A Quest for God, Part 2

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January 5, 2012 Tags: Christ & New Creation

Today's entry was written by Aron Wall. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

A Quest for God, Part 2

Recently, we became aware of an email conversation between two young persons: one a young physicist and a deeply committed Christian named Aron and the other, Josh, a person who at least at the time the conversation began was a skeptic. The exchange is so rich that we’ve asked for permission to post it here. We hope you find it as informative and intriguing as we have.

Josh wrote:

Hi Aron,

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I am still skeptical. Please consider the following:

Suppose:

  1. The evangelical Christian God exists, is omnipotent, omniscient, loves people and wants them to believe in him so that they can join him in heaven.
  2. There are sincere truth-seeking people who have not seen evidence that convinces them that this God exists, but if they just saw Jesus walk on water, feed thousands with a few fish and loaves, rise from the dead, have vivid and non-contradictory dreams about heaven, etc, they would believe. It does not have to be one single awesome event. It can be many different signs to different people. If God employed a multitude of miracles and awesome ways to reach people, people will not idolize one single manifestation. They would understand that these diverse awesome signs are just different ways that God is using to show his presence and not God himself.
  3. God has no other agenda more important than the agenda of loving people and having people believe in him that would prevent him from showing evidence like the ones above.

Then, I believe God would show himself more clearly to these people, but he isn't doing so, so one of the above statements must be false.

The first step in communicating yourself is to signal your presence. 'Creation' may or may not convincingly point to the existence of a Creator, but I don't see how it points to the Christian Creator and not some unknown Creator that is not the Christian God. To many people, the Bible is just a religious book, and not special compared to other religious books of other religions. Just because it is claimed to be true and to have had its accuracy preserved doesn't mean that claim is true. A non-believer who requires more substantial evidence in order to be convinced should not be required to just accept the Bible, because he has no prior reason to believe in it.

In essence, God is letting these people go to Hell because they fail to believe as a result of his failure to provide convincing evidence. In this situation, humility doesn't really matter.

Aron wrote:

Dear Josh,

In my last email, I was discussing only of this life, and what reasons God might have for partially concealing himself for the sake of our spiritual development here. The issue you raise in this email regards the final judgement and Hell. Any discussion of this must necessarily be more tentative than discussions of life on earth, because the final judgement hasn't happened yet, so we don't know right now exactly what it will be like. If the life of Jesus reveals what God is like, then God is very merciful (even though he is also very severe towards hypocrisy and unforgiveness). If Christianity is true, then Jesus will be the one doing the judging. If he was merciful when he was on earth, then he will also be merciful when he comes again.

Your objection to Christianity is this: How could a loving God possibly arrange things so that a sincere truth-seeking nonchristian, (an atheist, polytheist etc.) goes to Hell through no fault of his own?

In order to check to see if this is a problem, we should first check to see whether there are any sincere truth-seeking non-Christians who go to Hell. One could imagine two different kinds: 1) people who have never been exposed to Christianity, and therefore have no opportunity to know it is true, and 2) people who have been exposed to Christianity but claim there is not enough evidence to believe it.

With respect to the people in the category (1), how do you know that the Christian God would send them to Hell just for not being Christians? I think the Bible teaches quite explicitly that God does NOT do this. In Acts 17, Paul is trying to convince the Athenians not to worship idols. He says, "In the past God winked at this ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." In other words, Paul explicitly says that God did not hold the idol worship of the pagans against them before they had an opportunity to hear the gospel and repent. Furthermore, it says in the book of Revelation that people are redeemed from every "nation, tribe, people, and language". Since many groups went extinct before having an opportunity to hear the gospel, it is clear that at least some people are saved without having explicitly heard the gospel in their lifetimes. Finally, Peter seems to suggest that there is some opportunity for people to believe the gospel even after they have died, when he says:

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built....the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:5-6).

This text goes against the standard evangelical view that there is no chance to be saved after death. On the other hand, evangelicals also say you're supposed to go with the Bible rather than what any particular church says, so I think I'll go with the Bible. grin

Now let's turn to category (2), the case of a person who has been exposed to Christianity but doesn't believe it because they claim not to have enough evidence. I think there are several different possible things that might be going on here:

First of all, just because they claim to be seeking the truth doesn't mean they really are:

(A) They might actually have enough evidence to believe in God, but dishonestly refuse to admit it to themselves, because they don't want it to be true. In this case, they are not actually sincere, and have rejected God not because of inadequacy of the evidence, but because of stubborn rebellion. In this case, there is no reason to think that they would accept God even if they did have more evidence. So it is not God's fault that they do not believe. It should be pointed out that many of the people who saw Christ multiply the loaves, heal people, raise the dead etc. nevertheless refused to believe. It is naive to think that if everyone saw miracles, everyone would believe. Rather the people who don't want to believe become more firm in their rejection of God.

