The Instigator
RichardSJC
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
imabench
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

The Apostle Thomas got a bum rap with the name "Doubting" Thomas

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after 3 votes the winner is...
imabench
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,201 times Debate No: 21178
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

RichardSJC

Pro

I feel that the Apostle Thomas has unfairly been labeled with the name "Doubting" Thomas. It is no what he should be known for, and history has been unfair to him.
imabench

Con

I accept this debate and will argue why The Apostle Thomas, one of the original 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, did not get a "bum rap" with the name "Doubting Thomas".

Doubting Thomas got his name after he, who went all around the known world preaching Christianity his entire life, was the only apostle to DOUBT the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Other than that
Debate Round No. 1
RichardSJC

Pro

Thanks for accepting! So...

Thomas got a "bum rap" with the title "Doubting" Thomas, and while I do agree that he did doubt the resurrection of Jesus, he by no means the only Disciple to doubt the resurrection.

All four of the Gospels tell of the disciples reaction to the news that Jesus had resurrected as not being immediate belief. In John 19, Mary Magdalene thinks that Jesus' tomb is empty because his body has been taken, not because he has returned from the dead. And Luke 24:11 says that when Mary tells the disciples about Jesus' resurrection they think it's "nonsense and did not believe", which is exactly what Mark 16:11 says happened. And Matthew 28:17 says that when the 11 disciples, minus Judas, saw him "they worshiped, but they doubted". Mark 16:14 even has a resurrected Jesus rebuking the disciples for their unbelief. John 20:9 says that Peter didn't understand when he say the empty tomb.

So Thomas was not the only one of Jesus' followers and disciples to express doubt about the resurrection. It was prevalent in all four of the Gospels. If we say that Thomas gets the label "Doubting" Thomas because he was the one who didn't believe in the resurrection, then that would be inaccurate.

While his story is among the more dramatic moments of doubt in the Gospel, I don't feel that the author intended to convey a negative attitude toward Thomas' doubt, which the name "Doubting" Thomas and history seems to convey. Instead I think the author was intending to illustrate that Jesus meets people at their level of belief or disbelief and helps them find belief and faith. He met Thomas at his level of disbelief, just like he did the others. Plus, the negative title misses the fact that it is natural for Thomas or any follower of Jesus to express some form of doubt. Doubt isn't a bad thing. And Thomas and the others just lost the dearest loved one they ever had. It is natural as humans under those conditions to have a moment of pause. History should cut Thomas and any figure who expressed a momentary doubt some slack. This only scratches the surface of looking deeper at the passages involving Thomas.

Therefore, whether one agrees with some of my interpretations of the author's intentions with the passage that describes Thomas' doubt or not, based upon the numerous Gospel accounts of "doubt" from various figures, I think it is unfair that history has singled out Thomas as the universal symbol of doubt in such a derogatory way.

Another reason that I offer for Thomas getting a "bum rap" with the term "doubting" Thomas is that it fails to see the full picture of Thomas as he is depicted in the Gospels. With the name "Doubting" Thomas, history has focused on this one moment and ignored the other things that we know about Thomas, from the Gospels and from tradition. For now I will just look at the other Gospel references to Thomas to show that history has missed the full picture on Thomas.

Thomas is only mentioned 8 times in the Bible, and 4 of those times are in a brief list of Jesus' disciples. The moment of doubt is obviously one of those times. But two other moments get ignored, and they help shed light on his character, and it goes beyond his moment of doubt. In John, chapter 11, Jesus gets word that a dear friend of theirs, Lazarus, has fallen ill. When Jesus indicates that he should go see him, the disciples are hesitant and remind him that the religious officials in that area want to kill him. They express fear. But it is Thomas who says, "Let us also go to die with him" (John 11:16). No disciple conveyed such a willingness or such courage in that moment, and no other disciple voiced such support of Jesus (and their friend Lazarus). So why is this story showing the courage of Thomas not at the forefront when referring to this Apostle? Why is he not known as "Courageous" Thomas?

Thomas also displays a bit of courage later in John's account of the Last Supper. In chapter 14 when Jesus says to his disciples, "where I am going you know the way", it is Thomas who is not too proud to humble himself by asking Jesus, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" (John 11:5). It takes a person of strong character to admit their ignorance and say "hey, I don't know…", and then ask for guidance. And we can infer that Thomas' question was appropriate and acceptable because Jesus doesn't chastise him for asking, but rather he answers him by revealing a deeper truth about who he is when he states "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 11:6).

