Why Don’t We Eat Humans?

I know that may sound like a no-brainer, but, seriously. . . Why don’t we eat humans?

When I try to imagine eating human flesh, I start to get this gag-reflex-thing going on in my throat—It’s awful.

I remember seeing this movie in the 90s called Alive, which was a story about a South American soccer team whose plane crashed into the Andes mountains in 1972. Well, to survive they ended up eating the flesh of some of their dead soccer mates. I know—sick. But they had to do it to survive.

What does the name Hannibal Lector make you think about? Do you want some fava beans with that?

Anyway. In a recent pod-cast episode of Unbelievable, the host had a Christian apologist and an atheist in the studio to discuss the existence of God. The Christian is a lawyer from Texas, and I think the atheist was an Aussie or a Brit . . . I don’t recall. At one point, the topic of morality came up. Now, I don’t remember exactly what was being said. I just remember the part when the Christian lobbed a grenade-shaped question on the atheist in mid-speech, saying, “So, why don’t we eat humans?”

It stopped the atheist dead in his tracks. It was not a long stop, but it threw him off. “What do you mean, ‘why don’t we eat humans?'” he said. And then he continued, saying we don’t need to because we have pigs and cattle and what not. He said a few other things, but you could tell he was not ready for that one.

The Christian responded and said (paraphrasing), “With all those people who are hungry all over the world, why are they not eating the dead? What a waste of good protein. We donate our organs to science, why not donate our bodies to feed the hungry.”

It was really funny listening to this atheist trying to recover. He just said a few words and tried to brush it under the rug and proceed on with his other arguments.

But, the Christian’s point was in regards to our human dignity. He asked the atheist what makes us more dignified than other creatures, and the atheist said it was our intelligence. I don’t think he had fully recovered from the grenade yet because his knee-jerk response just opened the door to a litany of objections that quickly buried him.

I am sure you can think of a few yourself.

So, this is where I will end with their debate.

The answer, however, still needs more ‘flesh’ on it (pun intended :)).

Where do we get our dignity?

Lets define dignity. One dictionary says, dignity means, “Inherent nobility and worth.”(1) And specifically regarding human dignity, “a being has an innate right to be valued and receive ethical treatment.”(2)

Robert P. Kraynak , in his essay from the Presidents Council on Bioethics, says, “When we speak about ‘human dignity’ or ‘the dignity of man,’ we usually mean the special moral status of human beings in the natural universe as well as the respect due to individual humans because of their essential humanity.”(3)

In looking at the first definition, I have to ask what gives humans this inherent and innate right to such a status? Is it what society says? The government? Or, is it just on an individual basis?

Kraynak’s definition (I don’t mean to imply it is his) tries to mash aspects of two conflicting worldviews together—special moral status and natural universe. Morality cannot be accounted for in a naturalistic worldview (I don’t believe he is meaning naturalistic per se, but this fits the secular mold, which is that of a naturalistic worldview).

But, just read the definition again…. Why should humans get special respect because of their essential humanity? When it comes to a materialist, Darwinian worldview, the concept of innate self-worth or inherent value has no place in such a way of life. It can’t be accounted for. All the atheist can say, though he will try decorate it with big words, “it is because it is,” but that is arbitrary (see my pastor and good friend Stephen Feinstein’s blog post of such a conversation we had with an atheist). There is an elephant in the room that the naturalist doesn’t see.

Getting back to the definitions. What is obvious about these statements is that worth can only be placed on something by another. Regardless of using adjectives such as special, innate, or essential, humans have a value that supersedes any other material object. Furthermore, in understanding how worth and value are placed on something, we can deduce that there is something, rather someone that gives humans this value. Value and worth is something only persons understand and can give. One has to have a personal, relational, cognitive mind to recognize worth and to attribute it to something.

However, if humans give humans value, then humans can take away that value. That is what we are truly left with, if we are merely nothing more than mud and molecules.

And we have seen humans commit plenty of horrific and atrocious acts to other humans, devaluing and demoralizing them, treating them like animals (i.e., human trafficking, slavery, rape, etc.). We say like animals because there is a vast difference between humans and animals, and while there are those who on the surface think otherwise (like naturalists), they don’t truly live their life that way, holding moral convictions that reflect such an ideology.

