Star Trek and Milliner's "Deranged" Jesus
by Tim Haile
Ronny Milliner has written an article entitled, "Star Trek & the Garden of Gethsemane." You may find the article at: http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/finland/618/startrek.htm . In this article, brother Milliner attempts to parallel some of my past teaching regarding the nature and person of Christ with the theme of a particular episode of Star Trek. Ronny wrote:
"Do you remember Star Trek? Captain Kirk? Spock? "Bones?" The Enterprise? Apparently some of our brethren have been heavily influence by this science fiction television show."
I do admit to being somewhat of a "Star Trek" fan, but it appears to me that Ronny Milliner is the one who has been heavily influenced by the show. He was able to cite names and specific details of a particular episode in which "three creatures had housed their essence in large globes" and "they needed the technology of the Enterprise in order to build themselves robotic bodies to house their essence." After spending some time talking about "Star Trek" Ronny then quoted from some of my writings and concluded that my thinking was "heavily influenced by this science fiction television show." At the end of Milliner's article he wrote, "If his (Haile's, th) explanation of Jesus in the Garden is an example of good Biblical exegesis, then 'beam me up Scotty!'" Ronny tries to answer my arguments by appealing to a science fiction TV show, then accuses me of faulty exegesis?
One thing is certain and let no one make any mistake about it, Ronny Milliner and I have entirely different perceptions of the incarnate Christ. My articles have attempted to provide explanations of Jesus' words and actions that exalt Him as the "great" and "mighty God" who is "over all, God blessed forever" (Titus 2:13; Isaiah 9:6; Romans 9:5). Brother Milliner's redactions have systematically portrayed Jesus as being as weak, ignorant, powerless, and frail as ordinary men are. In fact, the very article that I am responding to portrays Jesus in the garden as a vacillating coward, who was literally beside Himself with fear and anguish.
Brother Milliner quoted certain statements of mine dealing with the subject of Christ's sufferings and tried his hardest to incorporate them into his Star Trek story. Ronny may have thought such was cute, but his insistence upon harmonizing my writings with the actions of the science fiction show resulted in total misrepresentation of my teaching. Ronny has always demonstrated an aversion to head on scriptural debate and discussion. He generally likes to use the statements and articles of others to make his case. Of course, in those past discussions, he did at least use the biblical writings of others. This time he completely leaves the scriptures and resorts to the script of a TV show! I have neither the time nor inclination to discuss the merits of "Sargon" and "captain Kirk," but I will take the time to discuss the nature of my Lord's holy incarnation.
My position remains unchanged. I have before taught, and continue to teach that, though accepting certain limitations of the physical human body, Jesus' divine spirit remained unchanged (Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8). Like all other human bodies, Jesus' body was subject to hunger, fatigue and abuse (Matthew 4:2; 8:24; 27:50), yet that mortal body housed a divine and immortal spirit (John 1:14). This spirit, God, the Word (John 1:1), knew full well why He had come to the earth. As God, it was never within Him to question His purpose for coming to the earth and dying on the cross. Concerning that death He said:
"The hour is come for the Son of man to be glorified. . ." and "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John 12:23, 27).
Rather than accept this plain statement of God, then attempt to harmonize it with other statements dealing with the subject. Modernists like Ronny Milliner ignore passages like this and move on to other passages that can more easily be construed to teach that Jesus became human in body, soul and spirit. Two such passages are:
"Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with me" (Matthew 26:38)
"And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44).
I addressed these passages in the articles that Ronny quoted from. My point was simple. Though Jesus was in "agony" and "deeply grieved," yet He had sure and certain knowledge of what was happening. Ronny and others may say that Jesus only had this knowledge because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but the fact remains that He had it. He knew "all things that would come upon Him" (John 18:4). He knew He would be "lifted up" (John 8:28), and He knew when it would happen (Matthew 26:2). He "endured the cross" because of "the joy that was set before Him" (Hebrews 12:2), which means He had sure and certain knowledge of what lay beyond the grave. Jesus also knew that He would return to the Father after His mission was completed (John 16:10, 28).
Being God, His success was certain. Before He even went to the cross He spoke of "having accomplished the work" which the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4). Both Isaiah and Zechariah used past tense language describing the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross (Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 53). Jesus' garden "agony" cannot be interpreted in any way that would contradict plain passages affirming His certain knowledge of the events of the crucifixion and beyond.
Ronny Milliner's article taught us about Star Trek, but he never answered my argument about the "cup" that Jesus prayed for in Matthew 26:39. Though unwittingly I am sure, Ronny did make one argument in defense of my position. He wrote:
"Remember that when Jesus prayed, '...remove this cup from Me' (Luke 22:42), He was not praying to be delivered from His suffering and the crucifixion, but rather for the Father to help His body cope with His divine anguish. But wait a minute! What about James and John? Jesus said of them, 'The cup that I drink you shall drink' (Mark 10:39). Were they also going to have this divine anguish? Were they going to become gods? Shades of Mormonism!"
