I would be interested from hearing from Christians who believe they have helpful responses to the following comments.
Mark 11:24-25 Jesus says: “Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” Is this accurate reporting or rather a statement which does not have correspondence with standard understanding of reality?
Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus is quoted as saying: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. ““And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
I haven’t seen religious faith moving mountains, but I have seen what modern technology can do to buildings. The Biblical view of God and Jesus seem more associated with the dark ages, but it was humans who seem to have brought us the space age. Common sense suggests that in practice you can’t move mountains by asking God, yet in Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus says this: “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.”
Then again what about John 14:13-14: “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (?) If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” Again this does not appear to happen in any literal sense.
Jesus’ reported words suggest that if you pray to God, he will give you whatever you want, no exceptions. Never-mind having to get two Christians to pray for the same thing (Matthew 18:19) one will do fine! But Jesus’ claimed bold stories about prayer can clearly be debunked by looking about us at the evidence. It is a weak argument to claim that seeing as Jesus talks about needing enough ‘faith’ in a few of his speeches, the problem is that nobody has enough faith. The difficulty with this argument is that it means that NO-ONE has ever had sufficient faith, which leaves us with the puzzle of what use the claim is in the first place.
In Matthew 23:34 Jesus apparently said: “Verily I say unto you, this generation will not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”. Most commentators seem agreed that he was he was talking about the end of the world, yet it’s been nearly 2000 years since that generation died.
Here are some options. Some modern commentators have argued that if Jesus was correctly reported he simply got it wrong. I have for example seen it suggested that Jesus honestly thought that if he allowed himself to be martyred, God would somehow step in to make sure what Jesus was promising eg the end time prophecies would be fulfilled.
A second option is that in these gospel statements the authors or copyists were putting their own spin on what Jesus said. After all we know that some editing was done in other places eg the whole of chapter 16 of Mark appeared to have been added many years after the gospel was produced.
A third option is that Jesus was simply talking in metaphors and hyperbole to make the point.
There may be other options. What do you think?