So why do humans have inherent dignity?

Because God made man in his image after his likeness (Gen. 1:26).

The only way to account for a universal, intrinsic moral worth is because One who is eternally and infinitely moral, The Moral Lawgiver, made mankind to have such a value.

That is why we don’t eat humans.

(And no, its not because we can get the Kuru disease if we do. That is not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about it).

—Romans 11:36
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1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
2.http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/human+dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
3.https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/human_dignity/chapter4.html (accessed, 1/2/2014).

The Folly of Relativism

One of the most common responses I hear from people when sharing the truth of the gospel is, “That may be true for you but it is not true for me.” This slogan is the hallmark expression of a relativist. So, what is a relativist? A relativist believes that there are no absolute truths. Biblical axiomatic expressions like, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) are only true to those who believe they are. Jesus’ statement is not a universal truth, binding on all humanity; rather, according to the relativist, Jesus is only one way to God not the way as the Scriptures and the Christian faith contends.

Ultimately, there is no ‘the‘ when it comes to a way or direction to find a destination. A person can start his journey from the south pole to the north pole and get there anyway he goes; there is no one way. However, there actually is an absolute implication in that statement—he has to go north. You can see how a relativistic worldview is absurd and contradictory.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate the folly of that worldview using a real-life interaction with one who asserts such absurdities. I am going to post parts of a conversation I recently took part in on Facebook. The name of the individual will be changed to ‘Tom’ to protect his identity. This discussion started over a thread regarding biased scholarship. Obviously everyone has bias; they just should be aware of it. Tom was stressing that point in the discussion; however, his assertion was that a particular book another person on Facebook was promoting is not accurate because of the author’s bias. The author, Raymond Franz, was a member of the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who spoke out about the untruthfulness of the organization.[1]

Now, I was not involved in the original conversation. I entered later on after a particular statement Tom made that sent up some red flags. To begin with, he did not even read the very book he was making his assertion regarding its accuracy and reliability. Furthermore, he says that he does not need to read it to see that it is biased and unreliable because the author was a victim. So, while his statement about bias is correct, his statement to the reliability of it is not. That was his first mistake—and they just kept on coming.

(The posts inserted in italics are the original posts, so any incorrect grammar and/or spelling I purposely left uncorrected. A few posts were rearranged to create a smoother reading of the conversation. And some posts were not posted in their entirety because the material was unnecessary to the blog post. There are parenthetical notes added for this post that were not part of the Facebook conversation, just for our purposes here.)
———————————–

Tom:
EVERY piece of literature EVER written has bais. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s still always there. You guys are oddly making an exception in this case. The evidence is in the very fact he got kicked from the organization. Research tells us that “apostates” like that feel like victims and then victimize themselves further by either oversimplifying the issue or adding things that aren’t true. The man got kicked for simply having dinner with his boss? Really? That sounds highly unlikely, given the fact that many people or JWs I know go out with their work colleagues all the time. It was something MUCH more that got Franz disfellowshipped.

Again, you don’t have to read a piece of literature to know that it’s bias towards which ever viewpoint it believes to be true. Before I even read a book on depression, I knew the author hated the APA, as well as mental drugs. SO I knew he would present a much more anti-drug viewpoint. ANd guess what? I was correct…because I know, as an educated individual, that ALL books have slanted views. It’s nearly impossible to present a completely objective viewpoint, especially in the case of Franz.”[2]

(After this comment, I was interested in challenging his assertion. As stated earlier, everyone has bias. So, he was correct in that statement—if you don’t think so, then you truly are bias!—But his last sentence was what made me want to prod him to find out if he holds a relativistic worldview: “It’s nearly impossible to present a completely objective viewpoint, especially in the case of Franz.” So, naturally, I made a sarcastic statement to hook him in ☺.)

Brian J. Orr:
I cant listen to you because your views are bias. Isn’t the Bible bias? Should we listen to what it says? If all are bias, then how can we ever know what we read is true?