So looking at the full Scripture picture, without too much interpretation or commentary, we see that Thomas had a moment of doubt, as did pretty much everyone, and he dealt with it and quickly believed; we see that he was the only disciple who expressed courage and willingness to go with Jesus to see their friend even if it meant they had to die with him; and we see a moment where he openly expresses a level of ignorance over something, and properly ask Jesus, his teacher, the answer, and thus have Jesus teach him and those with them a deeper truth.

Based upon this Scriptural analysis, and without going into deeper interpretations of the passages involving Thomas, or the traditions about his missionary service after Jesus, I say that Thomas got a bum rap with the name "doubting" Thomas, and history missed the mark on him.
imabench

Con

Lets examine the scriptures and verses that the Pro has brought up

John 19: This entire chapter does not mention the disappearance of his body, only of his crucifixion and removal from it.

Luke 24:11 : "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." - Now here it flat out says that the apostles did not beleive the news that Jesus had risen, but in the scripture it says that the news seemed like tales, not as a claim or a statement, as a tale. That may imply that the tone or words that Mary used to give the news to the disciples may have triggered their disbelief, not the fact that Jesus had risen.
http://www.biblegateway.com...

Mark 16:11 : "And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not." - This may relate back to the earlier one about how the manner in which Mary presented this news may have triggered their disbelief and not of the news itself

Matthew 28:17 : "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." - This doesnt actually relate to the disciples, this refers to a group of high priests from a nearby village who were brought to meet Jesus, the priests worshipped him but some of the priests doubted him.

The disciples all believed he had returned, and this is revealed in the same chapter in earlier verses in Matthew 28:9,
"And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him."
http://www.biblegateway.com...

Mark 16:14 : "he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen" - This isnt saying the disciples didnt believe that Jesus was alive, this says how they originally didnt believe the word of those who told them at first.
http://www.biblegateway.com...

John 20:9 : "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." - This one is a little confusing but it does not mean that Peter did not understand about the empty tomb, because in the verse RIGHT BEFORE THAT it is said that "Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed." Meaning that Peter did indeed believe he was resurrected.

So at this point, all the scriptures only show how the disciples only were in disbelief to the news that Jesus was resurrected, and the disbelief may have come from the tone or words that Mary used to present the news to the other disciples, not disbelief over the resurrection itself.

But lets look at what happened with Thomas. John 20:24 to John 20:29
Thomas did not here of the resurrection of Jesus from Mary, he heard it from all the other disciples, and upon hearing the news immediately said that
"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
This is rather extreme compared to the other disciples reactions. Those may have come from shock or from the way Mary had put it, but Thomas here flat out denies the resurrection of Jesus until he has fundamental firsthand proof that it did happen.

But it doesnt end there,

An entire week went by before Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other disciples. So even if the other disciples did doubt his resurrection, that happened for a few moments, Thomas meanwhile doubted for an entire WEEK. When Jesus did appear to Thomas Jesus said to Thomas “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Jesus actually said the word doubting specifically towards Thomas and to no other disciple even though all of them were in the room also.

At THAT point Thomas believed that Jesus was alive, but then Jesus added by saying
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
http://www.biblegateway.com...

So let me make my point right here
1) All the disciples didnt believe the news at first but it could be due to shock or the tone that Mary used to convey the news which may have triggered a response of disbelief
2) Thomas on the other hand flat out denied that Jesus had resurrected and wanted actual PROOF before he could believe it
3) Thomas would not trust the word of all the other disciples, he wanted actual proof
4) Thomas refused to believe the other disciples for a week
5) Jesus did give him proof, and told Thomas to stop doubting
6) Jesus then spoke out that blessed are those who believed without seeing more than those who only believed until after they saw, like Thomas.
7) The fact that Thomas would not trust the word of the other disciples makes him appear to be a man of little faith compared to them, or one who doubts.

This is why Thomas did not get a bum rap for doubting the resurrection of Jesus. He ignored all the other disciples, ignored the resurrection for a week, and wanted fundamental proof that he had risen BEFORE he would believe. The other disciples meanwhile only doubted his resurrection from shock or response to the news briefly, and they then believed he had risen before they had fundamental proof, unlike Thomas, who had doubted it.

