Refutation: Missing the Mark: Unveiling Mark’s High Christology of Divine “Inclusion”
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
On this day has probably dawned the end of Anthony Roger’s apologetics career. I’ve read a vast majority of his “articles”, been privy to a debate with him, but I was completely flabbergasted to read his latest article on the Answering Islam website. Whether it is or not this was something hastily written in fifteen minutes or an early April fools joke, I’m still not quite sure, but whoever is managing quality control at that “website”, seriously needs to be reprimanded for allowing this to slip through the cracks. Essentially Anthony’s article boils down to:
- Mark’s Gospel uses the term ‘son of God’.
- As a Christian we believe in a literal ‘son of God’.
- If Mark uses this term, it must refer to the ‘son’ I believe in.
This argument can be simplified to realise its absurdity:
- The Old Testament in English uses the term, ‘God’.
- As a theist, I believe in God.
- Since the Old Testament uses the term God, it must refer to the ‘God’, I believe in.
If you don’t believe this was Anthony’s argument, he even explicitly states this at the beginning of his article, I quote:
“The following article seeks to show a stunning way by which Mark identifies Jesus as the divine Son of God and heir of all things.”
That ‘stunning’ way, is simply Mark using the term, ‘Son of God‘. In Anthony’s case, he tries to redefine ‘Son of God’ to be ‘Divine son of God’, unfortunately for him, the verbatim term, ‘Divine son of God‘, is nowhere to be found in the Markan gospel, or for that matter, anywhere in the Greco-Roman New Testament. He essentially begins his article by being deceitful, not that I expected any better of him.
The Son of God
He begins by conceding to the fact that many do not consider the Markan Gospel to contain a high Christology:
It is commonplace to hear that Mark’s Gospel does not embody a high Christology, and this in spite of the fact that the thesis statement at the incipit of the book, one that is explicated in the course of the narrative, boldly declares that Jesus is the Son of God.
He goes on to reference the following verses: Mark 1:1, 3:11, 5:7, 15:39, 13:32, 14:61, 1:11, 9:7. You might wonder why Anthony did not quote the verses he referenced, well that’s mostly because what he implies by referencing and then what they actually state are two fundamentally different things. For example, Anthony says:
The meaning of this title is unpacked in the ensuing narrative which makes it quite clear that Jesus is God’s Son in a unique and exclusive sense (1:11, 9:7).
Those two verses read:
- A voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you.”
- Then a cloud overshadowed them. A voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Which turns out, isn’t that unique, David who is also called God’s son (Psalms 2:7) is said to be the heart of God:
- And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. – Acts 13:22
- But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart. – 1 Samuel 13:14
Also speaking in reference to David, the God of the Bible also says:
- But I will never stop showing him my love as I did to Saul, whom I took out of your way. – 2 Samuel 7:15.
At this point, I’m not quite sure as to what Anthony’s definition of unique is, but that poorly written argument seems to have backfired from the moment he wrote it. Anthony then continues to show the ‘divinity of Christ’ by using one of the most absurd evidences known to reason, and I quote:
one that sets Him quite apart from angels and men (13:32)
What does Mark 13:32 actually state? It says, “No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don’t know. Only the Father knows.” Now this is a problem, if God is all knowing and Jesus is supposed to be a divine son of God, then Jesus is expected to have the same attribute of being all knowing as God. Since Jesus is not all knowing, this verse actually proves that Jesus is not a divine being.
- If God is all knowing and God increases in knowledge, then it would mean that before God gained this knowledge He was not all knowing. Such a being cannot be God, as God is not ignorant.
- If God is all knowing and decreases in knowledge (as is the case of Christ in Mark 13:32), then since God is ignorant, He cannot be considered to be ‘All Knowing’.
Anthony’s case for the divinity of Christ takes a further step back in his following argument, I quote:
“As the unique Son of God Jesus is to be obeyed (9:7)”
We referenced 9:7 earlier which read:
- Then a cloud overshadowed them. A voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Apparently if God tells you to obey someone, then that person becomes a divine being, which is a problem, as God in the Old Testament did command his followers to obey many others:
- A scepter will never depart from Judah nor a ruler’s staff from between his feet until Shiloh comes and the people obey him. – Genesis 49:10.
- Give him some of your authority so that the whole community of Israel will obey him. – Numbers 27:20.
- Does this then mean that Shiloh and Joshua are both divine beings, since God has commanded the people to obey them? If not, what’s the reason Mr. Rogers?
The rest of the verses follow the same pattern, he cites a verse, makes an overtly generalized statement and then when actually read the verses themselves do not seem in the least to portray what he’s trying to imply. I honestly believe that this was a last minute article, given the number of errors, contradictions and mistakes he’s made thus far it is almost impossible to believe that any actual study and research went into its writing.
After referencing the following two sets of passages of Mark 1:9-11 and Mark 15:33-41, Anthony makes the argument:
That these two passages strategically located at the beginning and end of Christ’s ministry form an inclusio is discernable from several notable factors.
Essentially, an inclusio takes the form (this is an analogy of the form of an inclusio, using Anthony as our main character):
- Start of Story: Anthony likes kittens.
- Body of Story: Anthony likes to act, his role model is Alexis Arquette.
- End of Story: Anthony likes kittens.