(B) Or, although they don't have enough evidence to believe, they choose not to investigate to see whether it is true or not. In this case, it is their own fault that they don't have enough evidence. If people claim to base their decisions on evidence and reason, it is hypocritical if they reject Christianity without carefully considering whether there is sufficient evidence for Christ's Resurrection and other miracles to show that Christianity is true. In particular, it is utterly irrational to insist on seeing a miracle personally in order to believe if there is lots of evidence that other people have seen miracles. People don't refuse to believe in scientific results unless they personally witness the experiments, so long as multiple reliable people say they have done the experiments, that is enough. Why should religion be different?

I never assume that anybody is intellectually dishonest until I have some specific reason to think they are dishonest. But I've talked to enough atheists to know that most of them do fall into categories (A) or (B), at least to some extent. However, I'm sure that there do exist cases in which atheists are sincere. In this case:

(C) It might be that although right now they do not have enough evidence to believe, later God will give them enough evidence to believe and they will become Christians. This might happen either before or after death, for all we know.

(D) Or, although they will die without explicitly believing in Jesus, it may be that through caring for the needy, Jesus will regard them as having accepted him without knowing it. (See Matt 25:31-36)

(E) Or, although they do not have enough evidence to believe, they live wicked lives without love. Since God is love, this means that what little they do know about God, they hate (even though they do not know it is God that they are hating). If people hate God, there is no reason to think they will stop hating God if God reveals himself more clearly. Why should God reveal himself to someone who would not benefit from it?

Given all of the possibilities A-E, it is not at all obvious that there ARE any sincere, truth-seeking atheists who are going to Hell. I think that most of them aren't really sincere or truth-seeking, and also that many of them aren't going to go to Hell.

Jesus says "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come." In other words, when people reject Jesus without knowing his divinity, God forgives them and does not hold it against them. But when someone by the influence of the Spirit receives the insight necessary to understand that God is working through Jesus, and then rejects him, this is a sin that cannot be forgiven. (God forgives everyone if they repent, but the point is that people who persist in this attitude won't repent.)

It should also be made explicit that no one deserves to go to heaven; God saves people by his mercy. But God will not overrule people who insist at every opportunity that they want nothing to do with his mercy. If people would hate God if they knew him, God is being merciful by not revealing himself to them yet. It gives them a chance to grow and develop, so that maybe later they would be prepared to accept him.


Aron Wall is a postdoctoral researcher studying quantum gravity and black hole thermodynamics at UC Santa Barbara. Before that, he studied the Great Books program at St. John's College, Santa Fe, and earned his doctorate in physics from U Maryland. You can learn more at his blog Undivided Looking.

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MrDunsapy - #66961

January 5th 2012

Josh wrote:
1 The evangelical Christian God exists, is omnipotent, omniscient, loves people and wants them to believe in him so that they can join him in heaven.
This is mostly true. God made the earth for man. That has not changed. Man’s place is the earth. Adam and Eve were designed for the earth. If they did not become disloyal to God they would have lived forever on the earth. There was no thought of man going to heaven.  Actually for humans , it is unnatural to seek a heavenly life. But because of  the events with Adam and Eve and Jesus proving faithful  even to death, in time Jesus took away the ruler ship of Satan and was in stalled as King. Because of that, a number do go to heaven in the position of ruling the earth with Jesus. So some do go to heaven but a very small number.

 2 There are sincere truth-seeking people who have not seen evidence that convinces them that this God exists, but if they just saw Jesus walk on water, feed thousands with a few fish and loaves, rise from the dead, have vivid and non-contradictory dreams about heaven, etc, they would believe. It does not have to be one single awesome event. It can be many different signs to different people. If God employed a multitude of miracles and awesome ways to reach people, people will not idolize one single manifestation. They would understand that these diverse awesome signs are just different ways that God is using to show his presence and not God himself. 
Jesus did many miracles on earth. The bible just records a few of these.  Some did follow him, but most did not. Actually what happened was that the religious leaders and the majority of Jews , put Jesus to death.  So it is not the miracles that bring people to God, but it is the understanding and love for him, that is what brings people to him.

3 God has no other agenda more important than the agenda of loving people and having people believe in him that would prevent him from showing evidence like the ones above. 
Actually what God is doing , is getting the conditions back to what they were before Adam and Eve became disloyal. So he is taking away Satan’s ruler ship, and reestablishing his own with Jesus as ruler at his right hand. We can see this all round us. It is also shown from the prophecies in the bible. Because he told us thousands of years ago what to look for , we can’ see him’ from the fulfillment  of these. 