Even if I am wrong and all the other disciples DID doubt his resurrection, Doubting Thomas still deserves his name because he doubted the resurrection of Jesus much longer than anyone else, demanded fundamental proof before he did believe it, and Jesus himself had to prove he was alive before Thomas believed he was alive.

Debate Round No. 2
RichardSJC

Pro

Excellent points, let's take a look at some of them.

First, I erred in discussing Mary Magdalene in John 19. It is John 20. That was my mistake, I apologize for that.

Next, taking a look at the passages that were cited wherein the disbelief of the disciples may have been more due to the manner in which the story was relayed to them (Luke 24:11 : "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not."; Mark 16:11 : "And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not."). If we say that the disciples did not believe due to the "words" that Mary used, rather than they simply disbelieved that he was risen, than we are ignoring that they simply did not believe. Whatever the reason, they doubted. Jesus had told them previously that he would be killed and then would rise (Mark 10:34, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will and Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again."). Jesus clearly told them that he would rise from the dead after three days. Now perhaps the words Mary used and they way she conveyed it made it "seem like a tale", but they did have foreknowledge that this would occur, and in the end their response was disbelief.
http://www.biblegateway.com...

Now, addressing the commentary that Matthew 28:17 refers to a group of high priests, not the disciples. I would have to say that this is inaccurate. This marks the end of Matthew's Gospel, and it is a passage that has traditionally been referred to as "The Great Commission" (Harper's Bible Commentary). Reading the passage in it's full context, we see clearly that Jesus' comments, as well as the evangelist's description of those who are worshiping and doubting in verse 17, are directed at the disciples: "But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
http://www.biblegateway.com...

Reading that passage in its full context, we can see that it revolves around Jesus and his disciples. And in this context we see that the author is describing the disciples as having doubt, which would clearly indicate that "doubt" was not limited to Thomas alone.

And looking further at Scriptural passages that discuss the "doubt" of the disciples, we see in Luke 24:36-4 that Jesus himself is quoted by the Evangelist as questioning the disciples about their doubt:
"While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to you.' But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.' And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet." -Luke 24:36-40
http://www.biblegateway.com...

So here we do have an instance where Jesus mentions the doubt of all the disciples. The Thomas narrative is not the only moment where Jesus comments on the "doubt" of a disciple, so Thomas is not an exclusive example.

I do concede that Thomas did doubt. That was never in question. And further, I do concede that his doubt is the most dramatic moment of doubt chronicled in the Gospel accounts. His may have lasted longer, and been stronger than the others. But I make the point that he should not be remembered based solely on his doubt, and that history has been unfair in making that his dubious moniker for the following reasons:

1. Doubt, at whatever level or length of time, or for whatever reason, was not limited to Thomas alone. Did history have to take the one who had the most doubt and give them that as their defining label? I would say no.

2. Thomas did more than just doubt; we ignore his other moments of courage, loyalty, and belief in the Gospel of John. I eluded to this in my first argument.

3. The term "doubting" conveys a present tense. Thomas did doubt, past tense. He then believed. While his moment of doubt was there, that is not a point I argue, in the end he found belief. When we say "doubting", by definition we imply that doubt persists. This then would be is unfair to a man who came to believe, to label him as a persistent, present doubter.

4. And yes Thomas doubted. Perhaps more so than the others. But I believe that this should not be his historically defining trait. For one, as mentioned, he came to believe. And his believe was nearly unparallelled in all of the Gospels. Upon seeing Jesus he exclaimed "My Lord and my God!". As the Bible commentator Raymond F. Brown states, "This, then, is the supreme christological pronouncement of the Fourth Gospel... the first disciples gave many titles to Jesus... throughout the ministry: Rabbi, Messiah, Prophet, King of Israel, Son of God... Lord by Magdalene and by the disciples as a group. But it is Thomas who makes clear that one may address Jesus in the same language in which Israel addressed Yahweh (i.e., God)."
So again, I say that yes, Thomas did doubt. Perhaps more than the others. And perhaps he needed more to believe than the others. But this does not mean that we should label him in a way that focuses solely on his "doubt". That is an unfair, and a limited approach to remembering Thomas.

