Serious Questions for Evangelicals: Why Two Missionaries Became Catholic

Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer








Part 1


While doing some research for an upcoming series on spiritual abuse, I stumbled across this article called "How I Solved the Catholic Problem" which was posted online at Envoy Magazine. Here is a link to the entire story.


In 1992, Marty and Kristine Franklin, staunch evangelicals, became missionaries to Guatemala. Three years later they left the Protestant arena and became Roman Catholics. Their reasons for doing so are fascinating and warrant discussion.

Both grew up in what appears to be fairly average “fundamentalist” (her term) homes and attended  Biola University, a private, evangelical university, which encompasses Talbot Theological Seminary.


Their story is told from the perspective of Kristine. However, it is clear from the narrative that her husband was equally involved in this decision. TWW hastens to add that this is NOT a debate on the merits of Catholicism. These next two posts are meant to highlight and discuss the reasons for the author’s dissatisfaction with American evangelicalism.


Prior to her arrival in Guatemala, the author discusses a few issues from her past.

The eternal security conundrum


A hint of the struggles to come occurs with the discussion of her conversion. She accepted Christ at the age of 5 years. However, she got “born-again” on two other occasions just “to be sure.” She says, “Although we were taught that “faith alone” saved a person, the assumption was that, right away, the convert would exhibit a changed life and grow in holiness out of sheer gratefulness to God for the gift of salvation. Under this system, the whole conversion event was completely subjective and valid only with the right measure of sincerity and true repentance….If a person known to be “born again” falls away from Christ, it’s said that he had “never really been born again.” In other words, the possibility always exists that you might not actually be a Christians, though you might be completely convinced that you are.”

Interestingly, I recently had a conversation with one of my pastors on this very subject. I have long struggled with this issue  because I am in the position of having frequent conversations with former evangelicals who are now atheist or agnostic. Many of them claim to have been deeply committed Christians; complete with conversion experiences, extensive Bible knowledge and thoughtful theology. Some had been pastors, missionaries and leaders of para-church ministries. Many of them can claim to have had profound religious experiences, supplemented and buoyed with what they believed to be deep faith. They have evangelized others and been involved in Bible studies within well-known, committed churches. Yet many Christians would say that these folks had never been saved in the first place.

I told my pastor that, true confession, deep down inside,  I actually believe that some of these folks had been Christians at one time. Yet, this raised a conflict within me regarding the doctrine of eternal security-“once saved; always saved.”

He smiled and said that, if one believes these folks had never been Christians, how can any of us be sure that we ARE Christians?  In other words, I know that I am a Christian. I love and believe the Bible, enjoy being around Christians, love God, have accepted Jesus, want to be a Christian, want to see heaven, see the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and want to serve others. Funny thing, at one time, so did many of the people I have talked with on ExChristians.Net and at other venues. For me, this is a tough and valid question.

Views on Catholicism

She talks about her understanding of Catholicism as taught by pastors and other Christians. “I was taught to feel sorry for Catholics, because they were members of a cult, and they didn’t even know it. They were like Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses, who had been deceived into thinking that their good works would get them into heaven.”


She had many Catholic relatives but was taught that they would go to hell; not for sins but for being Catholic. But, then again, it may mean that they believed that Catholicism is a sin.  She was not allowed to attend any of their funerals because it “was too sad” because they were not saved.

She said that they were trained by their mission group that the Protestant missionaries on Guatemala were sent to “rescue Catholics from the darkness of their religious superstition and man-made tradition and bring them into the light of Protestantism.”


Views on all the other Protestant churches

Here is where the rubber begins to meet the road.This will figure prominently in the post on Thursday.  Kristine says that, not only was she taught to beware Catholics, but to be wary of all other Protestants from other denominations and churches as well. In other words, “we had the truth at our church, period.”

She says that Christians are taught that, with a correct interpretive or hermeneutical system, a person should be able to find the complete truth about the Bible. So, how did one measure if another church's teaching was truly Christian? So long as they believed what her church believed, they were okey dokey. If they didn’t, they might not be “born again.”

She also was taught that all of the “mainline churches” were apostate. She was to avoid those churches because she could “hear error taught and might be deceived in believing it.”


Such errors might include:

  • Infant baptism
  • Amillenialism
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Faith healing
  • Loss of salvation


Just in case our readers think this is somewhat overstated, we would like to refer you to a post that TWW did called "Breaking Fellowship Over Ordinances at T4G." Here is a link. Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan are friends. However, Dever said he would NOT allow Duncan to take communion in his church because Duncan believes in infant baptism and Dever does not. These are both men who presumably have correct hermeneutics and "know" the truth on baptism. Then what seems to be the problem?


Kristine begins to change as she meets “true Christians” from some of these other “erroneous” churches. “I gradually loosened my Fundamentalist views on truth and adopted the typical, somewhat vague belief of contemporary evangelicalism that as long as one has a personal relationship with Christ, that was all that matters." However, she is unable to resolve this issue in the long term as we will see on Thursday.


With these beliefs and struggles, Kristine and her husband begin their ministry in Guatemala. On Thursday we will explore the following issues that led them away from Protestantism:

  • The Americanization of Christianity
  • Cultural hegemony
  • Illiteracy
  • The problem of sola scriptura.


Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 4:1-5:19 Mark 2:13-3:6 Psalm 36:1-12 Proverbs 10:1-2



Serious Questions for Evangelicals: Why Two Missionaries Became Catholic — 132 Comments

  1. Very sad. I say this from time to time and it never seems to satisfy anyone, but I’ll say it again. I run into lots of people in the evangelical church who were raised in Catholic and other liturgical settings. They love the doctrine and experience of evangelical Christianity. They all believe that in the earlier part of their lives they were just going through the motions, and the evangelical church really got them to question and consider the true status of their souls. They also believe that evangelicals often do a better job of helping people match their beliefs with a lifestyle that honors God.

    Conversely, I meet people all the time who were raised in evangelical settings who have left that and joined the Catholic or other liturgical churches. They feel that the early part of their spiritual experience was simplistic, legalistic, coerced and rigid and judgmental. They enjoy the openness, formality and structure of the Catholic and other liturgical churches.

    Is this just human nature? People grow up. They rebel. They reject the excesses of their personal experience, over the good, no matter what setting they were raised in.

  2. @Anonymous: remember that neither group is really homogeneous, despite Catholicism’s theoretically unified doctrine. It’s not like one person moving from an evangelical church to a catholic congregation is necessarily the exact opposite of a catholic moving to an evangelical church. Both could be moving from an empty or abusive spiritual setting to a more positive one.

  3. Garland

    Years ago, a group of us rented a ski chalet in New Hampshire for the winter. We were a singles group from an evangelical church. However, we could not find a Protestant church with solid teaching. So, there was this priest who loved the Lord and had a small parish and gave the best homilies. He loved having us come to his services and went out of his way to greet his Protestant brothers and sisters. We had a wonderful time getting to know this lively man.

  4. Lydia-

    I just wanted to add that I am one of those Agnostics who truly believed with everything I had before I questioned and let go of my Faith in Jesus. I was raised in a Christian home, had a simple-yet profound conversion through a plain telling of the Gospel and it’s hope of Eternal Life at age 8. You can ask my old Elementary buddies-my most treasured possession was a childrens Bible that I got for Christmas and would tote around school. I began reading the Bible intensely (King James Parallel edition with the Living Bible) and had read most of the Bible by age 12.

    Got involved with Young Life (Saranac Lake)-and was a Campaigner and student leader in High school for 3 years. A volunteer Young Life leader all of my 5 college years. After college, I married my college sweetheart (we met at church), helped plant 2 churches and was a worship leader in 4 different churches over the last 20 years. I didn’t do any of this because I thought I was earning favor with God, I truly wanted to know Jesus and share his love and Life with everyone I met. I was a believer….

    After a long stint in an abusive church was when I began to question my assumptions and began exploring the Catholic Church and the early church fathers writings of the Great Church before the Schism. Actually sat down with a priest at St. Patrick’s in NYC and had a very honest talk about my mis-givings about the Catholic church, given my anti-Catholic upbringing.

    Anyhow….don’t want to hijack a thread, and I’m curious to read more of the story-thanks for letting me ramble!

  5. Doubtful

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is stories like yours that have caused me to question the tired old line “Well, he never was a Christian anyway.” It appears my pastor has done the same thing as well.

    This blog is for our readers. We post and let the comments go where they may. Please do not feel that you have “hijacked” anything. I hope that nothing we said would ever convey such concerns. In fact, you have added to the dialogue.So, hijack away!

    Your story sounds fascinating. If you would ever like to write about your journey, just email us through our contact section and let us know.

  6. i can relate to you, Doubtful. My difference is that I tend to cycle from belief through doubt every few months to a year. I will go through serious times of unbelief and then I seem to pop out of it. The point is that most of the evangelical world does not know how to deal with people who go through periods of unbelief, whether long term or short term. Just like they dont know how to deal with people that suffer from depression. In my old church (an SGM church) you would be shunned if you admitted to such doubt, so I learned to keep my mouth shut. And depression…don’t even hint of it or you will be labeled with the “sin of unbelief” and be relegated to the chair or parking team.

  7. Looking Elsewhere

    The only sin of unbelief is not believing that people struggle with depression and unbelief. Its as if these supposed superChristians have rejected the reason for Christ’s death on the cross. He came to forgive us our sins and give us the incredible gift of grace because No One can overcome the problems of our humanity. That means doubt, fear and depression.

    Jesus Himself asked that the cup would be taken away from Him. He sweat tears of blood which means that He was under terrible duress. He understood our pain. He was rejected when his disciples fled and Peter denied Him.He was tired and needed to get away from the crowds at times.

    He was the light that came into our darkness because we couldn’t do it on our own. In Christ we are free. That means depression should be recognized as part of the human lot. Real faith is a faith that keeps coming back after periods of doubt. True faith is one that carries on in spite of pain and depression. Faith means picking yourself up after a fall, dusting yourself off and continuing on, knowing that you will fall again and again.

    Not one of those pastors in SGM is free of sin, doubt, and depression. They just pretend they are which is a terrible sin. It is a sin because they do not lead their people with honesty and truth and present a false ideal of the Christian life. In fact, this is spiritual abuse at its worst. They pretend and then they expect you to pretend and the faith becomes one big pretense. And when a pastor has a struggle, they kick him when he is down and accuse him of unbelief or of not being gifted. This is sick and has nothing to do with true Christianity.

    Hang around here, friend. Depression, doubt and weariness is part of the lot that most here willing confess. And you don’t have to park cars or set up chairs!

  8. The strongest Christian I know, a former high up person at one of those three letter Christian organizations that are so popular these days, regularly and confidently tells groups of people about his extremely serious doubts about the faith, struggles with depression, and difficult times. The fact that he is open and honest about the times when he questions God’s goodness is exactly what allows him to be called when others are struggling with doubt and depression.

    The Christians we know of today as fathers of the faith almost universally struggled with depression and doubt. Austine describes his bouts in the Confessions. Katie Luther was known to use humor to try and get Martin Luther out of his depressed funks, once dressing up in funeral attire and telling him that he was acting as if God had died. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain goes through his own doubt in excruciating detail and every person I know who has suffered serious affliction resonates with the experiences he had.

  9. ” For me, this is a tough and valid question.”

    Me too. I have started really looking at this because we sometimes tend to believe a doctrine because we have heard it in a sound bite for so many years. I have people all around me who gasp if I even question that someone can be saved then not saved later.There are not many one can have a scriptural study with about this topic. It seems that even questioning it is considered a sin!

    I don’t have the answers but I do think scripture gives us reason to question the doctrine of: once saved always saved.

    Just off the top of my head I think of Hebrews 6 (which many claim does not teach that a person can lose their salvation, I am not sure about that)

    Even Hewbrews 10 touches on this because it describes those who knew the truth who…had been enlightened….”.

    There are other passages that hint on this. I am not sure that eternal security can be seperated from perservering in the Faith.


    I know others who share your journey…if I had not known them well, I would probably have never questioned ‘once saved, always saved’. Come back, you have friends here.

  10. Looking Elsewhere-I spent some time at SGM, so I know exactly what you mean. Even simple questions were seen as sinful, let alone doubting or being depressed. I guess it doesn’t bode well for a church that boasts of being the “Happiest Place on Earth”…

    Dee/Lydia-Thanks for the conversation, I feel more than welcome here and I may take you up on the writing bit…..

  11. doubtful,

    I have appreciated your thoughtful comments, and I hope you will stick around and be encouraged. While Dee and I post on topics that are of interest to us (and hopefully our readers), we are trying to minister to our readership through the comment section. We also keep all of you in our thoughts and prayers.

  12. I wonder if doubt is just like any other problem that people struggle with. Not meaning to be trite, but lots of people struggle with lust, fear, hatred, etc. Just put doubt on the list.

    Certainly believers doubt God will do what He says He will do in their lives. So, it would not be unusual, I think, for believers to doubt God’s existence. I believe that’s why the actual practice of confessional theology is a healthy thing.

    A bit off topic – have any of you seen the “debate” on C-Span between Christopher Hitches and Tony Blair? It is really unusual.

    I was proud of Blair for being the spokesman. He did not do that great a job, but I was still proud of him and glad that he stood up.

    I really like Hitchens. But his arguments were very predictable and lacked a great deal of logic, in my opinion. A truly skillful and knowledgeable Chirstian (Blair appears to be a sincere but tradition bound and dependent spokesman), would have a really good showing opposite of Hitchens. Stott, Buckley, Colson, Keller, Dever, Mohler and a host of others who make really good public spokesman but are familiar enough with atheistic lines of thought would have been great to hear.

  13. My grandfather was Catholic and his wife my grandmother was Baptist. Of their five children four were Baptist and one Catholic. Also we had numerous extended Catholic family. Growing up it was never supposed that my Catholic relatives were not Christians/saved . One of the cousins has a faith and love for Christ that I rarely see anywhere else. If that Catholic cousin is not a Christian then I am not sure anyone I know is. Our family honestly believed that each person was responsible for the acknowledgement of their sin and need to trust Jesus Christ as savior no matter which Christian tradition they followed.

  14. Doug

    Sounds like you came from a good family. I know far too many Baptist families who think that all Catholics are going to hell. Ole Jimmy Smryl down at FBC Jacksonville says Catholicism is a cult. Hmmm, takes one to know one I guess.

  15. Lydia-

    Considering your views on eternal security…do you think I will go to hell if I die tonight?

  16. doubtful,

    Absolutely…dying on a Wednesday is a one way ticket babe, that’s why they call is “hump day”, it’s from the old Latin “umphay ayday” which is obviously related to “hell day” “ellhay ayday.”

  17. doubtful, have you ever heard of the hymn writer and poet William Cowper? Cyber hymnal lists his contributions to church music at 66. Examples of his hymns include There is a Fountain Filled with Blood and God Moves in a Mysterious Way (a personal favorite). Cowper struggled with doubts that he was saved all of his life, and died believing he was not a Christian. Christians of his day and this believe that he was indeed saved despite all of his struggles.

    Sometimes I think if more people who simply want to tout doctrine spent a little more time at the intersection of doctrine and life, they’d realize that things are much messier in practice than in theory. It’s also why, as one anonymous above stated, confessional theology is healthy work. Eternal security, or perseverance of the saints, needs to be balanced by the rest of Scripture’s teaching.