Tom:
EXACTLY BRIAN. My views are biased! And you don’t even have to read them to come to that conclusion. Good for you for understanding my point.

(I then decided to give him an analogy regarding his assertion that Raymond Franz, or anyone that has left a religion, is unable to give an accurate testimony regarding that specific religion.)

Brian J. Orr:
If I am looking for a dealership to buy a car at, and I have 3 friends tell me that Joe’s Auto has terrible customer service and high prices, should I listen the those “apostates” of Joe’s Auto? Or, should I think maybe there is truth to what they are saying, and steer clear of Joe’s Auto?

Tom:
You can think that Joe’s Auto has terrible service if you want, but you’ll never actually know until you go there yourself.

(Granted, Tom does have a point; however, when it comes to religion, making a choice to follow that set of beliefs is a world-view issue that vastly impacts one’s entire understanding of life and death. There are things that you just don’t gamble with. So, I pressed him further on that.)

Brian J. Orr:
At what point do you take that risk? a restaurant, sure. What about brain surgeons?

(Another person jumped in the discussion going along with the analogy. I will call her Sarah)

Sarah:
If there s actual evidence that Joes Autos don’t do what they say and deceive their customers…..actual evidence you can be witness of……what then ?

Tom:
For instance, if your friend wrote a book about the horrible customer experience. It wouldn’t necessarily be correct because it comes from a bias perspective. She isn’t there for every other customer experience except her own. Who know, maybe she was actually being rude and therefore rudeness was returned to here.

(It was at this point that I shifted my analogy into questioning him regarding the Scriptures. His focus on bias and the unreliability of testimonies because of that bias is problematic, especially in regards to the Scriptures.)

Brian J. Orr
How many customers’ experiences would it take? After all, aren’t the NT Scriptures are biased accounts of Jesus Christ? Are we not to believe that what they observed is 100% accurate and true?

Tom:
NT scriptures don’t owe their origination to man…it comes from God, and therefore do not contain bias. NOW, I happen to think the bible does, because I DO believe the bible owes it’s origination to men trying to figure stuff out..and not from God like we see in orthodox Christianity.

(However, the Scriptures are bias; they are bias toward a belief in Jesus Christ as God and Savior. Now, Christians would not say the Scriptures are bias due to a subjective nature; rather, God’s Word is truth and is objectively biased and anything contrary to his Word is subjectively biased toward error. However, if God’s Word is unbiased, and people recognize that, then it truly is the only set of unbiased documents and should be believed in their entirety.)

Brian J. Orr:
[to Tom] I am not understanding your last sentence.

Tom:
Brian I’m not sure, if you remain a rude person than it doesn’t matter how many happen because you’ll get the same kind of experience. I work in customer service, have for a while, and you wouldn’t believe the lies people told me in order to make themselves feel better. It’s not to say they are all lies but percentages say that this person is probably lying.

(Now, I go for the jugular!)

Brian J. Orr:
So, what is your standard of truth then?

Tom:
I don’t understand the question.

Brian J. Orr:
If you believe the Bible to be a subjective set of documents, then what do you hold to be absolute truth? From a Christian perspective, God’s Word is the standard of truth, for it establishes truth, so then if you don’t believe that, then how do you deem what is absolute truth?

Tom:
Through paradox or contradiction…

(At this point Tom gets side-tracked into a conversation about Raymond Franz and the legitimacy of his book. But then he makes this statement regarding the importance of Jehovah’s Witnesses and others doing their research, which allows me to jump back in the discussion. See if you can pick up on his fallacious statement.)

Tom:
People SHOULD look at the research they are given more objectively. Especially when it comes to the fact that the watchtower can make mistakes. I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely true that if you think differently, you get kicked out. And I don’t even blame them for it honestly, I mean, if this organization is the channel of truth. Why wouldn’t you believe everything they say? But that’s the thing, I don’t believe they are THE channel of God for the same reason i don’t believe there is one specific channel.

(He just stepped into the bear trap)

Brian J. Orr:
So, how can one come to an objective understanding through researching biased literature? Do you see the dilemma here? If all literature is biased, then we can never believe what anyone says on any subject.