If we say that Thomas should be given the name "Doubting Thomas" because his doubt was stronger, more pervasive and more persistent that the other disciples, than we are judging Thomas based solely on his doubt and nothing else. And in doing so we ignore his previous courage and loyalty, and we ignore his depths of belief once he overcame his doubt. We also ignore his level of service after the doubt. "Tradition informs us that Thomas, after some misgivings, went to India and the Far East, preaching the Gospel and establishing the (Church), where he is still honored as the founder of the Church there. He was killed by stab wounds in the year 72 after a remarkable apostolate" (Stephen Ray). When we call him "doubting" Thomas we unfairly acknowledge only one aspect of him, and ignore the rest. That gives Thomas a bum rap.
imabench

Con

1) The other disciples
"But they did have foreknowledge that this would occur, and in the end their response was disbelief."
It is true that the disciples were told that Jesus would rise up in three days, but the disciples were given very specific detail regarding how he would rise up after 3 days, and if Mary had given them one or more different details then they were looking for or gave them details that contradicted what they were told to expect beforehand, that may have been the source of their disbelief. It all depends on what Mary said to the disciples as she informed them of the resurrection of Christ, but since that is not written in the Bible it is open to speculation. It could be speculated that Mary exaggerated or gave a detail contrary to what the Disciples were told beforehand about the same issue.

2) Matthew 28
I kind of messed up on this one since it actually was referring to the original disciples, my bad...

3) Luke 24 36-40
Here the Pro cites more evidence that the disciples doubted the return of Christ, however the Pro left out the very last line in this chapter which nullifies this whole argument.

"41 While they still [b]could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" "
http://www.biblegateway.com...

The disciples didnt doubt the return of Jesus because their faith wasnt strong or they doubted him, they did not believe he had returned because they were too overjoyed and amazed to believe it, which is clearly written in the text.

4) The actual debate over whether or not Thomas got a bum rap
"But I make the point that he should not be remembered based solely on his doubt, and that history has been unfair in making that his dubious moniker"
Well theres one problem with this philosophy. You see as time progresses, even the most famous people are only remembered by their most remembered actions. For those who even know the disciple Thomas, his most remembered action was being the one who doubted the resurrection of Christ the most, like you said. But as time goes on and on, people only remember characteristics of people that lead to their fame or infamy. Alexander the Great was known for conquering Persia and not much else even though he did plenty, Mao Zedong is known for spreading communism in China even though he has other deeds as well, Magellan was remembered for sailing around the world and not that he actually died fighting Indians in the Philippines.

My point is, over time it is people who pass on the most remembered qualities of historical and famous people on to the next generation. Those people often preserve the prime and most well known quality of those people too, and for Thomas what he was famous for was doubting the resurrection of Jesus more stubbornly and longer than anyone else. As for the Pro's points.

1 - Others though would say yes since he doubted the most, the longest, and the most stubbornly
2 - Yes he did, but they are all overshadowed by the extent of his doubt and resistance to believe since that is how people most remembered him, as the Disciple who doubted Jesus's resurrection more than anybody else.
3 - The reason he is called "Doubting Thomas" ad not "Doubted Thomas" is because a doubting Thomas is actually a phrase recognized in the English language as "A Doubting Thomas is someone who will refuse to believe something without direct, physical, personal evidence; in other words, a skeptic."
http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 - The focus over the Doubting part may in itself seem unfair, but if you recall how most people dont remember or have even heard about any of his other actions, recall him only for you remember him for and the first thing that comes to mind is his doubtfulness, and that it is recorded in the most widespread and popular book in the history of mankind that first labels him a doubtful person............ Then History did no injustice it only remembered Thomas for what made him famous, the fact that he doubted.

"When we call him "doubting" Thomas we unfairly acknowledge only one aspect of him, and ignore the rest"
It is not like we as a society are all collectively blocking out evidence of his good deeds to thrust this doubt thing as the thing that we remember Thomas the most for.... Most people dont know of his actions except that he doubted the Resurrection of Jesus and wanted physical and undeniable proof that he had returned before he would believe.

If you only remember a person for what he is famous for, then saying Thomas got a bad deal for his legacy that he stubbornly gave himself despite years and years of commitment before this event even happened, despite being told beforehand that it would happen, and despite all the other disciples trying to convince him to believe but their efforts were in vain............ Then Thomas really did it to himself as much as he may regret it.....
Debate Round No. 3
RichardSJC

Pro

Having exercised the debate on point of Scripture, I think that as the Methodist Bishop Jeremiah Park wrote, "It is clear to me that two people can study the same Bible, pray to the same God and come to different conclusions about this and many other matters." The level of doubt, the motivations behind the doubt, and the ramifications historically of the doubt displayed by all of the individuals involved, all of us react to it differently, so I respect those differences. And finding a proper legacy for Thomas based solely Scripture I stand by him getting a bum rap, and that there is more to him than that. But I respect Con's point of view on Thomas' doubt, and the doubt of others in the Gospels.