    Lydia, I’m surprised you can’t talk about the issue with those around you. In a college theology I was assigned a paper on Hebrews 6 in relation to the issue of eternal security and found vigorous debate in my sources.

  18. Doubtful

    Ignore Karl-our resident atheist. He is a good guy and has a unique sense of humor. If heaven were closed to those who struggle with doubt, then heaven would be very empty real estate. In fact, I doubt your SGM pastors would not be there as well.

    God is merciful and kind and knows our hearts. He knows that we want to believe and knows we struggle within our beliefs. In heaven, all of our tears will be wiped away and we will not struggle any longer. God loves you and wants you in heaven more than you can ever want to be there.

    In fact, I will go out on a limb and say this. The fact that you are even concerned about this issue means you are a true believer. Those who are not saved, and don’t wish to be, couldn’t care less about heaven. So, sleep well tonight!

  19. What Doug said!

    I come from a Lutheran background. While there definitely was some anti-Catholicism in my family, it was not applied to *people* (and, I think, came largely from old, prejudiced cultural ideas about Catholicism, not from church or Scripture).

    When I was young, I spent most of my time “in fellowship with” Catholic charismatics, and I’m glad that I did. Eventually, I ended up heading into Protestant circles that were permeated with discipleship movement ideas (not unlike a lot of Catholic charismatic prayer groups, etc.). And I ended up staying in those kinds of churches for several decades. All, without any apparent hypocrisy, claimed to have refuted the discipleship movement and its ideas, and yet all were permeated by it.

    Fast-forward to an unfortunate series of events that left me outside the church fence, and not by my own decision.

    It has taken me the better part of a decade to come to terms with all of that, and… I ended up gravitating back, toward the Lutheran church.

    But *not* because I think that Lutherans have the lock-up on truth.

    The main reason: Lutherans – much like Catholics and Anglicans – know that we’re all going to screw up (often big-time), that we all struggle with doubt and fears and times of un-faith.

    And the church is always there, for anyone who wants to be part of it, complete with all the struggles and messiness that are part of this life, and of human nature in a fallen world.

    By no means are these “high church” denominations perfect (imo), but in many ways, they’re far more realistic – and more compassionate – than 99% of the Do It By the Book or Else! Protestant denoms that are situated more in the evangelical/charismatic and fundamentalist camps.

    (fwiw, I see so much of my own experience mirrored in that of people who have left SGM – though I have never been a member of an SGM church. SGM has a ton in common with all of the evangelical/charismatic churches I belonged to for many years.)

    Just my .02… and thanks so much for listening + providing a place where folks can talk openly about things!

  20. Numo

    Awesome! Thanks. If you ever want to write about your experience we would be happy to post it. Just contact us through our email system under contacts. No pressure. We believe that personal experience speaks volumes.

    You will love the post tomorrow. Your thoughts are well mirrored by the experience of these former missionaries. I will be most interested in your thoughts.

    We are also going to be writing extensively about spiritual abuse this month and featuring two authors and their research and experiences. Most of our readers will not know these folks. One is in Canada and the other comes to us via Ireland.

    BTW- I have just been informed by on of the authors that January is Spiritual Abuse Month-for real.

  21. Karlton-

    I would’ve thought Friday night would be the “one way” ticket to hell sort of day to die…but I am an ignoramus of Latin and it’s inner meanings, which you seem to grasp…wink,wink…..

    Dee…I appreciate your kind words, but I would be less than honest if my post came across as struggling about my eternal destiny. I don’t really, since I’m not even sure how one gets good info. on God, Heaven, Hell, and the Judgement to come…

    You see, my experience with all sorts of Churches and even some high profile Christian authors, etc…have led me to believe that the Bible can used to believe just about anything.

    If the Bible is the most important message to us humans, then why is it so unclear on what most Christians call essential doctrines? For first 400 years of Christianity, Christians couldn’t even agree on how to explain the Trinity. My experience with your average Christian, is that their way of explaining the Trinity would be heretical…..again, if so important, that the church took 400 years to decide, why is it still so unclear to most believers?

  22. Doubtful, I must echo what Dee said. The fact you are even thinking about it means something….I won’t say it means “saved” because I don’t know. But there are those who could care less and never even think about it.

    My guess is that 90% of what we see out there with the institutions is not the real thing.

  23. “Lydia, I’m surprised you can’t talk about the issue with those around you. In a college theology I was assigned a paper on Hebrews 6 in relation to the issue of eternal security and found vigorous debate in my sources.”

    In many evangelical circles it has become a salvic doctrine…just like women’s roles. To question it for study is considered a sin. I am jealous, I would love a vigorous debate on it!

    For many years, I hardly ever thought about my salvation. Now, I think about it daily. Not always bad and not always good. It is just front and center. That is the Holy Spirit. Live today for eternity not just for today…..

  24. Dee,

    Here’s the info. confirming that January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”

    “Out of all the abuse awarenesses there are in the world today, we didn’t have one for Spiritual Abuse…until today. I have personally chosen January to be Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month and have listed it in Wikipedia’s ‘Month Awareness’ directory. You can read a brief overview of what Spiritual Abuse is here. And coming soon will be the Wiki page for Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month.”

  25. Doubtful

    I am sorry if I misunderstood your intent. Sometimes things get lost in the blog medium. Here is my understanding of the Bible. It can be read in such a way that individuals can come to a basic understanding of the Creation,the Fall, the Creator, sin, salvation, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, justice and a promise of better things to come.

    God has allowed man freedom to learn about this world that He gave us. That means our understanding grows over time. For example, in Genesis it says that God created man out of the dust of the earth. For early man, that was all that they couldcomprehend. However, as time has gone on, man has explored and discovered the scientific method. We have learned that the building blocks of life consists of DNA. So, could the dust be DNA? I think so.

    God is infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. Who He is is far beyond our limited, three dimensional, finite mind to comprehend. Over time, it became apparent that there was a thing as the Godhead. Frankly, everyone struggles with this concept. In fact, I think you’ve been listening in on my conversations. I agree that the average church and its membership would produce lots of heresies on the defintion of the Trinity. I think of it as one What, three Whos. Even that is limited.

    I think we will live eternally growing in our understanding of God. I am not sure we will ever fully comprehend Him for we will always be the created; He the Creator.

    CS Lewis once said that no one would go to hell for believing that God has a long white beard. I believe that he was saying that understanding what constitutes the Triune God is hard for us all.

    However, it is my understanding that many of the early church fathers had a working knowledge of this concept. So much so that they knew when folks we deviating from the truth. It is said that every heresy begins with a misunderstanding of the nature of God. So, as time went on folks like Arius began to define Jesus as lesser, or as a creation of God the Father. This creates a hierarchy. Yet the Bible is clear that they function on the same level as One. If one looks at Arianism, there are dangers inherent because it redefines Jesus’ posture as to salvation. So the church took time to think this through and define it as carefully as possible.

    However, the bottom line is this. An in-depth understanding on the Trinity is not necessary for salvation. It only gives depth to the faith.

  26. Dee,

    “…could the dust be DNA? I think so.”, seriously, i think that is just wishful thinking at best or less cordially silly speculation.

    Secondly, “God is infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. Who He is is far beyond our limited, three dimensional, finite mind to comprehend.”

    The entire idea that God has properties beyond our comprehension is circular because it was man who assigned those properties to Him in the first place.

    It’s like deciding that my goldfish is wise beyond my ability to comprehend, then actually believing it is a real property of the goldfish, simply because I assigned it that property.

    Exactly where in the Bible is there any evidence that God is omniscient, what piece of wisdom, morality or ethics is there in the Bible that is so far beyond our capacity to comprehend it that it screams of divine origin? All the proverbs, advice, commandments, etc. were not even unique among the religions and philosophies of the world many years before Christianity, and there certainly isn’t anything surprising or stunning there to modern men. The only reason we think God is omniscient is because men declared Him to be and we like believing in our own propaganda.

    The same goes for omnipotence, omnipresence, etc. etc.

  27. @ Dee: Many thanks for your welcome, and for the invite!

    I might just take you up on the latter, given some time… I’m only just starting to feel like I’m far enough past “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” stage to feel like I want to start putting something down on paper (or on a LCD screen, or… whatever!)

    Am still not attending church anywhere, but I must say this: for the 1st time in my life, there is real grace to know that God loves me. As I am, not all “perfected” and living by a rule book, waiting in fear to mess up and have him kick me out the back door.

    I had some ideas on coming into contact with evangelical/charismatic churches that were not good or healthy, and man! Did their way of Do It By the Book Or Else! mess me up.

    God, however, is faithful. And i believe he is good, and full of grace.

    But I have a real aversion to most God-talk these days – no offense meant to anyone here. Sometimes words and phrases and imagery have more power than they should, by right.

    However, I feel pretty certain that God knew what he was doing in having me spend some time (when younger) in a denomination where God’s grace is emphasized. 🙂

  28. P.S.: I read the article by the former missionaries and did it ever hit home!

    Part of that realization – about poor people and the church – is not an easy or comfortable one, but it is good.

  29. Some interesting comments being aired here. I would say to doubtful that it would be very hard to answer your question about going to Hell. You have believed, now you struggle with belief. What is really down deep in your heart/spirit/soul is between you and God and possibly not even known clearly to yourself. Christ is the Savior, and any who put faith and trust in Him will be saved. But only God and you can know truthfully where you are on that issue.

    As for the eternal security of the believer. I do not believe any outside force can steal our salvation, but I don’t have a clear view of what is possible for us to do to ourselves. I definitely do not ever claim the former Christian now agnostic or atheist (or whatever else) was not ‘really’ a Christian. That just strikes me as a really arrogant kind of a claim. Further, while the scripture tells us nothing can take us from God, it also gives some very stark warnings about what happens to those who truly turn away. I can’t believe such warnings exist for no reason. But like I would not claim some former Christian was never truly saved, I would also never claim to be able to identify those who can’t return to faith! Why not leave a place for God to work in all this? Why is it so important to us that we know ‘the answer’ that we are willing to judge the true salvation, or abilty to be saved, of another?

    We don’t know everything. We actually know very little. Best then to focus on the really important things – like love, compassion, and faith. Loving God with all our heart soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourself.

    Karlton – as for God being above our ways/beyond our understanding. It is not a matter of pronouncing God thus and then believing our own propaganda. It is simply a matter of logic that a being that is what God must be if He is God would be beyond our true comprehension. The concepts of Omiscience/Omnipresence etc. are just our ways of trying to get a handle on some of what God is based on being the creator of the universe and what has been revealed to us about Him through Christ. But if one does not believe in the Resurrection, one has no reason to believe that which Christ taught was actually revelation – and thus the paradox of faith. We must first believe in order to see, but often until we see we can’t believe.


  30. Zeta,

    I love rhetoric so much, the bottom line is that we created the concept of God and thereby His attributes. As pointed out earlier there is nothing in the Bible that screams of divine origins. All the parables and tales are fully withing the realm of human comprehension. You said that “a being that is what God must be…”, do you not see that this is simply the creation of the human mind. God doesn’t have to be anything, He doesn’t even have to exist, He is, what we deem Him to be. Look at all the other “Gods” throughout history, all with different properties and attributes and personalities.

    People who believe, start with belief, then fill in more information and qualities as needed, while I support you and believe that your method of trying to arrive at truth is as valid as mine, that does not make it rational or reasonable.

    There is no guarantee that rationality or logic leads to ultimate truth, if there even is such a thing,and there is no “proof” that God does not exist, in the end you may be right and I may be horribly wrong, but I have made a decision that reason, logic and rationality are the best tools to understand the universe around us based on their track record, while you have decided that you have already found truth, and thus spend your time looking for things which seem to support that premise. I do not believe you can make a case for calling that process rational, it is clearly at odds with rationality and logic, however it does not necessarily mean that it is wrong.


    As a former Christian of many years and now an atheist I personally believe that when people have a “crisis of faith”, it is no more than their sub-conscious trying to deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by their trying to believe things that they already know aren’t or can’t be true. It is the brains way of trying to get you to deal with the multiple contradictions you are trying to hold in your head at the same time. I could “advise” you on a course of action that I believe would be correct, but ultimately your decision must come from you and you must be comfortable with what you decide, otherwise that nagging in your head will simply continue.

    All I can do is make myself available to answer any questions from the perspective of a former born-again Christian turned atheist, but the decision is yours to make…many people try to continually hold the contradictions in their head and so end up with one crisis of faith after another, constantly doubting…this is probably the worst case scenario. Take some time, look at all sides and when the time is right go one way or the other, but leave the balancing act to the circus performers.

  31. Hi Karl

    Why is believing that the dust mentioned could be DNA a silly concept? You are an educated man and know that the Bible is made up of more than just literal statements. There is metaphor, allegory, poetry, etc. The Bible was meant for all people in all times and with all kinds of education levels. God was talking creation here. Dust can mean dirt, etc, the stuff that makes up the earth. DNA is the building block of all life-the stuff of which life is made. So, I disagree with you. I think that it is a thoughtful possibility and no more silly that a self-existent, eternal universe.

    Zeta beat me to the punch in his answer on God’s attributes. They are self explanatory if one believes what is written about in the Bible. That s the starting premise. Genesis 1:1- God created the heavens and the earth. That indicates God’s power and infinite character. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That demonstrates power over life and death. I could go on and on but you get the idea.

    I know you reject the bible so this explanation makes no sense to you. But, in the end, something is eternal-the naturalistic stuff of the universe which just “is” or a Creator God.

  32. doubtful, your experience believing that “the Bible can be used to believe about anything” is actually one of the leading reasons that some Protestants become Catholic (see Called To Communion, a hang-out spot for those who left Protestantism to become Catholic). In discussing the reasoning Catholics use to talk about Protestant views of the Bible, the blog Green Baggins said recently:

    The Protestant position is that only those things necessary for salvation and for faith and life are clear in Scripture. Nor do we mean by this that the clarity that is in Scripture is all on the surface. The believer has to work to get some of those clear things. But we are NOT saying that all Scripture is clear. I own approximately 1500 commentaries on Scripture precisely because I do not believe that Scripture is always clear. Furthermore, even in the clear passages, there is always more to glean. Indeed, 2 Peter 3 tells us that Paul’s letters can be difficult to understand at times. (source).

    But does that mean that Scripture can be used without doing some sort of violence to some part of the text to mean almost anything? I don’t think so. Those who twist Scripture to their own ends, who have been around since there has been Scripture, usually have to leave things out, change the meaning of passages, or otherwise mess things up. There’s a reason that there is a general consensus on first-level doctrines amongst most Christians. The continuing discussion over at green baggins promises to talk in a very serious and interesting way about Scripture, dealing with it in all of its complexity.

  33. Watcher-

    My question is would be why God would make scripture so unclear? If it is truly vital information and our Eternal destiny hangs on a proper understanding of it….then why is it so unclear on what most Christians call essential doctrines?

    My follow up question would be why God has allowed Scripture to altered or added to, as has been the case (John Chapter 8, The final chapter of Mark, etc…)
    Again, if God’s word was inerrant in the original copies, why has he not bothered to preserve the text? Is he unable or unwilling?

