Christ Committed Suicide
The impetus for this debate spawned from an ongoing discussion about assisted suicide (http://www.debate.org...). It became evident that there were many interpretations as to exactly what constituted suicide. This debate is meant to highlight one particular interpretation.
Christ Committed Suicide
Christ - Jesus Christ, as in the Bible
commit suicide - the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind
I would note that hunger strikes constitute a form of suicide, so the one committing the act need not have intentionally committed anything violent to him/herself nor to anyone else, even if they have the intention to die.
- This debate is a "no scoring" debate with the exception of conduct - forfeits, flaming, seriously sidetracking the debate, plagiarism, and cheating the character limit are some examples . Again, if you wish to leave an opinion about which position you found to be more convincing (i.e. an RFD), offer constructive criticism, and/or simply discuss the matter, there is a forum topic set up for this specific purpose here
1st round: acceptance
2-3 rounds: arguments
4th round: closing arguments, rebuttals are ok, but no new sources.
5000 character rounds
I forgot to include the forum link in the introduction. The forum for discussion of this debate is here: http://www.debate.org...
I thank Garbanza for accepting this debate. I asked her in private if we could add in a stipulation assuming that Christ was of sound mind, but she has refused. I was probably a bit hasty in creating this debate (it took less than 5 minutes to create) so hopefully it does not degrade the quality of arguments.
For the purposes of this debate, as stipulated in round #1, someone dying from a hunger strike is committing suicide. This is going to be central to my case.
Let's compare two situations - on the one hand we have Bobby Sands (http://www.history.com...), someone who went on a hunger strike and starved himself to death while in prison. On the other hand, we have prisoners in Zimbabwe who routinely die from starvation due to food shortages (http://www.irinnews.org...). The former is suicide by definition, whereas the latter is not. What differentiates the two?
In Bobby Sand's case, he had the power to feed himself...all he had to do was to eat the food that was provided to him. That he willingly chose not to knowing that it would end his life is what makes it suicide. In the case of prisoners in Zimbabwe, these prisoners would eat food had food been made available for them to consume...they had no power to feed themselves. This lack of power is what differentiates starving to death from intentionally killing oneself through hunger.
In Jesus Christ's case, we have someone who, due to His omniscience (http://www.answering-islam.org...), knew of His impending arrest and subsequent crucifixion, and who also, due to His omnipotence (Jesus is God (http://bibleprobe.com...), God is omnipotent (http://www.openbible.info...)), had the power to stop it. This puts Christ in the situation of Bobby Sands, and not prisoners in Zimbabwe.
If Christ was powerless to stop his impending fate, then it's reasonable to think that He was killed by Roman authorities. However, going by the biblical account, Christ was capable of just about anything, to include turning water to wine (https://www.biblegateway.com...), feeding 5000 with just 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread (https://www.biblegateway.com...), and even raising the dead (https://www.biblegateway.com...). Given that Christ had the power to continue living by stopping the Romans with a miracle of some sort, that He chose not to (https://www.biblegateway.com...) constitutes suicidal intent.
Jesus was not omniscient during his life on Earth
It is clear from the scriptures that Jesus was not omniscient during his life on Earth. Consider the incident with the fig tree:
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
If Jesus had been omniscient, he would have known in advance that the fig tree didn't have figs and so he wouldn't have gone to investigate, and he wouldn't have been angry at the fig tree for disappointing him.
Jesus was also explicit about his lack of knowledge in the following passage:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
It is clear from this passage that there is a distinction between the capabilities of God the Father and God the Son (Jesus), and that there is knowledge that God the Father has that was not accessible to God the Son. Therefore, Jesus was not omniscient.
Jesus was not omnipotent
Omnipotence requires omniscience because accessing knowledge is a capability that would be covered by omnipotence. Therefore, if Jesus was not omniscient, then neither was he omnipotent.