In essence, God is letting these people go to Hell because they fail to believe as a result of his failure to provide convincing evidence. In this situation, humility doesn’t really matter. 
Actually there is no place as Hell. It is a condition of the dead. 
 
Ecclesiastes 9:1021st Century King James Version (KJ21)

10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.

The dead are just dead.

Genesis 3:19

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

So no one is tortured in ‘Hell’

http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/



Roger A. Sawtelle - #66977

January 7th 2012

In my opinion Matthew 25:31-46 is the best Christian answer to this debate.

The depiction of Jesus of the “White Throne Judgement” of the “nations,” that is the Gentiles who know neither God through Judaism or Christianity, is that people will be judged according to how they treat others, especially those in need.

Faith in Christ is good in that it motivates and empowers people to help others.  If non-believers do this without faith in Christ, God will honor this faith.  The effect of faith, being filled with the Holy Spirit of Love, is more important than the confession of “faith” which does not result in this change.   


MrDunsapy - #66983

January 7th 2012

Hi Rodger

I find it is always better to follow the example from what the bible says. Many have their own ideas, when it comes to faith, and what is required or not required. That is why there are so many Christian beliefs. People go by what they want. 
You mentioned Mathew 25:31-46.
Most people think this is talking about physical things, which is part of it, but it is really talking about spiritual things.  This is also talking about the time period when Jesus comes again. The time of the end. So these verses are about the time just before Armageddon. They are also talking about ones that believe in Jesus, but do not have the knowledge or the ‘works’ to show that they support him.
This is really talking about many in Christianity.



Roger A. Sawtelle - #66984

January 7th 2012

MD,

I respectfully disagree with you.  The story is qute clear.  It is the judgment of the “nations” or Gentiles who do not know YHWH through Judaism or Christianity.

This final judgement does come at the end of time, which means it is independent of time.    

 


MrDunsapy - #66988

January 7th 2012

Hi Rodger

A little earlier in the book of Matthew Jesus is talking about the congregation.


Matthew 7:15-23

Darby Translation (DARBY)

15But beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but within are ravening wolves.

16By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather a bunch of grapes from thorns, or from thistles figs?

17So every good tree produces good fruits, but the worthless tree produces bad fruits.

18A good tree cannot produce bad fruits, nor a worthless tree produce good fruits.

19Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.

20By their fruits then surely ye shall know them.

21Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that does the will of my Father who is in the heavens.

22Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through *thy* name, and through *thy* name cast out demons, and through *thy* name done many works of power?

23and then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness


Jesus was talking about the congregations there started at that time, warning them that there would be ones that were part of the congregation that would be false prophets or false teachers. He is saying you will know these ones by the works that they do.He said they would be professing to know God and would be calling , and saying Lord Lord, but Jesus says he never knew them.

Do you see, that this is talking about some the followers of Jesus. They are the ones that are proving false. Just like in Mat.25

Also the in the last verse I quoted it said  “Depart from me, workers of lawlessness”

The word ‘lawlessness’ has special meaning , in that the ones teaching the  ‘Law’ were the Pharisees, who were part of the Jewish religion, who God chose.

So in parallel with that, in Jesus’s start of Christianity , the leaders or Clergy class, are in charge of teaching the ‘Law’ or teaching of Christ.

So these verses in Matthew are talking about  people who are part of Christianity, who were false, spirituality.  Just like Jesus  cast off the Jews, he would also cast off those in Christianity. So this  is important for those that claim to be following Christ.

There are many  Christian religions, with their own ideas, so we have to examine  ourselves , to see if we are doing things correctly.

This is especially true in the time of Jesus second coming.  This also parallels , Jesus first coming.

http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/




Roger A. Sawtelle - #66996

January 8th 2012

MD,

The operative key in this passage is “good trees produce good fruit and bad trees prduce bad fruit.” 

The good fruit in Mt 25 is concern for others, especially those in need.  This is very consistent with OT prophecy. 

I would agree with you that all who call themselves Christians are not necessarily Christian.  Only God knows for sure, but the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are the best guage of who is right and who is not.  Unfortunately some christian leaders have not given much evidence of agape love which is the key fruit of the Spirit.     

 

 


MrDunsapy - #66998

January 8th 2012

Hi Roger.

The question is what are good fruits
Matthew 5:46-47

Common English Bible (CEB)

46If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?


So we should be good to others, but the people that are not Christian do that also. Jesus had other work for his followers. When he was on the earth he showed and told us many things that were required.

How many Christians do you think have been involved in wars.Either at home or in the governments or in military service? Is that loving others , doing good for them?  Jesus  is the example. 

What governments did Jesus support, and what wars, did he get involved with? 