    I just don’t get it and can not take the Bible seriously until I have an adequate answer….not to dump on you-but that’s my curreny thinking on the issue.

  34. Karl – you said: “People who believe, start with belief, then fill in more information and qualities as needed, ”

    I disagree. Very strongly. I believe because there are things that have happened in my life that to me indicate there is a supernatural being that is God, and that He has revealed Himself in Christ. These experiences are for the most part personal/subjective. But I do not believe in a vacuum. I would have to work fairly hard to convince myself that the things I have experienced as a Christian that indicated to me God exists we simply random chance events of no consequence or meaning. That is a choice you have made, to dismiss those things as having no real meaning. I do not make that choice. But both choices are somewhat arbitrary – you do not accept the possibility they are not random. I do accept that possibility. Neither is ‘rational’ in the sense of being objective, reproducable data for which one can conduct tests to determine which is which.

    What I can do is look at the events that point me to God and see elements that are so improbable as to imply to me sufficiently strongly there is a being out there interested in me and in revealing Himself personally to me. And for me they are sufficiently strong as to be able to stand in the face of the kinds of arguments you bring to bear that convince you they are not evidence of a God out there that cares about us.


  35. doubtful, I don’t feel dumped on at all. Those are legitimate questions, and while I can present them with the answers I am convinced of, I can’t claim to speak for all believers. Catholics, for example, might just point to the Magesterium and say “there’s your answer.” For a large variety of reasons I can’t agree, including what C. S. Lewis said, that by taking Catholicism you take not only what the Magesterium has said, but all that it ever will say.

    What Protestants usually agree on is that things that are vital for our eternal destiny are fairly clear. As either Dee or Deb said above, the Trinity isn’t required for salvation. The knowledge that God saves sinners, of which I am one, through the death of Jesus Christ and vindicated Christ through is resurrection is both all that one must know and extremely clear in Scripture. What is commonly considered an issue of secondary importance, whether to baptize infants of believers or only believers, is actually a pretty complex issue. Many other secondary issues are too.

    The words “inerrant” and “infallible” get thrown around a lot and usually need to be used with caution. But I’d say that you could ask your question about why some books vary in the earliest manuscripts of the whole of the Bible. Why not just the Pentatuch and this or that prophet? Why not just one Gospel? Why all of Paul’s letters? If God’s Word was present in Mark, why do we have John? I don’t know the mind of God on these issues, but Scripture has demonstrated clearly that God does as he pleases, that he is above and beyond me (see Ps. 2, Isa. 55:8-9) and that he is good (see I Jn. 4:8, Rom. 11:32).

    It is your very last question that, in the times I have struggled with it (Is God unwilling to do a good thing in situation X?) has been the scariest and hardest for me to deal with. The Problem of Pain deals with the issue of questioning God’s ability and his goodness at length. If I were in your shoes, I could not believe either.

    At the same time, not to dump on you, but I personally think there are manifold reasons to believe in both the ability and the goodness of God, and I hope some day you find those resonating in your soul again.

  36. doubtful: why do I think my appeal to personal experience if better than the Morman equivalent?

    Because it is not merely an appeal to personal experience. And it is not an appeal to believe in spite of what I see or know to be real. We believe for a variety of reasons, not just one. But my personal experience does serve as both spark and confirmation for my faith as a whole. I did not just suddenly decide God was real one day. People told me about Him and I also experienced Him. And in some cases those experiences lie fairly widely outside the realm of what I would expect in terms of potentially random events, or self affirming ‘wishing it were so’ kinds of explanations.

    Ultimately Christian faith rests on the belief Jesus Christ rose from the dead. But clearly something needs to provide a reason for me to even consider the possibility. Our normal experience is people who die stay dead. The fact I have experienced what I believe is the presence of God, or His answers to prayer, and even in certain circumstances what I believe is direct intervention on His part to help keep me heading the right direction help me to believe it is possible He may also have sent His son to die for me, and raised Him from the dead.

    But it is not just that. The scriptures do contain a rather large number of prophecies concerning the life of Christ. Many of them are outside the realm of His ability to control them (as a man). And we know (re dead sea scrolls) they were written before Christ lived. That also helps me to believe.

    And there is the general history of the faith. The story is not simply manufactured. The events, the places, many have been confirmed to be real. We can’t confirm everything, but we are not talking about some imagined trip to visit the Indians here. We are talking about real history and real people.

    But this is not all that convinces me the scripture is true. And compared to the case for the OT and NT, the case for the Morman text being any more than either the ramblings of a deluded fellow or massive con job is severely lacking.

    In such a case my personal experience would not be sufficient to overcome those deficiencies.


  37. “My question is would be why God would make scripture so unclear? If it is truly vital information and our Eternal destiny hangs on a proper understanding of it….then why is it so unclear on what most Christians call essential doctrines?”

    I don’t get this. I think scripture is very clear on the essentials. The OT points to MEssiah all the way through. The NT is very clear that Jesus Christ, Messiah, is the ONLY way to salvation.

    I do agree that many want to play around with that…as in any road can lead to salvation, Jesus was a nice moral guy, etc. People tweak it and proof text to make it what they want. Some even bring in OT law and say it is Christian. Some want to make secondary things salvic, etc.

    But as CS Lewis said, Jesus Christ was either a lunatic or Messiah. He claimed to be God in the flesh and that is why they killed Him. (John 5:18)

    In fact, I am amazed scripture has been preserved as well as it has. But we must ask what the 1st Century Chrisitans did without the NT. The looked at the OT prophecies.

    Anyway, we cannot dismiss the Holy Spirit…that is how I “know”. That is how they “knew” at Pentecost.

  38. I guess the role of works in salvation is an area in which Paul seems to teach one thing (Grace through faith, not of works), James teaches that works are essential to Saving faith, both use Abraham as an example, and then there is Jesus teaching us that works are essential to the Kingdom of God with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and his teaching that those who disregard any point of the Law will be disregarded. Which in my opinion, looks a lot different than Paul’s teaching on the Law….it’s a murky picture and the church has literally fought (and killed at times) over this essential issue of how one is saved.

    Again-couldn’t God have been more clear? Couldn’t he see that the church would shed blood over this and really spell out the issue to avoid the needless death and misery?

  39. Doubtful

    The issue isn’t as murky as it might seem. People use the faith to cause conflicts because they are sinners and want to be in control. There are plenty of warnings in Scripture about the abuse of power and people who want to control others. God will not prevent us from doing stupid and evil things because that is our choice.People will use anything at their disposal to gain money and power and no amount of teaching will prevent that. It is part of our nature-sin nature.

    Scripture is clear. Works do not save; Jesus saves. However, once a person accepts Christ, said person should be performing good works as a response to the Spirit within Him. One who does not do so is suspect in one of two areas. One-they have not decided to follow Jesus and are faking it.
    Two-they are refusing to respond to the Spirit in them and are backsliding.

    The Christians that I respect all feel called to serve others and do good works. In fact, that was one of the first things that happened to me after my conversion. I wanted to go out and help others-both in doing good works and telling others of what had happened to me. I was not particularly motivated to do so prior to my conversion.

    James clearly teaches that faith without works is dead. That means that the person who has no desire to do good works does not have the faith. I would agree.

    I think the churches that have harmed people over this issue were operating outside the faith and were knowingly doing so.

    There was a document signed by some leading evangelicals and catholics called Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). Within that document there was consensus that only Jesus saves. Good works is a product of that salvation. I would day that there is widespread agreement on this issue.

  40. doubtful:

    how do I know the Christian story is not made up.

    well, to start with, I can look directly at Joseph Smith and know he’s the one who made the whole thing up.

    So – back at you – who made up the Christian story?


  41. Zeta,

    I would be interested in hearing what experiences you’ve had, they you believe points you, not just to the supernatural, but to the Christian God in particular and how those experiences are of such a unique and special kind that you feel that they don’t have an alternative, more reasonable non-supernatural explanation.

  42. Zeta-

    Well at least we know who wrote the Book of Mormon. We don’t even know who wrote most of the NT books. Most of them (except Paul’s letters) don’t say who wrote them, and early church tradition is often contradictory about who wrote the different Gospels.

    Secondly, I didn’t ask who wrote the Gospels and NT….I asked how you know that it wasn’t manufactured in the same way you dismiss Joseph Smith’s writings… do you know it’s true?

  43. doutful,

    Yes, Joseph Smith, who read the golden plates, given by the angel Moroni and translated using magical stone glasses. The plates conveniently were given back the the angel when the translation was done and so, are not available for inspection (how convenient)

    Not to mention, from my perspective, if the existence of one God lacks any evidence, certainly the Mormon pantheon of Gods is even farther down the ladder of credulity.

  44. Karlton,

    I will be glad to share one of example of events in my life which speak to me of the love and grace of God, and for which I simply could not find in me the ability to declare it merely a chance event. Please keep in mind I am not saying this is something that will or should convince you, but it was a very, very powerful event in my own life.

    I will preface the story by giving you a bit of background. Early in my Christian experience there was a particular fellow whose local music ministry meant a very great deal to me. We were a bit of kindred spirits musically, and we both also did work as artists. I will refer to this man as Ken. Shortly after I married I basically lost contact with him, though I knew he continued to minister as a regional musician and artist through contact with another mutual friend I saw from time to time.

    About 10 years or so later I found myself in a very difficult and troubling time in my own life trying to understand God’s purpose for me. I had at one time thought I should pursue some kind of ministry full time, but had never quite found a way to make it happen. I had begun to seriously doubt my own commitment to God, and whether or not I had ‘missed’ His purpose in my life. It was a very dark time, and I was becoming very, very depressed. Seriously so.

    One evening I was sitting playing the guitar and I suddenly just had a very strong desire to write a song. It came very quickly, a simple melody and some interesting words that seemed to express a deep longing inside me. I sang it for my wife, who was touched by it. This was midweek. The song spoke of a journey to a special place with a special person and of finding God there in a special way, something I was really lacking at this time.

    This was mid week. We were scheduled to visit my wife’s parents about 150 miles away that weekend. When we got there my wife told me there was a ‘gospel singer/evangelist’ at her grandmother’s church and she’d asked us to come and see it on Sunday morning. I was, of course, still depressed and really had no desire to go hear some country singer in a very small Methodist church in a very small town. Anyway I reluctantly agreed to go.

    We got there and it was a typical small southern church. The Pastor got up to introduce the special singer and I hunkered down to endure what was to come. But this was no backwoods country singer. This was Ken, my friend who I hadn’t seen in at least 12 years, and who last I knew was ministering about 200+ miles the opposite direction on the other side of the state.

    As we listened to him sing and share, I realized that special song I had written about 5 days earlier was about Ken. No one else fit the description. After the service, I went up to Ken and we talked a bit about my struggles and he looked at me and told me that in the intervening years they had moved more into a youth ministry, and they had obtained some land and had built a kind of outdoor camp for kids, and on it they’d just recently put together a kind of cabin/retreat center that was set aside for missionaries or pastors to come and get away, or folks that just needed time to pray and work through issues. He invited me to come and stay and take some time to work through my particular struggles.

    In the intervening years Ken had also managed to develop significantly his art. And part of this cabin was an art studio that he painted in, and so inside the main den area covered over all his walls where paintings he had done. And nearby a fireplace.

    We arrived for our little retreat and we talked and shared. It was a very, very special time. Just a gift from God. And answer to prayer. We sat around the fireplace and that is where I realized I hadn’t missed God. God still cared about me and was looking out for me.

    As things wound down, I told Ken about the song I had felt inspired to write. It was truly amazing how that inspiration unfolded. Because in it it desribed Ken, and the cabin I did not know existed, and the fact that in it walls hung paintings by this man, and around its fireplace was where we fellowshiped and talked. But even more surprisingly, in the opening lines I describe it as a cabin by a lake. There was at the time we attended no lake. But as I played the song for Ken he smiled and he said.

    “You know, we haven’t made this public, but we are in the process right now of building a lake right out there.”

    This is this special song. I call it “Ken’s Song” at this point, for obvious reasons:

    Way across the valley
    in a cabin, by a lake
    sweetened over with lilacs stayed
    a man softened by the Lamb

    The air share was mystery
    alight with His glow
    And as we our trek was made,
    made our way to the door


    The file cracked and it popped
    the air warm and still
    as we sat there as mellow stopped
    and grace we sat there and talked

    We spoke much of trails and sod
    of lilacs and the sky
    But of life and its reward,
    he smiled and simply said:


    *Don’t seek your own way
    seek the way of the Lord
    Don’t seek you own way lad,
    seek the way of the Lamb

    A prophetic song of events yet to unfold given to a fellow struggling with depression. I still to this day can’t tell the story with dry eyes.

    This is one of but many times God has stooped to help this poor soul in his struggles with life.


  45. Karlton-

    I agree that Joseph Smith’s story just sounds ridiculous.


    I honestly don’t know what you mean….can you elaborate?


  46. doubtful:

    It seems pretty clear that you do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and don’t believe that God raised Him from the dead. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. You said that you gave up faith in Jesus. I John says that he is writing that we know that we have eternal life, not guess or hope that we do. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life.

    So, I’m not going to give you the lame false sense of security that others here will. Yes, if you died tonight, you would eventually go to hell. I’m sorry. If you claim to have been a christian and have fallen away from the faith, there is no salvation available for you, since you have rejected the only sacrifice that saves. There remains no other sacrifice for you. If you were not truly a believer at any time, then you do have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your savior and be saved.

  47. doubtful,

    When you say how do I ‘know’ they are true, on what level do you mean? You do realize there are people today who deny the holocaust – right? There are others that will tell you the Sun orbits the Earth. And the truth is – you can’t know (absolutely) they are wrong. The evidence for the holocaust could all be manufactured. The universe could be some massive plank density solid that rotates about the Earth on physics we’ve not yet discovered.

    So I can not really know in the absolute sense the stories in the Gospel are true. That is impossible. But I can know they are far more credible that the story Joseph Smith tells, both you and Karlton have already acknowledged that. And that really was my point – you asked me how I would differentiate the morman appeal to experience from my own. And that is how I would do it. The Morman is an appeal to experience on such a level as to overwhelm the obvious incredulity of what Karlton described so well.

    I am not asking or expecting anything near that in my appeal to experience.

    Further I do believe there are many good reasons to believe the majority of the Gospel story as we have it are real stories told in good faith by those who saw the events recorded and later gathered together into written form by individuals determined to capture the truth of what was known about those events.


  48. Michael,

    you said: “f you claim to have been a christian and have fallen away from the faith, there is no salvation available for you, since you have rejected the only sacrifice that saves.”

    Only God knows the state of doubtful’s spiritual condition. Especially in terms of being able to return to faith if he/she so chooses. The language you use comes close to passing that judgment yourself. I would caution you not to do that. Only God knows in the end where doubtful really is. It is true there is only one Savior, that is what we believe to be true. But it is not for us to close the door on the hope of salvation for anyone. I would go so far as to add the following.

    Doubtful: If you ever find in yourself the desire to come back to Christ, then you definitely have not crossed the line Michael mentions. For sciptures tell us is it impossible to renew such a one to repentance. Therefore, if you ever find in yourself a renewed desire to return to Christ, then you will find Him ready and willing to receive you back into fellowship with Him.