I think the Con brings us to the heart of the matter: the philosophical issue of a person's historical legacy. That is the crux of the matter when examining Thomas the Apostle. Con contends that Thomas' strong doubt is his moment of infamy, and therefore history has taken it's due course in remembering him. I would like to examine that legacy more fully to contend that perhaps "doubt" should not be that defining legacy.

Doubt vs. Belief
When ranking Thomas "moments" there are several things to list if we were going to focus on just one moment to remember his for legacy. In that one Biblical instance, he doubted. But then he believed. The question I pose it this: which is more defining? Which is more profound? Which instance should we remember him more for? His profound moment of doubt? Or his profound moment of belief that followed? I respect the position that the doubt is more defining, and a person who states that is not necessarily wrong. But I contend that Thomas' moment of belief should be the more historically defining remembrance of him. Again, as I've stated earlier, yes... Thomas doubted. But what gets to easily ignored because of the name "Doubting" Thomas is that he believed. And I believe that the Gospel writer, if given a vote, would have preferred that Thomas be remembered more for his eventual belief than his strong doubt.

To support that opinion, most Bible scholars (Stephen Ray, Raymond F. Brown, Kevin Quast, William Barclay) feel that the passage in chapter 20 with Thomas was the original end to the Gospel of John. Chapter 21 is seen as an appendix added by John's community to answer further issues and include further thoughts and writings from the Evangelist. This does not minimize the final ending, but it does show that at one point the mindset of the author was to end on Thomas' profound statement of belief, "My Lord and my God". The original intention was to close out the Gospel with Thomas' statement of belief, which as stated earlier, is unparalleled in the Gospels. So if the author intended to leave the closing focus of the entire Gospel on Thomas' belief, wouldn't it stand to reason that even the author himself felt that Thomas' more defining historical legacy should be his belief, and not his doubt?

I do agree that sometimes history latches on to one thing, and that one thing could be positive or negative; it could be famous or infamous. But sometimes history just flat out gets it wrong. And in Thomas' case, history got it wrong. He doubted, but he believed. The message of history, and the focus on Thomas should be on his belief, not his doubt.

Con stated, "Most people don't know of his actions except that he doubted the Resurrection of Jesus and wanted physical and undeniable proof that he had returned before he would believe." I agree 100% with this statement. And therein lies the problem. Because somewhere in history somebody chose to focus on Thomas' doubt, and the nickname stuck. And because of this he has forever been remember predominantly for his doubt.

Few know that he is the only person to call Jesus "God" in the Gospels. Few know that he stood up and said he would die for Jesus when the other Disciples wouldn't. Few know that he traveled farther than any other Apostle to establish Christianity (India). I contend that while his doubt was dramatic and should not be ignored, it is a shame that a catchy nickname has allowed doubt to unfairly overshadow his other moments, which are much more deserving of remembrance as a historical legacy.

Ask ten baseball fans who struck out more times in their career than anybody else. I would be willing to bet that the majority would fail to know that it was hall of famer Reggie Jackson. But ask ten baseball fans who "Mr. October" is and almost all will immediately know that it was Jackson because of his three home runs on three pitches in the 1977 world series. History focused on his triumph rather than his failure. Did history get that right? I think so. And conversely, I think it did the opposite with Thomas.
imabench

Con

Ill keep this short since we're near the end

Paragraph 3 Doubt vs Belief:
" But what gets to easily ignored because of the name "Doubting" Thomas is that he believed"
The phrase doubting Thomas doesnt refer to how Thomas constantly doubted the resurrection of Jesus, it refers to the time period of 1 week where Thomas flat out denied that he would not believe until he had fundamental proof from Jesus himself that he was alive.

The name doubting Thomas refers to the week Thomas refused to believe, not the fact that he never did believe until the day he died. Thomas was the first person in recorded history to stubbornly deny something until he had fundamental proof, and his denial was over the resurrection of Jesus after Thomas received prior knowledge that Jesus would return after three days and after all the other disciples tried to convince him otherwise. It was that period of doubting Jesus that the DISCIPLE Thomas got his nickname, but who was it that gave it to him?

