasilyremembered.)

    54. WhyisitthatMark(thefirstwrittenGospel)istheshortestaccountwhenonewouldexpectittobethelongest?Didthememoriesoflaterauthors(e.g.Johnwrittensome3050yearslater)becameclearerwiththepassageoftime?

    55. IftheGospelsarethewordofGodandtheauthorsoftheGospelsweredivinelyinspired,whyaretheresomanycontradictionsinthem?Forexample,whyshouldGodtellMarkthatitwasthethirdhourwhenJesuswascrucified(Mark19:14)buttellJohnitwasthesixthhour?(John19:14).WhyshouldGodtellMatthewandMarkthatthetwowhowerecrucifiedwithJesusreviledhim(Matthew27:44,Mark15:32)buttellLukethatJesustoldoneofthemthathewouldberewardedbybeinginHeavenwithhimthatday?(Luke23:39,43)WhyshouldGodtellMatthewthatthefirstonestovisitthesepulchreafterthecrucifixionwereMaryMagdaleneandthe'other'Mary(Matthew28:1)buttellLukeitwasMaryMagdalene,Joanna,MarytheMotherofJamesandtheotherwomen(Luke24:10)andtellJohnthatitwasonlyMaryMagdalene?(John20:1)

    56. WhyisitthatthereissomuchconfusionanddisagreementbetweentheGospelwritersovertheaccountofthecrucifixionandresurrection?Isitfairtosaythatnobodywasentirelysureofwhatactuallyhappened?

    57. TheauthorofMarkassertsthatJesuswastakenuptoHeavenandsatontherightofGod(Mark16:19).ThisremarkcouldonlycomefromJesushimselforaneyewitnessaccount.SinceitwasnotJesuswhoreportedit,doesthatmeanthattheeyewitnessactuallywenttoHeavenandsawJesussittingattherightsideofGod?Ifso,wasthatpersonalsotakentoHeavenandbroughtbacktoreporttheincident?

    58. ThedisciplesaresaidtohavewitnessedtheAscension(Mark16:19),Luke24:50).Thismusthavebeenthemostincredibleexperienceoftheirlives.Whyisitthatnotoneofthemwroteasinglewordconcerningitafterwards?Whyisitthattheonlyaccountsrelatedarebyotherswhohadnodirectknowledgeoftheincident?

    59. InthestoryofJesus'sbirth,itissaidthat...