(What I should have done in my response was included the reliability factor and focused on that in the discussion. I believe I got my point across to set him up, but it would have added clarity. We all are biased but that doesn’t mean everything one reads or says is unreliable.)

Brian J. Orr:
So, how many religions lead to God? Does my own religion lead to God? Can I just say I want to meet God and live according to what I think is true?

Brian J. Orr:
[Tom], do you believe in moral absolutes?

Tom:
Brian, you are talking about something that I can never know. I believe objective truths do exist but not that they can be known. Also, I think the very fact of what you say tells us a lot about the kind of world in which we live. Nothing about it is very clear, and you must always do research. There is no such thing as finding objective truth if you ask me.

Tom:
I’m not sure Brian…

Tom:
That’s why I said contradiction and paradox are very close to statements of objectivity. Such as the paradox of the claim that lots of atheists make “There is no objective truth”

(Do you all see the folly of his entire position? All of his assertions and posts are meaningless if he truly believes “there is no such thing as finding objective truth.” I don’t let him off the hook here, however. I show him the folly of his position, since the relativist obviously cannot see it. Notice how he points to the common claim by atheists he sees as a paradox, yet he adheres to that claim.)

Brian J. Orr
Your statement itself is an absolute truth claim. “There is no such thing as finding objective truth.” That is an absolute statement.

Brian J. Orr
Why spend time researching if you can never find truth? Why even discuss anything in this discussion page?

Brian J. Orr:
Conversation over.

Tom:
Why is the conversation over?

Brian J. Orr:
What I mean by “conversation over” is your entire discussion regarding Franz is irrelevant. You have no position to say what one ought to think or do if you are a relativist.

Tom:
Yes, I guess you are right. Like I said, I do believe in objective truths.

Tom:
Because some “truths” are simply relative to the culture.

(There it is! Another slogan of relativism)

Brian J. Orr:
If that is the case, then what Hitler did was merely a cultural truth. Do you believe that? What he did was not immoral?

Tom:
Well, yes, it was a cultural truth that we simply disagreed with. Adsk hitler if he thought what he was doing was wrong..

And It’s not irrelevant since I don’t hold to relativism in it’s most strict sense.

Brian J. Orr:
I think you are more strict than you realize. Read your last statement again.

Tom:
Either way, relativists don’t believe in objective truths and I do…

Tom:
I believe Hitler took an objective moral absolute and applied it in a way that you or I would disagree.
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At this point I terminated the conversation (However, I did share the gospel with him on a previous discussion post, which is the most important thing we need to). If you step back and look at his position, you can see that he is arguing from and for an objective perspective. If a person says “truth is relative,” he just made an objective/absolute statement. If he says “truth is not relative,” then he just made an objective/absolute statement. There is no getting away from it.

But back to the relativist, why even argue if truth is relative? And how can one who says objective truth cannot be found make the statement, “People SHOULD look at the research they are given more objectively”? If all literature is biased, to the point of affecting its reliability, then a person reading any literature could never truly know if what he is reading is objectively true because his presuppositions and interpretative abilities are unreliable as well. Then again, if truth is relative, then his biased opinions and understanding of the biased literature can serve as objective truth for him because his standards are based on what he thinks, making his view truth for him. Yes, it is a spiral of folly going down the rabbit hole into wonderland.

Tom’s position is typical of all other non-Christian positions. The reason being is that they ultimately hold to their positions arbitrarily. They don’t go where the facts go—they go past the facts that serve as signposts telling them the way they are going leads to folly, for the arrows point in all directions. But they don’t see that. However, we should not be surprised. The Scriptures tell us that man suppresses the truth, what God has made plain and revealed to him, in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18b-19). Indeed he does suppress it because the “natural man cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (v.14).”

As it pertains to Tom, while he says he does not believe one can find objective truth, he doesn’t operate that way. And that is the folly of it. If he believes that truth is cultural and there is no such thing as objective/absolute truth, then there are no antithetical statements. The relativist, however, acts true to his arbitrary nature, for he believes one way and lives another. Oh, the absurdity of it all!