By switching cups, Ronny attempts to make me look inconsistent. Ronny appears to ignore the fact that the Bible uses the word "cup" in reference to several different things. He substitutes the cup of general suffering for the Gethsemane cup. Whether Ronny noticed this or not, Mark 10:39 proves my point exactly. The "cup" of this passage cannot be the "cup" of crucifixion as Ronny alleges, for James and John did not "bear our sins" on crosses. Jesus did this (1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28). The "cup" of Mark 10:39 refers to general suffering which the apostles, as well as all other disciples would be baptized with (Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12). These sufferings may take entirely different forms, and may be experienced in different ways, yet they remain in the same general family of suffering.
Of course, Ronny Milliner is at a disadvantage when it comes to biblical exegesis. It appears that he never does his own thinking. As his redactions well attest, he dangerously allows others to do his thinking for him. Like the Rabbis of Jesus' day, Ronny merely spouts the writings of other men. In the article that I am presently answering, Ronny cited the opinions of men regarding the various emotions of Jesus. I found one of Milliner's uses of Robertson especially interesting. He relied upon Robertson's definition though Robertson admitted, "The word for 'sore troubled' adeemonein is of doubtful etymology." How much authority does a definition have when the lexicographer admits the word is of "doubtful etymology?" And Ronny accuses me of questionable exegesis!
3 different "cups" of suffering:
(1) The cup of general suffering that we just discussed. The apostles would drink from this cup, just as the Lord did (Mk. 10:39). Their sufferings would not take the same form, yet "all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
(2) The cup of Gethsemane, which Jesus prayed for, and was consequently removed (Luke 22:42; Heb. 5:7). Given brother Milliner's misconceptions on this point, I will elaborate somewhat further. As I explained in my article, "Did Jesus Desire To Escape The Cross?" Jesus prayed for the cup to be "removed." Hebrews 5:7 tells us that the prayer was answered. If the "cup" was the cross, and the cup was "removed," then we are forced to conclude that Jesus really did not die on the cross! Since faulty conclusions point to faulty premises, we must reexamine our premises. Is it possible that the Father "heard" but ignored Jesus' prayer? No, for John 11:42 tells us that the Father always "heard" Jesus' prayers in that He answered those prayers. Is it possible that "the cup" that Jesus prayed to be removed, referred to some other burden than the cross? It is more than just possible; it is certain.
Just before the garden prayer Jesus had predicted to the day, when His betrayal and crucifixion would take place (Matt. 26:2). On an earlier occasion, and in conjunction with this prediction, He told the apostles that death itself would not prevent Him from building His Church (Matt. 16:18-19). He said the "hour" of the cross was His purpose for coming to the earth (John 12:27). He was "the lamb slain before the foundation of the earth" (Rev. 13:8). Jesus did not pray to avoid that which He came to the earth to do!
The fact is, none of us really know with certainty what the garden cup contained. Regardless of whatever distressing and agonizing conflict and suffering it may have involved, one thing is sure. An "angel from heaven appeared strengthening Him," and the cup was removed (Luke 22:43; Heb. 5:7). We also know that Jesus faced the cross with the joy of what lay beyond it (Heb. 12:2). This brings us to our third cup:
(3) The cup of the cross. In John 18:11 Jesus told Peter, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" This "cup" does refer to the cross. No attempt had been made to avoid it. No prayer was offered for its removal. This was the cup of the hour of Jesus' death. The mention of this "cup" came after the issue of the garden cup had already been resolved.
Was Jesus Deranged and Confused?
Brother Milliner says yes. He wrote: "The expression, 'sore troubled,' has been defined by Bishop Lightfoot as meaning a 'confused, restless, half-distracted state which is produced by physical derangement or mental distress.'" (H. Leo Boles, Elam's Notes, 1930, p. 157)." Along with this quote, Milliner offered several others that put the worse possible spin on Jesus' reactions to His sufferings. I do not intend to examine all of them in this article, but you may read them by clicking on the above link.
Did Jesus experience sore grief while in the flesh? Yes, God is always grieved in His spirit when He contemplates the sinfulness and rebellion of mankind. This is true of the Father (Gen. 6:6), the Son (Mk. 3:5), and the Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10). Did Jesus face intense trials in the garden? Absolutely, but these did not cause Him to seek to turn from His mission. This "cup" was not the cross, but an obstacle in the way of the cross. As I have written before, the garden agony is best explained by the context. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Jesus had accepted the physical limitations of the human body. He refused to miraculously intervene by strengthening that body. Instead, He relied upon the Father's miraculous help (Lk. 22:43). Whether this explanation is right or not, surely we can look for explanations that are not continually denigrating to our holy Lord and His inspired word.
I am greatly offended by Ronny Milliner's ongoing effort to portray Jesus as doubtful, frail, feeble and fallible. His description of Jesus does not match that of the scriptures.
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