  49. Zeta,

    A very nice, heartwarming story, but like you said, it certainly isn’t “evidence” of any kind, events like that happen to people all the time. If that is the basis for your believe in the supernatural, then once again I must say, it is not rational or reasonable, it is wishful, and hopeful…which is exactly how the writer of Hebrews defined faith to begin with, and which I have have maintained from the beginning, is not necessarily wrong and does not necessarily lead to incorrect conclusions, you could always get lucky, but it is not based on a critical, rational thought process.


    Just so you can hear the other side, and I know many of my friends here would disagree, but having been a Christian for 20+ years I can tell you, that being an atheist and giving up this (to me) nonsensical belief system, will not get you a lightning bolt from heaven, nor will the earth swallow you whole. It is simply a matter of deciding how you want to live your life, based on fanciful beliefs driven either by hope or insecurity and fear, or based on reason, logic, compassion and rationality. No one can decide for you, and if you let someone swing your beliefs by manipulating your emotions then you lack the strength of will and integrity needed to make the decision in the first place and should probably take some time away from the question entirely.

  50. Karlton,

    I disagree. But I find your reaction to the story common among those who reject the concept of God. For you, it is just a chance series of events – that is what it must be from your point of view. But if one allows for the possibility of there being a God, it is evidence their may well be a God. I will say this: the juxtaposition of my own subconscious yearning to see this particular fellow or someone like him and the fact that the content of the song described certain aspects of how his life developed outside the realm of my own ability to know, and the fact that the events unfolded as they did in the time I really needed something like that is not something I would ever expect to happen, nor do I look for it to happen again. It was an exceedingly rare thing, even for me who believes such things are possible as acts of God. I would also add that if one is seeking God and looking for God, it is rational when prayers are answered or something of the sort I described happens in a timely fashion to see that as a response from God. But it is not skeptical. Don’t confuse rationality with skepticism. Sometimes skepticism is itself irrational.

    But your reaction does sort of put a nice little capsule around the difference between faith and the lack of faith. Jesus said that if we seek Him we will find Him. One can always explain away the acts of God as random natural occurrences if one is so inclined. A lot of it boils down to the internal willingness of the individual to ‘see’ God in life.


  51. Karlton,

    I think your appeal to doubtful:

    “and if you let someone swing your beliefs by manipulating your emotions then you lack the strength of will and integrity needed to make the decision in the first place and should probably take some time away from the question entirely.”

    is no less manipulative than the ’emotional manipulation’ you criticize.


  52. Zeta,

    I think it not so much that I prefer a random chance event, as it is that no matter how “rare” an event may be, it does not point toward the supernatural.

    For example, any random five-card hand in a card game has a chance of only one in 2,598,960 and this rare an event occurs every time we deal, so that the rarity is not a cause for concern or imagine calculating the odds of hitting a particular mosquito on a warm summer night driving your car, astronomical, I’m sure, but no reason to invoke a supernatural belief system to explain it.

    You make the common mistake of assuming a rare event is indicative of a supernatural cause, simply because you have difficulty accepting random chance as an explanation. The problem is that you are assigning a target after the event has occurred and not before.

    For example, if Dee had send me a secret email that only she and I were privy to, and in that email she told me the date, time and events that would occur with your song and songwriter friend in detail, and did this in advance of the event, then there would be something worth investigating, but with specifying a target or prediction in advance of the event, the simple fact that it is a rare occurrence has little or no significance on its own.

    In regards to emotional manipulation, you can’t event talk to someone without it affecting their emotional state one way or the other, the difference is that when people evangelize, they want the other person to make a decision based on their emotional state whereas I do not want him to make a decision in either direction until he has studied and examined the issues at hand on both sides.

  53. Zeta:

    Thank you for your comment. I share the same desire for anyone to come to Christ and willingly open the door of invitation to all.

    Please read my post again. Based on the scripture you quoted, which was on my mind when I wrote my post, IF it is possible for those who once believed to fall away from the faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to renew them to repentence, since there no longer remains a sacrifice. Christ died once for all. There is no sacrifice year by year, as they made in the Old Testament. So I am not making the judgment, I am not trying to dictate the heart of God, I am repeating what God has already determined.

    I don’t know where doubtful is, which is why I addressed two possibilities; 1. if he claims to have been a believer and 2. if he was never a true believer.

    But, he calles himself an agnostic and said he gave up faith in Jesus. Faith is not the mishy mashy feel good for trying substance Dee talks about. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Doubtful obviously has neither. And it is by grace through faith, (that assurance), by which we are saved. He seems clear to me that doubtful does not have that faith, therefore is not saved.

  54. Karlton,

    There is a big difference between random draw of a card of low probability and what I have described, and I seriously think there is a bit of irrational skepticism showing on your part. This was not a random ‘luck’ kind of event. This was far more than that.

    I know your mechanistic non-supernatural worldview requires there must be some natural explanation for what happened, but from my pov the probability this would happen as the result of some natural confluence of random events is astronomically lower than the probability God was guiding my path … unless, of course, one eliminates the possibility there is a God from the probability calculation 😉

    I am a little surprised you don’t see that 😉


  55. michael,

    While I don’t want to get into some kind of long drawn out theology debate, I still think you are getting caught up in the old once saved always saved vs free will conundrum. There really is no solid answer to that issue – free will/predestination blah blah is one of those things that is at the very least partially paradoxical, and drawing hard lines on what is or is not possible is – I believe – a mistake of the first order. Especially when trying to figure out where someone else is. We aren’t called to figure out where other people are beyond declaring that without Christ they are lost, but in Christ they can have eternal life. The rest is up to God. So while I concur with letting a person know that if they deny Christ they are in danger of Hell, I would never even imply that they are or might be in a state where they can not access Christ’s provision of salvation. I would not want to stand before God and discover that as a result of such a declaration a person that could have accessed salvation in Christ gave up hope and died in their sins.


  56. Oh I see it, but that doesn’t make it rational either. 🙂

    There is no difference between the cards or the mosquito or your event…an event is an event. Why do you think it is qualitatively different, based on what?

    The difference between my “worldview” and yours, is that mine isn’t superimposed on the evidence, it is the result of what the evidence seems to indicate.

    When you say, the evidence points to a creator unless you eliminate the supernatural from the beginning, you actually have the cart before the horse. You must begin with zero assumptions, neither that a creator exists or doesn’t exist. Once that is done, the overwhelming information that we can derive from looking at the world around us is that everything seems to have a natural explanation.

    If 10 billion events in the world can be shown to be of natural origin, and we have 100 events for which we have insufficient information to determine their cause, and may never have sufficient information, it is not logical nor rational to assume their cause derives from anything other than the types of causes you have already observed unless you “insert” the supernatural into the realm of possibilities because you like the idea of it existing. The evidence does not lead a rational person to belief in the supernatural.

  57. Karlton,

    you said: “If 10 billion events in the world can be shown to be of natural origin, and we have 100 events for which we have insufficient information to determine their cause, and may never have sufficient information, it is not logical nor rational to assume their cause derives from anything other than the types of causes you have already observed unless you “insert” the supernatural into the realm of possibilities because you like the idea of it existing. The evidence does not lead a rational person to belief in the supernatural.”

    Really? What if one of those events is that in response to pleas for help in your your life you suddenly feel inspired to write a poem that accurately predicts the events over the next month that will give you the help you asked for? Including information about people’s lives you have no privy to?

    Or what if the event was a flash of light and a voice from heaven saying “Go to this street in this town and knock on the door and the person there will tell you who I am and how you can know me”.

    What you have done is say “God, there is nothing you can do that will convince me you are real”. Nothing physical in this universe can have anything other than a physical cause. If you see an Angel, it’s just a chemical imbalance. If in desparation you cry to God for help with a loved one’s sickness and they get well, it’s just natural remission or blind biological luck.

    How then with that view of the world does a God, if He exists, ever make Himself known to you? It appears to me that no matter what He does, you will simply tell yourself that wasn’t God after all and be on your way. Is that rational?


  58. Zeta,

    You are making many assumptions….first of all, how do you know that the inspiration to write a poem (certainly not an uncommon event), is in response to your pleas unless you have already assumed someone is listening and talking back to you? Secondly, you did not write the poem as a prophecy, you “turned it into” a prophecy once you found a scenario that it matched. Haven’t you ever written a poem that didn’t match any future events or are they all “potential” prophecies once you find a matching scenario. This is the same technique that used by stage psychics called cold reading…they make lots of statements and eventually one of them “hits”…I have a sense of someone having difficulty breathing…ooh that’s me I have a cold .. aha .. psychic ability!

  59. Karlton,

    “you did not write the poem as a prophecy, you “turned it into” a prophecy once you found a scenario that it matched.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but that is one of the most absurd characterizations of that story I have ever heard! 😉

    There are elements of the story I can’t really characterize well. The poem was about Ken. I realized it was about him when I saw him at the church. But at that point I knew nothing about the other correlations. He is the archetype that was lurking below the conscious surface as I penned the song about a ‘man softened by the Lamb’.

    But it does point out one thing. God works with us in very personal ways. This story will likely never strike you with the force it holds in my own life because you can never know all the interactions between all the elements, they are all too personal, too unique to my life’s experience. But for me, they are the hand of God in my life, and in a way that is so real as to be inexplicable outside of a loving God who interacts with me personally.

    But as for the part you can comprehend: this was not a ‘technique’ used to deceive someone. There was no ‘purpose’ when I wrote the song I was aware of. There was no seeking of a match for the words to the song. And there is no attempt on my part to ‘prove’ the event itself to you. Your mockery is based on what you do not know, on what you do not comprehend, what you do not understand. I understand that – you can’t get in my head and see what is real about this event.

    But I can tell you every attempt you have made thus far to box this into an event explainable in the natural is fundamentally flawed. But it does seem that no matter how I try to explain it to you, you will continue to try to force fit it into some natural box explainable without a living God who cares about each of us.

    Is that rational?

    So back to my original point. How ever could God reveal Himself to you? It does seem clear that no event could ever be from Him as far as you are concerned. As I said before, for you, no matter what the event, you simply will say “I guess that was not God after all” and be on your way.

    Is that rational?


  60. Michael-

    I was a true believer-truly repented, truly evangelized, and studied scripture diligently for over 30 years. So i guess I am doomed to hell because I find the Bible to be contradictory at points and I doubt the contradictory traditions surrounding the formation of the New Testament….

    Zeta-Not to be rude, but I would need a little more than your Ken story to understand why you find the Christian Scriptures to be true. I understand it helped to confirm your belief in God’s care and provision for your friend and his vision for this retreat center….but is that proof that Jesus life, death, rising from the grave are historical facts? When I delve into church history itself (written by Christians) I find a murky picture and a lot of charitable assumptions that an outsider to the Christian faith would not give……not sure if I’m making sense, but until I have better evidence that the events of the NT are historical-then I will continue to doubt and be agnostic towards the issue. For some-it seems that dooms me….but I was taught that truth matters, and truth is, I don’t find good evidence to trust the NT any more than the Book of Mormon or the Farmers Almanac as the inerrant Word of God.


  61. Zeta:

    I have not touched on the once saved/always saved issue. I have merely pointed out that you can’t be saved, then not saved, saved again, then not saved, then saved again, etc. I am simply stating the rules of the game, so to speak. As you said, one can’t be renewed again to repentence.

    I do not know whether doubtful ever was saved. I’m not making that call And I used the word, “IF” to not get into a debate about whether one can fall away from the faith.

    However, we all know that it is by grace through faith that we are saved. If one doesn’t have faith, they don’t have the grace and are not saved. I am not making the call, I am simply taking doubtful at his own words, his own assessment of where he’s at; without faith.

  62. doubtful:

    Of course you are not condemned to hell for believing that the bible contains contradictions and you doubt the contradictory traditions surrounding the formation of the New Testament….

    You said you were agnostic and let go of your faith in Jesus. If you do not have faith in Jesus and what He did, that is what would condemn you to hell; rejecting His free gift of righteousness, which comes through faith in Jesus.

  63. Michael-

    I can’t reject what I’m not sure is real. You make it seem like their is a new car in my driveway that I “reject” to drive-and even deny it’s existence. A car in my driveway could be easily confirmed….with Jesus, I have to have faith in the scriptures in order to have faith in Him who can not be seen.

    It’s not exactly the same you know…I let go of my faith because I began to realize that the Formation of the NT was far from inerrant, and the Church in general, has never really resolved what is scripture and how it should be interpreted. I know that’s a very broad could google Richard Carrier and read his history of the Formation of the NT Canon, if you want to get a feel for the types of study and conclusions I have come to concerning the NT.

  64. Doubtful, I can understand your doubts. I had them in college, but I was at a leading evangelical school and was introduced to those doubts in theology classrooms. I am 100% sure I wasn’t introduced to only straw men, because for a while they shook me fairly seriously. I am also 100% sure that I was given solid, reasonable answers to all of my doubts by the smart men and women whose classes I sat in. Who did you read defending Scripture and canon formation?

  65. just to be clear….faith to me=trust…that’s why I say you have to have faith (or trust) the scriptures in order to have faith in Jesus.

  66. Watcher-

    Good questions….I read a lot-used to work in the Christian Bookstore industry.

    Here’s a few:

    Bruce Metzger
    FF Bruce
    Harold OJ Brown
    Eugen Peterson
    Bruce Olson
    Gary Habbermas
    Timothy Bercot
    Josh McDowell-The Evidence Volumes 1 & 2
    Book of Bible Difficulties-Zondervan

    These are some of the Christian authors that I turned to….

  67. Zeta,

    You said “but that is one of the most absurd characterizations of that story I have ever heard”, how many have you heard?

    I am perfectly capable, as are most people are of understanding, in general, how you felt, I have had similar experiences as I believe most people have. Regardless, how you ‘feel” about something does not make it evidence.

    You also said “But I can tell you every attempt you have made thus far to box this into an event explainable in the natural is fundamentally flawed”. How is it flawed?

    And to answer your final statement, it IS logical to explain things without referring to a supernatural force because there is nothing that we observe which needs a supernatural explanation when we have natural explanations available which make sense and when all of the things which we can explain are via natural causes as well. That is what rationality and logic are.

    I have a relative in my family who, on the whole, has always acted very selfishly, never considering others, always believing that the world revolves around them (or at least it should). I choose the believe that this person, deep inside, really does care about others, even though the evidence for it is lacking, to say the least. This is my belief, I realize and understand that this belief is irrational and unreasonable in the light of existing evidence, however I am comfortable with that. I believe what I believe about them because I want to believe it, in spite of it being irrational.

    No one is saying that belief in the supernatural is necessarily wrong, or that you don’t have a right to indulge in it. All that I am saying is that it not, by any definition, rational or reasonable thought.

    I could be convinced of the existence of some sort of god by god doing for me, on demand, a series of “miracles”, which could not be explained via natural causes. You may argue that God doesn’t perform parlor tricks, but that’s exactly my point…if something already has a viable natural explanation, if all of His miracles are something for which we can offer reasonable naturalistic explanations, then there is nothing which should drive us to a supernatural explanation, it’s unreasonable.

  68. Dee-

    James clearly teaches that we are “justified” by works, not by faith alone. He doesn’t say that someone who has faith will desire works because they are justified, he says we are justified because of works. This clearly contradicts Paul’s teaching that we are saved by faith and not works….