That is just a few things Jesus taught us, as an example. That is how love others. 

A true Christian does not kill others because a government wants it.

Do you see that  following Jesus,is more than what worldly people do.

If you think about it in war, man may kill others  in the same religion.This in not fruitage of the spirit.

That is why in Matthew, Jesus is talking about ones that believe in God, that  need to be corrected. And why he says to them I never knew you.


Dunemeister - #67015

January 10th 2012

Although your comments are interesting in many ways, MrDunsapy, I’m still trying to figure out how they are relevant to the topic of this particular blog entry. You go on about how to judge who are and aren’t true Christians, but the blog entry is about how an evangelical can approach certain skeptical questions.


MrDunsapy - #67017

January 10th 2012

Hi Dunemeister

Yes ,I may have got a little sides ways from the original concerns. I will try to answer some of these  a little more directly. 

Then, I believe God would show himself more clearly to these people, but he isn’t doing so, so one of the above statements must be false. 
Josh, he actually is showing himself, very clearly. It’s that you have to know what to look for. If you look back to the time Jesus came, most of the people , even the Jews did not ‘see’ him. They even knew the year in which he was coming to them. They were expecting him, but most did not ‘see’ him. The religious leaders  totally missed his coming. It was the common person , Jesus came to. They ‘saw’ him. That time parallels our time also. So he is ‘seen’ very clearly today. But not by everyone.
There are many signs in the bible about his  second coming. And you can ‘see’ the fulfillment of these signs today.
Do you remember the apostles  asking Jesus about his coming, and Jesus said many things to them. They did not understand, but today we see the fulfillment  of many prophecies. Also by how things are being maneuvered, as the bible said they would be.
God always warns people before he does things, it is just that most do not see the ‘signs’.

Marty Kurlich - #67009

January 10th 2012


Marty Kurlich - #67037

January 12th 2012

Josh,

I do hope you’ll read this. (I’ve been thinking about, and working at, this for some time. It’s now about 4:30 a.m.!)

You wrote “To many people, the Bible is just a religious book, and not special compared to other religious books of other religions. Just because it is claimed to be true and to have had its accuracy preserved doesn’t mean that claim is true. A non-believer who requires more substantial evidence in order to be convinced should not be required to just accept the Bible, because he has no prior reason to believe in it.”

I think I agree completely with your statement.

[However, very compelling reasons and logical rationales exist – outside of the Bible and outside off “religious” teaching – which point to the Bible being the inspired, inerrant word of God. I’ll address this further later in this letter.]

In fact, both the Bible and Church history would seem to agree with you. Here are just some reasons why I say this:

·  The Bible is also known as Scripture. For Christians, the Scripture, of course, includes the New Testament (the Gospels and letters). But nowhere in the New Testament (NT) do we find a verse saying that this Gospel or letter is the word of God. And even if it did, as you said, so what? (I could say “Amen, Amen, I say to you, what I’m writing right now is the word of God.” Doesn’t make it so.)

·  Jesus is never recorded as commanding His followers to WRITE any of this down. He just said to preach and live His word. Even if He DID say “WRITE this down”, exactly which future writings would He be talking about or “blessing off” on? He didn’t provide a holy table of contents.

·  Christianity was growing by leaps and bounds long before any of what we know as the NT was ever written. As far as I recall, the timeline of NT authorship extends from about 30 A.D. to 90 A. D. Whole generations of believers came and went before the NT was completed.

·  And when the NT was complete, who was going to define what writings comprised it? Lots of letters and writings were floating around. (Again, no holy table of contents.)

·  And even if some “authority” stepped in and said “Here’s what the NT is, now you have everything you need to be saved”, how much good would that do? Many or most people throughout most of history were ILLITERATE! Even if they could read, they probably weren’t fluent in the ancient languages the Bible was written in.

·  [In fact, some “authority” did step in, and defined not just the NT but the whole Bible. It was defined by that one particular Christian Church, the only one that’s been around for 2,000 years. And it didn’t do that, officially, until the 4th century A.D.]

·  Perhaps most importantly, what good is it to have an “official” Bible anyway, if so many readers have so much disagreement over what it MEANS? The world has over 30,000 different Christian denominations and independent congregations (per the “World Christian Encyclopedia”). Most, if not all, claim to be Bible-believing churches or that the Bible alone is their source for God’s truth for their lives. But each one believes something a little different, or a very lot different, than the next one. Many times you’ll find different fundamental beliefs within the SAME denomination/congregation. Of course, that usually just leads to the birth of a new (and “true”) denomination. 30,000+ and counting.

