Questions and Answers about
1. What race was Jesus?
Not to correct Ms. Dobb, but I think the question should read, "what ethnicity was Jesus?" He would have been a "mixed breed", of Celestial and Jewish, since His Father is God and His mother was Jewish, or Hebrew. If you wanted to stick with straight race lines He would have been Caucasian with a desert-sun tan.
2. Did Jesus have any sisters?
In a real sense, we are all His brothers and sisters since we all come from the same Divine Parentage. Earthly speaking though, He would have had half brothers and sisters, since Joseph was not His biological father. Matthew 13:55-56, and Mark 6:3 say that Mary and Joseph did have sons and daughters after Jesus, as would have been the custom of their culture.
3. The first Chapter of Matthew is "A genealogy of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham". The genealogy ends with Joseph as husband of Mary, however, by immaculate conception, Jesus was not genetically related to David or Abraham. Do Christians ignore this?
Some might, be we don't. There are a couple of explanations. James Talmage wrote in the book "Jesus the Christ" that,
"No detailed analysis of the matter will be attempted here; but it should be borne in mind that the consensus of judgment on the part of investigators is that Matthew's account is that of the royal lineage, establishing the order of sequence among the legal successors to the throne of David, while the account given by Luke is a personal pedigree, demonstrating descent from David without adherence to the line of legal succession to the throne through primogeniture or nearness of kin. Luke's record is regarded by many, however, as the pedigree of Mary, while Matthew's is accepted as that of Joseph. The all important fact to be remembered is that the Child promised by Gabriel to Mary, the virginal bride of Joseph, would be born in the royal line. A personal genealogy of Joseph was essentially that of Mary also, for they were cousins."
In connection with the genealogical record in Matthew, being the royal lineage through Joseph, the second explanation comes from Ancient Jewish Adoption Laws. Talmage writes further,
"After brief mention of the Jewish law relating to adoption, wherein it is provided (according to Hammurabi's Code, section 188), that if a man teach his adopted son a handicraft, the son is thereby confirmed in all the rights of heirship, Canon Girdlestone adds: "If the crown of David had been assigned to his successor in the days of Herod it would have been placed on the head of Joseph. And who would have been the legal successor to Joseph? Jesus of Nazareth would have been then the King of the Jews, and the title on the cross spoke the truth. God had raised Him up to the house of David."
Since Joseph trained Jesus in the ways of a carpenter, through adoption Jesus became the legal heir, so the genealogy would have legally been applicable.
4. Why is it that all 4 gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) have diferent versions and contradictions of what happened after Jesus' death? Shouldn't the "inerrant" word of God be more accurate?
I didn't read any critical contradictions that would alter the integrity of the different people's accounts. In each account, Jesus appeared at the tomb to Mary Magdalene. He appeared to His Apostles, He commanded them to preach the gospel, and He ascended into Heaven. Whether or not someone recollected the other Mary being at the tomb, or Jesus appearing to disciples along the road doesn't discredit the other accounts. Different people recollect and saw different things. And, since the gospels were written years after the Crucifixion, and some were dictated accounts, it is a testimony to their divine nature that they do tell the same accounts, differing only in personal accounts and details. It is also possible that when they were originally penned, the details meticulously matched but were altered through different translations. In any case, the Book of Mormon provides another witness that Jesus was crucified, He was resurrected, and that the biblical accounts are accurate.
5. How come Jesus never wrote anything? Everything he said was quoted by someone else (and most bible theologians agree that the gospels were written at least 40 years after Jesus' death). Is this reliable?
Socrates, my favorite philosopher, never wrote anything either. Everything we know of him and his teachings comes from Plato. Does this mean that Socrates really didn't exist, or that his teachings are unreliable? I don't think so.
We don't know for a fact that Jesus never wrote anything. Just because we don't have any record today doesn't mean that there wasn't any. I believe that the reason we don't have any of His writings is that we are to have faith in all things. If we had something written, then that would be absolute proof that He existed, and there would be no need for faith. Plus there is no reason to be self-proclaiming when others are proclaiming for you. But lets get real. Even if we had a full book written directly from Jesus, that probably wouldn't sway many hardcore atheists. I'm sure they would find some way to explain the writings away. Look at Laman, Lemuel, or Cain. Each one of them saw angels and knew that God was real, but that wasn't enough to soften their hearts. They still refused to obey the commandments.
6. Christian theology says that "Christ died for our sins". This is to mean, that Jesus was the "sacrificial lamb" and that this sacrifice was somehow going to appease God to forgive the "original" sin of "Adam" or anyone else who came along afterwards? Does that mean then, that God demanded a sacrifice, and he sent his "only son" be sacrificed (because "he loved the world so much...")?
Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon taught this:
"And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord. And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;
Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence.
And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.
Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.
Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?
Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.
But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.
But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.
And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery." (Alma 42)
In other words, God has set rules and consequences if those rules are broken. Justice dictates that God is bound by those rules or He would cease to be a God of Justice. But God is also merciful, and doesn't want to see any of us cut off from Him. So to appease justice, someone had to basically "do the time". Jesus was the only sinless man, so logically, He was the only one that could atone for the sins of all mankind. He took our punishment for us, and we will share his reward with all those who accept His Sacrifice and follow the guidelines He has, and had every right, to set.
So yes, God loved us so much that he provided a way for us to still return back to him, without destroying justice.
God didn't have to send His Son, Jesus volunteered and went willingly.