" And therein lies the problem. Because somewhere in history somebody chose to focus on Thomas' doubt, and the nickname stuck. And because of this he has forever been remember predominantly for his doubt."

So who did first use the word "doubting" against Thomas?

John 20:26 "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
http://www.biblegateway.com...

So it wasnt just some random author or unknown historian who first used the phrase "doubting" towards Thomas, IT WAS JESUS HIMSELF! JESUS is the reason that Thomas is known for "doubting" JESUS first coined the term in the best selling book in the world, JESUS was the one who was behind Thomas getting his nickname, and if JESUS was wrong about labeling Thomas as "Doubting" Thomas............ Then I dont want to be right.

"Few know that he is the only person to call Jesus "God" in the Gospels. Few know that he stood up and said he would die for Jesus when the other Disciples wouldn't. Few know that he traveled farther than any other Apostle to establish Christianity (India)"
All this is true, I am certainly not denying that Thomas did not have his share of good deeds in the name of Jesus, but isnt it really ironic that and hypocritical of Thomas to preach the word of Jesus and preach of all his miracles and accomplishments thousands of miles away, but the one time Jesus performs a miracle that Thomas already knew was going to happen beforehand, the one miracle that all the other disciples told him had been done, Thomas stubbornly denied until he had proof?

I find it a little hypocritical.....
Debate Round No. 4
RichardSJC

Pro

To be clear, Jesus did NOT call Thomas, "Doubting" Thomas. He did say to stop doubting. But that is not the same thing as actually giving him the moniker that has stuck in history. He simply descrived his action and told him to stop. Others in examining this moment to the next step in giving Thomas the historical nickname that I have argued is unfair. I agree that Jesus pointing out that he was doubting, and told him to stop. But he is not the one that gave him that actual nickname.

But more important I think in qualifying the name "Doubting" Thomas as a bum rap is that it makes having doubt a negative thing. I will concede that Thomas' doubt is deep and he requires proof. But I do no see that as a negative thing, at least not in the context that the phrase "Doubting" Thomas makes it seem. Jesus stated that the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind..." (Luke 10:27, http://www.usccb.org...). Clearly stated within that is our "mind". We are cerebral beings. Sometimes it takes our brains a little more time or proof to catch up to the reality of a situation. This is not a terrible thing. And in a situation like Thomas', where he was likely still in shock and mourning over the death of his beloved friend and leader, his mind needed more proof.

In short, I cut Thomas' doubt slack because of the circumstances. And I trust that God recognizes that doubt in and of itself is not a bad thing. Doubt is natural and part of our spiritual engine, and this doesn't change in Thomas' circumstance. So I do not see doubt as a bad thing, and I do not deride him for is, and therefore do not think it should be his defining trait, especially in a negative context.

I think the Bible scholar William Barclay best put Thomas' doubt into a clear, reasonable perspective when he states, "There was no halfway house about Thomas. He was not airing his doubts just for the sake of mental acrobatics; he doubted in order to become sure; and when he did, his surrender to certainty was complete. And when a man fights his way through his doubts to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, he has attained to a certainty that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach."

And in that vein, the claim that "Thomas was the first person in recorded history to stubbornly deny something until he had fundamental proof" is unsubstantiated. Just a couple of examples, reading the Greek philosophers or numerous instances in Hebrew Scriptures, would call that assertion into question. I've made no argument that Thomas did doubt in dramatic fashion, but this statement is without basis.

And in looking at Con's closing point about Thomas being a hypocrite...
This is the last word that I would call Thomas. It would be hypocritical if he told somebody, "don't doubt!! just believe!!". There is nothing hypocritical about a person who has a full spiritual journey that includes the ups and downs of belief and doubt. What better person to preach the Gospel? That is a massive witness, a person who can say, "I understand your doubts... I've been there... and I have overcome them and found a true, concrete, personal belief." If we call a person who has entertained doubts and overcome them to find belief, and then gone on to preach and spread the word of God a "hypocrite" for having once doubted, then we would likely indict every follower and preacher who has loved God with their "mind". Doubt comes with the game, and Thomas overcame his. This does not make him a hypocrite. He doubted, he believed, he traveled, he preached and converted. How is that hypocritical? As I've stated, we all have our moments of doubt. It is how we face them that matters. Thomas faced his, and spent the rest of his life as a champion of Christ. I don't think that even Jesus would categorize the lifetime of work and service that Thomas gave as "good deeds in the name of Jesus". This very much minimizes the massive work of Thomas.