The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is obscure and probably impossible for us to comprehend, but there are several passages in the scriptures that give us clues about Jesus' status in relationship to God the Father. Most strikingly perhaps was when he was being crucified, he feels abandoned by God the Father, an event which illustrates the separation between Father and Son, but also the limitations of Jesus' knowledge and power.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
In the following passage, he clearly separates himself from the power of God in heaven:
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Here, Jesus describes a distinction between his own authority and the authority of God the Father, and implies that God the Father's authority is much greater than his own.
Suicide is a goal-directed action
Suppose you were in a prison cell with your daughter, and there was not enough food for you both to survive. You could ensure your own survival by keeping all the food for yourself or by killing and eating your own child. You refuse to do this, not because you want to die (you really don't) but because your personal values forbid you from committing what you believe to be an atrocity. I don't think most people would see a refusal to kill and eat your own child as an act of suicide because the intent to die is not there, even though death is an unfortunate and forseeable consequence.
Please notice the language about Jesus' death in the scripture. The emphasis is mine:
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus was neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and he was operating on behalf of God the Father whose powers and knowledge were greater than his. Presumably, he had two higher order goals:
1/ to obey God the Father
2/ to save humanity
Pro has argued that Jesus could have avoided death if he had wanted, but he couldn’t have without disobeying his Father’s command or dooming humanity to whatever non-saved-destiny it would have been. When your Father is an omnipotent God it is impossible to disobey him. Jesus was merely reporting on what limited information he had about his own role and what was to happen. He did not kill himself physically - the Roman killed him, obviously - but nor did he "commit suicide" by not taking life saving action. There were no such paths available to him. He could not avoid death because of his obedience to God and his love of people; therefore, he did not commit suicide.
I thank CON for a well-constructed case.
R1) On Omniscience and Omnipotence
a) While CON has brought out her own case about Christ's abilities, she does not contest my own claims or sources. This makes sense, as we are both sourcing from the Bible (emphasis mine):
"‘Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’ ‘You believe at last!’ Jesus answered." John 16:30-31
"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form," Colossians 2:2-3, 9
I have fulfilled burden in proving from the Bible that Jesus was omniscient. That "in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" also fulfills burden on omnipotence as well.
b) On CON's case:
- The fig tree is a parable. Christ was demonstrating what a motivated man filled with the Holy Spirit could do. The parable later concludes in Mark 11:14-23 that "he said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again'...the fig tree withered from the roots... 'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.'"
It's easily conceivable that Christ knew the fig tree had no fruit in advance in order to demonstrate this parable in terms his disciples would understand.
- In regards to CON citing Matthew 23:9 and John 14:10, John 1 is clear that Christ is God: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
Thus, there is no distinction between Christ and God...they are one and the same.
- About Matthew 27:46, there is evident confusion as to exactly what that verse means. In the very next verse: "When some of those standing there heard this, they said, 'He’s calling Elijah.'" Mark 15 has this exact same account as well.
It is possible that Christ was not calling to God, but to people He knew had forsaken him.
R2) CON presents a case where "Suppose you were in a prison cell with your daughter, and there was not enough food for you both to survive. You could ensure your own survival by keeping all the food for yourself or by killing and eating your own child. You refuse to do this..." The implication is that by refusing to do this, the parent dies and the daughter lives.
CON is describing how this person justified his/her suicide. Similarly, Bobby Sands would have preferred that his terms regarding prisoner rights were met instead of actually starving himself to death, but when such an option proved impossible, Bobby Sands chose death. The parent in CON's dilemma makes a similar choice, a suicidal choice.
CON then cites Matthew 16:21 and Luke 24:46, both of which cite Christ's reasons for choosing to commit suicide. Christ chose his fate, and he chose death on the cross, something he knew would happen to him well in advance and could have easily chosen to avoid or prevent. Recall that Christ was tempted several times by Satan to do just that. Matthew 4:6
"'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
R3) CON makes a rather curious assertion, that "When your Father is an omnipotent God it is impossible to disobey him."