    Ye see, then, that out of works is man declared righteous, and not out of faith only;-Young’s Literal Translation

  69. Doubtful,

    Is this what you are referring to in James?

    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

    25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

  70. doubtful:

    Nevertheless, you do not have faith. You asked the question if you died tonight would you be condemned to hell. Yes, you would without trust in Jesus Christ. You know that, having studied the bible for years.

    In your post to Dee, you are correct that we are justified by our works, but those works are a result of our faith. Paul does not disagree, as he states in Ephesians 2 that God has prepared works for us to walk in, which is the logical outworking of our faith. We will know them by their fruits, etc.

  71. Michael,

    Yes, from a Christian theological standpoint you would go to hell, not to mention all the other terrible fates that might await you for not believing in all the Gods of all the religions in the world, most of which have special place of torment waiting for you if you are a non-believer in their religion.

    But, for people to actually say “You are going to suffer and be tormented for all eternity” as though it were an actual fact, when clearly you don’t know that to be true is a terrible piece of psychological/emotional pain to inflict on another human being.

    People talk about the psychological damage done by cult groups and their overbearing leaders, but has the idea of eternal physical and emotional torment, torment so great that only an all powerful God could create it, become so commonplace in your thinking and vocabulary that you cannot see what kind of pain and damage telling someone that this is their fate unless they believe like you, could do?

    That may seem a bit over dramatic, but I wanted to make a point.


    I know you can’t collect after you die, but I’d be willing to bet that when you die all that will happen is you’ll be buried in a box underground or maybe cremated if that’s your pleasure, but either way you’ll simply cease to exist. No pain, no suffering and no 72 virgins, angels or life hereafter. Enjoy the life you have, don’t let a minute of it slip by unused and unappreciated, it’s all you have.

  72. Karlton:

    Better to be warned than not. When there’s a fire in the building, I’m not concerned about his psychological response to me yelling at someone and telling him to get his butt to the one exit, while he’s questioning the existence of the only exit. The loving thing to do is get the person to safety by telling him the truth.

  73. But that’s my point, in a fire situation, you know there’s a fire…Belief in a fiery furnace where souls suffer is…well, not so clear cut a case. Don’t try and make a bad thing noble by pretending that you know, as though you had been there and back.

    The truth is, that you believe it to be true, but you no more know it is true than you know for certain whether god talking to Moses through a burning bush is a literal story.

  74. Doubtful

    Would you tell me what you found problematic in FF Bruce’s work? I am quite familiar with it. I imagine you are talking about his book on how we got the Canon?

    When I had my crisis of faith a number of years ago, I not only turned to those who did not believe but also turned to those who did. As time went on, I began to realize that there were very rational (sorry Karl) and intelligent people who had studied the contradictions, concerns, etc. and came out on the side of Christianity. I know the same is true for atheists, agnostics, etc. however, there are brilliant people who are Christians.

    Its rather funny. The same story in the Bible- the woman caught in adultery-which led Bart Ehrman away from the faith actually led me to a deeper faith. He used the fact that it wasn’t in the earliest manuscripts to trash his faith. I used that fact to begin a study to learn what i did not know.

    Unlike Michael, I am not sure about the saved, not saved thing in terms about losing, finding, losing, finding.I think we humans are far too concrete and these issues are far more difficult. here is my view of God. he wants everyone to believe in Him. He knows our frailties. He is far more gracious and forgiving towards us than we are towards one another.

    Unlike Karl, I believe that which we call “supernatural” is rational. And some rational people buy faith and some rational people do not.

  75. Michael

    Unlike you, i have some confusion in this area. I actually believe that some people who have gone on to reject the faith, were once Christians. I know this isn’t part of the paradigm for some of the Reformed crowd, but I cannot reject what i have seen.

    However, can they return? Possibly. In the early church there was a terrible controversy. During the First Great persecution, there were some folks who, when confronted with the lion’s den and torture signed the bill of libellus ( I may have the name or spelling wrong). This stated that they would also worship Caesar as well as Jesus. Many Christians refused to sign and were sent to their deaths.

    Once the persecutions ended, those who survived felt bad and wished to join the church once again. There were many who believed that they had denied Jesus and were therefore permanently in an apostate condition. However, some of the early church leaders disagreed and allowed them back into the fellowship.

    I think I am falling out on the side of mercy and grace and that, as humans, we can go through terrible trials that cause great anguish and perhaps even a temporary loss of belief. But, I think God is bigger and more loving than we can even imagine.

  76. Karl

    I think the whole hell thing has been misunderstood by many. Here is the bottom line. Assume, for a minute, that the Bible is correct and that all men are immortal meaning they have a soul and will one day have a body soul reunion.

    Now, take your situation. you have clearly expressed your disdain for the whole god thing. Even if He were true, in your book, you don’t like Him a whole lot and disagree with His handling of this world and the people therein.

    You would probably not wish to spend eternity with this God you despise or have no use for. Yet God created you to be eternal.He loves His creation and has not intent on destroying you for eternity.

    Instead, He has a place for you to go where His presence will not be. In fact, you will be free from Him for eternity. Some will be punished for the terrible things they have done. Hitler, etc. However, you will just be in a place devoid of Him along with all the others who have no use for Him.

    For me, that would be hell. I wonder what it would be like without God’s presence? But, for you, no problem.

    God is not an eternal rapist, forcing you into His presence in this life or the next. He often lets us achieve exactly what we want.

  77. Lydia
    Thanks for the verse. It clarifies this issue. This has never been a problem for me-one of the few things that has not. That has me worried. Am I missing something?

  78. Dee,

    I would only add that even though there are rational people who believe in God, they are not thinking rationally about God. In other words, they may be rational thinkers in many different areas, however belief in the supernatural is not logical or rational regardless of who holds the position. There is no evidence for the supernatural, so insisting on its existence is, by definition not logical or rational.

    It’s not that I “don’t like Him”, it’s that the depiction of Him in the OT is of a psychotic, jealous and frequently malevolent being. I’m not worried about it, only because the likelihood of His existence is fanciful at best. What puzzles me more is why people would willingly follow such a creature even if He did exist.

    We’ve been down this road before, but even if you grant His existence, He has committed infanticide, genocide, ordered rapes, the taking of slaves, the murder of innocents, etc. etc. etc. What kind of person would willingly give Him any type of allegiance, let alone love.

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, and I certainly do not mean any disrespect to people here, but some days I get a bit more frustrated with the religious mentality than others…this is one of those days.

  79. Karlton,

    We are probably at or near an impasse on this, but I figured I would take one more stab at your questions. From where I sit, what I see is you doing basically what the YEC’s do with evidence contrary to what they believe possible. Hand waving it away. But I know, being a former YEC, how hard getting beyond that can be. So here I go – I’ll address each statement directly:

    Zeta said “but that is one of the most absurd characterizations of that story I have ever heard”,

    Karlton: “how many have you heard?”

    Not too many actually, this is not a story I share with just anyone as I don’t like being unable to get through a story without its emotional impact on me becoming obvious. Nevertheless, characterizing it as:

    “you did not write the poem as a prophecy, you “turned it into” a prophecy once you found a scenario that it matched.”

    Is patently absurd. There is only one man I have know that would be immediately characterized by the phrase “a man softened by the Lamb”. Certainly there was only one person that phrase referred to in my mind at that time of my life. Further, this man paints (“covered over with lilacs stayed a man” has triple meaning “lilacs stayed” are paintings, “stayed a man” is the man stayed at the cabin, and the man ‘stayed’ (painted) the lilacs)

    This was all understood by me about the song before I walked in the door of the church where I saw Ken. The only think that had not come to the surface of my consciousness was that this was Ken in the song. As far as I was concerned it was a person like Ken.

    The cabin, the advancement of his painting, the lake, the events which would unfold, all these are simple FACTS described in the song – as you can read.

    Finally, I had no knowledge of the cabin, or that he would invite us to it, or that we would sit and talk by a fireplace of grace and our life’s journey. Heck, I did not even know that he would be anywhere near us that weekend – or anytime in the near future, let alone the rest.

    This is either an incredible coincidence or an act of God, but it is NOT something manufactured or force fit by wishful thinking. THAT is absurd.

    Karlton said:

    I am perfectly capable, as are most people are of understanding, in general, how you felt, I have had similar experiences as I believe most people have. Regardless, how you ‘feel” about something does not make it evidence.

    I am curious what ‘similar’ experiences you are speaking of. It’s not that I would doubt that you have necessarily, you were after all for a time a Christian and may well have had encounters similar to my own with God. But I would like to know you aren’t equating a really good poker hand with what I have just described.

    Karlton said:
    You also said “But I can tell you every attempt you have made thus far to box this into an event explainable in the natural is fundamentally flawed”. How is it flawed?

    Specifically you have tried to act as if the correlations I see between the text of the song and the events are somehow force fit together. The song and the events are a perfect fit. There is no forcing. When my wife and I walked into the cabin and saw the ‘lilacs stayed’ on the walls we where overwhelmed. He literally has all the walls of a large room covered with the originals of the paintings he produces! There is no force fit here, not manufacturing, not ‘generalized statements’ that could fit any scenario. There was one man I had known to that point that song could be about, and that one man had every artifact and characteristic described in the song on his land and in his personality. You need to face the fact this was not some psychic mumbo jumbo. This was real. It’s either random or miraculous, but it was real. I still have the sheet of paper I wrote the song down on.

    Karlton said:

    And to answer your final statement, it IS logical to explain things without referring to a supernatural force because there is nothing that we observe which needs a supernatural explanation when we have natural explanations available which make sense and when all of the things which we can explain are via natural causes as well. That is what rationality and logic are.

    But Karlton, you are missing the point of my question. You have made it impossible for any natural event to prove to you there is a God. You have made it impossible for any supernatural even to show you there is a God. You said it yourself. If 10 billion events can be explained by natural means and 100 can’t, then it is rational to assume they can as well. So there you go – what miracle can God work that you will not assume was not God after all????

    Karlton said:

    I have a relative in my family who, on the whole, has always acted very selfishly, never considering others, always believing that the world revolves around them (or at least it should). I choose the believe that this person, deep inside, really does care about others, even though the evidence for it is lacking, to say the least. This is my belief, I realize and understand that this belief is irrational and unreasonable in the light of existing evidence, however I am comfortable with that. I believe what I believe about them because I want to believe it, in spite of it being irrational.

    Is it really irrational to believe that a man may have something good in him?
    Have you not seen and known others who appear harsh yet later you found good in them? There is nothing irrational about hope Karlton. Indeed, it is something incredibly rational – for without hope we do not succeed. Without hope we do not persevere. Hope is rational. It is rational to know there are things that can’t be proven that are real. Because we see evidence of that fact every day.

    Indeed – I would make the case that to doubt everything that can’t be seen or proved is itself irrational and stands in the face of the evidence of most of our lives.

    Karlton said:

    No one is saying that belief in the supernatural is necessarily wrong, or that you don’t have a right to indulge in it. All that I am saying is that it not, by any definition, rational or reasonable thought.

    I disagree, for the reasons I posted above.

    Karlton said:

    I could be convinced of the existence of some sort of god by god doing for me, on demand, a series of “miracles”, which could not be explained via natural causes. You may argue that God doesn’t perform parlor tricks, but that’s exactly my point…if something already has a viable natural explanation, if all of His miracles are something for which we can offer reasonable naturalistic explanations, then there is nothing which should drive us to a supernatural explanation, it’s unreasonable.

    You are contradicting yourself. What miracle can God do for you that you would not immediately assume had a natural explanation based on the 10 billion things shown to have natural causes? And if there were some such miracles, would they not be some of the 100 things you’ve already said you would chose to believe had a natural cause???


  80. Lydia-

    Yep-I think you have the NIV on James. Thanks for the complete passage….


    It’s been a while since I read FF Bruce. I found it very informative and gave me a framework for the history of the formation of the canon. I couldn’t give you a specific at the moment….I was just mentioning some of the Christian authors that helped inform my education on the formation of the New Testament.


  81. “Lydia
    Thanks for the verse. It clarifies this issue. This has never been a problem for me-one of the few things that has not. That has me worried. Am I missing something?”

    No, James is not saying what doubtful claims he is saying. One of the things not taught is that each book is written to a specific audience for a reason. Ironically, Luther had some of the same problems with James that doubtful does. But Luther thought he focused on works too much….keep in mind, Luther was a priest in the Catholic church which was nothing but works.

    The only other place we have James speaking is at the Jerusalem Council in Acts. And that was focused on “legalism” and bad works of the Judaizers.

    How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth…by Gordon Fee is excellent. I recommend it to everyone. It will clear up the type of problems doubtful is concerned about.

    Here is more of that passage out of Youngs:

    17so also the faith, if it may not have works, is dead by itself.

    18But say may some one, Thou hast faith, and I have works, shew me thy faith out of thy works, and I will shew thee out of my works my faith:

    19thou — thou dost believe that God is one; thou dost well, and the demons believe, and they shudder!

    20And dost thou wish to know, O vain man, that the faith apart from the works is dead?

    21Abraham our father — was not he declared righteous out of works, having brought up Isaac his son upon the altar?

    22dost thou see that the faith was working with his works, and out of the works the faith was perfected?

    23and fulfilled was the Writing that is saying, `And Abraham did believe God, and it was reckoned to him — to righteousness;’ and, `Friend of God’ he was called.

    24Ye see, then, that out of works is man declared righteous, and not out of faith only;

    25and in like manner also Rahab the harlot — was she not out of works declared righteous, having received the messengers, and by another way having sent forth?

    26for as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also the faith apart from the works is dead.

    (We can make scripture say anything if we proof text). Note the last verse….
    I would recommend everyone read it in the interlinear…I would post it but my interlinear will not cut and paste.

    James is saying if you can’t have one without the other. Faith and works go togehter if we are saved. (Remember, James is writing to those who claim to be believers already)

    See verses 18-19. He is using Abraham and Rahab as an example. Abraham had to have great faith to obey God (works) when it came to slaying his son. (A shadow of Christ). Rahab had faith in the God of the Jews so she risked her life (works).

  82. Morning Zeta,

    Yes, I think we are probably at an impasse as well, and I think you misunderstood many of the points I was trying to make, but they aren’t that important…to get to the crux of the issue…

    A month or so ago you and Dee made a very interesting argument for how God acts or does miracles in our reality. You both said that it is likely that God acts or changes things by utilizing nature as a mechanism of change.

    As a simple example, I pray to God for a flower to grow in my front yard, 3 days later a daisy appears…you might argue that while God did not “poof” a magical flower there, He did cause the seed that was already there to germinate and grow, in other words, God answers our prayers or acts in our universe via natural mechanisms which He controls.

    If that is indeed the case, then if you start objectively with no preconceived idea that there is a God, how do you logically derive the existence of a Supernatural being simply by observing natural events. Since God is using nature as His mechanism of change there is no way to know or detect a difference between natural events without God’s assistance and guided natural events, as the result of God’s intervention.

    All I am trying to say is that, the leap to a supernatural cause is not a logical leap when what we observe seems to be the result of natural causes and we have never observed anything that seems to be “supernatural” or contrary to the laws of nature as we understand them.