I think in examining Thomas the fuller picture of his life paints a deeper and more profound picture than his moment of doubt.
imabench

Con

" I agree that Jesus pointing out that he was doubting, and told him to stop. But he is not the one that gave him that actual nickname."
Jesus did not himself intentionally give the nickname with intent, he did however coin the word "doubting" that forever would be affiliated with Thomas. Had Jesus said "unbelieving" than we would all know Thomas as "unbelieving" Thomas, the point is Jesus coined the nickname unintentionally and historians just choose that word to affiliate with Thomas, any other word Jesus could have used would have been used instead, but Jesus chose the word that would be forever tied to Thomas.

" And in a situation like Thomas', where he was likely still in shock and mourning over the death of his beloved friend and leader, his mind needed more proof."
- He had a week of fellow disciples telling him that Jesus returned,
- He had known in advance that Jesus wold rise again,
- He knew that it would happen but for days and days he didnt just not believe, he REFUSED to believe Jesus had come back without proof..... There is a difference between disbelieving because of shock and mourning and being disbelieving by being stubborn.

" So I do not see doubt as a bad thing"
Not believing initially what anyone tells you is one thing, but refusing to believe anything that the apostles of Jesus are telling you about something you were told was going to happen before is being stubborn, not wise or a good thing for that matter.

"the claim that "Thomas was the first person in recorded history to stubbornly deny something until he had fundamental proof" is unsubstantiated"
I apologize, I could have sworn I had read that somewhere within this text here
http://www.12apostlesofthecatholicchurch.com...
I currently cannot find where I saw this from, I apologize.

"As I've stated, we all have our moments of doubt. It is how we face them that matters. Thomas faced his, and spent the rest of his life as a champion of Christ."
Here's the thing though, Thomas didnt doubt his resurrection then spent the rest of his life preaching that is what I find hypocritical. Thomas spent YEARS and YEARS preaching his faith in Jesus BEFORE this event happened. He spent years telling people to have faith and open up their hearts and minds to Jesus and Christianity, but when Thomas was put up to the test over believing that Jesus had come back, he didnt just doubt, he REFUSED to believe ANYTHING anyone told him. THAT is the hypocritical part, spending years and years of your life to one cause and then stubbornly refusing to believe that the person you called God was resurrected is what is hypocritical.

Ill end my arguments there, allow me to recap this debate for those who skipped a large chunk of reading this debate

1) The Pro and I both agree that Doubting Thomas had doubted.
2) The Pro and I agree that of all the disciples, Thomas's doubt was the lengthiest and most extreme.
3) I argued that since we do not know the exact words that Mary used to deliver news to the other apostles, their disbelief and doubt may have come from Mary's choice of words or tone and not from the fact that Jesus was resurrected.
4) It was Jesus himself who first used the word "doubting" towards Thomas, the use of the word "doubting" did not come from a random historian or unknown clergy member.
5) While the other apostles quickly overcame their initial disbelief without proof, they were quickly convinced it was true
6) While the other apostles accepted the resurrection of Jesus without proof, Thomas wanted undeniable, tangible proof
7) While the other apostles overcame their disbelief in a matter of hours, Thomas refused to believe for an entire week
8) Despite years and years of dedicating his life to the cause of Christianity, Thomas had doubted that Jesus was resurrected
9) Despite knowing beforehand that Jesus would return from the dead exactly three days after he died, Thomas still refused to believe Jesus had returned.
10) Despite the other apostles telling Thomas that Jesus was resurrected, Thomas refused to believe.
11) "Doubting Thomas" is a phrase for a person being a skeptic, It was the English language that made "doubting Thomas" into a phrase, not history.
12) Thomas's disbelief could not have come from shock since all the others told him it was reality and he refused to believe

This is why I think that Thomas did not get a "bum rap" for the nickname "Doubting" Thomas

I thank the Pro for a wonderful debate and I thank all the voters for reading at least some of this debate :D
Debate Round No. 5
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
Rnd 5
Pro:
Pro attempts to assert that Thomas was not given the label of "Doubting Thomas" by Jesus. I feel this was not driven home and fell short.
Pro then takes a tactic of saying that doubt is not a negative thing. I feel this line of reasoning also was not presented well and fell short.
Con:
I believe Con drove home the point that Jesus was the first to call Thomas a doubter and this puts arguments ahead.