Taking a page from Anthony’s book, it must be a very amazing miracle that Anthony liking kittens is at the beginning and end of his biography. As we now return to reality, I still do not understand, or grasp how Mark’s statement that Jesus is a Son of God at the beginning and end of a book about Jesus, is a miracle. Anthony definitely seems to think it’s a miracle and he gives 8 reasons why. Therefore I’m going to summarize his 8 reasons:
- Both passages call Jesus a son of God.
Well that’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? This is a title reserved for many persons by God throughout the Old and New Testaments, Adam was a Son of God (Luke 3:8), God has sons and daughters (Genesis 6:2), Israel is God’s son (Exodus 4:22), David is God’s son (Psalms 2:7), Christians are the sons of God (Romans 8:14), etc. There is nothing special or unique about being referred to as the son of God and the mere fact that this title is used to describe Jesus throughout the Gospel of Mark, (including the center, not just the beginning and the end), is an awful attempt and wishful thinking by Anthony Rogers.
- Similar language of being baptised and having life poured out of Him.
I’m still trying to see whether Anthony was attempting to make a poorly worded joke here or not. His reasoning works a little something like this:
* Baptising has to do with water.
* Water is something you pour.
* Jesus’ life was poured out of him.
Again, I am not sure this article or his reasoning was an attempt to be funny, but if indeed this is what Anthony considers a miracle and proves the divinity of Christ, then I am most certain this is as desperate as you can get.
- Both passages reference Elijah.
I most certainly retract my previous declaration, this is the most ridiculous reasoning a man can make. Why would being referenced to another Prophet make Jesus a divine being? He’s being compared to a Prophet, the only way Anthony can possibly use this as an excuse to link Jesus being a divine being, with Elijah being mentioned, is if Elijah is also considered to be a deity.
- One passage refers to the spirit, the other uses the term ‘Jesus breathed out’.
You would like to think at this point I was joking, however I’m not, again Anthony’s immature reasoning is really beginning to shine:
* Spirit is a Greek word for breath.
* Jesus breathed.
* Jesus is God because he breathed!
I wish I was making this reasoning up, but I’m going to quote him on this one:
“Both passages speak or allude to the Spirit: in the former passage the reference to the Spirit is explicit; in the latter it is implicit in the word “breathed” or “expired,” ἐξέπνευσεν,exepneusen, which is a cognate word in Greek for “spirit,” πνεῦμα, pneuma.” *
- God speaks in the beginning of the book of Mark and at the end of Mark, Jesus speaks. Since God is speaking at the beginning of the Book and Jesus is speaking at the end, then Jesus is God. Let me quote him so no one thinks I’m making this stuff up:
- “Both passages speak of a voice, φωνὴν, phonen: In the former it is the voice of the Father from heaven; in the latter it is that of the Son from the cross.”
So far this guy’s reasoning has been: Baptising has to do with water and Jesus’ life is poured out, therefore MIRACLE. Spirit is mentioned in the beginning, its Greek word means breath, Jesus breathes, therefore MIRACLE. God speaks in the beginning, Jesus has a voice, therefore MIRACLE. [I can’t stop laughing at the absurdity here!]
- He states and I quote, “In both passages something is said to descend: in the former it is the Spirit; in the latter it is the veil of the temple, “from top to bottom.”. Again, Anthony’s reasoning can be summed up as:
*Spirit descends, that means he goes downwards.
* Something was torn and wait a minute….
* The veil was torn from top to bottom….this means…
* The veil also descended!
- He states and I quote, “In both passages something is torn, σχιζω, skidzo: in the former passage it was the heavens; in the latter it was the veil of the temple.” Again, his reasoning can be summed up as:
* The sky opens.
* The veil was torn.
* I wonder if the sky ripping open is the same word for the veil tearing, because the veil was you know, ripped in half.
* MIRACLE! They use the same word “tear = rip”.
* Irrefutable evidence Jesus is God!
- Lastly, Anthony ends his amazing comedic performance with saying: “In both passages mention is made of Jesus being or having been ministered to: the former passage refers to angels; the latter refers to Christ’s women followers.” Apparently, in Anthony’s reasoning, in a book about God where people preach to and about God, it’s a miracle that people are preaching at the beginning and end of said book. It’s like going to an action movie and being surprised that there is action at the start of the movie and at the end of the movie or it’s like reading a Harry Potter book and being surprised it involves magic at the start of the book and at the end of the book.
This article by Anthony has served no other purpose than to demonstrate the low level thinking involved in preaching Christianity. Not only am I ashamed for Anthony, I am ashamed that Sam Shamoun calls a man with such childish reasoning, “the greatest apologist of our time“. This article went out of the way to draw links which were far out, remotely related and was severely coated with a dressing of desperation. I’ve seen people being criticised for lack of intellectualism, perhaps even grasping for straws, but this certainly was the single most shallow use of the Bible by a Christian I have ever seen. Anthony, if you do end up reading this, please know that if this is the reasoning you employ to remain in Christianity, then I am sorry but you’re insulting yourself and God for not using the brain He gave you. I expected much better from him (who am I kidding?), but this was possibly the most degenerate, backward, irrational, pre-school, toddler reasoning I have ever witnessed from a Christian apologist. You most certainly have my pity.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam,
and God knows best.