    If, for example, God would regrow a person’s severed limb, or maybe pop a new moon or two into orbit around the earth then remove them after we visited them, or maybe raise an entire city and let it float 200′ in the air to save the inhabitants from a tsunami then safely lower the city back down when it was safe.

    You get the idea, in order to make belief in the supernatural logical or rational, there must be “supernatural” events that point to His existence. If God only works through natural means, that’s all well and good, but it then robs the believer of any real evidence that there is more than natural events and leaves him with “faith”, wishing for something to be true, as the only option.

  83. Lydia

    I like the book by Fee. I think there were some things that just seemed logical to me early on and continue to be so-the James works thing was one of those.

    Salvation comes first, with the imbuing of the Holy Spirit, set as a mark on our soul. The Spirit goes to work with me and I open myself to this new third dimension in my life. Something must change, even it it is small.

    Think of the thief on the cross. Even in the short period of time, as he was dying he confessed Christ, understood that Christ would take him into his kingdom. Imagine that…a dying man, tortured, who got the concept of the kingdom and the disciples were still mixed up, hoping for it to be an earthly kingdom.Talk about the Spirit!

    In my own life, one week I couldn’t understand the Bible for the life of me. I had an unusual conversion, as you know, alone watching Star Trek. The next week, i went to a little group meeting, I still remember it. We were sitting by the ocean in Salem Massachusetts. The leaders asked us about 1 John1. As usual, everyone in our small group say quiet since we were all confused. Except I raised my hand and expounded on the passage. i understood it for the first time. the leaders looked shocked and asked me if something happened. I told them about the Star Trek conversion.

    Once again, it all makes sense. I think people try to make it more complicated or don’t want to understand so they can use it for their political purposes.

  84. Hi Karl

    If God did such a thing, I guarantee you that many would still find what you term “rational” explanation for the occurrences.

    I disagree with your depiction of brilliant people thinking “irrationally” when it comes to God. The majority of mankind searches for God, believes in God, and worships God. You see this as an outmoded meme that “rational” persons, such as yourself, have overcome. In fact, many atheists preach this “belief” which I find a subtle way of saying that they have evolved beyond us throwbacks. Do they not realize they sound as ridiculous as ken Ham and lose the argument on this point alone? Frankly, I don’t have enough faith in such a thing as a evolutionary throwback God meme.

    I think Zeta, aka “Koatap,” has raised a point that you have difficulty accepting. I believe that God gives us all the elements to believe in Him. Some of us want to, others do not. If one is so inclined to believe in God, He then allows us to see things in a different light. The more light we seek, the more light we have. Zeta is right. You will not choose to see the miraculous because you do not choose to see God. To me, his story is both moving and rational.To you, its just some unexplainable brain glitch.

    You have your own belief system that is entirely based on what you wish to accept. The universe is impersonal and eternal. You “think” there is a natural explanation for everything. However, you cannot be sure of this because you don’t see everything. I think there is a “natural” explanation too but I think the “rational” explanation is that there is a God Creator that transcends and designs.

    I think there is a longing in us for life after death, ultimate justice, ultimate reconciliation, etc. precisely because we were created for such a thing.

    One of your objections to what occurred in the Old Testament is due to the fact that you do not believe in ultimate justice and redemption. To you, this life, this world, is all there is and all there ever will be. That colors your perception because you cannot accept there are more important things than just this short life in which we live.

    I can understand you in the context of your own prejudices just as you will say the same to me. For me, it is so easy to see the Hand of the Almighty. For you, it is an irrational thing. To me, you are irrational because of the reasons given.

    I know you said we should live life to the fullest while on this earth because soon we will die and that’s all she wrote. I am living life to the fullest. I see the beauty, I love others, I enjoy the little things like cooking and the big things like the Alaskan wilderness and the Sonoran Desert. I think all of these things are just a foreshadowing of great beauty to come.

    My guess is that you do not live a better or more joyous life than me. In fact, because of my “rational” beliefs I think it gives me much greater hope for better things to come. So don’t be frustrated with me, I am enjoying this life as you are.

    I just realized I forgot to answer you on the Exodus. I need to run but will do that sometime this weekend.

  85. doubtful

    I read FF Bruce when i went through my own faith journey a number of years ago, His book was instrumental in helping me to understand the validity of the canon. I am curious, in light of this resource, what you actual concerns are about the canon that are not answered by his resource. I taught a class in the development of the canon. As early as 100AD the church fathers were quoting from what they considered to be authoritative letters that we now find in our Bible. In fact, the either never mention or disagree with the pseudoepigrapha that I think you might be referring to. This is an interesting subject for me since I have read quite a bit on the matter. Just so you understand, I have read extensively on historical textual criticism as presented by Bart Ehrman, etc. I just think the Christian history answers much of these issues.

  86. Michael

    you said “Faith is not the mishy mashy feel good for trying substance Dee talks about. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    I want you to understand that I take faith very, very seriously. There are a few people in my life that would testify that i often take a hard stand on things. Mishy mashy is not a word that would apply to me ( I hear laughing going on around the great state of NC).

    Because of my willingness to engage people of all stripes, including exChristians, my tacit acceptance of the doctrine of eternal security has been a bit shaken. I hope you have read my comment regarding the early church and the bill of libellus. For some, there is an instant conversion, then full steam ahead into the arms of Jesus. In fact, from what i can tell, except for a little glitch, I fit this pattern. However, others don’t and I am loathe to say that anyone is beyond the reach of salvation.

  87. Doubtful

    In an earlier stream you discuss your concerns about Scripture and tis preservation. I believe, with every fiber in my being, that the Scripture is infallible in bringing those who want to know God into His kingdom. Here is where I go out on the limb a bit. I am not a die-hard literalist and that is where I think most people run into problems and need to tie themselves into knots. As many readers will know, I am not a Young Earth creationist (I hear the groans starting).The Scripture uses literal recounting, poetry, allegory, etc. God is the God of language and uses all of these devices to convey His story.

    I know that Ehrman states that there are 1000s of errors in the Bible. That is, and he knows it, a pile of bunkum. Most of those errors involved prepositional phrases ,etc. that do not change the intent of the text one iota. In fact, one can be assured that there are so many manuscripts available, that most of these minor phrasing issues have been corrected.

    I would assume that you have been to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. These caused a great deal of concern for historical critics because they show just how accurate the OT is.

    There are many people who read the Bible and become Christians just by reading it. I know several of these folks. The Bible does exactly what it’s mission is. It points clearly to the One who has preserved it for all time.

  88. Dee,

    Sorry, I think you still miss the point…you said ” I believe that God gives us all the elements to believe in Him. “, on what basis do you believe there is anything “supernatural”? You have not seen or witnessed anything that could only have a supernatural explanation. (if you have, please share). Yet you assume the existence of a supernatural being.

    Assumption of a supernatural agency when there is no direct evidence of such a thing is illogical. Something that can be explained both via natural and supernatural agency should logically be assigned the natural agency (Occam’s Razor).

    If you wish to make your belief in the supernatural logical then you must produce evidence which clearly demonstrates the existence of the supernatural or admit that it illogical, which, as I have said before does not preclude the possibility of it being correct, but you cannot call it logical and rational simply because it gives it an air of respectability if it doesn’t meet the qualifications of, in fact, being a logical assumption.

    You said “You see this as an outmoded meme that “rational” persons, such as yourself, have overcome”. Nothing could be further from the truth and I am surprised that you say this.

    There certainly are plenty of times when intuition, emotion, feelings serve us much better than logic. But even when we use those mechanisms, even when we feel they are the best tool for the job at hand (and I think those times can be quite frequent), they are still not “rational” or “logical” decisions, they are emotional and/or illogical, but, as I have said multiple times now, that doesn’t necessarily make them wrong.

    I’m just saying, without supernatural evidence, you cannot claim that belief in the supernatural is the result of a logical, rational, reasonable thought process, call it what it is, a desire to believe in something, in spite of the evidence. I think that Christianity could defuse a lot of the criticism that comes from the unbelieving sector if they would simply stop trying to justify their belief in the supernatural by attempting to make it seem rational in the same way that YEC people could maintain their beliefs without as much criticism if they stopped trying to make it be “scientific” and just admitted they believe in a young earth because they want to or because their religion requires it of them.

  89. Karlton said:

    All I am trying to say is that, the leap to a supernatural cause is not a logical leap when what we observe seems to be the result of natural causes and we have never observed anything that seems to be “supernatural” or contrary to the laws of nature as we understand them.

    Karlton – everything we can observe or see or detect or record or be physically influenced by is natural (or can be explained via natural means). Our eyes detect light – a natural phenomena. Our hears hear sound – a natural pheomena. And so forth. Therefore any event we can observe, or see, or deterct, or record, or be physically influenced by will take on a natural form at some level.

    For example, even if God talks to us from the sky, there will be either real sound waves, or electical impulses that somehow map into our brains so that we ‘hear’ the words. If nothing else, the chemicals in our brains that record the words spoken will be a physical manifestation of the supernatural event that the astute scientist could postulate ‘happened spontaneously due to some random impulse or chemical imbalance’.

    Therefore, there will ALWAYS be the POSSIBILITY there could be a natural explanation behind the (super)natural event we observe. You have defined away the possibility of the supernatural by demanding you observe (natural) something that ‘has to have a supernatural cause or origin‘. That is itself, ultimately, a contradiction in terms. Nothing we can remember observing HAS to have a supernatural explanation!

    The most anyone could ever do is show you a natural event which violates the KNOWN natural laws. And even then, all you have to do is postulate some currently unknown set of natural laws must therefore exist.

    From my perspective, the specific event I described to you violates what could possibly be expected in the natural unless human beings possess the innate natural ability to somehow foretell the future (something most ‘rational’ folks exclude from the natural). The idea this is a mental forcing of unrelated text and events is absurd. The idea this is some kind of random confluence requires an aligning of random events whose odds are beyond astronomical – but from my perspective THAT is the more likely natural explanation.

    But it does have a potentially natural explanation. And so does essentially every miracle described in the Bible. And so would any sequence of on demand miracles you could conjure.

    Unless one allows for the possibility there is a God, one can always explain life as simply natural. Because we have no innate capability that can be measured with natural devices that is not itself responding to or the result of natural events.

    But statistically most humans look out on the world and universe and innately sense there is more to it that just what is here before our eyes. And once one allows for that ‘god’ or ‘universal intelligence’ and begins to search for the possibility there is more, a ‘supernatural’, the door is open to perceive events whose most likely explanation is that the something more most of us sense is real and out there.

    Jesus understood this well 2000 years ago. One has to be seeking God to find God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Those are basic principles that simply can’t be avoided or bypassed.


  90. “The leaders asked us about 1 John1. As usual, everyone in our small group say quiet since we were all confused. Except I raised my hand and expounded on the passage. i understood it for the first time. the leaders looked shocked and asked me if something happened. I told them about the Star Trek conversion.”

    The Holy Spirit.

    “Once again, it all makes sense. I think people try to make it more complicated or don’t want to understand so they can use it for their political purposes.”

    Without the Holy Spirit, the Word is simply a book, a club to beat folks with or an historical narrative.

    Dee, I think your background makes you uniquely gifted to engage athiests, etc.

  91. “you said “Faith is not the mishy mashy feel good for trying substance Dee talks about. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.””

    Yikes. There is nothing mishy mashy about the Holy Spirit convicting one of their sin and need for a Savior.

  92. Sorry Zeta,

    That doesn’t make sense…but even if you are right and, as you say, “Nothing we can remember observing HAS to have a supernatural explanation” then you’ve made my case for me, for if you can explain anything with natural causes then the leap to the supernatural is not logical nor is it needed, plain and simple.

    You say “unless you allow for it”, which is another way to say “unless you first believe it exists”, but that puts the cart before the horse. No one is defining God out of the set of possibilities, we are just saying there is no evidence for Him.

    Think of gravity, maybe when that apple fell it had nothing to do with gravity, I mean if I allow for a supernatural being who spends his time forcing things to the ground, maybe that’s the explanation, but you don’t believe that, neither do I and I doubt anyone else does either…why? Because gravity explains it perfectly fine, there is no reason to invoke some magical, untestable, unknowable force for which there is no other evidence. Just because I allow for a possibility still doesn’t make it the correct choice, it’s common sense.

    But to address what you said directly, no one, could manufacture a rational explanation for a city uprooting itself from the ground and hovering 100′ in the air while a tsunami passes underneath only to re-seat itself when the danger passes and you know that’s the case. Regrowing a limb overnight certainly wouldn’t be dismissed with some half-baked idea without considerable research and investigation,

    If you are going to claim the existence of a supernatural force, you cannot use mundane events to make your case, I would think that is self-evident, if something is there which has the ability to transcend the laws of nature, then the only way to prove its existence if by observing qualifying events. I have not defined them out of the equation, I have given examples only a few of countless things that could qualify.

  93. Karlton.

    Admitting all things potentially have a natural explanation in no way implies a natural explanation for all things is sensible.

    You yourself admitted that if you could get God to ‘on demand’ do a series of ‘miracles’ you might find reason to believe. My point is that if you really wanted to, you could find a way to explain even that away as being of natural origin.

    So I’ve not made your case for you, I’ve made my case, which all along has been that faith is required, but that there are events that are so improbable as to be better explained by God than some natural cause – even though faith is still required.

    What we are haggling over right now is how improbable does the event have to be to convince you there might be a God and invoking ‘random chance’ or some other ‘previously unknown natural law’ just does not make sense. Clearly my story is not improbable enough for you. But according to you, a city hovering overhead would be good enough.

    Well, I won’t sit here and try to say that really wouldn’t be good enough for you, but as far as I know you have to wait till Christ returns and brings the New Jerusalem to Earth to get a chance to see that. So I think you are kind of out of luck on that front.

    But there is in history a really big event. The Resurrection. And that is the main event God wants us to look at as the proof there is the supernatural. The problem, of course, is that unless you are willing to accept something like my story in your own life (but taylored more to you specifically) as evidence of the possibility the Resurrection might be true, you have to take someone else’s word for it that it happened. And there I can’t really help you as my word clearly is not good enough ;).

    I can pray though that something will come your way out of the blue that you just can’t stomach shoving it into the box of natural, random chance.

    Till then I’m sure we’ll find other things to argue about, or even maybe agree upon.


  94. Karl

    I continue to be stuck on the fact that most people throughout time and in all cultures have sought God. To say that all of these folks are irrational is …irrational. Just as we have hunger to tell us to eat to fuel our bodies, just as we get sleepy to rest our bodies, we have a desire to seek for God because it is in our best interests in light of eternity. We have been created for something more and that desire leads us there.

  95. I must be the worst teacher in the world, because you both keep spinning it back to me differently from what I thought I said.

    It is not the act of searching for God that is irrational, in fact I was never even addressing people’s search for God. To say we have “been created for something more” begs the question, so not allowed. To say that it is in our best interest to search…I can see that and agree, but the act of searching, is not the same as believing. A person can be irrational in one decision and perfectly rational in another. To belief in God, I believe, can be shown to be irrational, that doesn’t make the person irrational as a whole however.

    I am NOT saying there is no God, I am NOT even saying the supernatural does not exist. What is AM saying is that to make a case that your belief in God is rational and logical there MUST be evidence and that evidence, of necessity must be supernatural.