As it pertains to Christians, when God called us to his Son, he pulled us from the world of absurdity into the world of light and truth. We can see the truth because we have a new nature to comprehend it. And until God opens the eyes and hearts of those who are lost to the supremacy and excellency of his Son, they will continue to walk in darkness, guided by the wisdom of the world. So, we need to share the truth and light of Christ, the gospel of God, so those who are lost can be found.

—Romans 11:36
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1. For those of you who don’t know much about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Raymond Franz had a key role in the oversight of the Watchtower Society as it pertains to the literature it publishes, doctrinal teachings, member oversight, and the prophetical role it assumes for the organization. His role could be comparable to one who had a position in the presidential cabinet at the White House who then writes a book disclosing all its secrets and conspiracies.
2. I am not going to go into the details regarding the mental state of victims and apostates; however, I can tell you as one who has the read the book, Raymond Franz, who is now a born-again Christian, began to see mis-happennings in the Watchtower Society through an evidential summation as it pertains to records, statements, and documentation about certain things in the Society that were kept quiet to cover its tracks, or that it failed to be truthful in its reporting of facts. In a sense, it was investigative journalism from an insider who started to have a Crisis in Conscience (the title of the book) after discovering the horrid untruthfulness within the organization. Furthermore, there were some disturbing immoral practices that he uncovered as well that the governing body had no business being involved with. If he is a ‘victim’, then anyone who discovers the truth when believing a lie is a ‘victim’, and their testimony should be discarded (absurd). However, those who have been truly saved in Jesus Christ, which opens their eyes to see what is truth, will impart a biased opinion based on that truth against errant statements and not manifest an exaggerated tale littered with inconsistencies and misunderstandings of the religion they just left.

Is Christ Still in the Flesh? (Part 2 of 2)

In last weeks’ post, we looked at some of the biblical data attesting to the fact that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, meaning he is still in the flesh. His incarnation, fully God and fully man, is the underpinning of our salvation. As previously mentioned, one’s eternal security depends on one’s belief in the true person of Christ. The Docetists denied his humanity; the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny his deity. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny another important fact pertaining to his resurrection; they deny he was raised in the flesh. This post will focus on debunking that heresy through an examination of the key texts used to support their view.

While the Scriptures are quite clear that Christ manifested himself in the flesh (ex. John 1:14), there are some passages that can be troublesome when one tries to defend the deity of Christ and his resurrection. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ, so their rendering of the Scriptures in The New World Translation expresses that view. The reason I refer to it as a rendering, though to them it is the Bible, is because while it contains the books of the Bible, their perversion of the texts—some places adding, some places taking away, and some places changing— renders their bible as a work of man, not of God. One who knows the Scriptures can read through their bible and find text after text that is grammatically, syntactically, and contextually in error.[1]

According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “resurrection involves a reactivating of the life pattern of the individual . . . the person is restored in either a human or a spirit body and yet retains his personal identity, having the same personality and memories as when he died.” [2] As it pertains to Christ, the JWs believe that after his death, he was raised as a “spirit creature.”[3] So, in Acts 10:40-41, which speaks about Christ being raised from the dead and that others could not see him, the JWs say it is “because he was a spirit creature . . . humans cannot see spirits.”[4] However, verse 41 tells us why all were not able to see him: because it was only those “. . . who had been chosen by God as witnesses.” The Scripture defeats their own argument from the Scriptures!

Their primary texts they use to support their view are 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 and 1 Peter 3:18. The main issue they have in their interpretation of these texts is they err in their understanding and rendering of the Greek word for spiritual, which is pneumatikos, interpreting it to mean non-material/physical.

In 1 Corinthians 15:44-49, Paul is speaking about the nature of our resurrection, contrasting the earthly form we have in Adam and the spiritual (heavenly) form will we have in Christ. He writes,

44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Now, in looking at these verses, it appears that Paul might be making a contrast between physical and non-physical; however, something immaterial cannot be considered as having a body. One of the foundations of Christian theology is that God is Spirit (John 4:24), so he does not have a body. So what then does Paul mean when he speaks of a spiritual body? Is it a physical or non-physical body?