·  So absurd. Quick quiz for a “Bible-believing” Christian: What or who, other than Jesus Christ, is the pillar and bulwark and sure protector of the truth (i.e. religious truth)? Probable answer, “The Bible!” But the Bible doesn’t even say that. It says something else: “if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” [1 Timothy 3:15]. Church?  Which church?

Whew! I think I’m getting a headache! But the above are just some reasons supporting your assertions about the Bible.

But, for what it’s worth, I’d like to quote a few verses from the suspect Scriptures, because they might speak to your questions, just as some other literature might.

·  Scripture says you shouldn’t be surprised that you have a lot of questions about God and His designs: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8-9]

·  You wrote “I don’t see how it [creation] points to the Christian Creator and not some unknown Creator that is not the Christian God.” I think the Scriptures would agree. They say you need not ever have heard the name of Christ or what any Christian says about Him. But at the same time, they say that doesn’t get one “off the hook.”: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” A little scary.

·  Regarding why God doesn’t just perform a miracle or two (or maybe send a warning message straight from heaven) for each non-believer, so that he might believe:

·  “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” [Matthew 12:39];

·  “The poor man [Lazarus] died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom. And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz’arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz’arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”  [Luke 16:22-31]

·  Jesus could have arrived on earth in much the same way the Bible records that He left – lifted up to heaven in a cloud [see Acts 1:9]. He could have come - not through a woman, in silence and humility (followed by 30 years in obscurity) – but in a glorious cloud with angels and trumpets. To my mind, and I think yours, this would have been much better for PR. He could have had a bunch of believers right from the get-go. But He didn’t. He’s very “surprising” (see again Isaiah 55:8-9 above).

·  And you know that Scripture says Jesus did perform many miracles. This was the primary reason He drew such crowds. But then He says a couple things and poof - they’re gone. The goners being not just the curious, but even some disciples! “After this [the Bread of Life discourse] many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” [John 6:66].

·  Even after He rose from the dead (for Christ’s sake!), they weren’t sure: “And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted.” [Matthew 28:17]

·  Really though, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. Although Scripture says that Jesus came so that all might be saved (see John 3:17), it never says that everyone will get it. Actually, at least to my understanding, it says A LOT of people won’t: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” [Matthew 7:13-14]. (Doesn’t even sound like 50/50!)

Anyway, they’re just words in a book.

Some may find solace in some other book. Maybe one that’s also spiritual, just not so serious or severe. It might even be a best-seller. If so, they’ll have a lot of company. Power (or comfort) in numbers, or something like that.

I noted near the beginning of this letter that an argument, even a sound argument, could be made for the belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God. I’ve hyper-linked one below. I hope you’ll be able to suspend any preconceptions or prejudices you might have when considering it, and focus on the argument and not the one “arguing”. And you may consider reading it more than once. I know I had to.

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/proving-inspiration

Good luck. And God bless.


MrDunsapy - #67059

January 13th 2012

Hi Marty
I know you wrote your letter to Josh, but I do hope you don’t mind that I mention a few things about what you said.
First on the Greek scriptures not necessarily being part of the bible.  But there are very good reasons why it is part of the whole bible.  The first thing to note is that there should not be a division of the bible For example there should not be an OT or NT.  It really is one book made up of the inspired writings of  many writers that are in harmony with each other.  You find that nowhere else. The Hebrew writers wrote  a number of prophecies , some which included the coming of Jesus. That is why they could pin point the time and what to look for. When Jesus came it was just a continuing of  scriptures already written.  Many scriptures talk about what Jesus did during his life, this was all inspired.  What Jesus said is also inspired. It was man that divided the scriptures up, into a NT and OT.  But really that is not the case.
The other very import thing is that some of the prophecies written before Jesus, are explained, later in Revelation for example.  So to say that the Greek scriptures are not necessarily part of the bible, is to denie Jesus and the work he did and  the explanation of  earlier writings.  The bible is one book, with many chapters.

2 Timothy 3:16
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

Now the other very important part of this is that Jesus taught us how to live how to worship God and who he ( Jesus) was and who God is. To not include that is to ignore this verse in the bible.

Revelation 22:18-19
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. 

19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.

So the bible all stands for God or none of it does. The proof of the bible comes from  many sources., including the bible itself .  The bible is in harmony with itself even through there were many writers. It explains itself, and the prophecies all come true. ( just a few  left). It is also confirmed by science, in archaeology, biology, genealogy, historians, and scientists that study human nature. All of this leaves no doubt about the bible, as Gods word. And that there is a God. Its just that to find him depends on accurate knowledge and the right heart condition. God says he knows who his people are, so God will draw those to him. For those ones just like when Jesus came the first time do ‘see’ him. Because there are many Christian Churches, tells you that many go by their own understanding and not Gods. That is why the bible says God thoughts are different than mans thoughts.  This is probably the hardest thing for man is to try to know his heart. ( his motivation)
The first prophecy in the bible is answered in Revelation.