    To Zeta’s point, whether or not people would twist or redefine or simply not believe that supernatural evidence is beside the point. If it doesn’t exist, then my point stands, i.e. that belief in God or the supernatural is based on what you, a priori, want to believe is true, but it is not based on evidence.

    If I want to offer proof that I have a tabby cat, I suspect that just my word is sufficient. If I want to prove that I have 5 million dollars, you’ll probably want something more substantial like a banker’s word or bank statement in addition to my word, if you want to prove that an omnipotent, omniscient supernatural being exists, you better have some pretty extraordinary evidence.

    There are many religions that have resurrection stories, but you believe this particular one, because you believe that God inspired the writers…doesn’t that bring us kinda full circle?

  96. Karl

    I don’t get what you don’t get. I say the very fact that almost all men seem to have a need for god built into their very being means there must be a God.Just like hunger means there must be food and sleepiness means there must be sleep.

  97. Karl,

    Also, why did all those Christian willingly go to their deaths via Nero’s garden parties and the coliseum. If Jesus did not raise from the dead, what would be the use of that sacrifice. we are not talking about a fe true believers. These persecutions were extensive. If there as no evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, why bother? Surely the rumors would have flown around that Jesus never rose from the dead.Why bother for uncertainty?

  98. Karl, I hear you. (I think.) You’re saying that God may be real, but trying to “prove” something like faith, that to you is unprovable because it is FAITH and not fact, is silly. If it were provable, then it would be called FACT and faith would be unnecessary.

    So you’re saying that faith is not something that one can reason because you believe it is beyond reason, not necssarily not true, just beyond logic and reason.

    Did I get it? Cause I have a gold star and I think it would look good on my forehead.

  99. Stunned,

    I’ll lick the gold star for you myself, I was about to lose my sanity. What you said was going to be my very next way of addressing the whole thing…if it is rational and logical then what place does faith have?

    One GOLD STAR for Stunned!

    I think that believers want to prove that believing in the supernatural is rational and logical because they don’t want to be marginalized or dismissed out of hand. What they fail to realize is that there is nothing inherently bad about following one’s intuition or emotions or having faith. It is simply a choice about how you wish to view the world. It is Jerusalem vs. Athens, or faith vs. reason.

  100. Stunned/Karl

    I agree that faith is the key. Scripture states that faith is the evidence for things unseen.

    However, having worked in the public health arena, there is such a thing as a reasoned belief and one that is unreasonable. One is acceptable, the other is grounds for a 72 hour observation at the local psych ward. I sent my fair share of people for observation in my day-the local police knew who I was by the sound of my voice when I called the local station for “assistance.”

    So, the man who believes he is Jesus and is attempting to walk on water needs some nice pills and intervention. The man who follows Jesus can be President of the United States.

  101. doubtful,

    I have not meant to leave you hanging in terms of providing a response to the question of why I believe what the scriptures teach that is, this post:

    Well at least we know who wrote the Book of Mormon. We don’t even know who wrote most of the NT books. Most of them (except Paul’s letters) don’t say who wrote them, and early church tradition is often contradictory about who wrote the different Gospels.

    Secondly, I didn’t ask who wrote the Gospels and NT….I asked how you know that it wasn’t manufactured in the same way you dismiss Joseph Smith’s writings… do you know it’s true?

    The problem here is that this kind of question does not have a simple answer. There is literally no ‘fact’ we accept from ancient history that can be known with the kind of certainty we might know who the most recent president was. As a matter of fact, as I pointed out previously, if one is skeptical enough, even well documented recent events can be called into question. As I pointed out previously, there are a large number of folks that actually think there is sufficient evidence to doubt the holocaust in Nazi Germany – in spite of all the currently living and other high level eyewitnesses and written and photographic documentation. It is actually something fairly widespread in the muslim world – not a small population!

    So, if something that well documented which occurred only 70 years ago can be so quickly called to question, what of an event which occurred in a small population that involved unimportant people over 2000 years ago when records where not so easy to preserve when over the intervening years various wars and invasions have destroyed countless original documents?

    So to the questions you raise.

    A) How do I know the books of the NT were not manufactured in a similar way to what Joseph Smith produced.

    B) How do I know they are true.

    A is the simpler of the two. We have ample evidence that NT was not produced by any single individual. The Gospels and Epistles are written in different styles and languages, and with very different purposes. We do, contrary to your claims, have evidence of who the Gospel Authors were. Much of modern criticism of the authorship points more to evidence that the 3 synoptic Gospels may have used 1 or 2 sources for at least some of their material. And they indeed may well have. But that does not mean the individuals that compiled them were not Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And indeed, we do have writings that come to us from the Early church fathers that not only confirm their authorship, but help us to understand why the similarities which exist in them exist.

    For example, Iranaeus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, AD 180 gave us this on Matthew: (Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 28.)

    Matthew published his gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the church there. After their departure Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord who also leaned on his breast, himself produced his gospel, while he was living at Ephesus in Asia.

    There is also a fragment of a text discovered by L.A.Muratori which dates to around 170 AD (based on its reference to Pius I, Bishop of Rome (142-157) as recent) and which says:

    . . . at which he [? S. Mark] was present and thus set them down.
    The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke . . . He set down the events as far as he could ascertain them, and began his story with the birth of John.

    Thus it records Luke as the 3rd Gospel, as we have them today.

    The Iranaeus quote makes clear that Mark recorded as much as he could remember, but Luke put down information he had gleaned from Paul. We also know that Luke did more than this, he painstakingly researched his gospel trying to pull as much as he could from available resources.

    We also have information taken from a set of commentaries written by Papius that were recorded by Eusebius. He makes reference to gathering information from contemporaries of the apostles concerning the works of Christ

    …if by chance anyone who had been in attendance on the elders should come my way, I inquired about the words of the elders — that is, what according to the elders Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas or James, or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying

    And he also records mention of eyewitnesses of Christ’s works being available to be questioned about what they saw as recorded by Quadratus:

    The words of our Savior were always present, for they were true: those who were healed, those who rose from the dead, those who were not only seen in the act of being healed or raised, but were also always present, not merely when the Savior was living on earth, but also for a considerable time after his departure, so that some of them survived even to our own times.

    So these men would have and did have access to not just what the apostles were saying, but those other people who interacted with Christ, even in His miracles, and could confirm the text of at least some of what was recorded for us by talking to the people themselves that experienced what we can only read about.

    Now, keeping in mind I am only touching the surface, I’d like to move a bit to something I find quite interesting as regards a side correlation between extra-biblical and biblical records that form an unlikely confirming partnership.

    There was a letter found from a certain greek man in prison sent to his son and apparently composed in the 3rd century (201-300 AD). It says the following:

    For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land.

    So here we see that at this time a greek man, not of any kind of Christian persuasion himself, regarded Christ as a ‘wise man’ and the destruction of jerusalem in 62 AD as God’s judgment on them for their poor treatment of Him.

    So clearly this Greek had knowledge of the events surrounding Christ, knowledge that convinced him what had happened to the Jews was God’s judgement on them. This is not something likely if Jesus was not a historical figure who had been crucified in an unfair fashion – as the Gospels describe.

    But the reality there is so many cases I could make for the Gospels not being some made up work that I would quickly exceed both this sites post word limit (if it has one), and the time I have available to communicate them.

    But as for you question B – how do I know they are true. Clearly, I can’t know that everything in them is true. There simply is not enough left to sift through and prove Christ rose from the dead. However, I can know that the players in the gospels were real people existing in the real time and that Christ himself was a Jewish rabbi killed by Pontius Pilate. I can know that the Gospels are compilations of stories told my multiple witnesses of the events themselves gathered by different people and recording sometimes very different aspects of those events. I can know that we have at least fragments of text from those books that date back as close as can be reasonably expected, withing 30-50 years of the events.

    Basically, I can know that these works record what the people involved though happened. And that though there have been additions/modifications over time, we have access to the most accurate understanding of what was actually written at the time as any generation since 200 AD. Further, that when all that is taken into account, we still have Christ doing miracles, dying by crucifixion, and being observed to Rise Again.

    But clearly, no matter how much research I do, or what I can find, the reality of the Resurrection must be a matter of faith – as it has been for all but just a select few who witnessed the events and recorded them for us.


  102. Dee,

    You are creating a black and white dichotomy where none exists. We all have irrational and illogical beliefs that we hold on to, myself included, for a variety of reasons none of which necessarily indicates a mental disorder worthy of confinement in a rubber room.

    I believe that everyone I deal with will treat me honestly and fairly, should I be committed? I believe that my wife loves me, in part for my good looks, certainly that should buy me a rubber room somewhere.

    I’ll write again as soon as I take an hour or so to read Zeta’s monolith above. 🙂

  103. Zeta,

    You may be able to correct me on this one, I haven’t taken the time to look it up, but if memory serves no one who witnessed the resurrection wrote about it and no one who wrote about it actually witnessed it.

  104. Karlton,

    I am not sure your point, for I never said the writers were eyewitnesses of the resurrection itself. No one witnessed the actual resurrection, but several, including the apostles Peter and John whose writings are preserved for us, witnessed the empty tomb.

    What I did say is that there is sufficient evidence to believe the writers are who they are traditionally believed to be. That the fact the synoptics may have taken from 1 or 2 sources does not nullify the fact the writers of the Gospels are themselves where who they are traditionally believed to be.

    But as to the issue of eyewitnesses, specifically the Gospel of John is still reasonably expected to have been written by John himself – an eyewitness of the Crucifixion and the empty tomb (which actually, is as close as anyone got to witnessing the resurrection – finding the empty tomb), and subsequently a witness to the risen Christ (though not specifically the resurrection). He certainly was an eyewitness of the works of Christ and of the ascension of Christ. John also wrote the Revelation and 1,2, and 3 John. Matthew is also reasonably expected to have been written by Matthew the tax collector, likewise a witness to Christ’s life, His appearances after the resurrection, and His ascension. The apostle Peter was also an eyewitness of these events and wrote 1 and 2 Peter.

    But for the most part, and what I said in my post on the subject, the three synoptic Gospels are compilations of what the eyewitenesses themselves reported about Christ. Not necessarily eyewitness accounts themselves (i.e. written by the eyewitnesses). Mark was a disciple of Peter and is said to have recorded to the best of his ability what he had heard from Peter himself. Luke, an educated man and doctor, research and compiled his gospel again relying on what he learned from Paul and living eyewitnesses and others keeping the stories of Christ.


  105. Karlton,

    One correction, I defined witnessed the resurrection in my previous post as “say the stone roll away and Christ emerge alive. Mary Magdalene did witness Christ resurrected at the tomb, and John and Peter witnessed the empty tomb, likewise the Roman Guards withnessed the Earth-quake and say the stone rolled away. So I was using the most conservative definition possible in that definition.

    But of the writers of the NT, IIRC, only John and Peter saw the empty tomb


  106. stunned,

    Interesting take on what Karl was saying. Of course, I thought Karl was responding to what I was trying to say – which had nothing to do with trying to prove faith. What I was saying was that I have events in my life that I think are more likely the result of a supernaturally influenced set of events than just a natural, random, happenstance.

    My point was that it is more rational to believe my story was God interacting with me than that it was a random confluence of events. He didn’t think so, but did think a floating city that let a tidal wave pass underneath would be more rationally explained as God interacting with the world than some random confluence of events.

    In either case, we both agreed there are some events better explained by the supernatural than the natural, though Karl’s criteria are more stringent than my own.


  107. Zeta,

    my bad I thought when you wrote “…the reality of the Resurrection must be a matter of faith – as it has been for all but just a select few who witnessed the events and recorded them for us…”, that you were saying those select few and witnessed and recorded the resurrection itself.

  108. Karlton,

    No problem, that could indeed have been one interpretation of what I wrote. In that phrase I was (perhaps a tad carelessly) allowing for the witness of the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ to count as ‘witnessing the Resurrection’. I’ll try to be more precise in the future.


  109. Zeta-

    Thanks for your response…the conversation jumps, so no offense taken. I post when I have time…I hope you’ve been having a good weekend!

    Anyway, to your points….this is why I doubt the NT and whether it’s really the word of God. Let’s look at some of the early church fathers you quote…

    Iraneus believed that the Letter of 1 Clement and The Shepherd of Hermas were scripture. If he can be easily trusted in his reporting on who wrote the Gospel of Matthew (a claim from church tradition-not the book itself) then why aren’t you convinced that he was correct about these 2 books that no longer appear in the New Testament?

    Now I find Eusebius even more interesting, he contradicts Iraneus in by calling the Shepherd Of Hermas a spurious writing that is not part of the canon. But Eusebius also calls the Book of Revelation spurious, acknowledging that some of the church think it’s scripture and that others don’t. He also acknowledges that there is still some doubt (he calls them disputed) about whether James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John are to be considered scripture…almost 300 years after the life of Jesus, and there were still many doubts about what is scripture and what is not (according to Eusebius).

    And then we have Papias-He is quoted by Eusebius-who also goes on to call Papias “”a man of exceedingly small intelligence” (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.13). It is from this man, not well regarded, that we have the tradition of Mark writing his gospel. But Papias also recorded things that even Eusebius found to be “strange parables” and “fanciful tales”- such as Philip’s daughters drinking snake venom and that Judas had been cut down before dying from hanging and grew so fat and bloated that he could barely walk down a city street without touching the walls on both sides of the lane….interesting….

    As for the Muratorian Canon…it is a very interesting document and lists many of the books in the current NT. But it does not include Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 3 John. And even more interesting, it includes The Apocalypse of Peter as Scripture. A book that early Church Father, Clement, also regarded as Scripture.

    To be brief, I have examined a lot of the history of the early church, and as seen above, it is confusing at points and contradictory about which books should even be considered Scripture, let alone how they should be interpreted.

    Finally you said

    “But clearly, no matter how much research I do, or what I can find, the reality of the Resurrection must be a matter of faith – as it has been for all but just a select few who witnessed the events and recorded them for us.”

    But the Christian faith is supposed to be a historical faith. A faith whose history is well documented so that we can know our faith is not in faith itself, but our faith is logical, given the evidence of history. That is what I was taught faith meant, it meant trusting that what I read in the Bible was true, even in the historical sense… and when I dig into the story of that history and how we received it (ie-church traditions about Scripture) there are way too many contradictions from the early Church Fathers themselves for me to believe.

    I used to believe, but reading the Bible and the history of the Bible, from mostly Christian sources have led me to doubt it’s claims and the claims surrounding it.


  110. Doubtful

    There was a council that was formed to decide this issue once and for all. The major books were never in question by any of the church leaders. These were talked about within a generation of jesus. There were a few-James, Revelation, Jude- that had some controversy. The criteria was quite simple-is this particular book worth dying over. Why? because Christians were dying in the Great Persecutions so Christians were well aware that this was a reality.When push came to shove, most agreed that only certain books were worth ones life.

    I still contend that the many who went to their deaths under nero are great witnesses for the Resurrection. They were in the society, would have known if Judas was walking around, would have heard if the disciples would have hid Jesus’ body, would have been in a position to hear if the Romans knew for sure that Jesus was dead. Yet they went to their deaths in the most heinous fashions-some dipped in tar and used as torches for Nero’s garden parties.

    You can get a few people to die for nut-jobs but you can’t get many people to die and be tortured as they die for something that is highly questionable.

