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					                                 A Ben Winter Critique

                                    Josh McDowell

    More Than A Carpenter, by Josh McDowell posits an apologetic designed to institute
Messianic verity and to establish constancy redirecting modern waywardness into
purposeful living. In this regard, McDowell exposits a credible apologetic and
existentialist resolve, notwithstanding his early years as energetic skeptic and iconoclast.
In expository release, after childhood disillusionment and early-college anti-religion
radicalisms, he suffers elegiac remorse and elevates his antithetical philosophy to a
higher plane.

McDowell Proposition: WHAT MAKES JESUS SO DIFFERENT to Mohammedan,
Buddhist, and Confucian character? Jesus was divine according to his affirmation in John
5:16-:18, “. . . My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (concerning healing of the lame)
Here he equates himself with God. “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) The Greek
scholar, A.T. Robertson interprets the ‘one’ to be neuter and indicates not one in person
but in essence. McDowell promotes Strong’s Systematic Theology in bibliographic
reference, with, (God is the) “infinite and perfect spirit in whom all things have their
source, support, and end.” This definition of God essence is duplicated in McDowell’s
Jesus definition: omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, self-existent, and eternally lived.
Ben Winter Commentary: Any statement related to Jesus-God quality is strictly
opinion, of course; and any acceptable deity conclusion can be extracted via individual
exegesis only. Even so, in historical exposition, indirectly, as in many other incidents,
Jesus established his divinity to first century enthusiasts by chronicled deed and
declaration. (:22) “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto
the Son: . . .” But it was Jesus’ defiance of sabbath work restraints which caused
resentment and condemnation amongst Temple authorities, in the John example. Charged
with Mosaic principles blasphemy and contrariness to Temple authority, Jesus sealed his
doom and insured fulfillment to prophecy, as Messianic contender, and as one being
conditioned for enthronement. Only in Mark 14:62, did Jesus answer the question “Art
thou the Christ, . . .? He said, “. . . I am: . . .” Yet, McDowell’s Jesus qualities in the
above ‘proposition,’ last sentence, must be qualified to gain cognizance in intellectual or
scholarly rationale; for, ancient deity and omnipotence is one thing, ancient or modern
omniscience and omnipresence is another. Jesus did not know when parousia was to
occur; this deficit eliminates omniscience. And, doubtlessly, many in the Heaven and
Earth complex were not aware of his divinity, crucifixion, or resurrection—much less
those in upper Europe, vast Asia, Africa, South American Societies, North American
Tee-pee and Igloo dwellers, Pacific Islanders, and among Australian Aborigine
wanderers. Decidedly, this deficit eliminates omnipresence. No, it was not a worldwide
spectacle but rather an isolated community affair. Even the Roman Emperor did not
know, and though the event happened within his own Empire. Mr. McDowell, you
exaggerate messianic omnipresent and omniscience qualities. Would not Messianic debut
isolation, in a small corner of the world, create some curiosity about utility for the world

McDowell Proposition: SCIENTIFIC PROOF concerning biblical verity. McDowell
posits twentieth century mentality to be of a nature doubting propositions unless they can
be proven scientifically. He questions mental prowess in determining difference between
scientific proof and legal-historical verification. He defines science as a processes based
on repeatable demonstration proving the same conclusion; and, of course, resulted by
experiment and observation in the presence of witness. Scholars F.F. Bruce and William
Albright are said to testify to Bible reliability and trustworthiness. And discovery of the
John Ryland papyri manuscript (A.D. 130), the Chester Beatty Papyri (A.D. 155), and the
Bodmer Papyri II (A.D. 200), support later manuscript translations. Sir Frederic Kenyon,
a renown authority, concluded, “Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the
books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.” Yet, legal-
historicity is defined as intelligent faith, its veracity proven in repeated documentation.
Ben Winter Commentary: Faith, then, is the qualifying vehicle to embrace legal-
historical precedence. Such declaration neglects any requirement to quantify humanist
extensions. And, by its simplistic nature, faith is outside scientific and legal-historical
dictum. Faith is belief without strict qualification and exhibits indifference to semantic
antipodes. And in undemanding acquiescence to traditionalist parallels, anyone can
announce a personal God into ontological existence. In this regard, Immanuel Kant made
an indubitable observation when he deduced: “No man has the intellect to deny another
individual’s God declaration.” True! God declaration is entirely private and isolated in
individual intellection. Whether two or three Homo sapiens could envision the exact
same God characterization is cause for debate. In any event, intellectuality is absent when
one tries to force a private God character upon another. We must conclude, then, God
existence and Messiah fulfillment should be relegated to legal-historical auspices and can
never be elevated to scientific conclusiveness; for, divinity’s very essence depends on the
legal-historical definition consigned, as it were, to its legal-historical declaration—
extraneous intrusions being necessarily irrelevant to any objective, closed, narrative
study. As to doctored accusations, such can be laid to rest in the presence of evidential
New Testament papyri; and we know the Septuagint was prepared in the Greek language
for Pharaoh Ptolemy; work had began circa 275 B.C., worked on for the next several
years (some say 150 years), a work not contradictory to modern consensus, and was
condensed from accounts compared and ameliorated to agreement from those several
renditions held by tribal components. Such does indeed meet with Legal-Historical
McDowell Proposition: WHAT GOOD IS A DEAD MESSIAH? So did Jesus disciples
consider and doubt his kingdom, which they expected as physical rule over a physical
kingdom. ‘A suffering Messiah was “completely foreign to the Jewish conception of
messiahship.’’’ (International Encyclopedia) McDowell, goes on to accuse the Apostles
of discouragement and returning to their homes after Calvary. McDowell does not
address modal questions raised on Messianic destination, when, on the party’s return
from Emmus, Jesus disappears into the cloud at Bethany, just outside Jerusalem.
Ben Winter Commentary: While the Apostles might have had second thoughts at the
first, they were soon convinced after the resurrection. Despite McDowell’s accusation of
their going home in discouragement, yet, we find two of them at Emmus, a village about
6 miles from Jerusalem, where he appeared to them (though not readily recognized); thus
Luke 24:52 disagrees with McDowell, “And they worshipped him, and returned to
Jerusalem with great joy; (:53) And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing
God.” They went not to a church building but to the temple (though they had been called
Christians for 28 years)! It was when the entourage returned to Jerusalem, at Bethany, He
left his entourage, disappeared into a cloud (dust, vapor, smoke?), and ascended toward
heaven. Where was ‘toward heaven’? Did he return home? Where was home? Where did
his Father reside? Where was he to be seated as co-ruler, next to the Father? In Mark
11:17, after driving sacrifice merchants from the Temple’s Gentile section, Jesus said: “Is
it not written, My house (emphasis my own, BW) shall be called of all nations the house
of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.” This is the house (Heaven) to which he
returned when disappeared into a cloud: into the Holy of holies, to co-rule with the God
in residence. Much ado is made to support supernatural intervention at the tomb; but,
factually, an earthquake was said to roll away the stone sealing tomb entrance. And
according to Luke, the detailer, in 24:23, in remembrance of resurrection events as
recalled by certain women and repeated by one, Cleopas, “And when they found not his
body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he
was alive.” Question: When do you see visions? While walking around? While sleeping?
While frightened? A compelling admission is found in Luke 24:21, preceding the
women’s account, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed
Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.” Why
Israel? Why not the Jews? When, then, would Israel be redeemed? Not yet, obviously, for
the quoted language inheres disappointment in a dead Messiah. We qualify the question
by referring to Ezekiel 37:19 and the promise to restore Israel.

