"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." - John 5:31
"The Pharisees challenged him, 'Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.' Jesus answered, 'Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going.' " - John 8:13-14
Chapter 7 starts around the time of the feast of the tabernacles. The disciples go into Judea to celebrate, but Jesus is reluctant to go because the Jews are trying to kill him. His disciples beg Jesus to go with them and show the people more miracles. Jesus says that it's not the right time yet, and he's going to stay in Galilee. It turns out, though, that Jesus doesn't stay in Galilee and tags along (in secret) behind his disciples. If that's not a lie I don't know what is.
About half way through the feast, Jesus sneaks up to the temple courts and starts teaching. The people start mumbling, asking each other if this is the guy that the Jews are trying to kill. When the officials say (to each other) that Jesus isn't the Christ, Jesus freaks out and screams that he's been sent by God.
When the Pharisees send guards after Jesus, he evades them because "his time had not yet come". At the end of the feast, Jesus again gets up in front of the crowd and yells that if anyone is thirsty they should come to him and get some living water (i.e. "the Spirit").
The people then talk among themselves and wonder how Jesus can be the Messiah. They say that the true Messiah would come from Bethlehem. The two gospels that mention Jesus's birth have him born in Bethlehem. I guess that either doesn't count, or John thinks that Jesus was born elsewhere.
We then have yet another section that the NIV bible warns us isn't in early manuscripts. Surprisingly, contained in this section is Jesus's "cast the first stone" parable. For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about. The Pharisees bring a woman sentenced to death (for adultery), and ask Jesus what to do with her (this is to test him, of course). Jesus randomly starts writing words on the ground and famously says "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Everyone promptly leaves.
I've heard this passage used as validation for not punishing people for a plethora of Old Testament laws. Unfortunately (based on the evidence at hand), Jesus didn't actually say it. Is there any (non-secular) reason that Christians shouldn't be out killing people for working on the sabbath, or for committing adultery? After all, Jesus isn't here to change the laws of the prophets.
The next section holds a terribly obvious contradiction from Jesus on self testimony. Jesus says that he is the light of the world, and everyone that follows him will have life. The Pharisees call him out on this, saying that he is being a self witness, and self testimony is invalid. Take note that this is almost word for word what Jesus himself says in John 5:31. However, Jesus has changed his mind. He now claims that his self testimony is perfectly valid because he knows where he comes from, and where he's going. So, if I have this right, Jesus has just verified his self testimony with more self testimony.
Jesus goes on for the rest of the chapter (with more self testimony) about how he is the son of God. When the people don't believe him/don't understand him, he accuses them of being children of the devil. If they truly believed in God, claims Jesus, they would also believe in him (and be able to understand him). That's right, Jesus just validated the self testimony of his self testimony with more, you guessed it, self testimony.
As if to mock me, the last section of chapter 8 is titled "the claims of Jesus about himself". I think this entire book could be accurately labeled "The claims of Jesus about himself". Considering his miracles are decidedly un-miraculous. The only real "evidence" of Jesus's father being God seems to be Jesus saying so.
The last section consists mostly of the Jews claiming Jesus is demon possessed. Jesus denies this, and says that those who follow him will have eternal life. The Jews respond by saying they're sure that Jesus is demon possessed now. Jesus says that their father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing him one day (more self testimony). Having heard enough of Jesus's vacuous crap, the Jews pick up stones to kill him, but he slips away.
Many people have tried to "convert" me over the years. During one of these attempted conversions, I was confronted with shock. "I thought this was only going to take a few hours", said my would be converter. At the time I had no idea how someone could have such a skewed idea of the mental constitution of non-believers. However, the mystery is no more. I've found some interesting religious propaganda:
My visit to the home of an atheist was at the request of his daughter. He had recently been released from a local hospital after being treated for advanced throat cancer and his prospects for survival were poor to none. My mission was to bring him to faith but the years he had invested in building arguments against the existence of God made my goal seem almost impossible to achieve.
It probably seems impossible because there is really no new evidence that you can present. No atheist I know has arbitrarily chosen to be an atheist. Most people I know have come to this conclusion after careful consideration over a number of years.
The writer goes on to paint a caricature of what he thinks an "atheist" is. The atheist is bitter, hates preachers, and speaks in profanity (in which his parrot is well versed).
Finally I learned that this man's atheism was rooted in his observation of the painful suffering of a relative he had respected in spite, according to him, of her faith and consistency of life. I hadn't known this woman but had no reason to doubt his high praise of her. This did help me to understand one of his barriers to faith. In light of her suffering, he was unable to reconcile her long period of pain to the existence of a loving God. Arguing that her time in heaven would by now have more than compensated for her earthly trials would never have convinced him because he didn't believe heaven existed.
The man's argument is further validated when you consider Jesus claims that anything asked for in his name will be given to you. Surely this woman prayed to Jesus to heal her. I don't think that any amount of time in heaven could make up for a horrible death and suffering. To echo this man's argument, wouldn't an all loving God find a way to - if not make us happy - at least prevent us from undue suffering?
Then, suddenly, I knew what to do and asked a question that shattered this atheist's unbelief: "Is there anything about the change in your daughter's life that you can't explain apart from a work of God?"
"Yes!" he replied without a moment's hesitation.
His quick reply let me know she had changed so much that he couldn't deny the miracle of new life in her and with that acknowledgement our argument ended and his unbelief quickly faded away.
Whoa, whoa, WHOA. This man's years of examination were just blown away by him not understanding something? This is only slightly less barbaric than looking at a lightning strike, saying you don't understand how lightning works, then concluding that Zeus must be responsible.
There is really no other explanation of why his daughter changed? Maybe she just found a new group of friends at church that are a better influence. Even if there is absolutely no explanation, that doesn't mean God did it. Having no explanation cannot be the basis for an explanation. "I don't know why my daughter changed, therefore I know God did it." It doesn't make sense.
I guess I know now why that friend of mine was so confused when I didn't immediately come to the Jesus conclusion. This surely isn't an isolated case of anti-atheist (for lack of a better term) propaganda.
(via Advisor and Source)