Genesis 3:14-16
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 

15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”


The whole bible is based on this theme, and is answered in Revelation.
Without the Greek scriptures, the very important message and understanding , would not be there. That is why the bible is one book. Made up of many chapters.
The bible is not just words. The bible is alive ” and is sharper than a two edged sword”, meaning it divides the righteous from the wicked.

continued…...

 


MrDunsapy - #67060

January 13th 2012

continued…..................

Also just quickly,.... everyone that has ever lived will get a proper opportunity, to know God. So that means ones that never had a chance in their life time, will get that chance.   But the bible also says that , there are certain ones that will not.  The price for sin is death. If those have paid that price, they have a good opportunity to finally get that chance.
It also means there is no ‘Hell’ the  term ” Helling potatoes” which just mean a covering over. So when you are dead, you are dead. It is just what it seems to be. You are no longer in existence. So there is no roasting or toasting for anyone that dies.
One other quick point is that Jesus died so that we could have life. If the ones that died before Jesus went to “Hell” and some went to heaven, what did Jesus die for? Because they already would have life.

Ecclesiastes 9:10
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.

When you die , you no longer exsist.



Marty Kurlich - #67067

January 13th 2012

MrDunsapy,

My Bible has 73 books.

How many does yours have?

Please, just a number. Please. No need to go any further.

 


MrDunsapy - #67085

January 13th 2012

Hi Marty

The bible I use has 66 books. The ones used by the early Christians.



Marty Kurlich - #67090

January 14th 2012

MrDunsapy,

Thanks. I thought so.

Of course, we know from historians that the earliest Christians didn’t have any books, at least no books from what we call the New Testament. Those were written between about 35 A.D and 90+ A.D.

And I think historians agree that all Christian Bibles (i.e. OT + NT) had 73 books until the 16th century, when some reformers excised 7 of them from their bible. The 7 casualties were the “deuterocanonicals.”

Here’s what wikipedia, a presumably secular source, says about those 7 books and the early Christians:

Deuterocanonical is a term first coined in 1566 by the theologian Sixtus of Siena, who had converted to Catholicism from Judaism, to describe scriptural texts of the Old Testament which are not present in the Hebrew Bible…Their acceptance among early Christians was widespread, though not universal, and the Bible of the early Church always included, with varying degrees of recognition, books now called deuterocanonical. Some say that their canonicity seems not to have been doubted in the Church until it was challenged by Jews after AD 100 … The large majority of Old Testament references in the New Testament are taken from the Greek Septuagint —which includes the deuterocanonical books … The Septuagint was widely accepted and used by Greek-speaking Jews in the first century, even in the region of Roman Judea, and therefore naturally became the text most widely used by early Christians, who were predominantly Greek speaking… In the New Testament, Hebrews 11:35 refers to an event that was recorded in one of the deuterocanonical books (2 Maccabees It is also a reference to 1 Kings17:22-23 7).”

History, real history, can be fascinating.

 

 


MrDunsapy - #67096

January 14th 2012

Hi Marty
I usually do not like to mention any religions, but I focus on the bible and science.
That also means authenticity of the bible , how we received it and why it is what it is today. So to answer your last post I have to mention this.

(A·poc′ry·pha).
The Greek word a·po′kry·phos is used in its original sense in three Bible texts as referring to things “carefully concealed.” (Mr 4:22; Lu 8:17; Col 2:3) As applied to writings, it originally referred to those not read publicly, hence “concealed” from others. Later, however, the word took on the meaning of spurious or uncanonical, and today is used most commonly to refer to the additional writings declared part of the Bible canon by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1546). Catholic writers refer to these books as deuterocanonical, meaning “of the second (or later) canon,” as distinguished from protocanonical.
These additional writings are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom (of Solomon), Ecclesiasticus (not Ecclesiastes), Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, supplements to Esther, and three additions to Daniel: The Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna and the Elders, and The Destruction of Bel and the Dragon. The exact time of their being written is uncertain, but the evidence points to a time no earlier than the second or third century B.C.E.
 While in some cases they have certain historical value, any claim for canonicity on the part of these writings is without any solid foundation. The evidence points to a closing of the Hebrew canon following the writing of the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi in the fifth century B.C.E. The Apocryphal writings were never included in the Jewish canon of inspired Scriptures and do not form part of it today.
The first-century Jewish historian Joseph shows the recognition given only to those few books (of the Hebrew canon) viewed as sacred, stating: “We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty [the equivalent of the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures according to modern division], and contain the record of all time.” He thereafter clearly shows an awareness of the existence of Apocryphal books and their exclusion from the Hebrew canon by adding: “From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.”—Against Apion, I, 38, 41 (8).

 Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary (1936, p. 56) comments: “They have been the fruitful source of sacred legends and ecclesiastical traditions. It is to these books that we must look for the origin of some of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.

This is exactly the same reason the Jews as a religion, were cast off when Jesus came. 

And history can be fascinating,  but it is also hard to know what is real and what is biased, or what is just plain wrong. 



Marty Kurlich - #67101

January 14th 2012

MrDunsapy,

So your statement that the 66-book bible you use is the one “used by the early Christians” need revision. The bible you use is defined not by what the early Christians used but by a certain, much later ecclesiastical tradition.

 


MrDunsapy - #67102

January 14th 2012

Actually…. no. These extra ‘books’, are not part of the bible. these were taken on by the Church.  Additionally, while the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria eventually inserted such Apocryphal writings into the Greek Septuagint and apparently viewed them as part of an enlarged canon of sacred writings, the statement by Josephus that I mentioned in my last post,  shows that they were never brought into the Jerusalem or Palestinian canon and were, at the most, viewed as only secondary writings and not of divine origin. Thus, the Jewish Council of Jamnia (about 90 C.E.) specifically excluded all such writings from the Hebrew canon.


So those who use those ‘extra’ books are on their own. They also take on the risk of:

Revelation 22:18-19

Common English Bible (CEB)

18 Now I bear witness to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy contained in this scroll: If anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues that are written in this scroll. 19 If anyone takes away from the words of this scroll of prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and the holy city, which are described in this scroll. 

This scripture , is telling us God knew that some would try to do just that, add to and or take away, from his writings. He also gives their outcome if they do that.

So God thinks it is a very serious matter.



 



Marty Kurlich - #67104

January 14th 2012

MrDunsapy,

You also said “I usually do not like to mention any religions, but I focus on the bible and science.”

I think I might know what you mean. I would even abide by that tactic, to a limited extent.

However, ultimately, everything comes down to religion. (And let’s define religion simply as the beliefs which most significantly order one’s worldview and one’s life.)

Religion came before the Bible, religion determines how you view the Bible, and religion guides your interpretation of the Bible verses.

The Bible does not interpret itself. This is empirically obvious. As I wrote above (and sadly, without hyperbole), over 30,000 fundamentally different Bible interpretations exist in over 30,000 largely “Bible-believing” churches.

Religion is critically important. It’s obviously more important than the Bible. It’s THE most important thing to a human being.

So, I really don’t understand why you don’t like to mention any religions. Although you might not like to mention it, you most definitely have a religion.

Some people believe one religion exists which is true. For instance, Jesus talked over and over in John 17 that the believers “be one”; St. Paul emphasized in Ephesians 4 “one faith, one baptism”, and in 1 Timothy 3:15 “the church” (necessarily one church).

Do you believe a religion exists which is better and truer than all others, one that is wholly reliable?

If you don’t, then I’d guess it’s really not important to you what people believe.

If you do, is it yours? And if so, what is your basis (outside of the Bible, of course) for saying so?

And why wouldn’t you be mentioning religion, specifically your religion, virtually all the time?

 


MrDunsapy - #67107

January 14th 2012

Hi Marty

I don’t really like to talk about ones religion, because, the important thing is Gods word. If I point out something, from the bible , or science, that makes one think or reevaluate things OK. That is up to them.
Now in this world , the bible says that Satan is the ruler , that means all governments, false religions, and mans institutions, are under his influence. This makes sense when we look at the world today? Do you not think so? This world is certainty, not run by God.   
If you look at bible history , there has always been a very few that  have pleased God. For example Noah , 8 people, out maybe a few million. Abraham,and his son, out of all the people at that time. Then there was Job. When Jesus came he even cast off the Jewish religion, and started one by one picking ones that would follow him. 
What that means is that all the religions at those times were wrong. What that also means is that people pick religions for various reasons that , really do not have to do with God. What is their motive? So when you said that their religion is more important than the bible,( or Gods word), you are correct. It is not about serving God it is about themselves.

Actually the bible does interpret itself, that is the secret to understanding it. That is the problem with most people or religions, they use their own understanding not Gods. That is why there is 30,000 Christian religions, and many more other ones.

You talked about one religion. This is correct, and God has always had one, that he used. But he also had to start over because the people were not living up to his requirements. 