attempt to hyperbolize Bible uniqueness in special isolated truths. ‘Beneficial thinking’ is
used to support McDowell’s qualifying thesis. Genesis 3:15 is used to juxtapose an
instant of ‘woman seed’ as opposed to all other reference being to ‘man seed.’ He uses II
Samuel 7:12-:16 and Jeremiah 23:5 to support his ‘seed of a woman’ thesis.
Ben Winter Commentary: Predictably, as with all futurist persuasion, McDowell
mistakes the ‘woman seed’ to be on a special contextual level, but what the scripture says
is: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her
seed; it shall bruise . . .” If one should read THE GREAT DECEPTION: Symbols And
Numbers Clarified, by Ben Winter, then exegetes will be acquainted with Serpent
identity, infralapsarianism, the Ten Ages, the nature of tribal-man-woman relationship,
and how all this combines to impact Bible interpretation in a severe antipodes to
traditional scanning. Who was the enmity between? Who did the woman betray? Why
does Genesis 3:15 truth negate conventional interpretation? Again we take issue with
McDowell; in no imagination stretch can Jeremiah and II Samuel inhere the least
contribution to his ‘seed of a woman’ thesis. But McDowell does lean to Preterist
discipline when he acknowledges parousia must “come while the temple of Jerusalem is
still standing. This is of great significance when we realize the temple was destroyed in
A.D. 70 and has not since been rebuilt.” Even had another been built (not rebuilt), it
would not be THE Temple. The real Messiah depended on the then standing temple to
qualify parousia conclusion. If parousia did not conclude Messianic purpose in the
existing first century generation, then McDowell and other modernists are forced to admit
one of two possibilities: either God was ineffective, or modern faith adherents mistake
parousia time frame!

McDowell Proposition: HE CHANGED MY LIFE proposes to demonstrate mankind’s
indecision concerning “the power to do what you know you ought to do. Most are in
bondage.” With tongue in cheek, McDowell says, “There is a biblical term to describe
that type of living: hell.” And as he quoted from Thomas Aquinas, “There is within every
soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.” McDowell claims to have developed mental
peace after becoming a Christian. “I’m not talking about the absence of conflict. What I
found in this relationship with Jesus wasn’t so much the absence of conflict but the
ability to cope with it.”
Ben Winter Commentary: McDowell does strike a chord of truth in his accusation of
“Most are in bondage.” Vicariously, McDowell subscribes to the first century Christian
encouragement. Most sincerely does he imagine himself to escape the ‘tears and sorrows’
afflicting exemplar constituents; but it is in this inapplicable metaphysical escapism
where he presumes a self-effacing dichotomy: He perceives unhappiness outside
Christian commitment and happiness within Church auspices. And here, he makes his
greatest error; for, middle ground exists in any sentient cognizance; midpoint in extremes,
existence demands neither unhappiness, happiness, nor spatiotemporal accountability; but
rather, it inheres the good fortune to exist in an unexcited mortality-immortality milieu.
For as leading existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre posited, we determine our existential fate
and play only the role most expedient to our present benefit. When the most considered
Christian epitome enters a Church building, he plays an existentialist role. As Professor
McDowell once answered a University student, who unthinkingly stated, “anyone who
walks into church becomes a Christian.” McDowell replied, “Does walking into a garage
make you a car?” This, I think, is the greatest truth in McDowell’s exposition.


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