  111. Doubtful,

    Thanks for your response. I am curious what you expected to find in the Early church history given what we find in the current Church? Did you suppose all would be harmonious, and that say, everyone prior to the establishment of the canon would agree as to what that canon should be? We know that Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over Mark. Did you think the rest of church history would be any more pristine in that sense? There was a constant battle from the very first years of the Church up until today over what is ‘correct’ teaching and what is not. And that conflict would be no less active in the canonization of Scripture. Why even Martin Luther was annoyed with the Canon – he had no use for the book of James.

    Our faith focuses first on the Chirst and His Resurrection. We are believers in Him.

    It would seem to me someone set you up to fail by giving you false expectations for what the church was ‘back in the day’ as opposed to what it is now.

    As for Christianity being a historical faith – it is. But in what sense are you expecting it to be historical? I mean, I know how these things tend to be taught, and I have probably an idea of why you were disillusioned as you studied Church History. We all end up with false expectations on that front I suppose. But I don’t think God wants us to have any false idols before Him, and that would include the church fathers or even the church history. We know about all these issues, we can sift through them and understand them. They are not hidden from us. Is that not how it should be?

    Indeed, one of the distinctives of the Judeo Christian faith is that the failings of its great men are put before us for all to see. There is no-one we worship save God alone, no-one we deem more than a man save God alone (keeping in Mind Christ is God in the flesh). We are shown the failures and weaknesses of all our great leaders. We are all but flesh.

    But returning to my question, what about our faith is not historical, or what do you think our faith being historical should mean? Certainly, as I pointed out, we know that Christ was a real person, we know that the circumstances of his death are certainly consistent with history, we know that many, many people believed they saw him raised. We are not asked to believe on faith alone, but rather on the testimony of those who witnessed the events. Is that it, you don’t find enough in history to believe their testimony is credible? Why then would so many of that first generation, the generation of the eyewitnesses, die for their faith and/or allow themselves to to endure what they endured at the hands of the Jewish leaders and later the Romans if they did not believe what they told us they saw?

    And by told us, I mean what they told the people who recorded their stories and presented them to us in the form of the Gospels and even some of the non-canonized traditions?


  112. Dee,

    Nero was the Roman Emperor from 54-69.

    Taking the throne at the young age of 16, Nero became emperor after his mother had poisoned her husband, the emperor Claudius. With his mother, the wicked Agrippina to guide him and an empire to spoil him, he grew up to be the worst ruler in the history of Rome. His old tutor, the philosopher Seneca, took charge of the government and its officials.

    Nero was certain that he was a great artist. And if he was not, no man in Rome dare say so. Nero added his own touch to dramas, when the story called for a character to die, he put a prisoner on the stage and actually killed him. Nero had opened his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or drove about in his chariot. In the 13 years of Nero’s reign all the worst elements of life which had long mingled with the sap of ancient civilization seems to have rushed at once into their scarlet flower. The Christians of that epoch saw the dominance of such an emperor presenting itself in the aspect of wickedness raised to superhuman exaltation, engaged in an impious struggle against the Lord and against His saints. The emperor was entirely under the influence of his wife, Poppaea, who was Jewish proselyte, and it is quite possible that his attention was called to the Christians by her. Nero was to later murder his mother, his wife and brother as well the philosopher Seneca.

    Nero, in his short reign had the most ambitious schemes for the building of Rome. He contemplated an enormous Golden House spanning the southern end of the Forum, extending from the Palatine to the Viminal Hill. The easterly end of this house would have come in contact with the Suburra, or slums of Rome below the Viminal Hill and the Esquiline, a most noisome locality which he promptly destroyed by fire. The Golden House was short lived, and the Coliseum is upon the site of Nero’s proposed artificial lake.

    The first instance of Roman persecution of Christians is that of Nero in the 10th year of his reign in AD 64. On the hot summer night of July 18th, a fire broke out in the wooden bleachers and among the wooden buildings at the northern end of the Circus Maximus in Rome. Within minutes, all of the tinder-dry stadium was ablaze. The shops surrounding, which lined the valley between the Palatine and Caelian Hills were full of inflammable materials. Of the cities 14 districts, four alone escaped untouched. Fed by the flimsy wares in the surrounding shops and fanned by a strong wind, the flames spread. Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed, several thousand perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins. The fire raged for a week before finally burning itself out, leaving a large part of the city a mass of charred and smoking ruins. It is said that from the roof of his palace Nero had enjoyed the spectacle and amused himself by singing a poem of his own composition entitled the Sack of Troy.

    The great fire had levelled most of Rome to the ground, and the voice of rumor accused the emperor as the incendiary of his own capital. Nero, when he learned that the homeless people blamed him and threatened to rise against him, Nero placed the blame on the Christians in order to divert the suspicion from himself as the one who had ordered the city set on fire. A “multitude” of the fictitious criminals were convicted. Nero accused the Christians of having conspired to burn the city in order to help out their prophecies. The doctrine which was taught by some of the new sect respecting the second coming of Christ and the destruction of the world by fire lent color to the charge. The “incendiaries” were arrested and thrown into prison, to the cry of “Christians to the lions”.

    Nero slaughtered Christians by the hundreds. Fastened to crosses, Christians were set on fire to illuminate a circus which Nero staged for the crowds in his own gardens. The historian Tacitus writes: “Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs. Some were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed, fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed, covered by inflammable matter, were set on fire to serve as torches during the night. Or tied to stakes in Nero’s gardens while he drove around in his chariot, naked, indulging himself in his midnight revels, gloating over the dying agonies of his victims. The Roman Christians, accused by Nero of setting the city on fire, were massacred in a spectacular fashion on the Vatican Hill.” Up to then only a few people here and there had even heard of Jesus but now his name was sent ringing through the empire and everyone was curious to know what it stood for. The attempt to destroy it had proved the grand advertisement of the new religion to acquaint the world’s capital with Paul’s religion was to his mind a triumph well worth martyrdom.

    Contrary to the popular belief in Rome, Nero probably did not start the fires but there is a grain of truth in the old saying that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. That the Christians were entirely innocent of the crime was well known, then and now. The majority of the Christians were not punished for the actual crime of incendiarism, which Tacitus says could not be proved against them, but were put to death as enemies of society and as dangerous characters, whose principles and practices were such as to imperil the welfare of the people and of the state.

    Foxe writes in his book of Martyrs that the first persecution of the church took place under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome and reigned for 5 years. According to Foxe, Nero ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by he officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that ‘he wished the ruin of all things before his death’.. Finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a sever odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties.

    It was in order to build a new and grander Rome that he set fire to the city, and fiddled in glee at the sight of it. Nero was responsible because he wanted to redevelop a large area in the center of the city as his palatial residence. The own people suspected him. His head had been full for years of the image of flaming cities; that he used to say that Priam was to be congratulated on having seen the ruin of Troy. Gaius used to quote the phrase of Euripides ‘when I am dead, sink the whole earth in flames.’, Nero replied ‘Nay, but while I live.’ He was accused of the ambition of destroying Rome, that he might replace its tortuous and narrow streets with broad, regular streets and uniform Hellenic edifices, and so have an excuse for changing its name from Rome to Neropolis.

    The Neronian persecution was general about the whole Roman empire, but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. At length the brutality of these measures filled every breast with pity, the peoples’ hatred against the Christians were turned. Humanity relented in favor of the Christians. In the course of it, Paul and Peter were martyred. Among his victims was his old preceptor Seneca who was very rich. On the charge of treason, Nero condemned Seneca to death and confiscated his estate. Nero being absent from Rome in the East, at last the Senate declared him a public enemy and condemned him to death by scourging. To avoid his fate and aided by a servant, he took his own life at night in his gardens on the Janiculum.

  113. Karlton,

    Thanks for the refresher on Nero. It seems to have been offered as a reminder or rebuttal to Dee on some level. Is that a misconception on my part? Or if I am correct, could you elaborate on what that might be?



  114. Karl
    Awesome history. Thanks

    However, I wish that “every heart” felt pity towards the Christian after Nero. If if did, it lasted about as long as a whispered “too bad” upon seeing a dead dog on the ground. There was further persecutions of the Christians during the reign of Diocletian, Domitian and many others. Said persecutions continued for close to three centuries.

    However, these persecutions caused many Christians to flee the area effectively bringing Christianity to the world.

  115. Zeta,

    Nope, no sinister hidden agenda, sorry. 🙂

    I just was reading for my own edification and found it interesting, especially how the persecution of the Christians for a fire they didn’t start was the catalyst for it’s growth.

    Just like modern movies, the bad guy just doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. He keeps trying to kill the potential witness who would never have spoken out anyway until they are so angry to DO speak out, or a similar theme.

    Well, ok maybe there was a little hidden agenda .. can you find it? Let’s call it a treasure hunt!

    Oh yea, another thing…I also posted it in the hopes of getting a gold star like doubtful, but this time for longest post. 🙂

  116. K-Man (sorry, it’s the mood I’m in) said, “especially how the persecution of the Christians for a fire they didn’t start was the catalyst for it’s growth.”

    Makes sense since the persecution of an innocent man for sins he never commmitted started the whole dag-blasted thing to start with.

  117. Ah – good to know no sinister agenda! As for word count (longest post) – not quite. Yours had 1414 words, my post to doubtful had 1500+

    Nice try though …. 😉


  118. Dee-

    Which council are you referring to? Which books did they declare as Scripture?
    I don’t remember reading about dying for one’s books of faith…you’re making it seem like Christians were getting drug before a Roman Librarian and asked to renounce the Gospel of Peter or burn.

    Your contention about the folks alive to confirm the events of Scripture and confront spurious writings is interesting….what do you base this belief on? And saying that a non-literate Christian in Rome or Greece could easily verify events in Jerusalem is hard for me to see.

    If only a small number of Christians had died for their faith-would it make it less true, or the story less historical?

  119. Zeta-

    The church set me up, by telling me I was reading history and that I could know it was accurate because it was confirmed by the earliest Christians. In fact, your earlier response was essentially that same reasoning….you listed early Fathers and picked out certain things they record that bolster your belief in the books of the NT. But why don’t you believe the early Fathers on other books that are not considered Scripture? It seems like cherry picking to me…..

    You said-
    “But returning to my question, what about our faith is not historical, or what do you think our faith being historical should mean?”

    That is a great question…..let me think about my response to that and get back to you. I’ve gotta get to work, so I don’t want to give you a sloppy answer on such a good question.


  120. doubtful,

    you asked:

    “In fact, your earlier response was essentially that same reasoning….you listed early Fathers and picked out certain things they record that bolster your belief in the books of the NT. But why don’t you believe the early Fathers on other books that are not considered Scripture? It seems like cherry picking to me…..”

    Well, first of all deciding which books represent Scripture is a very different question that answering whether a book or set of books was recording events based on eyewitness testimony or whether the people mentioned in the scriptures are real people in history.

    So what I was going after was evidence to support the latter. I do not assume any given writer is necessarily authoritative on every subject they address. Further, if a writer is recounting information (like who the writer of a gospel was or whether or not eyewitnesses of Christ were still alive), they fill an entirely different position than when they offer their opinion on whether a book should or should not be considered scripture. Think about it. I witness the Space Shuttle blowing up. Do I need to be a rocket scientist to tell you what I saw? Likewise Iraneous or Quadratus need not agree on interpretation of scripture or be capable of deciding the status of a book in the canon if all they are doing is telling us that certain people wrote the Gospels or that there were eyewitnesses of Christ’s life and ministry still alive. They need only be credible reporters of truth.

    As to my question, I eagerly await your answer. But take your time – I’d much rather have something thought out a bit as opposed to something hastily composed. I think both of us are interested enough in accuracy and truth that we are willing to wait for it 😉


  121. Dee:

    So glad to know people are laughing around NC. I, however, thought what you said was negligent and irresponsible. It’s crystal clear, by his own admission, that he does NOT believe. Yet, you offer this unbiblical, tip-toe through the tulips version of faith by saying, “The fact that you are even concerned about this issue means YOU ARE A TRUE BELIEVER. Those who are not saved, and don’t wish to be, couldn’t care less about heaven. So, sleep well tonight!” What?

    So having faith that saves is really just about having concern? So all those people who don’t know Jesus Christ as their savior are saved because they are concerned and are seeking? That should come as a comfort to the rich young ruler, who was concerned about salvation, but was unwilling to give up his money to follow Christ. After all, he WAS concerned. I hope he slept well the night he turned from following Christ. Thank God for his saving concern, right? Now, which scripture talks about the concern that saves us, making us true believers?

    No, faith is the assurance, it is the evidence. And he doesn’t have it. And you were irresponsibly giving him some false sense of security. Others did not like that I was so emphatic in stating the eternal condition of unbelievers, even though what I said was the biblical view. It’s odd that those same people did not take the same stance at your confidence in his eternal condition, although unbiblical.


    There won’t be any conviction of the Holy Spirit with reference to what Dee said, since the Holy Spirit agrees with the word of God and brings conviction in relation to the truth, not false hope.

  122. Michael

    Would you please look what I said in a subsequent comment. I said I misunderstood what this person was saying. The blog medium can be somewhat difficult and I thought the conversation was going in a different direction. I wrongly perceived that this person was still within the faith, dealing with doubts, as I had done many years ago.

    I will state this loud and clear. I believe that one must accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in order to be saved. But cut me some slack. i misunderstood what the person was saying and I am not one to throw people to the wolves because of an internal struggle.

    I am sorry that you think that I am irresponsible, I try very hard not to be. I want people who have been hurt by the church or who have had their questions blown off by superficial people to have a place that they can ask in peace.
    If I conveyed anything but the unadulterated Gospel, I ask your forgiveness.

    I am trying to see where I said we were laughing in NC about this issue of salvation. Could you please point it out so i can apologize for that as well?

  123. Dee:

    All right, I’ll cut you some slack. I understand that the blog medium is a place where communication is less than ideal. I had read your later comment, but was unclear about what you were implying in relation to his eternal destiny.

    I was having a hard time conceiving how anyone would consider doubtful saved after he called himself an agnostic and said he had given up his faith in Jesus.

    In a culture where so many church attenders are not true believers, especially having been initially raised in the Episcopal church, where the gospel had never been shared to me, people need to be challenged to make sure they are truly in the faith.

    I share your passion to not throw people to the wolves for having the honesty to share their doubts, especially in an abusive, dogmatic, church culture. Finally, there is no need for me to forgive anything. It’s your blog and you can say what you will without offense to me. Keep on being the blog queen that you are, helping and restoring souls, and confronting falsehood in the churches.

  124. Michael
    Thank you for your kind reply. I was feeling really badly about what you said. Being a glamorous blog queen does not relieve me of the responsibility of behaving Christianly and I know I fail regularly.

    I understand what you said about laughing about me being mishy mashy. What I meant is that I have made some hard stands on what I believe to be truth and I had to confront a newspaper and a church. None of them would think I was mishy mashy-they most likely think meas way “too bottom line.” That is all I meant. I would never, ever joke about salvation or spiritual abuse.

    I hope you will like the new series coming up on spiritual abuse. We have lots more information, some excellent research by a new author, a poignant story of an Irish man who was abused by the shepherding movement and the effects of said abuse and some interesting historical ties between the reformed and charismatic movement which might surprise a few folks.