On reading through some of the archived threads in GIFS, I have noticed that several soi-disant Christians have attacked atheists for not sharing their alleged belief in the so-called ‘Divinity of Jesus’. Yet the only evidence Christians can offer to substantiate such a claim that this one they call Jesus was the ‘Son of [their] God’, is their New Testament.
Coincidentally, I have just been rereading ‘The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old’ by G B English, A.M., published in 1813 in Boston.
English was a deist and a devout believer in the ‘Jesus Christ’ of the New Testament, but whilst he was a notable Christian at one time, he became increasingly worried by the undeniable conflicts that exist between the claims made in the New Testament for this so-called ‘messiah’ and those made in the Old. So, unable to resolve this matter through discussion with other learned deists, he decided to investigate further for himself. The result was this interesting little book (it is only some 133 pages in length), which produces convincing evidence that the claims made in the New Testament, and in Christian churches ever since, that ‘Christ’ was the messiah and ‘Son of God’ are a complete fabrication.
His evidence is too lengthy to go into here, and much of it based on scripture or early documents that are of little interest to atheists qua atheists. However, they appear to put forward a case that Christian theologians have been unable to answer satisfactorily, either in English’s day or in the following two centuries. Consequently, the evidence which English adduces may be of some interest to atheists, because it uses Christians’ own version of so-called ‘holy scripture’ to demolish their claims that ‘Christ’ was the ‘Son of God’, and that he was ‘Divine’.
In his preface, English states the following, which will come as a shock to most Christians…
The professors of [Christianity at its first introduction] were considered as atheists …
…but his statement merely confirms one of the alternative definitions of atheism, namely that it is “just disbelief in one more god than theists disbelieve in”.
English’s preface also contains this exhortation, which has been ignored, unfortunately, by most theists over the millennia…
The grand principle of men considered as having relation to the Deity, and under an obligation to be religious, is, that they ought to consult their reason, and seek every where for the best instruction; and of Christians and Protestants the duty, and professed principle is, to consult reason and the Scripture, as the rule of their faith and practice.
Whilst one could take issue with English for not suggesting that people should use their reason to question whether the ‘Deity’ he refers to actually exists in the first place, perhaps he may be excused for this omission because of his admission that he felt “an obligation to be religious’, with all that implies.
Undeterred, English continued by examining thoroughly all the evidence, whereupon he became convinced that it ”… set the Old and New Testament …in opposition, and reduce Christians to this fatal dilemma…”
Either the Old Testament contains a Revelation from
God; or it does not. If it does, then the New Testament cannot be from God, because it is palpably, and importantly repugnant to the Old Testament in doctrine, and some other things.
His conclusion, amply evidenced in the book, is even more devastating for Christians…
… the New Testament can neither subsist with the Old Testament, nor without it; and that the New Testament system was built first upon a mistake, and afterwards buttressed up with forged and apocryphal documents.
In other words, if this person called Jesus ever existed, there is no evidence in the so-called ‘holy scriptures’ that he was the ‘Son of God’, and, consequently, the so-called ‘Divinity of Jesus’ is simply spurious nonsense.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, English was excommunicated for his work, though it is interesting that the evidence he put forward was never seriously repudiated by Christian apologists.
English’s book is available through the ‘Gutenberg Project’, and there is a brief history of his interesting life here.