This runs afoul of basic tenets of Christianity. It's easily possible to disobey God...that is what is called "sin". 1 John 3-4:
"Everyone who keeps living in sin also practices disobedience. In fact, sin is disobedience."
In the end, there are clear assertions that Christ was omnipotent and omniscient in the Bible. CON's attempts to argue to the contrary are nebulous at best and involve a spurious assertion, that for CON, "The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is obscure and probably impossible for us to comprehend". The Bible verses I have cited are quite clear...PRO's case does not involve CON's meandering equivocation.
Furthermore, CON attempts to argue that suicide is something that requires the intent to die, and then brings forth a case that demonstrates this intent. Her parent/child dilemma especially demonstrated that the parent chose to die rather than to force the daughter to die. I don't know why CON is arguing PRO's case.
Bottom line, Christ committed suicide. He knew about it, he could have avoided it, and in the end chose to die.
Jesus was not omniscient, in his own words. Pro is asserting otherwise, and provides quotes from St Paul and from the disciples, but not from Jesus himself. Of relevance here is Jesus' abilities during his lifetime on Earth. In the beginning, "the Word was God", but then he transformed and "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:1). During that time he was not God, but was related to God, and he was not omniscient, as I have shown. In a similar way, we are all derived from blood, breastmilk, food and water. However, we are not the same as blood, breastmilk, food and water. We exist in a new form, with new capabilities and limitations, and so it was for Jesus.
In terms of his powers, we need to turn to the Gospels for information, and they are clear. I quoted from Mark before; here is a very similar passage in Matthew:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Matthew 24: 36
Suicide means an intentional and deliberate act to cause one's own death. There must be a direct link between the act and death, and it must be deliberate. Otherwise, almost anything could be called suicide. Lying around on a Sunday afternoon eating cake could be called suicide since we know that there's a link between lack of exercise and unhealthy diet and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. However, it is not really suicide, unless you are deliberately trying for death by obesity, because in most cases people are just lazy and like sweet food. This is obviously a different sort of act to slashing your wrists in the bath.
Jesus did not kill himself. There is not a single act listed in the Bible that caused his death. He died by crucixion. He had not broken any laws for which crucifixion was an official penality; he did not turn himself in or ask for death.
He did come to Jerusalem aware that the consequences could be death and suffering, but as I have shown, the language he used ("He must" and "it was necessary") show that he did not feel he had a choice.
Pro's case rests on the assertion that Jesus could have avoided death if he'd wanted. We only have Pro's word for that. There is no indication in the Bible that this is true. On the contrary, the prophecies states centuries earlier what was destined to occur.
Here again in Mark, Jesus explains that he "must" die, and when Peter protests, he explains that Peter has not understood God's concerns:
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
R4) CON is shifting the goalposts on omniscience and omnipotence. In Round #2, it was that "Jesus was not omniscient during his life on Earth". When PRO proffered evidence of such, in Round #3, CON then stated that "Jesus was not omniscient, in his own words."
Well, here is Jesus, in His own words, proclaiming his omniscience - John 10:30:
"I and the Father are one.”
This definitively puts the matter to rest. CON may try to shift the goalposts again; please keep in mind that if she does, it's only because all of her other arguments on this matter have been refuted.
R5) CON attempts an argument ad absurdum by stating that "almost anything could be called suicide. Lying around on a Sunday afternoon eating cake could be called suicide since we know that there's a link between lack of exercise and unhealthy diet and diseases such as cancer and heart disease."
Most people who lounge around eating unhealthy food are not aware of their own mortality. Most people who experience their first heart attack or stroke immediately change their lifestyle habits once faced with this issue. There is no intention to kill oneself in such circumstances...there is no awareness that their actions are life-threatening.
Contrast with Bobby Sands starving himself to death - he KNEW death was the outcome of his hunger strike, and he HAD THE POWER to just pick up some food and eat something.