In his authoritative work on the Resurrection, N. T. Wright addresses this semantic issue brought about by the influence of platonic philosophical views regarding the physical and non-physical that have been employed in Pauline studies today. He writes, “within the post-Plato world there was no concept of non-physicality such as many post-Enlightenment thinkers have read into Paul at this point.”[5] It is because of the influence of Platonic metaphysics and the language used to describe such concepts that many within Christianity and other biblical religions [6] hold to an improper understanding of spiritual as it pertains to resurrection theology.[7] Regarding the contrast between non-physical and physical and the words employed to express the distinctions between the two, N.T. Wright notes,

“Had Paul wanted in any way to produce the kind of contrast suggested to a modern reader by ‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’, . . . pneumatikos would have been an unhelpful word to have for the latter idea, but . . . if Paul had wanted to find a word for ‘non-physical’, psychikos (which could literally be translated as ‘soulish’) would have itself been a possible option.[8]

Furthermore, since we are promised that our bodies will be like his, which is a material body according to the Scriptures (Phil. 3:21), then spiritual must surely mean something material. In using Scripture-to-interpret-Scripture, we will look at another use of this word in 1 Corinthians 10 to help us see what spiritual means.

Paul writes:

1For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

In looking at this, we see that during the Exodus Israel ate and drank spiritual food and drink. So are we to think that the food and drink God provided was immaterial? Psalm 105:40-41, one of the supporting verses for 1 Corinthians 10:3-says, “he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance. He opened the rock, and water gushed out.”

One can see that Paul does not mean they were given non-material food or “soulish” food. Rather, the food and drink given were from the Spirit. It was a supernatural food—a food that originated from the heavens, created by God, which sustained the physical nature of the Jews. It was supernatural because the Spirit animated it. Spiritual is not immaterial, and if Christ demonstrated in the gospels that he had a body, eating and drinking, then he could not have been a spirit-creature; otherwise, Jesus would be a liar when he wanted them to see that he had a physical body like they did. He was given a glorious body; a body that we too will have in the resurrection that is supernatural, not immaterial. 1 Corinthians 15:47 further supports this understanding: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” As the manna was spiritual food from heaven, the second man, Christ (and eventually all of us) is the spiritual— supernatural—man from heaven.

The next verse they use to supports their position is 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” They understand this verse to mean that Jesus was “brought forth with a spirit body.”[9]

One of my pastors just recently preached on this text, providing a grammatically, syntactically, and contextually clear understanding of Peter’s intent, which, as it should, falls inline with what Paul was speaking about in 1 Corinthians 15. There are varying views and opinions on what this verse means, particularly because of the dative singular noun πνεύματι, which many versions translate as “by the Spirit,” for a dative case noun means that it is the direct object of the verb. However, as he points out,

. . . it does not grammatically work. If you notice, [he is comparing the ESV to another version that use ‘by’] I had to change the word “in” to “by.” Are we allowed to do this in the Greek? Sometimes, but most likely not here. The clauses “put to death in the flesh” and “but made alive in the spirit,” are exact parallels to each other. They both begin with the exact same kind of participle (which is a verbal noun) and they both end with the exact same kind of dative noun. What accentuates this even more so is it has the μεν δε construction. I have mentioned this before. This construction in the Greek has the word μεν in the first clause, and it means, “On the one hand.” The second clause has δε, which means, “but on the other hand.” This is used when parallel contrast is being made. So it should be read, “On the one hand He was put to death in the flesh, but on the other hand He was made alive in the spirit.” With that being said, the text must be grammatically read just as ESV translates it here. So we must understand it as spirit with a little “s.” So thus far, we have determined that it cannot be in reference to Christ’s human soul, because that soul was already alive. We have also determined that it is not talking about the Holy Spirit. So what other option is there?[10]

