For some reason I'm struggling with the proper response to the following claim and would appreciate the input of others. How would you respond to the claim that the Christian scripture is self-authenticating? For example, in 2 Cor. 12:12 Paul reminds the Corinthians about the "signs and wonders and mighty works" he performed in their presence. Why would Paul say this unless it were true? If it was false, the Corinthians he was writing to would reject him as an imposter and charlatan. As for equating whatever miracles he performed with something like what Benny Hinn does, I'm having trouble comparing Paul with Benny Hinn.

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Nothing is "self authenticating"

I don't get the struggle, that's about the stupidest thing I've heard all day.  Charlie Manson claimed to be God.  People bought it and didn't reject him like your opponent says they would.  Sai Babba...same deal.  I could come up with dozens of examples without even trying.

What you have there is a fine example of circular reasoning.  That's all.  It's stupid on the face of it.  Don't get bogged down in details, and call stupid what it is.

Thanks Gazoo, but I'm not sure how the comparison with Charlie Manson applies. Did he perform miracles in front of people and later refer to them in public letters where his claim could be easily refuted if it was false? And Paul's writings, at least the ones the scholars attribute to him, don't sound like the rantings of a madman do they?

The Charles Manson comparison is exactly right - you don't rely on the person making the claim to determine if their claim is true - whether they sound reasonable or not.

It's not about the kind of claim, or the kind of miracles supposedly performed. It's that the entire notion of "self-authenticating" is bogus. It's true because I say it's true? If that logic works, then the koran is true, scientology is true, Shirley Maclain's spirit guide really is Ramtha .... you get the picture.

As far as the comparison between Paul and Benny Hinn goes, that seems just about right. Paul's "signs and wonders" were primarily healings. The folks that fill the pews for Benny are just as convinced of his powers as Paul's audiences.

You ask why Paul would say it if it weren't true? That's a long list - but let's just say Paul (and the Corinthians) thought it was true - doesn't make it true.

There are folks out there who say they've been abducted by aliens. Sure, some of them seem a bit nuts, but plenty of them are otherwise reasonable and utterly ordinary folks. They said this thing happened, and they seem to genuinely believe it, so according to the "self authenticating" logic, we don't need to question them further. Maybe it happened, maybe not - but their say-so isn't enough to determine the truth of the event.

Thanks Karen. It's not just them (modern Christians) relying on whether Paul is a whacko or not, it also involves the recipients of his letters, e.g. the Corinthians, the letters being public documents, that supposedly observed the miracles Paul references. If Paul was a whacko, wouldn't the numerous recipients call foul and have exposed him? Although I guess I could ask the same thing about the gazillions of people who don't appear to be whacko but still believe in Benny Hinn's miracles and give him gobs of cash.

Exactly ... I mean about the Benny Hinn comparison. Some people clearly believe his miracles - why wouldn't the same be true for Paul?

So far, I don't think anyone really gets what Yossarian is saying - why would Paul write to the Corinthians regarding things that didn't happen?

Uncle Bob comes over to your house, and in conversation, you ask Uncle bob if he remembers the vacation he went on with you and your family last year - if in fact, you and he never went on vacation together, you know before the words are out of your mouth, that he's gonna say, "What in the hell are you talking about? We never went on vacation together!"

The question is, why would Paul write of, "signs, wonders and mighty works" to a crowd who could quickly say they never happened. But MY question would have to be, a) exactly what were these signs, wonders and mighty works? To the uneducated, seeming to pull a coin out of one's ear could well seem like a "mighty work"! And b) since we know that much of the scriptures have been messed with by translators, redactors and copyists, could that part have been added, after the fact, when none of the Corinthinians in question were still living?

The only honest answer I can give to your question, is that a lot more information would have to be known, before anyone can give an honest answer to your question.

And for the record, I've always found Benny Hill a lot funnier than Benny Hinn --

Thanks. Your answer seems to indicate you understood my question. :) At any rate, here's a link where somebody is probably explaining it better.

I don't know, Benny Hinn can also be a riot to watch. ;)

Yes, your line of thinking is where I was heading too, i.e., whatever they observed could have rational, naturalistic explanations.

Yossarian, I think you just need to spend a lot of time around more charismatic churches.  Religious people consider that miracles have happened far too easily.  This is true for pastors and laypersons.   Many charismatic pastors are convinced they performed miracles and their congregation is equally convinced as well.

Yes, you're right. My background was conservative Presbyterianism, which basically doesn't accept any signs or miracles since the apostolic era. I forgot about the Charismatics. Shoot, the very scenario I raised is happening all over the place- not just at Benny Hinn crusades!

Yeah, I can understand the desire to forget about Charismatics lol!  Just remember that there are many of us who have made it through what you are going though.  Take your time and understand that it is worth examining everything completely.  Consider everything carefully.  You will get through this and be okay.  You also need to go through this at your own pace.  

Thanks for explaining better than I did ... that's what I was trying to get at with the Benny Hinn thing.  The Corinthians (at least some of them) seem to have believed Paul performed miracles of a sort. In the same way, the 'Hinnians' also believe and would accept Benny's claims of miracles.

Hinn has plenty of critics, but if he were to write a letter to his peeps, they wouldn't be the ones to say that Hinn never healed anyone. According to the self-authenticating method, that would be enough to confirm Hinn's healing powers as true.

The only "self-authenticating" part of the Corinthians passage is that some people apparently shared some kind of experience. Paul is writing to folks who had seen him do some party tricks. That's the most that can be said. Were the tricks really miracles? Dunno. Were there some folks who called BS when Paul's letter arrived in Corinth? Dunno. 

There have been shamans and faith healers throughout the ages. Some people have gotten healthy after a visit with their local shaman. The healer and the healee would likely give a similar report on the events. This would qualify as a self-authenticating story. But the most we can say is that both people thought it was true. And nobody has to be a crazy madman for the most important bit of this self-authenticating story to be false.

Good point about the aliens. There are plenty of people today, with access to the internet, modern science & education who can't tell true stories from false, and can be misled by the wildest claims by con-men, frauds & hucksters, or even by the well-meaning but misinformed. Why would 1st century Judea or Corinth be any different, except to be even more credulous?


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