Summary:
Con won on the key point:
Jesus was the first to call Thomas a doubter.
The 1 week of infamy was enough to validate the title Doubting Thomas while at the same time addressing Pros (very good argument) was it right to cloud this man's accomplishments.
Posted by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
Rnd 2
***
Both make excellent points here.
I agreed with both after reading.
Con stole away Pro's sizzle by pointing out that Thomas doubted ‘more' by demanding physical proof. This was followed up by a tantalizing allusion to the fact the disciples' doubt was due to a poor relaying of information by those silly women.

Rnd3
Pro:
Pro comes out strong by showing that doubt is still doubt no matter how strong.
He follows that up with the fact of Thomas' positive actions,
He weakens his own argument with a present tense argument that seems largely irrelevant.
Pro Gives a great finale by showing that beyond the others Thomas gives the pronouncement that Jesus is God.

Con:
Con again gives a great assessment on the silly women not being able to tell an encounter properly as a cause of everyone else's disbelief.
Con gives a powerful verse citation that disbelief was due to joy and was not a disbelief anything like Thomas.
Con gives a great point about the fact that single occurrences are natural to remember individuals by.
Of course the argument that Thomas was the biggest doubter still stands.

Rnd 4
Pro:
Pro does a dramatic and convincing phrasing in this round. He takes Con's argument about a single event overshadowing historical figures and asks… Is it right? Is Thomas's infamy fair? He does reference this back to the first argument.
Pro does drop the other lines of argumentation to focus on this sole point. Very accurate concerning the resolution.

Con:
A masterful retort here that points out Thomas's 1 week infamy is a learning point for us and should not cloud our Theological ‘real' understanding of all of Thomas' accomplishments.
Then to compound this Con shows that Jesus was the first to call him doubter.

(CONT)
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
@Llamaman: Read this article on how to vote in DDO. http://www.debate.org...
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
@Llamaman: There is a clear distinction between emotional, factual, and volitional doubt. Con clearly demonstrated Thomas' kind of doubt, which was a mixture of both 2nd, but mainly the 3rd kind. He had the remedy for the 2nd kind, and yet he still choose not to. Pro did not make the distinction were as Con did. Factual doubt is quite healthy if it prompts the person to investigate the evidence for a reasonable conclusive decision, the volitional kind is sin according to the Bible.
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
@Llamaman: What? Your basing your judgement on Pro's opening argument alone? What about teh rebuttals? Pro is a good debater and made some good points. But, Con hands down had more and better arguments. Explanation please.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
thank YOU :D
Posted by RichardSJC 5 years ago
RichardSJC
imabench - great debate! Thanks!
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
In addition, Con did well in pointing out that history nickname "Doubting Thomas" was indeed due to the fact that the Resurrection was a major historical event for the Christian Faith, that he deliberately volitional doubted for quite a long period, unwarranted. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT fact of the Christian faith. Everything about the Christin faith hinges on the Resurrection. It would make sense why Thomas would be well known as "Doubting Thomas."
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
Sorry for double post. Laptop froo
Posted by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
1. Conduct: Pro and Con displayed awesome sense of respect for each other as debaters and especially having humility in acknowledged any errors on their part.

2. Spelling and Grammar: I really did not picked up anything serious on spelling and both had proper control of Grammar.

3. More Convincing arguments: I think that Con's specific details on Thoma's was a mixture of factual and volitional doubt which was not warranted in light that all the apostles had the same factual evidence to investigate and make a reasonable conclusive decision. Example: the empty tomb, the folded clothe, the rest of the apostles eye witness, etc. However Con clearly made the better argument that Thomas took it to another level by volitional doubt.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
RichardSJCimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments: Summary: Con won on the key point: Jesus was the first to call Thomas a doubter. The 1 week of infamy was enough to validate the title Doubting Thomas while at the same time addressing Pros (very good argument) was it right to cloud this man’s accomplishments.
Vote Placed by LlamaMan 5 years ago
LlamaMan
RichardSJCimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had a strong opening but con had sources besides the bible.
Vote Placed by Flame 5 years ago
Flame
RichardSJCimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did well in pointing out that Thomas had not just factual doubt, but also volitional doubt which is a even more the serious kind. As Gary Habermas states, "Characteristics of volitional doubt may possibly involve an attitude of appreciation for the facts, while not really being willing to make the appropriate decision which seems to be indicated by them (without any objection to the data itself or its applicability)."