Contrast with Jesus, who, because he was omniscient and omnipotent, KNEW that the Romans would kill him, and HAD THE POWER to prevent such an occurrence.
Bobby Sands and Jesus committed suicide...they achieved martyrdom for their respective causes. Their intentions were clear. People dying of a heart attack while eating Twinkies in their front porch are simply unaware of the dangers of their sedentary lifestyles. They had no intent whatsoever.
R6) CON's most intriguing argument deals with predestination, how she thinks that "the prophecies states centuries earlier what was destined to occur" and that "he did not feel he had a choice". I would imagine the implicit argument is that God is powerless to change fate.
This is silly. An omnipotent God is not bound by any fate or circumstance...they are all powerful and can change anything to their own desires.
PRO's argument is simple - suicide requires knowledge translating to intent, and power to carry out the intent. Bobby Sands, Jesus Christ, and CON's parent in her parent/daughter scenario, all had both intent and the power to carry out their intent - they committed suicide. Prisoners in Zimbabwe do not have the power to feed themselves - the food simply isn't there - they didn't commit suicide. People scarfing down Twinkies and the latest microwavable cheese snacks also do not have awareness of the potentially fatal consequences of their (in)action - if they die from a heart attack, they also aren't committing suicide.
CON has tried to argue that Christ was neither omniscient nor omnipotent...there are several Bible verses that clearly state that Christ is God. It is hard to get any clearer than this.
CON has also tried to argue that predestination precludes omnipotence...but predestination is what we as human beings are bound by...not God.
Martyrs are suicidal. Bobby Sands was a martyr. The Cross is the quintessential symbol of martyrdom. Christ committed suicide.
I thank Garbanza for entertaining this short, focused debate, as well as the readers for reading it and leaving an opinion of it. Please discuss your thoughts about this debate here, on this forum thread:
I remind readers that this is a no scoring debate. Thank you very much.
Thanks to Pro for this debate. It's a long time since I read the Bible, and it's the first debate I've ever done based on Gospel. It was a great topic.
Pro failed to meet the burden of proof
Pro had the burden to prove that Jesus committed suicide, and he tried to do so by arguing that Jesus was omniscient and omnipotent and therefore could easily have avoided death and crucifixion. If he could have easily avoided death, Pro argues, then he really chose death, which is suicide.
However, Pro failed to prove that Jesus was omniscient and omnipotent, and had no response to my evidence to the contrary. He could not explain why Jesus stated that there was information that he did not have (the day and the hour), and why he would make explicit distinctions between his own authority and the authority of God.
Pro's evidence of Jesus' omniscience was weak, and based on his own reasoning (if he is God, then he must be), rather than evidence in the Gospel, even though in round one he made it clear that we were discussing Jesus "as in the Bible".
In the final round, Pro argued that Jesus' comment "I and the Father are one" is proof of omnipotence. It is not. When people say "we are one" it does not mean "we are exactly the same and have the same abilities". It only means, that we are united in a special way. Consider the lyrics from the following songs (see videos). Not one of them implies identical abilities:
We are one, but we're not the same (1)
We are one, but we are many (2)
We are one, ole ola (3)
Jesus was not omnipotent during his life on Earth, and as I have shown, he spoke in language of necessity, which implies that he at least did not feel he was in a situation of choice. Pro accused me of shifting the goalposts, but he was the one who set up this debate to be about Jesus "as in the Bible", and I have based the discussion entirely on Jesus in the scriptures. Pro has said "this is silly". He is entitled to his own religious opinion, but this debate is about Jesus of the Bible, and THAT Jesus did not commit suicide.
Suicide is a deliberate act that directly results in death. Pro has failed to point out which act Jesus committed that intentionally and directly resulted in his death. That is because there is no such act. Pro would have us believe that Jesus could have avoided death in some way, but he did not explain how. His argument fails. Jesus did not commit suicide.
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