Now you mentioned if there is one true religion now and if I talk about it. The answer is yes I do. But I do not say that on the internet.And on the internet I find people forget all about God and attack each others religion. And simply because I don’t know who I am talking to. It’s really not about religion, a religion can not save you, you have to have the correct motivation.But at the same time you have to be part of the correct religion. In other words you have to be on that “Ark” 
 The  bible says that God knows who his people are. So that means if a person really is looking for God he will find him. But at the same time God has given man the work to help these ones. 
So my only  purpose here is to get ones to at least think about, God, in the way he wants, and then search for him.  
God will not reject anyone that , or miss anyone that , really wants to follow him, but it has to be the way God wants, and not what we want. In other words, the correct motivation.
Now if you think about it, Adam and Even did not have a religion, it was a way of life. When they became disloyal, to God they lost that, and Satan became the ruler, of mankind because Adam chose him.
Do you see what I mean?
patternsofcreation.weebly.com



Marty Kurlich - #67114

January 15th 2012

MrDunsapy,

No, I guess I don’t fully see what you mean.

I’m just looking for some truth, man.

What, where or who is THE safeguard, THE support of THE truth?

 


MrDunsapy - #67115

January 15th 2012

Hi Marty

 Listen Marty, I can tell you, its there.  We live in a time that the bible speaks a lot about.
Its a time ,  when God is  actively doing things.
If your really interested , you have to ask God, and be open, and persistent.. I meant what I said, God knows his people. Not one will be missed, or forgotten about. So its up to you.
Any way I think I have gone as far as I need on this.





Marty Kurlich - #67124

January 15th 2012

MrDunsapy,

You wrote “I can tell you, its there.”

Exactly what’s where? Is the “what” THE safeguard, THE support of THE truth? If yes, where? The Bible?

Then you wrote “So its up to you. Any way I think I have gone as far as I need on this.”

No, I don’t think you’ve gone nearly far enough. You’re leaving a lot of people in a quandary.

If it (getting to the truth) is solely up to them, they quite understandably feel a bit lost -  like sheep without a shepherd, like inquisitors without an instructor.

Kind of like the Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah in Acts 8 (“Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?”); or the possibly confused Christians Peter empathized with in 2 Peter 3 (So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.)

Just “me and the Bible (and maybe the Holy Spirit)” doesn’t seem to cut it.

Peter also said “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you”. I’d say he’s calling for more than the voicing of an individual, subjective statement of belief, and more than one of those “IMHO"s.

So I’ll ask again (and I request a very short (i.e. one or two words) answer):

What, where or who is THE safeguard, THE support of THE truth?


MrDunsapy - #67134

January 15th 2012

Hi Marty


You are correct you can’t do it a lone. You actually do need to be taught.
So you need to go over the bible to see, what is really in it. 
Now I see that you do know quite a bit about the bible, but I don’t think you have much confidence in it? So I was wondering what you thought of that?
Just by email , if you like.



Marty Kurlich - #67140

January 15th 2012

MrDunsapy,

Just to clear up any possible confusion, I am as confident as a human being could be that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of the one triune God.


MrDunsapy - #67162

January 16th 2012

Hi Marty

OK. I wasn’t sure you knew how man little books it took to make the one book of the bible. And I got the impression you were looking for truth.


Marty Kurlich - #67171

January 16th 2012

MrDunsapy,

I agree with your statement that “You are correct you can’t do it a lone. You actually do need to be taught.

So you need to go over the bible to see, what is really in it.”
 
But who should the extra-biblical teacher be?

I’ll ask yet again: What, where or who is THE safeguard, THE support of THE truth?


MrDunsapy - #67175

January 16th 2012

Hi Marty

I am confused, you say you are a convinced about the bible and Trinity as anyone could be.
Yet you are asking for what the actual truth is, and where it can be found. 
Do you  feel, that you do not have the truth, if you are in a church now, do you feel it is not the correct one?

Marty Kurlich - #67178

January 16th 2012

MrDunsapy,

Apparently, you’re not really reading my words, and you’re not remembering your own.

Let me try this one more time.

 

You said “You are correct you can’t do it a lone. You actually do need to be taught.”

 

OK. You say you need to be taught.

 

OK. Who or what is the teacher you’ve admitted needing?

 

Who or what is going to assure you get the truth, get the true meaning of the Bible verses you’re reading? 30,000+ versions of Jesus are out there in the “Christian” world. Which is the true one?

 

What, where or who is THE safeguard, THE support of THE truth?

 

(Hint: If your only answer is “the Bible”, I’ll guarantee you’re wrong.)


MrDunsapy - #67179

January 16th 2012

Hi Marty


Oh. OK so then you do think you have the real answers. I thought that maybe you were unsure.
I have a question for you. Do you think the bible is Gods word? 

Marty Kurlich - #67181

January 17th 2012

MrDunsapy,

 

“I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

 

Good bye and God bless.

 


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