Peter, like Paul, is contrasting between the earthly and the heavenly life. If Peter were contrasting physical and non-physical, as already mentioned regarding Paul, he could have used the word psychikos to differentiate or “the words σωμα and ψυχη instead of his chosen words of σαρχ and πνευμα.”[11] Peter’s emphasis here is on the limitations one has in the flesh; “the flesh refers to the human sphere of limitations and suffering, whereas spirit refers to the sphere of power, vindication, and new life.”[12] Remember, he is writing to encourage and provide hope to suffering sheep, so Peter is not trying to give them a lecture on metaphysics, he is trying to help them push on and endure to the resurrected, victorious life that awaits them in Christ. However, as it pertains to Christ, Peter is speaking of the two modes of his life—his earthly (death in the flesh) and his heavenly (made alive in the spirit). When we think about what it means to redeem something as we have been redeemed in Christ, the redeemed item is restored, not ontologically changed. One of the first things Christ did to demonstrate he had a physical body, was he ate with his disciples. And Thomas put his fingers in the holes left from the nails. He showed them, though his body is scarred from the world, it is no longer impervious to the elements that exist in the world. And our bodies will be like his body; they are no longer natural—rather, they are supernatural.

So, is it possible that this reading of the Scripture (what the JWs believe and teach) is accurate? Is Christ a spirit creature? Well, I believe the context of the passages we have examined demonstrates that the use of the word pneumatikos was intended to mean spiritual in a supernatural sense, not immaterial, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have understood it. All of the support verses in the first post and those we have reviewed in this one clearly demonstrate that Christ came and still is in the flesh.

—Romans 11:36
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1. As an example, the quintessential verse giving us the clearest expression of the deity of Christ, John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”), is rendered in The New World Translation as, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god” (italics mine). In the Greek, there is no warrant for inserting an indefinite article in this verse, for there is only an article in the Greek; the terms definite and indefinite are unnecessary because the context and many other situations establish whether the article is definite or not. The Greek use of the article has a much wider range and purpose than how we use it in the English language.
In John 1:1, the grammatical forms and structure of this verse is intended to signify a distinction in persons between God the Father and Christ the Word yet expressing the shared divine essence between them. Furthermore, if John truly intended to make the claim in the manner in which the Jehovah’s Witnesses have rendered it, then it would make John a polytheist—a heretic. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have constructed a straw-house out of proof-texts and grammatical jargon in order to support their rendering, in which those who are un-learned in the Scriptures might see as a fortress that cannot be knocked down. However, the translators of the Watchtower Society (the formal name of the religion) do not have any background in the biblical languages; therefore, they have no credibility in making claims pertaining to what the Greek or the Hebrew may or may not say.
2. Watch Tower, Reasoning From the Scriptures (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower, 1989), 334.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 350, n.114 .
6. I don’t mean these religions are orthodox; rather, they are man-made religions that employ the Bible as its spiritual and authoritative (and among others) source.
7. Ultimately it is a dualistic perspective, distinct to Greek philosophy that has been employed in modern thinking. What Wright demonstrates in his work (a mammoth 817 pages!) is that the Jewish perspective, carrying over into Judeo-Christian theology, is that the Messiah was expected to raise from the dead in the flesh. The eschatological view of the final resurrection for Israel is grounded in the coming Messiah. When he comes to lift Israel out from under Greek oppression and establishes his kingdom, peace will be restored and God’s covenant family, those who are asleep and awake, will be resurrected to finally make their home in the land flowing with milk and honey (Genesis 17:7; Leviticus 26:42; Psalm 132; Joel 3:18; Zephaniah 3:8; Zechariah 2:11). So, if one claiming to be the Messiah came, died, and rose as a spirit, then he was not truly the Messiah. Wright’s work is highly recommended and is considered one of the best works on the Resurrection par excellence.
8. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 351.
9. Ibid., p. 334. What is truly ironic here is that one of the charges the Jehovah’s Witnesses make against orthodox Trinitarian theology is that our doctrines are steeped in man-made Greek philosophy. Pretty funny! However, they are the ones who have adopted Greek philosophy and have imported it into their interpretive presuppositions.
10. Stephen Feinstein, “1 Peter 3:18-22 ; Christ’s Victorious Suffering,” (sermon, Sovereign Way Christian Church, Hesperia, CA., September 21, 2014)
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.